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.

Leadership and the Dog Days of Summer

leadership Jul 15, 2020
I love to use times of the year as reasons to do things.
These things need to be accomplished anyway and the time of year doesn't really matter. For example, spring cleaning can and should be done any season. Since March my house is being used like never before, and it needs a deep cleaning every month, jeez. (Don't reply back to me that your house has never been cleaner. That's like the person who told me she was cherishing this precious time with her children. Riiight.)
Tying an action to a calendar, season, or time helps ground me. It makes me feel as if there is a reason to do things. And that makes it more likely I actually take action.  

Right now we're in the middle. The middle of the year. The middle of the summer. The middle (we hope) of the pandemic. We're at home, we're tired, we're frustrated, and all this stuff still needs to get done.

For my executive coaching clients, this middle of the summer means we work through some...

Being Approachable—When You’re Not in the Office Together

leadership management Jul 01, 2020

Before COVID-19, I had lots of ideas for leaders on how to become more approachable: how to show people that you are open to their ideas, their questions, and their visits to your office or cube. 

Back then, it was easy to hide, intentionally or not, or be “busy” in conference rooms for several hours each day. Leaders were always, it seemed, in back-to-back meetings. I know, I know: you wanted to be at your desk and be available. But it seemed impossible to be at your desk, so you could be approachable. You needed time to sit down in one place to be approachable. And then, there were business trips. More time out of the office to be in other offices—and in other conferences rooms, being busy. 

Well, it’s July 2020, and COVID-19 means huge numbers of people are working at home, away from each other, and ironically, when we do see someone, we need to create physical space between us and that person. Let’s also add in the mask factor into this...


The Mask, The Terminator, and the 98 Yr Old Leader

leadership management Jun 29, 2020


Focused on Wednesday. Lost on Thursday. And each afternoon feels like a Friday. 

It's hard to stay focused these days, right? I know it's not just me, as many of my coaching clients are saying the same. And my neighbors and my friends.

You might feel productive one day and then lost the next. The commute is gone, so, wow, you're "home" early, and it's nice and warm outside (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). Is it a Friday? Maybe. Not sure. 

For this newsletter, I have a collection of links and ideas as well as updates on what I've been up to with Awesome Leader projects. They come together in a casual Friday-like manner. 

My thoughts captured by Others: Mentions in the The Economist (Managing Up) and Lattice (Professional Development)

"Sycophants are suffering during this pandemic."

I've read and loved The Economist for years, and my thoughts are now in it.  Sycophants are out of luck. Managing up = building and maintaining relationships...


"I haven't seen it" + The Magic 8 Ball + BLM

leadership teambuilding Jun 12, 2020

I'm starting off with politics.
If that makes you feel uncomfortable, then I think you're lucky that that statement is one of the things that makes you feel uncomfortable today. With all the fears, worries, and lost hopes around us today, yep, you're lucky if this is what gets under your skin. Side note: for my friends outside of the US, apologies that we generate so many headlines. In the words of Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and others credited with this perfect for 2020 quotation, "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without knowing civilization."
Trump loves to use Twitter, and he loves to make fun of people. When reporters ask members of the Republican party for their responses to some of the more (whew, this is hard) ill-mannered tweets, these politicians respond with phrases like these:

  • I didn't see it
  • I don't know what you're talking about
  • I'm not familiar with the episode
  • I don't have time for...

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Harvey Milk, and Dogs on Zoom

eq leadership May 16, 2020

Yes, I'm pulling these three together. Keep reading. 

In April, I shared my thoughts about leaders we need to recognize. I wrote about how I needed to remind myself that there are awesome leaders out there, and they are working hard to move us (us = communities, cities, states, provinces, and countries—heck, the world) forward in a safe for all manner. 
Before I share ideas on how messy leadership is, a few new (and fun) items to share:

  1. I’ve set up two free workshops on EQ (Emotional Intelligence), scheduled for May 21 and 28. Learn more and register here. Each workshop is just an hour long, and I’ll share best practices, practical tips, and also listen to your questions and provide live coaching on your EQ challenges. Join me.
  2. If you haven’t yet seen Scottish sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter holding a Zoom meeting with his two dogs, well, first finish reading this newsletter, and then go...

