The Awesome Leader Blog

I write about anything that can help leaders gain a snappy, specific set of skills for managing up and managing teams.

It’s not the sound of silence. It’s the meaning of silence.

communication eq leadership Jun 15, 2021

What Does Your Face Say When You’re Silent?

A client gave me this sign. We are both obsessed with words and how to use them.

I spend all day talking. Or listening to someone else talk. I think about what to say back to an executive, guiding them in what they say or write. 

I make it easier for them to communicate. To get it out, get it sorted, get their desires, asks, and concerns out

Many days around 7 pm, I feel as if I lose my ability to speak. I can no longer help someone think about what to say or what to write. 

Silence is my preferred language for the first 30 minutes upon returning home (and for the short commute from my one-person office suite).

My kids are teenagers, so silence is frequently the language of the house. 

I try not to read into it. Even when my kids don’t speak, they say a lot—with their faces. 

I can push and get answers from them when I need to. And since I live with them and have known them so long, I...

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Stories About Leaders

career leadership May 13, 2021

It's Story Time

"We approach everything asking one question: given my agenda, will this help me, or will this hurt me? If the answer is neither, it's white noise."  -Lisa Cron 

I'm reading a fabulous book called Story or Die by Lisa Cron. 

I'm learning a lot about using the power of story to influence decisions in my 1:1 and team coaching work. 

I know people love stories. I know humans respond well to, "Let me tell you a story" or "It's time for a story."

I know having a beginning, middle, and end helps people follow what someone's saying.

But I didn't know much about how the brain wants a story. And how it reacts to stories. 

And how it reacts to facts. (They are second-class, compared to story.)

As an executive coach, I've long considered myself a co-storyteller. Someone who helps others to tell stories.

If the story comes from me, it's about getting people to change their behavior as leaders

I want these leaders to understand these...

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Languishing & High Performers

Languishing is the Verb of the Month . . . And Your High Performers Know It

Do You Feel This Way?

Frustrated yet kinda focused. Working but not as productive as before. Not depressed yet not really happy. Lost in thought and really looking forward to another night on the couch with Netflix.

I hear the above from CEOs, founders, VPs, new managers, individual contributors, friends, neighbors . . . most everyone.

Does any of it sound familiar to you?

Adam Grant's recent New York Times piece is a "don't miss it you'll love it" article.

Yes, I need less trite language to express how important this piece is you, your team, and your company. Anyway, please read it.

Grant, author of Give and Take, writes about this funk we're all in.

It's not burnout or depression or hopelessness, but it's definitely something.

Here's what it is: languishing.

Languishing was coined by Corey Keyes, a sociologist who was trying to figure out why people who weren't stress weren't thriving either. They were...

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Leadership Spring Cleaning: Start, Stop, Continue

leadership management Apr 08, 2021

You Have Ideas: Put Them Into Start, Stop Continue

Start, Stop, Continue is one of my favorite brainstorming and organizing techniques. 

I use it often in executive coaching discussions, and over the past month, I’ve been using it to spring clean my mind and my business.

Let me explain.

I’m sure you’ve found yourself feeling like this at some time, probably recently. 

You want to say something, you need to tackle something, you have something brewing in your mind, you have ideas for brainstorming yet somehow putting them on paper or in a Miro board or typing them feels too hard

The problem seems too big to get ideas out. Because your ideas feel small. Or too simple. Or too few for, again, a big problem. 

You have stuff to say, but you need categories or prompts to begin to organize and validate your thoughts. 

This is where and how the model of Start, Stop, Continue comes to your rescue.

It’s as simple as it looks and sounds.

Ask...

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The Prince, the Basketball Coach, a Wolf, & Leadership

career leadership Apr 01, 2021

I’m a bit angry, and I have some thoughts that you will find useful if 1) you are a leader and/or 2) you need to learn about what good leaders do (and what bad ones tend to never think about).

If you want the one-sentence version of this newsletter in one sentence, here it is: be clear on who you are, what you do, and then what you say.

The Prince 

This story starts with someone who had a title, gave it up, and now is adopting the title that once belonged to the CIO: the Chief Information Officer.  

Prince Harry (yes, that prince) is in the news again. He’s the new Chief Impact Officer for BetterUp. BetterUp is (their website says so) described like this: “The BetterUp experience brings together world-class coaching, AI technology, and behavioral science experts to deliver change at scale.” 

Harry is a royal, a former military officer, a friend of Oprah’s, a husband, a dad, and, oh, yeah, a guy with Spotify and Netflix deals. 

