How to Become World’s Best Leader in 1000 Steps or Less

I’ve cracked the code. I know there are a ton of experts out there who think they have the perfect program or book to make you the ultimate leader. You know, the 3-steps to becoming a super hero in your industry?

Well, I’ve cracked the code. It’s not a book. It’s not a new method, process, tool or framework. Are you ready to learn the secret? The magic? The silver bullet?

Before I reveal the secret, let me back up here a minute and give you some background.

At the beginning of this year, I decided that my “eat only beige, drink only red diet” from the fall had to come to a sad end. It was the right decision and a good one. With that, I knew I also needed to change my habit of not taxing my poor body with additional movement (translate: exercise). So, this year, I have slowly shifted my diet and have begun a regular routine of exercise.

You know when you start eating better and exercising, you find yourself talking to others about what they are doing to look and feel so great? I was on a mission and went into sleuth mode. I asked questions. Some were on special diets, some crazy boot camp routines, and then there’s my friend Dena, who basically just eats right and exercises. Nah, too boring. That can’t work, can it?

“Try Zumba. I really like it,” she told me. Was this it? The secret bullet to exercising without really feeling like it?

I’ve never liked group exercise. Probably due to some traumatic outfit mal-function in the 80s involving a headband and a leg warmer.

However, the gym I joined had a Zumba class. I thought, well, Dena is right about most things when it comes to health. She’s reasonable and fun. She wouldn’t steer me wrong.

And so it happened.

NO, I didn’t go and fall madly, deeply in love. What happened is that I completely and utterly got my ass kicked (pardon my language, but that’s really what happened). In sooooo many ways.

When class began I thought, oh, Latin inspired music mixed with Ice, Ice, Baby. I can do this. My A-type took a grip.  Let me take you through my internal dialogue:

Oh, I see, it’s like dance with peppy, re-mixed Latin songs. I can so do this!

I get to swirl my hands like the girls swirling their skirts on the stage at Fiesta de Santa Fe when I was a kid. I can so do this!

Wait, I don’t follow that. Say what? Wait, slow down. Holy cow, I just got the last step, now you want me to what?

I don’t know if my hips move that way normally. Okay, I’ll try.

Focus. Focus. Focus. You can do it. You can do it. You will OWN this.

Be resilient. Be the Zumba. Love the Zumba. This is good for you. 

Hate the Zumba. Not loving the Zumba. Feeling awkward doing the Zumba.

Hey, look at that guy. He has ZERO self-awareness, following 80% of the moves, and he’s LOVING it… almost in an Elaine from Seinfeld dance trance. Did he just yelp? Was that a “woo, hoo?” I’m sort of impressed. Or am I just jealous?

Yeah, well he may be having fun, but I’m gonna get this RIGHT.

Seriously? Only 20 minutes have gone by? I feel like I’m in a war zone here.

S-o-m-e-o-n-e    h-e-l-p   m-e………..

I think you get the picture. It was a total crash course: 1000 steps of practicing all the strengths that the greatest leaders exercise:

  • Audacity
  • Resiliency
  • Focus

While being challenged by the Blind Spots that can often derail us:

  • Comparing ourselves to others
  • Negative self-talk
  • A-Type drive for perfection and expecting to get it right the first time!

I began to wonder if Zumba is just an intense hour demonstrating what my clients experience throughout the growth of their businesses. I know it is. I’ve seen them sweat.

That Zumba leader plays the role I do with my clients… re-enforcing the strengths, uncovering the blind spots, and cheering them along the whole way.

As a people strategist, I’m right there with you, shoulder to shoulder, with a towel, some water, and encouragement. Until the 1000th step when I say, I think you’ve got this. This is doable and you will succeed.

I’m not your silver bullet, but I’ll help you crack your code to leading responsibly. It takes some healthy eating and some exercise. And it is completely achievable. I know it from my results.

Want your own people strategist to help you successfully Zumba through growth? Email me at Linda@GlassTalent.com

BTW… The sad truth… I believe I was in the seniors’ class. The happy truth, there were some seriously badass seniors schooling me in Zumba. Love that.

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Beware… Le Saboteur!

Saboteur

Your company may be getting sabotaged… Think of it this way: your company is like a house. Whether big or small, it’s your dream house. You know it will be amazing and you believe, believe so strongly with all the passion in the world, that this will be something great. Whether it’s a service or a product, the world will benefit greatly and you can’t wait to get it built, maybe even add-on or sell it one day to the highest bidder.

