Do you struggle with anxiety?
I do. Not diagnosed anxiety but every day, I struggle with anxious thoughts. And I often feel anxious. We probably all do!
Anxious thoughts like worrying, fretting or wondering if things will go the way we want are "normal." However, when these thoughts take over, we may feel nervous, jittery or uptight and struggle to do what we need to do. Sound familiar?
Karen struggled with anxious thoughts too!
When Karen came to me for coaching, she struggled with overthinking pretty much everything in her day. Her mind would swirl with anxious thoughts:
Anxious thoughts turn to physical problems
Sadly, these anxious thoughts were manifesting physically in Karen's body! You've probably felt that happen to you too — tension in your shoulders, headaches, tightening in your chest etc. We get ourselves wound up tight as a top!
You're in a painful cycle
Anxious thoughts make us pull in physically. Feeling strain and stress in your body leaves your mind jittery and has you switching from email to text to the document you were working on, back to email again. Then you are heading down the hall (or into chat) to check with someone about something. And, often that "something" could have waited!
This is not helping your productivity
The problem with this muddled mess is that you have a lot to do! So going round and round in circles is not helping you.
When Karen realized her anxious thoughts were causing her to feel less productive and consequently less confident and capable, she realized it was time to get control of her thoughts. How do I do that? She asked!
I suggested Karen use the magic pill that I use
When my thoughts start to pull me in multiple directions at once, make me feel scattered, or create doubt, fear and anxiety in me, I tell myself back away from the computer! Then, I sit down and take a few deep breaths. That chair you've seen behind me in videos is the chair I use. When I am deep breathing, I activate my parasympathetic nervous system and get grounded.
Karen finds this moment extremely helpful
Karen put the technique to the test and told me that she could feel her body relax when taking several deep breaths. Karen finds this mindfulness activity activating her parasympathetic nervous system. As a result, she is so happy she can regain control of her thoughts and thus her focus.
Why this works
The opposite of your parasympathetic nervous system is your sympathetic nervous system, better known as fight, flight or freeze mode. The way I think of this is that your sympathetic nervous system has sympathy for our "tough situations." Our body thinks it will help us by
Why it makes you a better leader
Unfortunately, those sympathetic responses are not so helpful in leadership. Instead, we need to calm our bodies down by taking deep breaths, thus triggering our parasympathetic nervous system. This calmer state allows us to activate our critical thinking abilities, think strategically and have perspective. It also arouses empathy, compassion and caring, all essential in developing strong working relationships.
I think of this like an Archer ready to pull her arrow back. If she's shaking, she's not going to hit the target. But if she can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, she can become laser-focused on what matters most, which is what you need to do to achieve your mission and have a strong team culture to do just that.
How to do this
Although we know that taking "3 deep breathes" helps, you may not be doing it in the most effective way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, thus making you a better and calmer leader. To learn how to breathe in a way that activates the system, check out the
Webinar Breath Magic: Breathe your way to being a calm, composed and in control leader!
I know this sounds like a soft skill. I suppose it is. Yet, this soft skill will give you the capacity to have the courage to do the hard stuff! Try it, and let me know how it works!
Staff meetings can be draining. They can be for you and everyone involved. By the end of the staff meeting, many people feel depleted and just ready for it to be over. Ending a meeting with a low vibe is not a good thing!
How not to end a staff meeting
While ending a meeting on time is important, let me first describe three ways not to finish a staff meeting
Tips to make meetings better
You can do many things to have staff meetings be more efficient and energizing instead of energy-draining.
Getting the work done
At some point, you need to get some business done. Your team is likely working on projects. Changes are happening. You are also dealing with the next steps of decisions that have been made. Moving forward is critical.
3 things to end the meeting with
To ensure things are moving along, always and your meetings with three summarizing points written down:
Who said they would do what by when?
Then make sure that summary comes back to the next meeting for accountability's sake to see where things stand. That list should be a review item of the next meeting. What did get done, what didn't and what still needs dealing with? Having that check-in will make your meetings more productive.
