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Shine in Your New Role

Tags: Leadership, Performance, Career

When beginning “onboarding” coaching with a client he or she is always interested in my top tips for successful ignition in a new role. Onboarding is an important opportunity for newly-placed leaders. Many don’t realize that there is a high risk of failure in new positions.  The new leader has to acclimate to and get accepted by a new culture, a new boss, and a new team.  I have seen multiple leaders who get terminated or resign after about 18 months.  Onboarding leadership coaching seems to help the leader be successfully accepted and achieve the key performance indicators of the new position.

The top six tips I give are the following:

  1. Ask open-ended questions about other team members and leaders (i.e., What do you do?). Don’t wait for people to approach you.  Be out there. Greet people and speak first if necessary.
  2. Be empathic and humble. Make gentle eye contact, say less, and listen.
  3. Research and learn as much as you can about the company and division in which you will work before you start.
  4. Learn people’s names before you start from team name lists, hierarchy diagrams, and organizational charts.
  5. Always carry a Moleskine or notebook in your pocket during the first month. Record the names of each person you meet with some details. Draw diagrams of where people sit and their names.   Nothing is more important than remembering someone’s name and some important items you discussed.  This makes people feel valued, which is the core of team engagement.
  6. Form a positive relationship with your boss from the first discussion. You should be finding out what he or she wants from you and identify the key goals and metrics for success that he or she lists for you.

Keith Rollag mentions some more tips:

  1. Research shows people are anxious about approaching unfamiliar people and do whatever possible to avoid conversation. You need to break through anxiety and make contact.
  2. Ingram and Morris report that their research demonstrates that executives will do a lot to avoid introducing themselves. So introduce yourself! Push through isolating feelings and thoughts so you actively connect and form vital relationships that enable your success.

Lastly, I will add that newly hired leaders should be aware of the “high school” culture in their new workplace that really never goes away.  Like the lunchtime cafeteria of high school, pay attention to how to get accepted by the key players of the team.  You may be surprised to find out who they are and what it will take for them to respect you. The solution may be that you have to set some limits to get their respect. It may be that you have to transfer or terminate someone. Figure out the puzzle to you taking charge of your area. Prioritize humility, listening, and remembering details as the keys to your success.

Good luck in your new opportunity!




FOLLOW-UP on my Feb 18, 2016 Blog: A Clear Voice Over Time Increases Visibility and Productivity at the 2016 Grammy’s

I want to follow-up on the Oscars broadcast on Sunday, February 21, 2016.  Chris Rock was funny and tough on the largely white audience, as predicted.  Diversity played a key role throughout the program.  For Short Documentary, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness won an Oscar and the producer Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy reported that the film is actually spurring changes in the law to help prevent honor killings in Pakistan. Vice President Biden introduced Lady Gaga who sang a song about sexual abuse that connected to the film, Spotlight, the story of boys sexually abused under the watch of the Catholic Church in Boston.  Spotlight went on to win Best Picture which establishes an even further intensification of corrective goals for the Vatican.

The talented Sam Smith, winner of multiple previous music awards, accepted best original song for Writing’s on the Wall, from Spectre, the latest James Bond movie. During his joyful acceptance speech he dedicated the award to the LGBT community.

The President of the Academy, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, spoke as a black woman who pledged to implement many changes in voting and in making sure the diverse world is represented in the Academy. The movie Revenant won best director and best actor (Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Leonardo DiCaprio).

As we ask of executives in coaching, the academy cleanly owned both their goals regarding altering their membership and voting policies.  Interestingly, there was a significant number of minority presenters and entertainers present to balance out the embarrassment of having no minority nominees.  Chris Rock held everyone accountable yet maintained his sense of humor throughout the broadcast. Leonardo DiCaprio accepted the Best Actor award with one of the most tweeted speeches in Oscar history focusing on dealing with climate change and respect for other people.

At the conclusion of the broadcast, I believed that the Academy had saved their “brand” as long as they demonstrate metric changes in diversity and equity in the future.





