Do you wonder how to be the best leader you can be? One who makes a difference, has a great team and finds some balance in life?
Unfortunately, it's not the easiest thing to do. One of the reasons we struggle is that we don't see a lot of other women doing it, so part of us doesn't believe it's even possible. We need more women mentors. I keep looking for them and sharing them with you so we both have more inspiration.
Let me introduce you to Yvette Vargas.
I was listening to an interview with Yvette, Head of Development at Citizen's Bank in the states. Yvette was part of a Women in Leadership conversation series for LHH, an organization that focuses on recruitment, assessments, coaching, and career transitions.
I found Yvette's story, persistence and intentional personal and professional growth as a woman leader inspiring. So many of the suggestions she made for women in leadership had me thinking of the four fundamentals I teach leaders.
Let's dive into them together.
The four fundamentals of leadership:
Lead with Authenticity - Be yourself
On Citizen's Bank website, Yvette is quoted as saying, "I used to have separate selves — mother to my children, wife to my husband, caretaker to my parents, employee and friend. I thought that compartmentalizing my 'different selves' would help me manage each relationship better," she said. However, it's only by working to integrate her selves — and finding a job that allows her to bring every aspect of herself to work — that she's found true meaning in her career.
This quote speaks to the authentic nature that we need to lead with. We are not separate people in different aspects of our lives. We are one person doing various things. The more authentic you are, the more confident and comfortable you will feel, and you'll make a more considerable contribution.
To help you lead your best, I encourage you to identify your strengths, gifts, and personality traits. Then, do the work to figure out who you are and authentically be who you are daily.
Continue to grow yourself personally and professionally - Develop yourself
Intentionally developing yourself is critical to becoming the leader you want to be. Yvette spoke in the interview about being very intentional about this. She indicated you need to develop your growth plant and intentionally spend time working on yourself.
"The amount of time you spend on something is a manifestation of what you value."
If you value your growth and development, you'll put time into growing and developing yourself.
Be a balanced leader - Take care of yourself
4️⃣As I listened to Yvette, I could tell she has drive. That's different than being driven. When the work drives you, it becomes a problem. When you drive the work, you do that with intentionality. You also need the energy to do that! That means you need to take care of yourself.
But Yvette wasn't always that way. She tells the story of needing to shift from being driven by her career to intentionally creating her life and career simultaneously—that required intentionality and self-care.
Taking care of yourself it's not something you do just outside of work. It is something you do all day long. Start by adding teach micro-moments of wellness into your workday.
Be a leader, teacher, mentor and coach - Teach others to do the same
I love Yvette's story of supporting other women to grow and pulling them up as you advance. She learned this early on from her mother and sisters. She's been clear about continuing to do it throughout her career. She sees a large part of her role is developing others.
When we teach others to be themselves, develop themselves and take care of themselves, we do this through mentoring, guidance, coaching and leadership. Our job as a leader is not always correct and fix employees. Our job as leaders is to help our employees reach their full potential.
The four fundamentals of leadership:
What strategy, suggestion, or idea will you begin with today? Hit reply and tell me where you are starting and what you are inspired to awaken in yourself after listening to Yvettes' story.
Perhaps as a nonprofit leader, I'm guessing you can relate to my challenge. I was nattering along in my head the other day about something not going right, as we all do at times! Suddenly I stopped myself, and out loud, I said, "Thank you. That's not part of the vision."
My negative mind chatter needed to change fast!
The direction I was going with my mind chatter was definitely not the direction I wanted it to be going in my head or my life. Swirling down with negativity was not going to help my situation. Instead, pausing, expressing gratitude, and then reminding myself of my vision was much more helpful.
I shifted my mind with this powerful statement.
The statement "Thank you. That's not part of my vision" comes from the book The Ant and the Elephant, which I read last week. In this easy, quick read by Vince Poscente, he encourages us to realize the enormous potential of our unconscious mind and how that can help us lead ourselves and others.
I totally recommend this book to any leader who wants to inspire and motivate their team.
Don't get caught up in this trap.
What happens for many of us is that we tend to focus on what's wrong and try and fix it. But unfortunately, focusing on what's wrong makes us pessimistic, which leads to frustration, bitterness, anger, resentment etc. You get the picture.
It won't help you create an engaged team.
Feeling negative, bitter and frustrated doesn't make you feel any better, and it certainly doesn't motivate and inspire those around you to do better. Furthermore, that kind of attitude will not engage your team; it also helps to make your employees feel connected, inspire loyalty and thus encourage retention of good employees.
Instead, when you can pull in towards the vision with inspiration, you'll get a whole different response.
