Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

The Stress Sandwich

August 1, 2020
StressSandwich

Graphic by Chanti Holroyd Mention this graphic for a 20% discount chantih@gmail.com

Stress. It’s a part of life, especially in the fast-faced tech start-ups pressured to innovate and lead faster and better.

And things are much complicated with the divisiveness and uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the resulting economic distress and civil discord.

Yet we must all carry on, and we will. Below are my secrets for managing stress, especially when times are tough. I call it a Stress Sandwich.

Morning – the bottom slice of bread

As you look into the mirror, preparing for each day, ask myself two questions:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What will I accomplish today?

Expect the responses to vary each day. There are no right answers. Expect responses to be sometimes detailed, sometimes personal, sometimes strategic, sometimes even funny, but the questions should remain the same every day.

Daytime – the everything in the middle

Throughout the day, expect to encounter stressful situations and respond to these stressors by asking yourself some questions.

  • Is it real? 
    • We get so much information. Is the thing you’re stressed about real? How do you validate the information? 
  • Will it affect you?
    • If it does, you can respond from there.
    • If it affects others close to you, it may still be relevant but may be less urgent, less meaningful.
  • Is it important to you in the short term?
    • If so, respond appropriately, especially if it’s urgent.
    • If not, is it important in the long term?
      • Either way, respond accordingly, knowing the long-term impact.
  • Is it your problem or someone else’s problem?
    • Knowing the answer will help you respond. Solving someone else’s problem brings on more stress and doesn’t necessarily address the underlying issue, while possibly causing other issues. (This doesn’t mean that you ignore the problem if it’s someone else’s problem.)
  • If it’s confirmed as your problem:
    • What is the problem specifically?
      • How is it best immediately addressed?
      • What is the underlying cause of the problem?
      • How can you address that underlying cause?
    • How did you personally contribute to the problem, if you did indeed do so?
  • Regardless of whether it’s your problem:
    • What can you learn about yourself and about the problem?
  • How can you manage the stress around the problem?
  • How can you support others through the problem?

Evening: The top slice of bread

As you wrap up for the day, look at yourself in the mirror and do three things:

  • Tell yourself what you’ve done right today and in the past. 
  • What can you do better tomorrow?
  • Tell yourself good job. Tomorrow is another day.

I’ll close by suggesting that you treat yourself by doing 4-6 items from the list below, to help manage your own stress level.

  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Sing
  • Garden
  • Celebrate
  • Laugh
  • Learn something new
  • Go out in nature
  • Think/Say/Do Something Unexpected
  • Make someone laugh
  • Talk to someone who makes you laugh or cry or see/hear/feel/understand something better
  • Help and support someone

STRESS has always been a part of life, and will be more so in the next normal. I hope that these strategies help you make the best of it.

A PDF version of the graphic is available here: Stress Sandwich.

What One Thing Can We Do to Support Black Professionals?

July 1, 2020
2018LeanInRacialWealthGap

Reference: McKinsey/LeanIn 2018 Report and Findings

In this time of civil unrest, of economic insecurity, of medical uncertainty, it is my hope that together, we can build a more Diverse, more Empowered and more Engaged community, focused on increasing the number of recruited, retained and promoted professionals of all colors, for the short term, and in the long term. 

The McKinsey and LeanIn 2018 report on the numbers of men and women of color across the career journey is troubling, and the pandemic, the economic crisis, the civil unrest will further impede the progress on a goal of having more men and women of color recruited, developed, retained and promoted.

I asked Black professionals in the FountainBlue network what one thing can we as non-Blacks do to positively impact our progress. Below are their responses.

Be Informed.

  • Educate yourself – the onus is on YOU to educate yourself, don’t count on others to do it for you.
  • Be discerning about what you read and look for the TRUTH.
  •  
  • Be Curious. Be a Generous Listener with an Open Mind.
  • Listen and feel to their stories of trials and challenges.

Have Acceptance and Fortitude.

  • Accept that you must also change your way of thinking, your habits, your mis-perceptions, your biases, conscious or otherwise.
  • Accept that you will make mistakes and deviate from the course. Be courageous and humble enough to apologize, correct, and carry on. 

Prepare to feel deeply.

