Summer is kicking off; for many of us, this means extra reading time. If your reading list and maybe it's lacking in the leadership department. Here are a few suggestions I have for you to add to your summer reading list:
Summer Reading Book Suggestions
📚 Digital Body Language by Erica Dhawan
Some of us are still virtual, some hybrid. However, even if you're in the office full time, my guess is many of the meetings you have are virtual. On top of that, much of our communication is often via email, messenger or text. This book helps you understand the body language of digital communication. It's fascinating and beneficial.
p.s. the PDF file that comes with the audio version is phenomenal!
Find the book here
📚 Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown
This book is not a book to read from front to back. Instead, it's a reference book you'll hopefully return to regularly. So take some time to skim through it and dig deeper into the parts that pull you in. This book helps you understand emotions and feelings and expands your emotional vocabulary. Developing your emotional vocabulary is extremely helpful if you want to increase your emotional intelligence and be a more composed and emotionally in control leader.
Find the book here
📚 The Five Levels of Attachment by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr
You'll recognize the author if you've read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. However, this book is by Don Miguel's son. He goes through how we attach to ideas, thoughts and beliefs. Recognizing how tightly you've grasped your view helps to loosen your grip so that you can see others' points of view, develop new awarenesses and grow yourself.
Find the book here
📚 The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
Oh my goodness! No, this is not a leadership book. Today it is rated #1 in Literary Graphic Novels, #4 in Happiness, and #5 in Ethics & Morality
But so many life lessons and reminders help put our lives into perspective. I listened to the audio version, which is less than an hour long and beautifully read by the author. I have replayed segments of it when I need those little reminders.
Find the book here
I thought about doing a book club on this book. So if you read it, let me know if you'd be interested in that.
📚 Think Again by Adam Grant
Much of our thinking is unconscious. I'm often encouraging you to be more conscious with your thinking. In this book, you learn ways that thinking can help us and some of how it can get in the way. The ideas open your eyes to how you may want to engage in conversations with different people differently, explore other people's thoughts, get their input and work together.
Find the book here
📚 Mastering Confidence by Kathy Archer
Yes, I am also recommending my book. In in, I provide you with a framework for managing your thoughts. When your doubt, hesitation, and fear of imposter syndrome get in the way of leading, presenting, engaging in difficult conversations or running a staff meeting, it doesn't feel very good! This framework helps you rein in those thoughts and gives you structure you can return to when your thoughts begin to get the better of you again.
Find the book here
What books would you add to the list? Comment below so the rest of us can add to our reading list too!
There are plenty of ways to brush up on your leadership skills this summer. Picking up one of these six books is a good start and see how a new perspective, idea or strategy can boost your confidence as a leader.
As you go about your day as a nonprofit leader, something may happen, and you may feel your body tighten. For example, your stomach knots up, your chest feels heavy, or your throat tightens or feels dry. Perhaps you overreact or shut down. This physical response may be a sign you may have just got triggered.
We often get triggered when something threatens our values. This response results when we feel something important to us is at risk.
Here's how I got triggered this weekend...
Let me give you an example. I value order. I like things to be in their place, and I like to have things tidy. However, this weekend I was triggered multiple times by mud on the floor and the result from when someone in my house who didn't think it was a problem not to clean their feet before they came in. (Can you guess who?)
We're in the middle of backyard renovations. Unfortunately, with this weekend's rain, my backyard was a mud hole. Each time my husband, the dog, or I came in, a pile of mud and dirt came with us. Because a sense of order is important to me, I would take my shoes off outside, ensure the dog's feet were clean before he came in and immediately sweep up any chunks of mud.
This is what triggered me...
On the other hand, my husband sees the mess as part of the process, so the mess doesn't bother him. So it's not a problem for him to walk around barefoot outside and come into the house. He values freedom, ease and relaxation. He likes to be barefoot, and walking around in the grass and mud doesn't bother him. The house will get cleaned eventually, so what's the big deal?
Which camp are you in?
This is how knowing my trigger helped me
Knowing that I'm triggered by disarray helps me manage my emotions and be somewhat humourous about my incessant need to clean. Aware that the tightness in my chest is building, I can manage my frustration with my husband by managing my self-talk, taking some deep breaths or distracting myself with something I enjoy.
