Who’s your champion?

It’s obvious why everyone needs to have a person who would be considered their “champion” or biggest supporter in their life. Perhaps a different one professionally and personally. The champion I am referring to, is the type of person who truly believes in you. Regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. Someone you can always rely upon, particularly when you may not be at the top of your “game”.

When I think about who my “champion” is, they embody all of the qualities you would ideally want this person to have, starting with believing in the core essence of who you are. This person also has an unwavering integrity and a solution minded outlook. They also are what I’ll refer to as a “clear-thinker”. What some others might call rational, especially during highly charged emotional situations. Perhaps what some might also refer to as drama.

Speaking of drama, this is not something I ever seek out to have going on in my life. Although it does appear some people seek this out, or have a magnet which draws them in to more routinely being in this state. It’s possible people with lots of drama in their life like having it occur, but from my perspective it is an unnecessary distraction from what would be more important to be focused on. For instance, addressing challenges, rather than circling around them in a drama induced frenzy, absent of any solution.

People who have drama in their lives may not realize how much energy they are having consumed when they are in their “dramatic” situation, and that if this energy was redirected, how different their circumstances might be. My interpretation of people who either attract or live a life filled with drama have learned to embrace this way of living. It appears to be a cycle they can’t break, and perhaps don’t want to. However, if they better understood the option of not having drama occurring constantly in their life, they could in fact impact their life very positively. Even reduce or eliminate the drama in their lives.

It’s possible that people who have too much drama going on, do not have a champion in their life. Or, maybe they did at one point, and the champion gave up supporting them because the person they were attempting to help did not ever accept their advice. If this was the case, I’m sure the champion went well beyond what would be reasonable to hang-in and attempt to help the person they were championing. However, they also determined eventually that the person was not going to accept their support, and ultimately, they reluctantly walked away from the lack of making any progress.

Having a champion in one’s life is a gift, and not everyone is given this gift. A champion of another person does not always intentionally become one. Sometimes this person is surprised by the fact they took on this role. This may seem odd or counterintuitive to think about, but it does happen.

An example of this occurring, is when someone becomes the champion of another person due to their empathy for the person and the circumstances they are in. Potentially circumstances they could help to influence and help the person they are championing to improve. Not always with money, but often with attention, guidance and ultimately love, or a deep appreciation for making the circumstances better for the person they are the champion for.

If you are seeking to find a champion to have in your life either personally or professionally, perhaps both, here are some suggestions for seeking them out. However, you might not have to look that hard for them, as they are likely in your life right now, and you have not been focused on seeing them.

  • Most parents play a role in being our initial champion in our lives, but not always. If you have not embraced or felt that they have contributed to playing this role, it’s possible either you did not accept them attempting to do this for you, or they didn’t have the capacity to do this for a myriad of reasons.
  • Coaches, teachers and others who you have interacted with in your life who are in their roles to support having your best interest in mind, are naturally skilled at being one of your champions. Did you seek them out in the past to do this? If not, consider why you might not have.
  • Someone you think of as your mentor or advisor can also play the role of your champion. I personally have a number of people who are in each of these roles that I rely upon for helping to champion me when I need their support. My earliest memory of a mentor champion was my summer camp counselor who always encouraged me to do my best at everything I was attempting to do. Especially new things I was learning to do.
  • Consider aspects of your life either personally or professionally that you might need additional support. Is there someone you know who has experience in those areas that can help you? If so, are you comfortable enough with reaching out to them for their support?
  • Asking someone to be your champion typically happens more organically than being architected into your life. Your champion will more likely “adopt” you, and you may or may not be fully aware of when this happens.
  • Perhaps you are someone’s champion? Does the person know you are playing this role? It’s possible they do not, or at least not yet.
  • Being another person’s champion is an incredibly noble role to play. One that requires you to be unselfish, giving of your time, energy and experience, and always there for the person, particularly in some of the most difficult circumstances you will be helping them to navigate through.

My sincere hope is that you have a champion, are one, or will be one in someone else’s life one day. Thank you to all of the champions out there who are making a difference in other people’s lives. You are all unsung heroes, and may you continue to be one. Enjoy the experience of helping and supporting others, particularly during times they need you the most to be there for them.

Tags: #Mentoring #Champion #Leadership #Management #Business #Life #Helpingothers #Makingadifference #Coaches #Teachers #Cheerleader #Coach #SportsCoach #Parent #Parents #Boss #Teacher

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How do you inspire “bench” players or work place team members?

I was recently talking to a leader of a sports team. I asked her this question “What do you do to both motivate and inspire your “bench players?” For clarification, the players who don’t see as much playing time, but who are also important members of the team. She told me that this is probably one of the most difficult things to do, or to do well and consistently.

