If you are like most leaders, you've been here:
You have a precious break in the day, so you look at your endless to-do list.
All tasks seem important, but you scan the list, looking for the priority items you can knock off in a few minutes. As you glance at each item, you make a mental note:
Your to-do list is like an emotional roller coaster
In the time it takes to scan down the list, your emotions move from overwhelmed to anxious, then annoyed and doubtful, ending with discouraged.
Pushing the to-do list aside, you begin scrolling through your inbox without realizing you've avoided doing anything on the list and, as a result, get further behind and more disheartened 😩
I get it. I've been there many, many times too! In fact, if you are like most leaders, you have a lengthy to-do list that haunts you into the wee hours of the morning and, honestly, will never get done.
But why is it that we will never get through our to-do list?
💥The reason your to-do list will never get done is twofold
REASON # 1
First, it's a disorganized list that is more of a holding place than a completion place.
REASON # 2
Second, we look at the list as items that need time to be completed, and we blame lack of time as the enemy 😡 ⏰
It's way more complicated than just not enough time.
For example, look at your to-do list and consider:
Without taking all of that into consideration, our to-do list becomes an impossible challenge, and time becomes the enemy. But time is getting a bad rap. ❌ It's not ⏳ time's fault.
The time available to complete tasks is only one small factor in managing our to-do list. There are other things to consider. Below are three steps to help you manage your to-do list with much greater success👇🏻
QUESTION: How do I get done, what matters on my to-do list?
ANSWER: You create order and awareness.
1) First, start by prioritizing your to-do list into some semblance of order
That way, your to-do list can become a tool working for you instead of a threat against you.
2) Next, let go of inappropriate expectations of your to-do list
You change expectations of your to-do list by shifting your mindset from believing your to-do list is a list of things that need doing to a holding place for projects and tasks.
3) Finally, move a few key items to each day's agenda, plan or priorities
When you only have three things to get done each day, you will check them off with greater speed and satisfaction.
But we are still overlooking something
That covers the tactical side of getting through your to-do list. But there is something bigger that needs addressing.
🐘 The elephant in the room is the emotions you felt when you scanned the list.
Your emotions play a big role in productivity
Many of us are unaware of our feelings, let alone how our emotions affect our productivity. We can choose our responses better by slowing down and getting a better awareness of what we are experiencing and how our emotions distract us from getting done what matters most.
If you want more help with this, read this next: Why Your Emotions Are Sabotaging Your Productivity
If you've been meaning to
NOW is the time to plan HOW you will do that 👆🏻 growth.
As a woman leading in the nonprofit sector, I know your days are filled with endless meetings, tight deadlines, and a never-ending to-do list. I've been there, and I know it's not always easy to stay motivated and positive when facing these challenges.
When I get behind, I get irritable 😤 Any interruptions will annoy the crap out of me. The thing is, not only do I get short with others, but I also beat myself up.
The impact of less-than-productive days
You, too, likely feel irritated on less-than-productive days. You also know the consequences of how an unproductive day can spill into your evening. Being short with your staff is certainly not optimal, but a cutting remark with your child can leave you feeling inept in the parenting department.
I'd had enough of it!
This all-too-familiar cycle was the norm for me for years. The more determined I got in the last few years to do meaningful work, the more necessary it became to be productive. Changing a few things has made an incredible difference for me. I still have less productive times, but they are fewer and farther between. I end most weeks ticking everything off of my weekly list.
When you decide it's time to be more productive...this ↓
✅ Being more productive will help you take that weekly and daily to-do list and get them done. That way, you can shut off at the end of the day, knowing you completed what was needed.
✅ Being productive at work frees up your mind and energy to shift into the rest of your life. Feeling upbeat when you come home at the end of your workday results in a much more enjoyable evening with your loved ones!
Let's dive into the three powerful productivity hacks that enhance efficiency and boost mood👇🏻
3 Productivity Hacks for Leaders
that are Guaranteed to Boost Your Mood
1 - Prioritize Self-Care
As a dedicated nonprofit leader, it's natural to put others before yourself.
However, taking care of your well-being is essential for maintaining a positive mindset and achieving productivity because:
👉🏻 It's hard to focus when you are hangry.
👉🏻 It will take you way longer to create the document when you haven't left your desk for 3 hours straight.
👉🏻 You'll find burnout knocking at your door if you don't take proper care of yourself.
If you neglect self-care, you're more likely to be unproductive, experience heightened stress levels, and eventually face burnout, just like my client Nancy.
🙋🏻♀️ Nancy was neglecting her physical and mental well-being, feeling exhausted, and struggling to be productive.
Nancy started with wanting to carve out time each day for self-care activities that rejuvenate her, like a morning meditation or an evening walk with the dogs, but she didn't always have the motivation to do that. Many of my clients have high aspirations like this but struggle to get there. To get moving in the right direction, I encourage them, like I encouraged Nancy, to start small and work to add micro-moments of wellness throughout her day.
WHAT WORKED FOR NANCY
Nancy began working through the course Wellness AT Work and learned how to add micro-moments of wellness into her work day. She immediately found she was feeling healthier and more productive!
👉🏻 DO THIS: Add micro-moments of wellness into your day
Think about what you can do in one minute or less:
Learn more about the Wellness AT Work COURSE
2 - Master Time Management
As a nonprofit leader, learning effective time management is a game-changer. Learning to manage your energy and priorities helps you have increased productivity and allows you to maintain a positive outlook.
Here are the basics:
✔️ Take time to plan your week, determining the top projects and tasks needing to be done.
✔️ Break your projects into tasks which makes them more manageable.
✔️ Each day, identify your top priorities for the day
✔️ Create time blocks in your calendar to work on allocating tasks
✔️ Embrace technology tools such as task management apps, calendars, and reminders to stay organized and on track.
By maximizing your time and staying focused, you'll accomplish more while reducing stress, undoubtedly boosting your mood.
However, time management strategies alone won't be the simple answer.
🤔 You'll also need to manage what's happening in your head when you think about those tasks.
