Archive for the ‘Strengths’ Category

Do You Need a Title or Authority to be a Leader?

April 24, 2012

A big part of my coaching practice is related to leadership development. I coach leaders – of all levels – to bring the best of themselves to work (and life). My focus is to help individuals (and groups) optimize their personal, professional wellbeing and to recognize the impact they can have on others — and learn a whole bunch of personal/professional skills along the way.

But do you have to be an ‘official’ leader to lead? Do you need the authority to influence? The title – and formal position?

I don’t think you do. Authentic leadership is a skill and not a position. And it is essential for anyone who wants to bring their best to their work and life. 

This is the theme of a workshop I am facilitating tomorrow at the Administrative Professionals Conference in Toronto- called “10 Ways to Lead.”

Here’s a shout-out of thanks to Dr. Gail Levitt of Levitt Communications Inc. who invited me to this particular conference opportunity. Gail is a professional colleague whom I respect greatly – we share this similar philosphy about leadership.

I’ve always believed that leadership is not limited to one’s title. In fact, when I started Big Cheese Coaching in 2003, I chose the name “Big Cheese” to reflect my belief that we can all be ‘Big Cheeses” regardless of our positions if we access and develop our potential and hone our authentic leadership.

Sure there are oodles of skills to learn to be a great leader — and I love diving into those ‘buckets’ — but my message is: we all have a leader within. Own and hone your leadership and you will have a greater chance of leading/living your life by design and not default. Now who wouldn’t want that!?

Here’s to the leader within each of us!

TGIM Work+Life

Eileen

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Giving feedback that fuels success.

September 12, 2010

Giving feedback is a critical part of a leader’s job. I’ve written quite a bit about the importance of positive feedback and acknowledgement (see a few links below). But what about those times when you have to give some critical feedback? Perhaps an employee is falling short on their performance or their attitudes and behaviour aren’t up to par? How do you deal with those situations? Do you see feedback as a necessary evil and something to get over with quickly? Or do you see this as an opportunity to invest in your people and strengthen both the performance and maybe even engagement.

Canadian HR Reporter invited me to contribute an article for these scenarios. It’s just been published and I’m delighted to share it with you: Giving feedback that fuels success

I’d love to hear your feedback and any additional tips and experience you may have had. In the meantime, I am getting ready to deliver a workshop to a group of leaders at an organization related to this very topic this week. I will be focusing on “Performance Development” and teaching coaching skills that can be very helpful in the continuum of leadership development and particularly the leader’s role in developing people. We will be focusing on both actualizing conversations as well as those seemingly more difficult situations.  More about that in future posts.

Other articles I’ve written that you may be interested in:

 Ramp Up the People Side of Your Leadership

Bring Thanks in a Thankless Environment

That Time of the Year – Performance Reviews

To a TGIMworklife!

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As well,

Midlife crisis OUT – midlife transition IN!

January 26, 2010

Midlife crisis is so passe. Much like the old version of retirement is, well….old.  Today,  boomer mid-life is all about transition and new beginnings. 

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what others ‘in the know’ are saying. According to an article in ScienceDaily, adults in their mid-life years really do face the ‘best time to flourish and grow’. Second acts are possible!

Butterfly by Eileen Chadnick - freedom, transformation, beauty!

Prof. Carlo Strenger of Tel Aviv University’s Dept. of Psychology co-authored an article with Israeli researcher, Arie Ruttenbergfor the Harvard Business Review and Psychoanalystic Psychology. 

Somehow this line has been drawn around the mid and late ’40s as the time for a mid-life crisis in our society,” says Strenger. “But as people live longer and fuller lives, we have to cast aside that stereotype and start thinking in terms of mid-life transition’ rather than ‘midlife crisis’.

If you make fruitful use of what you’ve discovered about yourself in the first half of your life, the second half can be the most fulfilling,” he adds.

Read my full post here — posted at my UNretiredLife blog.

To a TGIM work-life at any stage of life!

Eileen

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To Be Your Best? Or The Best?

May 21, 2009

Success. Is it about being the best or your best? Ask Kris Allen. He just won the title of 2009 American Idol, beating out Adam Lambert who was the judges’  favorite.

