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“Above Ground” and “Below Ground” Transformation

Recently, I was relating an early management experience and the lessons I learned when I was brought in to complete a massive transformation at a large accounting firm. As a lover of change with marching orders, I was knocking it out of the park one challenge after another…. Or so I thought.

The Managing Partner called me into his office and said: “Nancy, everyone wants to prove themselves, so they hit the ground running their first 90-days before tapering off to perform a normal workload. Not you.”

Do I need to tell you, as an overachiever, I was internally shining proudly?

He continued: “It’s causing problems for the organization. Employees are complaining you’re trying to make them look bad…. you’re moving too fast to assure the changes are right for our culture, etc.” I don’t have to go into the gory details because you’ve heard the grumblings around your organization whenever significant changes are occurring.

Never interpret comments such as these as the problem of others rather listen with an open, receptive, resilient mind because this is where growth occurs as I discovered.

What are the lessons I garnered from my experience that will support you as a manager/leader charged with bringing about powerful change in your organization?

First, as human beings, we’re all created to seek order—some sooner than others. If you thrive and like to move fast in the midst of chaos, you’re probably in trouble. Transformation only moves forward at the pace and comfort of the masses in the organization, so disaster and passive-aggressive resistance may be all you’re generating if you proceed too quickly. You see most employees can’t operationally turn-around-on-a-dime. Slow down to go fast as crazy as that may sound is the secret to being productive. Remember, deploying change upon change, which is never complete, is a waste of everyone’s time and energy, so be strategic!

Second, if you’re anything like me, slowing down your pace is the death knell to being energized at work. Half the fun and thrill, in my mind, is creating results as I check item after item off my list. Realizing this about myself is when I began implementing my “Above Ground” and “Below Ground” theory of transformation. Since I embrace change, I’m continuously working on one or two “Above Ground” undertakings that everyone knows about, Senior Management and staff are involved in its completion, and we measure progress every step of the way. However, when no one is looking, I’m strategizing “Below Ground” projects that may be too overwhelming for most today; and I know by scattering a few water-drops throughout the organization, we will be ready to accept the idea in its right time. The company unknowingly is preparing before it’s required to do anything.

As a leader, you have the power to determine what changes are happening and when. Authentic leaders respect their employees so they consider their viewpoint and understand what the culture can bear. Take the pulse of your organization as a piece of the strategic process puzzle, and you’ll produce more substantial, long-lasting results with far less effort!


Mighty Women Hear Us Roar

What a mind-blowing sea change we’ve experienced in the last several months of 2017 where women’s voices roared and were heard by those in power. The sudden toppling of industry titans has created a momentous cultural shift.

Unquestionably, we’re at the turning point for women in business.

What is my dream for every one of you: To be fully engaged, fully feminine, and fully you. And then, that you use your empowered voice to improve not only your career but for the betterment of the business culture as well by creating a world where everyone is entrusted to make a difference.

Despite toppling kingdoms being a heady experience and your eagerness to soar into the new reality of possibility for your career, pause to fully leverage your voice so it reflects you, and what you truly value.

In the pause, ask strategic questions. They’ll jump-start your year because the act of inquiry opens doors to new ideas, new pathways, and new levels of influence. Try incorporating these three career empowerment switch points of change; they are guaranteed to add momentum to your career.

Identify Your “Golden Touch:” For year’s women have unknowingly held their future small by spending time focused on work far below their level of responsibility—not a good strategy for designing a fulfilling future. Ask yourself, in which areas are my skills, knowledge, and expertise—and mine alone—the difference-maker?

Then, once you’ve categorized them, try this experiment: Examine your workload, what you’re handling and what crosses your desk. Does it involve your Golden Touch, which is what your company is paying you the big bucks to accomplish? If not, pinpoint who in the organization should be responsible. So, use both your Golden Touch and promote your subordinates in employing their Golden Touch. This exercise secures you a windfall of time to work on projects at higher-levels of the organization, which is where the influencers and change-makers reside.

Identify Your Strengths: Playing to your strong suit is the winning formula for long-term success. According to Gallup, you’re six times more engaged at work which leads to you being far more productivity on-the-job. If you don’t know what your strengths are, discover them by asking these questions:

What am I doing when eight hours elapses as though only an hour has passed;

What do I look forward to when I go to work;

What do I carry out so effortlessly I sometimes think I’m cheating my company when they pay me?

Identify a “Big Picture” for Your Future:

What experiences do I want to have and what differences do I want my life and career to make?

As you design your future, you end up expanding to fill the space you’ve created. Fashioning your “Big Picture” is your opportunity to bring to light your purpose—what you were born to be—and then, to utilize your unique potentiality to carve out a fulfilling career for yourself.

Keep in mind, lack of action is deadly. The choice is yours. However, it does require strategic thought on your part. So, take the time to transform your thinking as you position yourself to take advantage of today’s new reality for women. Now, unleash yourself to change the world!

A Christmas Gift to Boost Your Energy While Increasing Your Productivity

Wow! We can’t get around it the holidays are staring us smack-dab in the face. We’ve entered that frenetic season we all look forward to and simultaneously dread. It is the time of year where we face non-stop juggling as our business “to-do” list and our personal “all that I must get done to have a Merry Christmas” agendas crash into one another. What’s a body to do?