❗️ Just because you put "performance review" on your agenda
doesn't mean you'll eagerly jump into it at the allotted time.
If you are uncomfortable with conflict and know this review will be challenging, you may put it off unconsciously. Seeing it pop up on your list week after week requires you to start looking at the unconscious thoughts getting in the way.
🙋🏼♀️ SASHA'S STORY
Sasha knew that she was struggling with more than time management.
WHAT WORKED FOR SASHA
For example, Sasha kept putting off the annual report. It had been on her list for a month, and now the pressure was on to finish it. As she worked through the exercises...
💡 These two insights helped Sasha add some client stories to the report and ask for help with the software. She then reengaged in the task and completed it on time with a sense of pride rather than frustration.
👉🏻 DO THIS: Master your inner critic
Work through The Emotions of Time Management to help you apply the time management strategies despite your sabotaging thoughts.
Learn more about The Emotions of Time Management COURSE
3 - Make the best use of your productive times
🙋🏼♀️ MY STORY
A few years ago, I took a deep dive into productivity. As an overachiever with high expectations of myself,
🟦 Identify your most productive times
🟦 During peak times, do the projects needing intense focus
What are the things that require a level of diligence and focus?
reading over and digesting a report
WHAT WORKED FOR ME
🟦 Use your willpower wisely
Willpower is the age-old skill of self-control, restraint, strength, and determination. Willpower happens in your head.
🗣️ Our mind chatter tries to get us to avoid pain.
🗣️ That inner dialogue suggests to us, subconsciously, that doing a particular project on our to-do list hurts.
🗣️ Our inner voice says that if we do the task in front of us, it will be painful, hard or troublesome.
So instead, that little gremlin 🗣️ inside suggests we check email again, move to a different project or head to Tik Tok, LinkedIn, or your favourite social media newsfeed.
👉🏻 DO THIS: Learn to manage your willpower
Honestly, learning about willpower helped me the most with productivity. It takes resolve to push past that and get to work, especially agonizing jobs. To stay on task, get done the important work and leave feeling productive at the end of your day, you must activate your willpower. Start by:
✅ Understanding what willpower is and what it isn't
✅ Learning how to stop depleting your willpower unnecessarily.
✅ Learning how to get more willpower quickly when you need it most.
I took what I learned and put it into the course Willpower Essentials: Getting Done What Matters Most
Learn more about the Willpower Essentials COURSE
Remember, boosting your mood and enhancing your efficiency go hand in hand. Prioritize self-care, master time management, and learn to manage your willpower, and you'll find yourself accomplishing more while enjoying the journey.
Here is the thing, as a leader, you can inspire other women leaders in the nonprofit sector with your positive energy that will undoubtedly create a ripple effect within your organization and community. The choice is yours!
You may have noticed that I linked three different courses above. All of them are instantly accessible to you, plus many, many more, when you join The Training Library for $19.97/month.
🤔 How much do you pay for your Prime, Netflix, Google or Apple membership?
Is your growth and development (also your sanity) not worth that much too?
Joining The Training Library gives you the tools to lead and live your best. I hope I'll see you in there soon!
As women leaders in nonprofit organizations, you often find yourself needing to navigate a challenging conversation. Whether addressing policy violations or managing performance issues, these discussions tend to evoke much 😩 angst and worry over how they will go.
It's your job to have difficult conversations
But having difficult conversations is part of being a leader. The problem is that often when we think about these upcoming exchanges, we're trying to figure out how to have that conversation without thinking about the how. 👈🏻Yes, reread that sentence. As we rehearse an upcoming conversation in our heads, we are trying to figure out WHAT to say rather than HOW to say it.
But you are missing a key component of preparations for these conversations
We meticulously plan our arguments, gather evidence, and outline our case.
To prepare, you:
We think less about HOW we will engage, connect, influence, impact, listen, hear, and understand.
Understanding. That's a good place to start. When we engage in a difficult conversation, we seek to be understood rather than to understand. So we gather the information but try to shut off who we are.
We want to be DETACHED in tough conversations
I often hear women say I'm just going to go in, be clear, non-emotional, or detached.
But what they're really doing is going into a conversation with lots of emotions.
😤 😡 😣They are annoyed, irritated, frustrated, and trying to pretend that they're not. Yet, when I ask my clients what happens when they are annoyed, irritated, or frustrated, they tell me things like:
🙈 And although they know they can't hide all these things, they hope the other person doesn't notice. But they are only kidding themselves.
Deep down, you know that others probably pick up on it even when you pretend you aren't annoyed, irritated or frustrated.
You need to manage your emotions so you can engage in the conversation
The truth is emotions will arise during difficult conversations. As much as we might try to conceal them, our nonverbal cues and internal experiences can be telling. Rather than suppressing or denying these emotions, you need to acknowledge and address your emotions to deal with a challenging conversation confidently.
🤔 Before the conversation:
My client experienced an ah ha
A client told me she wanted to stop being so passionate in conversations. I asked her how passion shows up during a conversation. When she's passionate, my client said she talks a lot, talks fast and gives lots of details.
🟦 I want to stop being passionate
I suggested that instead of shutting the passion off that, she manage the passion and focus on being clear and concise in her message and then pausing, allowing the other person time to soak it and respond. Passion isn't the issue. That is, in fact, what we are looking for👇🏻
🟦 Oh wait...I do want to be passionate
If I asked you how you want to feel about your job, you might tell me you want to feel engaged, excited, and eager to be there. Wouldn't you say that's passion? So when the behaviour of someone on your team is negatively impacting a client, why wouldn't you be passionate?
✅ It's how you use that passion that's important.
🟦 Ah, I have to learn to manage my passion
When my client realized this, she was very intrigued. She does care deeply about the work she and her team are doing. It's no wonder she's passionate.
🌱 Learning to manage it rather than shutting it off is her place for growth!
You need to choose the emotions you want to bring into the conversation
When you prepare ahead of time, you'll approach the discussion with greater clarity, empathy, and control, paving the way for a more productive dialogue.
