Tag Archives: leadership

Listen to a REAL Musician Talk about Being an Entrepreneur

REAL Musician as an EntrepreneurJoanie Connell hosts a Women Lead Radio interview with Natasha Kozaily, owner of Kalabash School of Music + the Arts.  Not only does Natasha own the music and arts school, she also sings in a band and raises money for the International Rescue Committee, among other things.

Joanie asks Natasha about how she brings creativity to entrepreneurship.  She says to her employees and students, “this is a place to dream.”  Listen here.

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The Bomb: A True Story about Leadership, Trust, and Control

stressed studentThere was a bomb threat at a small private school recently.  The head of school received the threat on Tuesday afternoon for Wednesday.  She immediately alerted law enforcement and gathered the appropriate group of leaders at the school and then contacted the parents to let them know school was cancelled on Wednesday (out of “an abundance of caution”) while they dealt with the threat.  The local police and FBI swept the school with bomb-sniffing dogs multiple times and even had a helicopter fly overhead to inspect rooftops.  They identified the perpetrator and made sure the school was safe (and swept again) before reopening school on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, the head of school held a special assembly for parents and explained what had transpired in as much detail as law enforcement officials would allow her to.  She then opened the floor to questions—and that’s when the real explosions occurred.  Parents criticized her actions and motivations.  They thunderously applauded each other’s accusations and tried to derail the meeting with emotionally charged diatribes.  I will stop here to tell you why I am recounting this story.

This is a story about leadership. 

No matter how much the head of school did right and how high she prioritized the safety of the children and how much she communicated with the parents, it wasn’t enough.  Nobody said, “Wow, that must have been a tough situation for you and you handled it well.”  Instead, they focused on themselves, raising one complaint after another about how little they were involved in the situation.

This is a story about trust. 

While the school leaders were managing the situation on Tuesday night, one parent called the local TV station to send reporters in to spy on what was going on and broadcast it for everyone to see.  This raised the question: why was there so little trust?  Was it the leader who was not trustworthy or was it the parents who weren’t able to trust?  I think it was the latter.

This is a story about control. 

People who have a high need for control aren’t able to trust others.  Our society currently encourages people to have a high need for control by drawing attention to everything we don’t control, like natural disasters, terrorism, and aging.  We run around in such a panic that we crave control and many of us end up trying to control things we can’t, like our children, their teachers, and even their bosses.

It’s time to loosen the grip.  Yes, it would have been a tragedy if a bomb had detonated at the school and hurt children, but it didn’t, and it couldn’t have because they closed the school.  They got police, FBI, dogs, and helicopters to ensure the safety of the school.  They did a good job.  It’s time we get hold of ourselves and learn to let go and trust others.  We can’t control everything, and we can’t control most things.  But we can control ourselves.  And we need to, if not for our own well-being, for everyone else’s sake.

Look at what the anxiety caused in this situation.  On Thursday, by total coincidence, someone inadvertently set off the fire alarm at the school.  The children were so stressed out they ran around and screamed and hid under desks.  Why do you think they were so stressed out?  Because the parents were out of control.

Anxiety is rampant right now among children and adults in our society.  According to the New York Times Magazine, hospitalization for teen suicide has doubled in the past ten years and so has the number of college freshmen who feel overwhelmed by all they have to do.

The Millennial generation of adults has the highest level of anxiety of any generation to date.  In fact, approximately one in five Millennials report experiencing depression, compared to 16 percent of Generation X employees and 16 percent of baby boomers, according to Bloomberg BNA.  This is no laughing matter.  Anxiety and depression wreak havoc on health and can lead to drug use and suicide.

We as leaders, parents, and adults need to take a deep breath, learn to trust, and role model composure for the people of the next generation.  The stakes are too high not to.

 

Master the Art of Making Mistakes

anxietyToday was an embarrassing day.  I was on the radio being interviewed by phone and I accidentally hung up right in the middle of a sentence.  I was mortified!  Fortunately, I had entered the phone number in my speed dial so I was able to get back on quickly.  The problem was, my heart was racing and I felt like such a fool and I had to continue with the rest of the interview.