Kris Allen and Adam Lambert

No one was likely more surprised than Allen himself. He literally stuttered out that “Adam deserves this”.

Kris Allen never set out to win this competition. He set out to simply earn his way into being in (and staying in) the competition. Each week he focused on doing his best and he took advantage of the opportunity. Over the season, he grew leaps and bounds and literally found his voice!  He was considered the ‘dark horse’ and with each week, he continued to be shocked when invited to stay in the game. As the season neared finale, it became clear that if he didn’t win, he’d succeed anyways….with record labels and other opportunities likely lining up at his door. 

Is there a morale to this story? What do you think???!!!

Focusing on being your best without worrying about what the competition is up to can often pay off. Each week, Allen was rewarded for being authentic and as Paula Abdul and the other judges regularly noted – he never lost sight of who he was. He played to his strengths and stayed true to himself.

There are many other stories about how authenticity and focusing on being your best can pay off. This, in fact, was the winning strategy for John Wooden, former head coach for the UCLA basketball dynasty. He brought UCLA to win 10 NCAA national championships in 12 years…and many other notable accomplishments.

His secret to success?

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best which you are capable….don’t worry about whether you’re better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can become” (as  quoted in ‘Wooden on Leadership’).

What about you? Where are you focusing on being your best — and where can you leave behind concerns about the competition?  What of your strengths are you leveraging? What opportunities are coming your way — or are you creating — that you can leverage to grow yourself ? Where did you not earn ‘top spot’ – yet found success anyways because of the effort you made? 

For me…well, this coming weekend I am running a half marathon. I’m as slow as heck and I don’t give a damn. I’ve been running for 30 years…some years ‘ploddier’ than others. I’m proud of it all. I’m too slow to win any medals. But my father (a very accomplished marathoner with more than 70 marathons under his belt) taught me many years ago that every participant is a winner if they bring their best to the race that day.  So this Sunday, I will start out with thousands of other runners. I will focus only on doing what I can do that day – and I will bring my best.

To each of us out there….may you have peace knowing you are bringing your best self to your life each day.

UPDATE (posted June 9): For those inquiring minds – yes, I completed the half marathon! I was extremely happy with the overall experience and what I accomplished that day. I did my best for sure for that particular run. For those in the ‘marathon-know’, I completed my second half-split faster than the first…and finished strong (within my capacity). Now I’m setting my sights on a fall possibility:)

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In the News: Job Trends….

February 5, 2009

I was profiled in an article on coaching in the Workology/Job Trends section of Metro News.

“Tough times call for drastic measures- or at least a fresh perspective. Which may be exactly why the phenomenon of work/life coaching continues to grow as the world economy shrinks. Different from a counsellor, a coach works with individuals to develop their strengths and realize their potential in the workplace…..”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

And additional articles in the “In the News” section.

To a TGIM Work-life!

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Now Where Was I Again…..?

July 7, 2008

Hello again! Remember me? I know, it’s been a while since I’ve last posted. I confess, I’ve been MIA (missing in action). I haven’t been much in the blog writing mode these days because I’ve been in the major “DOING” mode. Busy, busy…..espousing/talking/working….TGIM work-life in a variety of workshops/retreats/webinars.  It’s all been great fun — with a lot of work — but lots at once, so a little less time to blog (sorry folks!).

In any case, I thought I’d share a quick snapshot of where I’ve been recently wrt to workshops, presentations, etc. :

Ministry of the Environment: I delivered a 1/2 day workshop: “Strategies for a TGIM Work-life” — Tips and strategies for engagement. See here for testimonials.

Centennial College: Lead a two and a half day retreat for the college’s most senior leaders: “Reflective Leadership Forum” — exploring strategies to build reflective practice in one’s daily work and life. See here to read what they had to say.

Project World / Business Analyst Conference: Lead a two day workshop for project managers and business analysts: Coaching Skills for Leaders.  See here to read what they had to say.

Upper Canada Law Society: Participated in a panel discussion on Work-life balance at their 3rd annual Solo and Small Firm Conference. Great feedback – soon to upload.

Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA): Presented a Webinar :“Assertiveness at Work” (which I’ve written about in previous posts – and am in process of planning a follow-up teleclass – details to be announced but likely in the fall).  If you’d like to listen to the archive – click here. And to read some of the great feedack – see here.