During a coaching call the other day, my client Jenessa became aware that when others aren't accountable for their actions or in-actions, or their responsibilities etc., she is triggered. Jenessa feels her chest tighten, purses her lips, and sometimes clenches her hands. She laughed at the memory of pounding out a response to a chat message when she was annoyed with someone shirking their responsibility.
Does either of these feel familiar to you?
This is why identifying your triggers is important
Identifying triggers is part of working with and understanding our values to help us be more emotionally intelligent and confident in our abilities. When you know what's important to you and what it feels like when that thing (i.e. order, accountability) is being threatened, it's easier to choose a response than react in a way you may regret later.
Below you'll find steps to help you find the clarity around your value to help you be more intentional instead of reactionary.
5 steps to use your VALUES to be more emotionally intelligent
Here is the process to help you find the clarity around your value to help you be more intentional instead of reactionary.
1 - Identify your values
2- Get an understanding of what your values mean to you
3 - Determine how your values show up in your life
4 - Pinpoint what's going on when you are aligned with your values or not
5- Get clear on what triggers show up when things in your life aren't in line with your values
This deeper understanding of your values helps you to manage your emotions, navigate tough conversations and focus on what matters most when it matters most!
One more example...
If you are trying to wind down a conversation at a meeting, you may value timeliness or efficiency. Your annoyance with those who are dragging the conversation out is triggering that value.
That's why you are:
Conversely, your peer may be
See how that all works together?
Need some help?
This month inside my membership, I added a worksheet to the Values Verification course, helping members identify their triggers. If this is part of what you need, or the five steps listed above, check out the course here and if you think it would be helpful, join the membership here.
When you join The Training Library membership, you'll become confident in your leadership abilities, learn to bounce back when adversity hits, discover how to be your best self and find a place to belong!
Becoming emotionally intelligent and confident in our leadership abilities takes time and requires skill development and increased awareness of what makes us tick! To do this, take responsibility for where you are and where you are going by creating your own personal and professional development plan. Intentional development is your path to success in both your leadership and life.
Read this next:
The 8 most overlooked definitions in leadership and why they matter
I bet there are times you wish you could be involved in an engaging leadership experience? Not a one-off course, webinar or conference session, but an experience, over time, that deepens your learning!
In 2012 I did that. For 10 months, about 20 other leaders from around the world and I learned together, online and in person. Four times we met for a week at a time in California. Between those sessions, we met online and had partner projects that required us to meet in person with our partners. It was an incredible experience. It was also one of the most transformative things I've ever done.
Not everyone can do something like that, but we can create learning experiences for our teams. Not training per se, but an experience where you learn, grow and develop over time.
I am blessed to be working with a large group of nonprofit leaders for nine months to help them become inspiring leaders. Inspiring leaders motivate and engage their teams, so they enjoy their jobs and do meaningful work together.
One of the first things I covered with the participants of the Inspiring Leadership group was the four fundamentals of leadership. They are the base for the future of the work we do together.
Even though you may not be involved in a group program, you can benefit from these fundamentals and use them over the next several months of your leadership journey. I'll give you a brief overview and share some suggestions that you can do to work on yourself! Then you can create your strategy and plan for growth.
The 4 fundamentals of leaders
As teenagers, we spent a lot of time figuring out our identity, answering the question, who am I? But as we mature, we have spent more time conforming to what's expected of us than who we are and are more focused on; how do I fit in? As such, we've often lost touch with who we are.
The first thing I do with individuals or teams is help them identify their strengths, values and morals. Understanding what makes you tick, thrive, and the triggers that make you react is fundamental to inspiring, motivating and engaging others.
Suggestion: Take time to consider:
Extra Resources for The Training Library membership members:
Ongoing personal and professional development is critical. For example, when I was in the ten-month leadership program, we had a list of required reading, each had a coach, and we learned A LOT about leadership and ourselves. At the end of the course, I committed to continue learning to be a better speaker and joined Toastmasters. I'm still involved!
Suggestion: Create your learning plan
Extra Resources for The Training Library membership members:
Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is critical for effective leadership.
Suggestion: Commit to wellness
Extra Resources for The Training Library membership members:
Teach others to do the same
If you want the best for and out of the people you work with, they need to be themselves, develop themselves and take care of themselves. Teach, role model and mentor these habits to them.