Gratitude makes the important shift in attitude that will create engagement.
Starting with gratitude is not often thought of as a tool to lead well. Sure it's a happiness booster and something we like to add for feel good extras but using gratitude as a staple in leadership is not something many of us have been taught or currently practice. But it is.
Now, back to my learning from The Ant and the Elephant. Why is this statement, "Thank you. That's not part of the vision," so powerful for leaders? Let's break down each component.
How to use gratitude to be a better nonprofit leader in 3 easy steps
First, we have to pause
First, we have to pause.
Pausing helps us get out of a negativity cycle, reactionary mode and brings us back to the present moment. In addition, it evokes mindfulness, something we all need a bit more of.
Second, we express gratitude.
Second, we express gratitude. Thank you.
The trick is that you can't be angry and grateful simultaneously. You can't be bitter, frustrated and annoyed and feel a sense of appreciation inside of you.
Expressing gratitude recognizes that, while maybe we are where we want to be, there are lessons to be learned about how we got here. Perhaps we are grateful for the reminder to get out of the negativity cycle. But gratitude turns us around.
Finally, we redirect our thoughts.
Finally, we redirect our thoughts. That's not part of the vision.
Do you have a vision? This statement reminds us that we need a vision individually and as leaders. It's an opportunity for us to reconnect to that vision and connect those around us to the vision.
Remember, if you don't know where you're going, any path will get you there. Leading your team around aimlessly is not going to help you generate engagement, motivate people or inspire loyalty.
So you need to know where you're going!
When you pull all these three together, you can see how important each piece is.
Pausing and starting with gratitude is not always easy. Gratitude seems too easy or too fluffy. But, gratitude is more than that.
Gratitude isn't a thing. It's a feeling.
It is not just an attitude of gratitude. Nor is it simply to practice gratitude. It starts with a feeling of gratitude. When I say feel, I mean that literally ⬇️
We need to feel the transcendent sensation of 🙏🏻 gratitude in our bodies.
We need to feel it inside of us before we express it verbally.
We need to feel it viscerally before the expression of gratitude can be genuine.
And when we do this often, we create a culture of gratitude that pulls our team in, engages them and inspires them.
Here is an example of the 3 steps in practice
Let's imagine the employee it's a negative comment under staff meeting. You've just shared a slight shift to the new procedure. One way to respond is to get defensive and explain it again, this time a little bit louder with more emphasis. We all know how that's gonna go!
Another way is to say:
"Thank you for sharing your views. Your frustration shows you care.
I know changes aren't always easy. However, the vision I have is that once we get through the sticky parts of the change, and yes, we may still have to make some amendments, but once we get through all of those, I'm expecting that we'll find it makes a big difference for our client's outings."
Thank you! That's not part of the vision! But let me tell you what is part of the vision...
Extra resources for leadership gratitude
This month in The Training Library, my students are receiving a new lesson on gratitude for leaders.
As a member of The Training Library, you'll receive a video lesson giving you strategies for implementing gratitude as a leader. Additionally, the worksheet students receive will take you from simply expressing "I'm grateful for..." to a whole other way of thinking about gratitude each day and applying it to your own life and your leadership.
Inspiring your team - 3 steps:
"Can I interrupt you for a second – do you have a minute?"
This is the sound of productivity being shot through the roof. However, every day, we need to decide how much time we want to spend focusing on our work and how much time we want to give to our nonprofit staff.
The other morning I had an interruption just as I started my workday. I bet you've had that happen to you. Just as you begin something, there's a knock at the door or a text or phone call.
How do you know when to deal with or ignore the interruption?
Consciously deciding when to let interruptions in and when not helps you focus on what you need to focus on when you need to, set clear boundaries, and be there for people when they need them. Learning to balance your people and your projects is a balancing act for most leaders.
We need to get stuff done. We have reports to write, emails to send, applications to fill out, preparation for meetings, and all the other stuff that goes along with achieving our mission-driven work.
Effective leaders learn to balance the "task work" with being in relationship with (aka being there for) the people who do our organization's client and community work.
The question is:
How do you know when to let the people side of your work interrupt the task side of your work and, conversely, when to stay focused on the task?
My interruption this morning was from my granddaughter. School is out now. When I see my granddaughter's name pop up on my phone, I know that she's likely looking for some attention or that something is wrong. She's ten years old and home alone in the morning for a couple of hours. I answered my phone to discover she wanted to borrow some eggs so she could make herself French toast.
For you, it may be a staff that needs to look over their work, a crisis that has blown up, or somebody who wants to pick your brain. You may have a good idea of who the interruption is from and be able to use that information to help you make a decision.
