Friday Share – Stratejoy

I have discovered a new favorite person on the www – Molly Mahar and her website Molly calls herself an “entrepreneur, mama and adventurer obsessed with the intersection of joy, authenticity and community.” She is inspirational and full of wisdom. I have only just discovered her and cannot wait to learn more from her.

One thing Molly has out there is her “12 Rules for Inner Confidence.” I shared this with my colleagues at work along with all of the women on my team and the response was overwhelming. Everyone loved it. Many shared it with others within their networks and families. One colleague suggested we have a group meeting on each rule and share best practices!

I want to share the first rule now and perhaps the others in a bit. This first rule ties right back to an earlier post of mine: Practice positivity. What Molly talks about here is the need to combine hope with hard work and that will bring positivity. She also makes clear that thinking positively is a strength and something that brings power and possibility. 

There is the famous quote from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t -you’re right.” If you are practicing positivity then you always can! The world today needs hope, possibility and positivity more than ever before, and if each of us contributes, perhaps we will get to a better place.

So I encourage you to dream, to believe, and to check out Molly and! Highly recommended! 

Keep it positive, and smile ūüôā

Diversity #1

Diversity is a critical component of leadership. ¬†Study after study has shown that groups who are comprised of diverse individuals perform better, generate better results for their teams/companies, and feel better about their work. In addition, a team who takes advantage of the full range of talent available, not just the talent that looks/thinks/acts like “me”, will have a distinct competitive advantage over others. ¬†Plus diversity makes for a much more interesting work and life environment.

The statistics are startling. According to a 2016 report ¬†by¬†¬†women make up 46.8% of the US workforce, hold 51.5% of management positions, but hold only 4.4% of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and make up only 19.9% of corporate board seats. I don’t know about you, but to me that seems incredible! What is going on?

I have become so interested in this question that I have chosen to study this for my doctoral dissertation. I want to at least get one step closer to an answer and perhaps even find some solutions for fixing the situation.

As you might imagine, I have asked many people for their opinions and insights into the matter, and the answers are quite fascinating. I asked a good friend of mine (male, white, 50+) what he thought the explanation was for the absence of women at the top of the organizational ladder. He absolutely insists that the fault lies in the ambition of women Рthat women just do not want the job at the top. He does not see this as a negative, but simply a reality of life. He is not alone in this belief РI have heard it many times,  often from people of the same demographic group as my friend.

I have looked into the academic research on this, and in a later post I will include some of the articles I have found. I cannot, even after extensive research, find a study that shows this to be the case. In one study from political science it was shown that women were recruited for political office much less frequently than men. This is not the same as ambition. Another study has shown that simply changing the name on a resume from female to male immediately alters the odds that a person will get an interview. Again, nothing to do with ambition.

I firmly believe that ambition has nothing to do with the problem. We need to look elsewhere, and I will do so in later posts.

Keep it positive and smile ūüôā

Leadership – doing the right thing

There are so many ways to define leadership. I want to talk today about one particular piece of leadership that is very much front-of-mind for me today. That is – the ability to take risks and to see a future – a better future – that is different than the one today.

Since when has the world not changed? It is imperative that leaders spend time thinking about this, planning for this, and taking the risks necessary to get to a new and better place. This place we are in right now, as wonderful as it might be, will not be here long.

One easy way I have found to approach risk is to always choose to do the right thing. ¬†Sometimes¬†that isn’t easy, but it sure makes taking that risk less scary! ¬†When you do the right thing, and you share this with your customers/employees/friends, you will have positive results. You and your team will work with clearer purpose and will be energized by the efforts. Negative energy, or as consultant/author/speaker Jon Gordon calls them, “energy vampires” will be kept in check. It will be easier to find good people to come along on the journey with you and the negative drama will be kept at bay.

Now, as I mentioned above, doing the right thing is rarely the easiest thing. It is, however always the best thing, and as leaders we must have the courage to choose this path every time. When we don’t, people see it. So be brave, be strong, and make the right choice. ¬†That, my friends, is being a leader.

Positive Monday

The best way to start the week is with as much positive thinking as possible. ¬†It’s a new day, a new week, a new chance to do what you want to do, to accomplish great things, and to be the person you want to be. Take hold of that, and make the most of this gift you are given each and every Monday!

Sometimes that can be a challenge.  Life is not an easy thing, and despite all our efforts to keep the negative voices at the door, they can find a way in.  The best thing we can do is to recognize those thoughts for what they are, and then find a way to turn them around.

I recently discovered that my father, who I lost two years ago to cancer, wrote blog posts on a share site for others dealing with the same illness.  Every one of his posts ends with the same tag: Keep it positive and smile! :).  He wrote this even on days when he did not feel well or his test results were not what he wanted.  He went so far as to call himself Mr. Positive Рand others on the site joined in!  What an amazing example he set Рfinding happy, positive thoughts to share with others even in their darkest days.

If he can do it, so can we.  Positive energy can be contagious Рspread it around!