After I heard this leader express that this is a challenging situation, and understandably something that most leaders face on a regular basis, I asked her “what if I had a solution to this challenge?” Naturally I piqued her curiosity, and she said “you have my full attention”. So, with this green light to proceed with my solution, I kicked off my solution explanation.

To set the stage for my solution to be shared, I asked this leader a few more questions. The next question I asked was “what happens when you are unable to inspire one of your players who regularly does not see much playing time?” I followed this question by asking “what’s your method to integrate your bench players into your team’s overall success strategy?” This last question seemed to really strike a nerve. I could also visually see that it was one she didn’t have a good answer to. However, she wasn’t the first leader I have worked with who responded this way.

Now let’s get back to discussing and responding to the first question I posed about how does someone inspire their bench or workplace team mates? As I proceeded to queue up the foundation for how I have been able to accomplish this, I also shared that this was something she could implement too. Of course, with some guidance, as I have been doing this for a while.

As part of explaining the “how” it is possible to inspire and motivate bench players, one of the factors I brought up to this leader was the number one reason people in the workplace feel good about the company they are aligned with. It’s a rather simple, but at the same time, can be extraordinary complex concept to get right. It’s that someone feels appreciated. Conversely, when people do not feel appreciated, it’s also the number one reason they leave the situation they are in.

So, if feeling appreciated is the perhaps one of the “secret” ingredients to inspiring or motivating others, is there an ideal way to accomplish this? Yes, there is, and it is one of the foundational way’s leaders can achieve the inspiration they are seeking to bring to their “bench players”.

Let’s now drill down into how I have worked with leaders to help them to achieve inspiring others.  The first thing I do is to determine what their top strength is. In full disclosure, I am a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, so I leverage the StrengthsFinder Survey Assessment to determine this. After I determine what a person’s number one strength is, I focus on helping them and their leader to understand how to properly leverage this strength. To leverage it in multiple scenarios, with the critical one being when they are not always fully engaged at the level they desire to be on their team.

When an individual can contribute their number one strength both on and off the “field” or in the workplace, this is when the “magic” of tapping into this concept begins to emerge. The person is able to both tap into a different source of their own motivation, and derive the benefits of their leader knowing how to accomplish this to. In fact, to know precisely how to both inspire and engage this individual, even if they are not playing an active role on the “field” or under the spotlight in their work place role.

Now, here is the brief version of the story I shared with the leader about one of the athletes I worked with who experienced the “pure magic” of being an inspired “bench player”. It’s important to understand that this particular player may not have initially understood that their role on the team was not going to be an active one. In fact, they may have thought due to their seniority on the team, that they would play an integral role on the field. This wasn’t the case. However, what did occur was that their “bench” position was actually far more important to contributing to their team’s success, than their limited time on the field.

How is it possible that a “bench player” could positively influence the outcome of their team’s performance? This is exactly the question that most leaders are challenged with, and I have repeatably proven that this is possible. It’s possible because when a person is able to engage in leveraging their own innate talents differently, and understand how to apply them constructively, yet outside of the way they may more traditionally do so, this is when they are both personally inspired and motivated. One more thing, they also feel appreciated too!

The biggest challenge leaders have with inspiring their “bench players” is that they may not or don’t appreciate the role they can play in this capacity. Instead of feeling like the “bench player” is going to be a challenge for them, they need to understand in fact how to tap into and leverage this person differently. Differently in the capacity of having them understand the integral role they do in fact play and contribute to the team as a bench player.

If you are a leader who is interested in learning more about how to both inspire and motivate your bench players, let’s talk. You know how to reach me, and I’ll look forward to having a conversation with you.

TAGS: #Motivation #Inspiration #Teams #Howtoinspireothers #Inspiringothers #Business #Leaders #Leveragingtalent #Leveragingstrengths #Talent #Talentdevelopment #Teamdevelopment #Sports #Coaches #Sportscoaches #Businessleaders

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Influence. How’s yours?

There are some skills we possess which can take years to master. Having influence can be one of them, but there are people who are more naturally inclined to excel with having it than others. The people who are comfortable with possessing influence as one of their skills don’t always maximize their use of it. However, the ones that do, and leverage it for the greater good of our society really stand out.  

The list of people in our global society that I admire and who have appealing influence are ones who apply their skill to help others on a regular basis. Often unselfishly, and most of these people are not household brand names. They are the people we have in our lives who regularly apply their influence in both creative and beneficial means with the intent for others to benefit from.

