Category Archive: Uncategorized

Unveiling the Magic of Leadership

Posted by on February 21, 2024

Rise of the Guardians Dreamworks

This year has started off by showing us many examples of leadership that are in some ways impossible.

Impossible to be all things to all people, impossible to to be impartial in challenging situations, impossible sometimes to take a stand. 

 

We may find ourselves wishing and hoping for our leaders to be better. Maybe even wishing and hoping we could be better, especially in the situations that seem impossible. A few weeks ago, I rewatched a fun and inspiring, feel good movie. The messages in it resonated with me as I continue to work with multiple leaders and their teams as we launch 2024 and many of them are in what seem to be impossible situations. If you haven’t seen Rise of the Guardians, I highly recommend it get added to your winter pick me up list of movies. 

 

DreamWorks’ “Rise of the Guardians” brings together a band of extraordinary characters to safeguard the hopes and dreams of children around the world. Little did we know, this magical assembly has more to offer than just an enchanting tale – it holds valuable lessons for building dynamic and effective teams in today’s fast-paced, sometimes impossible, ever-changing workplace.

 

Let’s dive into the world of The Guardians and explore how each character aligns with the roles and dynamics of real life teams:

 

Jack Frost – The Creative Innovator

Jack Frost, with his mischievous grin and icy charm, embodies the spirit of innovation. In the workplace, we all need a Jack – the one who can sprinkle a touch of creativity into the team. The Creative Innovator is the brainstormer, always bringing fresh perspectives and cool ideas to the table, much like Jack’s ability to create wondrous winter landscapes.

 

North (Santa Claus) – The Supportive Leader

The holly-jolly, red-suited leader of the Guardians, North, represents the heart of the team. In any functional team, there’s a need for a Supportive Leader – someone who not only commands respect but also nurtures and encourages team members. North’s warm and paternal demeanor makes him the perfect figure to boost team morale, ensuring everyone feels valued and appreciated.

 

Tooth Fairy – The Detail-Oriented Organizer

Tooth Fairy, with her intricate system of collecting and cataloging teeth, is the epitome of meticulous organization. In organizations, the Detail-Oriented Organizer is the backbone of any team, ensuring that no crucial information is overlooked. Whether it’s managing schedules, tracking progress, or keeping meticulous records, this character ensures everything runs smoothly.

Sandman – The Silent Contributor

Silent yet powerful, Sandman communicates through dreams, symbolizing the quiet contributors in a team. Every successful team needs a Sandman – the person who doesn’t always seek the spotlight but plays a crucial role behind the scenes. Their dedication and hard work are like the gentle touch of dreams, quietly influencing the team’s success.

 

Bunny (Easter Bunny) – The Passionate Challenger

Bunny, with his boomerangs and fierce spirit, embodies the Passionate Challenger. In a functional team, it’s essential to have someone who challenges the status quo and pushes the team to exceed their limits. The Passionate Challenger brings a burst of energy, motivating others to strive for greatness.

 

Pitch (The Boogeyman) – The Necessary Opposition

Pitch, the villain of the story, plays a unique role in the team dynamic. While not a traditional team member, he represents the challenges and obstacles that teams inevitably face. The Necessary Opposition in a workplace context can be setbacks, competition, or even internal conflicts. Dealing with such challenges, like The Guardians face Pitch, fosters resilience and unity within the team.

 

In the end, “Rise of The Guardians” reminds us that we all bring diverse skills, talents and personalities that are crucial to a thriving team. Each character brings something unique to the table, just as every team member contributes to the success of the whole. Understanding ourselves and our teammates can be a valuable tool in achieving our goals, creating psychological safety, a sense of belonging and dedication to the overall goals and aspirations. 

 

As you embark on your new year full of goals, ideas and new opportunities in your own leadership adventure, remember the lessons from this magical world – nurture creativity, support one another, organize meticulously, work diligently, challenge passionately, and face opposition with resilience. May your team be as extraordinary and cohesive as The Guardians themselves!

 

And if you feel like you need some guidance personally or for your team – as the Guardians did – ask for help, I often say I wish I had someone like me when I was in leadership roles. The reality is we don’t have magic, and sometimes an outside perspective can be just what we and our teams need to move forward. Knowing our own and the superpowers of our teams can make the difference in achieving our goals or spinning the same plates day after day. 