Remember, the way we approach the conversation has a profound impact on its outcome. Difficult conversations are more effective when we focus less on content and more on the connection. The best way to do that is to let go of being right and understood and instead become curious and seek to understand.
Often, our natural inclination during difficult conversations is to seek to be understood. We aim to get our point across, make our case, and ensure our perspective is acknowledged. However, a shift in mindset is necessary for building strong, trusting relationships with your employees. Instead of solely focusing on being understood, cultivate a genuine curiosity to understand the other person's viewpoint. Doing so creates an environment that encourages openness, empathy, and collaboration.
Seven Mantras to Help You Through Tough Conversations
1️⃣ Curiosity is critical
2️⃣ Emotions are everything
3️⃣ Pause before you proceed
4️⃣ Connect before you continue.
5️⃣ Put the relationship before the responsibility
6️⃣ It's not just about the content; it's about the connection
7️⃣ The inner work is the work!
Your focus needs to be on WHO you will be while you are talking about the WHAT
When you prepare for difficult conversations, remember that the strength of your connection is the key part. By focusing on the type of person you are in those conversations, you can create a safe space that promotes understanding, collaboration, and growth. Remember, it's not just about the content; it's about the connection.
📗 If you need help, read this:
You may want some help to learn to dig deep and focus on how to have a conversation rather than what you will discuss if the conversation takes some work.
Fellow coach Michael Bangay, Stanier recently published his latest book, How to Work with Almost Anyone.
In it, you will learn five questions for building possible relationships with some of those people you aren't sure you will ever get along with.
I highly recommend that you grab it and do the work to focus on how to have conversations, not just the content of the conversations.
When you do, it will be incredible peace to help you manage your emotions and increase your emotional intelligence while having those conversations with difficult people.
p.s. The inner work IS the work! Where will you start today to grow yourself from the inside out?
Building Emotional Intelligence
As a nonprofit woman leader, do you ever wish that you could pause a situation, rewind and pull back what you just said or did? There are certainly days that I wish that I could reverse time and have a do-over of a conversation or situation. Sometimes words seem to fall out of our mouths, and we wish we could grab them back.
Understanding Emotional Intelligence
As a new leader, after moving up from a front-line position to a leadership position, I was suddenly supervising my peers. Feeling unsure of myself and lacking the confidence to address issues calmly, I remember yelling at my administrative support 🤦🏼♀️
As soon as I did, I regretted it😞
I couldn't take back what I'd said. However, I learned to build my confidence and manage my emotions over time. Increasing my emotional intelligence helped me and can help you!
While we can't change the past, we can slow down what is happening inside of us and positively impact what we say and how we behave, thus reducing the number of times we say or do something we regret. Doing so is all about working on building your Emotional Intelligence.
It starts with learning to be aware of your emotions
Someone high in Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is aware of their emotions and good at managing them. What we feel plays a key role in what we say and do. To be more tuned into what you are feeling requires you to slow down time and widen the gap between what happened and your reaction. Using the Inner Guidance Cycle helps you to do that.
🔄 Use The Inner Guidance Cycle
When you PAUSE, you'll create time to PONDER and reflectively look back at past situations to see the space between an incident and your reaction to the incident. That microsecond between the two is the segment of time we want to examine first after the fact, but in time, you'll learn at the moment to be more in control of what happens in that space.
When examining this gap, you want to get curious about what happened after an incident and what story you made up about that incident that caused the reaction. This is the PONDERING place where we explore thoughts, feelings and body sensations.
Understanding and often changing our story is critical
It is the story you told yourself, the thought that resulted in the feeling that caused you to say or do something you may regret. I use the word "story" for a reason. While we like to think of it as the truth, it's only our version of the truth. It is the story we make up based on our beliefs, values, past experiences and more. It's our perspective. When we start to change that story or shift our perspective, we move into the PIVOT stage of The Inner Guidance Cycle.
These are the four steps in the Inner Guidance Cycle
Exploring the Gap
Here's what is happing, often without you realizing it 👇🏻
🟦 The Incident
🟦 Your Thoughts
What we mistakenly think happens after the incident is that we react. However, this is where the gap is, after the incident but before the reaction. In that time, much transpires inside your mind and through your body.
🤔 When that thing occurred, you had a thought. Usually, it's not a conscious thought. In most cases, you aren't even remotely aware that anything happened, but it did.
During this gap, you have thoughts such as:
🟦 Your body sensations
The thought about the incident then creates the feeling. You experience fear, anxiety, or frustration. That feeling is felt in your body as a body sensation.
🟦 Your subsequent feelings
When something happens, and we have a thought about it, as our body responds, we also have a variety of feelings. Rather than simply being mad, sad, or glad, our emotions are much more granular.
We may feel:
👉🏻 Expand your Emotional Vocabulary
Understanding Reactions and Responses
🟪 Your reaction
It is the thought and the feeling about the incident that dictates the way you respond or react. This includes what you say and what you do. At that moment, we either react unconsciously OR if we've become more emotionally intelligent, we may choose a conscious response.
Those times when the words fall out of our mouths, and we wish we could grab them back, are usually reactions. When we get angry over someone's insensitive comment, we struggle to process the thoughts and feelings attached to that hot spot they just hit. Triggered, we lash back, shut down or avoid dealing with something that should have been addressed. In essence, we fight, flight or flee.
🟪 Or your response
When we use The Inner Guidance Cycle to widen that gap of time between what happened and our subsequent actions, we can first get clear on the story we are making up in our heads and our feelings attached to that story. When we do that, we have a choice to believe or alter that story.
Here's a personal example from one of my clients.
After telling me what happened when her husband came home, we broke it down like this:
After coaching, you came up with a more Emotionally Intelligent way to respond in the future.
She knows this choice to respond this way will diffuse the situation rather than have it spiral in ways neither of them wants.
Here's how you can apply it
The same could be true at work. Perhaps you feel that your boss is attacking you, and your feeling backed into a corner. The reaction might be to get angry and come out fighting. Instead, by widening that gap, your subsequent thoughts and feelings can be different.