Suggestion: Coach your people
Extra Resources for The Training Library membership members:
Starting the journey of mastering these fundamentals is critical for you to BECOME confident in your abilities, BOUNCE BACK when adversity hits and BE your best self!
Someone lied to me the other day. It was a lie to cover up a lie. I knew it right away. I'm not sure that they knew it, though. Maybe not consciously. I think it's a habit for them.
Regardless of whether they knew or not that they lied to me, their habit of lying caused me to lose another measure of trust in them.
Trust, one of the foundations of leadership, is built by leaders' decisions, one decision at a time. Each decision builds on the other, solidifying how much someone feels you are trustworthy. However, how much someone trusts you can come crashing down, broken by one seemingly small decision.
Many of our decisions in leadership and life are unconscious, and this is where problems can begin. No, we can't think about every little choice and decision we make. However, as leaders, we need to be more consciously aware of how we make decisions, small and big. Furthermore, we need to be much more aware of the unconscious habits we make around certain types of decisions.
Your decisions paint a portrait of who you are. Each decision is a brush stroke of your character. Your character is who you are, not what you do. It's how people talk about you. Your character is your reputation or what they think about you.
For example, we may speak in awe of certain women's characteristics:
Then at times, we cringe at other character traits that some women exude:
So you see, your reputation or character matters!
Back to the person who lied to me. The thing is, I know this person will add other lies to the painting regularly. As such, I see them as a liar. Don't get me wrong. These are not always big lies. But, often, the lies I am talking about are:
But, it's not only lying. How about racist humour?
I know someone else who makes comments about certain races, genders, religions or personalities but always minimizes their supposed intended impact with a joke, a chuckle or a caveat that they are not biassed or prejudiced. Oh, but the picture they are painting, by choosing to say these things in the first place, tells a different story to my eyes.
These are more dramatic examples of how we shape our character. However, think now about the much more subtle decisions you make all day long and how they may affect how others view you as their leader.
These unconscious, small decisions often paint a picture of the type of leader you are. The point is to choose the image you're painting. To do that requires you to be more conscious of your decision-making, especially your micro-decisions. Micro-decisions are made all day long and are rarely seen as decisions because they are often more like habits. But make no doubt about it, you can choose differently.
Consider these examples of micro-decisions:
Micro decisions shape your character, paint a picture of who you are and tell others the type of leader you are.
Three steps to becoming more conscious of your microdecisions and making better ones!
1) Pick a short period each day for a week.
30 - 60 minutes is good enough. It could be a meeting, 1-1 conversation, or when you are working at your computer.
2) Remind yourself to do self-reflection for 1 minute after the time
3) Make a note of any micro-decisions you made during that period
On a piece of paper, in your notebook or on an electronic note, make one of your micro-decisions.
Each time you do this over the week, come up with at least 3 per period and look for new ones each time you do the minute of self-reflection.
Each time you do this, you'll become more and more conscious of the micro-decisions you are painting. Take some time to consider if these micro-decisions are painting the picture of the type of leader you want to be. If not, what will you need to do to become more conscious about these micro-decisions, and how will you change them?
Our decisions shape us and shape others' views of us.
Are your decisions matching what you want that view to be?
What to read next:
How to worry less about what you DO and plan more for who you are BEING
Nonprofit Leaders | 10 important questions you must ask before your next decision
Should you care more about what your nonprofit employees think about you?
Podcasts to listen to:
Episode # 16 - Discerning Before Deciding - Here's How
Episode # 32 - Three questions to help you make better decisions
Episode # 58 - Learn a decisive decision making hack and how to use it - For women leaders
Most women leaders in nonprofits have never received training on HOW to make decisions decisively, yet decisiveness is a crucial competency of leaders. To feel confident in making decisions, you need to know how to make decisions! If you want to learn the three-step process to make decisions quickly and efficiently with your integrity intact, click here.
When you cancel your regularly scheduled supervision with someone, do you tell them it's because you have another more important meeting, you are exhausted, or because you can't stomach the conversation you'll have with them?
Which one is closest to the truth?
Have you seen it? It's new. A fresh, new look for The Training Library, a membership site which provides training and support to women leaders in nonprofits so they can master their leadership!