Financial Planners Standards Council (FPSC): Presented a Webinar: “Asking the Right Questions for Career Success”. Testimonial.

AND ALONG THE WAY…and in between I had all my other work — I’m not complaining, actually I’m quite grateful for all my clients and the terrific work opportunities I’ve had. But (yeah, there’s a ‘but’)….it has been BUSY so I’ve been time-challenged these days,

Now that summer’s here….I hope to slow down just a bit for a little while. Time to reflect on all that ‘doing’ and the learning along the way. I’ll be back….will write about the experiences, learnings, insights, etc.

But for now….I’m honouring my TGIM work-life needs and catching my breath.

To a TGIM Work-life!

Eileen

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Ask the Coach: What to Do With a Poor Performer…

February 18, 2008

Here’s one of my latest “Ask a Coach” columns published in CA Source, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) online newsletter. If you have a question of your own, please send it to me — see Coaches Corner for options on how to connect.

 Q. I’m in a difficult situation. I hired a fellow about a year ago who came with excellent referrals and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the role. He (let’s call him “John”) seemed to have all the technical skills for the job and for the first six months was doing great. His work was good quality and he seemed to be getting on well with the team and was gaining their respect. Then things changed. For the past six months his work has become increasingly sloppy. He’s been late on a few too many occasions and just not on the ball in many respects. On several occasions I have communicated to him – often through email — that he needs to shape up. He needs to bring his work and behaviour back up to standard. I’m at the point of not knowing what to do. I don’t really want to let him go but if things don’t change, I may have to. How do I handle this?

A. I understand how disappointing it can be when an employee doesn’t seem to be living up to their potential or worse, is underperforming. While I also understand that quality work and dependability are important, I wouldn’t give up on him too quickly. He has shown in his first six months that he is capable of performing at that standard, and so I wonder if something has changed in his personal situation that is impacting his work. I encourage you to explore that further before making any concrete decisions.

In addition to being accountable for the quality of work (in your department), a big part of a leader’s role is about managing, developing and supporting the people who work for them. Rather than judging John’s work in isolation, a more productive place for you to start would be to try to understand what’s going on with John — i.e., what’s underneath and influencing this shift in his behaviour. With that understanding, you’ll have a better sense of what to do next either in terms of supporting him and/or making other decisions.

There are probably many ways to go about this. Here are a few thoughts:

Focus on the person, not just the work and start with an appreciative stance of John and his potential
In considering the situation, make sure you are reflecting on John as a person and not just on his current performance. Remind yourself of his attributes and character before he started to slip. Sometimes things happen outside within lives that unfortunately do impact our performance at work (e.g., a marital issue, health problems).

Employers that attract, retain and engage top talent find ways to be supportive of their people during tough moments. If you can understand John’s situation more fully, you might have a broader range of possibility to work with as you deal with the performance issues.

Have a conversation with John directly
Email isn’t the best way to communicate at this point. I’d recommend you have a direct conversation with John, ideally in person. It will allow for a more productive exchange. Acknowledge respectfully that there continues to be an issue with his work but focus the conversation more towards gaining an understanding rather than further admonishment — i.e., ask questions that illicit understanding about his situation and emotional mindset.

Establish Trust come from a place of empathy and inquiry rather than judgment
If John is to open up about any issues, he needs to feel safe in the conversation (and overall relationship) to disclose.  Empathy is an important attribute in leaders. While he may not disclose the minute details of his situation (nor is he obligated to), it is important that he feel safe to share at a high level what he is going through (if that is the issue). The kinds of questions you ask — your tone and your listening — will be very important in this conversation.

Communicate from an appreciative stance of who John is and his potential
If John is going through a tough time, it might be helpful for you to remind him of his strengths and character when he is at his best. From there, perhaps the two of you can work out what he needs to get back to that place. Focusing exclusively on what’s wrong can be very demoralizing.

Tread sensitively, respectfully and honestly
Whatever John’s situation is, it is important to handle this sensitively and respectfully. It’s also important to be upfront and honest if there are implications related to his employability. Balancing all this will take skill — and might be an important time to test your leadership communications ability.

Consider who else can support this situation
Depending on what transpires from your preliminary conversations, you may need to enlist the support of others in your organization. For instance, HR may be able to provide guidance, counsel and additional support (e.g., EAP programs).

