Tag Archives: corporate leadership

Finding Hope and Inspiration in a Life Well Lived

????????????????????????????????????

These days it’s hard to feel inspired.  I wake up each morning worried and anxious about what new, manufactured, crisis was created while I slept.  I check the news outlets I believe are reliable so that I can try and anticipate what will come today, and I struggle not to panic and to keep focused on my personal goals.  It’s a challenge I’ve never faced, this difficulty feeling optimistic and inspired.

Last week’s New York Times published an Op-ed by David Leonhardt.  It was a eulogy of sorts for former PepsiCo executive Brenda Barnes.  Barnes made news 20 years ago when she quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom.  She died a couple of weeks ago, at the young age of 63, following a stroke.  After reading her story, I felt a spark of inspiration mixed with some hope.  You see, Barnes started the dialogue about work/life balance.  She was proof that it is possible to craft a meaningful life filled with work, parenting and personal growth.  She paved the way and while there is still much work to be done in the area of equal pay and workplace supported parenting, she elevated the topic.

To be fair, Barnes’ path was incredibly atypical.  After raising her kids, she was able to move back into the workforce as chief executive of Sara Lee.  Her legacy is carried through her middle child, 28-year-old daughter Erin.  She herself left a lucrative job a few years ago, so she could care for her ailing mother and today is pursuing a nursing career, one she finds more meaningful and adaptive to family life.  Erin acknowledges her mother’s unique opportunities, but the message remains the same.  At a family memorial for her mother, she implored everyone to remember her mother’s insistence that we not work too hard.

So why does Brenda Barnes’ life give me some hope and inspiration?  I also made life choices based on spending time with my children.  Sometimes I wonder, “what if,” but most of the time I’m happy with my choices.  Of course I’m just a few years younger than Barnes, so perhaps the path wasn’t as clear for me as it is for my daughter.  But therein lies my hope and inspiration.  I am hopeful that, thanks to women like Brenda Barnes, this next generation will move the needle farther.  Although women continue to pay a higher price for parenthood and making choices, I’m hopeful our voices are stronger and that we will continue to push harder.  I am inspired by Barnes’ story and of her lasting message that work isn’t everything, that life is precious and often too short, so it’s important to find meaning and purpose and, ultimately, love.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Self Savvy

Finding Inspiration in Losses

soccer-panoramic

I am constantly searching for examples of how other businesses stay successful despite losses. Examples are everywhere, but one of my favorite examples is Southampton Football Club (Southampton FC).

Southampton FC is based (obviously) in Southampton, England and it plays in England’s top football (soccer) league, the English Premier League.  Each year the club loses their best players to rival clubs with more money to spend on acquisitions. Each year they lose their head coach (manager, in England) to rival clubs.

Any business that consistently loses its best performers would be expected to slide into oblivion.  Southampton FC temporarily appeared doomed to such a fate. In 2008, Southampton FC was bankrupt and demoted. They began the 2009/2010 season in the third tier of English football. (By comparison, the U.S. has two tiers of professional soccer.)

Then a group of new owners bought the club and initiated two key strategies. First, they brought financial stability with a cash infusion and a new team of experienced financial advisers to run the back office. Southampton’s problems were apparently rooted in poor financial practices.

Second, the new owners reinforced the existing corporate culture of the club. The club has a reputation for developing young talent. Their corporate culture requires everyone from the youth academy to the senior players to use the same system of training and learn the same game tactics or style of play.  That may sound like a no-brainer, but an amazing number of businesses try to change their corporate culture each time they choose a new manager.

Southampton FC hires managers (coaches) that fit their system. The corporate culture is so resilient that each year the manager changes and the top players are sold but the club remains competitive.  It’s called “the Southampton way”.

By the 2012/2013 season, the club had played its way back into the English Premier League and has finished in the top ten every year since.  Other businesses now regularly travel to Southampton to study the club’s business model.  Southampton FC’s four-year journey from loss to success is truly inspirational.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website: www.complianceriskadvisor.com/.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Savvy, History

Leadership Lessons:  It’s Not All Fun and Games

Fun and Games

 

I am, at heart, someone who loves to have fun and enjoy myself.  This does not mean I can’t be serious when the situation calls for it.  In fact my family members have been known to tell me to lighten up, take things easy, chill out.  But spending my time doing things that are meaningful and fulfilling, that add value to the world around me, brings me joy and pleasure.  I am also, by nature, an optimist and an extrovert.  This makes me, for better or worse, a natural cheerleader and people-pleaser.  Whether it’s encouraging my kids or spouse when they face challenges or telling a member of my leadership team that they should just “go for it,” when they have an idea for a program or fundraiser, I just can’t help myself.  The glass must always be half full, darn it!  Thankfully, I have a spouse and others in my support network who are realists and who can bring me down to earth when it’s time for some tough love.

