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Business Management career coaching Leadership Development Uncategorized

You lead like a girl! Do this today to instantly improve your professional credibility

As many of my readers know, I started my leadership journey more than 20 years ago, as the only female manager in a booming blue-collar, male-dominated company. Although I had more management training than many of my peers, I struggled with being taken seriously. Often my ideas were overlooked, or sometimes ‘borrowed’ (with no credit given to me), and it was difficult for me to engage in even constructive conflict without being patronized. At one point, I despaired that I’d ever really enjoy leadership, and only persevered because I knew I had something to offer, and I also knew if I wanted to maximize my earning potential, I had to crack the leadership code. How could I get my bosses, peers, and subordinates to take me seriously?

Does this sound familiar? If so, I have great news! I figured out what I had to do to give my professional credibility a facelift, and I’ve never looked back. From those fumbling, awkward beginnings, I’ve led teams, departments, and company initiatives, and eventually started my own consulting business.

I figured out what it takes to establish and maintain professional credibility, and I’m going to share it with you.

If you struggle with wondering if you’ve got what it takes to be a true leader, or worry that having a personal life rules you out of management, or even feel that you’ve made some mistakes that you can’t recover from, then you’ll be relieved to learn that NONE OF THIS disqualifies you from being a powerful, inspiring, and effective leader!

Today, I speak confidently, knowing I bring value to the table. I ask for what I need in a reasonable way, and don’t apologize for being human. I give constructive feedback without feeling guilty. I admit when I’m wrong without cringing. I champion ideas and lead powerful initiatives without worrying about failing. In short, I’m a leader who loves her job, and you can be too!

If you’re like many women leaders, you fought hard to get to where you are today…and yet…

Besides being a leader professionally, there may be several other, often contradictory roles you play in your life, which means that there are countless different things requiring your time, attention, and energy, and at times it feels like you’re not quite giving anything ‘your all’.

In addition, you may have been taught from a young age that making mistakes was a sign of failure. You also might have received conflicting instruction about being assertive, being polite, and how to accomplish things effectively through others (i.e. management)

As a result, you may have some built in ‘credibility blockers’ that are keeping you from feeling successful and fulfilled in your role as a leader. These include:

  • A Fixed Mindset
  • Limiting beliefs
  • Lack of quality training and mentors

Any one of these (let alone all three) can make your leadership journey feel exhausting and frustrating, and you may unconsciously be sabotaging yourself without even being aware of it. You can take this quick quiz to determine if any of these are impacting your credibility:

  • Do you feel like you are a leadership ‘imposter’ and if people ‘really knew’ you they’d know you weren’t a great leader?
  • Do you become anxious and fearful about your career prospects?
  • Do you imagine negative outcomes associated with asking for help?
  • Do you become impatient with yourself when change doesn’t occur quickly enough?
  • Does the thought of management or leadership training leave you feeling overwhelmed and skeptical?
  • Do you find it hard to trust others to provide honest feedback and training?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you need the following information so that you can learn how to overcome these obstacles and boost your professional credibility!

What I learned is that the biggest blocker to anyone’s professional credibility is their beliefs about themselves, and the most important factor of success in any area of life, but particularly in one’s leadership journey – is how to reprogram your mind and beliefs to create lasting change in your life.

This is the key to transformation, and failing to implement these secrets will keep you feeling stuck. Once you reprogram your mind to believe and embrace your identity as leader, you will see opportunities everywhere to develop and improve your skills. You will notice new mentoring opportunities, and you will be excited about the future.

I promise!

I’ve developed a transformational program to provide the tactical, strategic, mental, and emotional guidance you need to conquer challenges in your professional and personal life. Here is a free download containing a portion of the program from the module ‘Redefine your leadership image’, containing practical information you need to learn how to reprogram your mind and thrive in your professional role.

Today’s Leadership Solutions is a Seattle-based consulting firm dedicated to providing business owners peace of mind and job fulfillment by ensuring their management teams are equipped to run their businesses successfully. With certified executive coaches, organizational development experts and HR Professionals, we consult with small to medium sized businesses on management, leadership, and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. We can be reached for consultation at info@todaysleadershipsolutions.com.

