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Ever meet that person that always goes the extra mile at work or in the community? Chances are they are motivated to do more, create more and share more because they feel valued. Perhaps the sheer magic of the work itself is inspirational for them, but for many, people put in the extra effort because they feel recognized and appreciated for their contributions. In the world of work and executive coaching, I spend a fair amount of time listening to professionals lament over toxic work environments, unrefined leadership skills and old school management behavior. In order to encourage your teams to put forth that discretionary effort, or extra push to see that prized project to fruition or extra sale closed, consider the following: Listen, learn and look for ways to value your team members in creative and individualistic ways. Research shows that it’s not just about money. Performers go the extra mile when the work culture is progressive, inclusive and fun. Some professionals value career progression, learning opportunities, community visibility and/or work/life integration options over more money.  In the world of organizational development and employee engagement, progressive companies have been using the “stay interview” to discern what really matters to their key employees. To retain top talent, the best managers are asking their direct reports what they love about their jobs. Managers are also asking what they can do to make the work or volunteer experience more rewarding. And then they listen. Know anyone feeling burned out at work, disengaged or unappreciated at a worthy non-profit? If you’d like to dial up your team’s discretionary effort, pick a comfortable place like Starbucks to have a connecting conversation. Listen to their ideas on how you can dial up processes, people skills and projects to keep your high performers engaged and energized. Nobody wants to learn how simple it may have been at the exit interview!

Being positive toward ourselves and others creates great power. A wise sage one said, “Anyone can blame but it takes a specialist to praise.” After an invigorating first half of the year, I decided to take a break, hydrate and celebrate to enjoy the purpose and progression of work in motion. A coaching client recently asked if I thought success was always driven by unrelenting work effort. I replied yes and no. Yes, we must always be rowing our boats to shore toward our goals but I believe we must also take a break to celebrate our successes to allow for some magic to appear. Recently, I was invited to provide the closing keynote for a regional finance and technology conference in NJ. This invitation was not the direct result of a cold call, call for proposal or client referral. Instead, I believe it was the result of showing up authentically, without an ulterior motive, in the spirit of praise for another’s mission and vision at one of their events. One year later, that support was rewarded with a call to present to 100 CEOs and COO’s on leadership resilience and talent agility. So the next time you’re fiercely focused on hitting your goals, take a minute to hydrate, celebrate and elevate what’s possible through your gift of praise. 

     I love working with careerists at different levels of their leadership lives. Some are CEOs, some are middle managers and others are sales reps trying to build a book of business toward financial freedom. All of them are awesome because they are personally invested in their success and actively engaged in lifelong learning while working their plan and planning their work. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, a model  for executive learning known as the 70-20-10 rule, calls for engaged development in three key areas: challenging assignments(70%), developmental relationships(20%)  and coursework and training(10%). 

     Leaders that commit to personal and career mastery are well advised to consider this framework. I shared this theory recently at a workshop for executives in transition to encourage them to take a truthful look at how they were improving their leadership lives during the job search. I shared stories of several clients that had landed on their feet by creatively leveraging one, two or three of these tasks toward success. One client studied for another national certification to sharpen her skills(coursework and training 10%),  while another volunteered to get noticed as an influencing and productive worker in hopes of getting a job offer(developmental relationships 20%). Both stategies resulted in success but I’ve noticed that many professionals get complacent when they gain employment and I feel that this is a big miss. 

     As the world continues to change rapidly, it has never been more important to keep skilling up. Never stop cultivating your networks, always be a beginner at learning something new and no matter how tired you are, try to embrace a stretch assignment even if it means simply downloading a new app that’s brain worthy. In other words, don’t forget to be awesome. It will pay big dividends, personally and professionally!

I remember a decade ago how yoga and business were two mutually exclusive conversation points. You either focused on your business career or you took a yoga class after work. There was no such thing as using yoga(or admitting to using yoga) to inform your management style or motivate your high performing teams. Thank goodness organizational cultures and styles of leadership have expanded and exceeded expectations! Many of us started our careers under the guidance(or heavy hand) of an authoritarian or mechanistic style of leadership. Formal rules and standard operating procedures were clearly defined for employees and power clearly resided with top management. Employees were told what to do and how to do it. Although there may be residual signs of this type of culture today, most organizations have expanded widely and wisely to embrace collaborative and group problem solving, shared and continuous learning, entrepreneurial risk taking and innovation as central cultural dimensions of teamwork. When talent is championed and supported, business outcomes flourish. In this book Five Secrets to a Long, Happy and Energetic Life by colleague Scott DuPont, I contributed content on how yoga has informed my leadership life while building businesses and meeting challenges. This chapter was drafted with the hope of encouraging others to explore the modality as a way to build self- awareness, cultivate confidence and become a less reactionary manager. In research compiled by Aon Hewitt on Trends in Global Employee Engagement(2014), the findings overwhelmingly support improved talent, customer, operational and business outcomes when organizations prioritize authentic engagement and a sense of belonging. Metrics were derived from a 5 year rolling employee research database representing over 7 million employees across 6,000 companies,68 industries and 155 countries.

