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This week I am doing training for a world-class company on the theme of "Being a Power Team Player." They know if they are going to continue to lead in their industry, they have to play a bigger game and they have to do it together in ways they haven't even yet thought of. We live in an increasingly complex world where we can have exceptional performers on a team and yet the team continues to be mediocre. That’s why companies today are not just looking for great performers—they are looking for great team players. If you want to be a power team player and help your team do great things, here are three tips:
Be proactive: Leaders go first when it comes to collaborating with others, whether they have a title or not. They’re not just “self-starters”—they also get others going as well. They ignite the qualities of caring, sharing and working with others on their team and throughout the company. Power players are not the norm because too many of us tend to keep our heads down. What about you? How often have you taken the lead to offer another team your expertise, insights and your help in some way?
Be exceptional: Sometimes it’s all you can do to just keep up with your own work—I get that. I often hear, from the front line all the way up to senior management, “I would like to do more with and for others, but I can only do so much.” That’s common thinking, but that’s not how power team players think and act. Power team players are exceptional because they connect with others, dream with others and challenge others while most say they don’t have the time or the “authority” to do so. To be a power team player, you have to speak up, share your ideas, ask questions, challenge the status quo and in general, inspire others with your team mindset.
Be consistent: Almost everyone exhibits team thinking and team behaviors—some of the time. Power team players are known for their consistency in bringing others into the conversation, asking for ideas from those who are rarely sought out and for encouraging the silent ones to speak what’s on their minds. Power team players know that most people are not collaborating to the greatest extent they are capable of—and they know it takes time to change thinking and habits. They are patiently consistent with others. And while most are busy with their own work, power team players are getting their work done and communicating, sharing and working with those around them.
Some of us don’t take time out of our busy schedules to play. We may even feel that it’s a waste of time. Unfortunately, we lose sight of our need to replenish ourselves. A woman’s basic needs are not only food, clothing, and shelter, but also caring, friendship, and FUN. Yes, fun works wonders. Fun lightens our burdens, gives us new perspectives, and frees our minds to face ordinary situations with renewed enthusiasm. Here’s a case in point:
Have you ever come home from work feeling so tired that the only thing you were capable of doing was brushing your teeth and crawling into bed? Take this same scenario and add to it a phone call from your best friend, who loves to joke with you. You hear her laugh and your exhaustion goes away. Instead of wanting to go to sleep, you’d rather meet her and go dancing.
Playing is not just for little children. A few good jokes, drinking a cappuccino with a special friend, roller-skating with your children, swimming, collecting shells on a beach—all of these activities can transform exhaustion into energy. We all have a child inside us that wants to have fun, but do we let her come out and play? You know what she’ll do if you don’t! Throw a tantrum in the form of being bored, exhausted, or uncooperative.
Adapted from Our Power as Women, by Helene Lerner. Conari Press.
If we want to be happy, successful and to thrive in life, we have to know how to both give and receive. Some are definitely more comfortable with the giving part. However, the more we grow in both graces, the more we experience the flow of life. Here are two tips to help us grow in our understanding of the power of giving and receiving.
What you give comes back to you:
Someone once told me “We should give without expecting anything in return—that’s true giving.” That sounds like a healthy perspective, at first hearing. However, I have a different take on it: I don't think it's healthy at all. In fact, I think we ought to expect a return on our giving. After all, we have needs and desires of our own—if we don’t get them met, what would we give from? It’s fine to give to someone or to some cause without expecting anything back from that specific source—but to not expect a harvest from the seeds we plant is misguided. You can’t give out of what you don’t have. Be a giver, yes, but remember to receive when the giving is coming from the other direction and stay in the flow of the universe.
When it comes, be ready to receive:
There are many people who are uncomfortable receiving a compliment or receiving help when they need it. They don’t want to be in anyone’s debt, so they inadvertently make it difficult for others to give to them. To receive graciously, without embarrassment or shame takes a sense of self-worth. You are worthy to receive—you don’t have to earn that right. I'm talking about receiving things such as love, respect for being a fellow human-being or help when someone offers it. At work, you have to earn your paycheck; that's a given. However, even at work, when we realize we all have strengths, talent and passion and find a place to exercise them, we're eager to go to work and give even beyond what's expected.