🟢 A person with high Emotional Intelligence might notice the following:
"I'm feeling attacked and notice my body getting into fight or flight mode. Wait a minute. I know I'm a good person. Maybe what he's trying to say is more about the project and not me. It might be his fear of failure coming through. We are actually on the same side. I sure as heck don't want this project to fail at this either."
The Inner Guidance Cycle gives you a framework to use
After this thoughtful PAUSE and taking time to PONDER in our minds, we usually feel the shift of perspective, PIVOTING to a new response. PROCEEDING, we will be more in control of our emotions, words, and actions. The words that consciously come out of our mouths, rather than fall out, will move the project and the relationship forward.
You can use The Inner Guidance Cycle to prepare for a tough talk with your employee!
👉🏻 Prepare for a tough talk
Increased emotional intelligence gives you increased confidence
You can choose your response when you are more aware, mindful and conscious. Use The Inner Guidance Cycle to increase your awareness and choice of action, increasing your Emotional Intelligence. You will not only be aware of your emotions, but you will get better at managing them. This increased awareness allows you to examine your thoughts and feelings and decide if they are true. Then, you can change them if you want fewer regrets and more feelings of confident leadership!
Being more in control of your emotions helps you feel more confident as a leader. However, getting to this point takes intention, inner work, and self-reflection. In The Training Library, I purposefully create worksheets to help you do the inner work. Whether you are looking to deal with office politics, prepare for an upcoming 1-1 meeting with your employee or be more decisive, The Training Library will help you do the self-reflective work necessary to build your emotional intelligence, confidence and leadership capacity. What are you waiting for? Join The Training Library today!
As a nonprofit woman leader, do you sometimes find that your emotions sneak up on you suddenly, and you are afraid of losing it?
You are not alone. Many women have been hijacked by their emotions.
As a result, they keep trying to shut off their emotions, leave them out of a conversation or ignore them.....
💁🏼♀️But here's the thing: it's not about having emotions. It's about being able to be in control of your emotions!
Get the Emotional Control Course
Become aware of and then manage your emotions
Emotionally intelligent managers kick butt over their unaware peers. These aware leaders not only know what their emotions are, but they can manage their emotions.
Emotional Intelligence enhances leadership effectiveness
Leaders high in emotional intelligence rarely allow their thoughts to hijack them. Emotionally intelligent leaders don't lose their composure when someone says something that sparks their anger or annoyance. A leader in control of their internal state will be aware that they are irritated but can catch themselves before rolling their eyes 🙄 sighing, or making a sarcastic comment.
How do you learn this?
Individuals that have high EI are incredibly aware.
👉🏻 You need to become aware of your thoughts and feelings!
Two Steps to Increase Your Emotional Intelligence
Step 1 – Recognize emotions
Step 2 – Manage emotions
Get the Emotional Control Course
Let's break it down further to see how it happens.
🟦 Antecedent - An event happens
🟦 Thought - You have a thought about that event
🟦 Feeling - You then experience an emotion
When you increase your emotional intelligence, you learn to gain control over your thoughts to regulate your emotions and subsequent behaviour. You learn to respond rather than react unconsciously.
Do you know what your thought was?
It's crucial to explore your thoughts in more depth and understand what's going on there. 💥Your thoughts dictate your emotions. The goal is to become aware of the thought and be able to change it if necessary.
⏸️ PAUSE so you can get clear on your thoughts
You need to PAUSE and slow down time to understand your thoughts better. You must widen the gap between the stimulus and the consequential feeling. It's like putting a magnifying glass on the event and your emotion to see if you can identify the thought between the event and the emotion.
🤔 PONDER - It's time for self-reflection
Gaining awareness of what is happening in that gap requires intentional thinking. You must create a routine that prompts you to reflect daily on that space between what happened and how you reacted.
Spending time journaling or completing self-reflective exercises is one of the best ways to achieve this slow-motion replay effect.
The 6 tricks to rewarding reflective journaling
1️⃣ Set aside 10 minutes every day to journal, preferably at the same time every day.
2️⃣ Eliminate distractions. Put your phone on the other side of the room. Shut your door.
3️⃣ Choose a particular event or situation you are ruminating about.
4️⃣ Write freely for the first ¾ of your time. Note the event and what happened, and your emotions. Add in the things they said or did that irritated you. Note who else was involved.
5️⃣ In the latter ¼ of your time, allow yourself to write about the thoughts that led to the emotion. Answer the question: "What did I think about this person, event, or circumstance?"
6️⃣ Use journal prompts such as these:
Do the work - Make the effort
Working on this first step of bringing awareness to your emotions and feelings can be challenging. It's not something that comes naturally to us. At first, it may feel strange and awkward. However, by doing this work, you will automatically become more aware of what's happening inside you, allowing you to regain control and manage your feelings and responses to people and events. Remember, it takes time, so be patient with yourself. The effort and commitment will be worth it.
p.s. What if your emotions were a gift, a blessing or even an edge in leadership? Learn how to use your emotions to your benefit in the Emotional Control course.
Understanding and honouring your values is crucial to a leader with authenticity and integrity. As a non-profit leader, your values serve as the guiding principles that shape your decisions, actions and the overall direction of your organization.
Here are some examples of how your values may clash with others, get in the way of your work or cause you to feel inner turmoil.
Potential values clash:
When hiring new staff:
Your values of diversity, inclusivity and fairness may rub up against your value of efficiency when the diverse hire has less experience and will take more upfront work to become an efficient worker. You'll have to decide which way to lean, knowing one of your values will need to be deprioritized, which makes you feel icky.
Perhaps in your organization, the typical fundraising event includes alcohol. However, you have strong values around addictions and supporting those with addictions and minimizing alcohol at social events. Now you need to communicate that to your board, which heavily relies on this event for program funding.
You value well-thought-out decisions and take time to think critically about the risks, steps and impact. However, others on your team are frustrated with your need to pick apart everything and want to move the decision-making process along more quickly. These differences are creating tension.
