Tied, overwhelmed and plagued with uncertainty! So how can you perform at your best?

Tied, overwhelmed and plagued with uncertainty! So how can you perform at your best?

“What state are you in when you perform at your best as a leader?”

I first came across this powerful question in Michael Buntings brilliant book; The Mindful Leader. If you haven’t read it I’d highly recommend it.

We intuitively know the answer to this even if we haven’t thought about it before.

We know that we are most likely to do our best work when we are well rested and full of energy rather than feeling out of sorts or sleep deprived.

We respond best when we are calm rather than flustered or overwhelmed.

We achieve our best results when we are courageous, open and supported rather than fearful, closed and under attack

And we create the best outcomes when we have confidence in our abilities rather than experiencing uncertainty or we are out of our depth.

Simple really! So when was the last time you focused on preparing yourself for high performance?

In his book, Michael Bunting encourages us to “deliberately cultivate a state of wellness and be a beacon of goodness, responsiveness and clarity even in the toughest circumstances.”

The more I think about this the more obvious it seems.

Elite athletes follow this practice – so why wouldn’t we? They know that to perform at their peak they need to take care of their mind, body and soul.

They train hard, fuel their bodies with the right nutrition, incorporate periods of rest and recovery and more and more they are placing their trust in the power of meditation and mindfulness.

The winning team of the 2018 AFL Grand Final – Richmond, attributed some of their rapid rise to the ultimate goal to the introduction of a daily mindfulness practice.

So if we know that these are the ingredients for high performance – then why are we not setting ourselves up for success? I think the simple answer is that we think we are too busy or that it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.

I now believe it makes all the difference!

Since introducing this concept to the ladies in my inner circle program – The Leadership Connection, they have told me that it’s one of the things that has made the biggest difference to them, not only professionally but also personally.

So what have they done that’s making such a big difference?

Here are 4 Keys to deliberately cultivate high performance.

1. Start well. How we start each day has a massive impact on our outcomes and our performance. It sets the foundation for our energy and focus. A chaotic, rushed start will often leave us feeling chaotic and rushed for the rest of the day.

Where ever possible create a routine that sets you up for the type of state that enhances your performance. This is likely to be a different for all of us but for me this includes a little exercise while listening to an educational podcast, a healthy breakfast and a review of my high priority action list.

I know that when I by pass this routine for a sleep in, both my mind and body feel sluggish, leaving it nigh on impossible for me to work as effectively or productively as I’d like.

2. Know what matters. This is all about clarity. Without clarity confusion reins and nothing good comes from a state of confusion.

Getting clear on what matters most to you, your team and the business allows you to prioritise and focus your time and energy. It keeps you on track and allows us to choose what requests to say yes to and which to say no to.

We can choose to be busy being busy, ticking off a to do list OR we can make time for the projects that really move the dial and get us seen and recognised for all we are capable of.

3. Slow down to speed up. This may seem counter intuitive but I believe we must all slow down a little.   (Me included!)

Rushing from meeting to meeting, checking emails and sending off quick messages to manage the latest disaster is not conducive for creative or strategic thinking. How often have you reacted to a situation in a way that only made it worse, during a time of busyness or stress.

Spending time planning is a worthy investment. As is creating what I call “white space;” that precious time in your calendar where you have NOTHING planned.

It could be as simple as blocking out time over lunch to get outside and breath. You might be surprised at how the answer to a problem you have been stewing over, suddenly seems so clear. 

4. Listen.   Building self awareness through listening is critical. Listening to you body, your thoughts and your emotions will all leave clues to what’s working and what’s not.

Aches and pains and recurring illness are often signs that something is out of alignment. There is significant research that demonstrates the link between our emotional and physical wellbeing.

So listen to your emotions. I recently spoke with a senior professional woman who expressed her frustration, having either cried or become angry on a number of occasions in the presence of senior leaders.   Not only was it unhelpful in the situation, she felt it undermined her authority and her position.

And listen to your thoughts. A persistent racing, chaotic mind or self defeating self talk will not support high performance.

So what will you do to deliberately cultivate a healthy physical, emotional and mental state? The simple decision to manage your internal world more effectively will create positive change in your external world.  Let’s make these small every day tweaks to improve how you perform as a leader.

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How to set clear boundaries for strong leadership

 

Do you have clear boundaries? Or perhaps an even more important question is … do you have any boundaries at all?

Are you clear on what’s acceptable to you and what isn’t? Do you protect your time, energy and resources and prioritise what is import to you?

In a world that’s becoming busier and where business is conducted 24/7, boundaries have become blurred or nonexistent. In many workplaces there’s an unwritten expectation that you are always on and always accessible.

But I wonder what would happen if you were to create clear boundaries.