This brings me to the hardest leadership lesson I’ve learned so far.  Sometimes it is out of my control to make things fun and joyful, for me and for those around me.  There are difficult decisions that must be made and not everyone will be happy with the outcome.  Being a leader means shouldering the burden and being willing to face criticism, and to answer for your actions or the actions of others.

I recently had to make such a decision, for the good of the organization.  I did my homework, consulted advisors both inside and outside.  I listened to opinions on both sides of the issue.  In the end, I made a decision that disappointed and hurt someone I care about.  I’m not going to lie, it sucks!  I do not like being that person who can’t please everyone.  And while I stand by my decision and feel confident I did the right thing, it has been tough going.

During the worst of it, someone whose opinion I trust and whose insights I value, said, “Being a leader is not all fun and games.”  An obvious thing, really, but that simple statement brought me comfort.  It gave me perspective and the permission to not please everyone all the time.  It also helped me to see that making a good decision, the right decision, can be satisfying on its own.  Even if I have to disappoint people, something I abhor, there is some pleasure to be had in taking the long view, in stepping up to lead an organization and knowing that this too shall pass.

This latest trial has left me with some scars and bruises, but I feel stronger and more confident as a leader.  I know that next time, and there most definitely will be a next time, I will be better prepared for the pain.  And while leadership isn’t all fun and games all the time, it is an experience I treasure and one I truly enjoy.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Savvy, Self Savvy

Leadership Lessons:  What’s Your Style?

Style 3

I was fortunate to have two years to plan for my presidency of our synagogue’s Board of Trustees.  And for several years before that, I was a member of the Board and Executive Committee.  Those prep years were invaluable for helping me to observe the presidents who came before and to learn about various leadership styles.  One thing is clear: there is no “perfect” way to lead.  As in politics, there are many different types of leaders and it is important for each to bring her unique skills and talents to the table.  I do, however, have some observations about various styles.  Here they are, in no particular order.

1. The Micro-Manager

We’ve all worked with and for these folks.  They love to have their hand in just about every aspect of an organization and, if you’re not careful, will “check in” several times a day with staff and others to make sure things are “going okay.”  This is really their attempt to control all aspects of the organization, project or event.  Micro-managers can be sweet and lovable, but also very annoying.  Give good direction, trust your team and then let go.  If they need you, they’ll ask.  If you see someone veering off course, you can always jump back in.

2. The “Hands-off” Leader

Everyone likes to say they are “very laid back,” but in practice a laid back or “hands off” leader can be difficult as well.  This person, while well-meaning, is often not very confident in her abilities as a leader and, consequently, doesn’t lead.  Relaxed is good, empowering others is great, but a strong leader models the behavior they want to see in their team.  If your leader lacks vision and drive, if she gives no direction, things can fall apart quickly.

3. Where Does the Buck Stop?

Some people really want to be a leader, but they lack something I believe is one of the most important qualities: accountability.  Regardless of who falls down on the job or which ideas don’t pan out, the leader of an organization must be willing to take responsibility.  No, everything is not your fault, but making decisions and managing outcomes are key parts of being a leader.  Be mindful of who is on your team and what they can deliver and manage your own expectations.  When things don’t go as planned, be ready to face the music.

4. “I’m Just Not Organized”

Not everyone is a detail oriented, chart-making, list-keeping type of leader.  But it is important to develop your own way of staying organized.  In any organization there are many things that require attention on a daily basis.  Some things are more urgent than others, but it’s important to be able to prioritize and manage time.  Remember, everyone is looking to you to set the tone.  If being organized is simply not your innate style, enlist the help of a trusted assistant.  Just remember you cannot blame the assistant if the system breaks down.  See #3 above!