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Business Management career coaching Leadership Development Mentoring

You lead like a girl! The truth about women leaders that no one wants to tell you

As a woman of a  ‘certain age’ (okay, 45) I grew up being told that I could (and should) do it all. I could have a lucrative, fulfilling career, marriage, and kids. I think everyone was just so happy that women COULD work outside the home if they wanted that we instantly transitioned into SHOULD. I’m not complaining because otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered that I have a gift for leadership and coaching. Being a working woman, business leader, and Mommy (in that order, actually), provided me a lot of insight into what I’m great at, what I love, and what stresses me out.

For quite a while, I bought into the fact that in order to be successful in business, a woman simply had to do the job as well, or better, than a man the same way a man does. I didn’t know any different because there were no female role models for me. The only working women I knew were either administrative assistants, or in a completely different profession (doctor, pharmacist, teacher, nurse). The only woman boss I’d ever had was a highly emotional, frazzled woman who insisted we all keep track of her menstrual cycle so we’d know if she was approachable or not. Needless to say, she was not an inspiring leader, and she wasn’t particularly interested in mentoring any other women, either. Rumor was she saw other women as a threat but I don’t know if that’s true.

My leadership journey began within a Christian company, before I was a Christian. I had a pretty dim view of believers at that point and was so convinced they’d relegate me to coffee and note-taking that for five years I insisted I didn’t know how to operate the coffee machine. The one time I was asked to take notes, I refused and asked if they were asking me that because I was a girl. Despite my initial prejudices, my experience at this company was transformational. I’ve written about it elsewhere. In addition, I was provided management opportunity and mentored, giving me a solid foundation for servant leadership. From a male’s perspective.

For the most part, it’s served me well, but there were things I wasn’t taught because it would never be on a male mentor’s radar. Most of the difficult situations center around boundaries, assumptions, and expectations. For example:

  • Having performance improvement conversations with men without apologizing OR getting overly dramatic to get my point across.
  • Being around a man who is crying without wanting to evaporate off the face of the earth.
  • Telling a woman that her performance needed improving even though it would mean that she’d hate me or talk crap about me with everyone else
  • Having to talk about a woman about her office attire, and hearing later that she told everyone it was because I was just jealous of her.
  • Having employees assume my standards were lower, or that I welcomed interruptions just to chat for hours at a time.
  • Forcing myself to stuff down all my feelings because if I got frustrated enough to cry everyone thought I was weak and either patronized me or discredited me.
  • Being told I was intimidating, and having no idea if I really was, or if I just wasn’t conforming to their expectations of a ‘girl boss’.
  • The fact that no matter how much responsibility and status I shouldered at work, and no matter how much my husband helped at home, I’m still ‘the brain’ who needs to keep track of school stuff, and schedules, and likely gets thrown up on when the kids are sick and who needs to figure it ALL out.

Do my male counterparts face some of these challenges? Some yes, others no. And I know full well that they have challenges that I don’t have. And that brings us to the positives. After I stopped trying to act like the (male) leaders around me acted, or process things the way I thought they were processing, or feel the way I thought they felt, amazing things started to happen, and I felt free to:

  • Use my desire to connect with others and to connect others to form incredibly strong teams.
  • Acknowledge my and others’ emotions and using that to overcome problems and defuse situations.
  • Use the way I process information to come up with unique and innovative solutions
  • Encourage others to take risks

Once I embraced my gifts and accepted myself the way I was, my leadership was exponentially better and the people who reported to me would tell you the same thing, but it was a long and painful road. The only thing I would change if I could would be having more female mentors or colleagues to bounce ideas off of.

I’m writing about this today because more women than ever have been reaching out to me and sharing their stories, and it’s made me realize that this continues to be an area where women can support each other. I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunities I’ve had, but one thing life has taught me is that you can’t keep what you don’t give away.

How can you get involved? I was hoping you’d ask! I’m partnering with some powerful thought leaders, executives, and coaches to design some elite caliber leadership content to support this mission of women helping women. If you’re interested in the subject of women mentoring women for professional growth and development, please sign up here for our Women Business Leaders Newsletter so you can be on the front lines as this develops. As a thank you, I’ll send you my free e-guide 10 tips for managing multiple priorities.  Thanks, and as always  – if you enjoyed this article, please share the love!