...

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You're Bad at Conversations

career leadership Apr 01, 2021

It's the truth. We (you, me, humans) aren't great at talking.

Here's why.

Most of us get a failing grade at conversations because we:

  1. Wait too long 
  2. Don’t prepare what to say
  3. Fail to get in the mood (aka prepare ourselves emotionally)
  4. Approach it from what we want vs. what is the common and necessary end result
  5. Say something and then assume the conversation is over

#5 is my favorite one to tackle with clients. They often want to break down what they are “going to tell” others. 

  • “I’m going to tell them they can’t do that.”
  • “I’m going to tell them that was disappointing.”
  • “I’m going to tell them how angry I am.”

Here’s a peek into how that plays out in a coaching conversation:

Client: "I'm going to tell [insert most anything]."

Leila: “Cool. You go and . . . tell them. And then what?”

C-level person/Founder/VP/leader: “What do you mean ‘and then what’...

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Awkward Days

career Mar 02, 2021
Photo by Wei Wang on Unsplash
 
Has this ever happened to you?

You’re walking around your neighborhood—pre-pandemic or even these days—and another person is walking towards you. You smile, say hi, or nod to that other personas they come close enough to you to see, hear, or observe your gesture.

And the other person does . . . nothing.

They don’t smile back. They don’t speak a greeting. They don’t look at you.

They just keep walking.

It’s as if you’re not even there.

Awkward. (And there are many other, less generous words to describe this.)


I really don't like this behavior. I'm tempted to say, "I hate it."

Yes, "hate" is a strong word to choose, yet choosing to NOT mirror my greeting or smile back to me (or to anyone else—it can't be just me) is puzzling.

Yes, this person could be having a terrible day. Yes, this person could have just heard very sad or upsetting news. Yes, this person simply could not have seen or heard my...
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Building Trust: WFH During 2021

career teambuilding Feb 05, 2021

Most of us agree that building trust is essential at all levels of our careers. 

And most of us don’t give much thought to how to go about building trust. We assume that people will see our work, see that we’re good at it, and then start to trust us. Bingo. Trust built! 

That's far from how it works.

Building trust doesn’t have to be complicated, and it’s something you need to be aware of and be actively working to make happen. Since most of us are continuing to work from home, it’s even more important to ensure your employees know that you’re there still for them and that they can still rely on you.

During 2020 it was easy to think, “We just need to get through this year.” As a result, you might have put off some necessary and hard work around building trust with your team. 

I get it! It was difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that how we had to work in 2020 was the way we would be working in 2021. 

I...

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Got Bad Managers?

leadership management Feb 01, 2021
Raise your hand if you know a bad manager.

I can’t see the raised hands, but I know they are there.


Some of you are holding them up high. You shot those hands up as soon as you read my prompt. "Yes!" is what you’re saying aloud. "Yes! I know a bad manager!"

Some of you have those hands up, yet you’re sheepishly raising them. I’m guessing you’re at your "desk"--the kitchen, living room, or family room table--and you are cautiously raising your hand, wondering if anyone else can see you admitting to the truth: you know bad managers. You’re thinking, "Oh, no, don’t remind me about that. Ugh, yes, we have bad managers. I know bad managers."

I can’t see you and your raised hands, but here’s the deal:

Other people see the bad managers.

They feel the burden of working with bad managers.

They feel the frustration, anger, and sadness of working for bad managers.

Poor leaders. Difficult leaders. Bad leaders. Incompetent leaders. Call them what...
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"Get" to Do vs. "Got" to Do

career Jan 06, 2021

Your Language is Probably Making Your Life Difficult

Happy New Year, everyone. 

"Got to do" vs. "get to do". That's what I'm talking about today.

This is an easy and fast tip to help you frame almost all of the work you do: in the "office" and at home.

Are you describing your work as "got to" or "get to"?

In other words, are you saying, "I gotta do that"/"I have to do that" or "I get to do that"?

There is a BIG difference between the two.

I first came across this concept in 2006 when I read Vance and Carol Ann Caesar's book, The High Achiever's Guide to Happiness.

This book is amazing. Every leader should read it. I once participated in a weekend retreat led by Vance, and he is a powerful speaker and thinker. This book is always the first one I recommend to my 1:1 executive coaching clients.

In the book, Vance shares a memory of how, when he was a teenager, a high school coach clued him into the difference between "get to" and "got to."

Is it an obligation? Or is it something you...
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