Happy Monday!

Sunday Reflection….Hard Work and Feedback

Sundays are a perfect time to reflect on the past and what has made us what we are.  There are lessons in everything we have done and experienced and all that is needed is for us to pull them out and make use of them.

For their entire adult lives, my grandparents ran an office supply department store in the downtown of an old German Wisconsin town. ¬†They had inherited the business from my grandmother’s parents and expanded it. ¬†They added first a gift area, then a Hallmark shop, and finally a year-round Christmas shop. ¬†Both of them worked everyday, and while they did have staff to help them, they handled most of the business themselves. ¬†Grandpa was the first one in and the last one to leave everyday. ¬†If the bathroom needed tidying, he was there. ¬†Snow in the parking lot? ¬†Grandpa shoveled it. ¬†A purchase needed delivering? ¬†Grandpa took care of it. ¬†He was the epitome of hard work, dedication, and leadership. ¬†He never asked anyone to do anything he was not willing to do himself.

When I would visit my grandparents, which happened regularly throughout my life, they would immediately put me to work.  One of my favorite tasks was restocking the greeting card shelves.  I would straighten the cards, reorganize them according to theme, match the envelopes up with the correct cards, and fill any open spaces.  I took great pride in making sure the display looked as attractive as possible.  I kept lists of cards that were out of stock and reported these back to my grandmother.  I took pleasure in noticing what kind of cards were selling and which were not.

At the end of each day, my grandparents would talk to me about what I had worked on that day. ¬†They would look over the shelves of cards to see how I had done and would comment on what looked nice, what had improved, what still might need work. ¬†They would solicit my input as we went along, and would talk to me as if I were just another associate working for them – not a little 10 year-old girl. ¬†My grandmother would often say, “She does better work than any adult we have ever hired.” ¬†And while yes, I was her granddaughter, she would cite examples of what she meant, helping me to understand that she meant what she said.

I learned so many lessons from my grandparents Рmost especially my grandfather Рthat I could go on for days and days on the subject.  For now, let me pull out the following:

Lesson 1:  Hard work breeds success, and setting this example for your associates and children breeds this behavior in them.   I have never asked an employee to do something I was not willing to do myself.

Lesson 2:  Honest and timely feedback is critical, and the more specific the feedback, the more impact it will have.  The focus of the feedback must be on the behaviors and results, not the personal qualities of the individual. Treat every person with respect while giving this feedback Рeveryone has something to contribute, and it is up to us as leaders to help them figure out what that is.

Happy Sunday, and have a great week!


Leader’s Compass

One of the most important components in leadership, if not the most important, is communication. ¬†Something every new leader in my area does within the first few months of assuming their leadership position is to write their Leader’s Compass. ¬†This was something introduced to our company by a former senior executive, and comes from the book¬†Leader’s Compass by Ed Ruggero.¬† In essence, this puts into writing a leader’s beliefs, expectations and hot buttons for all of their team members to read.

This exercise accomplishes two things.  First, it forces leaders to consider, for themselves, exactly what their beliefs about leadership are.  It is a startling reality that most young/new leaders have not given this much thought.  What do I expect from my people?  What standards do I hold myself to?  What can my people expect from me?  What are the behaviors that cause me the most frustration (hot buttons)?  Putting some certainty around these questions helps a leader center herself and start from a position of power and strength.

The second thing this does is provides employee’s explicit instructions for dealing with their new leader. ¬†Consider a leader who is highly time-conscious. ¬†This leader will react strongly to an associate who comes in to work late regardless of the reason. ¬†An employee who has the knowledge of this expectation can make reasonable accommodations to deal with this, including listening to the traffic report in the morning to adjust to traffic conditions, or calling ahead to let the boss know they will be late.

This has an added benefit of providing an opportunity for a staff and its leader to engage in open conversation about expectations.  Anything we can do to open up that dialog, the better our teams performance will be as we will all be moving in the same direction.

I encourage everyone to take a look at the book, and to write your own Leader’s Compass as soon as possible. ¬†Here’s mine! ¬†Leader’s Compass.

First blog post!

This is my very first blog post! ¬†I have been wanting to do this for some time, and just needed a good kick in the pants to get started. ¬†I got that yesterday! ¬†I attended a leadership seminar in downtown Cincinnati where we created vision boards – I will have to remember to post a picture of mine – and one thing I had on mine was “wish do.” So here I am doing!

This blog will be based on my 15 years of leadership, and will include stories of leadership situations, leadership opportunities, and leadership dreams and wishes I have for myself and my team.  I am hoping to help others expand their thoughts about what is at the heart of leadership, and will include tons of references to book, articles, and academic research.

Many of the posts will touch on important aspects of diversity.  This is a particular passion of mine, and I believe a critical element to leadership.  While my focus here will largely be on gender diversity, given that I am female, I will touch on all aspects of diversity as they arise.

Today our world is a mess.  Leadership is critical to the solution.