Take the “Ready to Receive” Test:
Our community has been asking for more videos--this is a fabulous one on how to enjoy life.
Video Editor--Chloe Motisi
Many employees wish they had a better boss. That’s understandable, given the not so great state of management in our companies and organizations. But guess what? Most supervisors and managers wish they had better employees. That’s why you hear so much about the dire state of employee engagement—only 30% of employees are truly engaged according to Gallup.
The state of management doesn’t look like it’s going to be transformed anytime soon—and you’re not going to fix the employee engagement problem single-handedly. So what can you do? You can focus on what you can control by focusing on giving your manager what he or she wants and needs from you. Here are three ways to do that:
No surprises. Keep your boss informed of anything and everything that is important for them to know. Your boss doesn’t want to learn about a problem after the fact when you could have told them of a possible storm coming their way. If you keep your boss informed, you will increase his or her trust in you, and as a result, you will have more influence over them. If you’re not sure you should communicate with your boss about something, that’s likely a sign you should. Over time, you will refine your ability to know what and how much to communicate to your boss.
Be sure you know your boss's expectations. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: the only way you can be sure you know what your boss says is to ask on a consistent basis and get it in writing. When you meet with your boss to discuss expectations, take notes and confirm your understanding as you are listening and asking questions. Afterwards, send your boss an email detailing what you understand the expectations to be and have them confirm or clarify your understanding.
Express your appreciation and respect. From your vantage point, it might look like it’s easy to be the boss, but in reality, it’s not. As a boss, you have to do your work, help your team with their work—and you have to satisfy senior management. Someone, on some level, is always going to be unhappy about something. Your boss needs to hear from you what they’re doing right and what you appreciate about their leadership. A good rule of thumb is he or she needs to hear positives from you ten times for every complaint or a disappointment they hear from you.
If you have taken heed of my tips and suggestions for must-haves, you have likely been getting the right kind of attention everywhere you go; from the desk to dinner! Here are a few additions to regenerate your old wardrobe and make old looks new again with just a new view on how to wear it.
A Blazer Vest
This classic double-breasted blazer is the perfect warm-weather layering piece. Wherever you would wear a blazer, substitute it for this sleeveless alternative to give your regular suit and blouse combination just the right finesse without the trouble of becoming too hot in the summer heat.
The White Collared Shirt
In a twist of events, the white collared shirt—a classic office staple—was actually a hot trend on the runway this year (but with an update, of course). Think very crisp, a bit edgier, and a more interesting silhouette. But this souped-up fashion version still works perfectly with your go-to work outfits.
A Flounce-Hem Skirt
The flounce hem gives a ladylike touch to the classic pencil skirt but is still totally work-appropriate. It's a refreshing piece to pair with a collared shirt, light summer sweater, sheath top, or boxy blazer—and, if your office is cool with it, try out some fun colors.
Modern Suiting and a Graphic Tee
A jacket and blazer never looked so...chic. A cropped trouser cut and emblazoned T-shirt give the traditional suit a whole new spin. Fashion has often sought inspiration from art. Geometric patterns, water brush marks, graffiti, you name it--GRAPHIC PRINTS are back in style. For the workplace; it looks pretty cool to wear this trend with a suit or with jeans and a blazer and heels. Wear your art to work
Black and White
White on White
White on White isn’t usually considered a reasonable color combination for the workplace, however it does work beyond weddings and christenings. Mix it up a little and try wearing gold accessories with White. It’s a fantastic way to bump up the soft ethereal feeling you get when wearing all white. Don’t be scared to ride on the wild side every now and again!
Next month will be my final installation for the Summer Style Philes then we will get ready for the fabulous transformations in store for Fall/Winter Fashion. Stay Tuned! Keep enjoying summer; it’s almost over.
Pamela Watson is an experienced stylist who currently works as the trend expert for Builders of Style, where she prepares A-list clients for red carpet events, music videos, concerts, and award shows.
