My Mom, the Mentor

You may have seen my plug over the past couple of weeks for the “Listen to Your Mother” show here in Austin, which happened on April 29th. I had the distinct pleasure of being part of the cast this year. It was quite an honor to be lined up with these talented writers… fun, scary, inspiring.

My piece was entitled, “Snakes, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails”… a humorous take on being the mother of two boys. While not shy on humor or public speaking, I haven’t been writing very long for others, let alone about motherhood.

When I first considered what I would write, I immediately thought of two topics… the humor of my boys and the enormous impact of my own mother. It was only the former I knew I could write about and deliver without tears in my eyes.

Plus how could I write a better piece about my mother than two others who spoke of her impact in ways that I’m not sure I ever could? Both were delivered posthumously, one at her memorial by a dear family friend who described her as “an ordinary woman who led an extraordinary life.” This was true. My mother was there for this family friend, like she was for many, at an extraordinary time of need. It was “ordinary” for her to be there for others and be of service.

The second speech was given by Michael Greco as he was accepting his new position at the president of the American Bar Association in 2005. I’d always heard his name growing up; an “old student” of mom’s who kept in touch throughout the years. I thought it was touching on her part, but had no idea the impact she had made until I read his address…

My mother made an amazing impact on Michael Greco. She cared, showed respect, believed in him when no one else did.

As I re-read this address tonight, I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony. I have just spent the past week teaching those very values to leaders, only miles away from the school where my mother taught in Hinsdale. Today on a screen the words we read were “Who believed in you when no one else did?” I guess I could say, who was your “Alice Glass?” And are you believing in others like she did? What legacy of selfless giving will you leave behind? It’s a challenge for all of us not only as leaders, but humans.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Thanks for being such a caring, supportive, amazing role model in so many ways. It’s helped me tremendously as an executive coach. We all miss you. Maybe, I’ll stop by the old school tomorrow.

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All Companies Want Some of that Great Talent “Strategery”!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to design and deliver a two-day workshop on Strategic Talent Acquisition to several global Talent Acquisition experts. We started with the customer in mind and then went straight to the heart of it… what does it mean to be strategic anyway? Particularly when it comes to “Strategic Talent Acquisition.” Sounds fancy, but what does it mean or is it just a made up term to makes us feel better about our work? The trending buzz phrase?

Let’s ponder this… for your last hire, how long did you spend discussing the needs of your new hire? Did you go beyond the job description and discuss core behavioral competencies needed to drive your latest initiative? Discuss the current culture and organizational climate? Discuss what the next career step would be? OR Did you simply hand the job description over and ask to have it posted and filled?

I continue to be amazed at the time spent on things that are a cost to a business versus the time spent on a critical investment such as Human Capital. In fact, I just found a 51-page RFP online for OFFICE FURNITURE… office furniture?!?!

Now more than ever, all companies need to get the very best and highest productivity out of each and every hire. Human Capital is the greatest investment you make in your company, both in direct monetary output and the dependency on your human capital to deliver against your strategic goals and mission.

If that’s the case, why would any leader spend more time and discussion on buying the new desk than hiring the next great employee?

When you think about yourself or your talent acquisition team, which side of the fence do you rest and which is best for your company to achieve your goals?

Take this quick assessment to find out where you land. When it comes to hiring talent we…

Fulfill an order

OR

Collaborate between recruiters and business partners on comprehensive hiring needs

Simply post and pray

OR

Develop a strategic sourcing plan where everyone in our company is responsible for finding great talent

Treat our candidates like numbers

OR

Treat our candidates like customers of our business

Assess whether the candidate meets the minimum qualifications

OR

Assess beyond the requirements andassess for our culture, values, and behavioral competencies

Think only about our need

OR

Think about our needs and what’s in it for the new employee to come work with us

Measure ourselves by how FAST we hire

OR

Measure by the QUALITY of the hire

End the recruitment process with the Offer Letter

OR

End the process with a smooth transition to a thorough on boarding process ensuring early engagement and time to productivity

Did you circle more to the left or to the right?

At the end of the day, the question really is…   Do you to want to just get someone hired OR Do you want to succeed in business?  Join me next week for a discussion on the competencies for a behaving “strategically” as a Talent Acquisition partner.

Oh, and while you’re waiting…

Go ahead and purchase your tickets to Listen to Your Mother here in Austin on Sunday, April 29th, supporting Any Baby Can. I’m an honored member of the cast this year and would love to see you there!


Flight Team

“M’am, I believe 12D is a little upset.”

Let me paint the scenario for you.

It’s Monday, small flight, first thing in the morning. The usual suspects of business travelers board and then the rest of the crew including me.

I usually fly American Airlines, being that I’m in Austin and that tends to be the most direct routes everywhere (or at least through Dallas). So, I tend to get on with the business crowd.

This trip, however, I’m on USAirways. I find their gray and white logo lacking a bit of confidence. Almost like… here is a generic clip art flag that we couldn’t afford to print with color, but don’t worry, our wings stay on during flight!

