Articles tagged with: leadership development

Time for Serious Business Growth

“Clarity is the most important thing. I can compare clarity to pruning in gardening. You know, you need to be clear. If you are not clear, nothing is going to happen. You have to be clear. Then you have to be confident about your vision.”
~ Diane von Furstenberg

Many years ago my then three-year-old daughter dashed in front of the other children on a preschool field trip. As she made her way to the front of the line, she proudly exclaimed, “I’m the weeder!” Obviously she’d meant “leader.”

business growthLeaders are good “weeders.” They’re good at removing those things in their lives and work that prevent them from growing themselves or their business.

Spring is a season for growth. So you probably need to do some serious pruning to grow yourself and your business.

As you assess where you are in your business and where you want to go, here are some weeds you might need to pull:

  • Meetings that are no longer productive.
  • Older technology or other tools that no longer serve you well.
  • Poor performers who do not have a positive attitude or willingness to improve.
  • Magazine, newspaper or email subscriptions that you are not using.
  • Your to-do list of non-essential items that will likely never get done.
  • Status quo thinking.  “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
  • Constant critics, whiners or complainers.
  • Groups, clubs or associations in which you no longer participate.
  • Outdated marketing materials that don’t reflect your current business.
  • Cluttered office environment that creates more stress.
  • Negative self-talk that clouds your mind.
  • Any tasks that are not your core strengths that can be done by someone else.
  • Customers or clients that drain you/your business or no longer fit your business model.

Come up with your own list. What would you add?

Don’t judge it. Be disciplined about getting rid of whatever is hindering your growth.

Some items will require easy action. Others will take more courage.

Too often business owners and executives complain about “trying to juggle it all” and “getting everything done.” If you think you have to get it all done, you will drive yourself crazy.

The key is determining what you can take OFF of your plate. The more you remove, the more you will free yourself to grow yourself, your team or business more quickly and easily.

Instead of asking yourself, “What do I need to get done?” or “How can I do it all?” ask, “What can I get rid of?”

The more you remove, cut back or simplify, the more clear your focus will be on what’s really most important to keep on your radar.

“Weeding” is part of leadership development.

Weed to lead. Stir up some soil.

Get rid of whatever hinders your growth.

Watch your business bloom!

Are You on the Right Path?

My teenage son just returned from a long hiking trip. He was on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina–his first “real” hiking trip with backpack, tent, food, first aid kit, etc. (He learned that raw eggs don’t travel well even if you have a burner to cook them.)

Path winding through dark moody forest with tall old trees

As a mother, I was concerned he would get lost. He did. Thankfully he was with a friend.

He said they got to a point when they weren’t sure if they should go down a new path that was unfamiliar or backtrack on the path they had taken. Storm was coming. They decided to go back on the path they knew to get them to safety.

As a leader, your job is to help people get to a destination.

Too many people are simply trying to get through the day. They are doing the work, but they’ve lost sight of the big goal. They’re hiking a familiar trail. Some are moving in circles.

Like lost hikers, they revert back to what they know. They don’t have the clarity or courage to move on a new path that might take them to their destination more easily.

They need leadership.

Where is your team trying to go?

One of the best exercises you can do with your team is to have a discussion dedicated to:

a) clarifying the destination–that means understanding the overall team goals (including why the goals are important)

b) determining the best trail–identifying new ways to get to the destination.

It’s especially important if you’re trying to get better results or encourage innovative thinking.

Include that discussion on your next retreat agenda or hold a special short meeting to get some quick ideas.

Confirm if you’re on the right path.  Ask, “Are we getting the best results possible?”

Challenge your team to identify improvements. Ask, “What other ideas, strategies or improvements should we consider?”

Get commitment. Ask, “What’s one thing you’ll do differently to help us accomplish our goals?”

Beware of the path you know that’s comfortable and familiar. Be willing to take yourself or your team on a new path if needed.

Prepare for resistance …and growth.

You’ll likely arrive at a destination that’s even better than what you were hoping for.

Father’s Day Lessons in Leadership

With Father’s Day approaching, I’m reminded of my dad’s positive leadership influence on me.

As an electrical engineer he was obsessed with problem solving. Always looking for something to fix or improve.

When I was learning how to drive, he thought it would be helpful for me to know exactly how far to pull the car in the garage so that the garage door could close without smashing the back end of the car. (Not that I was a bad driver.)

He tied a ping pong ball to a long piece of string. Then he mounted it on the ceiling of the garage so the ball dangled in the air in just the right place. When I slowly pulled in the garage and my windshield gently touched the ping pong ball, I could stop the car knowing I was in just the right place. A simple fix.

In my consulting and coaching work with leaders, they’re often overwhelmed.

Some are grappling with guilt about not completing their to-do list because they’ve been distracted by urgent matters. Some aren’t spending enough time with their team because they’ve been on the road so much. Some haven’t focused on their strategic plan because it just requires too much thinking right now.

I see executives over-complicating and over-thinking situations all the time. They let those issues keep them up at night or create knots in their stomachs.

What these leaders are beginning to realize is that one of the best ways to lead is to look for a simple fix.

If you think you’re overwhelmed, you will be. If you look for a simple fix, you’ll find one.

You might have to use a little ingenuity.

Leadership can be challenge. You still have to have a big bold vision, but it’s the little things that will make the greatest impact in your leadership.