Examples of the type of influence I am considering include people who are amazing at organizing others to rally for positive causes. Both locally and beyond their region when it makes sense to do so. Think of community gardens so food is truly local, beekeeping to help veterans with PTSD and causes which awaken us to becoming more socially and environmentally conscious. All of this occurring while we are individually considering how we can leverage our natural resources better. Even better, while also assisting others in need on a more regular basis.

Another example which comes to mind are the influencers who called out the inequities of education, and who looked for solutions to address this as another challenge the Pandemic exacerbated. They were able to clearly showcase how not everyone had a “level-playing-field” when it came time to home school their children. Yes, we knew this prior to Covid, but because of having to home school for a long period of time, young people without the right home-schooling infrastructure were put at a greater risk of falling behind educationally. Based on research, we know what occurs when this happens, unless the situation is addressed.

During the early days of the Pandemic in 2020, there were people I saw in the news who were rallying and coordinating others in their community to help people who were also “food insecure”. Unfortunately, we also know that food insecurity isn’t a Pandemic only challenge. However, the Pandemic certainly put a brighter spotlight on this situation to be addressed both locally and in every state in the country. One of the outcomes influencers had in this area was to attempt to change the mindset of people in their community. To actually seriously take the position of considering everyone as our neighbor and to help those in need. No exceptions.

Having worked in the technology industry for decades, I saw the type of influence leaders could have on both those they lead, and the customers who were the early adopters of the technology solutions we were promoting. As a former marketing professional, I also saw early in my career the way that public relations could shape the thinking of those we were targeting our communications to. Depending on how influential our messaging was, and whether we were able to impact influential press members about our solution as the one they would write about, played a significant role in the initial success of a product or service.

It was eye opening for me to see how powerful the right influence can shape the outcome and trajectory of your success. Granted we know strong first impressions are critical with your ability to influence others, but sometimes you might have an opportunity to circle back and make a second attempt of getting your influence pointed in the right direction. Not always, so it’s critical to be strategic with your thinking and influence execution.

If you are wondering what you can do to either enhance your influence, or begin heading in a direction to positively influence others, below are some suggestions about how to do this.

  • Authentically consider something you are passionate about. If you are not truly passionate about something, your ability to truly be influential will be reduced.
  • Are you comfortable with having your opinion be known? When you set out to influence others, you are going to need to be ready to potentially confront both verbal and written criticism. In other words, having a “thick skin” can be beneficial, but it is not a requirement.
  • It takes energy to influence others. Ask yourself if you truly have the energy it will take to follow through with your plans to be influential.
  • Being consistent with your messaging and actions are going to be critical components to your influence having the impact you want it to have. Can you commit to being consistent and ensure your messaging is going to work for you and others?
  • Is there someone you admire and can approach about how they became an influential person?
  • After identifying at least one person who is influencing people or causes in the manner you are comfortable with, ask them if you can have them help to instruct you on the area you are interested in being known for or influencing.
  • Not everyone feels comfortable taking on the role of influencing others or causes. However, influencing others doesn’t always mean you have to do this for long stretches of time. There may be situations that are more like influential sprints versus marathons.
  • Always factor in how you envision the outcome of your influence. This will make it easier to rally others when you are describing what you are accomplishing to do, and for them to determine if they can also get behind and support what you are attempting to influence.

Like a coin, influence has two sides. Make sure the influence you are choosing to have is on the side you are proud of representing. Otherwise, living with knowing your influence either doesn’t have the best intentions, or can be harmful to others is something you will have to wrap your conscious around. If your influence can have a positive impact on others, I see this as one of the best gifts we can give to one another.  Cheers to making this happen.

TAGS: #Influence #PositiveInfluence #Leadership #Management #Howtopositivelyinfluenceothers #RoleModel #PositiveSociety

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Who’s your CEO mentor?

Chief Executive Officers play a number of different roles in an organization. One of them may not be formally factored into their role, or exercised as often as it should be. I’m talking about the importance of being someone’s mentor. Yes, you, and yes, I realize you are busy. However, whether you realize it or not, or if you have not mentored someone in a while, perhaps you forgot about the fact you might get more out of this experience than the person you are mentoring.

I’m referring to the number one benefit of being able to assist and provide insightful guidance and direction to your mentee. Potentially in an entirely different manner than you would to your direct staff, and also those you lead on a daily basis in your CEO role.

Of course, I realize that CEO’s schedules are some of the most difficult to find an opening on, but without exception, it will be non-negotiable for you to find time each week on your schedule for the person or the individual’s you will be mentoring. I say will be mentoring, because after reading this article, either you, or someone who would like to be mentored by you will be connecting with one another.

