Tag Archives: leadership

Check Out to Check In

24 Apr

Most of us have heard the advice to “check-in with yourself” … usually a suggestion about something one can do periodically and throughout the day.  Often because we’ve been frantic, juggling, busy … or simply annoying 😉

But it’s hard to really “check in” if we haven’t first “checked out” and cleared a space.  Checking out both physically, but also emotionally, and mentally.  Step back.  Pause.  Gently put your inside chatter and thought and thinking in a box.  Put it aside and check out of that time and space.  And only then …

… Find and sit in a quiet, private place.  Check-in with your whole self.  Scan your body, looking for signals.  Feel your state of being.  Really look at it and experience it.  Notice tension, temperature, heartbeat … just observe what you feel.  If your mind drifts, simply notice the thoughts and let them go, like clouds passing by.  And come back to your center and your being.When ready, note how you’ve been being (in your head, your heart, and your body). Even jot notes in your journal if that’s your practice.  Note what is familiar and what is different or familiar.  Notice what you’ve never noticed before.

Kintsugi To You

26 Feb

Kintsugi, which means “golden joinery,” is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with lacquer dusted powdered gold, silver, or platinum.  Weaving together parts with a golden seam, to create the beautiful whole.

As we journey through life, we’ve all experienced breakages and parts of us that were difficult to experience, or that we wish we had done differently.  The past is the past and we can’t change it; and the future is the future and is not controllable or known.  But in the present, we can reflect on those fragmented pieces, and how they can be put together, to reflect the wholeness of your beautiful you.  After all, we wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t journeyed through our past experiences.

To reflect on this, set aside 60 minutes in a quiet spot (maybe even with some scented candles and soft music), and pull out that reflection journal.   Ask yourself: “What were the toughest parts of my life?”  Write down a handful, or even a dozen.  Include even those experiences you would rather not have happened.  Pause.  Take some deep breaths.  Then ask yourself “How did it contribute to who I am today?” and “What did I learn from it?”  Jot your thoughts down.  Then reflect on the collective thoughts.  Consider where there might be gratitude for some element(s) of those experiences.  It’s interesting to see how all our past creates who we are today, and who we might become in our future.

Curious to know what you think …

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

Executive Coach & Collaborator, You Are Possible

AMinto@trchange.com

LinkedIn.com/in/annaminto

http://www.annaminto.com

Do We Really Know What We Know About Hybrid?

27 Jan

There’s a lot of mystery and myth out there about “moving to hybrid.”  I don’t pretend to have the answers.  But I do hear a lot of statements about the “constraints” and “problems with” working from hybrid and working from home.  I challenge us to really think about our personal beliefs.  Here are some questions and “why?” to consider in examining our paradigms about our shift to the new way of working…

  • Are people working from home really doing less?  Or more importantly, adding less value?  Why?
  • Do mentoring & development really have to be live face-to-face?  Why?
  • Do more visible hours really mean more engagement and getting more done?  Why?
  • Can the creativity fostered around tables and white boards not be duplicated with technology? Why?
  • Do people working remotely feel less valued than those in the office?  Why?
  • Are people working remotely less likely to be promoted or rated well?  Why?
  • How are different affinity groups impacted differently by the location from which they do their work? Why?

These are just a few of the “truisms” to challenge in our thinking, rather than take as fact.

How do we know how we’re doing? What works and what doesn’t?  What’s real & what’s not?

It all depends on our thinking, our creativity, our open-mindedness and our paradigms.  Let’s pause and take the time to think about it.

Curious to know what you think …

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

Executive Coach & Collaborator, You Are Possible

AMinto@trchange.com

LinkedIn.com/in/annaminto

http://www.annaminto.com

Feedback Can Be Fun. Really.

30 Sep

The sentiment behind performance feedback is not supposed to be all about cutting you up, shining a light on a big problem, or providing all the answers to the next big promotion.  

And your response to performance feedback doesn’t just have to be about viewing others’ opinions (and their imperfections) as obstacles to get around.  Or things that are incorrect and must be proven to be so.