Today’s Leadership Solutions is a Seattle-based consulting firm dedicated to providing business owners peace of mind and job fulfillment by ensuring their management teams are equipped to run their businesses successfully. With certified executive coaches, organizational development experts and HR Professionals, we consult with small to medium sized businesses on management, leadership, and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. We can be reached for consultation at info@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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career coaching Leadership Development New Managers

Lead Right for Your Type (personality type, that is)

In 2008, Peter D’Adamo published a book called Eat Right for Your Type. The premise was that people with different blood types metabolize food differently. In addition to learning that bleached carbohydrates are not my friend (geesh, who knew?), a major takeaway/reminder for me was that we humans just don’t fit into a one size fits all. This is as true for leadership as it is for anything else. Forcing an introvert to act like Mel Gibson in Braveheart makes about as much sense as asking me to tell a story in three sentences or less, in a calm tone of voice. We might do it, but we’ll be miserable, with less than stellar results.

A major misconception about leadership is that one has to be an extroverted, powerhouse, Type A achiever to be a good leader. This often has the effect of deterring folks who don’t fit into that mold from pursuing leadership roles. The truth is that there are immense strengths that all personality types can draw on to be effective leaders.

For simplicity, I’ll use the DiSC personality to illustrate the point, although other useful personality indexes include the Enneagram or the MMPI. I like DiSC, because there are only four main categories, and I am an impatient, HIGH D, but you’ll get the idea whichever evaluation you use.

Speaking of D, the first type on the DiSC inventory is D, which stands for Dominance, and is characterized by being direct, strong-willed, and forceful. D’s are achievement-oriented and fast paced. The I (Influencer) type is much more sociable and talkative. They also enjoy fast paced but are warmer and more accepting than the questioning D types. The C (Conscientious) type is extremely detail-oriented and meticulous. They are cautious and reflective by nature as well as analytical and logical. The S (Steadiness) type is also cautious, but warmer and more receptive than the C. Nobody is just one type, of course, there are variations and combinations, and most people are a little dash of this and a dab of that. However most of us do gravitate more to one overarching style in our professional life.

Those of us who are D’s usually feel the leadership call loud and clear. Mostly because we don’t like anyone else telling us what to do, and we think we can do it better ourselves anyway. The biggest challenge for D leaders to overcome in their growth is to develop empathy and adjust our communication style to be better received by pretty much everyone else in the world. If you know that you are a D, you probably also know that those around you appreciate it when you talk a little less, a little more quietly, and listen a bit more.

But what about the other types? Is there room at the leadership table for an I, an S, or even a C? I say absolutely! Every personality style has unique gifts and strengths that make them highly effective as leaders. For example:

If you are a high I, you already know that you connect easily with people and love learning their stories. That likeability factor lends itself very well to leadership, as you are able to form meaningful relationships that can be transformational. You possibly are challenged with the detail side of things (much like your D counterpart), but if you’re aware of this, you can make allowances and be highly successful.

The C and S types are the ones who usually don’t see themselves as leaders, and can be particularly challenging for high D leaders and also some of the most valued team members. When you see C and D, think cats and dogs, and that pretty much sums up the relationship. While D casts a vision, C wants to work out all the details of exactly how the plan will work. C’s are very prone to paralysis by analysis and this can be an obstacle in their leadership. However, if you are a C, do not count yourself out. You bring a wealth of strength to your role and are able to provide true support to your team, because you will make sure you understand their jobs as well as they do. If C’s can remember to explain the Why before the How, and to do their best to stay out of the weeds, they can be excellent leaders who do very well on the back end of change management and implementations. If you are leading a C, especially if you are a D, try to take advantage of their ability to dive deep into the minutiae and their passion for excellence (even if it does feel like they are dream killers).

And finally the S. S’s are definitely not your typical CEO. They do not seek out change, and you will not find them on a soap box leading a charge. But their calm composure, and warm demeanor can be very reassuring in a storm. S’s are great leaders and second to none at gelling a team.

So, as you see, if you have a passion for serving others in a leadership role, you should never count yourself out just because you don’t fit the ‘typical’ profile of a leader. Similarly, if it’s your job to coach or groom up and coming leaders, be aware of your own type, and our propensity as humans to gravitate towards like individuals. If there’s any lesson to be learned, it’s that every type has something to offer.

Ask us about our premier management development programs – all you need when you promote from within, and if you want to learn more about how to optimize your personality style when it comes to leadership, click here for info on our upcoming workshop on this topic. 