Maybe your open communication, respect, and fairness values guide your approach to conflict. Others, who are uncomfortable with conflict, see your approach as aggressive, and they become defensive or shut down. Now the tension is building rather than diminishing.
You may value trust, teamwork, and personal growth and want to focus on those elements to foster a positive and inclusive work environment. And, there is no time. You are short-staffed, find yourself running from meeting to meeting and struggle to find the time to connect in a meaningful way with your team embers.
In each scenario, taking the time to reflect on your values can help you make decisions and take authentic, aligned, and impactful actions for yourself, your team, the organization and the communities you serve. But only if you are self-aware and take time for self-reflection.
Values identification is an ongoing process
Your values and what they mean to you change over time. Understanding how your values fit into your life and how you define them will also evolve. Therefore identifying your values is not an exercise completed once in your life. Instead, you must return to your values and review them regularly.
Verifying your values is more than a sit down once; power through and figure it out exercise. It also needs time, energy and curiosity. The work will be reflective, thinking and pondering. It will be emotional work as you explore memories and possible scenarios.
You won't fully understand your values in one chunk of time but over time. So come back to the process of verifying your values again and again. Each time you do, you will deepen your understanding of what your values really mean to you and why they are so important.
The steps to identify your values
1️⃣ List your top values
2️⃣ Define what your values mean to you
3️⃣ Determine how your values show up in your leadership and life
4️⃣ Create a system for knowing if you align with your values or are off-kilter
5️⃣ Rinse and repeat
🟡 Step # 1 - Identify Your Values
There are no right or wrong values. Remember, they change, and how you define them may change. Also, this is the first glance. You will be going deeper, so how you name and describe your values may change as you do that.
🟪 Review the list of value words found here
To confirm that you have nailed your values, look for an emotional connection.
Reminders about identifying your values
🟡 Step # 2 - Define what they mean to you
Now it's time to take a deeper look at your values. Those words you circled are just that, words. But what do those words mean to you? Consider these questions:
An example of how values show up
For example, you may know that it is important for you to keep the peace. You value cooperation and collaboration. So despite differences on a team, you have a habit of smoothing things over.
Over time you may notice your underlying irritation building with one team member as you work together on a project. You keep trying to collaborate, cooperate and keep the peace but feel frustrated each time you walk away from that conversation.
This agitation may be because your value of harmony keeps you from addressing a conflict with that peer. But now, that conflict has morphed, and you feel anything but harmonious!
Maybe you come from a long family of fighters. Yelling matches at the supper table was the norm. Over the years, you became the peacemaker working to create harmony wherever you could.
Now that pattern of behaviour is showing up at work. And it's not always helpful. What's more, you don't even realize how that one word that means so much to you, harmony is actually what is causing you grief! Until you unpack what harmony really means to you NOW, you won't be able to use it effectively to live.
You don't have to go to counselling or therapy to move forward. Although, please, if you need it, get help. There is nothing shameful about resolving your unresolved childhood or adulthood stuff! The bottom line is that you need to become more aware of how that value creates belief and ways of engaging now and consciously decide what you want to do about it.
The verification process
You must explore different facets of your values to help you flesh out what you mean. Remember, this is exploratory work, reflective work and emotional work. As you explore your values, here are some questions to consider:
🟡 Steps # 3 - 5
● Determine how your values show up in your life
● Create a system for knowing if you align with your values or are off-kilter
● Rinse and repeat
Determining how your values show up in your leadership and life and creating a system for knowing if you align with them or are off-kilter takes more time and intentional self-reflection. Stay with it, and over time you'll become clearer and find your values are guiding you more and more.
🆘 Extra help to verify your values
In Values Verification, I walk students through exercises to identify their values and create a working definition of what that value or word group of values means to them. We explore how you use your resources to express your values (i.e. time, money and energy) and how to live and lead aligned with values. The course is one of many courses in The Training Library membership site.
Do the inner work and use your values as your guide
Values are the glue that holds us together, the things that we hang our decisions on, the place that we get furious when they aren't upheld and the thing that makes us feel at peace and content when they are really honoured. But again, values are not simply a word. Instead, values are deep-held beliefs etched into our lives over time and through events.
Stop striving for work-life balance. It doesn't exist. Nor should it. Balance is nothing more than society's way of laying guilt on working women.
Cindy was seeing her kids for less than an hour a day
She arrived home and spent only a brief time with them before apologetically tucking them into bed. Each night, she vowed silently to change things. It was the same promise she'd whispered to herself for months. But the work demands were strong.
Cindy tried to make up for it on weekends
Cindy found herself exhausted and with little patience left. Most of what she had for energy, focus and compassion was used up in the day-to-day grind at the office. Cindy craved balance. She wanted to divide her time between work and home and not have them interfere with each other. Yet she could never find a way to do that.
Work-Life Balance doesn't work
That is because there isn't a way. You are not alone if you, like Cindy, have wondered how to juggle everything better to find more harmony in your days.
Women are tugged at constantly
Working women, especially leaders, feel pulled in all directions. It's not just work and kids. You also know you need to pay attention to your health and well-being. Likely you have some community groups that you feel a responsibility to. Your marriage, parents, and renovation projects all scream for their share of your priceless time.
Dividing things equally is impossible
The point is that it is impossible to equally divide your calendar and your energy to each task or area in your life. You can't spend 1.75 hours with your kids, 8 hours at work and…you get the point. There are weeks that you must work more than 40 hours, in fact, a lot more. But, just the same, there are times when your family requires more attention.
How do you find more alignment without the guilt?
The answer has been presented in The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. They call it counterbalancing. There are some key things to know about this strategy.
Priorities are the things we need to focus on. Everything else must be put on the back burner when we focus on that priority. This recognizes that we can't answer the phone when working on a report that you ranked at the top of your list. It also means we shouldn't be reading emails at the supper table.
Prioritizing goes deeper than that
In our work days, we chase everyone else's priorities. As a result, often, our own meaningful work never gets done. For example, many indicate relationships are key. Yet, we may plan to talk to an employee for days but have yet to get to that conversation.