How do you maintain your composure when you make a huge mistake in front of lots of people?  That is the situation good leaders must be able to handle.  We all make mistakes from time to time.  How we handle them differentiates the seasoned leader from the less experienced.

Every leader I have ever interviewed has said they have made numerous mistakes to get to where they are.  And I’m not just saying this to make myself feel better.  Research supports this, as does testimony from the most powerful leaders in the world.  Warren Buffet, for example forgave one of his leaders for making a $360 million mistake, saying “we all make mistakes.  If you can’t make mistakes, you can’t make decisions.  I’ve made a lot bigger mistakes myself.”

“It’s dangerous to be safe” said the president of a large Chicago-based construction company in Bill Treasurer’s book, Leaders Open Doors.  Treasurer tells leaders creating purposeful discomfort is a way to develop future leaders.  In other words, they must learn how to handle uncomfortable situations to grow.

Ironically, in the radio interview, I was talking about my book, Flying without a Helicopter, and how important it is for leaders to be resilient.  I was saying how younger people are getting fewer opportunities in their childhood to build resilience.  And there I was—sink or swim.  I had to be resilient in the moment to not only save face, but be a good role model to my listeners.

It wasn’t my best interview ever, but I got through it and live to tell about it.  It wasn’t fun at the time or for several hours afterward, but it turned into a learning opportunity.  And so it will for you when you make a big mistake in front of lots of people.  At least it will give you a good story to tell.

Like It or Not, Trump Is Your Kids’ Role Model

young-male-face-2-1428084-639x514An eighth grade girl had a concussion and dropped her books at school.  An eighth grade boy walked by her and laughed at her in front of his friends.  Did any of them stop to help her?  No.

As parents, we’re mortified to know our sons and daughters are going to school with people like this.  Yet, we turn on the TV and see Trump mocking Clinton for stumbling when she’s ill.

How are we supposed to instill the value of treating people with dignity into our children when they see high profile leaders behaving like bad kindergartners?

Role Models

Indeed, “the Trump effect” has been identified as a cause of bad behavior at school, but mean behavior is much more pervasive than that.  Reality TV is the archetypal example of mean behavior in the popular media, with Trump as one of the meanest television hosts. But the contestants themselves are goaded on to be mean too.

Even seemingly benign kids’ shows on the Disney Channel turn mean behavior into fodder for sitcoms.  Jessie is one of the worst I’ve ever seen, presenting comedy in the form of a 12-year-old rich girl belittling her nanny for wearing inexpensive clothes.

Albert Bandura’s famous 1960s Bobo doll experiment illustrated how children learn aggressive behavior by observing adults behaving aggressively.  In the experiment, children tended to imitate an adult who was praised for beating up an inflatable Bobo doll.

Whether fiction or reality, on TV or at home, kids pick up aggressive behavior from the adults they see modeling it.  Therefore, it’s up to us, as adults, to model respect and dignity if we want children to learn it.  We cannot rely on schools to teach it to them; we must show it to them.

This means we have to check our own behavior.  What are we saying?  How are we treating others?  What are we watching and laughing at?  Are we calling others on it when they disrespect someone?

Dignity

Donna Hicks wrote the book on dignity, with that very name.  She defines “dignity” as “our inherent value and worth as human beings; everyone is born with it.”  She contrasts dignity with respect, saying respect is earned through one’s actions.  In other words, people don’t have to earn dignity; it’s inherent in being human.

“The desire for dignity is universal and powerful. It is a motivating force behind all human interaction—in families, in communities, in the business world, and in relationships at the international level. When dignity is violated, the response is likely to involve aggression, even violence, hatred, and vengeance.” –Donna Hicks, Ph.D.

It doesn’t have to be an “us vs. them” world out there.  If we honor that inherent desire for dignity as we interact with people, we will likely get it back.  Even if we don’t, we’ll be teaching the next generation of leaders how to treat others with dignity for the future safety of our world.  If we don’t start, bad things are likely to happen.