The logo's pencil symbolizes the self-reflective worksheets in each course to help you be more productive, inspire your staff, and feel good about your work and the life you lead!
What's really new? The word mastering!
Keep reading to learn why the tagline, mastering leadership, is so essential for you!
A little bit of the back story...I've wanted to design a new logo for The Training Library for a while now but couldn't figure out the tagline. Finally, after some work with my coach, some soul-searching and late-night insights, the word mastering emerged.
You may notice a theme here—my book Mastering Confidence and The Training Library—Mastering Leadership.
Why the word mastering?
Let's first talk about why I created The Training Library. If you don't know what The Training Library is, let me tell you.
↙️ Your Pathways to Mastery ↘️
A huge thank you to all who commented, voted and gave me suggestions on the new logo for The Training Library - MUCH APPRECIATED!
Why I created The Training Library
I often wanted to teach my coaching clients a particular aspect of what they were learning; however, we didn't have the time during our coaching calls. Alternately, I would spend time teaching it, but then we didn't have time to get into how to integrate it into their life and leadership.
What I needed was the ability to both teach and coach. But it wasn't just about me.
What you need...
Let's be honest; it would help if you had bite-sized chunks of learning that are affordable, easily accessible, and on various leadership topics. But we don't all need the same training simultaneously. You may not have the same challenge that your peer has today, but you might need the information she needs today a month from now.
Hence, I created a library of training, tools and resources to help you develop your leadership. But honestly, it's not just a library.
What doesn't work for you...
You can read a book, watch a TED talk, or attend a course and get much of the information I teach inside The Training Library. So why isn't it as simple as that?
What might work better for you...
The beauty of The Training Library is not the information you get in the courses I teach you. Instead, the ongoing integration of that information into your leadership and life is what makes the difference.
This integration happens when you use the worksheets, complete the journal prompts, establish the habits and create the systems that I guide you through to apply the information you learn.
This is why you want to master leadership...
The mastery of the skills makes all the difference in your life. The process of working towards mastery is what moves you:
True mastery is choosing the same thing every time.
By the way, it's a continuous journey!
And one little secret that all the good masters know is that you'll never get there. Just like in Pacman, when you hit one level, another emerges. When you figure something out, life or leadership throws you another curveball. And just when you get your barrings in leadership, life knocks you down, or vice versa.
This challenge of the continuous state of change and flux is where The Training Library community comes in. Unfortunately, leadership can be a very lonely place. The higher up the hierarchy you climb, the fewer people by your side and often an even smaller list of those that you trust or should be trusting.
So, who do you talk to?
It's time to find your place to belong!
Masters don't get to the top by themselves. They have a group of people they train with. They have leaders, peers and mentors.
Masters practice outside of the arena.
Before they need them, masters build their skills in the safety of the dojo.
Where are you training?
> With who?
> Do you have a routine, systems and habits for learning, practicing and then integrating all that you have learned about how to lead with confidence, integrity and impact?
> If not, where will you get that?
Perhaps you'll choose The Training Library.
So what's new?
Just a logo. Just a tagline. Nothing spectacular.
But what is spectacular is that this may be just the reminder you need to see your leadership training and growth journey differently.
A gentle reminder to do the inner work!
The inner work that I speak about often is the work of reflection, journaling, practicing, strategizing and making the hard but right decisions because you know in your heart that it's right. That's the work you can get help with inside The Training Library.
Mastering your confidence begins with creating a plan to move from Apprentice to Master. Take time to complete this guide to understand what you need to do to start the journey of mastering your confidence.
Some days are hard
Sometimes many days in a row are hard.
Just a few days ago, my husband and I attended the funeral of a colleague of his and a father of three daughters, two of which are friends with our girls. That's the second of my one daughter's school friends that have lost their fathers in the last month.
Yesterday I learned that a colleague of mine lost her adult son, the father of my colleague's grandchildren.
On a coaching call this week, I spoke with a client who had just lost their father-in-law and, within a day, found out that their mother may only have a few days left to live.
On social media and in conversations, I listen to stories of the ongoing war and the rising costs of everything. I hear references to so many "isms," inequities, injustices and downright stupidity.
This week there was mass destruction in a storm that ravished eastern Canada and many deaths.
And there was another school shooting this week.