Prioritizing isn't about ordering the tasks on our to-do list
It is about looking within and determining why we do our work. Then, it is about looking at the bigger picture and having a vision for how to get there. Another great resource on how to do this is the book Essentialism by Greg McKowen.
Lean way out
Counterbalancing recognizes we can't always walk along a path that is straight. There is no state of being completely balanced. We are constantly in motion. The approach is to sway back and forth. We will need to lean heavily into work some days. Other times life will draw us strongly into it.
Let yourself lean
When you allow yourself to lean in or out fully, you will find more enjoyment and meaning in what you are doing. Imagine being on a beautiful Caribbean holiday and checking your email. That sucks, right? Now imagine being on that same beach, completely shut off from work and simply soaking up the sun. You would find a more gratifying experience.
Stop feeling guilty
The same is true in projects at work. For example, you aren't completely focused on the task if you feel guilty about missing supper. Therefore you won't be doing your best work, and it will take longer.
It takes a bit of getting used to
Keller and Papasan acknowledge it can be bumpy. However, when we put our focused attention on a priority, it means we are going to lean away from other things.
When you put time and attention towards these priorities, naturally, it will take the focus away from other things. This will put things out of balance, which is okay if done for the right amount of time.
Engage in Counterbalancing
The key is for the right amount of time. Leaning way out isn't bad. In addition to a particular work project, your health and your family are priorities. If you stay at the office until 6 pm, it's not the end of the world. Counterbalancing the long day is when you head to the gym after. You further counterbalance when you immerse yourself in reading to your child at bedtime, fully present to him and the story, and leave your cell phone in a different room.
Think of counterbalancing as your umbrella
Tightrope walkers carry something to counterbalance them. They have a weight that pulls them back the other way. Your weight is your other priorities. It might be your health or family. By identifying it as a priority and then giving fully there, too, you will find more of the sway back and forth, just as anyone who appears truly balanced is doing.
When you are out of balance, ask yourself two questions:
1) Am I currently focusing on my priorities or someone else's?
If you are focusing on someone else's, can you stop? Yes, you have a job to do. But are you doing someone else's work because they didn't do it? Are you chasing the stats that you have sent already? Are you solving a problem that staff can solve themselves? Are you having a conversation that might become a non-issue if left alone for a couple of hours? If so, step back, pivot and move toward your priorities.
2) What can I do to counterbalance the effort, time and energy put in here to pull me back toward my other key priorities in life?
We each have an internal bucket that only has so much within it. Everything continually dips out of that bucket. Conversations drain us. Work exhausted us. Chasing appointments, kid's activities and a mile-long to-do list deplete our reserves. What puts back into your bucket? It might be a massage, reading a book, having coffee with a friend or quality time with your family. Do something to put back into your bucket.
Counterbalancing can save your life
Getting good at swaying back and forth will be the trick to being able to "do it all." But you must not get stuck on one side for too long. Know all of your priorities. Acknowledge that your umbrella is there to support you.
Rather than freaking out, you will find a more controlled and comfortable sway back and forth. And while it may look to the naked eye that you are in balance, you will know you just got good at counterbalancing.
Take a moment to write down your top 3 priorities in life and your top 3 priorities at work. Put the list of priorities somewhere that you can see them often. Then, when you are out of balance, look to them to get back on track.
Choice points. You have them, but are you using them to be a better leader?
Choice Points 101
🟪 A choice point is...
A choice point is an opportunity to choose what you are saying or not saying, what you are doing or not doing, and, most importantly, who you are being in the process of making that decision and acting on that decision.
Choice points are critical for leaders to develop strong character
Nonprofit leaders that lead with integrity, authenticity, and strong character lead with confidence and competence and feel in control of what is happening inside and around them. When you lead with that strength of character, you create an engaged team with meaningful relationships who do impactful work. Therefore, developing our character is fundamental to good leadership.
Developing your character is multifaceted. However, one aspect that is often overlooked is the art of decision-making. Throughout your days, you encounter numerous choice points that shape how your day goes, the development of your relationships and the impact of your work. However, more often than not, we remain unaware of the existence of many of our decision points.
To lead with authenticity and integrity, nonprofit women leaders must cultivate awareness of their choice points and embrace decision-making intentionality using criteria aligning with their values and goals.
How unaware of your choice points are you?
Far too often, you default to not really making a decision. Your decision points often go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of daily responsibilities while running your nonprofit. They may appear inconsequential at first glance, but their cumulative impact can be profound.
🟧 The decisions we default to:
We often make decisions by default. Rather than making a decision, we put our attention, focus and resources into reacting to:
When we aren't making choices...
We tend to follow this path: If A happens, I do B.
That's not a decision
👉🏻 Just because you get invited to a meeting doesn't mean you need to attend it.
👉🏻 Just because it came into your inbox doesn't mean you are the one to deal with it or you need to deal with it today.
👉🏻 Just because someone asks for "just a minute," you don't have to say yes.
We say we are making a choice, but really we aren't deciding anything. So, when we say the choice is either I do the work or the work doesn't get done, that's not a choice. That is a victim mentality.
Or if we say, either I stay late or do it in the morning. What were you deciding? Which punishment to take?
It's an either/or, with neither option being optimal. They're both sides of the same coin.
You've given your power away!
What often happens is we're not really making a decision. Instead, we are making excuses about why we're doing what we're doing or why we are doing it. We are pointing fingers (the funder needs it), resigning to martyr syndrome (I'm the only one who can do it) or getting caught up in survival mode just running around the hampster wheel (another day...)
By neglecting to recognize these decision points, we as leaders miss opportunities to cultivate our character and steer our organizations and teams in the right direction.
🙋🏼♀️ It's time to cultivate your awareness of decision points
Leading with authenticity and strong character requires a shift from reactive to proactive decision-making. Instead of simply reacting to circumstances, intentional leaders make conscious choices that align with their beliefs, core values and long-term vision.