Ironically, the missing “color” was on the inside of the plane. The cast of characters was sit-com worthy. Here is the map to help you understand…

11A  Politefully listening, yet not wanting to Woman 11B  Man all about his religion and talking about it A LOT

AISLE

11C  Ignoring Man #1 11D  The
“Best Friend”
12A Helpful, doting grandmother 12B Ignoring man #2 12C   Ignoring Man #3 12D HOLY S&#* GET ME OFF THIS FLIGHT. I’VE NEVER FLOWN.
13A  Hungover Dude   13C  Politefully Listening, yet not wanting to guy 13D  Chatty, gum chewing Kathy

There we sat with the scene playing out as you can imagine. The doors go shut, the plane starts moving and 12D is MENTAL. I mean, sobbing, can’t catch her breath mental. Really having a panic attack. 12A leans over 12B, looks past 12C to console 12D. 11 D hangs over the seat to passify 12 D. 11B is praying for her. A lot. 13D is having a hard time getting the words passed her gum chewing to let 12D know that “shit, these things never crash.” And finally, 13A shoots me a look like “someone kill me now.”

Meanwhile, the flight attendant strolls down the aisle and MISSES THE WHOLE THING. Misses it! I mean, doesn’t even notice one single outburst of tears.

So, of course, if you know me, I went into hyper observation mode. Hmmm… interesting play we have here. Is this the type of theater where you observe or are audience members asked to participate?

I stopped the flight attendant. “M’am, I believe 12D is a little upset.”

“Oh my. She sure is. Are you okay? If you’re not, now is the time to know so we can turn the plane around. Do you want us to stop?”

“No, I’ve just… never… sob, sob… flown before.”

“Oh, that’s it? You’ll be fine.”

“Wow, that’s some empathy,” 13A muttered to me.

What was really interesting is what followed. In the absence of an empathetic leader (our fearless flight attendant), this unpredictable team of support rose out of this cast of characters. Even Ignoring Guys, #1, #2, and #3 joined the effort. All to help 12D make it through the flight. They each, in their own way, stepped forward as leaders to speak to her, take her mind off of the flying, find out how to help her to manage through her fear. A team formed, united and led.

This event hit them at the core of humanity and propelled them into a true leadership moment. In times of crisis, you’ll have an opportunity to see who really steps up and releases their latent leader.

And in times of calm, what are you doing to inspire someone’s leadership? If there isn’t a compelling reason such as survival, what is compelling enough for your team members to step up to lead and act like a team? How are they motivated? What would get them engaged and in action?

If you don’t know, maybe it’s time to ask.

I fly home tomorrow. Wish me luck.


Got Coach?

 Coaching? Isn’t that what I do for my kid’s soccer team?!  Well, yes, we traditionally think of coaches when it comes to sports. And we always assume and know the value those coaches bring to a team. Now coaches of all kinds have entered our lives to support us from health to life to overall happiness. So when would I seek the help of an executive business coach and how do I know which one to choose?

 Clients tend to come my way when they are in the midst of some pivotal change and growth; when they really need to take their business to the next level and stop behaving like a club and begin performing like a company. The “growing pains” can show up in several of different places…

 5 Sure Signs You Need an Executive Business Coach

1. You’re successful, but your “start-up adrenaline” has crashed. You’re physically exhausted and can’t imagine how it will all get done.

2. You’ve become a “seagull” leader, swooping in and out with feedback and let’s face it … it’s not helping morale.

3. You’re short-tempered, frustrated and wondering… “why can’t my team just make the decisions and get it done?”

4. You’re finding that just working harder isn’t working anymore no matter how many Venti Starbucks you have. You need to work smarter.

5. You’re wondering if stealing your child’s Ritalin is the answer to focus. It’s time to stop multi-tasking and start mindful-tasking.

 What is the cost of not addressing some of the challenges you’re having? Will you be unable to scale your business for growth? Will you be able to continue being an effective leader? Will your employees start leaving if you choose to work in the trenches? When you consider just a few of these questions, what do you think…luxury or necessity?

 When a leader realizes that he or she needs to change to make things optimal, the leaders seeks a coach to help guide them through the process. It’s not always easy to tackle this change and development in a self-guided way. As an objective coach with actual business experience, I help leaders go through this change over a manageable period of time.

 Once you’ve decided to use an executive business coach, how do you find the right one? Finding the right coach is critical to predicting success in the coaching relationship. In fact, I would advise that finding the right coach is no different to finding the right partner or new employee. Consider the following factors:

  • Coach’s Business Experience: Has the coach ever been a leader of people? Been responsible for Profit and Loss? Set business strategy or a talent strategy?
  • Proven Process: Does the coach have a proven process that measures for return on investment? Are there testimonials to back it up?
  • Core Values Match: Does the coach fit your company’s core values? If respect and dignity are core to your business, do you know if the coach will demonstrate those?
  • Coaching Competencies: Does the coach demonstrate the ability to listen and empathize, show sensitivity and hold confidentiality, have ability to work across cultures/genders, have openness to change, ability to gain and maintain trust?

 And then there’s the highly technical assessment: gut. What is your gut telling you when you meet with your potential coach? Can I have an open, trusting relationship with this person and be willing to be challenged?

 And remember… while a coach may be the guide, you will be the one putting the work into action. Make sure yours is a trusted partner that will push you, challenge you and teach you invaluable lessons about your leadership!

 Visit here to learn more about Linda’s approach to coaching.