Every company has them and most teams have at least one. Families often have one as well. You know what I’m talking about; the employee or family member that makes you want to walk the other way when you see them coming. Instead of complaining about the difficult person in your midst, why not ask what they can teach you about--you? For example:
You have buttons they can push:
Who do you find it the most difficult to be around? Is it the narcissist who makes sure the conversation is always about them? Is it the complainer who finds fault with the resort the company chose for your team’s annual celebration? Or is it the passive-aggressive person who has perfected his or her tone while delivering the accusation, “That’s not what I meant—don’t be so sensitive!”? We all have buttons, areas of sensitivity that others can easily find and manipulate. Whatever yours is, the difficult person is there to remind you that it’s still there and that they “own” you as long as you have that button.
You have room to improve as well:
There is no doubt that the “difficult” person needs to overhaul their communication and interpersonal skills in the area or areas that make them difficult for many people. But what about you? Have you considered that the difficult person could be viewed as a reminder that you’re not as assertive as you need to be? That difficult person isn’t likely to change, are they? You can either keep letting that person push your button or you can decide it’s time for you to learn to be more assertive and set boundaries with them. The difficult person can teach you, “This isn’t just all about me—you have a part in this as well.”
You have blind spots too:
The difficult person has a behavior (or several) that is so unpleasant that everyone agrees there’s a problem—a serious problem. The bigger problem is they’re oblivious to what’s plain to everyone else! How can that be? The answer is that they’re just like you and me. We all have blind spots. We’re not blind to a horrendous behavior because our behaviors aren’t on that level. Yet, we’re not perfect either. Difficult people remind us that we all have blind spots. We can be like the difficult people and stay oblivious—or we can learn from them ask for some candid feed-back. Just because our behavior might not be a serious problem doesn’t mean we should ignore it.
The Fear Factor
What inhibits you from moving forward? When you identify a goal and take actions to achieve it, you open up yourself to the possibility of risk—getting or not getting what you desire, as well as the consequences that result. It’s frightening to step outside your comfort zone, which is what you are doing when you take a risk. You’ll likely be afraid, but that doesn’t have to stop you from taking action.
As Susan Jeffers, author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, says, “As long as I continued to push out into the world, as long as I continued to stretch my capabilities, as long as I continued to take new risks in making my dreams come true, I was going to experience fear.”
Turn Fear into Excitement
I invite you to shift how you view fear. Did you ever think that when you’re afraid, you are actually excited? Our bodies react to fear and excitement in the same way—a quickened heartbeat, perspiration, cold and clammy hands.
Early on, I remember how I worried after I received a promotion at my first job. I was concerned about my new responsibilities and whether I could handle them. My mentor advised me that I wouldn’t have been offered the position if others didn’t think I could do it, and do it well. She also pointed out that it sounded like I was more excited than afraid. Suddenly, my attitude changed. Her guidance and friendship gave me the permission I needed to feel exhilarated about my new job. Consequently, I was looking forward to moving ahead.
Excerpted from Smart Women Take Risks, by Helene Lerner. McGraw-Hill, 2006.
I was having lunch with Jack* discussing a change management project I was coaching him on. He knew I used to be a psychotherapist and he asked, “Can I change the subject?” I said “Yes, of course—what’s on your mind?” Jack told me he had wanted to write a book for the past five years but he kept “getting stalled.” When I asked Jack what that meant, he said “I write a page or two, don’t like it and end up deleting most of it.”
This is what I said to him:
When we say we want to do something and we get stuck, the problem is often perfectionism. It is a way of thinking that becomes a habit and it turns life and work into a series of tests. The test is “Do I measure up? Am I good enough?” Perfectionism makes it difficult to write a book or do anything else. It makes it hard to speak up and be heard (what if I’m wrong?) to set boundaries (what if I’m being selfish?) or to take more risks (what if I fail?)
The cure for perfectionism is simple and hard at the same time: Unconditional self-love. The kind of positive self-regard that says “I love myself no matter what. I may not always love or even like my behavior, but I always love myself—no matter what.” When your self-worth isn’t at stake, you can make a mistake, learn from it and move on. You can write a book no one wants to read and keep writing because you enjoy the thrill of expressing yourself without fear of judgment.
Loving yourself, no matter what, also clears the way for knowing what you truly want in life (not everyone wants to write a book) and it gives you permission to go for it without fearing failure. After all, if you succeed, you’re not going to love yourself more and if you fail, you’re not going to love yourself any less. Loving yourself no matter what is the most powerful thing you can do—for yourself and for others.