Recently I was delivering training in large corporate organisation with a group of professional leaders. The recurring theme for these women became clear; they had failed to set clear boundaries.

For some this meant filling their schedule with small menial tasks not really within their scope of work, while for others they found themselves working excessively long hours.

I loved the realisation from one participant when she said, “I need to downgrade my relationship with my phone.”

She had found herself obsessing over emails and text messages from colleagues in her evenings at home rather than being fully present for her family.

Setting boundaries and sticking to them is difficult!

I think this has something to do with the need to please. Many of us equate being available, responding promptly, saying yes and helping out… with building goodwill and respect.

Unfortunately, in my experience it often does the opposite. Setting personal boundaries protects our personal space, builds respect and allows us to focus our productivity. People who work hard and maintain boundaries typically get more respect and better results than those who allow others to take them or their time for granted.

And how many people do you know that get burned out, stressed, over committed and over worked just because they cant say “NO”? Perhaps you’re one them?

How to set clear boundaries

1. Get clear on what matters most. Get clear on what’s most important to you in terms of your life and your career. A client recently had the massive realisation that what mattered most to her was spending quality time with her young children. She had however been increasingly focused on her work at the expense of time with her family.   Setting boundaries has been crucial for her to better integrate her family priorities with her inner need to do quality work.

2. Clarify your standards. And by this I mean – make a list and write it down.

  • Reassess the hours you are prepared to commit to work, both in the office and at home.
  • Decide whether you will respond to emails, text messages and phone calls outside work hours.
  • Get clear on what work you will routinely say YES to and what you will choose to say NO to.
  • Notice what irritates you and create boundaries to limit the opportunities for this to happen.

3. Let go of the guilt. Beating yourself up and feeling guilty isn’t helpful. If it’s important that you attend your child’s school assembly or make it to a weekly yoga class… then be ok to do what it takes to make it happen. We shouldn’t feel guilty for putting ourselves first.

4. Prioritise and plan. The only solution many women see when their workload increases is to work harder and longer hours. In many instances this is definitely not the answer. It’s more likely to lead to overworking, decreased productivity, poorer quality work and resentment.

Instead, take some time out to review and prioritise your workload and create a plan focused on those activities that matter most to you and your organisation.

5. Take responsibility. Know that we teach people how to treat us. So if your team are dependent on you or you are seen as the go to girl to get stuff done or people are constantly interrupting you … it’s likely you’ve allowed this to happen. To put it bluntly… it’s your fault.

People are predictable. They will always take the route of least resistance. So it’s actually good to create a little resistance, eg: push back, say no, or respond on your terms not theirs.

Others will only respect your limits if you do.

Too often in our effort to produce our very best work, be seen as a team player or purely get through the “to do list” we allow our boundaries to be crossed.

And only you can set and maintain your boundaries.

It takes consideration, being intentional and persistence. Maintaining you’re your new and improved boundaries is about creating a new normal, for you and those around you. You need to be consistent and be ready for those who will fight against them.

But know… it will be worthwhile.

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How to position yourself for promotion

If you are thinking that this is going to be your breakthrough year where you finally get that promotion you have been craving, it is time to start positioning yourself for what you want. Staying silent, flying under the radar and purely working hard and doing a good job simply will not work.

Gone are the days that you can wait to be “tapped on the shoulder.” I know it has possibly worked for you in the past. I hear it all the time from smart, successful women. They tell me that their career success up to this point has come to them purely through hard work and good luck.

But to get the more senior leadership roles, a new way of thinking is required. You need to be more strategic, more intentional and position yourself to be considered for the best opportunities.

To do this effectively, the most important question of all is….

Do you know where you want your career to head?

If you don’t have the answer to this question… it’s pretty difficult to position yourself for it.

Many of the women who have attended the Inspired Leadership Intensive (a 1 day workshop for professional women) have come along with their career at a crossroads. They had experienced success and had been given many great opportunities along the way. Until one day they found themselves in a place where they knew they wanted something different but lacked clarity and direction of what that looked like.

Through learning how to positioning themselves effectively, these women have snapped up new and exciting opportunities – often much more quickly than they thought would be possible.

So how ready are you for promotion and what are you doing now to position yourself for that next step?

It’s your career – it’s time to take the reins and manage it!

Here are 7 keys to position yourself for promotion

1. Get career clarity. Without clarity of where you are going, it is very likely you will end up some place you would rather not be. If you are not sure about the specifics then start with what you do know for certain. Things like; do you want to lead a big team or just a few highly skilled people? What type of products or service is of most interest to you? What new skills or experience do you ideally want to be exposed to in the next position?