I offer you these three tips…

Multi-Tasking The Good and the Bad: Certainly there’s a place for juggling in today’s increasingly frenzied environment; however, don’t deceive yourself that this is a winning formula or you’ll find yourself becoming overstressed and further behind the eight-ball. 

Multi-tasking is a terrific idea when you’re on a phone call holding and reading an email. Or at home, while your family catches up as you share dinner preparations.

But in most cases, research shows multitasking is a myth, and it increases the amount of time you employ finishing your original task by an average of 25 percent.

I am not suggesting you should doggedly work through every pursuit until complete. I am saying some activities would benefit from consistent, uninterrupted concentration. When you’re entirely present in each moment, you’ll be producing better outcomes with less time, effort and stress.

Take a Break: Now, you probably think I’ve seriously gone off the rails: “Take a break in the midst of all I have on my plate? You’ve got to be crazy.” It may seem counterintuitive; however, start taking breaks every 90 minutes, because they will produce:

  • 30 percent higher level of focus;
  • 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively;
  • 46 percent higher level of health.

Tony Schwartz explains it best: “The core problem with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource. Energy is a different story.” This mindset shift will boost your energy while fueling heightened production.

The Power of “No”: Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time to accomplish it all? I know how busy your schedule is, but some of these feelings may unconsciously originate from you. How good are you at saying “no?”

If “no” isn’t your strong suit, the first step in “no” training is to stop yourself from automatically saying “yes.” Then, take a deep breath to halt your instinctive “yes” response, as you’re charged with carrying out tasks, or you load-on yet another activity to your “to-do” list; and in that pause, ask a couple of questions.

  • Am I the only one who can do this?
  • Is this project more important than what I’m currently slated to work on?

If the answer to these two questions is “yes” go for it, but if the answer is “no,” you know what to do. Enjoy the extra time.

I hope you’ve received at least one new concept that will have you savoring the season. But please don’t take this new commitment on like 58 percent of people do, who say there is a gap between what they say is essential in their life and how they live. If you do, you’ll miss the gift of boosting your energy, increasing your productivity with less stress and a sense of a job well-done whether professionally or personally.



Creating A Living, Breathing Brand For Yourself

Have you taken the time to identify your career brand? If you have, congratulations, you’re way ahead of the crowd! A survey on branding reveals that less than “15 percent of people have truly defined their personal brand.”

If you’re that rare 15 percent-er, research discloses, “less than 5 percent are living it consistently.” So, are you walking and talking and demonstrating your brand or did you write it merely as an exercise and have long since shoved it to the back shelf?

What a mistake. Branding, in fact, is an investment for the long haul in your career. It is a short-cut revelation of you and all you bring to the table. As business guru, Tom Peters, confirms,

“The labor market worldwide is becoming astonishingly competitive and you can no longer expect to survive by being essentially an anonymous bureaucrat in a purchasing department or logistics department or engineering department, but you really have to stand for something….Come hell or high water from the beginning of your career you need to think about your areas of distinction.”

Why consider projecting something that you are not or never can be? Perhaps that’s why so few executives are living their brand as they weren’t candid with themselves in the first place. Taking the time to generate a brand for yourself is a wasted effort if it’s not the truth or if others, perceive you are not genuine, so this must be an honest appraisal.

A brand is intended to reveal who you are and what you’re able to contribute to the organization and those around you. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize unless you’re building one on an authentic foundation—both in sync with your organization and who you are—you will only harm yourself long-term.

Nor is it a replica of your black-and-white resume. It is more robust as it is you in living color, walking and talking, and interacting with others. In fact, your brand emerges out of your thoughts, words, deeds and online and offline presence. It also takes into account your goals and offers compelling hints of your untapped potential. In large part, this process is all about being recognized as the right person not merely for today, but for future work with greater responsibility.

On the other hand, if you don’t choose your brand, it will be chosen for you often by someone who doesn’t have the same skin in the game as you. Every day, as you move through your work life, you’re constructing your brand.

The question is—does it reflect the powerful, positive side of your business persona or are you becoming better known by the unconscious insecurities you express with those around you. You see you are always generating a brand—even if it is without thought.

Be fearless in being yourself—and translate that into your brand. Then, use it as your guiding light. That’s what a powerful brand is.

Are you ready to create a brand? If you are, click here to download the PDF “Branding Discovery Questions” to jumpstart the process.

Executive Presence The ADVERB For A Woman’s Career

There’s no question it’s tough to be an executive in business today let alone a female executive. More frequently—the influential leadership roles in today’s business world are held by men. And through this lens, women more often than not fall short of the mark in the eyes of career decision-makers.

It is in this gap Executive Presence comes into play as an ADVERB—one that magnetizes, accentuates, and highlights an executive woman’s career potential now and into the future.

If you’re shaking your head thinking Executive Presence is too frivolous a concept to affect the trajectory of my career… Au contraire! According to the Center for Talent Innovation, Executive Presence counts of 26 percent of what it takes to get promoted. Read More→