How I dealt with my interruption
In addition to wanting to borrow eggs, my granddaughter wanted to know when I was going for a walk, and I could tell she was bored. So I told her to come over and get the eggs, and I would look and let her know when my break was later in the day so we could go on a walk together.
How you can deal with your interruptions
Learning how to deal with interruptions in a way that feels good to you starts when you build a framework around decisions making. Here are 3 steps to consider to help you make decisions about interruptions you can feel good about.
STEP # 1 - Start by being clear with what's on your agenda
While I didn't have calls scheduled for that early in the morning, I did have a project I was working on slotted into that time frame. Awareness of your agenda items is one of the critical factors in deciding whether to allow yourself to be interrupted. Scheduling in non-meeting tasks creates a meeting with yourself, a commitment and a tool for determining if you will let the interruption in.
🤔 Ask yourself these questions:
STEP # 2 - Set clear boundaries
I told my granddaughter she could come over and get the eggs, but I didn't have time for a long chitchat. However, even though I set that boundary, she lingered when she showed up, and I had to nudge her out the door after about nine hugs!
You've been there, right? You answer the question or deal with the issue, and then you do the typical nonverbals to suggest that the conversation is over. You even may say something like, ok, I better get back at it and yet they still stand there, ask more questions, hem and haw etc. Here's the tricky part about allowing interruptions. It's creating a time frame boundary around the interruption.
🗣 Try using these phrasesYou will need to be extremely clear on the timelines upfront and continue to communicate those timelines throughout
Here's an example
The clearer you can be with your boundaries, the easier it is to hang up the phone, end the chat, or shut the door at the end of the interruption.
As much as my granddaughter wanted to linger, I knew it was time for her to go as I walked her to the door. I followed up, ensuring she knew what time I had a break later and that I would message her to go for a walk with her then. I didn't brush her off. Instead, I scheduled time to connect with her when I could give her my undivided attention.
STEP # 3 - Know what's important to you
I had to know what's important to me, what I value
Finally, it's essential to know and understand your values. Family is incredibly important to me. My granddaughters mean the world to me, but I'm also committed very deeply to the work I do for you. Balancing connection to family and deep, meaningful work has been a lifelong challenge. It's not something that comes easily, there is no quick formula, and the parameters will continually change.
You, too, need to be clear on what you value
My advice to you here is to be as transparent in your mind as possible. Try these two questions.
❤️ Start with verifying your values
Through the Values Verification course exercises, I recognized that my top value is not family. Instead, my top value is excellence. That clarity around what is ultimately important to me helps me make these decisions more clearly.
How can I provide excellent quality to you and, at the same time, be an excellent grandma? The answer is by giving quality time and attention to the project that I had scheduled for that morning and quality time and attention to my granddaughter.
I had to be "excellent" in both areas
If I had let my granddaughter interrupt my morning for any longer than I did, I would not have been an excellent grandma; I would've been a distracted grandma. Letting her interrupt the time I had scheduled for the project would have made me feel edgy. I would have been thinking about what I "should" be doing. I would have been trying to end the little visit multiple times, but discreetly, so she didn't feel like I was finishing it. It would have come across as icky for both of us.
I honoured my value of excellence in two areas of my life by setting and communicating clear boundaries and scheduling time for both areas.
3 questions to help you feel good about the decisions you make
Making decisions about interruptions like this doesn't come easily or quickly.
It takes time to understand how to make these decisions more quickly. That time often comes through after-the-fact self-reflection.
✏️ Take a moment to think about your decisions in the last 24 hours.
Engaging in ongoing self-reflection helps you prepare for future decisions, communicate boundaries, and apologize when you get it wrong because we likely will more than once.
Sometimes it is worth letting someone interrupt you, and sometimes it isn't
Time, or lack thereof, is the biggest bottleneck for most nonprofit leaders because there are so many other demands on your time and attention beyond your core mission. There are always more things that you need to do. However, we also learn to balance what time we give time to our people and when to use it for projects.
Being clear with what's on your agenda, knowing what's important to you and communicating clear boundaries will help you be both productive and create engagement with your nonprofit team!
READ THIS NEXT:
3 Decision-making mistakes you may be making and quick the fixes
Episode # 58 - Learn a decisive decision-making hack and how to use it - For women leaders
Nonprofit Leaders | 10 important questions you must ask before your next decision
Summer is kicking off; for many of us, this means extra reading time. If your reading list and maybe it's lacking in the leadership department. Here are a few suggestions I have for you to add to your summer reading list:
Summer Reading Book Suggestions
📚 Digital Body Language by Erica Dhawan
Some of us are still virtual, some hybrid. However, even if you're in the office full time, my guess is many of the meetings you have are virtual. On top of that, much of our communication is often via email, messenger or text. This book helps you understand the body language of digital communication. It's fascinating and beneficial.
p.s. the PDF file that comes with the audio version is phenomenal!