  • Be willing to feel uncomfortable.
  • Discrimination runs deep and wide. The level of pervasive discrimination is shameful. Our unintentional compliance with any discrimination can be troubling.
  • Be courageous enough to feel deeply. It’s OK to be sad, but do not feel pity.
  • Be willing to share your uncomfortable stories, feelings and topics with others.
  • Reflect: When you have a “gut” reaction or immediate reaction that is one of: distaste, anger, fear, aversion, agreement to a negative comment or action aimed at a Black person because of what that person is: wearing, saying (e.g. opinion, vernacular, vocal variety, passion, etc.), doing, located. 

  • STOP – REFLECT. Ask yourself why your reaction was so automatic. Was it a personal experience or “a knowing.” Often times, we can’t explain embedded or systemic racism. We just “know” it’s right, because it has been so carefully trained into us from a young age.

Provide Proactive Support.

  • Make a stand for your brothers and sisters, whether or not they are present, whether or not they know you’re doing it.
  • Collaborate with others to communicate a ‘You Can Too’ mindset to our Black youths. Help them to also reach for stars.
  • Intentionally hire more diverse candidates and help them to succeed.
  • Hire on merit, not for looks.
  • Advocate for others. Continue to call out racism and bigotry when you witness it and through social media.
  • Have the grace to offer opportunity rather than just charity, although charity is also appreciated.

Seize the Opportunity.

  • Embrace the concept that diversity is part of a Growth Mindset – something that helps us all.
  • Provide a Platform so that Blacks may speak. Don’t speak on their behalf.
  • Organize group talks to discuss race, social injustices and the role privilege plays in the fight for racial justice. 

Resources and Recommendations:

As a follow-up to this blog, FountainBlue will launch a ‘You Can Too‘, to provide up to 20 Summer Scholarships for youths and young professionals to attend of our semi-monthly Front Line Managers Online programs from July-September, and including a fifteen minute online coaching session once a month for three months. To apply for the summer scholarship for our ‘You Can Too’ program, visit https://forms.gle/RaGBoRqquiFgngNW9.  

This month, we will connect with HR leaders interested in Embracing Diversity, Facilitating Empowerment, Measuring Engagement, so our August blog will feature best practices for doing each. E-mail me if you would like to weigh in on the conversation.

Coming together and making a stand for diversity and justice would not only be a testament to our courageous, proactive and positive natures, our righteous and resilient spirits as leaders and as human beings, it would also increase our likelihood of connecting deeply with each other, and of increasing the likelihood of success. 

Is Everyone OK?

May 31, 2020

Conflict

“Is Everyone OK?” That has historically been my first response when someone brings up the word ‘conflict’. But with each decade, my view of conflict has shifted – from a must-avoid/must-fix mindset to one of more acceptance, tolerance, understanding and appreciation.

Conflict easily comes to the forefront in stressful times, including during the pandemic, when so much is unknown and many are feeling out of control.

Being ever solution-minded and analytical, I found a recent article about conflict, Eight causes of conflicts according to Art Bell and Brett Hart, Feb 14, 2020 . The article categorized all workforce conflicts into eight different types:

  • Conflicting Needs
  • Conflicting Styles
  • Conflicting Perceptions
  • Conflicting Goals
  • Conflicting Pressures
  • Conflicting Roles
  • Different Personal Values
  • Unpredictable Policies

Below are my thoughts on what to do about each of these types of conflicts.  

1.First accept that Conflict is a Part of Life @ Work.

Avoiding conflict may lead to much more conflict, or much more serious conflict. It’s far better to accept the fact that conflict will happen, and to find a way to accept that fact, and a strategy to ensure that relationships remain intact, communication remains transparent, and alignment is made between people, teams, and organization.

2. If you have conflicting Needs, find a way to negotiate a win-win.

This may involve an open discussion about resource management, or a prioritization of need, or even arranging for more resources and information so that all parties are happy.

3. If you have conflicting Styles, it’s critical to be able to understand the position of people who are not-like-you.

Being open-minded and curious will help all parties understand different viewpoints, different approaches. Welcoming other input will in general make teams and products stronger.

4. If you have conflicting Perceptions, it’s hard to agree on how to plan, how to act, how to progress.

It’s only when you understand first that you have mis-matched perceptions, and then work with the other parties to align on perceptions before you can plan, act and progress in a common direction.