 

Learning from leaders around the globe is such a interesting and rewarding experience. Whether I’m coaching, consulting or keynoting, it’s always enlarging to listen to what others value as motivating factors that help drive their success. I recently spoke at a national real estate awards event where top producers shared some of their success stories. I then flew out of the US to the beautiful beaches of Punta Cana to learn how traveling executives were staying focused on their best brand of success. Turns out no matter what country you’re from, we all largely look for the same four drivers in our work lives. Mercer, in it’s “What’s Working” survey for satisfied employees, found that while some regional differences exist, we all largely want four consistent drivers to keep us engaged:

  1. We want interesting work with opportunities for development.
  2. We need confidence in our leaders and the ability to trust them.
  3. We like recognition and earned rewards.
  4.  We value organizational communication that is timely and valuable.  

  
The USA. England and Brazil prioritized a need for personal accomplishment and confidence that career objectives could be met. Canada, France and Sweden favored work/life integration and respectful treatment in the workplace. China, Japan and India prioritized pay, promotion opportunities and IT systems that support business processes. What’s most important to you and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts..

Clearly, these professionals are winners that are celebrating another successful year in business with their trophies and tenacity. Towers Watson defines well-being as a culmination of three key drivers: physical health, psychological health and social health. When I met these stand-out performers as their conference keynoter at their annual real estate awards celebration, I knew they were nailing all three drivers to support their integrated leadership lives. Top producers prioritize physical health for overall stamina and energy. They can’t sell real estate without vital life force energy. Excellent salespeople know how to manage stress, exude confidence and embrace unbridled optimism as a customary way of doing business. They share their enthusiasm for living and working with all their stakeholders from clients to colleagues to vendors as a regular course of business. Extraordinary performers also support and value all their relationships with respect, connectedness and balance. They strive to keep their pressure cooker lives full steam ahead by taking time outs, time off and time away from the rigors of their routines. So, how are you winning as a top producer in your world today? Drop me a line and share what’s working for you and how you’re toasting to tenacity with a trophy or two..

 

Lifeleaders and entrepreneurs are busy people. We talk fast, move fast, meet many people and usually prioritize helping other people achieve success. Everyone wins when rewarding connections are cultivated. But how do we respond when repeat requesters keep showing up to ask for more help, more hand-ups or more hand-outs? Here are a few tips to keep your connections and conversations constructive, courteous and collaborative:

1. Recognize that everyone’s time is valuable. Before “the ask”, consider querying “Is this a good time to talk?” before lunging into a long winded request that may take your counterpart off guard or interrupt their busy day. Consider framing your request in a way that values their time and gives them a choice to opt out. “I need X by tomorrow” can be more successfully softened by rephrasing the request to “Would you consider helping me with X goal?” or “Might you share your thoughts on how I could advocate for X  goal?”. In this way, the recipient hears less demand and more respect and consideration for his/her time. “I need another favor(freebie)” or “When can we meet?(assuming they are available or interested) do little to cultivate a sense of reciprocal warmth and mutual sharing.

2. Manners still matter. No one generation destroyed refined communication skills. To the contrary, the established and emerging leaders I interact with are largely thoughtful and respectful of time and networking contacts. But, every now and then, an intruder keeps appearing with multiple, demanding requests that are worthy of a blogpost. The tendency to demand responses with an air of entitlement is perplexing and unfortunate. What is more helpful is a revisit in how we show up with our verbal, non verbal and written communication skills. When our dominant messaging skills are on target, our success soars! Please, thank you are still very much in vogue.

3. Standing out as an exceptional leader is easier than you think. A vendor shared two theatre tickets recently as a gift of appreciation for branding work done on her behalf. I agreed to the work and expected nothing additional in return. She, however, wanted to express gratitude in a meaningful way(I’m a theatre enthusiast) and made sure that two tickets found their way into my hands. Nice touch! Another client devoted some extra branded content for my company to show appreciation for an emcee effort that put more people in the seats at their local fundraising event. Win. Win.

4. Before you ask what an influencer can do for you, consider asking them what you can do for them. Sounds like a Kennedy countryman quote, right? Well, I’m happy to share that framing your request in the spirit of “others first” will connect you much more quickly to your goals. Being interested in another’s success before you pitch your own needs will usually land you faster and further along your trajectory of success. Good luck!

