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 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!
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:
As a Nonprofit Leader, you likely want to build and sustain a team that continues to make a difference. However, finding the time, energy, and focus to make that happen can be challenging. Being overworked, overloaded, and overwhelmed may lead to burnout and keep you in survival mode.
Staying stuck in survival mode, if you aren't careful, can taint your workplace energy and create disengaged teams and toxic work environments. But there is another way. Keep reading to discover a model you can use to become a leader who creates an engaged team of difference-makers!
What we don't want:
Leaders and organizations DO NOT WANT uninvolved, unenthusiastic, uncommitted, and disengaged team members that contribute to a toxic work environment.
What we do want:
Leaders and organizations DO WANT engaged teams that are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace, which is how Gallup defines engagement.
The way forward:
For leaders and organizations to increase engagement and build a team of involved, enthusiastic, and committed employees, you need a system, processes and habits of interacting that will help you get there. Let's learn the framework to help you create that way of leading.
Your individual path is connected to the organizational path
Learning how to move from surviving to thriving as an individual leader is important to understand how you can impact your organizational culture. This blog teaches you how to move along the surviving to thriving continuum. Let me summarize the continuum here.
On the left, survival mode is characterized by fear. You are always afraid of falling apart, dropping the ball or losing it emotionally. You are barely hanging on, just getting by or just trying to stay alive.
The opposite, thriving mode, is characterized by energy, enthusiasm and engagement. You bloom and flourish as you learn new things, take on engaging projects, and have strong, developed working relationships that allow you to do your work purposefully.
Most of us hang out in the middle, coping. Here you are doing more than barely getting by, but you're not feeling so alive that you want to yell from the mountaintops about how much you love your job. This middle ground is where the idea of being on a hampster wheel fits: round and round you go.
Surviving, coping and thriving are all places you "live" in individually. They may overlap, though, with your workplace culture and thus your workplace continuum also. So, first, let's review what workplace culture is.
Your Workplace Culture
Your workplace and every other workplace has a specific culture - a feel to it, an impression it leaves. Each workplace has a certain intangible quality that makes something about it distinct and decidedly different but difficult to define or describe. You know whether you like it or not, want to be there or run away quickly.
The Points on a Workplace Continuum
My colleague Bill Scott and I developed a workplace culture continuum that stretches from toxic to magnetic. In the middle is the place that most of us are far too familiar with - a tolerable workplace. As you read the following explanations of each of the points on the continuum, we expect you'll know if that "feels" like your workplace or not.
A toxic workplace sucks the energy out of its people.
A toxic workplace is characterized by:
A toxic workplace is unhealthy and destroys individuals and team connections.
In a TOXIC workplace, employees are actively disengaged.
A tolerable workplace is not bad enough to leave, not good enough to give it your all.
A tolerable workplace is characterized by the following:
In a tolerable workplace, people have tolerated far too much for far too long.
In a TOLERABLE workplace, employees are not engaged.
A Magnetic Workplace draws its people in; they know they matter and feel cared about.
A magnetic workplace is characterized by the following:
In a magnetic workplace, people contribute to something bigger than themselves. Magnetic Workplaces draw people to them and fill them with energy!
In a MAGNETIC workplace, employees are actively engaged.
It's not a static point you are at
There are more than three points on a continuum. In fact, there are an infinite number of points. As a result, many of us simultaneously find elements of toxic, tolerable and magnetic experiences in our workplaces. It can shift depending on the day, the day's agenda, your work location, and who you are interacting with.
Creating a Magnetic Workplace
Imagine being in a workplace where people feel an irresistible pull to be at work because of some strong positive vibe, energy or even magnetism. Bill and I know that's possible because we've seen it happen. When you create magnetic teams with involved, enthusiastic and committed employees, you will lead a magnetic workplace that attracts good employees and keeps them around long-term. So how do you do that? By becoming a thriving leader.
Thriving leader to magnetic workplace
To become a thriving leader, you've learned to use The Inner Guidance Cycle to take time for self-reflection to be a more intentional leader. But it doesn't end there. You can't "stay in your head" to lead. After thinking, reflecting and sometimes making decisions, you'll need to reengage. Reengaging is about engaging with the people you work with, your community and your family. Thus, another cycle links with The Inner Guidance Cycle creating a new model.