5. If you have conflicting Goals, it’s hard to act as ONE, on the same team.

So it’s up to each of us to ensure that we focus on common goals, and understand the inter-relatedness of goals we set for ourselves and others across the organization.

6. If you have conflicting Pressures, work as a team to ensure that you’re delivering for others, and that others are delivering for you.

Trust, communication, planning, are all excellent strategies to help manage conflicts brought on by the pressures of performing when the team is relying on you.  Being a team player, and helping others to perform will help, as will celebrating successes and learning from failures.

7. If you have conflicting Roles, then it’s hard to meet expectations.

When a role doesn’t fit somebody, it’s hard for her/him to perform. Making sure you have the right people in the right role with reasonable expectations will help to address this conflict.

8. If you have different personal Values, it’s sometimes hard to see the others’ reality, and sometimes easy to unintentionally offend someone.

Being open and accepting will help us each be less reactive and judgmental. Being sensitive and thoughtful will help us maintain connections with people not-like-us.

9. If you have Unpredictable Policies, it’s hard for everyone to explain or follow the latest expectations.

Focus only on creating and updating the important policies to ensure you have a functional team and organization. Only making policy changes when necessary, and welcome input from the team.

10. The bottom line is back to the beginning – Conflict WILL exist. These are some keys for managing it well.

    • Create a Culture where Trust is earned and respected.
    • Communicate Continuously, Clearly and Authentically at all levels across the organization.
    • Welcome Collaboration, Diversity and Empowerment.
    • Be Positive: Celebrate Successes. Embrace Learning Opportunities.
    • Align Thinking, Speaking and Action for yourself, for your team, for your organization.

So embrace those opportunities for proactive, positive conflict. Everyone will be OK, and maybe better than OK because of it!

Doing Well, While Doing Right

May 1, 2020

image.png

There are overwhelming down-sides to the COVID-19 pandemic – the isolation, the inconveniences, the uncertainty, the economic impact all take their toll.

But one of the up-sides is that people have the time to realize what’s for real and even who’s for real.

This time has helped me to focus on the types of leaders and companies that would make a difference doing well, while doing right, for these times of the pandemic, and forever thereafter. 

I personally use this ‘doing-well-while-doing-right’ filter to decide what I want to work on, what I’d like to support, how I help make things happen, who is part of the team. I hope that you also find these guidelines useful.

Doing Well

  1. Demonstrating Traction – A great company might start with a great idea, but the traction and momentum really define whether the company will succeed. Look for companies who have happy customers, sustainable revenues, growing market opportunity.
  2. Embracing Excellence – Anything worth doing is worth doing well. A successful company will have high standards of excellence, and the policies, leadership and commitment in place to perpetuate a culture of excellence.
  3. Leveraging Technology – Running excellent and scalable operations and delivering personalized products and services are increasingly required to grow companies and returns. It’s difficult to do these things consistently well and at scale without integrating technology.
  4. Streamlining Operations – Collaboration across business units, partnering with customers and partners will help streamline and scale operations and optimize efficiency and customer satisfaction.
  5. Managing Change – Change is a given. Planning for change is a necessity. Banking on those plans is a recipe for disaster. So well things don’t go as planned, leaders will step up to adapt, pivot and shift. Sometimes there’s opportunity in the chaos, given the right mindset and perspective.
  6. Overcoming Logjams – No company, no leader can be in the flow all the time every time. When logjams happen, leaders are in the spotlight – to see how they respond, how they adjust and pivot, how they learn, how they support everyone to work through the obstructions.
  7. Learning from Miscues – Nobody’s perfect. Companies and leaders who survive miscues, even serious ones, are proving that they’re learning from them.
  8. Positioning for Scale – Companies that do well think strategically about the market opportunity, plan based on models for success, execute based on their plans, shift based on their findings, and ultimately position themselves for scaling, when and where it makes sense.
  9. Involving an Ecosystem of Partners – Successful companies know what they do well and partner with whole ecosystems of providers to optimize service to the customer.
  10. Reaching for the Next Opportunity – Complacency is not an option. Change is a given, and the successful company, the successful leader is continually reaching for the next adjacent opportunity.