As someone who naturally enjoys mentoring others, I can appreciate not everyone might be comfortable taking on the responsibility to do this. However, if you are the CEO, or in a leadership role, I need to remind you that you have a perhaps unwritten obligation to impart and share your experience with others. Possibly even unconventional mentees, such as ones who are at the very beginning of their careers. Or, perhaps in an entirely different industry. It’s also probable, you might find yourself mentoring a newly minted CEO. They certainly would benefit from your experience.

So, is there a particular method for finding a mentee or CEO mentor? Not really, as there are numerous approaches someone could take to find one or the other. For example, asking people in your network if they could connect you to their CEO would be one way to get started. In fact, it might be easier to ask a CEO to mentor you, than a CEO to approach you to ask if you would like to be mentored by them.

I consider it one of the highest honors when someone asks me to be their mentor. I also take full responsibility for being completely engaged and willing to be vulnerable with sharing what I have learned with the people I have, and am currently mentoring. Although it may be uncomfortable, no topic is off limits to those I am mentoring. Of course, not everyone might subscribe to this level of openness, but I consider it to be one of my signature mentoring style characteristics.

Since I am the type of person who is very comfortable with ambiguity, I also can appreciate that others may not be. Don’t get me wrong, I also like a certain amount of structure, but I also have a high level of flexibility which affords me being able to have a less structured mentoring approach. Some might call it casual, but I think of it as being authentic, and it supports my level of how I enjoy interacting with others. Especially those I am mentoring.

If you were to dissect my career, one of your findings would be that the greatest joy I have found in leading others was to be looked at as someone they could trust, want to follow and most importantly learn from and model their professional behavior after. Some of my greatest and most precious memories come from when I helped someone I was mentoring, and when they have what I’ll call a “light-bulb” moment. In other words, by working together, my mentee reaches a moment in time when they are able to figure out and learn from me, but are able to customize what they have learned, and apply it to their respective situation they are working on.

Given the fact most CEO’s reading this article will not likely, or in general reach out to a mentee, I ask you to consider doing the following:

  • Please be open to a request or multiple ones from people who might want to be mentored by you.
  • You clearly establish what the guidelines entail for being mentored by you.
  • Determine what aspects of your experiences are going to be the most impactful for the person or people you are mentoring.
  • Considering you are likely goal oriented, factor in what the goal or goals will be for your mentee. Please keep in mind that some mentees may be part of your mentoring experience for various lengths of time. Some may in fact be mentored by you for years, while others might only require a short mentoring stint with you.
  • Mentoring someone is both an honor and privilege, and realistically, someone either formally or informally mentored you. If they didn’t, consider yourself to be fortunate to have arrived in your role without the enormous benefits mentoring can provide someone.

If you are wondering how to approach a CEO to mentor you, one of my earlier suggestions was to ask someone who might know a CEO if they would introduce you to them. If you do not know anyone who knows a CEO, here are some possible ways of finding and reaching out to one.

  • Factor in whether you will gain more benefit from a CEO who is at a small company, mid-size one, or at a large enterprise.
  • Determine if you would benefit more from someone who is in your industry, or whether there would potentially be more to learn from someone outside of it.
  • Is the geographic location of where the CEO is a factor? Will you have difficulties due to drastic time zone differences, or perhaps cultural ones depending on which country you each live in?  
  • Does it matter how much CEO experience they have to you?
  • Would it matter if the CEO is a male or a female?
  • With the basic considerations behind you, you can begin your CEO mentor research on-line. Most of you reading this are on LinkedIn, but if you are not, I highly recommend you start there.
  • Depending on how many people you have in your LinkedIn network, may hinder or support your quest to find your CEO mentor. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have many people in your network. Chances are good someone in it has access to at least one CEO. Begin there, and first ask for an introduction to your connection who knows this person.
  • Once you have identified which CEO’s you want to approach to mentor you; please limit it to one or two, and then craft your note to ask them if they would consider mentoring you.
  • Make sure your mentoring inquiry note to the CEO is well thought through in terms of your ask. One of the main things to focus on is your “why” you would like to be mentored by them.
  • Also factor in what you may have to offer the CEO. If you are considerably younger, or perhaps in a different industry or geography, think about the unique perspectives you could offer them based on your generational and current industry or location experience.
  • When the CEO agrees to mentor you, and you embark upon your mentoring journey, keep in mind to be both authentic and respectful of the opportunity to engage and learn from one another.
  • Please leave your biases and pre-conceived notions about one another at the door. I guarantee you will be surprised by each other’s knowledge.