Find the book here
📚 Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown
This book is not a book to read from front to back. Instead, it's a reference book you'll hopefully return to regularly. So take some time to skim through it and dig deeper into the parts that pull you in. This book helps you understand emotions and feelings and expands your emotional vocabulary. Developing your emotional vocabulary is extremely helpful if you want to increase your emotional intelligence and be a more composed and emotionally in control leader.
Find the book here
📚 The Five Levels of Attachment by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr
You'll recognize the author if you've read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. However, this book is by Don Miguel's son. He goes through how we attach to ideas, thoughts and beliefs. Recognizing how tightly you've grasped your view helps to loosen your grip so that you can see others' points of view, develop new awarenesses and grow yourself.
Find the book here
📚 The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
Oh my goodness! No, this is not a leadership book. Today it is rated #1 in Literary Graphic Novels, #4 in Happiness, and #5 in Ethics & Morality
But so many life lessons and reminders help put our lives into perspective. I listened to the audio version, which is less than an hour long and beautifully read by the author. I have replayed segments of it when I need those little reminders.
Find the book here
I thought about doing a book club on this book. So if you read it, let me know if you'd be interested in that.
📚 Think Again by Adam Grant
Much of our thinking is unconscious. I'm often encouraging you to be more conscious with your thinking. In this book, you learn ways that thinking can help us and some of how it can get in the way. The ideas open your eyes to how you may want to engage in conversations with different people differently, explore other people's thoughts, get their input and work together.
Find the book here
📚 Mastering Confidence by Kathy Archer
Yes, I am also recommending my book. In in, I provide you with a framework for managing your thoughts. When your doubt, hesitation, and fear of imposter syndrome get in the way of leading, presenting, engaging in difficult conversations or running a staff meeting, it doesn't feel very good! This framework helps you rein in those thoughts and gives you structure you can return to when your thoughts begin to get the better of you again.
Find the book here
What books would you add to the list? Comment below so the rest of us can add to our reading list too!
There are plenty of ways to brush up on your leadership skills this summer. Picking up one of these six books is a good start and see how a new perspective, idea or strategy can boost your confidence as a leader.
As you go about your day as a nonprofit leader, something may happen, and you may feel your body tighten. For example, your stomach knots up, your chest feels heavy, or your throat tightens or feels dry. Perhaps you overreact or shut down. This physical response may be a sign you may have just got triggered.
We often get triggered when something threatens our values. This response results when we feel something important to us is at risk.
Here's how I got triggered this weekend...
Let me give you an example. I value order. I like things to be in their place, and I like to have things tidy. However, this weekend I was triggered multiple times by mud on the floor and the result from when someone in my house who didn't think it was a problem not to clean their feet before they came in. (Can you guess who?)
We're in the middle of backyard renovations. Unfortunately, with this weekend's rain, my backyard was a mud hole. Each time my husband, the dog, or I came in, a pile of mud and dirt came with us. Because a sense of order is important to me, I would take my shoes off outside, ensure the dog's feet were clean before he came in and immediately sweep up any chunks of mud.
This is what triggered me...
On the other hand, my husband sees the mess as part of the process, so the mess doesn't bother him. So it's not a problem for him to walk around barefoot outside and come into the house. He values freedom, ease and relaxation. He likes to be barefoot, and walking around in the grass and mud doesn't bother him. The house will get cleaned eventually, so what's the big deal?
Which camp are you in?
This is how knowing my trigger helped me
Knowing that I'm triggered by disarray helps me manage my emotions and be somewhat humourous about my incessant need to clean. Aware that the tightness in my chest is building, I can manage my frustration with my husband by managing my self-talk, taking some deep breaths or distracting myself with something I enjoy.
During a coaching call the other day, my client Jenessa became aware that when others aren't accountable for their actions or in-actions, or their responsibilities etc., she is triggered. Jenessa feels her chest tighten, purses her lips, and sometimes clenches her hands. She laughed at the memory of pounding out a response to a chat message when she was annoyed with someone shirking their responsibility.
Does either of these feel familiar to you?
This is why identifying your triggers is important
Identifying triggers is part of working with and understanding our values to help us be more emotionally intelligent and confident in our abilities. When you know what's important to you and what it feels like when that thing (i.e. order, accountability) is being threatened, it's easier to choose a response than react in a way you may regret later.