Doing Right

  1. Taking Care of People – Doing right means providing goods and services which ultimately help people live, work and connect better.
  2. Taking Care of the Earth – Doing right means supporting the earth – the air, the soil, the nutrients it needs.
  3. Taking Care of Staff – Doing right means treating your people well, and empowering and engaging them with challenging and fulfilling work.
  4. Taking Care of Ecosystem of Partners – Doing right means creating mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations which better serve all parties.
  5. Leading By Example – Doing right means thinking, speaking and saying what you’ll do and standing behind what you do, while learning at every opportunity, with open-mindedness and humility.
  6. Adhering to Morals and Values – Doing right means being clear on your own morals and values, and making decisions based on these values, while also accepting and supporting others for the values they live by.
  7. Inspiring Others – Doing right by all of the above will inspire others, and help them to do the same.

Have you thought more deeply about who you are, who you want to work with, what you want to do? 

May you find joy and purpose through these challenging times, and centeredness and strength to help you pull through stronger than ever.

Building Community In the ‘New-Normal’

March 25, 2020

NewNormal

For leaders of companies big and small, there’s a looming question: ‘How do you carry on, business as usual, when circumstances are SO unusual’, when things happen so quickly, when we’ve never seen such happenings before? 

And ‘What if this is the ‘new Normal’, and this ‘Work from Home’, ‘Shelter in Place’ scenario becomes the defacto standard?’

Yes, the COVID-19 has hit all of us personally, socially, professionally and economically, and in ways deeply felt, and never before seen. 

I can’t see the future any more than anyone else, but I will share some thoughts on how you, as a business leader, can help build culture for your team and organization given the ‘WFH’ and ‘SPP’ directives, given these uncertain times.

  • Be organized and collaborative.
  • Be informed and act with prudence but don’t over-react and do un-productive, energy-zapping things.
  • Practice deliberate calmness and optimism, tempered with data and reason.
  • Connect with others emotionally, if not physically. Have more time for each other, for our people matter more than ever in these times of change.

During these strange new circumstances, we as leaders and managers must take measures to support our people – whether they are employees or partners, customers or teams. Below are some thoughts on how to maintain a feeling of community, a sense of culture, a belonging to a team when you’re Sheltering in Place or Working from Home.

Set up for Success

  1. Ensure that there is clear, inspiring, top-down communication around mission and values, timelines and goals, and that they are adopted bottoms-up, with questions welcome, and regular updates as appropriate.
  2. Work with Company leaders to commit to the success of everyone – from the top-down, from the bottom-up, at each and every meeting as a group, as individuals, in thoughts, words and actions – all the time, every time.
  3. Ensure that there’s full buy-in from everyone, and positive, productive energy from everyone. (Take measures to assess whether each person can consistently adopt this mind-set, for this is critical to the success of the individual, the team, the project.)
  4. Provide clear projects and timelines which fit the talents and abilities for each team member, and which fit into the larger mission of the product, team and organization.
  5. Promote a digital company culture, leveraging technologies and tools, data and information real-time so that everyone can be productive and connected.
  6. Adopt processes and standards that protect un-interrupted ‘work-time’ without chatter, as well as structured ‘project coordination’ time to share status, and ‘social/other’ time to build bonds between team members.
  7. Help each person separate work and home life physically, mentally, emotionally.

Establish Clear Standards and Processes

  1. Be open and authentic, compassionate and human
    • Focus on making positive and constructive remarks, comments and input, and ask everyone on the team to do the same.
    • Welcome input and feedback without judgement or consequence. 
    • Build trust to help people feel that they can share freely and safely. 
    • Forgive mistakes and transgressions. Help others to do the same.
    • Be compassionate, giving and vulnerable.
  2. Practice virtual meeting etiquette. Use the mute button, manage ambient noises. Get cameras and audio tools working well. Pay attention to intonations, facial expression and body language.  
  3. Honor everyone’s preferences around meeting timing, topics, length, etc..

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Thoughts on How to Creating a More Connected Remote Workforce

Build Teamwork

  1. Allow and encourage mindless chatting, ‘off-task’, but very relevant discussion
    • Spend meeting having team members share something about themselves or share how working remotely is impacting them.
    • Pose open-ended questions, with the intent of getting to know everyone better.
    • Brainstorm with each other how to address specific challenges around WFH.
    • Help everyone feel that they are all alone on doing their (very important piece of the project), but also they are all inter-connected and all on the same team.
  2. Create and use different layers of celebration and different formats for celebrating the different types of successes real-time and incrementally, short term AND long term; team AND company; milestone achievement AND bug fix, etc.,
  3. When practical, provide opportunities for in-person social gatherings, group trainings, cross-functional/cross-product gatherings, etc., so everyone feels part of the bigger team.
  4. Reward choices made to support the team AND individual progress on key initiatives.
  5. Reward initiative and drive around creating social and team initiatives – both online and in-person.

