Tell To Go Fast; Coach To Go Far

Tell To Go Fast; Coach To Go Far

Note: This article was originally published by Forbes.com. In a world where time seems compressed and competition is fierce, leaders often feel the need to move quickly. To do so, we tell and we sell our ideas, our solutions and our game plans; we solve problems,...
Powering Down

Powering Down

My posts are always inspired by someone or something. This one was originally inspired by the pastor of our church, John Slye, in the context of spiritual growth. Over the past year, I’ve been ‘preaching’ a very similar message in a very different context: helping...
What We Learned

What We Learned

What comes of spending three days with two coaches and (most importantly) a group of people who share ambitious and courageous goals for life and leadership? In their own words, here’s what our participants told us that they learned: New Strategies for:  Improving...
Blindsided

Blindsided

When is the last time you felt blindsided? How did it make you feel about the person who blindsided you? To “blindside” someone is, by definition, to attack someone where they are vulnerable or uninformed. In a business setting, people are blindsided every day as a...
The Cost of Conversation

The Cost of Conversation

Communication. Conversation. Dialogue. Just this morning one of my clients asked me – in a fit of frustration – why her leadership team was having the same conversations over and over again. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever had your words twisted, regretted...
Tell Me Your Story

Tell Me Your Story

One of my favorite TED talk quotes is from a fellow coach, Chalmers Brothers: “You and I, and all of us: We are confronted with events…events at home, events at work, events with our kids, events in college, events at the beach – events. And what we do as a human...
Designing Moods

Designing Moods

I find the holiday season to be — among other things — an emotional one. I find myself feeling festive, grateful, excited…and also hurried, worried, and tired. Like most people, I aim for more of the former, and less of the latter: more joy, less pain; more peace,...
Satisfaction x Competence

Satisfaction x Competence

As a psychologist, I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoys designing and (yes!) completing surveys. Before I scare you too much, let me explain. I like surveys because they make us think. Surveys are an invitation to slow down and to reflect on how we think...
Happiness Talk

Happiness Talk

“How do I keep everyone happy without going insane?,” a client of mine recently asked. I imagined for a moment how others might respond to this. “It’s not your job to keep everyone happy,” some would say, while others may chime in, “You can’t please everyone.”  While...
Mindset

Mindset

I talk a lot about mindset. Our mindset has powers beyond those we’re aware of and beyond those that scientists have discovered. We can do just about anything we set our mind on. We also do many things that our minds are set on without our even realizing it. We adopt...
How Will You Respond?

How Will You Respond?

As leaders, the way we respond to events has great significance. Not a day passes without something noteworthy happening in some part of the world — often right in our own community. As leaders, there is an implicit assumption that we will respond to events,...
Let Us Learn…More

Let Us Learn…More

As I’ve been speaking and writing about the concept of “Fitness for Growth,” I’ve noticed two orientations toward learning. They are both necessary and complimentary. The trouble is that we often neglect one for the other…and this, I believe, is tragic....
Set Up for Success

Set Up for Success

In a world where change is the only constant, being “set up for success” can seem fleeting if not untenable. The moment we think, “I’ve got this!” the ground shifts underneath our feet and suddenly the landscape is, yet again, unfamiliar. Sometimes shifts are slow and...
So Difficult!

So Difficult!

No, not you – the other guy/girl/group/team/organization – right?!? We all have to deal with difficult people – sometimes it’s a colleague; sometimes it’s a direct report; sometimes it’s our boss. Often the most difficult people in our life hit closer to...
SOAR!