Streaming Music and Peak Performance

Instead of discussing the New Year’s resolution you may already be struggling with (we will get to that another time), I have decided to write the first leadership blog about one of the most amazing innovations in music to ever occur: streaming applications like Spotify, Apple Music, Rhapsody, and others.
Streaming music motivates, energizes, soothes, excites, and captivates.  One can listen to it in their car, house, workplace, or gym.  Before recent years, music was largely limited to one’s personal collection and the radio.  In the past few years, streaming music applications appeared, which allowed immediate and even cost-free access to virtually any recording ever made. For a small monthly fee, commercial-free listening became possible as well.
Here is an example of how streaming works: You can read about the passing of David Bowie in this week’s news. Then with a few clicks, within seconds, you can find David Bowie, then the latest album, Blackstar, and immediately the music starts to play.  Incredibly, this great prolific artist completed Blackstar, which was released near the day of his passing. At another time, you might have a yearning to hear the Doors album, Morrison Hotel, or a new DJ from Spain who you read about. You will also discover new favorites as the app recommends artists you might enjoy. In one quick stroke, streaming has made owning individual files of music practically irrelevant for the average person.
Music is clearly one of the greatest pleasures of life for many people.  Listening enhances joy, efficiency, focus, positivity, and even spiritual connection. It reduces pain and grief.  If you haven’t yet, try looking up one of your favorite artists from years ago or from recent months and listen during a workout. See the affect it has on your energy and attitude, whether it be pop or classical.
You may find that you listen to more music than ever before because of its easy immediate access. Streaming music can be utilized in waking up in the morning as well as optimizing peak performance.  Music adds meaning to life.



How Stay-at-Home Moms can Successfully Return to Work

Lately, the press has been full of stories regarding the experiences of women who didn’t “lean in.” These women (regarded as the “opt-out” generation) choose to leave their high-ranking jobs in order to be stay-at-home moms. Now, ten years later, their choices have led to unexpected outcomes.

One woman stated that the tension regarding her dependence on her husband has been one of the main factors in their divorce. Other women from the opt-out generation have re-entered the workplace years later to disappointingly lower salaries and less prestigious careers. A recent study reports that 89% of women who opted out later wanted to return to work. However, only 73% of these women were able to find jobs and a mere 40% found full time jobs.1

Women who consider opting-out after childbirth must understand the changing landscape they will experience when they re-enter workforce. Upon choosing to opt-out they will most likely not be able to achieve the same prestige and salary as before. If being a stay-at-home mom is a dream of yours, you can take steps to implement a strategy that will work for you.  Many stay-at-home moms find a large amount of fulfillment in their role. The following coaching tips can assist in your transitional success:

  1. Have frequent and open discussions with your partner regarding your choice. Each party’s level of comfort should be made clear and taken into account. Families can establish a household business plan that emphasizes mutual respect.
  2. Consider careers that are easy to re-enter, such as teaching, nursing, or running a home business.
  3. Optimize your stay-at-home time by regularly volunteering or working part time. These activities will contribute to your ongoing growth, development, and your formation as a well-rounded person.
  4. Network through political, religious, alumni, or special interest groups.  These connections will prove helpful if and when you re-enter the workplace.


Organizations should take into account these women’s struggles regarding their decision, and assist in their transition back into the workplace.


1 Reference Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/the-opt-out-generation-wants-back-in.html                      Opt-Out Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/magazine/the-opt-out-revolution.html


Managing with Honest Feedback to Achieve Team Performance

You may be surprised to learn that one leadership tactic that is necessary for success is the ability to deliver blunt and honest feedback. Blunt feedback can enable employees to truly grow, as it often remains on their mind for years following.

Paul English of Kayak details that when he gives performance reviews, he writes down five words, some which are positive and two or three which are very negative. With this method, he has received emails 10 years later depicting the employee’s gratitude. These emails have reinforced English’s idea that “the best way you can help someone is to be on their side and to be honest with them.”1

English additionally emphasizes the importance of small meetings. Ten people in the room is seven too many – as groups of people are often quicker to criticize. Two or three people, English believes, will nurture an idea or innovation, and give it a chance to see life.

1Source –  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/business/paul-english-of-kayak-on-nurturing-new-ideas.html


Working vs. Stay at Home Moms

Today, more than two thirds of married mothers are employed. But does work improve a mother’s well being, or does employment stretch these mothers too thin? Do some stay-at-home moms thrive or do they generally suffer more than their working counterparts?

New research reports that stay-at-home moms have increased levels of anger and depression in comparison to working women.1 In addition, working moms have shown heightened mental and physical health at age 40. However, it is clear that some stay-at-home moms thrive and our pleased with their choice. This blog merely summarizes recent findings and trends.

