Archive for the ‘Executive Presence’ category

Control Overreaction At Work and Home

March 5th, 2013

Angry Biz WomanWhen it comes to pressure in the workplace or at home, which situations trigger feelings of overload, burden, overwhelm and stress?  How do you typically react?  Do you freeze up, get angry or cranky, gossip, feel frustrated, or stop working and start complaining?  Do you overreact?

The next time pressure and overload land in your world, shift your old pattern to a more constructive response.

Consciously choose your reaction. Begin by acknowledging to yourself that wave of despair, annoyance or overwhelm as it starts to surface.  Then, take a moment and identify your preferred response.  If you need the benefit of another perspective, speak with your manager or a trusted friend.  Discuss the necessity of a shift in priorities.  Seek out their advice about ways to proceed. You can also solicit suggestions from a colleague.  Or, if need be, take a brief walk to clear your head, release tension and get a fresh perspective.

The trick to handling pressure more effectively is interrupting your auto-pilot, patterned response. Consciously choose to replace overreaction with emotional intelligence and you’ll feel the change ripple through your life.

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Leadership Quality That Breeds Success

January 22nd, 2013

Leadership Quality That Breeds SuccessCharles, a senior-level coaching client, told me that early in his career, his mentor advised him to be smart enough to be humble, versus proving how smart he is.

No matter the job level of the person he’s interacting with, Charles’ mode of operation is always to be collegial and collaborative.

Here are the principles that guide his behavior and his leadership style:

  • He works with people versus them working for him.
  • He demonstrates respect for everyone’s point of view, even when he disagrees.
  • He looks to learn something from everyone, even if it’s simply what their interests and passions are.
  • To make space for others to share what they know, he often asks, “What do you think?”  “What does your experience say we should do in this case?”

Charles’ smart-enough-to-be-humble leadership style helps the people in his organization feel valued.  They’re also not afraid to be open and honest when interacting with him.  In today’s business climate, where innovation and creativity are required, keeping the lines of communication flowing is critical because you never know from where that next great business idea will come.

Are you smart enough to be humble?

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Obstacles or Opportunities: How to Respond With Emotional Intelligence

January 15th, 2013

stress and depression, broken pencil, isolated on black

Every day, opportunities are presented to us. They may be disguised as obstacles, problems or issues, but what they really are is a chance to demonstrate our ability to make a positive contribution to our lives or our company’s goals and objectives.

The best way to take advantage of these opportunities is by making conscious choices designed to get you closer to your personal and career goals.

Here are two simple steps that will help you act more mindfully in the face of a perceived obstacle.

  1. Slow down your actions and reactions. Take a few breaths and think before you speak, decide or act.
  2. Then, look out into future and imagine the potential consequences of your response. Determine if what you’re about to say or do supports or sabotages your intentions.

In all areas of life – at work and at home, conscious choice is a necessary component of behavioral change and goal achievement. Make a firm decision to accomplish your goals by breaking free of self-limiting patterns. Simply put, a quick “no” might close more doors than you realize at first, while a well-thought out “yes” signals others that you’re an engaged member of a team focused on success.

Remember:  stop, breathe and think.  Then, select the emotionally intelligent response that will move you closer to what you want.

To make your year more successful and satisfying, learn more about the powerful possibilities of conscious choice in LIES That Limit: Uncover The Truth Of Who You Really Are.

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New Beginnings! TeressaMooreGriffin.com Goes LIVE.

January 9th, 2013

TeressaMooreGriffin.comThe new year is about new beginnings.  Which makes the announcement of my new website TeressaMooreGriffin.com rather timely.

I’ve spent decades successfully helping executives become more effective and purpose-driven in their jobs.  Over the years I’ve seen the role of leadership change from that which is exclusive to the very top echelon of a company to something required of every employee no matter their rank.

Successful companies know that leadership, creativity and innovation doesn’t always come from the top.  Valuable insight and drive can come from anywhere along the chain of command.  This means two things.  Today’s executives need to better understand how to capitalize on the intellectual power and energy within their company, and up and down the corporate ladder, employees must learn how to make their impact felt.