Build Relationships

  1. Assign a buddy-system to do periodic project-based, or role-based check-ins.
  2. Create regular ‘bonding’ time (by role, by buddy-system, by mentor/mentee, etc.,)
  3. When practical, provide opportunities for cross-functional/cross-product gatherings, etc., so everyone feels part of the bigger team.

Encourage Curiosity

  1. Welcome conversations about how company/team/product values are being upheld.
  2. Encourage and reward curiosity on how things are done, why things are done this way, why things are going well or not, why customers prefer one feature over another.

Practice Compassion

  1. Be curious about how people are responding to the changing requirements and processes, and how personal circumstances might be impacting work requirements.
  2. Be supportive of those who need logistical support to address WFH, SiP mandates.
  3. Regularly assess how WFP and SiP challenges are affecting individual team members and the team overall.
  4. Be flexible on timelines and deliverables while your team and their families adjust to new circumstances.
  5. Do the little things to let people know that you’re aware of their challenges and that you’d like to support them in navigating these challenges. It may be as simple as sending them a new webcam or mailing them a handwritten letter.

Build Engagement

  1. Reward people for bringing something to Share or Give at a meeting – data, tool, resource, learning, ideas, patterns, etc.,
  2. Reward process-improvement suggestions so that everyone has the tools and information they need to get the job done, the plan is clear on how to get what kind of support
  3. Encourage and reward team members who contribute to meetings, written communications, team projects – online or in-person.

This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but we will keep building on it. Your thoughts are also welcome.

Leading with Finesse

March 1, 2020
FinesseHeptagon
It was my pleasure to attend the February BAHREC meeting, featuring Ryan Lahti, speaking about ‘The Finesse Factor‘. 
Ryan spoke eloquently about his extensive educational background and corporate experience working with STEM organizations large and small over the past three decades. The focus of the workshop is around leaders with ‘finesse’ tend to add greater value.
Defined as both a noun and a verb, finesse is an ‘intricate and refined delicacy’ as a noun and ‘do(ing) (something) in a subtle and delicate manner’ as a verb. In other words, leaders with finesse can get something done well during difficult and uncertain, and often in high-pressure situations. 
My greatest takeaway is around the patterns of behavior exhibited by leaders showing ‘finesse’. See Ryan’s chart above.
  • In his studies and in his book, Ryan points out that finesse would start at the 4-5 o’clock point of the heptagon, with ‘Leveraging Self-Awareness’. 
    • Without self-awareness, it would be difficult for any leader to finesse a successful outcome from a complicated situation. Without self-awareness, it’s difficult to be more than reactive. Without self-awareness, it’s difficult to know you need help, or to ask for help.
    • Leaders with self-awareness must decide many things, including: 
      • Is this a situation which needs to be addressed?
      • Am I the person who could help address the situation?
      • What are the short-term and long-term consequences for myself and others should I attempt to address the situation?
      • Is it worth my while to do so?
  • Going clockwise at 6 o’clock, Ryan points out that leaders with finesse must next assess the situation and look at the ecosystem of stakeholders affected by the situation.
    • This would take some strategic thinking as well as some tactical execution to best understand the situation and to best understand how to navigate the relationships in order to secure support and resources to address specific challenges and opportunities.
  • Continuing clockwise, from there, leaders with finesse strategically assess the impact of choices made, actions taken, before taking action.
  • From there, it’s about communicating a strategy and a plan of execution with a ‘measured presence’. 
    • Taking the previous steps will help leaders with finesse deliver messages with confidence.
  • When conflicts inevitably arise, leaders with finesse respond with reasonable facts in a calm manner, sticking to the issues, and not making matters personal.
  • Coaching, counseling and support help leaders with finesse manage and work with others through periods of great change. In addition, note that leaders with finesse don’t insist on always ‘being the candle’ to bring the light. They are also open to ‘being the mirror’, reflecting the light of others who may have better options and solutions.
  • Lastly, to complete the heptagon, is the step of ‘getting work done through others’. Delegation is tough for many high-performers, but leveraging the talent of others will multiply the impact, providing greater opportunities for all.
In conclusion, I was deeply impacted by this model, and by Ryan himself. It showed with clarity that all leaders (of all genders and ages) must have the first three skills, but to be recognized as a leader, the additional steps must be taken. 
May this research help you raise the bar for yourself, for your team, for your organization.