The Infinite Leadership Loop
Bill and I developed a model where there a continuous process of moving back and forth between turning inwards in self-reflection and engaging with your team. Both model components use curiosity as fuel for continued learning, resulting in an engaged workplace. I call this model The Infinite Leadership Loop.
Think of this model as the infinity loop. The loop, with the 4 components of the Inner Guidance Cycle on the right, pause, ponder, pivot and proceed, and the 5th point, people on the left, demonstrate the ebb and flow between self-reflection and engagement with others.
Putting the The Infinite Leadership Loop into action, we move consciously back and forth from our inner thoughts to our external connections. When we do this more consciously, intentionally and deliberately, we move individually from surviving to thriving and our organization from toxic to magnetic.
Be an intentional leader
Take time today and every day to pause, intentionally going within and ponder and then engage with your people more consciously. The more intention you put into who you are and how you show up, the more authentic you'll feel and the bigger impact you'll have!
Do you often struggle to get everything completed on your to-do list? Unfortunately, there is always too much to do, and many nonprofit leaders, perhaps you included, feel overwhelmed, overworked and overextended.
NOT HELPFUL: Just learn to manage your time better
Most of us blame this on our workloads, jam-packed calendars and the crazy amounts of external stimuli around us. There's always another meeting to attend. Something is always being added to our to-do list, and the notifications keep reminding us that we have another message, email, or request.
How on Earth is anyone supposed to get anything done with all of that going on?
The solution to this always comes back to being better at prioritizing and time management. And while these are essential strategies and tools to learn, there's an underlying reason why they are often less than effective. In truth, prioritizing and time management can help, but they may not be enough!
HELPFUL: Learn to manage your emotions that are sabotaging your productivity.
In truth, it's our thoughts that slow us down. Our mental chatter 🤯 often encourages us to procrastinate and distracts us from what matters most. Our thoughts keep us distracted!!!
The word "distracted" has its origins in the Latin word "distractus," which means "drawn apart" or "divided."
For most of us, this means being unable to pay attention to the task at hand, focus on what we should be doing or concentrate on the job in front of us. As a result, we feel divided and wish we could clone ourselves to get more done!
Perhaps we need to become inDISTRACTable, as Nir Eyal advocates in his book "InDISTRACTable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life."
Eyal explains that being "distracted" is not just a product of external factors but also internal factors such as our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
Eyal defines distraction as "the action of derailing attention from what we intend to do" and argues that becoming "indistractable" requires understanding why we become distracted in the first place.
Eyal identifies four primary triggers of distraction:
It's time to gain some TRACTION
I want to focus on the words traction and distraction to help you become more aware of how your thoughts are getting in the way of your productivity. Consider how Eyal describes the difference here:
The Opposite of Distraction is Traction.
Get clear on what the emotional connection is
If you struggle to get things done, it's time to look at what is distracting you. The emotional connection to a task may be what's holding you back.
Work through the Inner Guidance Cycle to identify what is going on
How do you deal with emotional distractions?
You work through The Inner Guidance Cycle!
You PAUSE and do self-reflective exercises.
You take time to PONDER, exploring those thoughts and beliefs and the connection they have to what's on your to-do list.
When you ask yourself what am I being distracted from, go deeper than the task you see at the surface level. Ask yourself:
When you explore these thoughts, feelings, emotions and triggers, you'll figure out why you've been avoiding them. That's PIVOTing your perspective.
That shift in thinking helps you to take the action that moves and allows you to gain traction and do what you know you should do, aka PROCEEDing.
Unpacking thoughts, emotions, and beliefs in action
Listen to this podcast if you want to hear a beautiful example of this in real life. Brene Brown is being walked through the Immunity to Change Model by Lisa Leahy.
In the episode, Brene discovers her blind spots and hidden biases that she wasn't aware of until she went deeper.
Immunity to Change Podcast, Part 1 of 2
Immunity to Change, Podcast Part 2 of 2
Do the inner work to become more productive
It is absolutely true that we all have too much to do and will never get it all done. We must learn time management strategies and be excellent at prioritizing. ⭐️ But to go along with that, we also need to learn to manage what's happening in our heads.
PAUSE to do the inner work.
PONDER and explore what's going on inside your head
When you do, you'll find shifts in your perspective, allowing you to PIVOT
Then you can PROCEED with courage doing what you know you need to do most.