TIP: If it feels like everything falls on you, then something is not right. You are the leader but not the almighty doer. Delegating, building collaboration and developing upcoming leaders are things you need to be working on to cultivate a strong team, a thriving culture and for your own sanity!
The 1 BIG thing to do at the end of the meeting
But there's one more thing you need to do before you end the meeting. How are you and the meeting will dictate what people say about how the meeting went. It's what they leave with that they remember most.
The FINAL thing you need to end the meeting with is specific appreciation.
Don't be general!
I am not talking about general comments like these:
Thanks, everyone, for doing your part! I know we're going through tough times.
I appreciate everyone doing their best
Belinda, good job on the proposal last week.
The key to being specific is to be specific!
Try comments that are more specific like these ones
I appreciate working together to ensure we saw as many of our clients as possible this past week. We were up 10%
Jessica, thank you for helping me pull the data together for the application last week.
Denver, I can see that you are working to create fun experiences for your clients, like visiting the corn maze. It's great to see you being so creative and including your coworkers and their clients too.
Why is this ending important?
There are two reasons why ending staff meetings with appreciation is important.
1) Appreciation and recognition create engagement.
Gallup has identified that when we receive regular recognition, we are more engaged at work. And by regular, they are talking once a week!!!!
2) It creates good mojo
When you feel appreciated, you get a hit of dopamine which makes you feel good! That lifts your mood, your spirits and your energy. Leaving a meeting with a good vibe brings energy and positivity to the rest of your day, your team's day and thus to those around you. That's a good thing!
Staff meetings CAN be reenergizing. The way to do that is to be a bit more strategic about your energy, especially at the end of the meeting.
Do you wish you had more time or energy? Or perhaps both?
I've been talking to several clients lately who are struggling to fit everything into their days, and they are finding it draining. Yet the truth is, if we look at the slots in our calendar and match that up with our to-do list, we will never fit it all in. There's just no way.
Focus on energy rather than time
But instead, if we look at our energy levels and what's draining and boosting our energy, we may find some hope.
We all start each day with a battery level of energy. Sometimes our batteries are full. Sometimes not so much. Some things happen in our day that drains our battery. Other things boost our power back up.
Consider these examples
Nancy told me about a meeting she attended that sucked the life out of her!
But, Nancy also talked about a meeting she attended where she felt very excited for the next steps when she left.
Olivia finds her one-to-one conversation with one employee draining, and her conversation with another employee tends to lift her up.
What's the difference between one meeting to another? Or from one relationship to the other?
Why is it that one drains us and the other boosts us?
There are a lot of factors! However, many of us believe we can't control the factors when in truth is we can control some of them.
Here's how they've regained energy
For example, Rebecca knows that if she's had a draining meeting, she needs to make sure she schedules some buffer time to recharge after. So she plans to go for a 15-minute walk after to increase her battery level.
Anjali has realized that many of her employees find value in 20 minutes touch base meetings rather than a full hour and that it's less draining for both of them. They use an ongoing document for creating the agenda ahead of time. This document also allows them to cover as much content outside of those meetings as possible, such as program updates. As a result, the meetings are less draining and much more efficient!
The 3 energy drainers and how to recharge
What drains us falls into three main categories: People projects and problems. Below you'll find tips to help keep, maintain or recharge your energy level.
While you can't get rid of everyone in your workspace that drives you nuts, you can change how you engage in a relationship with them.
DO THIS: Consider which might work to shift the energy drain you experience from some relationships.
We often find projects very overwhelming, and many of them have time constraints around them.
DO THIS: Break the projects down into smaller pieces, so you're not as overwhelmed.
Rather than write the big project on your to-do list as one gigantic, overwhelming item, create tasks from the smaller project pieces. Seeing smaller parts makes a shift in your mind that engages you to get them done rather than pushing away.
Time management guru David Allen reminds us that projects and tasks are different. Tasks belong on our to-do list. Projects belong on a weekly strategic review list.