Below you'll find steps to help you find the clarity around your value to help you be more intentional instead of reactionary.
5 steps to use your VALUES to be more emotionally intelligent
Here is the process to help you find the clarity around your value to help you be more intentional instead of reactionary.
1 - Identify your values
2- Get an understanding of what your values mean to you
3 - Determine how your values show up in your life
4 - Pinpoint what's going on when you are aligned with your values or not
5- Get clear on what triggers show up when things in your life aren't in line with your values
This deeper understanding of your values helps you to manage your emotions, navigate tough conversations and focus on what matters most when it matters most!
One more example...
If you are trying to wind down a conversation at a meeting, you may value timeliness or efficiency. Your annoyance with those who are dragging the conversation out is triggering that value.
That's why you are:
Conversely, your peer may be
See how that all works together?
Need some help?
This month inside my membership, I added a worksheet to the Values Verification course, helping members identify their triggers. If this is part of what you need, or the five steps listed above, check out the course here and if you think it would be helpful, join the membership here.
When you join The Training Library membership, you'll become confident in your leadership abilities, learn to bounce back when adversity hits, discover how to be your best self and find a place to belong!
Becoming emotionally intelligent and confident in our leadership abilities takes time and requires skill development and increased awareness of what makes us tick! To do this, take responsibility for where you are and where you are going by creating your own personal and professional development plan. Intentional development is your path to success in both your leadership and life.
Read this next:
The 8 most overlooked definitions in leadership and why they matter
I bet there are times you wish you could be involved in an engaging leadership experience? Not a one-off course, webinar or conference session, but an experience, over time, that deepens your learning!
In 2012 I did that. For 10 months, about 20 other leaders from around the world and I learned together, online and in person. Four times we met for a week at a time in California. Between those sessions, we met online and had partner projects that required us to meet in person with our partners. It was an incredible experience. It was also one of the most transformative things I've ever done.
Not everyone can do something like that, but we can create learning experiences for our teams. Not training per se, but an experience where you learn, grow and develop over time.
I am blessed to be working with a large group of nonprofit leaders for nine months to help them become inspiring leaders. Inspiring leaders motivate and engage their teams, so they enjoy their jobs and do meaningful work together.
One of the first things I covered with the participants of the Inspiring Leadership group was the four fundamentals of leadership. They are the base for the future of the work we do together.
Even though you may not be involved in a group program, you can benefit from these fundamentals and use them over the next several months of your leadership journey. I'll give you a brief overview and share some suggestions that you can do to work on yourself! Then you can create your strategy and plan for growth.
The 4 fundamentals of leaders
As teenagers, we spent a lot of time figuring out our identity, answering the question, who am I? But as we mature, we have spent more time conforming to what's expected of us than who we are and are more focused on; how do I fit in? As such, we've often lost touch with who we are.
The first thing I do with individuals or teams is help them identify their strengths, values and morals. Understanding what makes you tick, thrive, and the triggers that make you react is fundamental to inspiring, motivating and engaging others.
Suggestion: Take time to consider:
Extra Resources for The Training Library membership members:
Ongoing personal and professional development is critical. For example, when I was in the ten-month leadership program, we had a list of required reading, each had a coach, and we learned A LOT about leadership and ourselves. At the end of the course, I committed to continue learning to be a better speaker and joined Toastmasters. I'm still involved!
Suggestion: Create your learning plan
Extra Resources for The Training Library membership members:
Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is critical for effective leadership.
Suggestion: Commit to wellness
Extra Resources for The Training Library membership members:
Teach others to do the same
If you want the best for and out of the people you work with, they need to be themselves, develop themselves and take care of themselves. Teach, role model and mentor these habits to them.
Suggestion: Coach your people
Extra Resources for The Training Library membership members:
Starting the journey of mastering these fundamentals is critical for you to BECOME confident in your abilities, BOUNCE BACK when adversity hits and BE your best self!
Someone lied to me the other day. It was a lie to cover up a lie. I knew it right away. I'm not sure that they knew it, though. Maybe not consciously. I think it's a habit for them.
Regardless of whether they knew or not that they lied to me, their habit of lying caused me to lose another measure of trust in them.
Trust, one of the foundations of leadership, is built by leaders' decisions, one decision at a time. Each decision builds on the other, solidifying how much someone feels you are trustworthy. However, how much someone trusts you can come crashing down, broken by one seemingly small decision.