5. “I Can Do It All Myself”

When I was young, my mother told me that a good leader knows when to ask for help.  Along with accountability, I believe this is also one of the most important skills a leader should have.  In planning for my presidency, I got to know a lot of people in the congregation and developed key relationships with people I knew I’d want on my team.  For an extrovert like me, getting to know people is one of the most fun parts of being a leader.  I admit I am still amazed when people agree to help or be on the team, but it is gratifying to work together toward a common goal.  Do not be afraid to ask for help.  No one can do it all by themselves.  Those that try are doomed to either failure, or plenty of sleepless nights and frustrating days.

 

So there you have it, my take on leadership styles.  How do you find yours?  This process takes soul searching, honesty, observation and trial-and-error.  If you’ve already completed this process before you take leadership, good for you!  If not, remember #5 on my list:  ASK FOR HELP!  There are plenty of mentors out there waiting to give advice and guidance.  And if you don’t have someone, contact me here at HerSavvy.com.  I would love to be a part of your team!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Savvy, Self Savvy

Lessons in Leadership: Learning to Listen

Listening

I have recently been elected President of our synagogue’s Board of Trustees, a position for which I had been preparing for several years.  The last couple of years leading up to my presidency, I began paying special attention to the current president, observing her leadership style and comparing it to other past presidents.  And now that I have been in the role for a few months, I’m figuring out my own style and learning some valuable lessons.

First and foremost for me is learning to listen.  My profession as a news reporter requires me to both ask questions and listen for answers.  The goal is to seek out information relevant to the story I am pursuing, digest it and present it in a clear, balanced, fair manner.  It is up to the consumer to draw her own conclusion about the information.

As a leader, I am required to listen first to my constituents’ thoughts, problems, suggestions, complaints, etc.  Often what people want most is to be heard.  For example, there is one older woman, recently widowed, who calls me regularly and will also pull me aside in synagogue to chat.  At first I tried to avoid her, fearing criticism or complaining.  But after thinking about it, I decided to dive in head on when she calls or asks to talk.  What I found is that she is lonely, cares deeply about the congregation and really trusts my leadership.  Now when she wants to talk I gladly spend time with her.  The key for me is to just listen, ask minimal questions and when she is done, I thank her for her thoughtfulness, concern and dedication.

This practice of listening also applies to other leaders in the community.  There is one particular Board member who calls often to voice his opinion, usually on a topic recently covered in a meeting.  With this person, I often screen his calls because he leaves long voice messages, covering much of what he wants to discuss.  He is a really nice, caring guy, but also long winded.  Again, what he wants most is to be heard, so by waiting until I have sufficient time, he can get that need met.  I’ve learned he is insecure about speaking up at meetings and sometimes needs a little more time to formulate his thoughts and opinions.  The meetings are often fast paced, with the same few folks doing most of the talking, and he just isn’t comfortable.  But I value his opinions and I am trying to encourage him to speak up more.

Just before I took office I met with my friend who was the outgoing President.  She said that she thinks of congregants like her kids.  Sometimes they just want comfort and to know someone is listening.  She encouraged me to find my own leadership style and advised me to never forget that I am always being evaluated and observed by others.  It was good advice.

What are your leadership lessons?  Let us know and be watching for more of mine.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

3 Comments

Filed under Business Savvy, Self Savvy

The Perils of a Family Business

William Marshal

Working for a family business can be difficult because family businesses seem to inevitably degenerate into factional fighting. Loyal workers are dragged into the family’s feud and must be clever at balancing the competing interests of the various family factions.  A perfect example is the career of William Marshal, who served a series of English kings between 1170 and 1219.

William Marshal worked for the family business known as the Angevin Empire, which was founded by King Henry II of England and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Marshal began his career as one of the household knights of Eleanor. Since Eleanor fought frequently with her husband, her knights risked loss of property and life depending on how the marital feud was progressing.

Marshal became an expert at balancing the competing family loyalties. Henry II and Eleanor rewarded Marshal by appointing him to serve their son, Henry (Henry the Young King). Young Henry also fought a long bitter feud with his father that ended only when Young Henry died. At that point, Marshal could easily have found himself stripped of all his property and exiled from England. Instead Marshal was welcomed back into the family business because King Henry II couldn’t afford to lose such a skilled knight and diplomat.  Marshal remained loyal to Henry II during the feuds that Henry fought with his other sons, Richard the Lion-Hearted, Geoffrey of Brittany, and John (signer of the Magna Carta).  Marshal survived to serve as a senior advisor to both Richard and John.