Recognizing the Grief Within Celebrations

Posted by on May 15, 2023

A friend was moving her daughter out of her room at the end of the academic year and was looking forward to having her home for the summer.  My friend was excited but not – she was in a mood, and she didn’t understand what was going on.

There are lots of reasons to be excited, there are likely some reasons to be sad, as well. Reaching milestones in our lives can also induce a grief-like process. 

It is important to recognize the emotional response and understand that milestones can mean loss. Loss of focus on what the task or event was; the idea of feeling sad after a big event or project is complete; loss of a way of being or lifestyle – like a college student with friends and freedom suddenly back under a roof with others; loss of comfort – changing jobs or retiring means a loss of a routine, the people and our identity. 

A few years after I finished my dissertation, I found an article that talked about grief: Coping with Post-Defense Depression. It was a big a-ha moment for me. And I think it relates to many big things, either at the beginning or end of them. 

Why else do we cry at kindergarten graduation? It is an ending of a certain moment in time that we will no longer have before us. Yes, it is something to celebrate, AND it is also something to grieve. 

Celebrations often bring up feelings of joy and gratitude as well as sadness, anger, and fear. It helps if we can accept that these contradictory emotions are part of life: they don’t make us people who lack emotional intelligence. They just mean we’re human beings who are experiencing loss, or other feelings, along with celebration!

How do we recognize the grief within celebrations and milestones? What can we do to support those experiencing it? How do we approach our friends and families with grace, care, and understanding vs. judgment, miscommunication, and anger? How do we find that sweet spot between joy and sadness? How do we appreciate both highs and lows without getting lost in either extreme?

All “the feels” are normal this time of year. 

  • Recognize them for what they are, 
  • Take time for care and self-care, 
  • Live in the moment and enjoy them, and 
  • Take time to reflect once they are complete. 

Patience, empathy, and grace are necessary as we celebrate the change in seasons, changes in lives through graduations, transitions in roles, retirements, the end of a school year, and moving on to the next one. And luckily, cake is part of many of these milestones! When all else fails, eat cake! (In moderation, of course!)

The A Months: Stress Time or Invest Time?

Posted by on April 20, 2023

When I worked on campus, I started referring to April and August as the “A months.” These months can be exciting, challenging, and inspiring all at the same time. 

Months that begin with the letter A are always a little more challenging than typical campus life.

For the purposes of this blog, I will focus on APRIL! The weather is changing, things are growing, and those on campuses are often celebrating acceptance, accomplishments, and the end of the academic year.

The A months can also mean stressful, long days filled with heavy workloads and celebrations at night. (Some refer to it as the “same menu month,” where every event serves the usual appetizers, rubber chicken entrees, punch, and cookies).

As we approach the end of this frantic A month, it’s time to move our focus beyond simple survival.

As we move into May, this is a great time to double down on planning to celebrate and invest in your team. For those hiring, it’s a great time to consider the dynamic you want before new members join later in the summer and invest in developing the team you want for the next academic year.

Here are a few ways to build upon your team dynamic – 

  • Invest in your personal development- join an Executive Coaching or a Mastermind Group to learn and connect with leaders from other organizations. This can help you see that you are not alone in your emotions and challenge your professional growth, too.
  • Invest in coaching for mid and senior-level leaders- how do you need them to be better leaders in your organization? Invest in time for reflection, debriefing, and airing challenges of the past year. Invest, too, in creating the relationships and collaboration opportunities for successful work over the summer and the launch of a new way of being in the academic year. 
  • Invest in team development- how do you grow capacity among your senior leaders and your team members to be the best that they can be? Participating in that conversation rather than leading it yourself can be a way to gain momentum with your team. An external voice can see things differently and give you perspective on where their strengths and opportunities are among your team members. 

Summer is short, and we always put more into it than realistically possible. Take time now, between the A months, to set you and your team up for success for the next year. 

How will you use the time between the A months to double down on investing in the humans in your organization? 

If you’re looking for assistance, email me, and we can talk about what this looks like for you, whether it’s joining one of my upcoming leadership programs or putting together a professional development day for your team.