With Each Challenge Comes Opportunity

January 24, 2020

AllAboard

We world-changers believe that ‘with each challenge comes opportunity’. In fact, it’s too overwhelming to be a world-changer if we take the business, sustainability, equality challenges too much to heart.

Consider the challenge of getting more diversity, more empowerment and more engagement within teams and companies and industries. (This post will not cover why this needs to happen or what the benefits are should it happen. Read further if you’d like to help make it happen.)

To get ‘All Aboard’ in tackling this challenge, we must all do the following:

  1. Collect and Disseminate the Research on the Value of Diversity on Teams, in Companies, on Boards.
    • The data is out there. Compiling it and reporting on it will help drive momentum, facilitate change.
  2. Build a Network of like-minded people, invested through thoughts, words and actions.
    • Speak up and align thoughts, words and actions with those who also want to make a difference and move the needle forward.
  3. Expand the Candidate Base – focus on the children.
    • Focus on initiatives which would support the children. Help them think, dream, plan for a more open, more inclusive, more diverse future. Inspire, empower and engage them.
  4. Expand the Candidate Base – focus on corporate professionals.
    • Help our young professionals succeed where they are now, and rise among the ranks and reach for new heights. Their success would influence all they touch.
  5. Welcome Creative and Entrepreneurial Representatives.
    • Be open, warm and accepting of those who can’t/won’t ‘draw within the lines’. In thinking differently, these creatives, these entrepreneurs also hold a piece of the puzzle.
  6. Challenge the Mindsets of Leaders and Innovators.
    • Often, ‘what got you here won’t get you to that next level’. A change in mind-set, a broader, more open perspective, a more inclusive network may help re-set and expand expectations and achievements. 
  7. Connect People, Networks and Communities.
    • The more I learn, the more I grow, the more I see us all as ONE. Finding intersects which bring greater inclusion, broader perspectives, shared objectives will help each of us work collaboratively to serve as all.
  8. Choose a Cause. Make a Stand.
    • We are in crisis mode. Don’t wait for an invitation to serve. We can all be knighted to serve the many opportunities to make a difference.
  9. Communicate, Coordinate, Engage around a Cause.
    • Which specific problems will you tackle? Keep us posted on the what, the how, the who.
  10. The Time is NOW. The Baton is Yours.
    • How will YOU lead through this crisis? 

Thoughts on Spirituality

December 8, 2019

Spirituality

My thoughts on spirituality, Linda Holroyd, December 8, 2019

The end of the year, and the start of the new year, is a time of reflection. I find myself thinking about Spirituality. I’m sharing my thoughts below.

Spirituality is about the Head, the Heart and the Hands. 

From the Head, we can read our history books and study religions and religious beliefs and traditions. It helps us understand how people think, speak and act, and helps us understand what spirituality means for people who are not like ourselves. Spiritual growth for the head is about reading, researching, learning and integrating information about what’s important to others.

From the Heart, spirituality is about how we touch people emotionally, and how people touch each other. The goal is to bring peace, love, forgiveness, all these good things to human relations, especially when there have been breaches between people, conflict between groups. Thus, spiritual growth from the heart is about learning to better love, better accept each other as one, no matter how different we are from each other.

From the Hands, spirituality is about doing things great and small which would bring together people who are different from each other. Whether it’s about attending meetings together, resolving conflicts with each other, attending a party or a service or a wedding, the bringing together of people who are naturally different is inherently a spiritual task. The people who bring together others are priests, managers, leaders, facilitators. We owe them a great debt.

It could stop here, but it doesn’t.