When John died, Marshal ensured that John’s son inherited the English crown. With a child on the throne, the family business was inThe Greatest Knight
deep trouble and England faced a hostile takeover by French barons. Most of the English barons sided with the French, but Marshal, who was in his 70’s, sided with John’s son. Marshal personally led the English army that defeated the French.

Why should we care about William Marshal today? Anyone who has ever tried to climb the greasy career pole in a company will recognize the situations faced by Marshal. He dealt with crazy bosses such as King John, who was crazier than the Mad Hatter. He survived back-stabbing colleagues who tried to destroy his career in an effort to advance their own. He had to reestablish his career each time a new king took the throne. Through it all, his competence and skill made him indispensable to the family business.

William Marshal was a “company man” long before that term was coined and he survived family feuds spanning decades. An excellent biography of William Marshal is, The Greatest Knight by Thomas Asbridge (2014).

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website: www.complianceriskadvisor.com/.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Savvy

Build a Team of Leaders

Building A Team

One of the most effective team leadership outcomes you can facilitate is for everyone on the team to end up thinking and acting like a leader. It may seem counterintuitive, especially if you’re focused on making your mark by asserting your own unique version of leadership. Therein lies the paradox that alludes many leaders: Your ultimate success will be based on the success of those on the team you lead, not on your solo contribution.

But why should you have to foster a leadership spirit in your team? What keeps people from exercising leadership on their own? I once heard John Lachs, a Vanderbilt University philosophy professor, explain it by describing how passivity creeps into organizations, sapping them of leadership, energy, and ultimately, performance.

Dr. Lachs told the all-too-familiar story of trying to return an item to a retail store, only to be stymied by a passive clerk who cited the rules and regulations restricting her ability to help him. She missed a great opportunity to be exceptional at her job by making a positive difference to a customer. She could have solved another person’s problem, represented her organization well, and made a good impression on her supervisors. Still, accomplishing all of that would have required more effort and responsibility on her part. It would have required she act like a leader by taking ownership of finding a solution. She would have had to take the customer’s request to a higher level and lobbied on his behalf. Instead, she took the easy way out by telling Dr. Lachs she could not accept his return.

If you’re not vigilant, that passivity may show up on your team. Despite what we might like to think, we’re all vulnerable to the temptation to operate more as a dispassionate role or title than as an engaged human. That’s because professional roles are circumscribed, neat, and we can often hide behind them, just as Dr. Lach’s clerk did. Interacting as our real selves requires more from us. It demands we invest ourselves emotionally and take responsibility for outcomes, without any clear indication that we will benefit from doing so. No wonder, “that’s not in my job description,” slips out so easily when one is grousing about having to do too much.

Obviously, you want your team to resist the siren’s call of passivity. These are the behaviors and attitudes you want to foster:

  • Take responsibility.
  • Take obligations seriously.
  • Try to outperform your colleagues.
  • Reach beyond your role.
  • Embody this statement: “I’m ready to serve and will do the absolute best I can.”

Just how do you foster these behaviors and attitudes? Here are some ideas:

  • Make your expectations known.
  • Model these same behaviors and attitudes.
  • Recognize and call them out when you see them in others.

Make it clear that you value leadership and expect it from your team. If they are up to the challenge, you will see the effects in their overall performance, and, instead of your raising the bar for them, they may just start raising the bar for you!

 

About Dr. Debra Fish

Dr. Fish is a consulting psychologist whose writing and work focus exclusively on helping individuals and teams lead more effectively. Her firm, Fish Executive Leadership Group, LLC, counts among its clients everything from Fortune 50 corporations to small, privately-held professional service firms.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Photo credit: iStock_team meeting_rawpixel.jpeg

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Savvy

Volunteer Service: What Makes Sense?

Volunteer

For many of us volunteer service, whether it’s for a nonprofit or a professional or civic association, is a natural evolution of our professional career and personal passions.  If you’re good at what you do (and I suspect you are!) you may have many opportunities to serve.  How do you choose?  Here’s the process I use, in this order.