We engaged with Kate at a time early this year when I realized we needed to invest in our leadership team and build them up for the rest of the year ahead. Kate’s ability to provide valuable content, help us reflect on our current state, and imagine how we want to be as a leadership team was instrumental in propelling us forward.

— Richard Sobaram, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Housing Strategic Initiatives; Division of Student Affairs; University of Miami

Helping Lonely Hearts in Leadership

Posted by on March 7, 2023

“Leadership is lonely.” 

I hear this from my clients and friends in senior leadership roles. While painful to hear, from my own experience, it resonates with me. 

The proverbial corner office can feel isolating, making it lonely at the top for organizational leaders.

One of the ways to combat this feeling is to be intentional about relationships.

There are many ideas and ways to consider engaging with others. One is through executive coaching. It allows for a confidential, empathetic dialogue that can create new ways of being for yourself and others. 

Another is to find a group of people you want to be around. This can be colleagues from professional networks or a hobby through a local organization.  

Create meaningful connections to boost feelings of connection and belonging.

I have found connection, belonging, and engagement opportunities as I have reinvented my life over the past few years that have been meaningful. I have found the following to help me, and I believe they can help you, too. 

    • Reach out to friends near and far. Planning a visit with friends after being isolated is fun and exciting. 
    • Join a club. Last year, I joined a country club, and it helped me get out of the house a few days a week, play a sport I love (even though I may suck at it some days), and meet new people! 
    • Challenge yourself to find happiness in the every day. The New York Times 7-Day Happiness Challenge is one example that provides prompts for reflection.
    • Join an Executive Coaching or a Mastermind Group. Getting together with leaders from other organizations can help you see that you are not alone in your emotions and challenge your professional growth, too.

Being lonely at the top can be temporary if you take some action to improve it. Email me, and we can talk about what this looks like for you, whether it’s joining one of my upcoming leadership programs or developing personal networks after business hours.

Tackling the Change Management Process

Posted by on January 30, 2023

As we begin a new year, understanding the differences between change readiness, change management, and change leadership is vital to successful new initiatives taking hold and sustainability of them.

When we consider all the changes that we intentionally try to make in our lives, thinking about how we approach our leading and managing behavior is like adopting new ways of being in the new year. 

As we have learned over the past few years, change is the only thing that stays the same

Last month I discussed the idea of change readiness and creating an environment where successful change can occur. As you move from readiness into making the change, you’ll be facing change management and change leadership. 

As a leader, you need to understand management and leadership; understanding the differences between the two and when to employ the skills for each can ease the process of leading and managing a team or group through a change process. 

Change management is about the process, the tools, and the structure in place to be able to make large-scale changes happen. 

One of my favorite voices in the field of change, John Kotter suggests: 

“[Change management] refers to a set of basic tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control; It’s trying to make sure change is done efficiently; the goal = minimize the distractions and impacts of the change. It is a set of mechanisms that are designed to make sure that when you do try to make some changes,
A- it doesn’t get out of control, and
B- the number of problems associated with it is limited.
The goal is to minimize the distractions and impacts of the change; so, keeping focused on the people involved and the impact of the change. “

As you consider all the changes you want to engage in this new year, I encourage you to reflect on your own approach as a change manager.

  • When am I leading, and when am I managing? Where are the differences in my approach?
  • Is the change managing me? Or am I managing it? 
  • How am I communicating the differences in my approach with my team? 
  • What systems, tools, and mechanisms are in place to help me manage the change? 
  • How do I mitigate issues and challenges, even ones I am not yet aware of?
  • Do I and do my team currently have capacity for this change?

The new year is a great time to reflect and consider your management approach as a leader. 

Taking time to be intentional and reflecting on the questions above can help determine your own level of preparedness for change as you consider the environment and what you need to best manage yourself, your team, and the changes that will occur. 

 

Posted by on January 30, 2023

What is an Executive Coach, and why do you need one?

I find myself saying often, I wish I had one of me when I was one of you

As a student affairs professional and while working in higher education for almost 30 years, I didn’t have the opportunity to work in an environment where executive coaching was a thing. Mentoring? Maybe. Professional development? Yes. Benefits toward my ongoing education? Yes. Executive coaching? Not so much. 