Jack was doing what many of us do—he was subconsciously tying his self-worth to how well he could write a book. Instead of loving himself unconditionally and just doing what would bring him joy, he was trying to prove something to himself. Perhaps you do that as well. Why not give yourself what you are looking for first (love and everything that comes from it)and then allow that to inspire everything else you do in life? Practice that and instead of being held back by perfectionism, you will find yourself inspired and unstoppable.
Our community has been enjoying the series of wonderful quote videos we've been sharing. The newest one is about embracing pleasure. Enjoy!
Video Editor--Chloe Motisi
I received a call this week from a client who is a senior executive in a large company. He was upset because another executive, one of his peers in another department, emailed him with a “complaint.” It seems my client’s colleague had taken issue with how my client had handled something and he decided to express that via email.
You probably know where I’m going with this. You know that if you have something important to say, communicating face to face or over the telephone is the way to go. The written word can’t convey your tone of voice and communicating by email opens up too many possibilities for misunderstandings. Beyond that (as if that’s not enough), emailing doesn’t allow you to gauge the impact of your message and recalibrate when necessary.
Still, every day, this kind of mistake is made, even by seasoned executives who should know better. Why is that? The culprit is our emotions. When we’re frustrated, hurt or angry, we forget the things we know when our minds are clear. Our emotions cloud our judgment and we don’t hear the alarm going off warning us not to make a rookie mistake. Moreover, when our emotions are running even a little high, we get impatient and want to say what’s on our minds now, not later. We just send the missive off via email.
But that’s not the only reason even smart people succumb to the lure of communicating sensitive matters via email. Sometimes we’re just plain nervous about saying what’s on our minds in person and we want to take the easy way out. We tell ourselves we’re dealing with the matter and speaking up—and we believe that—at least in the moment. For a little while, we feel brave because we’re insulated from the other person we “just have to say this to.”
I’ve done this before and I bet you have as well. I’d also bet that for every time it seemed to have worked out in your favor, there were more times we just created a bigger problem. The call from my client was a reminder for me: If I have something important to say, I need to give myself and the other party the best chance to have an effective conversation and a successful outcome. That’s not likely to happen if I resort to email. Not likely at all.
In my workshop “Leader as Coach,” I help managers and executives to think like a coach and instruct them on how to use coaching tools to maximize their team’s performance and potential. You might not be a coach, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think like one and have greater influence and impact on others. Here are three tips for adapting a coaching mindset:
Coaching is about the client, not the coach: If you coached your boss, your team or your colleagues, your job would be to help them achieve their goals in a way that’s faster and easier. How? By asking them what their priorities are and offering to be of help in some way. Even if they don’t need your help right now, they will appreciate your interest and offer. When it comes time for you to be promoted, the connections and good will you create will serve you well.
Coaching is more about asking questions and listening than supplying answers: Instead of trying to dazzle others with what you know, help them discover their brilliance and come to their own solutions. There will be times when sharing your knowledge and offering solutions is appropriate. However, if you really want to stand out, think like a coach and help others think more deeply, consider other perspectives and come to their own conclusions. They will feel empowered and you will build a reputation for helping others develop their potential.
Coaching is all about results: Companies and individuals hire me as a coach for one reason--to help them create greater and more dramatic results. That’s how you should view your role as an employee. You don't get paid to put in eight or ten hours a day on your job. You’re paid to achieve the results that are important to your boss and your company. Find out what your boss’s priorities are (and those of his or her boss) and focus your talent and energy there. Let others complain about what needs to change in the company—while you become known as the person who achieves the results your boss wants.
-Alan Allard, Career Coach
Our online community has been enjoying our inspirational videos. Finding your inner strength is a topic you've let us know you're interested in, so we created a new video on the subject. Take a look.
Video Editor--Chloe Motisi
Last week, I was reading a book when my doorbell rang. By the time I opened the door, Kelly, my neighbor was walking away. I called out to her and she looked relieved to find someone home—she had locked her car keys inside her SUV while it was still running in her garage. Fortunately, her passenger window was cracked open enough to get a coat hanger inside to try to pull the lock open. Thirty-five long minutes later, Kelly was happily driving off to meet friends for a Fourth of July barbecue celebration.