Yogi’s call it karma. Creatives remind us that “our vibe attracts our tribe.” Most would agree that everything is connected in business and in life. It’s important, therefore, to keep our energy engaging. Einstein once said, “Nothing happens until something moves!”This was a perfect reminder for a vibrant group of high performing realtors at a recent awards celebration at Baylor’s McLane Stadium. I was invited to speak about what’s trending in leadership resiliency for a room full of entrepreneurs that prioritize moving, momentum and the power of perseverance. A favorite book is The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton which provides the science to support the power of positive thinking. This cerebral read reminded me of the “expectancy effect” that I’ve known about for years as a manager of people and mentor to many. Also known as the “Pygmalion effect” after the mythical sculptor that magically brought creation to life, the theory underscores the importance of setting the bar high for achievement. There was no playing small for Pygmalian. When we let someone know that “we expect the best” from them in an encouraging way, they often rise to the occasion. It’s a subtle and effective way of saying “I know you can do this and I can’t wait to see you make it happen.” That’s a big morale boost for a sales professional trying to hit his/her numbers, a college grad trying to get a job or a seasoned professional making an industry change. It’s a powerful tool to help leaders develop self efficacy and/or career confidence.

 So who are you raising the bar for these days? Or how are you asking for help to sharpen your saw currently? How effective have your efforts been over time? I’d love to hear about your experiences helping others become better versions of themselves. I suspect the reciprocal nature of karma will also be part of your experience…expected or not!

I’m not accustomed to stretch limosines transporting me to and from the airport as a conference keynoter. That said, it was a nice experience and a pleasant surprise upon arrival in Sin City. Vegas is over the top and so should its livery be too, right? Problem is, as a yogi and businessowner, I’m predisposed to practicing “less is more” and “is that overhead cost productive?” Limos are too big, too glammy and too flashy for my practical business bones and purposeful yoga practice. But, I went along for the ride, because traveling BIG for a change might be just the stretch assignment I needed. And, since stretch assignments are meant to be enlarging and often uncomfortable, I was in the perfect seat for some learning. Did I unconsciously manifest this moment? Yes and No.

No, I was not visualizing or vision boarding a stretch limo at this national keynote for insurance premium auditors. A limo was not in my speaking contract or on my business bucket list. When I’m speaker traveling, the usual pick up looks like a croweded shuttle, a taxi or an Uber experience worthy of a blogpost. But, in some ways, yes, I probably did manifest that limo because as a corporate consultant and keynoter, I am:

  1. Flexible
  2. Respectful
  3. Enthusiastic

and genuinely interested in contributing to the success of a conference. I recognize there are a lot of moving parts, things change rapidly and that cultivating lasting relationships with event planners requires that I show up routing for event success as a participating team member. So when I’m coaching with clients that want to get the respect they deserve, the success they’ve earned and the life they want, I suggest they start by hailing a taxi or blogging about tips to travel humbly and helpfully. Their limos will all line up later!

 

 

Executive coaching is rewarding and regular when done well. Supporting a client in goal attainment takes time and focused committment from both parties. Mentoring can be just as meaningful without the heavy lifting of a formalized client/coach framework. Here are three ways that mentoring high potential leaders can be a boon for both parties:

  1. Learning is reciprocal. It’s a two way street that ebbs and flows over time. Sessions are recurrent but non-periodic and guided by the mentee. Sometimes I hear from mentees once a year or once a month/quarter. The key is availability and accessibility without the relationship being depleting. Having open, honest conversations about expectations is key to a productive and enjoyable experience. Mentors often report relaxing into a mentor/mentee relationship role that’s less intense than a formalized coach/client arrangement. This informal vibe, however, does not correlate to less productivity. There is magic in witnessing to another’s potential when no one’s really in “work” mode. In this way, both parties win!
  2.  Partners get a ton done. One hour in a safe and supportive session leaves a bunch of room for big gains. Our session can be in person, over skype, facetime or on the phone. We keep our meetings flexible and prioritize “present” energy exchanges that are authentic and thought provoking. We value the added bonus of an in person meeting but never miss a beat if we have to meet on line or via apps. We’re always ready to hit the ground running when we commit to our gathering.
  3.  Surprises and unexpected delights abound in a mentor/mentee relationship. A recent meeting with a mentee not only included great news of his hard earned accomplishment but also revealed additional entrepreneurial opportunities for his further development. Along with the corporate job win, he will continue to explore his creative and collaborative business building potential through interesting intercultural projects.

The need for effective mentor/mentee relationships is growning. Mutual exchange across cultures, between generations and amongst industries will provide us all with opportunities to remain current and valuable contributors across the spectrum. Enjoy the process! Feel free to share your favorite mentor/mentee moments at DonnaLynSpeaks@gmail.com