Build Your Leaders

Archive for the ‘coaching and mentoring’ Category

The Power of Listening

April 1st, 2013

I often think how much easier my job would be if only clients followed my advice, yet I know better. I am more effective as a consultant and coach when I help clients find their own solutions.

When I share a problem with a friend and he or she says, “What you need to do…” I bristle. All I really want is for my friend to listen. Clients must feel the same way. Most need me to just listen while they find a solution on their own.

Al-Anon (a fellowship for friends and families of alcoholics) teaches not to tell others what to do, but instead to share “our own experience, strength, and hope.” Others may relate our story to their own and see a solution they had not seen before.

I once worked with a young man who was passed up for a promotion and was unsure on how to proceed. “What do you think you should do?” I asked. “Quit,” he too-quickly replied.

I then told him about one of my first jobs out of college; I was constantly making mistakes because I couldn’t handle multiple projects. Instead of facing an upcoming review, I quit. Months later, in a new job, I found myself in a similar situation. Only when I learned how to manage multiple details did my career advance.

My young client identified with my story and soon came up with a plan. He would ask his boss for feedback on his performance and ask what he needed to do in order to get promoted. He would then draft a development plan, review it with his boss, and seek his help. My client’s plan worked and within six months he was promoted.

As consultants, managers, and leaders we shouldn’t be in the business of just doling out answers; instead we should give others the encouragement they need to find their own solutions. Only then can real learning take place.

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What Women Say It Takes to Succeed

December 3rd, 2012

Smart companies are waking up to the unique skills that women bring to the workplace. Not only are women smart, many have an empathetic communications style that makes them natural leaders.

The international staffing agency Randstad recently conducted a survey on women’s insights and perspectives on work and employee engagement. In this report, respondents ranked “flexibility” and “adaptability” as top skills needed to succeed in today’s workplace. In fact, more than 51 percent reported these skill-sets as the top two most important, followed by knowledge of technology” (37 percent) and teamwork (35 percent).

Do you agree?

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What To Do When Your Inner Critic Barks

May 31st, 2010

How to silence that negative inner voice. Whether you have an inner critic or an inner committee, I’ve found that the best strategy for dealing with our internal negative voice is awareness. When I identify the types of situations in which my inner critic thrives, I can be on special alert when they occur. When my inner critic kicks into high gear, I can become “observer-participant,” laugh, and say, “Oops, there he goes again.” By doing so, I take away my inner critic’s power.

I also try to cut myself some slack. Sometimes I am just tired, inattentive, or simply out of kilter. I am too quick to discount the good stuff and focus on the bad. When something goes wrong and my inner critic starts to squawk, I try to stop concentrating on the negative areas and focus on the positive ones.  I also find it helpful to focus on the big picture instead of that one detail that has gone awry. I am human, and I know I will make occasional mistakes.

Another strategy is to catalog our inner critics’ criticisms and determine their historical sources. Were they based on something that our dad, mother, siblings, teachers, or peers once said? Once we know the source, we can begin to uncover the truth and change our thinking.

Finally, I find it helpful to take a reality check. For example, when my inner critic tells me that I did a lousy job, I check in with a trusted friend. Almost always, I find the job I did was fine.

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