Many problems are energy drainers because we spend so much time worrying, fretting, and wishing them away. It's like we have open tabs in our minds that continue to draw power and energy on us all day long! No wonder you feel drained physically, emotionally and mentally at the end of the day!
DO THIS: Schedule time for strategic thinking. Taking time to intentionally do some critical thinking, weigh the evidence, and consider other perspectives helps you to make a decisive decision. One of my clients does this at her kitchen table, another on the run.
A tip here is that we rarely do good strategic thinking with our hands on the mouse. It requires a different way of thinking, which happens in the shower, cutting vegetables or tending to the garden! So schedule that time in as WORK TIME!!!! I bet you'll feel reenergized, clearer and liberated from that stuck place you've been in!
Put yourself back in control of your energy. First, be conscious of what drains you and how to regain your energy. Then, monitor it regularly and do what you need to keep your battery at a level that allows you to lead with impact AND have energy left for the rest of your life
I am deep into the Apple ecosystem, so I was a little alarmed when my newsfeeds showed me an Apple security issue. I immediately headed over to install the update that came out to deal with that security breach.
Do you do the same inside of you when something INSIDE of you needs updating?
Your internal operating system may be at risk of being hijacked
Here's the thing, knowing my devices may not run as I want them to, I updated things. But what about me? Will I run smoothly without being hijacked when new responsibilities, roles and experiences enter into my daily experience? Will you?
This is what your internal operating system is:
Your internal operating system is what makes you, you. In Scaling Leadership, the authors describe your internal operating system as
What happens for most leaders, though, is that they continue to expand their responsibilities, roles and expectations of how they are doing things... but they never upgrade their internal operating system.
Most leaders neglect their internal operating system
Let's take the Covid world for a moment. Two years ago, we were not supervising staff via virtual conversations. To make the switch, your organization likely installed systems on your computers, updated the microphones and equipped you with a webcam. You've probably figured out a strategy for sharing virtual call links, agendas and how to share screens.
This Executive Director is learning to do updates
When I was talking with Phoebe yesterday, she spoke of a difficult conversation she was having with a client. I asked her if her screen was off or on. Phoebe smirked and shook her head no. She is reluctant ever to turn on her screen. I reminded Phoebe that it's important to read what's happening for the other person during a difficult conversation.
I suggested to Phoebe that having cameras off or on is not a switch. Instead, it's a dial. So perhaps we don't start with cameras on. However, when you have really learned to tune into your internal operating system, you can sense when something is off, a bit more sensitive, or there is a need to connect deeper. When that happens, your internal operating system is guiding you to have the courage to say, "Hey can we turn the cameras on for a few minutes."
But that takes awareness inside you to know what you're sensing, what you're feeling and perhaps what the other person is experiencing. You didn't necessarily need that skill two years ago in the same way that you do today with virtual calls. Then, you could read into someone's body language when you were sitting across the desk from them. Now you need an upgrade on your internal operating system.
How to update your internal operating system
Here are the steps to update your internal operating system so you can lead your nonprofit with effectiveness.
Look at your inner world and see which parts are working well and which need upgrades. Take time to examine:
I strongly suggest writing these down.
2) SHOP AROUND
Not all updates are the same. If your current assumptions are getting you into trouble or you are being triggered by someone regularly, assuming someone else needs to change is probably not going to work for you anymore.
Do the inner work to grow your level of awareness and emotional intelligence. Take time to examine your thoughts, beliefs and assumptions regularly.
Choose new mental models.
What got you here in your leadership will not get you to the next level of leadership you desire. So it's time for an update! It's also time to commit to regular updates. Finally, you need to put personal and professional development into your routine. Ongoing personal and professional development is your path to success in both leadership and life!
Help to update your INTERNAL operating system
If you need help to update your internal operating system, I strongly encourage you to find someone who can support you on this journey.
► In this article, you'll learn how to hire the best coach for you. I provide some questions you can ask a potential coach to ensure you are finding a good fit!