Today’s Leadership Solutions is a Seattle-based consulting firm dedicated to providing business owners peace of mind and job fulfillment by ensuring their management teams are equipped to run their businesses successfully. With certified executive coaches, organizational development experts and HR Professionals, we consult with small to medium sized businesses on management, leadership, and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. We can be reached for consultation at info@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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career coaching life lessons Uncategorized

Freedom, individuality, and your career

Seeing as how it was just Canada Day, and tomorrow is Independence Day for the United States, freedom seems like a good topic. I’m thoroughly fed up with politics, though, so I’m staying away from political freedom, and am going to talk about it from another perspective; leadership and your career.

We live in a culture where freedom is sacrosanct, and we all pretty much believe we should have the freedom to make our own choices. This means that we have the ability to choose what we will do and what we want in our life. Of course, this in no way absolves us of the consequences of our choices, whether it be legally, career-wise, or emotionally (as much as that would be nice).

This is nowhere more true than when it comes to our career; one of the most significant areas in most people’s lives. Most of us, on some level, have desires, talents, and ambitions, and are free to pursue a career that is in alignment with those. What I’ve seen more often than not, as a coach, is a whole bunch of seriously unhappy people who feel stuck and like they have no choice. They are in jobs they hate, or working for people they hate (or at least seriously dislike), doing things that suck their soul and make them miserable. Until the pain of this becomes unbearable, these folks always say the same thing about why they’re there: they have no choice.

I remember telling this to a boss of mine one time. I’d just found out I was pregnant with my first child, and he was wondering if I’d come back to work after the baby. My response was that I had to, that there was no other choice, to which he replied “there’s always a choice”. At the time, this kind of annoyed me. Easy for him to say, I thought. Because my husband and I had agreed that he would launch a startup business, we completely depended on my job for our family income and medical benefits. How on earth did I have a choice?

When you’re in a leadership role, this feeling of being choice-less can be even more compounded. You feel the burden of other people’s livelihoods, as well as the responsibility for the outcomes of everyone’s efforts. Concern about the potential impact of any given action can be paralyzing.

I’ve come to see that being in fear and uncertainty about the future makes us feel like we have no choice. It’s very easy to make assumptions about the value we bring, the economic climate, and the marketplace, and come to the conclusion that we can’t do any better than we’re currently doing, only worse. We eventually embrace the idea (and bad bosses will reinforce this) that we’re actually lucky to have what we do, and we’d better not rock the boat.

As a coach, I am completely sold out to the idea that if we’re operating in our area of proficiency, passion, and purpose (to paraphrase Michael Hyatt) that we will be fulfilled and eventually successful once we find the correct platform or point of entry. The problem is that if you don’t believe this, you won’t try, and you’ll experience the crushing weight of being stuck.

Anyone can exercise their freedom to choose when it comes to their career at the end of the day, by simply choosing to not be there. Most of us would prefer to improve our circumstances rather than just escape them, so that takes a little more strategy. The first step is recognizing the assumptions and beliefs you’re currently harboring about your situation, and challenging their veracity. For example:

  • What are you truly passionate about?
  • What are you good at?
  • Is it possible to conduct research into opportunities to contribute your passion and proficiency?
  • Do you really have the ‘freedom’ you think you do in your current role?
  • Is it really true you’d never make this much money somewhere else? Does it matter?

Depending on the answer to these questions (and a few other ones), it may make sense to begin a career transition. On the other hand, sometimes you have a passion that doesn’t necessarily translate well into a career transition, and that’s okay. A lot of times that stuck feeling is not so much about your particular job, but the amount of mental and physical resources you’re devoting to it. Sometimes a recalibration of your investment can create the freedom you need to refresh and recharge.

And yes, I’m sensitive to the fact that there are some people with far less options, opportunities and advantages than others so I’m not cavalierly suggesting for anyone that the way out of a tough situation is simply to choose differently and things will magically get better. Change can require enormous sacrifice, perseverance, and effort, and sometimes other priorities or circumstance can make it unfeasible to accomplish what it could take.

Focus has always been a problem for me. I’ve often joked that it’s so unfair to only get one life, when there’s SO MUCH I want to do. Unfortunately, we do only get one shot. What a tragedy at the end of it to have spent the majority of your career feeling stuck. From my own experience I can tell you that taking even the most incremental steps to move towards your passion can breathe new life into your experience of your career.

I’d love to hear your stories about how you’ve moved from a place of stuck to a place of fulfillment!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com