Learn more about The Inner Guidance Cycle here.
Are you ready to transform your approach to time management? Join "The Emotions of Time Management" course designed exclusively for women leaders in nonprofit organizations. In it, you'll:
1- Master Proven Time Management Strategies:
Learn 3 powerful time management strategies
2 - Identify Hidden Roadblocks:
Uncover the emotional barriers holding you back from effective time management
3 - Create Lasting Change:
Learn practical tools and actionable steps to integrate time management practices into your daily routine
Learn more about The Emotions of Time Management here
Do you like to read? The ladies whom I recently finished a six-week Mastering Confidence book club with were a group of leaders who, readers or not, wanted increased confidence. They read the book and worked through additional exercises to build their confidence over the weeks.
At the end of the final session, I asked them to come up with three summary points of what they had learned. Here is what they came up with.
How to master your confidence in 3 steps:
Step # 1 - AWARENESS
Step one is to become aware that you need to build confidence in a particular area of your leadership.
Without awareness, you keep settling, putting up with and feeling uncomfortable. Increased awareness of what area you need to grow confidence in starts you on the journey.
Answering those questions gives you increased awareness.
Step # 2 - Pause and Ponder
The second step to increasing your confidence is to pause and become self-reflective because confidence is not about what other people think you can do. It's what you believe you are capable of.
You need to examine your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, values, and perspectives to shift your confidence. Therefore, the second step to building confidence is to change what you're thinking and experiencing inside you so that your behaviours change outside of you.
One of the reasons the book club members identified pausing as a critical step is that it starts the process of examining your thoughts. It's the first step of the Inner Guidance Cycle, which I teach in the book.
What do I believe about my capacity, competence and confidence levels?
Answering these questions will help you feel more competent, capable and lead with confidence.
Step # 3 - Build your support team
The ladies in the Mastering Confidence Book Club quickly realized how similar their challenges, stories and solutions were.
The final point that the Mastering Confidence book club members identified is that you need to create a support network. You are not the only one who has struggled or is struggling with your leadership. Leaning into others on the journey or who are a few steps ahead of where you are can be incredibly helpful in navigating the journey.
When you connect with others, you can share a human experience with many striking similarities and learn from each other.
When you create your support team, you will find confidence-building becomes easier.
BONUS Step - Teach what you learn
Watching these leaders grow over six weeks is a powerful experience for me.
I experienced a lack of confidence in my leadership multiple times in my career. As I learned and grew, I taught others. First, it was my team leads and my program managers. Now my students and coaching clients. As I teach confidence, I learn more about it, become more confident in new areas and expand my comfort zone.
Mastering Confidence is about the journey to mastery. Masters know they are never really masters. As I said in the book:
Mastering your confidence is a transformational journey. You will realize that, in many ways, there is no endpoint to your trip. You won't "get confidence" one day and be done.
Instead, you will continually strive to find this place.
Then, just when you think you have, you will find that something happens, and you lose balance, feeling unsure again. As you go along, you'll discover an inner process, the Inner Guidance Cycle, to keep you growing as you move forward and bouncing back each time you get knocked down.
Inside the book, you get access to a free course. You can join it now!
Join the free Mastering Confidence Course.
What makes a world of difference is when you turn around and teach what you know. Teaching others helps you grow even more, and your confidence builds exponentially.
When you find the answers to those questions, not only will you be helping someone else build their confidence, but you'll also be mastering yours!
📙 If you want additional help that, grab Mastering Confidence.
👭👫 If you'd like to build confidence in your leadership team and would like to do a six-week book club with your team, message me, and I will make the arrangements. It might be good to do before summer hits, and it might also be a great Summer experience for your team.
✏️ ☕️ If you want to join The Training Library and join us for the monthly Coffee at the Library calls, you can join here and find more details about the Zoom calls here.
You've got this!
Confidence for you and your team is yours!!! Become aware it's time, and then do work to make it happen!
p.s. When you grab Mastering Confidence: Discover your leadership potential by awakening your inner guidance system, you get access to a free online course!
If you want to feel more competent, capable and sure of yourself in your leadership, you need to increase your self-confidence by learning to manage your thoughts.