🟨 Decisions drive character development
But they must be:
✅ Done deliberately
✅ Made intentionally
✅ From a place of consciousness
To unlock the power of decision-making, cultivating awareness is paramount
Taking time for self-reflection and introspection via The Inner Guidance Cycle allows leaders to identify decision points that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks. You can seize these pivotal moments and harness them for character development by heightening your awareness.
Using The Inner Guidance Cycle to make intentional decisions
When you intentionally make a decision, you must first PAUSE, slow down and then PONDER. By contemplating the paths ahead of you, you will PIVOT, realizing it is not an either/or approach, but you will see the options, opportunities and outcomes you can create. Finally, after purposefully deciding, you'll PROCEED back into action.
🟦 A choice point is an opportunity for you to choose:
✔️ What you are saying or not saying
✔️ What you are doing or not doing
✔️ Who you are being in the process
🔀 You need to develop a decision-making framework with decision-making criteria
To make more intentional decisions, you need to construct a decision-making framework. This framework serves as a guide, offering a structured approach to navigating complex choices. This way, you can ensure that your decisions align with your beliefs, values, goals, and the greater purpose of the nonprofit you are leading.
Your framework will include considerations to ponder when making your choice. You'll want to run your options around criteria like your beliefs, values, time, resources, strengths, interests, team pressure points, etc. Using these filters will help you choose wisely with a better sense of your current and future perspectives.
🆘 In the Decisive Decision-Making course in The Training Library, you'll find a framework you can use.
Questions to ensure you are making decisions with your strengths of character
When you are pondering your options, you'll want to ask these questions:
Is this action/decision a statement of
It's all about the Inner Work!
Learning to lead with authenticity and strong character is a transformative journey for you as you lead your nonprofits. It's a personal development journey that will profoundly affect your leadership. It requires you to grow from the inside out!
By recognizing the power of choice points, cultivating your awareness of where they show up, and embracing those decision points intentionally, you can navigate your leadership with purpose and integrity.
Developing decision-making criteria based on values, time, resources, interests, skills, and expectations provides a solid foundation for making better choices that align with your character and foster your growth and that of your team and organization.
P.S. If you want the decision-making framework worksheet, you'll find it inside The Training Library in the course Decisive Decision Making.
If your emotions frequently hijack you, you need to learn this
Do you sometimes find that your emotions sneak up on you suddenly, and you're afraid of losing them?
You are not alone!
Many women leaders have had the experience of being hijacked by their emotions. But here is the thing,
👉🏻 The problem isn't that you EXPERIENCE emotions.
👉🏻 The challenge lies in being unable to control how you EXPRESS your emotions when they appear.
To prevent this, you must first learn to recognize your emotions as you experience them and then manage how you express them. Another way to say that is you need to develop your emotional intelligence.
It's not wrong to experience your emotions at work.
Instead, when you become a more emotionally intelligent leader, you choose how and when to express your emotions.
⭐️ Just because you experience an emotion does not mean you need to express that emotion.
Become aware of and then manage your emotions
Emotionally intelligent managers kick butt over their unaware and emotionally incompetent peers. That sounds a bit harsh, I know. But you are emotionally unskilled when you are unaware of your emotions, cannot regulate your emotions, and have difficulty understanding and communicating feelings effectively.
👉🏻 Therefore, you are in a much better place when you are a leader who is aware of what emotions you are experiencing and able to manage how you express your emotions. That means you control how you express what you feel rather than your emotions being in control of you.
Emotional Intelligence increases a leader's effectiveness
An individual who is high in Emotional Intelligence rarely has their emotions hijack them. Emotionally Intelligent Leaders don't lose it when someone says something that sparks their anger or annoyance. A leader in control of what's happening inside them will be aware they are irritated but can catch themselves before they roll their eyes, sigh or have a sarcastic comment slip out.
How to increase your emotional intelligence
Individuals that have high Emotional Intelligence are incredibly self-aware.
Two Steps to Emotional Intelligence
Step 1 – Recognize emotions 🤔
Step 2 – Manage emotion 😙
Here's what happens:
🟪 Antecedent - An event happens
🟪 Thought - You have a thought about that event.
🟪 Feeling - You then experience an emotion
🟪 Behaviour - You then react
Emotionally Intelligent managers learn to get a handle on their thoughts to control their emotions and subsequent behaviour. They learn to respond rather than react unconsciously. So rather than snapping back, writing an unnecessarily pointed email or rolling their eyes, they pause and choose how they want to express that emotion before they act.
Do you know what your thought was?
We want to drill deeper into the thought part and see what's happening there. That thought is directing your emotion. We want to get to the point where you are aware of the thought and can change it if needed.
Getting clear on your thoughts
You have to slow down time to understand better what you are thinking. Slowing down widens the gap between the stimulus and the consequential feeling. It is like putting a magnifying glass on the event and your emotion and seeing if you can see between the thought and subsequent behaviour. You want to detect what thought was there in between the event and the emotional reaction. That way, you can change the thought and thus manage your emotional response.
It starts with a reflection
It's hard in the moment to learn to increase your Emotional Intelligence. You must practice the skill first by looking back at what happened and reflecting on it. Increased awareness of what happened between the event and your reaction to it requires intentional thinking and slowing down the events so you can notice things you didn't see at the time.
To learn to manage your expression of your emotions in the moment, you must create a routine of rewinding events and looking back to see what caused you to react in the first place. You must build in time to PAUSE and POINDER, aka go through the Inner Guidance Cycle.
Start with writing
Becoming more emotionally intelligent requires ongoing self-reflection and a commitment to personal growth. That starts with pondering events and reactions.
The best way to get the slow-motion replay effect is to write down what happened. When you set aside a few minutes to let your thoughts and emotions flow on paper, you'll see more of what is there. Doing this writing without judgment is critical. You must let your pen just flow. The point is to see what's there that you may have missed, got hooked by, or overreacted to.
✏️ Mastering Reflective Journaling: 5 Proven Techniques
1) PAUSE: Set aside 10 minutes daily to engage in self-reflection
2) Eliminate distractions.