My heart aches—the tears flow. I wonder why. I sob
What do I say to you this week? How do I create hope and optimism for you? What words can I offer that can make any difference? I don't know the answer to that.
What I can tell you is how I make my way through it. If what I do can offer you any hope, I offer it to you also.
One fundamental belief I live by is that I can't change anything other than myself.
I wish I could impact everyone, but I can't touch everyone in the world. But I believe that the way I positively impact others through any connection I have can have a ripple across the globe.
I remind myself my purpose here on earth is to bring the light.
So after reading the latest news this morning and feeling my heart drop once again, I had a choice to make. I could go down the social media rabbit hole and get angry, scared and depressed, or move through the pain and shift my energy.
So I played Let the Light In and, through my tears, reminded myself that I must do that.
What's interesting, though, is that letting the light in with you or for myself is not just shifting our focus to the positive. Instead, before we can move to the light, the positive or the joy, we must stay in the dark for just a little bit longer. We need to stay where we are and experience this hurt, pain and sorrow before we can let it go.
I was coaching a client this week, and through her tears, we talked about how lonely Leadership can be. When coaching another client, we talked about the anger and frustration with the organization she works with. In a third coaching conversation, we stayed with my client's irritation long enough to name it and identify the trigger.
We stayed in the dark, the yucky and uncomfortableness, each time, rather than hop over it.
I learned a long time ago that numbing out pain, hurt and darkness does not work. Numbing out the "bad" emotions also numbs joy, contentment, inner peace, and happiness. We need to experience the full range of our feelings to experience the full range of our emotions. Otherwise, we feel more flatlined, which does not feel good either.
To let my light in and let my light shine and help you do the same, I must crumble to my knees in moments like this and fall apart. I must pray through my tears as I feel my heart breaking wide open. It is only when I experience those cracks that I can then allow the light to shine in
When I can feel the whole range of emotions, what hurts like hell, can I then experience what feels so good!
Last week I went for a walk and crossed paths with a young boy walking home from school. We had a little chat. The conversation was nothing crazy, nothing miraculous. We talked about his day at school, where we lived, and who we knew in common. Yet, when I walked away from that moment, I realized I felt immense joy. I'm sure my heart was glowing. Such a simple, ordinary, inconsequential encounter had such a profound impact.
But, here's the thing, I can't feel that joy without feeling today's deep sorrow and pain.
I can't feel the softness of my granddaughter leaning into me for a hug and telling me she loves me, and stay there just a little longer, soaking in love, contentment and pure bliss, if I hadn't cried in sorrow earlier in the day.
I can experience the awe of an eagle soaring over our family picnic for several moments, lost in his freedom, ease and grace, and feel that wash over my body, calming me and bringing me peace. I can feel that because I also let tears fall when I read another news story of loss, devastation and hate feeling just as profoundly in that moment, at the bottom of the arc.
If you're interested in my advice about dealing with all that is "wrong" with the world, it is this: Feel the full range of your emotions.
Let yourself experience whatever you're experiencing.
Life and leadership are about ups and downs. There's no way around that. If you don't want to get stuck in the mundane, the rat race, the flatline of feelings ebb and flow with everything.
Here are 4 resources to help you
LeAnne Rimes - Chant Album
This is my go-to album when I need to feel — Feel joy, sorrow or just feel whatever I can not name.
Atlas of the Heart - Brene Brown
A reference book for 87 emotions
I come back to it repeatedly to understand, feel, and make a bit more sense of what I am feeling.
Unlocking Us Podcast Episode Atlas of the Heart, Audience Q&A, Part 1 of 2 with Brené Brown, Ashley Brown Ruiz, & Barrett Guillen
At minute 20, they answer a listener's question on compassion fatigue and secondary trauma
It's easy to think that we have compassion and empathy for the world around us, but we are often creating secondary trauma in ourselves, which is not helpful either.
Brene's answer to this question helped me understand why I felt so incredibly distraught after the funeral I attended on Saturday. I had gone into secondary trauma, imagining what would happen if my husband died and how our kids and I would cope. I was reliving the experience, having climbed over the metaphorical fence as Brene talks about.