Keep Looking for the Leaders Around You

leadership Apr 24, 2020

Hello everyone,

In my last newsletter, I shared my thinking about the leaders around us who are doing amazing jobs: the people to recognize and breathe a sigh of relief in as we see them, listen to them, read about them.

They are the ones wearing Leader Hosen
embracing leadership and publicly and sanely guiding their teams. 

If you missed that newsletter and you're now thinking, "Whew, Leila is probably losing it because she's been in her house too long with her children," first, you might be right, and second, you can read that piece here

And, now, on to a new list of Leader-Hosen wearing, ahhh, leaders (and a new free learning series that starts May 5).

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. Her leadership methods include using varied forms of communication (such as Facebook chats), showing she is approachable (by showing, literally, that she wears old sweatshirts; I...


Executives are People, Too: Tips for Working with Execs

leadership Apr 15, 2020

What is it about the word “executive” that makes many of us nervous? Why is it so
difficult to walk into a C-level person’s office and have a conversation?

The executives at your company are people just like you, but their responsibilities and
stresses are vastly different from yours, which can make you feel that you’re walking on eggshells when you speak with them.

How you operate with your manager isn’t how you operate with the CEO, founder, or
co-founder. And how you speak with these folks isn’t how you speak with the members
of your team.

Working with people with “big” titles isn’t rocket science or brain surgery. And while it’s
smart business to realize you do need to work with them differently than you work with your team or even your peers, that doesn’t mean you need to completely change the way you act when in front of that title.

Remember that execs are people, too, and so, treat them as such. As...


Leaders Putting on their Leader Hosen (not a typo)

leadership Apr 09, 2020

Hello everyone,

This is not a story filled with tips to help you work more effectively at home. 

Instead, it's a story about what I call Leader Hosen.

Yes, Leader Hosen.

This is a story about the leaders all around you, each day. People with big names and jobs—people you've probably read about recently or listened to over the last few weeks. It's also a story about people you don't know, names you maybe never would have recognized before this pandemic hit us.

So, settle down into the couch or straighten up into that crappy office chair in your guest bedroom (it's so bad that it should be put on the street with a "FREE" sign, right?). And then let me know the people who come to mind after you read my story.

Over the past few weeks, I've been switching back and forth between reading the news and ignoring it. Going from, "Holy $#@%! We're doomed!" to "It's going to be just fine. Let's eat...


5 Tips to Ask for Help at Work--NOW

career Apr 08, 2020

There is one question, no matter who asks it and in what context, that is almost always initially answered with a, “No”. 

Do you know what that question is? 

It’s, “Do you need help?” 

Our first instinct when answering this question is always, “No.” 

We say to ourselves, “Do I need help?! Of course not!”

But - maybe. Maybe I do. 

You probably do need help with something. 

 For some of us, admitting that we need help is akin to admitting we can’t do something, which we see as basically failing. But that’s not the case.  

Asking for help, or even just admitting that you need help, isn’t failure. It’s far from it.  

Asking for help is something many of us equate to weakness or lack of ability. We think to ourselves, “If I ask my manager for help, she will begin to think I’m not capable. The economy is in a bad state and who knows if...


Managing Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry

management Mar 24, 2020

No one likes to apologize. I mean… by definition, you’re only apologizing if you were in the wrong. And no one likes to be wrong. No one likes to make a mistake. It’s not fun. It’s humbling. And it makes us uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, saying you're sorry is a fairly consistent part of life. You have to do it all the time -  in your professional life and in your personal life, so you might as well accept that and get good at it now.  

No one likes to apologize because—big surprise—no one likes to be wrong or make a mistake.

But saying sorry, especially as a manager, is necessary to build and foster trust. Don’t avoid doing it. Instead--keep reading for tips on how to make it as painless as possible while also making it authentic.

It’s a fact that we all make mistakes. However, not everyone says they’re sorry. Some people just can’t bring themselves to admit it when they get something wrong. Don’t be...


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