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July 2009

Body Language and Leadership

Your body speaks.  Do you know what it is saying to others? Don't get me wrong, words matter tremendously. However, if our body language betrays us, the perfect words have little effect.

Carol Kinsey Goman in her article "Body Language: Mastering the Silent Language of Leadership" says the following:

All leaders express enthusiasm, warmth and confidence as well as arrogance, indifference and displeasure through their facial expressions, gestures, touch and use of space. If an executive wants to be perceived as credible and forthright, her or she has to think "outside the speech" and recognize the importance of nonverbal communication.

She also mentions 5 key points that I think we should all keep in mind, whether we are executives or not:

  1. Watch those facial expressions.
  2. Talk with your hands if you know what they're saying.
  3. Show your whole body (get out from behind the lecturn)
  4. Don't go overboard.
  5. Align your words and your gestures.

Be sure check out the entire article for what she says about each of the above.

Do you have any tips you would like to share about expressing great nonverbal communication?  If so, click on the comment link below. 

Coach's Challenge: Pick out one of the items on the list above and practice it this week.  What do you notice about yourself?

Living Intentionally: 3 Steps for Success

Deciding to live intentionally is the first step towards achieving your full potential. However, while many people sense that "there must be more to life", they often don't know where to start. If you are wanting to make changes in your life, read on! If you are wanting but not willing (i.e. if you will just make excuses for how things can't be done), click away now.

If you are still reading, I'm thrilled to present you with a starting point for making changes in any area of your life. First of all, download my Life Action Worksheet by clicking here and follow the three steps below to get started today for a better tomorrow:

Step 1. TAKE INVENTORY. Rate each major area of your life just as it is on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how satisfied you are in each area. What would a perfect "10" look like in each area of your life?

Step 2. TAKE CHARGE. Write down three baby steps, along with target completion dates toward achieving your perfect "10" in your lowest rated area from Step 1.

Step 3. TAKE ACTION. Tell someone what you are planning to do and have them hold you accountable for achieving your goals. (Note: Be sure to pick someone who will check in and not be shy about helping you stick to your plan.)

I use a version of this worksheet and process as a springboard for change with all of my coaching clients. Intentional living is all about identifying goals and taking baby steps to reach them. You too, can achieve your goals if you take intentional action. Any questions?

What is your process for making changes in your life? I'd love to hear from you! Or, if you just want to sound off with other comments or questions, I'd welcome those too.  Your thoughts may just help someone else.

Hiring Decisions in a Flooded Job Pool

Most managers have to make hiring decisions from time to time. In today's economy you would think that managers would be able to make better hiring decisions with so many unemployed people to pick from, wouldn't you? Wrong. Just because the perfect candidate is out there in the job market doesn't mean managers can spot them in the crowd.

So what makes hiring decisions so hard?  Bias! To here more about how to better select employees for your next job opening, check out this article at TTI, my assessment provider's blog, entitled "Flooded Candidate Pool, Still Making Wrong Hires?...Why?.

After you read the article, please come back and share some of your worst hiring mistakes!

I can honestly say that I wish I knew then when I was a manager what I know now as a coach and Value Added Associate for TTI. I am passionate about helping people find the best job fit for their personalitiy, skillset and passions. If you need help with your next hire, your own career decisions or redistributing and developing talent in your current organization, please contact me for a complimentary consultation.

Happy decision making!

Finding Contentment Through Authenticity

"Sometimes the fear of finding out who we really are, underneath all our masks and defenses, causes us to resist being authentic."-Neil Clark Warren, Finding Contentment.

One of the most freeing things a person can do is to live according to their core values. Whether in the workplace or at home, when we live authentically, we will find more ease in priority setting and communication, as well as experience less stress and internal conflict in our lives. Unfortunately, most of us have never consciously worked with our values to achieve authenticity. Those who know what they value may not have thought about how their lives line up with their values.

Living authentically requires a commitment to our core values--those 3-5 beliefs or convictions worth so much to us that we cannot live without them. Core values are the reasons we do what we do...our "habits of the heart". When our lives are out of alignment with our values or when we live according to a value imposed upon us by someone else, we experience stress, frustration and discontentment. On the contrary, authentic living produces peace and fulfillment.

Do you know who you truly are? If you know, are you living and leading accordingly? Commit to knowing yourself better so you can experience the benefits of living authentically. Keep in mind that it takes a lot of courage to pursue this endeavor because some people in your life might not like the changes you make. From my personal experience, I found this to be true! I'm glad I had the support of my coach!

If you would like to try a quick exercise regarding values, check out this freebie at Gary Collins' website to help you identify your values. If you would like to set up a complimentary consultation with me to talk further about the process, please feel free to contact me.

Testing Your Purpose

A good purpose statement pulls you towards it and resonates with your soul. It might even give you goose bumps as you ponder what might happen should you live it out. The thought of failing it might also invoke a sense of sadness.

In my last post I discussed discovering your purpose and how doing so is important to your life and leadership abilities. Have you written your life purpose or mission statement yet? If you have written or even considered your life purpose statement, it is time to put it to the test. Here are some questions to help you determine how well it fits you:

  • Do you feel a connection to it?
  • Do you desire to fulfill it?
  • Are you fulfilled when you act according to it?
  • Do your interests naturally gravitate toward fulfilling it?

My personal mission/purpose statement is to equip and empower others to achieve their full potential. In a way, it is something I have always done. When I think about how it could possibly be fulfilled, I do get goose bumps and get scared sometimes because I have big dreams! One of my favorite things to work on with my clients is in the discovery of life purpose. What is your dream?