Note, Brene references the Sandy Hook shooting :-(
Permission to Feel - Marc Brackett
While the subtitle is Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive, the book is full of learning for adults. Mark provides tools to help develop your emotional intelligence, including his RULER framework and Mood Meter. I use these with clients frequently.
I won't tell you that it's easy, but this is the only way I know how.
Feel free to show your other strategies with me so that we may all learn together how to navigate this world we live in.
I am sending you much love, hugs and light today!
Do you care what other people think about you?
Do you sometimes wonder what your employees think about you? Do you care?
If you're human, the answer is probably yes. We all care what people think about us. And the truth is we all want to be liked. To be liked or selected means we belong. And belonging is the very basis of survival.
We've learned: Don't worry what others think about you
Yet we've been taught not to worry about what other people think about us, that we put too much weight on what other people think about us. Instead, we are encouraged just to do our own thing.
That belief is wrong in leadership
But in leadership, you should be worried about what people think about you. Not necessarily as a popularity contest or worry so much that people like you, but instead, that your team members respect you.
If you want to have loyal employees and create a culture that welcomes those employees and keeps them around long term, what people think about you matters.
What others think about your leadership matters in this way
What people think about you is your reputation or your character. It's how people define you.
Each of these comments defines your reputation. And your reputation matters.
How people define you matters - here's why
When I completed my Hogan certification (I'm certified to deliver and interpret this personality assessment), I learned about defining our personality in two different ways.
The first part of your personality is your identity. Your identity is the part that you know from the inside. This is how we think about ourselves and want others to see us.
The problem is our view of ourselves is not always reflected in our behaviours. How we see ourselves is rarely how others see us. It's simply the story you tell yourself and others about you.
The observer's view
Your reputation, on the other hand, is the observer's view. It is based on your behaviours. Your reputation reflects how others observe and evaluate your behaviour after repeated interactions.
Who's view matters more?
You might wonder, which matters more, your identity or your reputation? Well, people hire us, fire us and marry us for a reputation. They loan us money, support us, and become loyal employees based on our reputation.
As Robert Hogan says, "The you you know is hardly worth knowing."
He asserts that it's peer descriptions of our behaviour that predict our reputation and thus our success.
How to create your reputation
How do you create the reputation you desire? One decision at a time.
You develop your reputation consciously
Each time you turn these decisions into conscious choices, you shape how you show up, what people think about you, and thus your reputation. Remember, your reputation plays a huge role in shaping your organizational culture; therefore, it's pertinent that you think about it!
3 strategies for shaping your reputation
How to help others think about you ... in the way you want them to think about you.
1) Make decisions about your behaviour more consciously.
2) Create feedback loops
Ask people what they think about you! How will you know if you don't ask?
Create INFORMAL structures in your everyday leadership to get this feedback.
Create FORMAL structures to get regular feedback from stakeholders you care about, perhaps your employees, peers and community stakeholders.
3) Engage in self-reflective practices
By developing a practice of reflecting on what happened, you begin to create meaning from your leadership experiences. This new meaning allows you to deepen the learning of an experience and helps you consider perhaps what you'd like to do differently in the future. This article provides you with 10 reflective thinking questions.
You might also find these podcast episodes helpful in developing a self-reflective thinking practice.
Here's why all of this matters so much
When you start to intentionally create space to make decisions and make choices to help people describe you and define you the way you want, you'll shape your reputation. As a result, your reputation or character will play a more intentional role in shaping the organizational culture in the way you want. That way, you will be leading a stronger, more engaged, and loyal team that continues to do the incredible work you all choose to do every day.
Do you believe your thinking can shape the culture of your workplace?
I know it can from experience! If you want to learn how to use your thinking to create a more optimal team culture, keep reading!!!
Your thinking CAN shape the culture or the feel of your workplace
Often, we leave the culture of our team up to chance and rarely consciously think about our role in shaping it.
The culture is how it feels when you walk into a team meeting, one of the residences, and even how you feel when you get an email from someone. The unwritten rules of a team play a role in defining the team's culture. For example, what happens when someone is late for a meeting?
How to define workplace culture:
Every workplace has a specific culture - a feel to it, an impression that it leaves. Your workplace and every other workplace have 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.
Creating cultures requires cultivation
Culture comes from the word cultivate, meaning to tend to. So, just like the garden, we need to tend to 🌱 the culture of our teams. So often, though, many of us do not care for, grow or nurture the culture of our organizations. We are too busy chasing fires, dealing with crises and solving problems.