You set out to build the house and slowly start to bring others along, but unknowingly you may be sabotaging the dream. Something doesn’t feel right. You don’t feel like you’re spending the right time in the right place and the people you’ve hired? They’re not happy either. You feel more pressure than ever because you’ve already told the world that this amazing house is being built. In fact, you’ve been working on it for five years and from the outside, everything looks perfect.

There are cracks in the foundation.

You may start to realize you need to make a change and fix what’s being built on the inside, but the question is… what do I need to do and is it too late? And to whom can I possibly confess this?

The greatest saboteur is an undefined culture.

Let’s stop there for a second… culture. Who has time for that? Isn’t that an HR program or something? Or as I heard one executive recently say, “that’s just a buzz word that companies are saying they are working on to gain attention from the street.”

Call it culture, call it whatever you like, but would you be interested in having

  • Revenues increase 4 times faster
  • Job creation rates grow 7 times higher
  • Stock prices increase12 times faster
  • Profits climb 750% higher
  • Net income grow 700%
  • Customer satisfaction-Double

Source: Professor John Kotter, Harvard and Coauther James Heskett

There are four cornerstones to every company that form the cultural blueprint… they will always be there, whether you define them or not.

So the question is… do you want to leave these critical pieces, the pieces which determine whether you are structurally sound and sustainable, up to happenchance?

THE FOUR CORNERSTONES:

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 10.15.01 AM

VISION:  This is your aspirational statement that informs everyone where you are dreaming and daring to go… people want to get behind something bigger than them. A paycheck is only a piece behind why people join and stay with companies.

VALUES:  This is all about behaviors. What do you value most and what will help you achieve the vision? It’s it fortitude? Integrity? Optimism? It starts with the leader. You must define your values, so that you can hire people aligned with them and fire them when they aren’t. It’s that simple.

YOU:  Hey, it’s your dream. You were the one audacious to dream this pig could fly! It’s of utmost importance that you lead with a great deal of self-awareness… where do you play best? Where are your core strengths and what skills do you need to compliment you? Where do you have blind spots or behaviors that may be limiting your ability to lead and inspire others towards the vision.

YOUR PEOPLE:  It’s critical to really determine, based on you, the vision, values and purpose… who do you need and want to join you in building your dream?  Don’t take this lightly… identify the skills, ask questions to determine values fit and organize your company so that you can be most productive.

At the center of it all? Your purpose.. Your “WHY”… if you haven’t seen this video already by Simon Sinek, I highly encourage you to watch it: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

At their annual meeting this week, Starbucks executives discussed the company’s $1.4 billion profit for the fiscal year ending last September. When I started with them in 1997, there were over 1400 stores and over 25,000 employees… now there are over 20,000 stores and over 200,000 employees. My last role there was to lead a team to figure out how to hire 8 people an hour and get them to stick. I can tell you it wasn’t because they all knew how to make coffee or foam milk. But, they all resonate with the vision, they live the values, they believe in the why, they are suited for the jobs and the leaders get out of their way. It’s not the buzz of caffeine. It’s the buzz of culture.

Oh, and that company with the executive who thought culture is a “buzz word”… they just reported a 96% drop in profits. Think I’d sign up for the buzz over the saboteur…

Need that confidante to help you with one of your cornerstones or know someone that does? Please email me at Linda@GlassTalent.com for a free consultation.


Are you coaching a Smart Ass or a Genius? Or both?

I love me some good problem solving.

Throw me at it. How do we do this? What’s the best solution? How creative can we be? Let’s do this!

This morning, I was stumped. Yeah, stumped. Impressed, yet mildly disturbed.

I found this next to the coffee machine left for me by my 11-year-old. Yes, there is water in those glasses turned upside down.

photo-1

What happened? He used to be such a sweet, charming little boy. Actually, if I’m honest with myself, he’s always been a bit clever, a bit conniving, and a bit out to get me. And I love him dearly.

So, not able to immediately draw a conclusion, I pasted to the world of Facebook for a solution. I could have stared at it for a while, but why when I know there is a dearth of talent in the people with whom I keep company?