Spirituality transcends what we as humans can understand. Far overshadowing our view of the head, the heart and the hands is a world beyond our ability to comprehend, control or even imagine. It’s expressed in the big things that make us feel small: 

  • in nature:
    • when we witness the miracles of birth, growth and death,
    • when we witness the majesty of both sunsets and hailstorms,
    • when we witness the terror of earthquakes and typhoons;
  • in people when the strength of the human spirit overcomes overwhelming odds; 
  • in the soul-stirring expressions found in art, music, dance, words;
  • in the wealth of data which helps us understand how small our world is, how insignificant we each are.

For me, it’s always been overwhelming to consider that level of spirituality. I think, ‘if we are so small and insignificant, then nothing we do matters’. Right?

I’ve always gone forward anyway, doing the small things within my power to support the head, heart, and hands of spiritual growth for myself and for those I may touch. As small and as un-pure are they sometimes are, I’d like to think that my thoughts, my words, my actions matter, for my own spiritual development, and for that of those around me.

In closing, I’d like to share a Hindu greeting – Namaste – “May our minds and hearts come together”. 

Gifts for All Seasons

December 1, 2019

Gifts

It’s that time of year, when you’re wondering why time keeps passing so quickly, and wondering what you’re going to give and receive, and how you’re going to make time to get what everything done and make everyone on your list happy.!

Good luck with that. May this year of holiday hectic-ness bring you also these gifts – Gifts for All Seasons.

  1. May you have all the material comforts which position you to reach higher and be a better version of yourself.
  2. May you adopt that gracious and appreciative mindset, which helps you enjoy the little things in life.
  3. May each unexpected surprise lead to glorious new adventures and opportunities.
  4. May the gifts of joy and laughter pepper your day-to-day activities, today and every day.
  5. May you adopt an open and accepting perspective for those you love the most and bother you the most.
  6. May you ever choose the gift of continuous learning.
  7. May you achieve dreams beyond your imagination, more than you thought possible.
  8. May you gain acceptance for your own shortcomings, and others for theirs.
  9. May you be surrounded by those you love, and sometimes also by those who are hard-to-love.
  10. May you embrace the gift of hope when life proves itself most challenging.

Wishing everyone a Happy, Safe, Peaceful and Restful end-of-2019.

Mentorship vs Sponsorship

November 1, 2019

Sponsors

Of course it’s not an either-or. You need BOTH great mentors and great sponsors to advance and succeed. We talked for the last two posts about mentors, and they are GREAT. Most people can’t advance without them. But based on my decades of direct and indirect experience, the TRUE differentiation is around sponsorship. Below are some reasons why I think that’s the case.

  1. Sponsors, by definition, have the influence, ability and power to nominate, vote for, and hire into key positions.
  2. Sponsors can be coaches and mentors as well, but they also have the ability to support the advancement into a higher level within an organization. Generally coaches and mentors are not also sponsors.
  3. Coaches and mentors might help someone shift into a new role, industry or level, but a sponsor help hard-working, energetic and unproven people actually land in new role or position.
  4. Coaches are more likely to have received training on how to coach. Sponsors aren’t necessarily trained to be sponsors. In fact, sponsors may not even realize they are sponsoring someone. They are focusing on solving a problem – connecting the right people to the right organization/problem set.
  5. Mentors are generally intentional about their mentorship goal, but Sponsors are not necessarily intentional their sponsorship goals and objectives. 
  6. Sponsors, are generally more results- and business- focused rather than people-focused (although of course, they care about the person they’re sponsoring).
  7. Whereas coaches and mentors may be more helpful resolving deep tactical challenges, sponsors may provide more insights with strategic challenges.
  8. Sponsors focus on immediate challenges, as mentors as coaches do, but they also address longer-term challenges, such as proactively building a leadership pipeline, bringing in ideas and talent which would stretch business and technology edge cases, and facilitating collaboration across people, technologies, and teams.
  9. Coaches and mentors touch people at all levels within an organization, whereas sponsors care for people at all levels, but focus on people who have the most impact and influence on others within the organization.
  10. In general, coaches and mentors look from the bottom up – helping the mentee/coached navigate the corporate challenges and opportunities from their own point of view. Sponsors however, help their sponsored employee take a longer-term, strategic, top-down approach about the needs of the company and the value they can bring to the table in the near-term and for the long-term.

Your mileage may vary. Your thoughts are welcome. E-mail us at info@whenshespeaks.com. 

Join us for our December 13, 2019 Second Annual ‘Men Who Open Doors’ panel discussion, featuring some outstanding male sponsors.