Reacting to problems is often too late to shape the culture
Let's look at what often happens on a team. Things are OK. People are getting along fine. But then you sense that things aren't quite OK. But you don't have time to deal with it, and you hope they'll get OK soon on their own. But they don't! Then one day, things go sideways fast! Something blows up on the team, and we react.
Too many nonprofit leaders don't believe they have the time to...
This crisis-driven mindset in the nonprofit world leaves us constantly feeling overworked, overloaded, and overwhelmed. As a result, we find ourselves one step away from falling apart and living in survival mode. Because of this, we don't believe we have the time to be more intentional about building the culture of our team, and it gets left up to chance.
We don't think like this daily
Don't get me wrong, most of us have the odd conversation about what type of work environment we want. Perhaps we annually review our mission, vision and goals. If you have that discussion with your team, you may also talk about the type of values your organization espouses to. But do you talk about them again throughout the year? Do you ever consciously THINK about how you do this daily with your team?
We say it...but do we live it?
Consider the following statements I pulled from various nonprofit job postings:
I'm sure organizations do have enthusiastic workers and supportive leaders, and employees are proactive in their work with clients. The problem is that enthusiasm ebbs and flows. Somedays, teams work wonderfully together. Then, the next day, not so much. And valuing trust is very different from behaving in a trustworthy manner.
Creating workplace culture is not a one-time activity
The "things" listed above are not static. They don't happen once and then never again. They must be etched into the culture of your team through daily actions and regular habits. As the leader, you need to be intentional, conscious and deliberate about how that happens. But how do you do that?
Workplace culture is created over time, with thoughtful daily actions
You MUST create time to think about how you can and will do those things.
As we've explored thinking over the last few weeks, you've learned that it doesn't take a lot of time to:
Thinking shapes your culture positively, when you do it intentionally
These intentional thinking processes help you cultivate the workplace culture you desire.
Steps to THINK your way to a positive workplace culture
It's our conscious thinking, instead of unconsciously reacting to everything, that cultivates the culture we desire.
First, take some time to contemplate the culture you wish to create.
Then be strategic about how you will create that type of culture.
Finally, plan the way to develop that daily.
It's conscious thinking that will take you and your team to the next level!
IMPORTANT: After thinking comes the DAILY ACTIONS to create a positive workplace culture
I am guessing by now you may realize that often, the most challenging part of creating the workplace culture you desire is having the courage to take action. Working through your own personal growth journey will let you address the elephant in the room, talk about the hard things, admit failure, ask for help, ditch perfectionism, and so much more.
Do you want guidance with your leadership?
If you need help with that inner journey, The Training Library will guide you! Each lesson, course and worksheet not only help you identify how to lead and supervise your team but how to do it with your unique personality, traits and style and in a way that aligns with values, ethics and morals. As a result, you'll learn to lead your way and find both success and contentment in leading authentically!
Have you noticed that when your thoughts are swirling around, you're often stuck reliving a memory that didn't feel so good or rehearsing a tragedy in the future? Neither feels good.
OMG, that meeting was awful! I can't believe they said that!
Your thought process can provide learning opportunities
Our thoughts don't always need to spiral us into a downward tailspin. When we slow our thinking down, pause, and add an element of mindfulness to our thought process, our thinking can become a learning tool. Following the learning component, we may change our mindset, behaviour or perspectives on what happened or is coming up.
Sometimes when we slow our thinking down, we are more of a strategic thinker. Other times our more conscious thoughts help us plan or make a decision. Today though, I want to focus on reflective thinking.
First, let's look at different kinds of thinking and roughly categorize them as unconscious (swirling thoughts) and conscious thinking.
Worry, anxiety and regret - full of judgment, blame and shame statements
Often polarized or absolute thoughts
Strategic thinking - connecting dots, seeing the big picture, looking into the future
Planning - adding action elements
Decision making - critical thinking, decisiveness
Reflective thinking - curiosity, openness and exploration
We often miss the reflective thinking piece that so often would be wise to do before the other kinds of conscious thinking.