Here are some of the comments:

  1. Surround with sponges and lift
  2. Make him clean it up when he gets home and if he spills any, ground him, or make him write a poem about water.
  3. Drag the glasses to the edge of the counter, put a pan next to the counter and slide glasses off quickly.
  4. Drag them over plastic wrap!!!
  5. He created it. He can clean it up and maybe even lose an evening’s privilege or have to clean out the cat box. Some sort of consequence.
  6. Love it.
  7. I would write “funny” on the same paper and leave it for him to clean up
  8. Clever boy.

I gotta say, this kid has a lot of consequences for things that are real issues… like beating the life out of his brother. Should I really punish the kid or applaud his ingenuity?

I mean, what if I really did give birth to a genius? And what it the next ingenious thing he puts on the counter is a solution to world hunger, albeit it in a mocking “I got you” sort of way?

Would the way I handle this impact his future contributions?

Is it possible to separate out the feedback on being a smartass with positive feedback on his cleverness?

People we live with or work with do things all the time that might irritate us. We REACT and don’t step back. Are we throwing out the next best idea or great work because of the irritating delivery? Can we applaud one while coaching on the other? What do you think?

I think I’ll work with him on the solution and save the feedback for the next issue. And be thankful I’m not the kid of some of my FB friends… I’d be in perpetual time out!

Ultimately, though, I have to agree with my FB friend #6… I kinda love it.


Leading with Laughter! Ha!

Mom Jungle Gym

Having recently moved, I ran across this picture. This is my mom, Alice. On top of my jungle gym. Behind the family truck and farmhouse. My mom. The monkey.

Several emotions have come to mind when I have seen this picture in the past. One is of sheer embarrassment. This very picture was in our Christmas letter one year for Pete’s sake. How could she do that to a 7-year-old? What would my public think?

But this time, I had one emotion only… Hell Yeah Mom! My mom was silly. She loved to laugh. Her humor was exceptional.  And now I realize how critical that was to her as a mother and how critical it is to me as both a mother and a business owner.

I’m embarking on a new chapter for my business as I hit my 5-year anniversary. Call it Glass Talent 2.0. I’ll continue to work with my great clients as their supportive and challenging Executive Business Coach. And I’ll be looking at ways to evolve my practice as a Talent Strategist.

In imagining what is next, I’ve put together a vision board to collect my ideas and thoughts of what I want my working journey to look and feel like. It must involve CONNECTING. COLLABORATION. CREATIVITY. LEARNING. WRITING. COACHING. SERVING.

In seeing this picture again, I am reminded that I am missing a very important word from my board… HUMOR.

Humor brings me bliss, joy, relief and solace. Humor helps me keep things in perspective and keeps me humble. Humor helps me manage through the valleys and the peaks. Humor makes me happy.

So, here’s to adding a big fat piece of HUMOR to the heart of my Vision Board and leading with laughter.

Vision Board

I wish I had the picture of my mom playing the role of “the man at the bar” from the Santa Fe Melodrama. I don’t. You’ll just have to imagine it and laugh along with me.

If you’re not laughing, you’re not learning… Email me at Linda@GlassTalent.com to learn more about my coaching (or at least send a good joke!)


Isn’t it Ironic?

I was driving down the windy road, smile on my face, music turned up to 11. And although it wasn’t Alanis blaring through the speakers, it probably should have been. Isn’t it ironic?

I had just finished leading a three-day offsite for an incredible new client. It was held at the Traavasa Spa, and if you haven’t been there, you should visit. Beautiful, serene, lovely service.

I was contacted a mere few weeks ago by this client and asked to pull together an agenda that would assimilate a new leader, build a trusting team, and plan for 2012. A lot to accomplish in such a short period of time, but I was up for the challenge.

Day one… Check!

Day three… Check!

Day two… hmmmmmm, what to do… this was the day of trust.

The team had all read “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” and while I knew we would have some healthy discussion around this book, they really needed a turn around activity. One that would bond them, inspire them, allow them to experience the exhilarating rush of true team support and encouragement. Even tougher… this was a group of learning and development leaders. They had seen it all.

Enter my friend Tristan Truscott, Sensei Tristan that is. Tristan and I have worked together on several occasions with much success and I thought this team was calling his name.

We began prepping. I briefed him on the team dynamics and desires for the offsite. “Hmmm… interesting,” he said. “I’m not sure what to do yet. I’m going to meditate on that.” Seriously, dude, we are with this team in less than 10 days. Meditate? Cough up an exercise already!

Irony #1… I have deeply been trying to incorporate meditation into my daily life, telling people to breath more, meditate more. And here is someone for whom meditation is not an “event” for the day, but as fluid for him as breathing. It was required space for him to create, to envision, to realize the right activity.