New research additionally states that in regards to family life, two-earner families have demonstrated decreased rates of divorce, and maternal employment has shown no negative effects on children’s levels of intelligence.

Now it is evident that not all work is the same. Undoubtedly, women who work out of economic necessity at low paying jobs may not experience the same benefits as other working mothers.  This aside, plenty of working mothers (and their families) are reaping personal, familial, marital, and long-term benefits aided by their status of employment.

In the next blog I’ll continue the discussion with my thoughts on Cheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, as well as the tradeoffs for both working mothers and stay at home mothers.

1Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/opinion/sunday/coontz-the-triumph-of-the-working-mother.html?_r=0


How You Can Make the Most of a Bad Economy

What can young college grads do when four years of college and a degree draw next to nothing during a recession? A recent New York Times Fashion and Style article seeks answers. How will this new generation of college graduates make the most of their lives and careers, despite a recession and widespread unemployment?

Unfortunately, the economic recession has limited the career opportunities for many young and talented people. But many of those interviewed haven’t given up on living a fulfilled life. Despite a lack of work, they adapt and make use of their skills as best they can.

As many continue to search the job boards, there are some executive coaching tips which can help.

  • Find meaning in whatever you do. One interviewee graduated college with scant job prospects. While she made the best of a low-end job, she also did volunteer work after hours.
  • Make the most of what you’ve learned. What’s hard about unemployment is the feeling that your talents are being squandered. Many of those interviewed utilize their life skills by joining bands, blogging, and getting involved with their communities. It may take hard work, but finding that balance in your life is always worth it.
  • Talk to a career coach. A coach can help you make sense out of how you will design your next-phase career. They do more then offer you advice, they’ll be involved with helping your look at every option and making the best decision possible for your future.

The worst that can happen to many in this situation is stagnation. Those interviewed may not have the careers they sought in college, but they still continue to do things that matter. Being fulfilled is vital, almost as important as being employed.



The Pitfalls of Starting Your Own Business

In the recent New York Times article “Maybe It’s Time for Plan C,” lawyers, stock-brokers and IT professionals lose or quit their high-profile jobs and pursue their passions to become entrepreneurs. But they soon find that the “dream job” of owning a business includes a lot of pitfalls.

Owning your own business, according to the article, involves long hours and the added stress of being the driving force behind nearly every aspect of your self-fashioned career. According to the article, the majority of new business fail due to a lack of preparation and experience. While many of the subjects enjoy their new lines of work, the article asks readers to think long and hard before they try being their own bosses.

Starting your own business talks up a tremendous amount of time and effort. If you’re considering self-employment, here are some important executive coaching tips according to what I see as effective:

  • Identify your reasons for starting a business. There are major risks with going into business. Questioning your motives is an important executive coaching tool to help focus on what you really want. What’s important? Family? Job security? Personal freedom? How would starting your own business help you get what you really want out of life?
  • Keep your new business in balance with the rest of your life. Being your own boss may make you feel fulfilled in one area, but it can also throw off aspects in your family, spirituality and community spheres. A sudden change in your career means you’ll have devote time and effort to balancing out the rest of your life.
  • Determine your strengths and weaknesses. If businesses fail due to a lack of preparation, a good coaching technique is to list your best and worst traits and skills.
  • Talk to an entrepreneurial coach. The right executive coach can help you if you want to start your own business. They can help in a variety of areas such as how you’ll prepare and implement your ideas and plan for future growth.

Starting a business is a huge risk. As you think about what sort of business you’d launch, consider your motivations, and make sure you’re using all the resources at your disposal when you take the entrepreneurial plunge.

Have you considered self-employment? What is your experience?


How to Beat Burnout

No matter what field you are in or whether your business has managed to stay prosperous despite the economic recession, your team members may experience fatigue and burnout. If your business has fallen on tough times and has faced downsizing, burnout will most likely surface in some form.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) studied how fatigue currently plagues the American workforce: the prevalence of fatigue in the US is as high as 37.9%, with 65.7% of these fatigued workers reporting their productivity was severely hindered. This loss of productivity and weak performance is said to cost employers $136.4 billion annually. As the economic climate remains on edge, organizational leaders must do something to curb fatigue or risk dealing with its much more severe and costly counterpart, burnout.