Reflective thinking as a practice
In our sector, practitioners are often taught the skill of reflective practice. The idea behind turning reflective thinking into a practice is specifically for learning opportunities. Experience alone doesn't always teach us what we need to know.
Developing a practice of reflecting on what happened helps us create meaning from an experience. This new meaning allows us to deepen the learning of an experience and helps us to consider perhaps what we'd like to do differently in the future.
How to be a good reflective thinker
Reflective thinking begins with a question instead of a statement.
Most of the questions we ask ourselves during our reflective thinking time are what questions—a why question often evokes defensiveness. But instead, what questions help us be more curious and ditch the judgment.
The ultimate goal of reflective thinking is to learn from your leadership experiences. You are considering three main points.
10 Reflective thinking questions to prompt learning
To help you deepen your learning after an experience, take a few moments to journal your answers to the following questions:
To help you deepen your learning after an experience, take a few moments to journal your answers to the following questions:
1) What happened?
2) What body sensations did I experience?
3) What thoughts were going around my head?
4) What emotions did I feel as it was happening?
5) Which of my values were triggered during this exchange?
6) What perspective was the other person(s) in?
7) What did I do well in managing that situation?
8) How would my best self handle a similar situation in the future?
9) What strengths do I need to put to work more often?
10) What will I do differently next time?
When you take time to pause, slow down your thinking and reflect, you'll learn more. That learning will provide insights into how to change your mindset, behaviours or intent, thus leading more authentically and effectively.
Need more help?
In my membership site, The Training Library, I offer additional training to help you make create reflective thinking practices.
Here are some you may be interested in checking out:
Are you a manager or a leader? Here is the simple question to help you see: Are you trying to move things forward, or are you trying to stabilize them?
We need to both manage and lead
Likely you do both but at different times. The challenge is that we get caught in too much managing. We spend most of our time, heads down just trying to survive. More often, and we need to manage less and lead more.
A manager steadies things.
If at that moment, you are trying to stabilize things, keep them in line, and follow procedures, then you are managing.
Here is what managing looks like:
When you wear the manager’s hat, you are;
✔️Setting up work schedules
✔️Ensuring people are following their job descriptions
✔️Reviewing procedures at a staff meeting
✔️Solving the problem of the day
✔️Attending meetings, we are required to attend
?Managers get stuff done
Managers are maintaining order and consistency. They are keeping things status quo. In essence, they are getting the work done.
?Leaders are moving things forward
Shifting into leadership mode means that instead of maintaining the status quo, leaders are looking to challenge the status quo. You are looking to get out of the steady, sure place and find more movement forward. Leaders focus on change, movement, and growth.
Both Managing and Leading are needed!
Leadership looks like this:
Putting on your leadership hat has you do these activities:
Leaders develop others and the company
Leaders motivate, inspire, and energized team members to grow and develop to be all they can be. In doing so, this also creates the space for the company to be all it can be. Leaders help individuals and teams to reach their full potential.
Too often we get stuck in managing and forget to lead
Only leading or managing gets you into trouble
When we sit on one side of the other too long, it creates a void. Yes, we need to stabilize for a moment, but we also need to keep moving.
?️Always racing forward can lead to no foundation with which build on.
️.........Only focusing on the future can create chaos, and essentially you spin out of control.
?️On the other hand, staying still too long makes us stagnant ?
You need to shift between managing and leading
Leaders need to know how to shift back-and-forth
Leaders need to switch back and forth from their manager hat to their leadership hat.
?Your strength may be in seeing the future potential of an employee, and so you focus on that during their performance review. You talk to them about their goals and help them decide what training they need to take over the next year.
?You may also need to have a conversation with them about them being late with paperwork. That conversation manages day-to-day challenges. It also serves to stabilize their work and how that affects the rest of the team.
Don’t get stuck in managing
Add more leadership time
?I CHALLENGE YOU: Work to incorporate more leading in your day-to-day work. When you can set your sights farther down the road, you can look up and gain perspective.
Practice leading more often
When you demonstrate your leadership more often, you will develop your team to be stronger, more independent and more engaged. In doing so, you will find your organization more cohesive and will advance quicker towards the goals set out in your visioning processes.
I'm sending you lots of positive vibes to practice your leadership capabilities, so you can be your best self!?
p.s. Learn more about leading and managing in this video below ?️
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.