Many of our decisions in leadership and life are unconscious, and this is where problems can begin. No, we can't think about every little choice and decision we make. However, as leaders, we need to be more consciously aware of how we make decisions, small and big. Furthermore, we need to be much more aware of the unconscious habits we make around certain types of decisions.
Your decisions paint a portrait of who you are. Each decision is a brush stroke of your character. Your character is who you are, not what you do. It's how people talk about you. Your character is your reputation or what they think about you.
For example, we may speak in awe of certain women's characteristics:
Then at times, we cringe at other character traits that some women exude:
So you see, your reputation or character matters!
Back to the person who lied to me. The thing is, I know this person will add other lies to the painting regularly. As such, I see them as a liar. Don't get me wrong. These are not always big lies. But, often, the lies I am talking about are:
But, it's not only lying. How about racist humour?
I know someone else who makes comments about certain races, genders, religions or personalities but always minimizes their supposed intended impact with a joke, a chuckle or a caveat that they are not biassed or prejudiced. Oh, but the picture they are painting, by choosing to say these things in the first place, tells a different story to my eyes.
These are more dramatic examples of how we shape our character. However, think now about the much more subtle decisions you make all day long and how they may affect how others view you as their leader.
These unconscious, small decisions often paint a picture of the type of leader you are. The point is to choose the image you're painting. To do that requires you to be more conscious of your decision-making, especially your micro-decisions. Micro-decisions are made all day long and are rarely seen as decisions because they are often more like habits. But make no doubt about it, you can choose differently.
Consider these examples of micro-decisions:
Micro decisions shape your character, paint a picture of who you are and tell others the type of leader you are.
Three steps to becoming more conscious of your microdecisions and making better ones!
1) Pick a short period each day for a week.
30 - 60 minutes is good enough. It could be a meeting, 1-1 conversation, or when you are working at your computer.
2) Remind yourself to do self-reflection for 1 minute after the time
3) Make a note of any micro-decisions you made during that period
On a piece of paper, in your notebook or on an electronic note, make one of your micro-decisions.
Each time you do this over the week, come up with at least 3 per period and look for new ones each time you do the minute of self-reflection.
Each time you do this, you'll become more and more conscious of the micro-decisions you are painting. Take some time to consider if these micro-decisions are painting the picture of the type of leader you want to be. If not, what will you need to do to become more conscious about these micro-decisions, and how will you change them?
Our decisions shape us and shape others' views of us.
Are your decisions matching what you want that view to be?
What to read next:
How to worry less about what you DO and plan more for who you are BEING
Nonprofit Leaders | 10 important questions you must ask before your next decision
Should you care more about what your nonprofit employees think about you?
Podcasts to listen to:
Episode # 16 - Discerning Before Deciding - Here's How
Episode # 32 - Three questions to help you make better decisions
Episode # 58 - Learn a decisive decision making hack and how to use it - For women leaders
Most women leaders in nonprofits have never received training on HOW to make decisions decisively, yet decisiveness is a crucial competency of leaders. To feel confident in making decisions, you need to know how to make decisions! If you want to learn the three-step process to make decisions quickly and efficiently with your integrity intact, click here.
When you cancel your regularly scheduled supervision with someone, do you tell them it's because you have another more important meeting, you are exhausted, or because you can't stomach the conversation you'll have with them?
Which one is closest to the truth?
Some days are hard
Sometimes many days in a row are hard.
Just a few days ago, my husband and I attended the funeral of a colleague of his and a father of three daughters, two of which are friends with our girls. That's the second of my one daughter's school friends that have lost their fathers in the last month.
Yesterday I learned that a colleague of mine lost her adult son, the father of my colleague's grandchildren.
On a coaching call this week, I spoke with a client who had just lost their father-in-law and, within a day, found out that their mother may only have a few days left to live.
On social media and in conversations, I listen to stories of the ongoing war and the rising costs of everything. I hear references to so many "isms," inequities, injustices and downright stupidity.
This week there was mass destruction in a storm that ravished eastern Canada and many deaths.
And there was another school shooting this week.
My heart aches—the tears flow. I wonder why. I sob
What do I say to you this week? How do I create hope and optimism for you? What words can I offer that can make any difference? I don't know the answer to that.
What I can tell you is how I make my way through it. If what I do can offer you any hope, I offer it to you also.
One fundamental belief I live by is that I can't change anything other than myself.
I wish I could impact everyone, but I can't touch everyone in the world. But I believe that the way I positively impact others through any connection I have can have a ripple across the globe.
I remind myself my purpose here on earth is to bring the light.
So after reading the latest news this morning and feeling my heart drop once again, I had a choice to make. I could go down the social media rabbit hole and get angry, scared and depressed, or move through the pain and shift my energy.