To bounce back time and time again when the $#!t hits the fan 😩 you need a system that will help you regain your whirling thoughts and, thus, your confidence when you falter. We've been covering that system the last few weeks as you've been learning about pausing, pondering, pivoting and proceeding.
Leaders who can navigate the busy, stressful and difficult times AND come out on top rely on something inside of them. Their inner wisdom 🦉provides strength, insight, and stamina, not just to survive but to thrive.
Successful and confident leaders access that inner wisdom
by consciously tuning in to it.
The problem is we aren't taught this stuff
Unfortunately, many of us are too busy or have never learned how to tune into our inner wisdom. As new leaders, we learned about scheduling shifts, what forms need filling out and when and how to do cover off.
We were not taught what to do when we were uncomfortable addressing something going wrong or how to deal with our emotions during a team meeting when everyone seemed to hate us. And many of us assumed it was something wrong with us. We weren't cut out for leadership, were doing something wrong or alternately blamed it on the crappy staff we had.
❌ None of that was probably true, not completely.
We need to learn how to access our inner wisdom
What may be more accurate ✅ is that we have yet to learn how to communicate effectively as a leader, what to do with the voices in our head that doubt we can handle it or what to do with the anger when a comment at a staff meeting triggers us.
To help us learn that, we need a system to allow us to access our inner wisdom.
☑️ When you are about to enter a tough conversation and want to maintain your composure, your thoughts will help you do that.
☑️ When you struggle to get your work done and feel pulled in many directions, your inner wisdom will help you focus on what matters most when it matters most.
☑️ So you can convince yourself it's ok to walk away from work and find balance with your life.
If you want to learn a system to help you tune into your inner wisdom, something you can use anytime and anywhere, then keep reading 👇🏻
It's time to find your internal compass
Leaders that learn to tune in and manage their thoughts and emotions develop courage, strength and skills to leave effectively and impactfully by accessing their inner wisdom or The Inner Guidance System.
Your Inner Guidance System is your internal navigational structure. Think of your Inner Guidance System as your personal GPS or as a compass 🧭
Know Your Leadership Destination
But where are you going? Leadership is about taking people someplace. It is about moving your organization from here to there. That is your vision or destination. The destination could be something like:
Your destination is about who you are becoming
More than organizational goals, your direction is about becoming the type of leader you want to be.
The difference when you use your Inner Guidance System
👎🏻 Without tuning in, accessing your inner wisdom and using that internal compass to guide you, sadly, you'll be stuck on completing your to-do list, attending meetings and returning emails instead of being your best self while doing all those things.
👍🏻 But when you tune in and access your inner wisdom, using that internal compass to guide you, you'll be your best self 🙌🏻 when you complete your to-do list, attend meetings and return emails.
Follow the steps of your INNER GUIDANCE CYCLE
To access your Inner Guidance SYSTEM, follow the steps of the Inner Guidance CYCLE. The four steps, when repeated again and again, help you to make use of your internal wisdom. The steps of the INNER GUIDANCE CYCLE are as follows:
When you do the steps repeatedly, they provide insights that you need to move in the direction you want.
The Inner Guidance Cycle at work:
To begin getting acquainted with your wise inner self, PAUSE and start paying attention to what is happening inside you.
Consider or PONDER what thoughts and feelings you have about people, challenges or outcomes you experience.
You'll also notice that those thoughts and feelings may be accompanied by certain sensations in your body, for example:
Your thoughts, feelings and sensations are signs of your Inner Guidance System at work. They are clues🕵️ to what is going on and how to regain your composure and become your best self.
Accessing the wisdom inside - An example
By tuning into what's happening, you can shift how your thoughts or perspectives about the situation, how you handle it and how you feel about how you handle it.
👉 For example, perhaps you have a tough conversation coming up.
When you paused and tuned in (pondered), you may have noticed:
But that isn't the end of The Inner Guidance Cycle
The next step is the PIVOT step.
This step is about shifting your perspective. You shift your perspective by getting curious and asking yourself questions. You may ask yourself questions like:
The answers you come up with could be something like:
This new insight helps you move forward or PROCEED
Accessing your inner wisdom via The Inner Guidance Cycle will help you navigate your to-do list and relationships while you manage your emotions and be your best self. To learn more about each step in The Inner Guidance Cycle, dive deeper with this article.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.