SOAR!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…an ACRONYM! And not just any acronym, but one that can quite literally change your life: The Observer-Action-Results (OAR) model (Argyis, 1977) is a way to understand why we get stuck in less-than-effective patterns that produce...
The Good & The Great

The Good & The Great

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great…Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”  ― Jim Collins: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make...
Get the Most Out of LIFE

Get the Most Out of LIFE

Last night a dear friend and fellow coach, Deiadre Rauch, hosted a book launch party for Daniel Sheres & I’s book, The Coaching Companion: Get the Most Out of Your Coaching Experience. Deiadre’s husband, Tom, asked us why we limited the book’s subtitle to Getting...
The Best of Me

The Best of Me

In my work with leaders I often emphasize the responsibility we each have for discovering, embracing, and leaning into our best self. Our best often brings out the best in others, while even a hint of our shadow side raises defenses and calls others’ demons out to...
The Way We Are

The Way We Are

Have you ever reflected on something you do that gets you in trouble and concluded that it’s “just the way you are”? For example, I am always busy – it’s just the way I am. In my work as a leadership coach, nearly every client has at least one “it’s just the way...
Changing Trajectories

Changing Trajectories

At a recent speaking engagement, a former colleague shared that a mentoring program I’d stood up for her organizations some 10 years ago had changed the trajectory of her career. (Based by her genuine smile and warm hug, I assume that it was for the better!) In that...
Self-Authoring

Self-Authoring

Earlier this year I wrote an article on “Engagement – Turned Inside Out.” I’ve now spoken to this concept at multiple events, each time prompting sincere energy and interest in the “inside out” approach. [To recap: In February of this year, I served on a panel at a...
The Unknown

The Unknown

Accountability is a hot topic in business and management. My clients want to become more skilled at holding others accountable, and seek out accountability for their own goals and intentions. I’ve been marinating in the question of what we, as individuals, are...
How Will You Improve?

How Will You Improve?

Last month, following a talk I’d given at an organization’s annual meeting, a gentleman shared a gem of wisdom with an entire ballroom of his colleagues. I’m passing his powerful story on so that others may benefit. With great passion and great presence, this...
Focus

Focus

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in The Samurai Game, which provides a unique opportunity to experience how we show up when faced with [simulated] life or death challenges. The experience reminded me of the awesome powers of physical centering and mental...
A Great Move

A Great Move

This week I was reminded of how a single, great move can create space for a shift in the entire dynamic of team interactions and results. For the past three days, I’ve been immersed in a workshop that provided a unique set of skills and frameworks that accelerate team...
Adventures in Writing

Adventures in Writing

Last summer, a friend and coach colleague, Daniel Sheres, shared a book concept with me. The Coaching Companion was to be a volume dedicated to empowering our clients to get the most from their coaching experience. When Daniel shared the idea for this book with me, I...
Engagement – Turned Inside Out

Engagement – Turned Inside Out

I recently had the pleasure of serving on a panel dedicated to employee engagement at the Association of Government Accountants National Leadership Training Conference. It’s no wonder that workplace engagement is a hot topic: research suggests that companies with the...
Doing The Most

Doing The Most

We all ‘pay our dues.’ Day in and day out, we pay what we owe. We leave tips, even when we don’t get the quality of service we hope for. In the workplace, we ‘pay our dues’ when we give someone the respect they deserve, repay a favor, follow through on what is asked...
The MacroStrength

The MacroStrength

Many leaders find great value in strength-based approaches to developing themselves and their people. Indeed, research suggests that leveraging strengths can be more powerful than addressing weaknesses. Gallup’s StrenthsFinders is just one of many assessment tools...
Destiny

Destiny

Before the holidays, a client of mine shared a poem that his wife posted in their house: “Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your...
Leadership in Life

Leadership in Life

The holidays are an excellent time to practice leadership in life. The holiday season is often filled with parties and events, family and friends, crowds, errands and extra demands on our time, patience and pocketbooks. What better opportunity to practice being our...
Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness

As a coach I have the honor of helping my clients gain self-awareness – greater conscious awareness of various aspects of themselves. We (humans) underestimate the incredible value of observing ourselves. Self-awareness increases our capacity for growth. Quoting my...
A New Script

A New Script

I ended my last post by challenging my readers to observe their “critic within.” What does your critic look like? When does your critic show up? What does your critic do for you? Recognizing “the critic within” is a first step toward “declaring your truth” –...
The Critic Within