So I played Let the Light In and, through my tears, reminded myself that I must do that.
What's interesting, though, is that letting the light in with you or for myself is not just shifting our focus to the positive. Instead, before we can move to the light, the positive or the joy, we must stay in the dark for just a little bit longer. We need to stay where we are and experience this hurt, pain and sorrow before we can let it go.
I was coaching a client this week, and through her tears, we talked about how lonely Leadership can be. When coaching another client, we talked about the anger and frustration with the organization she works with. In a third coaching conversation, we stayed with my client's irritation long enough to name it and identify the trigger.
We stayed in the dark, the yucky and uncomfortableness, each time, rather than hop over it.
I learned a long time ago that numbing out pain, hurt and darkness does not work. Numbing out the "bad" emotions also numbs joy, contentment, inner peace, and happiness. We need to experience the full range of our feelings to experience the full range of our emotions. Otherwise, we feel more flatlined, which does not feel good either.
To let my light in and let my light shine and help you do the same, I must crumble to my knees in moments like this and fall apart. I must pray through my tears as I feel my heart breaking wide open. It is only when I experience those cracks that I can then allow the light to shine in
When I can feel the whole range of emotions, what hurts like hell, can I then experience what feels so good!
Last week I went for a walk and crossed paths with a young boy walking home from school. We had a little chat. The conversation was nothing crazy, nothing miraculous. We talked about his day at school, where we lived, and who we knew in common. Yet, when I walked away from that moment, I realized I felt immense joy. I'm sure my heart was glowing. Such a simple, ordinary, inconsequential encounter had such a profound impact.
But, here's the thing, I can't feel that joy without feeling today's deep sorrow and pain.
I can't feel the softness of my granddaughter leaning into me for a hug and telling me she loves me, and stay there just a little longer, soaking in love, contentment and pure bliss, if I hadn't cried in sorrow earlier in the day.
I can experience the awe of an eagle soaring over our family picnic for several moments, lost in his freedom, ease and grace, and feel that wash over my body, calming me and bringing me peace. I can feel that because I also let tears fall when I read another news story of loss, devastation and hate feeling just as profoundly in that moment, at the bottom of the arc.
If you're interested in my advice about dealing with all that is "wrong" with the world, it is this: Feel the full range of your emotions.
Let yourself experience whatever you're experiencing.
Life and leadership are about ups and downs. There's no way around that. If you don't want to get stuck in the mundane, the rat race, the flatline of feelings ebb and flow with everything.
Here are 4 resources to help you
LeAnne Rimes - Chant Album
This is my go-to album when I need to feel — Feel joy, sorrow or just feel whatever I can not name.
Atlas of the Heart - Brene Brown
A reference book for 87 emotions
I come back to it repeatedly to understand, feel, and make a bit more sense of what I am feeling.
Unlocking Us Podcast Episode Atlas of the Heart, Audience Q&A, Part 1 of 2 with Brené Brown, Ashley Brown Ruiz, & Barrett Guillen
At minute 20, they answer a listener's question on compassion fatigue and secondary trauma
It's easy to think that we have compassion and empathy for the world around us, but we are often creating secondary trauma in ourselves, which is not helpful either.
Brene's answer to this question helped me understand why I felt so incredibly distraught after the funeral I attended on Saturday. I had gone into secondary trauma, imagining what would happen if my husband died and how our kids and I would cope. I was reliving the experience, having climbed over the metaphorical fence as Brene talks about.
Note, Brene references the Sandy Hook shooting :-(
Permission to Feel - Marc Brackett
While the subtitle is Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive, the book is full of learning for adults. Mark provides tools to help develop your emotional intelligence, including his RULER framework and Mood Meter. I use these with clients frequently.
I won't tell you that it's easy, but this is the only way I know how.
Feel free to show your other strategies with me so that we may all learn together how to navigate this world we live in.
I am sending you much love, hugs and light today!
As I walked into my office, my administrative support, Wendy, asked me a question. I turned and glared at her. Then, as I turned back and kept on walking, I answered Wendy through my teeth! I certainly didn't have the patience for her BS right now.
But....why didn't I have the patience for Wendy at this moment?
Was it because she had done something wrong?
** Possibly, but the way I handled it was all on me.
Ok, let me start by saying I do not like that word at all! If you can give me another word that we all know and understand to describe what I mean, please message me and tell me a better word. It's not merely being rude or being cranky it's more than that. And we've all been there.
I've had my fair share of staff challenges, and I bet you have too. We have staff that don't get along, stir the pot on the team, mess up with clients, neglect their paperwork, or in general, are somewhat incompetent at their job. And we need to address those issues.