Kelly was very appreciative of course that I was able to help her and she expressed her gratitude multiple times. As you know, being appreciated and complimented is always nice. But I’m not telling you this story to point out the benefits of hearing positive things from others. The fact is that I had the pleasure of hearing positive words from two people—Kelly and myself. The fact is that after Kelly told me what a great neighbor I was, I told myself the same thing.
Some might think that strange or even a little narcissistic. I think it’s healthy--but I didn't always think that way. Years back, I would have never complimented myself for helping someone out. Doing so would never have entered my mind and it wouldn't have felt normal. What felt “normal” was to criticize myself when I made a mistake. In fact, it was routine for me to notice and point out my faults and shortcomings. But to compliment myself or to say something positive about a good trait or for helping someone out in a small way? No, that would just seem weird.
Why is that? If it seems natural to say affirming things to others, why isn’t it natural to compliment ourselves? It might not feel natural for you to do that, but it’s quite healthy. Here are two tips to make it natural for you to say positive things to yourself:
Give to yourself what you want from others. We all want to be appreciated—it’s a basic need. If you want more appreciation, start by giving it to yourself—on a regular basis. The funny thing is, the more you do for yourself what you want others to do for you, the less you will need it from others. Then, when it happens, it will be a bonus.
Do it even (or especially) if it makes you feel uncomfortable. You don’t have to tell anyone about this; you can keep it to yourself if you like. When you get more comfortable with saying supportive things about yourself, you will find it to be one of the easiest and healthiest ways to give yourself a boost of positive energy.
Our community has been enjoying our videos. Since tomorrow is July 4th, we created a great, new one about how to be free. Take a look!
Video Editor--Chloe Motisi
Whether you manage employees across generations or you interact with them in the workplace as individual contributors, much has been made about “generational differences.” I refer to this as a myth, not because I don’t believe there are differences when we look at entire groups of a generation, but because of these two reasons: (1) Labels are generalizations and quickly fail us when we apply them to individuals. (2) Labels give us the impression that we understand the person we are labeling.
Here’s an example:
If “Bob” is a baby boomer and he is told he will now be reporting to “LaShawn,” a Millennial, what is Bob going to think? If he’s reading much of what is written about Millennials, he’s likely to think, “Could it get any worse? Now I have a boss that grew up feeling entitled, who has no loyalty to our company and who’s going to be expecting me to praise her management skills every day.”
If that’s how Bob thinks, that would be a mistake.
LaShawn might be thinking, “Could it get any worse? Now I have to manage someone who is behind the times, afraid of technology and expecting me to give my life to the company even if that means sacrificing my family, friends or health.”
If that’s how LaShawn thinks, that would be a mistake
What should Bob and LaShawn be thinking then? More importantly, what should you and I be thinking as we work with and even socialize with those from a different generation? Here are my three tips for connecting across all generations:
Drop the labels. Labels give us the impression that we understand the person we label. Labels are also generalizations full of assumptions and that can be disastrous when it comes to communication. Instead of seeing someone at work as Gen Z, Traditionalist or Baby Boomer, why not see them as an individual?
Get to know the person. If we begin with the intent to get to know each other as individuals, we are off to a much better start. I know many Baby Boomers who are on the cutting edge of technology and I know many Millennials who have an incredible work ethic and who hate being praised at the drop of a hat.
Learn from everybody. When we get to know each other as individuals, we can learn what each other’s strengths are and learn from each other. Whatever differences we have are an asset, not a problem to be blown out of proportion. If we decide to view each other with respect and ask questions, we will all come out ahead.
Roberta was promoted five years ago because of her excellent work and because she was considered a "team player." Now as a manager, her team members describe her as "wicked smart," quick to share credit and they find her management style to be easy-going. They would also point out that Roberta obviously cared about them as people, not just as employees. So far,
so good. However, in our coaching first session, Roberta asked me why I thought she has been passed over for the last two promotions she was considered for.
My reply wasn't what Roberta wanted to hear. I said," Let's talk about what I learned from interviewing your team, your peers and your boss before your coaching began. They all gave you high marks in many important areas, but there was one thing they all suggested you needed to work on. I was consistently hearing that you are just 'too nice.'" Then I explained to Roberta what that meant in behavioral terms.