The Critic Within

I was recently invited to speak at an executive forum event. As I sat down to craft my message, I was interrogated by an all too familiar voice: “Who are you to speak to that group? What do you have to say? You’ll never be a truly dynamic speaker, so don’t try too...
Shining Light

Shining Light

A colleague of mine, Matt Cross, recently shared a fantastic analogy: “The great leader uses leadership like a flashlight. She points it through the darkness and illuminates the destination. Her flashlight focuses on what is important and ignores the extraneous...
Feeling Cornered

Feeling Cornered

I last wrote of feeling tension in my shoulders when people make requests of me, even though I thrive on acts of service. By paying close attention to when this tension surfaces, I’ve become aware that it’s associated with feeling cornered. It’s tempting to say that...
Just Noticing

Just Noticing

I’ve been paying attention to tightness in my shoulders. The knots that my husband massages out each night magically re-appear the next day. Only recently did it occur to me to just notice the tension, to see whether that might reveal something more. Through the...
Showing Up

Showing Up

I’m sitting in a coffee shop this morning, a popular place for business meetings. As various men and women stream in the door and find their respective colleagues, I’ve been observing how they show up. My vantage point enables me to see them as they approach the...
Subbing Out

Subbing Out

Earlier this spring our pastor, John Slye, spoke on the act of subbing out. Reflecting on his days of throwing up his hand on the basketball court, he asked, “Do you ever wish you could sub out of work or of life?” That question stuck with me for weeks. In...
Be the Blessing

Be the Blessing

A dear friend and fellow coach, John Keyser, sent me a text on Good Friday. “Be the Easter blessing!”, he said. Be the blessing. What a beautiful thought, and relevant too, given a conversation I’d just had on levels of development within personality...
Mindset

Mindset

One of my clients recently shared a challenging and even provocative thought. Leadership, he said, is a mindset. Pause for a moment and consider the implications of this perspective. Would you agree that our mindset determines the options that are available to us, and...
Better

Better

In my last post I posed a challenge: to identify a perspective that isn’t getting you the results you want, and to find a new and more effective perspective. Let’s take this a step further. The most adaptive leaders don’t settle on a more effective perspective – they...
Getting to +1

Getting to +1

My last post described dispositional adaptability, the ability to adopt a mindset that is both realistic and optimistic — “plus 1” for short. Here’s where it gets really fun: how do you get to a place of realistic optimism? How do you break out of what “is” to...
Choosing Your Mindset

Choosing Your Mindset

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking on the topic of adaptability. The presentation was based on research that I was involved in years ago, which pointed to three facets of adaptability: cognitive, emotional and dispositional. Dispositional adaptability – the...
Joy to the World

Joy to the World

This week, amidst holiday celebrations, I pondered the meaning of my work in the domain of leader development. Why dedicate my life to developing strong, vibrant leaders? What do I believe about the broader purpose that leaders serve in our world? At the highest, most...
Creating Open Space

Creating Open Space

In stepping out as an independent leadership coach and consultant, I’ve had the opportunity to explore how to represent myself and what I do. Certainly I want to present myself as the competent, successful professional that I am, but the real challenge is to...
Gratitude

Gratitude

Last November I noticed a strange pattern on Facebook. People were posting things that they were thankful for, day after day. I never figured out what was going on but I deeply appreciated the reminder to cultivate gratitude. Did you know that gratitude is...
Storytelling 2

Storytelling 2

Ron Weisinger, a fellow graduate of the Georgetown Leadership Coaching Program, recently published an article on storytelling that inspired me to build on a previous post. My initial article entitled Storytelling focused on the power of our life stories. In his...
Getting Centered

Getting Centered

Earlier this week I caught myself starting a coaching session by asking my client a tough question. I immediately felt wrong – abrupt and awkward. In that moment I realized that I hadn’t taken time, nor given my client the opportunity, to get centered. In the world of...
Emptiness