Remember, as your organization grows, the world evolves, and the sector swings back and forth; you too must grow. So don't neglect your internal growth.
Commit to ongoing personal and professional development, and you'll thrive in both leadership and life!
There are a lot of nonprofit personal and professional development courses out there. But are you taking advantage of them?
Many nonprofit leaders put courses, webinars and training on the back burner and never get back to them.
In this article, you'll learn how to shift your mindset and get you back on track with your professional development.
Here's the thing, how many of these or similar comments have you made lately?
If those comments sound familiar or all too true, you aren't alone! AND, they are not just signs of living in survival mode, but warning signs of burnout!
Do you know the signs of impending burnout?
Feeling run down and drained physically and emotionally, irritated with life, a sense that you aren't getting anywhere are all indicators of burnout. But before burnout is often long periods of survival mode. The majority of women leaders that work with me say they've been in survival mode for much of their career. Ugh! That is NOT how we want to live and lead!
How are you doing?
Start by looking back at yesterday. Were you thriving throughout your day, or did you spend much of your day in survival mode? Grab this worksheet and then consider over the last week, how much of your time were you just getting by, going through the motions, grinding away at your days., thus in survival mode?
Now, if I asked you where you want to be by mid-November, what would you say?
Do you have hope that it can be different?
Do you believe that you can get to thriving? I then asked you these three questions, how would you answer?
Here's why those questions are important ⬇️
Understanding how hope works
Research has shown that those that are thriving feel hopeful. Hope is made up of three components:
First, hope is the belief that tomorrow will be better than today.
Second, hope is an expectation that it's possible that you can reach that goal.
You need to have the confidence that you can get there. Remember, confidence starts with competence.
Third, do you have a plan of how you're going to do that?
Having hope will change your daily experience!
When you have all of those three components of hope, belief, expectancy, and pathways, there's a better chance you're going to be regularly thriving by mid-November.
At the end of the day, what you need is to create your plan!
How will you get there?
Learn the steps to create your plan
In this week's podcast, I break down planning for your personal, professional development this fall. That's not what sector-related skill you're going to learn this fall, necessarily. But how are you going to grow and develop as an individual and as a leader?
What will you do to do that, and when will you put that into your calendar.
The next question is how you're going to create that plan, and my guess is you might need a little bit of help with that.
Get help to create your plan!
In The Training Library, my membership site, I have a course to help you create your plan. When you join, you'll get immediate access to the Webinar Create Your Quarterly Goal Setting & Planning Strategy as well as every single other webinar and course to help you thrive in leadership.
This is what your peers created:
Below you'll find components of two of my student's plans that they have created after completing the webinar Create Your Quarterly Goal Setting & Planning Strategy.
Sasha's plan for thriving included:
Becca got serious on her plan, with lots of details!
It's your turn!
If you want to really create your sense of hope that things will be different by the end of the year for you, start with envisioning it, then cultivating the confidence to get there by developing your competency and finally creating a plan to do that.
You want to excel in leadership and make a big difference, but you feel like you spend more time chasing fires than moving to excellence. Therefore, you need a plan to ditch survival mode and move in the direction of confident, composed and impactful leadership.
Let me tell you a story to help you create your plan!
Eva came to a coaching call wanting support to be a better leader. She wanted to know where to begin. Eva knew that to be an excellent leader, it was important to her to be making a difference. She wondered if she should start with building her team?
Eva was also a bit worried as she was aware that an excellent leader leads with integrity, and she'd received some feedback lately that suggested her team didn't trust her.
On top of all of this, Eva's board was pushing her to grow in the sector. The lay of the land was changing rapidly, and the board was worried about the program's long-term sustainability. Eva needed to shore up her understanding of the political scope, new research and changes in reporting.
Where do I start? Eva asked. It's so overwhelming!
After acknowledging many leaders feel very overwhelmed (maybe you do too!) I encouraged Eva to pause and acknowledge her courage to ask for help and take steps to develop her leadership.