Okay, calm down Linda. He’ll come up with something great. I’ve seen it twice before. Just trust. Let go and trust.

Okay, there it is: Irony #2… I had to trust. I had to let go. I had to practice the very lesson we were about to teach… cultivate and surround yourself with the best energy, build the trust through experience, and with that, the belief in all the possibilities will come.

Fast-forward to the day before the offsite. Tristan and I Skyped and I felt his focus and passion about the meeting. It was contagious. Still no detailed agenda discussed other than I knew we would be breaking boards at the end of the day. Trust, Linda, trust, I whispered to myself.

Day Two arrived… 12:30… 12:40… trust, Linda, trust.. aaah he’s here!

Irony #3… I was there to teach, yet I was the student. I was reminded of the great lessons I already knew… surround yourself with talented, passionate people, trust, let go, and guess what… they deliver. And he did.

SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! The boards broke one by one and with each split, a team divided became a team unified. And it felt amazing. Really amazing.

What a great way to end the week. Thanks to this great team for letting me be part of their lives this week. Thanks to my trusted friend and colleague, Tristan, for reminding me that all the lessons I get to learn are one of the greatest gifts of coaching.

 

 

 


Lord Help Me… Take a Risk

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where these thoughts run through your head…

I can’t, no I can, I can’t, come on… yes you can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

For those of you who know me, you may think I’m a risk taker. I’ve done several things in my life that would indicate as such… signed up for study abroad when I knew it was riding on me raising $5,000 I didn’t have as a student… walked into the president’s office, basically saying I was “smart” and that I was the right person to move to London… moved my family with my husband to Austin when I had the “perfect” set-up in Seattle and Starbucks… starting my own business. I spend my life and career encouraging others to take risks EVERYDAY. Risk taking is my name, until I met my match… Space Mountain.

From left to right…

MIDDLE ROW:  Coach #1: The calm, zen coach who talked about enjoying the stars inside as you zipped along.  ME: Yes, that’s me. The risk-taker. Yes, my eyes are fully shut. Yes, I am gripping the bar. Yes, I am… smiling.

FRONT ROW:  Coach #2: Yes, that says “Adrenaline” on his shirt. He planned that face and promised “epic fun.”  Coach #3: Reminding me… Come on, the kids want you to be part of this fun.

This was THE MOUNTAIN of TERROR in my mind. I know, for many of you, this is such a tame little ride. How silly. But for me, so many things would surely go wrong that this was a risk I wasn’t willing to take. I have never been a physical risk taker and the list of con’s made perfect sense…

  • Malfunction. For Pete’s sake, this ride is ancient after all.
  • It’s dark in there. When I am flung from the malfunctioning seat restraint, it will take HOURS to find my body.
  • Oh, and not to mention, my poor, poor, little children.. I need to protect them. It’s not just about me.
  • It was my first time to Disney and wouldn’t this be the first time it all broke down?!?

Reluctantly, I got into the line with the kids (who by the way, had NO concern in the world). As each minute passed, we inched closer and my heart started beating a little faster. I was a leader of this team about to embark on a dangerous mission, I had to remain calm and keep smiling. My other leader, my husband, was curious about lunch… how could he be so calm? Did he not know what was ahead?!?! We might die in there!!!

Well, as you can see from this post… die I did not. I did go into the Mountain. I did ride the ride. And this is how I was able to survive…

  • I was surrounded by those who didn’t have the irrational fear I did. They had experience and the knowledge. They knew it was not only safe, but could actually be fun.
  • I stepped out of my fear and envisioned what it would be like at the end of the ride. I would get to celebrate with my team, my family, about a first that we all got to share together.
  • My kids will see a role model, conquering her fear and that will be a powerful lesson and encourage them to do the same.
  • I listened to my coaches and thought about what they said, “MOM… there is a four year old getting on this ride. Get a grip.”

As a leader we step onto our own roller coasters everyday. Whether it be a new position, a complex project, that colleague we can’t seem to get along with… It may be scary and you might be fearful of the outcome, but challenge yourself to take the step. Surround yourself with the right support… other leaders, experience, knowledge, coaches… and just do it!

As I approached that ride, I thought most about how amazing it would feel for me to conquer a fear that I’ve always had. And it was. So much, that I actually rode twice.

Let me know how your ride went…


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.