Organizations must make preventing burnout and fatigue a priority. While fatigue may surface as exhaustion or a “funk” caused by stress, burnout is a syndrome with more troubling symptoms. These include:

  • Insomnia
  • Loss of interest in work and hobbies
  • Absenteeism and low performance
  • Low or levels of confidence, energy and concentration
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Fatigue left unchecked can kindle into burnout – it must be caught and corrected as early as possible. If you see symptoms of burnout in yourself or your coworkers, be sure to consider the following in order to address the situation:

  • Offer encouragement and ask how you can be of assistance.
  • Identify and empathize with their distress. Do not pass judgment.
  • Mention existing employee assistance programs and other referral options, such as executive coaching.

Learning to prevent burnout in your team or organization is paramount to your continued success. If you notice potential problems in your team members, don’t be afraid to suggest the following steps to avoid burnout or fatigue.

  • Identify and eliminate sources of significant stress.
  • Pay special attention to your physical well being.
  • Be vigilant of all your various responsibilities in life, not just work-related duties.
  • Recall what makes you passionate about your work and why it matters.

Executive coaching can help you assess your priorities and keep burnout at bay. To learn more, get in touch today.


Physicians Must Have People Skills

You won’t find a real life doctor with zero people skills, like TV’s “House,” around the clinic these days. Future physicians are learning new techniques for achieving people skills and teamwork, according to a recent article in the New York Times. New thinking about medical outcomes emphasizes that doctors need clear lines of communication between the medical team, nursing staff and especially patients. Beyond medicine, executive coaching stresses first-rate people skills as an important factor in team and business-management.

What do I mean by “people skills?” For starters:

  • Talking without interrupting
  • Listening with empathy
  • Calmly and diplomatically handling disagreements

The social lessons being taught to doctors can easily be applied to executive coaching.

Here are a few tips on people skills and proper teamwork:

  • Dominating a brainstorming session or meeting hurts everyone when you don’t let others add to the conversation. Be thoughtful of your team and if you’re leading, make sure everyone has a fair say.
  • Make clarity a priority. Nothing ruins a project like a failure to communicate. Open dialogue will help keep focus and prevent confusion.
  • If there’s a problem with someone on your team, don’t single them out in from of everyone. Take them aside and quietly let them know what’s wrong. For all you know, they might not even be aware of the issue. Also, try to let them know what they’re doing right.

People skills don’t demand that we all become social butterflies. They ask us to be patient and understand those around us. Keep these concepts in mind, and you can be a better people person.

What people skills are the most important to you?



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Lessons of a Washington Scandal

For the past week, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner has been harshly criticized for “sexting”: exchanging lewd photos with numerous young women, one allegedly a minor, during business hours as a member of the US House. The fact that he’s also married only make his situation more embarrassing. Politicians, editorial columns and President Obama have chastised him and challenged him to resign.
For an increasing number of Americans, “sexting” is an accepted part of flirting online, widespread in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and countless dating sites. But Weiner’s celebrity, his leadership role and his additional missteps have turned this personal foible into a damaging national scandal.
Regardless of how we might judge Rep. Weiner’s actions and the public’s reactions, we can agree that this episode has thusfar worked out quite badly for him. In my executive coaching work, I refer to this sort of impulsive, destructive behavior as spinning out of control, and I have developed techniques that can help you stop the spin, balance your perspective, and retake control of your life. If you find yourself in a situation like this, keep these things in mind:

  • If you’re sharing any information about yourself, particularly online, take a moment to think about how far it might spread and the damage it might do.
  • Know who you’re dealing with and don’t make assumptions. The anonymity of the internet makes it easy to interact with people who aren’t who they say they are. If Weiner flirted with a minor, whether he knew it or not, his personal issues may become legal issues.
  • Our personal relationships, especially with our spouses and families, affect every other aspect of our careers and our lives. Problems at home can never really be kept hidden. They must be addressed.
  • Remember that the online world is not separate from the real one. Don’t devote time and energy to sites like Twitter and Facebook if it detracts from your professional success.

With the opportunities of new technology come emergent risks. Rep. Weiner may resign his Congressional seat or he may lose his approaching re-election bid. (Right now, he appears to be leaning toward outright resignation.) His marriage may end or he may be able to save it and discover ways for his wife and himself to heal. Somehow, he will have to live down his public humiliation. The best that we can do is to learn from his example, know how to recognize the spin, and take control before we lose control.

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