Emptiness

“Emptiness” has an overwhelmingly negative connotation. Many people feel empty because they’ve lost their sense of purpose. Others relate emptiness to a loss of motivation. A reading by Vimala McClure recently challenged me to embrace a new perspective, one that is...
Storytelling

Storytelling

Without fail, I find that the people I work with have fascinating histories. Whether they’ve worked for just one organization or many, lived in one country or around the world, their life is unique and beautiful, while my own story seems dull in comparison. Can you...
Pause

Pause

Kevin Cashman’s The Pause Principle points to the importance of finding ways to break from activity in order to gain a broader perspective. I’m thrilled by how closely his concept of “pause” aligns with my intention of creating space for leaders, teams and their...
Waiting Games

Waiting Games

My life right now is a waiting game. Any day now our first baby will decide to make his appearance and (as our friends with kids tell us) life will never be the same. This season of life is fascinating because it presents so many options. I can choose to play out the...
Breaking Down…to Break Through

Breaking Down…to Break Through

When was the last time you realized that no matter what you tried, regardless of whose advice you followed or what path you chose, you weren’t going to accomplish what you had set your sights on? Reflect on how you reacted to that situation. The achiever within us...
Clipping In

Clipping In

How many times have you seen the motivational picture of the rock climber holding on to the side of a cliff? How many of us feel that we too are holding on for dear life – barely able to keep a grip on our schedules, our inboxes, our responsibilities? While all our...
Shedding Light

Shedding Light

“They just don’t get it.” This is a common dilemma among leaders, and it comes from a sincere desire to shed light on a situation. Many leaders attribute this dilemma to communication challenges. The solution, then, is to express themselves more clearly, to create...
Conserving Your Brain

Conserving Your Brain

I’m feeling inspired this morning by David Rock’s brilliant book, Your Brain at Work, particularly as it applies to the popular topic of time management. In a previous post, I reflected on the fact that time itself is unmanageable, and thus the real challenge is...
High Expectations

High Expectations

Setting expectations is tricky business. I’ve learned that it helps to think of every expectation as a wide open space in its own right. We often try to define that space by stating “who does what by when” or even by specifying how we want to see things done. In my...
A New Normal

A New Normal

A client of mine is struggling because she can no longer manage stress like she used to. She longs to get back to her old self, the self that was calm and collected despite the chaos around her. Her struggle has led me to reflect on this theme of a “new...
Making Time

Making Time

A client framed a problem beautifully. “Getting projects done well and on time is an overriding priority. However, there are many other requests for your time that are not directly project related. How do you make time for these other commitments?” My...
Centering

Centering

Centering is a practice of reconnecting with who you are at your core. We are all body, mind and spirit, and thus centering calls for connection with each of these parts of ourself. We center physically by bringing awareness to our body. By listening to its aches,...
Logic vs. Sense

Logic vs. Sense

This morning I faced a battle of the minds. It didn’t happen in a board room or even in the workplace, rather inside my own head. The logical part of my brain (prefrontal cortex, to be precise) was, as usual, on a roll. With my to-do list laid out in front of...
Stepping Out

Stepping Out

We all have opportunities to step out — to do something new and different. Last September, I stepped into the world of leadership coaching. These past eight months have been exhilarating. In learning how to help others transform themselves, I’ve been on my...
People vs. Products

People vs. Products

Lidia (name changed for privacy) has been in a relatively senior leadership role for nearly 2 years. Like most of her colleagues, she was promoted as a strong contributor and a solid team player. Lidia knows her stuff, and assumed that leading her team wouldn’t be all...
The 3rd Way

The 3rd Way

In my current webinar series, I’m taking a deep dive into the O-A-R model, which is the foundation for much of my coaching and consulting work. In short, the model suggests that breakthrough results lie beyond problem solving – they lie in the domains of...
Creamy & Delicious

Creamy & Delicious

At last week’s SOAR Executive Retreat, we asked our group of brave and engaged leaders to reflect on their beliefs about themselves and others. For one exercise, they completed two sentences: I am ___­­­­­­­______________________. Other people are...