Ask yourself: what kind of leader do you want to be right now
The exact steps you take can’t be predicted until you know more. But the most important question you can ask yourself at this stage is: What kind of leader do I want to be right now? What parts of your own character strengths do you want to bring to this situation? If you found yourself in a situation like John’s, how would you want to be treated?

I’m confident that if you bring yourself fully to the situation, in both heart and intellect, you will handle this situation well. Good luck to you both.

 —

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Superbowl Lessons for Today’s Leaders

February 1, 2008

Worth noting… an interesting article in today’s Globe and Mail Careers section about the “perfect coach”.  In light of Superbowl Sunday, Brian Christmas wrote a feature about Bill Belichick’s success coaching the New England Patriots.  I confess, I’m not an avid football fan but I love the article because it explored many of the traits in Belichick’s successful leadership that are relevant to leaders of all kinds in today’s workplaces.

Christmas interviewed experts who gave credit to Belichick for: drawing the players to his vision and keeping them focused week in and out; finding the right players to fit the various team roles; mentoring the talent; paying attention to detail while empowering team members to think on their own; having a solid competitive strategy; communicating  clearly and giving feedback constructively (not personalizing)….and more.

One of the last quotes in the article really stood out for me. Professior John Phelan, an adjunct professor in Organizational Behavior at Queen’s University School of Business spoke about Belichick’s approach to empowering his team “From an employee’s perspective, that shifts them from a compliance to a commitment.”

The leadership team at Tribute Communities will love reading that one. “Commitment – Not Compliance” was one of the key guiding principles behind its employee engagement initiative (which earned the Prism award from International Coach Federation — read more here).

Another quote worth repeating: Chris Shultz, a football commentator for TSN said  that it appears Mr. Belichick understands that “there’s football players, and there’s people who play football,”……implying that the coach focuses on the latter….i.e. coaching the person not the ‘label’.

Coaching people as people….another theme and guiding principle that I distinguish regularly with many of my clients who are leaders and have responsibility for supporting and developing others.

Accountants aren’t just accountants. PR professionals aren’t just PR professionals. Construction folks aren’t just construction folks.

A good coach recognizes they don’t coach people’s roles or titles. We coach who they are in the context of their work. There’s a difference.

A big difference.

We are all more than the widgets we build or professions we represent.

Leaders who recognize this will be more effective at empowering, inspiring, challenging and growing their people.

Questions for Reflection:

What do you notice from some of your team sports observations and/or participation? What lessons can you draw for  your own leadership? What leaders do you think stand out and why? When you support others in  your team do you think of them as whole and unique individuals — or see them more narrowly – strictly through the lense of their ‘job description’ ?

Food for thought….perhaps after all the tailgating this weekend has subsided.

To a TGIM worklife and to leaders who get it right!

If You Attended Today’s CICA Webinar….

October 29, 2007

Thank you to everyone who attended the Webinar I presented today at the CICA exploring TGIM worklife with Emotional Intelligence! It was a great turn-out (more than 400 attendees!) and based on the questions I received at the end – a very enthusiastic group indeed.

I thought I’d post the links to some of the articles I mentioned that might be of interest (rather than having you search for them). So here are a few:

1) Emotional Intelligence at Work — an article I wrote for HR Reporter that provides an at-a-glance summary of some of the concepts I explored today about EQ.

2) The Lizard who wouldn’t eat…. About using your Signature Strengths to feel gratified at work.

3) Tips to Make the “Bigness of Monday” Just a Little Bit Lighterwhen you could use a little boost. And the Globe and Mail article “Thank God it’s Monday“.

4) Finding Flow: Intense Work but Without the Struggle

5) Is HR Prepared to Keep the Keepers — another article I wrote for HR Reporter on employee engagemeng for high performers and high potentials.

6) Employee Engagement – Respect

AND….there was one participant who asked about self employment as a career option…so for those that might be interested, my reflections starting my 10th year in biz

AND…there’s much more so I invite you all to have a look at the blog…and visit again! Also – I did mention that I’d be introducing a tele-class program in January for leaders who want to develop more resilience at work (to navigate and deal with the ever-increasing load and work-life hurdles we talked about).