2.  Do Great Work. This might seem obvious, but still needs to be said. You will only get promoted if you do great work. Why on earth would anyone trust you to do a bigger role if you aren’t doing this one well… all of the time!

3.  Stay on the radar. It is time to be seen, heard and recognised for the good work you do. No more flying under the radar. Speak up in meetings let your opinion be heard.

Get involved in the high profile projects where you can showcase your skills to a broader group of people. Let others know of your accomplishments – in an authentic non-sales-y way.

4.  Build positive relationships. Relationships are everything when it comes to stepping into the next phase of your career. Taking time out to meet up with key people either within your organisation or externally is a critical step towards positioning for your next promotion. Who do you know who could assist you to secure your next position? Do they know what your career ambitions actually are??

5.  Balance short term and long term thinking. Too often I see smart, successful women get caught up in the day to day actions and forgetting to flex their long term strategic muscle. It is important that you keep an eye on the organisations top priorities and longer term goals and make sure you are seen to be contributing to the achievement of those goals.

6.  Develop your executive presence. To be considered for an executive position, you must be seen as an executive. The way you show up around the office, in meetings, in the tearoom matters. This might mean giving your wardrobe an overhaul, dropping the desire to gossip and learning how to work smarter not harder so you appear calm and in control of your workload.

7.  Be intentional and stay focused. Ladies it is time to get strategic and focused on what you want. Yes… it may even be time to create a plan. Get clear on what actions you will take and what changes you will implement to fast track your way to positioning yourself for promotion.

Need to do some work to position yourself for your next promotion? 

Check out The Leadership Connection, an exclusive 6-month results focused group program designed for smart professional women.

Click here for more information and to apply for your invitation to join the group.

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Are You An Accidental Leader?

The Accidental Leader is a common breed of leader. They are those people that don’t necessarily set out to become leaders but through “good luck” or “being in the right place at the right time” fall into the role. Some battle along, trying to work out what this mystical new role requires of them while others rise to the top, grab the opportunity it by both hands and become superstars in their field.

I had the privilege of meeting several of these superstar Accidental Leaders over the last few days while chairing a women in leadership conference.

Let me tell you about Faith, one of these Accidental Leaders.

Faith, in her own words was the elder statesman in the room and was an accidental leader. She had risen to the top of her field at a time when female leaders where unheard of. She spoke about being the only women at the leadership table from early on in her career and having to overcome the relentless stereotypical belief at the time that women did not belong in the leadership club.

So how did Faith and the other women become superstars in their field?

Here are some common themes that were consistent throughout the 2 days of presentations.

1.  See leadership as an adventure. Playing the safe game will not get you the opportunities that you are looking for. Be bold and take some risk… or at least calculated risk. By stepping outside your comfort zone you will constantly be growing your skills and be seen and noticed by those that matter.

2.  Understand that NO does not mean NO. It just means not now. You will undoubtedly come across roadblocks, challenges and disappointments along the way. Persistence and self belief is critical.

Know that missing out on promotions or interesting project opportunities is not a sign of failure. Look for the learning from the experience and get back on the horse and try again.

3.  Get involved. Raise your profile and your networks by getting involved in both internal and external projects. You may not be able to see where these projects will lead you but have faith that they will.

4.  Toughen Up. Stop taking things so personally. Ladies, you know we do this and that it is of no value. Consciously build your resilience to the challenges that come you way. Find a mentor or colleague who you can bounce ideas and concerns with and to help you find a healthier perspective.

5.  Have a life outside of work. It is never ok to allow work to consume your life. It is not good for your health, it kills the joy of the great work you do and it gets in the way of spending time with those that matter to you most. And ultimately it impacts your productivity, creativity and your leadership abilities.

Each of the superstars who spoke during the conference shared how they had learnt to create boundaries, remaining focused on work while at work and being in the moment once they left work for the day.

So, I am going to say it. I believe that there are NO accidental leaders! Each of the superstar Female leaders who shared their stories had actually created their own success.

They had repeatedly taken chances, been persistent and relentless in their pursuit in what they believed and never let knock backs squish their enthusiasm or confidence. They took on projects, got involved and created networks of advocates and supporters by being genuine, respectful and great at their work.

The quickest way to leadership success is to model the thinking, actions and attitudes of those who have already made it to the panicle. Borrow from them the bits that will work for you and enhance your leadership style, while all along remaining authentic and true to your values.

Our success is never really an accident. We become superstars of our field and leaders who have influence by being brave, striving for excellence and taking the opportunities when they come up.

And as for Faith…. Thank you for sharing your humility, wisdom and boldness.

NEXT STEPS?

If you like what you have read, Click HERE  and pop your name and email into the boxes and come join this growing community of extraordinary, passionate, down to earth women just like you who are committed to finding their place at the leadership table.

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