Very few of us eagerly await the “performance review.”  Yet people giving us feedback can be valuable partners, if (and only if) we view them as such.  That’s a big “if.”

We all have what psychologists call cognitive dissonance – when we believe we’re doing great, yet the data shows we could do better.  A “blind spot,” particularly when multiple facts sourced from multiple opinions have a common denominator (you!).  It’s part of the “Johari House” – a matrix representing whether feedback is known or unknown, and whether that’s known by yourself or by others:

  • Open (everyone sees it)
  • Blind (others see it, but you don’t see it)
  • Façade (you see it, but others don’t)
  • Unknown (no one sees it)

Take a moment to reflect on your Johari House based on your feedback.  Pay close attention to both the Blind spots, and the hidden Façades.  This can actually be fun!  Really.  It’s interesting because it’s about ourselves.  And as obvious as it sounds, it’s ok to say “I didn’t know that.”  And not view something as a “weakness” or an untruth but view it as an opportunity to consider exploring (and not by simply concluding “it must be wrong!”).

Many of us aim for outstanding personal and professional goals (aspirational!) … but we’re not perfect human beings, and we shouldn’t expect to be so. 

  • Perfectionism is not good for you. There’s plenty of research tying perfectionist tendencies to depression, anxiety, eating disorders and even suicide.
  • Perfectionism impedes growth as it makes us afraid to fail.
  • Personal innovation requires experimentation.  Experiments by definition include failures, because if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment.
  • Choose the areas to focus on and work on.  View them as an experiment.
  • Be honest with yourself, be open to ideas, and have fun!

Oh, and don’t forget, that if you are giving someone performance feedback, you cannot support and help others grow if you can’t first accept that you too are imperfect and vulnerable.  

Curious to know what you think …

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

AMinto@trchange.com

www.LinkedIn.com/in/annaminto

www.annaminto.com

Leading in the New Hybrid World

20 Sep

It’s tough out there.  We’ve made it through our first global exposure to Covid, and new experiences of quarantining and working from home.  Now the next new challenge is emerging.  We’re not moving “back to the office.” Instead we’re now learning how to “embrace hybrid.” We are seeking that balance between “in person” (and it’s social, creative, technological and team building merits) and “remote” (and the associated benefits we’ve exposed around flexibility and productivity).  

There are many great examples of companies doing great things and experimenting with new ideas.  To me, it all boils down to 6 anchors that underpin actions: 

  1. Lead with PURPOSE.  First off, HAVE a Purpose.  For your company, your team, yourself.  Set all strategies, plans and actions in the context of this Purpose.  
  • FOSTER your environment.  Nurture a culture that’s open, psychologically safe, and endorses vulnerability.  Be engaged and be responsive.  Surface the unspoken and invite discussion.  Let people be heard and valued.
  • Value DIVERSITY … really value it.  I don’t mean visible differences like gender or race.  I’m talking about differences in thought and approach.  Organizations and teams get better results with differences, even though it can take more initial effort to do so, and it can be frustrating.
  • Appreciate CIRCUMSTANCES.  We are all at different stages in our lives (and those stages create different work-life balance needs). We are also a multi-generational workforce (with different expectations and outlooks).  Add on to that that we all have personal preferences and desires.  Understand these and work together to find mutually beneficial solutions for affinity groups.  Be flexible. 
  • Embody LEADERSHIP.  Particularly in rapidly changing, uncertain times.  Leadership takes self-awareness, curiosity, vulnerability, and empathy.  And most importantly, courage.  Examine yourself and your motives.
  • Keep LEARNING.  Adapting to something new takes practice and challenges old models.  Failed experiments are part of the process.  Don’t bury them, own them.  And do something about it.