More about that later but if interested, please let me know by email or a call and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as I confirm the details (with no obligation of course).

Of course, if interested in exploring how you can learn more about developing a TGIM worklife for yourself and/or others you work with….please do get in touch! I’d love to hear from you.

To a TGIM worklife!

Eileen

In the Spirit of Gratitude…

October 5, 2007

This is the season to be thankful….it is (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend afterall. But is gratitude really meant to be seasonal?

(courtesy of Mary on Flickr)

Personally, I think gratitude is in style all year round. And it’s not just the right way to be in terms of good manners. It’s downright good for you! Your ability for gratefulness is deeply connected to how you experience your life…your work….your personal wellbeing. Your ‘mojo’ – your heart and soul! The whole kaboodle. And yes, verrrrrry connected to your ability to experience a TGIM worklife:)

I am blessed. Gratitude happens to be one of my top Signature Strengths, according to Martin Seligman’s assessment on the Positive Psychology website.  Even before taking this assessment I always knew I had (at least) two sets of gifts: one set represents all the good stuff I have in my life (my wellbeing, family, friends, my skills/aptitudes/talents/abilities, work opportunities, etc, etc, etc…..loong list).

The second set of gifts is the ability to recognize all of this – and appreciate it all….and express thanks, internally and to others. That is indeed a gift. That is what puts the wind in my sails.

Afterall, if you can’t appreciate what you have and who you are — how can you want more?  How can you become more?

The Via Signature Strengths assessment says about gratitude: You are aware of the good things that happen to and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express thanks.

The thing about gratitude is you don’t have to be in ‘a good place’ to exercise your gratefulness. In fact, it doesn’t even have anything to do with your ‘luck’, circumstances, wealth or any other measure of ‘the good life’. Research has revealed that many people who are dirt poor are still able to be grateful…..and they are happier than many of their wealthier counterparts.

And the good news about gratitude is that even if it doesn’t come naturally to you (yet) — it is an aptitude that can be developed. It is simply about creating the habit of gratitude. And I say it’s a habit well worth exercising each and every day!

So how about you? What are you thankful for this season and for today? In your work life? In your personal life? About your own unique gifts, qualities and circumstances? No item is too small to mention!

Here are a few ways to exercise gratitude and develop that ‘grateful habit’:

  1. Daily (or at least a few times weekly): write down or at least express in some way at least 3 things that you are grateful for….in your work-life (and personally too). Nothing is too small for this list. Nothing is too ‘corny’. Acknowledge anything and everything. Don’t stop at 3 items….if you like, acknowledge anything that comes to mind. And don’t be shy to repeat things on your list…..it’s okay to be grateful for all the things that are part of your life each and every day:)

  2. Express your gratefulness to others: Sometimes I think “thank you” are the most under-rated words.  Pay attention to  how often you say thank you — or don’t. Are there opportunities to express appreciation to those you work with and/for? For work well done; for one’s effort and attitude; for anything…… Small opportunities and larger ones…they all count.

  3. Notice how you feel when  you do take the time to say thank you — and how you feel when receive a ‘thank you’ from someone else. Again, this isn’t just about good manners. It’s about making a difference to your own ‘joie de coeur”…not sure if I spelled that right…but your own ‘heart and soul’ — and that of others.

  4. Remember to acknowedge not just the good things outside of yourself…..but also your own inner being qualities. Do you have special ability to laugh and to make others laugh? That’s a gift. Acknowledge it! Do you know what your talents, gifts, abilities are? Perhaps some….but I bet if you spent a bit of time reflecting you’d realize there’s much more to be grateful for. We tend to get so busy we sometimes lose sight of who we are…..reconnect, remember and give thanks.

  5. OTHER IDEAS? I’m sure you’ve got a bunch of other ideas….I would love to hear them and I’m sure others too. Please email and/or post a comment.

Now as I get ready for my Thanksgiving weekend, I am going to spend some time making my ‘list’ of gratitude. Specifically, I am going to focus on all that I am grateful for as it relates to my ‘tgim worklife’. I know it’s going to be a very loooooooooong list so I better get started.

Till next time – have a happy, healthy, wonderful Canadian Thanksgiving!

Yours in gratitude!

Eileen

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