It meant that Roberta had difficulty saying "No" to requests from her peers, she didn't challenge her team enough and she struggled in holding them accountable. To make matters worse, Roberta hated giving her team or colleagues "negative feedback," something every manager or even team member has to do from time to time. When it came to her boss, Roberta couldn't imagine having a conflict with him, even when she clearly thought he was making a mistake. In short, Roberta suffers from the "Too Nice Syndrome."
If you think you overdo it in the being nice department or know someone who does, here are three tips for you.
Get feedback from trusted sources. Ask trusted colleagues, friends and family members to assess your "Niceness Quotient." Is it too little, too much or just right? Tell the ones you seek
feedback from that you don't want them to be "nice" in their feedback; you want them to be honest with you. Ask them for examples if they think you're often too nice, let others take advantage of you, go far beyond the "extra mile" or if you just try too hard to please others.
Learn to say "no" and mean it. Start with the small things and work your way up to the bigger things. Get comfortable with declining a social event or an after-work meet-up. Start saying "no" to family members and friends who find it all too easy to ask favors of you. At work, when someone asks you "Do you have a minute?" and you don't, simply say, "You know, I really don't, maybe another time."
Refuse to be responsible for other people's emotions. Will others be frustrated or even a little angry with you when you begin to set boundaries, say what's on your mind or not listen to them complain for the tenth time about the same thing? Yes, they will. Get comfortable with
others not always being comfortable with your assertive-versus overly nice responses to them. That's their problem, not yours.
-Alan Allard, Career Coach
Hello! I'm Alan Allard, and I'll be your career coach for the month of July. This month will be all about you, but before we get started, you might want to know a few things about me as well.
For the past eight years, I have worked as a consultant, executive coach, speaker, trainer and life coach. My current work deals with helping companies, teams, and individuals thrive in challenging times by improving performance and building resilience. I have a master’s and a doctorate in counseling and I spent 12 years working in private practice as a psychotherapist. I also wrote a book called Seven Secrets to Happiness!, which can be purchased here. On a personal note, I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have two incredible daughters (as well as two equally incredible sons-in-law).
Over the next few weeks, we'll be taking a look at what you can do to increase your success, fulfillment and happiness—both in your career and in your overall life. Please let me know in the comments if if there are any specific topics you'd like me to address. Thanks, and I look forward to another great month!
Our community has been enjoying our quote videos, so we made a great, new one to share on how to be joyful. Take a look.
Video Editor--Heath Robbins
Life threw you a curveball. Maybe you received news of a health issue, a demotion at work, or a relocation. How do you deal with the unexpected?
Whether the change has a positive or negative effect on your life, change can be stressful. Here are some tips for managing the unexpected:
Take inventory. Know what actually happened and what the implications of the change will be on your life and the lives of your loved ones. How big of an impact will it make? What steps do you need to take to lower the impact of the unexpected change? What resources or support will you need? Not all changes will actually make a big difference in your life overall, when you look at the big picture. Several months after the change occurs, you may notice that you are not all that much worse off. You may even find that the big change made way for something even better.
Learn from others. Perhaps it’s a conversation with a good friend, or it’s outlined in the book of a best-selling author. Educate yourself in tactics for dealing with the change, and move forward in order to:
Develop a plan. What must you do in order to deal with the change most effectively? What adjustments will you need to make? Where in your schedule can you sacrifice time to deal with the change? How will you provide nurturing and self-care for yourself as you work through it? What do you need to do to move on with your life?
Manage your emotions. How does the change make you feel? Confused, disappointed, inadequate, resentful, subservient? Scared, anxious? Elated, excited? Competent? Pressured?
Identify your feelings and use your previous experiences in dealing with those emotions as a tool for developing ways to manage your emotions in the present. Learn what you need to do to in order to feel balanced and in control, in spite of the unexpected change.
See the opportunity. Understand that by our very nature, humans change constantly. We are organic--we change. While the change you are experiencing may be unexpected, look for the opportunities that are presented. Even if the situation seems wrought with misfortune, consider what possibilities might be waiting in the wings. Perhaps the unexpected change will lead you to a great idea, a new friend, or a fantastic resource that improves the overall quality of your life. Adapt and revel in your resilience.
Victoria Crispo, Career Coach, Career Services USA