Remember, your purpose statement is personal and you don't have to share it with anyone. However, if you know your purpose and intentionally live your life to fulfill it, others will take notice. You will have more energy with the clarity it provides. Hang on for the ride and enjoy the journey!

How has knowing your purpose changed your life? Please share by clicking the comment link below!

Finding Purpose

Authentic leadership starts by connecting with the essence of who we are and by answering the question "What am I here for?". Otherwise known as our "purpose", this is our ultimate destination. I personally have found this experience very rewarding and motivating.

Finding your destination or "purpose" is more difficult to discern than picking a vacation spot, and is also infinitely more important. Without a clear overall direction for our lives we might never achieve our full potentional. Without tuning into our unique purpose, our lives will also be less fulfilling.

One of the ways we can discover our purpose is to examine our past experiences. Try the following exercise and see what it reveals to you:

  1. List 10-15 examples of times in your life when you knew that you were doing what you were created to do. What experiences in your life come to mind as your most memorable? What experiences give you goosebumps when you talk or think about them?
  2. Write briefly about each of these examples. Where where you? What was so satisfying about it to you?
  3. Underline key words and phrases from #2.
  4. Draft a 2-3 sentence statement using underlined words from #3 describing your purpose. This is your purpose statement.

Once you've completed this exercise, let your purpose statement sit for awhile. Come back for my next post where I'll discuss how you can test it to see how it really fits you!

If you already have a personal purpose or mission statement, how has having it benefited you? Hit the comment link below and share your experiences.

Schmidt:Everyone Needs a Coach

Fortune magazine interviewed Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, and asked him about the best advice he ever received.  He replied by saying the best advice he ever received was being told to hire an executive coach.  Additionally he states: "The one thing we are never good at is seeing ourselves as others see us. A coach really, really helps." For the 41 second video interview, click here

Of course, I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Schmidt. I've definitely had my own eyes opened when I've been coached and know that I've surprised some of my clients as well through my coaching.  Objective feedback is one of most impactful things we can receive for leadership development.

What do you think about being mentored or coached?

Listening With Intuition

It takes practice to be an outstanding listener. Setting aside internal and external distractions involves both focus and time. We also need to know what to listen for. Minds buzzing with activity find it difficult to deeply tune in to another listen with intuition. Outstanding leaders are outstanding listeners.

We listen with intuition when we combine the words, context, body language and emotions of what is being said with what our "gut" says about what we are hearing. Listening in this way helps us better understand others and gives us clues to where we could follow up with a neutral question to help them better process their thoughts.

According to Tony Stoltzfus, in his book "Leadership Coaching", the five most important categories of intuition are these:

  1. The person's own discernment or insight about the situation
  2. Turning points or key actions and events
  3. Strong emotion or reaction
  4. Red Flags: things that don't seem right or don't sit right
  5. Patterns: Cause and effect relationships or repeated outcomes in actions or thinking

Good coaches use these techniques when listening to their clients and they are some of the best listeners around.  Why not apply some of the same skills in your own life situations and see how they can benefit you and those around you? A listening ear is one of the best gifts we can give another.

What will you do with what you've learned? 


Empathy and Leadership: Sessions vs. Sotamayor

Empathy is a good trait to possess, but can be taken too far in certain circumstances. While on the eliptical trainer this morning, I happened to hear Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions' commentary in the Sonia Sotamayor confirmation hearing.

Sonia has been praised for her empathy, but Senator Sessions pointed out something important to note.  Empathy for someone's plight should not overrule the law. Additionally, he said that empathy for one person, race, etc. is prejudice for another. I wholeheartedly agree.

So what is empathy's place in our leadership toolbox today? Empathy serves some roles better than others. In the courtroom or other jobs requiring objective viewpoints or rules/laws to be followed, a bias towards an empathetic outlook might contribute to bad decision making. Facts are facts and empathy towards one stance or another has no bearing on the solution or verdict.

Additionaly, in leadership, too little empathy can hinder relationship development and subordinate performance.  On the other hand, I've found with my clients that too much empathy often hinders progress. 

Effective leadership requires a balanced approach.  How balanced are you?  What are your thoughts on the issue?  Hit the comment link below and let us know!

Qualities of a Good Leadership Coach

Leadership and professional coaching go hand in hand because coaching models good leadership. If leaders across the world all employed a coaching model in their leadership, the world would never be the same. People would be more productive with less stress. Communication would be better. There would be accountability without judgment.

But what does it take to be a good coach? Coaching produces results, but what "produces" a good coach? It takes more than education and experience to produce quality coaching.  Coaching is a way of being.

To learn how to be a coaching leader and take your leadership skills to the next level, the best thing for you to do would be to hire a professional coach. Here's what you should look for in a coach:

First, look to see if they have been trained by an ICF accredited school.  All coach training programs are not the same.

Second, look at the kind of person your potential coach is.  Ask yourself, "Does this coach...

  • care about people?
  • have high personal standards and ambitions?
  • demonstrate excellent communication skills?
  • love to learn?
  • walk his/her talk?

Third, ask for a complimentary consultation to see if you "connect" with the coach.  You'll know if you do! Coaching is relational and the conversation should flow smoothly.  When it flows well, great things can happen!

If you are interested in learning more about what coaching can do for you, please email or comment and I'll be glad to talk to you.  Lead on!

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