Curious to know what you think …

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

AMinto@trchange.com

LinkedIn.com/in/annaminto

http://www.annaminto.com

Contact, Context, Content

7 Aug

All conversations are really about:

  • (how I feel inside)
  • We (how you and I relate)
  • It (the results we want, or the problem to solve)

(anyone wanting to think about that more can go to Ken Wilber’s book, “A Brief History of Everything” – an oldie but goodie, published over 20 years ago)

A lot of debate is spent on “where we are going” and thinking about “what we want to get (out of it).”  And when someone pushes, we push back.  Conflict and tension. “You are wrong,” we think (or, even worse, say). If “I” only see what I see, it’s impossible to explore the possibilities.   

You can’t micro-manage a two-way conversation, but you can control the process and therefore improve the outcome.  Here’s how to think about Contact, Context and Content:

  1. Listen.  Listen well.  It’s hard to listen to the other person fully, and not interrupt.  Really hard. Especially if they are interrupting you.  Shut up, and really listen.
  2. Enquire.  Ask questions: “What do you think?” “Why do you think that?” and “What would you like the result to be?”  Remember that others usually don’t say “stupid” things; there’s a reason behind it and you should know why.
  3. Summarize.  “Did I get what you’re saying correctly?” and “I think I heard you say…”
  4. Validate.  Acknowledge that what they say is reasonable.  “I can understand why you think …” and “That makes sense and …”
  5. Express your views.  Use safety in the “I.” It’s hard to argue with how you feel, or how you think.  It’s your opinion alone.
  6. Negotiate.  Explore the possible.  Look for the common ground.  Look for the trade-offs.
  7. Formalize.  Get specific about what is agreed.  Who, what, how and when.  Never end with a vague, hanging “I’m so happy we’re in agreement!” (about what?).
  8. Learn.  Think about where we ended up, and how we got there.  Try it differently next time.

So:  first make contact with yourself and with the other (what is wanted, and WHY), then explore the context(why), and then (finally) get to the content.  

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care” — Teddy Roosevelt

Curious to know what you think …

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

AMinto@trchange.com

www.LinkedIn.com/in/annamintowww.annaminto.com

Gender Expectations Live On …

4 Jul

Gender Expectations Live On …

When it comes to gender bias, we’ve come a long way in the last few decades.  Take a look at the following list of commonly held beliefs from the late 1900s (yep, that was only 2 decades ago). 

I know of few people who would broadly agree with this list, though some might (in their inner thoughts!) hold a couple of these ideas.  Some statements have been debunked by fact and science; others have been muted by experience.  But I think it’s safe to say that for the most-part, these don’t hold true today. 

Now, take a look at this list:

Perhaps a few more that still linger?  Depends on the facts, the culture and the individual.  But they’re still out there.  And some lie not too deep below the surface.

What’s still on your list?  What’s still on this list of those around you and on your team? It’s time to start talking about it and being actively aware of our biases.  Curious to know what you think …

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

AMinto@trchange.com

LinkedIn.com/in/annaminto

http://www.annaminto.com

D&I is Dead

12 Jun

I’m going out on a limb on some important but sensitive topics in the next couple of weekly posts, and I don’t want to offend anyone in anyway.  My intent here is to share some ideas and spark reflection; not to make statements about any gender identity, race, social class, sexual orientation, age, physical attributes, political belief, national origin, religious or other group.  So, please read along with an open mind, and an appreciation for the attempt to raise such topics.

Years (OK, decades) ago, I used to commiserate with a fellow Consultant at a Big 3 strategy consulting firm about our substantial requests to attend recruiting events.  Not only were we asked to participate in the “everyone B-School” events, but also to participate in anything “women” anything “working Mom” and anything “international.”  We were in high demand given the low representation for each of these groups in our company.  My friend also happened to be in a racial minority, so she lamented that she had even more marketing commitments than me. We used to joke that it’s a good thing that we were heterosexual, or we would have another “minority” event that we were asked (actually, expected) to attend.  Those were the days of “Diversity.”  Have someone from as many “minority” groups as possible.

The original focus of these efforts was on visible minorities – “women” and “people of color.”  Which then expanded to more specific sub-groups such as “working Moms,” “Black,” “Asian” and “Hispanic.”  Also, other minority groups such as “Gay and Lesbian” and “Disabled.”  This recognition of “minorities” evolved with the surfacing our isms –   sexism, racism, agism, nationalism and the like.