Although mentoring is often considered a one-way situation, it should be a bi-directional learning opportunity for both the mentor and mentee. Not all of the time, but as often as possible, as we can always learn someone from another person. Enjoy the journey as both a mentor and mentee.

Tags: #Leadership #Mentoring #Business #Howtofindamentor #CEOMentors #CEOsthatMentor #WhyallCEOsShouldbeMentors #Teams #Management #PersonalDevelopment #ProfessionalDevelopment #Peopledevelopment #Humandevelopment #FindingaCEOtoMentorYou

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Pivoting – When is the right time?

Let’s agree on one thing. There is no such thing as true perfection. If there was, then why haven’t more people attained it in every area of their life that matters to them? Sure, we have all seen examples of what would be considered nearly perfect, but at the end of the day, everyone will likely have a different definition of what this really means. So, as a foundation for agreement, let’s begin by starting out with agreeing that perfection is subjective.

When I was considering what to write about today, I thought about how many people recently are referring to themselves professionally as transformation experts. Without exploring their credentials, I would venture to guess that most of these people have been through an experience which impacted them significantly. Hopefully it was a positive one, but I’m certain many of them were not. I also hope they have the right credentials to help others with the transformation they are promising.  

Regardless of your age, I guarantee everyone reading this has had a minimum of one transformational experience. The kind of experience which has shaped your thinking, and perhaps your actions. As you pause to consider what would be the major experience in your life that was transformative, have you factored in how it has impacted your profession, how you live your life, or the relationships you have? Or, have you thought about whether the experience either strengthened, weakened or significantly altered your personal or professional goals?

Chances are in your favor that the transformative experience you had impacted a part of your life that made you reflect upon why it happened to you. Depending on the level of the positive or negative influence the experience had on you will impact the length of time it will take to process what happened. If it was a positive experience, it will be easier to have a clearer appreciation of how to benefit from what happened. Conversely, if the situation was a negative one, and you experienced any type of trauma, the timeline for being able to have clarity on seeing any positive outcome will take appreciably much longer.

In either scenario of experiencing any type of transformation, the end point will result in you coming to terms with which way to pivot directionally forward. Unfortunately, some people will become what I call “stuck”. Perhaps they will need professional help to move forward, but this isn’t always necessarily. However, it is perfectly acceptable to seek help if you are not able to get past the experience you had. Even if it was a positive one, there are people who still get stuck with not knowing how to leverage and benefit from the pivot they can and should be making.

Personally, I had not thought about the term pivot until I was decades into my career. Had I done so, it would have prevented many sleepless nights agonizing over how to deal with, and make the best of either a bad, or good situation. Luckily, since I began to embrace pivoting as my new way of being able to move forward with greater ease, it has opened up possibilities I would never have considered. For example, I would not be writing about this topic right now, if I had not been encouraged to take my professional experience and share it with others via a much broader platform. In other words, I’m referring to the teams I was leading, and the people I was mentoring on a consistent basis over the years who were in a closed environment, on a smaller platform, yet benefiting from my pivoting experiences.

There are numerous benefits to embracing the concept of pivoting and the way you currently look at your life personally or professionally. If you are wondering how to go about testing out pivoting in your life, below are some potential ways to get you started on becoming more comfortable doing so.

  • Ask yourself if you truly enjoy being “stuck”, and not making forward progress?
  • Is there someone in your life who is holding you back from being able to pivot and move forward? Realistically, you are likely the only one holding yourself back.
  • Think about a time you were able to benefit from pivoting your thinking. What was the outcome, and would you do this over again?
  • Consider a current experience you have had which you have not pivoted from. Now think about whether your pro and con list is going to be longer when you take the time to write this out. When you see your pro list, it will likely be longer than your con list. Commit to putting a plan together to begin pivoting forward to make the pros on your list a reality.
  • Can you honestly admit there is never a good time to pivot? Challenge your own thinking on this. It might be difficult, but the first step is to attempt to look at your scenario via a different lens. When you do this, you will begin to see new ways you will be able to benefit from moving forward, or in a better direction.

I can assure you I have always benefitted from the concept of pivoting, and each time I have done so, it has been easier to accomplish. The expression “we can be our own worst enemies” is something I think about when I’m tempted not to pivot. Each time I consider this, it eases my mind into thinking about possibilities versus remaining in a place I would rather not be. I hope my suggestions will allow you to benefit from adding pivoting as a strategy to continue to benefit from both your negative and positive experiences.

TAGS: #Vulnerability #Pivoting #Benefitsofpivoting #Mindset #Leadership #Management #Success #Teams #Movingforward #Strategy #Openmind #Beingopenminded #Transformation #Motivation

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