It's tough to look hard at yourself and then do the work to develop areas. It takes courage, vulnerability, grit and time! Reaching out and asking for help is something many leaders resist. They think it implies weakness. So instead, I explained to Eva that it's a sign of incredible strength and confidence!
Completing the Assessment
Next, I explained to Eva that we would start by assessing leadership competencies to get a clearer sense of where to begin. When everything is muddled together, and we are in reactionary mode, we keep putting out fires. Slowing down and intentionally assessing skills and developmental areas helps clarify the underlying challenges, what strengths we need to shine a light on more and thus, and where to begin.
As we know, it's essential to have a strong team. So I asked Eva some questions to help her look at her skills to identify where she may need to grow. Of course, you can do this too!
If any of those made you cringe or a bit anxious, perhaps those are areas to start. Eva knew she needed to look at how she was mentoring her team members. It was an area she felt she lagged in.
As Eva identified her board wanted her to understand the sector better, we looked at the following questions. Again, you can answer these questions too.
To get a deeper understanding of where Eva landed, she and many of my students complete a full assessment from The Leadership Circle, which includes 360 feedback from their team, peers, boss, board and community. It's a very robust tool. You can try the free version where you assess yourself here.
Eva's assessment came back with information that helped her narrow down what she needed to work on and how to do that. Just as she suspected, she needed to build mentoring relationships with her team to help them grow and develop. The assessment also pointed out how Eva's habit of being a perfectionist got in the way of her team feeling supported!
Creating the Plan
After we reviewed her assessment, the next step for Eva was to create a growth and development plan. Eva and again, many of my students develop a curriculum plan to go with their developmental goals.
For example, Eva looked at how she would increase her skills in team building?
With her assessment complete and a plan in hand, Eva already felt more confident that she could not only handle all on her plate but do so with increased competence and composure. She knew that she was ready to build a team that trusted her and could adapt to changes to provide long-term client support.
What's your next step?
So many leaders rely on not so helpful performance appraisals that their organization does. Most of the time, it's really not helpful. It focuses on what the organization needs, not necessarily what you need. And for many leaders, this document is nonexistent! They can't remember the last time they received valuable feedback.
For these reasons, I strongly encourage my students to get their own feedback and create their own plans from now on!
An excellent leader takes into account all areas and continues to grow and develop in them. An excellent leader is self-aware. They take time to reflect, develop their emotional intelligence, do the work to integrate work, life and wellness and commits to ongoing personal and professional development. What are you doing to be that excellent leader?
Which of these do you need to work on?
Just like Eva, you'll increase your confidence and find that you are making a bigger difference when you have a plan and begin working on the plan. Do the inner work. It's worth it!
If you need help to create your personalized curriculum for leadership development, start here.
If you want to lead your nonprofit with integrity, it would benefit you to learn to use your moral compass to make ethical decisions. In this article, I am going to help you do just that! It will require a wee bit of work from you, though!
An exercise for you
We are going to start with an exercise. First, grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Then, on the left-hand side, write down a few things that drive you nuts about people.
It could be political leaders, leaders in your organization, or community leaders.
The second part of the exercise
Next, go to the right-hand side of your page and make a list of all the things that you like that people do or how they act. And once again, think about traits of specific leaders that you appreciate and enjoy.
What do your lists mean?
Look over your lists. The things that you just noted are indications of your beliefs, values, and ethics. For example, if you said that lazy people irritate you, you probably value hard work and appreciate a strong work ethic.
When I look at my list, I see that it drives me nuts when people fake kindness. I am suspicious when someone pretends to be caring and thoughtful, yet I know they are only doing it because they are supposed to do it. As a result, I lose trust in them.
Looking at this example helps me realize I value kindness as well as honest and authentic connections.
If you like these kinds of exercises and want to get a deeper understanding of your values, try the Values Verification course here.
You've started to define your moral compass
This exercise helps you to identify your values, ethics, and morals. Your values, ethics, and morals are what guide your moral compass.
How does this apply to your leadership?