When I made the decision to leave my senior-level leadership position, I knew I wanted to focus on organizational culture and change. During the ideation of building my business, becoming an executive coach and getting certified was one of my first steps. 

I truly mean it when I say I wish I had someone like me when I was in a vice president role. While I had great support from colleagues, a strong professional network, and a personal support system; a coach could have added an extra layer of exploration, intentionality, safety with my ideas and growth for me as a leader. 

This internal insight is one of the reasons why I added executive coaching as part of my services at the onset of launching my company. It also helped that my President encouraged me to do this and said to me, “people in my role need someone like you,” as we discussed my professional transition. 

So, if you are a president, vice president, CEO, or other senior-level leader and are considering what you need to be more successful in the future, give me 20 minutes of your time. We can talk about how coaching could be the thing you didn’t know you needed! And it won’t cost you other than the time it takes to email me to schedule a time to have your free inquiry call.

Managing Change and Preparing Your Team for a New Year

Posted by on December 13, 2022

As I look forward to the new year, I first look back on the one that has passed. 

The only thing that stays the same is change. 

Last month, I participated as a keynote speaker for the 2022 NASPA Region 1 SSAO Institute

It was my first foray back into the world of student affairs at a regional level since the pandemic. It was exciting to see old friends and former colleagues and engage with participants about this idea of change readiness. 

Given all that has gone on in the last few years, leaders in organizations are finding themselves stuck in ‘react’ and ‘response’ modes. To move toward a healthier state of change readiness, we need to understand better where we have been, where we want to go, and how we want to truly “be” together. 

Creating a better understanding of where we have been and where we want to go, and what must change to get there.

Change readiness is a mindset, a culture shift, and an empathetic way of going about leading and managing change. It pays attention to the human or people side of change and recognizes that we all interact, understand, and show up for change in different ways. 

Readiness takes into account that our past experiences impact our current behavior when it comes to change. It allows us to be both in the moment and ready for the future. 

Preparing ourselves and our teams for change, whether planned or unplanned, can lead to more successful outcomes when it comes to changes in our organizations and our lives. 

So, I ask the questions here as I did at the institute: 

  • How do you know when you are ready for change? 
  • How does your team know if they are ready for change? 
  • What mechanisms do you have in place for understanding the capacity of those around you in leading and managing the change? 
  • What do you know about the emotional impact of the change so that it can be successful and sustainable? 

The new year is a great time to consider readiness for you and your team. 

Taking time to be intentional and reflecting on the questions above can help determine your own level of preparedness for change as you consider the readiness of those around you. 

Showing Up

Posted by on November 9, 2022

It’s been a long day, a busy season, a crazy year. I have heard a hundred excuses that can get in the way of how we are present for our clients and our team. 

I had the opportunity to show up with attendees at the first-ever Build & Balance: A BOSSY Inclusive retreat. 

Gerry Valentine says, “Executive presence is about your ability to inspire confidence — inspiring confidence in your subordinates that you’re the leader they want to follow, inspiring confidence among peers that you’re capable and reliable and, most importantly, inspiring confidence among senior leaders that you have the potential for great achievements.”

I believe executive presence is also about how you’re showing up for your clients, your team and your customers, and that the most important thing is really how you are showing up for yourself. 

Sharing my twist on the concept of executive presence. 

BOSSY ROC is a networking group uniting women business owners from the greater Rochester, New York region They provide in-person & virtual networking events, educational workshops, and a private forum offering support, advice & resources.

My session at the Build & Balance retreat was an opportunity to reflect with Rochester business owners about how we “show up.”  I shared resources and thoughts about the idea of executive presence and introduced my twist on the concept: showing up for ourselves.

Being intentional about your presence is the first step to understanding how your impact can resonate with others. 

In the rush of the daily needs of others, to-do lists, and the sometimes constant state of urgency at which we find ourselves, it’s important to pause. 

Take a few minutes to ask yourself: 

  • How do I want to show up for this experience? 
  • What do I want those around me to feel like by my presence? 

Pausing allows us to look forward and begin with our desired end result in mind. You can have a greater impact on those around you when you’re intentional about how you show up to the interaction. 