The Quest for Comfort is Killing our Ability to Adapt

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  –Viktor F. Frankl

geometric-chair-1425313-639x619The principal of a school was concerned about a complaint from a parent regarding the size of the desks in the third grade classroom.  “Some of the children are this tall [pointing low] and others are that tall [pointing high], but the desks are all made for kids of this [average] height.”  “Therefore,” she continued, “some of the kids will be uncomfortable. Are you okay with the kids being uncomfortable?”  Feeling trapped, the principal wondered if he needed to go out and buy new desks of varying height.

school-1465744-640x480If I were the principal, my answer would be very simple: “Yes, I am okay with them being uncomfortable.”  Yes, it is important for kids to learn how to adapt to their environment.  If we keep customizing the environment to make each person comfortable, not only will we go bankrupt, but we’ll also keep them from being able to adjust to the world around them. Continue reading The Quest for Comfort is Killing our Ability to Adapt

Helping Others Succeed – An Interview with Dr. Joanie Connell

  What’s the best way to help others succeed? Listen to the podcast for fascinating—and practicable—advice on leadership that you can use at home, at work, or both!

In this BYB episode, you will . . .

  • Hear insight on getting the most from young people
  • Understand how to lead by allowing others to endure challenges
  • See how parents can inadvertently hinder their children’s success
  • Get essential tips for better leadership

Where Parenting & Leadership Meet

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Article and podcast interview with David Frizzell at Team Guru.

What do parenthood and leadership have in common? Where did helicopter parenting come from and what has been the impact on the Millennial generation? What is the age of the Façade – and how is it impacting us? How are Millennials performing in the workplace and how should they be led professionally? Read or listen here.

How to Change Bad Habits

burnout 2Over the years, we have developed deeply ingrained habits of how we react to things. These habits are often formed in childhood and may not be useful to us as adults. The following diagram shows how a habit plays out. We react to a trigger in the environment (or sometimes within ourselves) without thinking. Our impulses take over and the behavior just happens.

For example, if you were taught as a child to appreciate praise, your reaction to someone praising you might be “thank you.” If you were taught to be humble, you might automatically blurt out “you’re too kind.” If you were taught that you weren’t worthy of praise, you might have a different visceral reaction and say something self-deprecating.

Habit

trigger-impulse-behavior

To change an automatic response to a trigger, you need to be aware of your response to it. When you are aware of your response, you can make a choice of how to behave. See the diagram below.

Changing a Habit

trigger-change-behavior

To become aware of your responses to triggers, you need to slow things down. It’s like a moment in a TV show when the action freezes and the actor talks directly into the camera about the situation. Once the actor has talked it through, the action continues.

To improve awareness, start with reviewing situations after they have happened. For example, after a meeting, sit down and go over what happened, what the triggers were, how you were feeling in response to them, and how you behaved. Then think about how you would want to behave differently next time and make yourself aware of what the triggers were and the feelings you had in response to them.

For example, if a trigger is your boss taking control of the meeting from you, note that down. Your feeling might be angry and your behavior could be to shut down and stop participating in the meeting. The first step is noticing what the trigger is and what your impulsive reaction is. Then you have a choice.

The next step is to decide on a new behavior that you would like to do in place of the old one. For example, instead of shutting down, you might want to thank your boss for her input and take control of the meeting back. If that’s too much, an interim step could be to ruminate for a moment then pull yourself out of it and get back into the meeting as a participant instead of a leader. (If you could talk to your boss offline about it, that would be even better.)

Knowing what you should have done in hindsight is easy. Doing it in the moment is harder. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to change your behavior instantaneously. It takes time and practice.

The next time you experience that trigger, try to recognize it and put your new behavior into play. More likely, you’ll recognize your behavior to the trigger as you’re doing it and realize you should have done it differently. That’s okay. You’re making progress. Keep it up and you’ll eventually become aware as the trigger occurs, giving yourself that brief moment necessary to make a conscious choice on how you will behave in response.

As an interim step, don’t forget that it’s okay to go back, to redo, to stop things and say you want to do it differently. For example, when the boss takes over the meeting and you shut down, you could become aware of your behavior then stop your boss and say, “I’d really like to lead the next piece if you don’t mind.” If you had said something negative in your impulsive response, you could stop and say: “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. What I mean to say is…” People are often very forgiving when you admit you made a mistake.

You’ll know you’ve successfully changed your habit when you see yourself behaving in the new way automatically.

This  post was inspired by Marshall Goldsmith’s book Triggers.