As our “minority” numbers began to slowly creep up, and as we began speaking about our “isms,” some progress was made toward better recognition of “diversity” through “special interest groups.” However, it became apparent that the next challenge was not just about having diversity, but also about embracing “Inclusion.”  Merna Myers clarified it well when she stated that “diversity is about being asked to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance.”  We began looking at our biases in thought and in action, such as the words we used, the office social activities we hosted … and the behaviors around those company functions.  So, there you had it, D&I.  Diversity & Inclusion.  That was the thinking for about a decade, and it was a great start for the times.

More recently, the terminology is shifting towards DEI.  When it first surfaced, it was defined as “Diversity, EQUALITY and Inclusion.”  Equality means dividing resources evenly – “everyone being treated the same.”  That was a good start.  Recently though, it has shifted to “Diversity, EQUITY and Inclusion.”   In a business sense, “Equity” means that the opportunities (to be promoted, for example) are the same for underrepresented groups as they are for the majority group …. and that might mean providing different kinds of support for different groups, in order to provide equal opportunities.  For example, inclusion councils, ambassadors, employee resource groups, etc.  

And that IS “fair.”  A fair way to provide equal opportunity for all.

Are you fostering DEI for all … and how?  What interesting equity initiatives have you seen?  I’m curious to hear what’s working (or not) for you and your team!

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

AMinto@trchange.com

LinkedIn.com/in/annaminto

What we can Learn from the Savanna

4 Jun

Let’s go back over 2 million years of evolution to life on the Savanna – where humans were living on open grasslands in Africa, making stone tools and using them to butcher wild animals.  We lived in nomadic tribes of a few hundred members, with practically non-existent racial diversity, in a 100% natural environment.  

What was MOST important to our ancestors then?  Seriously, what’s your answer?  Think for a moment … …. … 

My answer was that we needed to hunt lions (men) and gather food (women).  It turns out though, that food was actually plentiful and that what we most needed was to avoid being eaten.

If we had to rely on original thinking for the complex mechanics of not being eaten, our brains would be totally overwhelmed.  Because our thinking (prefrontal) brain had an extremely limited capacity (and still has — estimated at less than 1% of our total brain capacity).   Instead, we evolved to rely on:

  • Instinctual behavior (encoded in our DNA); and
  • Learned behavior (acquired from a lifetime of experiences).

We also had to rely on each other to avoid being eaten, as isolation meant almost certain death.   So, our brain developed to attend to our social environment.  We became very socially aware:  

  • We rely on non-verbal body position and gestures – both at a macro-level (we all know about slouching and arm folding), and at a micro-level (body twitches, breathing patterns, eye flickers, skin color, etc.).
  • We migrate towards conformity to the behavioral standards of the group.  Need I say more than the 1970s trend for puke-green appliances, or the 1980s love of big hair?
  • We practice congruence (of body and mind).  Our bodies reflect our internal emotions and thoughts.  It’s hard to be convincing in sharing an inspiring story while curled up in a ball, and we are extremely good at detecting incongruence.
  • We mimic.  A lot. And with all our senses.  Neuroscience even recently discovered specialized neurons known as “mirror neurons.”
  • We adhere to status hierarchies.  All social animals do.
  • We value relatedness over difference.  More alike is more familiar, more known and more predictable.  It’s safer that way.
  • We react to stress.  Cortisol and adrenaline were designed to manage episodic and rapid physical threat.  And it was usually better to over-react than to under-react (and be eaten!).  But perhaps that’s not the kind of stress we encounter today.  Though we certainly experience (or imagine) a lot of stress today.

Although we like to think of ourselves as being rationally in “control,” we’re not.   We are pre-wired and diverted by these instinctual and learned behaviors.  Sometimes the way in which they were evolutionarily designed no longer serve us well.

Maybe it’s time to start paying more thoughtful attention to our innate and learned social awareness behaviors:  non-verbals, conformity, congruence, mimicking, status hierarchy, relatedness over difference and reaction to stress.  