One of the main themes of executive presence is, as Maya Angelou famously said, that people will always remember how you made them feel.

“They may not remember what you said. They may not remember what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

In discussion with the women of BOSSY ROC, we acknowledged the truth of Angelou’s statement. We discussed the actions that would lead to an effective executive presence, one that helps the people around us feel safe and seen. 

My twist on the concept of executive presence, showing up for ourselves and the importance of self-awareness resonated with the group.  

It’s a question I pose to you – how do you want to show up? For your team? Your clients? Yourself? Explore that twist to the concept and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your insights and experiences.

Look Up for Leadership Lessons

Posted by on January 8, 2021

The sky is gray a lot where I live, the grayness is sometimes buffered or amplified depending on the weather and temperature. Some days you can hear things from above before you can see them. In the last few weeks there have been large numbers of geese flying overhead. Their honk, cackle, bark, “cheering” or whatever you choose to call it can often be heard from a distance before they can be seen overhead. Their seemingly graceful formation and synchronized honking has reminded me of an old leadership thought; especially this week.

The parable of geese in formation has been used a lot in leadership, management and organizations.

When I taught an introductory college level leadership class, we would often end our semester with sharing of the poem and a version of it framed for all the students to take with them as a symbol of the leadership lessons they hopefully learned.

As we embark on a new year with likely unexpected outcomes, and unfortunately, more tumultuous occurrences that rock our foundations, take a moment and turn your head slightly. Twist your perspective for a moment, you never know what you may see and how it may impact your mindset, inspiration or mood. While we may not be able to be together to truly benefit from each others lift or shift from our position when we get tired, lessons we can learn from geese may be able to help us take a beat and consider how we may be able to support each other, our teams and their leaders as we manage our own and the fatigue of others. The uncertainty of what’s next in our path and needing support is greater now more than ever and we must remember to rely on each other if we are to get through this challenging time. #twistyourparadigm

Twisting the Paradigm

Posted by on September 9, 2020

It’s that time of year again, the air is cooler in the morning and in the evening and the days are getting shorter; school supply commercials are reigning inboxes and TVs; apple and pumpkin spice flavors, decorations and scents clog the store aisles and drive through coffee dealers. But wait… this year is different for sure. While all of this seems to be happening earlier, it all has a very different angst about it. Instead of the excitement and emotion that going back to school brings, this year is filled with all that and then some. The world is twisted and the unknown prevails. Leaders are attempting to be agile while remaining optimistic. College students are being asked to live by more rules and sign agreements they know they can’t keep; parents are still shopping and loading up on supplies which now include masks, anti bacterial wipes, gel, spray and thermometers; while coordinated bedding, ramen and mini fridges still prevail, because being prepared with all the things one needs is half the battle. K – 12 will look, feel and be different and diverse as some return to school physically, others virtually and still others attempt a hybrid model. WFH is a new acronym added to our vocabulary and will likely remain there for the foreseeable future. 

While all this is going on, our nation is a mess, riddled with issues at our borders, in our communities and between us. Fear and anxiety are the top scents as we engage in this change of season. We are looking for answers and those are changing as fast as the days are getting shorter; we are looking for leadership where it would seem like it is obvious to exist, but doesn’t. We are searching for direction to and from whatever the next few weeks and months will bring and that keeps changing too. In this time of constant change I think it’s important to take some time to keep it simple. I know, easy to say… hard to do. Here are few examples of where a twist in a paradigm is a little more achievable than a shift or a pivot. A twist is more slight, and can be incredibly effective. Think about some of the joys of summer: a twist ice cream cone which blends the flavors perfectly; twisting corn on the cob to get to the next row; twisting your view to see the rainbow after the storm; twisting your hand or foot to change the trajectory of a golf ball. Why pivot or shift abruptly and sharply when a little twist will do? Who needs a quick thank you or a virtual pat on the back? Who are the unsung heroes in your organization behind the scenes that could use a little love? A small twist in perspective, in thinking and in action can make a huge difference. Take a small twist instead of a big leap, shift or pivot and see what happens. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how a little twist in perspective, in tone and in action can create a larger shift in your current paradigm.