How are you addressing the issues?
Instead, you probably want them to say something like, "That was a tough conversation, but I feel like she's supporting me and wants to help me out."
What gets in the way?
We are women leaders. There is a lot that can get in the way that has nothing to do with the work, the person we are dealing with, the sector or the issue at hand.
▶︎ It might, however, have to do with that time of the month.
▶︎ It might have to do with that time in our life cycle.
▶︎ It could also be that our hormones are off due to our diabetes or thyroid issues.
▶︎It might result from a lack of sleep because our toddler kept us up, we fought with our partner or dealt with night sweats half the night.
Hormones, emotions, burnout
How you respond to a challenge with your employee is less about the words you use and more about how you deliver that message. Hormones, emotions and burnout all factor in. They are all things you need to be aware of, manage and, yes, at times, workaround.
3 strategies to help you manage your reputation
1) Be mindful of your body, mind and soul
2) Be in control of your schedule so you can adjust when needed based on mood and energy levels.
3) Be honest
We respect vulnerable leaders
Most of our nonprofits are full of women, all of whom are likely going through similar emotional, hormonal and energy roller coasters. When you acknowledge where you are at, it makes you seem more human and permits others to do the same. Humour is useful in these kinds of situations if that's a strength of yours, but so is self-compassion, kindness, honesty and bravery.
For those of you in The Training Library, here are some resources you might want to check out to help you ditch the bitchiness and lead with confidence!
You are human! Don't forget that
Remember, it's not what you do as a leader that counts. It's how you do it. And you are a human being. You have emotions, hormones and a life outside of work that factor into how you lead. Don't forget to take that into account. When you do, you'll ditch survival mode and learn to thrive in both your leadership and your life!
Did you know that practicing mindfulness can make you a better leader?
You bet it can!
Mindfulness helps you to:
AND....Mindfulness helps you to be a compassionate leader:
Instead of being stiff, bristly and focused only on tasks and results, mindfulness helps you be a warm, caring, compassionate, emotionally and socially intelligent leader.
You are a caring person!!!
And let's be honest, that's who you are at your core! You are kind, caring and passionate about your work. Sometimes, we just get caught up in the mess of the day, lose contact with that part of ourselves (unmindful) and lose touch with the human side of our leadership capacity.
Mindfulness doesn't necessarily mean meditation
Now that we've confirmed, it might be a good idea to practice mindfulness; my guess is your thoughts immediately go to meditation. While that may be helpful, and I encourage you to try that, you don't have to meditate to practice mindfulness.
You don't have to live alone to do this!
But you might be saying I can't do that. I have a houseful. True. And when you sit and eat and listen to the sounds in your household, what do you hear?
You might also tune in to what you taste.
Use your senses at any moment to be mindful
Your senses are wonderful ways of bringing you present, being mindful in this moment 👃🏼👂🏻 👋🏻 👀 👅 Even during a meeting, travelling or watching tv, you can practice tuning into your senses.
As I practiced mindfulness this morning, I tasted the cinnamon in my oatmeal, the ground hazelnuts, craisins sprinkled in and the almond milk on top.
Mindfulness is being mindful of this moment...it's that "easy"
Practising mindfulness is simply just that, practising being mindful of whatever is happening around you.
Are you present or in the past or future?
Instead, most of us let our thoughts pull us back to what happened and regurgitate what went wrong. Alternately, we focus on the future and fret and worry about what is to become. To be mindful is to be in this moment, whatever is going on!
Mindfulness helps you build compassion, care and connection in your nonprofit
In this week's episode of the podcast, Elizabeth Bishop and I talk about love in your nonprofit. By love, we mean compassion, connection and caring. The problem is many of us have lost touch with that part of our leadership capacity. And it shows.
More help to build your compassion, kindness and mindfulness
To help, tune in to my conversation with Elizabeth for tons of ideas, insights and the incentive to practice mindfulness.
For more information on how to use mindfulness to maintain your composure during tough meetings, those of you in The Training Library can watch this webinar.
TRY IT: Just for a moment now, tune into your senses. Be present to this moment!
Go make the rest of your day awesome!
Have you lost your passion for your work?
We’ve been told we’ll burn ourselves out. But we are burning ourselves out by not caring, not feeling and numbing out.
In this episode, Elizabeth and I engage in a dialogue about bringing your heart back into your work!
You’ll learn strategies, mindsets and most importantly, you’ll gain the permission to once again feel the love in the workplace!
Join the membership
Listen to the podcasts
Read the book
Available on Amazon
Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.