First, consider the strategy we are told as leaders regarding giving recognition. If I comment to someone, and that comment does not feel genuine and authentic, it makes me feel icky. That's because it is activating my moral compass and telling me that I'm not sincere.
This is why you need to activate your moral compass
Think of your moral compass as your conscience. It is what guides your words, actions, and decisions. It helps you determine what is right and wrong for you as a leader (and a person). Each of us has a different set of guidelines. I may be ok with fudging numbers (I'm not!), and you may be a by-the-book kind of person! But, we each have to tune into our moral compass to know what's right for us.
It's when we do what's right for us that we lead with integrity. Integrity is walking your talk and leading with authenticity. It's when your actions align with what you believe in.
Help to activate your moral compass
In this week's podcast, I walk you through the Inner Guidance System to help you activate your moral compass. Then, I give you 3 questions you can ask yourself in the ponder stage to help you ensure you are acting, behaving, and making decisions in alignment with your north star.
The second question is: What are my values, ethics beliefs, and morals current that come into play with this choice. You've already started to get clear on that by doing this exercise!
Tune in here to get the other two questions.
When you lead with authenticity, you'll feel better, enjoy your job more, and be a more confident and impactful leader. People will appreciate you, be motivated and inspired by you and as such, loyally follow you! That all feels pretty dang good!
Are you a decisive decision-maker?
Decisiveness is the ability to make decisions quickly, even when we don't have all the information. However, I've realized that many leaders don't even realize that they're not decisive.
Take Kim. Changes are happening upstream that are impacting her team. The team keeps asking how they should implement this with their clients. Rather than deciding, Kim defers the decision to her director; Let's wait to see what Keaton says.
Jasmine tells me she has two vacant positions. She's got money to hire for those two positions. And... She's been deciding what to do about hiring for them for two months.
Anika has an issue with Sage's performance. However, rather than deciding if or how she should discipline Sage, she asks Sage's peer colleague to "help her out" with this task. In essence, she's passing the buck and deferring the problem to someone else to deal with.
The three clients all have problems with decisive decision-making. Rather than making a decision, they are deferring, delaying or trying to dodge making a decision. Perhaps you do one of those too!
Let's look at each a bit closer and how you can "fix" that decision-making "mistake."
Decisiveness is the ability to make a decision quickly, even when you don't have all the information.
Three decision-making mistakes and the fixes
MISTAKE # 1 - We defer the decision to someone else
Rather than making a decision that is ours to make, we often try and get other people to decide for us.
The mistake here is not taking responsibility for making a decision.
MISTAKE # 2 - We delay making a decision
Rather than making a decision, we keep putting off making that decision. We procrastinate. We hedge. But not just for a little bit... but for a long bit!
The mistake here is that we don't even decide when we will decide!
MISTAKE # 3 - We dodge the decision altogether
Dodging is when we ignore the fact that there is a decision to be made.
One of the ways we dodged decisions is when it's time to hold somebody accountable. Rather than address the issue, have a performance conversation, take disciplinary action or let them go, we dodged the whole thing.
The mistake here is that we don't even acknowledge there is a decision to be made.
Decisiveness is the ability to make a decision in a reasonable amount of time, even when we don't have all the evidence to make the decision the way we'd like to. Decisiveness is not always easy!
To help you out, this week on the podcast, I'm giving you a hack to help you make decisive decisions. Because here's the thing...
Effective leaders make decisions decisively.
Tune into this week's podcast to learn about the decision-making hack that will help you be a decisive leader!
Many of us want to be leaders who lead with integrity, and I bet you do too!
Integrity is walking your talk. It's doing what you say you will do. And it's aligning your actions with your values, ethics and morals.
But do you do all of that?
How do you know you do?
I failed in the ethics category!
You probably already know that when I was leading an organization, my team clearly told me that I didn't measure up in the integrity area! For example:
If you are wondering where you stand, I've included some questions at the bottom to help you identify if you are an ethical leader. But first, let's deepen our understanding of ethics.