It’s about noticing what will help employees do their work more easily–and taking one step at a time to do something about it. Not complicated.

It could be improving a process, or even part of a process, so that work flows more smoothly.

How are you showing up?

Leadership is as much about how you’re being as it is about what you’re doing.

Dad showed up with solid determination and a positive attitude. He cared a lot about people.

Not just an engineer…He was an “encouraganeer.”

Are you greeting people and making eye contact in the morning, even when you feel like retreating to your office? Are you really listening to what they’re saying?  Are you acknowledging something they did well on the job that day?

As a leader, Dad was relentless about making systems, situations and people better. He was committed to helping people learn, grow and develop.

Tough on problem solving. Compassionate with people.

It’s the little things in your leadership that make a big difference.

It’s the simple fixes.

As you look for simple fixes, help others do the same.

When everyone focuses on small improvements, it lifts the whole organization.

And those you lead will feel like they’re in just the right place.

My Daily Coach App Now Available for Leaders

Finally…I’ve created a simple mobile app to help you jump start each day with a little thought or question to prompt ideas and actions throughout 2015.

It’s designed for busy executives, business owners and leaders who want to grow their business and themselves.

If you’ve been following my work for a few years, you may recall the My Daily Coach page-a-day calendar I used to produce.

Now it’s back–as an app…And it’s FREE!

No excuses. Download it on your iPhone or iPad today.

You can find it in the App Store or Google Play.  Available on iPhone or Android.

For more details, visit:  My Daily Coach

Thanks so much for being on my list, and for the opportunity to serve you.

Get clear. Stay focused. Lead well.

Make 2015 your best year yet with a little coaching–every day!

PS — Feel free to share this with other friends or people in your network who may benefit!


Is your insecurity showing?

“I thought I was ready, but had no idea what I was getting myself into.
What if I’m not really cut out for this?”

CompassNo matter how much experience you’ve had, it’s easy to doubt yourself and wonder if you’re “good enough” to get to the next level.

In working with many leaders over the years, I see their thought process as they contemplate ways to expand their impact and advance their careers.

Some are frustrated. They’re not moving fast enough into roles they think they deserve. Perhaps they have leadership blind spots.

(If you missed my Special Report on Overcoming Leadership Blind Spots, you can download a free copy here or below.)

They view their situation as something beyond their control.

“You have to know people at the top to get anywhere in this company.”
“I’ll just have to wait for my turn. I don’t want to rock the boat.”
“Nobody knows the real work I do.”

The reality is that, in many cases, you can be your own worst enemy. You might be sabotaging yourself with secret thoughts that threaten your confidence.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

“I don’t have the experience they expect to even be considered for the position.”
“I never finished my degree.”
“I don’t have a mentor or advocate.”

Self-confidence is one of the most important leadership attributes you can have. Without it, you risk jeopardizing your performance, and in some cases, ruining your own career.

Insecurity manifests itself in a variety of ways. Some people show up as fearful or anxious. They work in the shadows and draw little attention to themselves.

maskOther people may appear overly confident or egotistical.

But deep down there are serious insecurities they’re attempting to mask.

Here are four ways to build self-confidence in your leadership role:

1.  Note your strengths and best qualities.

If you need reminding, talk to family members or friends who are closest to you. By focusing on what you have instead of what you (think you) lack, you’ll create an image of yourself that is strong and capable.

Weaknesses or deficiencies will become less important. Bring whatever you have now to the table. Don’t worry about the rest.

2.  Experiment.

If you’ve been afraid to try something new or tackle a difficult project, consider it an “experiment.” You’ll take pressure off yourself to achieve perfection.

Instead view the situation as a learning opportunity. Be prepared to observe what is happening as you go through the experience. Anticipate setbacks.

Be willing to move yourself or your project in a different direction if needed. If it doesn’t work, it’s just an experiment. Keep trying.

3.  Help someone else.

Ultimately leadership is about service. This is a fundamental aspect of leadership that executives often miss. Instead they are overly concerned about how they are perceived. If they care more about their own image, they lose sight of what matters most–other people.

Keep your focus on those you serve–your team, your internal or external customers. Ask:

“What do they need now?”
“How can I be of help?”
“What action can I take today to make a bigger difference–to them?”

Shift the focus from yourself to others.

4.  Face your fear.

If there is one thing that you know is in your way, face it head on!

In my case, the one thing that was holding me back in my career and leadership role was my fear of public speaking. So many years ago I decided to begin working on that skill. I participated in Toastmasters International and other development programs for years to practice and build my confidence. Sometimes it was painful.

Confidence comes through practice and by surrounding yourself with other people who want to see you grow.

Now I speak professionally as part of my work.

Everything flows from your confidence as a leader. We all have insecurities. It’s natural for your confidence to waiver over time, especially as you grow and take on new challenges.

You are stronger and more capable than you realize. Your potential is much greater than you can imagine.

Step boldly into the new iteration of who you are becoming. You’ll be even better as a leader.

It’s good for yourself and those you serve.


In case you missed it…

print newsGet a copy of my latest print newsletter. It’s about how to overcome leadership blind spots.

Download a copy HERE.  

 (Feel free to share it with a friend or colleague who may benefit.)


You’ll gain insights to help you see what you might be missing.



 “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong.

The amount of work is the same.”

~Carlos Castaneda