Is it in your company’s best interest?  If this opportunity furthers your company’s visibility and credibility and fits the corporate culture, then this is probably a yes.  The benefit doesn’t have to be direct (lead to business) so don’t focus solely on that.  Start first with company fit as there is very little volunteer service that doesn’t impact job hours.  Unless you’re the CEO, you’ll usually want to get a higher-up’s buy in.

Does it speak to you personally?  Ideally, the closer it aligns with your passions the more rewarding, and successful, your experience will be.  Service, of any kind, must be genuine.  A few years ago, I joined a small non-profit board because a trusted colleague asked and because I thought I could help, not because of any passion for the work.  My service lasted one year, with little reward and not much effective service.  Don’t waste their time or yours unless you have great interest.

Can I commit the time and effort for what they need?  First, get a clear picture of what this is.  There’s a great article that my colleague Jeff Jowdy wrote that outlines some solid questions.  Ask these and any that help define your obligations.  And, this is important, if you can’t commit, DON’T DO IT.  Recently I was given an incredible opportunity to serve my profession on their state licensing board.  It passed the first two questions with flying colors yet it was clear to me I did not have the time.  I made the tough decision to resign from another commitment (finding a replacement first so as not to leave a hole).  This was truly a tough choice but doing otherwise would have been a misstep.

This is my process.  Do you have any other questions you ask yourself when called on to serve?  Let HerSavvy know!

About Laura Reinbold, PE

Ms. Reinbold explores ways shecan help build our communities, from the geoprofessional side of the engineering profession.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Savvy, Self Savvy

Biting the Elephant

I love project management: Planning towards a defined goal using the budget, schedule and resources available.  And I’m good at it.  People have always complimented me on my ability to get things done.  For me, it’s not rocket science.  In fact, it’s not that difficult.  I call it “Biting the Elephant.”

Elephant

When faced with a large project or personal mountain ahead of me, from winning a large geoprofessional job to planning a conference, I break it down into manageable tasks.  Simply, I make a plan.

The more I plan, I find, the easier it is to “git ‘er done.”  Frankly, the plan may change (and usually does) but that’s not important.  Wrapping my brain around what steps it takes to succeed gets me halfway there.  Then, I just have to do it or pull in the resources needed for what I can’t accomplish.  That’s called follow-through and it’s critical to Biting the Elephant.  Great plans are wonderful but they mean nothing without action.  Like Nike:  Just Do It.

So, when faced with what seems like an insurmountable task, take a breath, make a plan, see it through and enjoy seeing your hard work realized.

About Laura Reinbold, PE

Ms. Reinbold explores ways http://www.ttlusa.com can help build our communities, from the geoprofessional side of the engineering profession.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Savvy, Self Savvy

Are You A Leader Or A Boss?

Leader or Boss

It’s an important distinction. Just because you’re a boss doesn’t mean you’re an effective leader. And, just because you’re not a boss does not mean you’re not a leader.  Bosses get things done, but they sometimes focus too much on the tactical. Effective leaders get important things done and done well. Their accomplishments continue to reap benefits in the long term and for a greater number of people.

Here are 5 questions you can use to gauge where you fall in the leader vs. boss balance:

  • Do you focus more on whether individuals are hitting performance goals or on what big adjustment you can make next to unleash their full potential?
  • Do you spend more time thinking about how to turn around employee-related problems, or on creating ways for your employees to take pride of ownership in what they produce?
  • Do you spend more time critiquing what your employees are doing, or critiquing how you’re helping them?
  • Do you pay attention to your employees’ aspirations only during their annual reviews, or do you attend to them throughout the year?
  • Do you tell your employees what initiatives they should undertake or do you enlist their help in fleshing out what their roles should be considering your department’s strategic objectives?

Obviously, if you’re in a leadership position, you probably do a little of all of the above.  But if most of your time and energy are spent on activities in the first half of each of those questions, then you are missing tremendous opportunities to make a difference with effective leadership. By seeing broad possibilities and appreciating the talent around you, you can help your organization

About Dr. Debra Fish

Dr. Fish is a consulting psychologist whose writing and work focus exclusively on helping individuals and teams lead more effectively. Her firm, Fish Executive Leadership Group, LLC, counts among its clients everything from Fortune 50 corporations to small, privately-held professional service firms.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Savvy, Self Savvy