Understanding integrity, ethics, morals and values
Integrity means you adhere to a set of moral and ethical standards; Your moral and ethical standards, not someone else. So, in essence, integrity is living what you believe. The people you supervise want to see that you practice what you preach.
When you lack integrity, things are incongruent. There is an inconsistency between what you say and do.
The components of integrity
When you are in integrity, your values, ethics and your morals are aligned.
For many of us, rather than alignment, our ethics and morals become unaligned, and we become out of integrity. That lack of alignment is evident as the chasm grows between what you value and believe and what you actually say and do.
It's time to see where you land!
QUIZ: Am I an Ethical Leader?
CODE OF ETHICS
🔲 I know what the Code of Ethics is for my profession.
🔲 I have looked at it recently.
🔲 I follow it.
🔲 I have my own Code of Ethics.
🔲 I have looked at it recently.
🔲 I follow it.
🔲 I have identified my top three values.
🔲 I have a working definition for my top 3 values.
🔲 I know how my values show up in my day-to-day work.
🔲 I use my deeper understanding of my values and how I defined them to make work-based decisions.
🔲 I regularly take time for self-reflection to clarify where I have aligned my actions with my values, ethics and morals.
🔲 I set regular intentions for my actions and behaviours to realign with my values and ethics.
How did you score?How did you do? Pretty good, or do you have work to do?
I have work to do! The act of preparing this for you has shown me where my gaps are and have been an indication for me to take action.
Help to lead with integrity and be a more ethically and morally strong leader.
If you realize you have some work to do and you are in The Training Library, here are some of the courses and lessons you might want to check out:
The first 3 minutes of your 1-1 time with your employee matters more than you think!
Are you making the most use of it?
Like first impressions, those first few minutes of supervision conversations give your employees clues to how the meeting will go and thus what they are willing to put into it.
They will gauge your level of commitment before they give you theirs. Your staff will be able to tell by your actions and demeanour.
Consider asking, "How are you doing?" while checking your phone, finishing up emails fumbling through papers, or before you even have your camera on a zoom call. All of that can clearly demonstrate that you aren't ready. And if you've shown that you aren't prepared, why should they believe you are then interested in hearing their answer. They won't believe you will be empathetic, understanding, or curious if you aren't all there!
Setting the tone for a meeting in this way loses your opportunity to deepen your relationship with them, create engagement and build trust.
How to make the best use of the first three minutes of your meeting
Start by being prepared
1 - Have an agenda
You are the leader, lead the meeting. Know what you are covering and ensure the employee knows too. That means they should have seen the agenda ahead of time and could add their items.
2 - Show up a few minutes early
Running from one meeting to the next doesn't let you process what happened, make notes of things you need to follow up on or deal with nature's needs.
Try running meetings at intervals that give you a 10 - 15 minute break in between.
3 - Create the "right" energy for the conversation
If you want to motivate, inspire and engage your employee in the discussion, you will need to bring the energy that creates that. Too often, we come to meetings distracted, drained and doubting we'll have the input or outcome we desire.
Next, turn small talk into meaningful talk
If you've heard that you need to engage with your employees and create a relationship with them and think that one of the best ways to do that is to check-in and see how they're doing when you first start a conversation, you're right. But you may also find that it is useless, painful and drives you nuts, and you may even, as my client told me yesterday, think it's a waste of time.
You may be lacking success with the "small talk" tactic because you are asking superficial questions. You've probably heard the adage "garbage in...garbage out" Well, it's the same principle. If you are asking superficial questions, you'll likely get superficial answers.
How are you doing?
Be intentional about the questions you ask. Go back to the point above, and prepare ahead of time. Try preparing and then asking questions that get to their interests, values, their strengths and their passions.
Why would you want to ask these deeper levels of questions? Three reasons...
Need help with what to ask instead?
Below you will find some questions you can ask. Which questions you choose and how you adapt them will depend on your personality, style, and relationships. The context will be important to keep in mind too.
Try these questions to kick-off meetings
What other questions would you add? Post them below.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.