How are you unconsciously living and leading your life?  

It’s worth some thought, and I’m curious to know…

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

AMinto@trchange.com

LinkedIn.com/in/annaminto

Zoom Zoops!

28 May

Zoom Zoops

Zoop.  The “oops” moment on Zoom.  When something you wish hadn’t happened, happened.  We’ve all become used to the everyone-on-video meetings during the pandemic, and now we’re adapting to the “hybrid zoom” meeting.  Here’s a quick checklist of almost 20 things for you to (re)consider about how you show up on Zoom.

  • You’ve got eyes.  Actually look at the camera.  It’s interpreted as paying attention.  Beware of the camera height:  too high, and we’ll think you’re looking to the skies; too low, and we get to see exactly what shade of eye make-up you wear.  And we can usually tell when you’re actually reading email.
  • Show your hands.  Especially if you’re a gesturer.  The “you” in real life encompasses more than just your chin to your hairline.  Sometimes hands are our primary point of expression.
  • Don’t be a speck in the dark.  Yes, I just said to zoom out a bit in the point above; but don’t do it so much so that we’re actually looking at your entire home office, which you just happen to be in.
  • Invest in a good one.  Camera that is.  A $200 investment is not a lot for your image … plus you’ve saved more than that on suits and shoes last year.
  • Get lit.  Consider a (built in) light.  You don’t want to be the villain in the shadow in the dark.
  • Jumbotron it.  Consider a big display monitor so you can actually see life-sized faces, even in gallery mode.
  • Lift your buns.  Consider a standing desk option – which can even just sit on top of your worktop.  Our backs don’t appreciate marathon Zoom days and standing is supposedly better for your health anyway.  Plus, you’ll get a more grounded and assertive presence.  And maybe buns of steel.
  • Think like Alex.  We’ve likely grown up with “in person meeting” styles and white boards but we likely haven’t had training in on-screen presentation.  Think about how Alex Tribek, the Jeopardy game show host presented for 37 seasons.  He doesn’t look like a stiff news cast reader.  Plus, he was Canadian-American like me.
  • Beware the background.  Depending on how much you move, background filters can make you look like a magician cutting their hands or head off and magically putting them back on.
  • Trespassers will be shot.  Chair climbing cats, face licking dogs, and the occasional undressed housemate may be cute, but they can be distracting (either good or bad).  Or, just plain embarrassing.
  • Catch the clutter.  While many of us use home offices for other things like gyms, bedrooms and even laundry rooms, some people really don’t want to know so much about your personal life (or maybe you don’t want them to).  I seriously had a client who forgot their ironing board & lingerie were drying in the background.
  • Know on from off.  Check the mute and video buttons.  Sometimes gremlins (well, fingers) accidentally change them.  We all have a funny story about that.  Hopefully not our own story.
  • Consider reacting.  Those little hearts and waves, if culturally appropriate, stand out more than raised hands, nods and smiles. 
  • Beware the share.  Unanticipated “can you share your screen?” moments reveal what else is also on your computer desktop.  And that includes incoming messages if you aren’t careful.  Lots of potential for embarrassment with that one.
  • You’ve got the look.  Sometimes the look of spinach stuck in your teeth after lunch.  It may not be noticeable live, but it sure is on up close and personal “speaker view.”
  • Screen-shot-not.  Remember that anything … yes, anything, can be screen shot with a com-shift-4 (at least on a Mac).  It’s silent, and you never know where preliminary finances and juicy performance reviews might end up.
  • Are you out there?  Know the protocols for turning videos off (temporarily) in meetings.  It might mean you just didn’t need to be seen and are saving bandwidth, or it might mean you’ve left for lunch.
  • What’s the attire?  In general, we’ve become more casual over zoom in the last several months.  But as many return to the office and “office casual,” your jammies and unwashed face may not send the message that you’re “just working from home.”

Just some things to think about.  Any good ones I’ve missed (like #19 and #20)?

Anna Minto

Founder & CEO, Transformational Change

AMinto@trchange.com

LinkedIn.com/in/annaminto