3) Take a moment to become present.
4) PONDER: Set a timer and write down what happened, including:
Use journal prompts such as:
5) PIVOT: To wrap up your time, see if you can identify a summary of what happened, why and what you'd like to do differently next time something similar occurs.
Learn more about The Inner Guidance Cycle here
Pause - Ponder - Pivot - Proceed
Do the INNER work!
Working on bringing awareness to your emotions and feelings can be hard work. We don't naturally go there. Initially, it will feel weird and awkward. But, the more you do it, the better chance you will have in becoming more aware of the emotions bubbling inside of you and choosing how you want to express (or not) that emotion in a way that feels more appropriate to you and the situation.
Gradually you'll regain control and learn to manage your feelings and responses to people and events. It takes time. Be patient with yourself. You'll find it worth the effort and commitment when you do.
P.S. If you don't like journaling, just call it self reflection 😉
Resources in The Training Library to help you learn effective self-reflection to develop your Emotional Intelligence
✏️ How to prepare for a tough talk
✏️ Managing Your Emotions at Work
✏️ Emotional Control Via Emotional Literacy
✏️ Quick Journaling for Effective Leadership
✏️ Staying Composed During Meetings, Conversations & Challenging Times
🙋♀️ Join The Training Library
Nonprofit leaders and the people who make the organizations hum have a deep desire to impact the world positively. Creating an engaging workplace, or what my colleague and I call a Magnetic Workplace, is essential to have that impact.
An engaging workplace exudes magnetic qualities. It is a workplace that fosters growth, openness, belonging, generativity, and creativity among its people. This type of workplace inspires individuals to contribute to something larger than themselves, instilling a sense of purpose and meaning in their work. At a magnetic workplace, employees know that they matter and feel cared for, which creates an environment that draws people in and fills them with energy.
I introduced you to The Infinite Leadership Loop to create a Magnetic Workplace. The Infinite Leadership Loop is an infinity loop, is a continuous process of moving back and forth between, on the right-hand side, turning inwards in self-reflection and on the left-hand side, engaging with your team. The loop has the four components of the Inner Guidance Cycle on the right; pause, ponder, pivot and proceed. A 5th point, people, is on the left.
To develop yourself and your team using The Infinite Leadership Loop, you will need to deliberately build a habit of purposefully ebbing and flowing between being self-reflective and engaging with the people around you. To do that, the following four building blocks of The Infinite Leadership Loop will help you.
🟨 Building Block # 1 - Curiosity is Critical
The first building block towards a Magnetic Workplace is curiosity. In Magnetic Workplaces, people are openly curious about improving their impactful work, sharing their ideas and collaborating on innovative approaches.
Curiosity allows for reflection, new perspectives, and the courage to act and engage with your team. It helps to create a magnetic work environment that draws people in. When you learn to be more curious, so does your team.
TIP to help you be more curious
Creating Comfortable Coaching Conversations
🟨 Building Block # 2 - Inner Work is Imperative
Magnetic Workplaces prioritize the inner work of their leaders and their team members by giving them time, space, and freedom to think and reflect. This time for "inner work" allows them to think strategically, make effective decisions and improve their emotional intelligence.
In most organizations, leaders and team members are constantly busy, running from one meeting to the next and dealing with crises and fires all day. To create a magnetic work environment, distractions and interruptions must be intentionally reduced, and time must be deliberately created to reflect, process, and resolve issues.
Scheduling time to pause, prioritize, and proactively plan a way forward for everyone on the team is essential to improve decision-making and foster an environment of growth and development.
TIP to help you make space for more inner work
📚 Resources to Help:
The Pause Principle by Kevin Cashman
Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman
🟨 Building Block # 3 - Vulnerability is Vital
Magnetic Workplaces encourage vulnerability because trust is grown by being open, honest and vulnerable with each other.
Vulnerability is also critical for you to engage in the inner work of The Inner Guidance Cycle. It's hard to look at what triggered you, why and how you will deal with it differently without being vulnerable with yourself.
Start by learning what vulnerability is (courage) and what it isn't (weakness). Then, role model courage and vulnerability. When you do, you'll create more of that sense of trust and the understanding, respect, kindness, and compassion required to develop a magnetic work environment.
Tip for learning to be vulnerable
Make a list of leaders you admire and what you admire about them. Look at that list for places where they demonstrate vulnerability. Use these as your role models for doing it yourself.
Another great place to start is to identify and speak to your values. The Values Verification course in The Training Library helps you put voice and action to the value words you identify.
📚 Resources to Help:
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
The Boy, The Mole and The Fox by Charlie Mackesy
🟨 Building Block # 4 - Movement is Mandatory
Building a Magnetic Workplace requires movement and growth. These elements are necessary to create and sustain a workplace where team members feel safe to be curious, take time to do the inner work and then do the impactful work that moves their nonprofit forward.
Leaders must break out of this pattern of holding on to old ways and resisting change. It's essential for leaders themselves and their people to move outside their comfort zones. Leaders must model this behaviour and create an environment where people feel safe to try, flounder and sometimes fail.
Tip for learning to move into action, even when it's scary
Move. Get up and move. Go for a walk or move around your office or house. Movement in your body creates movement in your mind; sometimes, that is exactly what we need to move into action with our team.
Having a plan also helps you move. When you know the steps, it's easier to take them. To help you with that, try this webinar in The Training Library: How to Prepare for a Tough Talk.
📚 Resources to Help:
Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
The Confidence Gap: A Guide to overcoming fear and Self-doubt by Russ Harris
Your next steps
You must create an engaging workplace to have the positive impact you desire in your workplace. An engaging workplace, also called a Magnetic Workplace, fosters growth, openness, belonging, generativity, and creativity among employees, inspiring them to contribute to something larger than themselves. You'll do that when you put The Infinite Leadership Loop into action.
The continuous process of moving back and forth between self-reflection and engaging with the team helps you to process what's going on inside of you so that you can be your best self in your leadership role. Remember though:
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.