It is that knowledge that I share with you on TeressaMooreGriffin.com – the latest online community that has sprung from Spirit of Purpose™.

This new website is also the home of my Office Talk reports, heard regularly on KYW Newsradio Online.  Office Talk provides quick, easy-to-digest tips on being effective at work.  The topics cover a wide range, including how to conduct productive meetings, mentoring and being mentored, failing your way to success and how to get through difficult, but necessary conversations.

Being more effective at work leads to being happy at work and in life.  There are simple adjustments you can make to change your attitude and behavior that will catapult you to the top, or simply make you feel more powerful and productive where you are.

TeressaMooreGriffin.com is live right now!  Stop by and visit.  I’ll update Office Talk every week with the latest written and audio versions of my reports.  Audio is included so you multi-taskers can listen to these 1-minute reports while you work!

Let me know what obstacles you face in the workplace.  Chances are you’re not alone.  I want to make sure “Office Talk” addresses real issues people are dealing with as they manage people and processes in their everyday worklife.

Here’s to a prosperous and happy 2013 for you at home and at work!

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Power Comes From Listening More and Talking Less

October 23rd, 2012

Listen more. Talk less.

Try this for just one day and notice the impact on you and on others.  Listen more.  Listen to understand.  Listen to learn.  Listen to empathize.  Listen to validate.

Don’t worry.  You won’t become invisible, powerless or less impactful.  In fact, you will become more visible because you’ll stand out as someone who cares in a world full of people who are busy pushing their agenda, selling their ideas, jockeying for position.

You may find these three techniques helpful to listen actively for far more effective communication.

Mirror the speaker’s message.  In other words, accurately restate the content and emotional tone of the speaker’s message by paraphrasing what you heard.  This is a good way to demonstrate that you understand what was said.  And, it allows the speaker to clarify important points, you may have missed or misunderstood.

Empathize with the speaker’s feelings or emotional state.  Let the speaker know that you hear how they are feeling about the topic of discussion.  Name the emotion you believe the speaker is experiencing.  Use phrases like you sound happy or sad, scared, angry, concerned, etc. Or, I image you’re feeling frustrated, joyful, etc.

Validate the speaker’s point of view.  Confirm that you understand the situation through her eyes and can appreciate why he or she feels the way they do, even if you don’t agree.  To practice validation, use phrases such as… “I can see why you say that…”  Or, “Given what you’ve said, I understand why you conclude…”

Talk less and listen more.  Then, notice how many people – at home and at work – will compliment you for being such a great listener, for caring or for affording them the opportunity to talk through something that was concerning them.

Emotionally intelligent people engage in active listening.  To power up your effectiveness as a communicator and your credibility as someone who genuinely cares, try it and watch your personal and/or executive presence emerge.

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Boost Trust in Your Relationships

October 16th, 2012

Are your relationships resting on a strong foundation of trust?  If so, you may be among the 49% of people in the US who say they have a high level of trust in others.

But, here’s the rub:  if 49% trust others that means 51% aren’t so trusting.  What’s that about?  While I can’t account for the whole story, I believe I have a useful perspective on part of it because trust is at the heart of what makes relationships work.

When trust is present in a relationship there is a sense of ease, reliability and predictability.  The presence of trust helps us to relax and feel safe.  We need trust in our relationships – at home, in the workplace, in our communities.  Trust is its own social capital and it’s value – priceless.

You may be in an important relationship where you want to strengthen trust.  It’s not bad, but it certainly could be better.  Or, perhaps you’re forming new relationships – in your love life, in a new or extended family, on in your professional life.  Or you may be facing the uphill challenge of needing to repair trust and credibility in a damaged or broken relationship.

When clients talk with me about their challenges with building or repairing trust, and ask how to proceed, my recommendation is often the same.  It’s a straightforward, simple suggestion:  going forward, keep your word.  Say what you mean.  Promise only what you intend to deliver.

Even when you’re uncomfortable saying “No,” don’t agree to anything you know you’re not going to do because you don’t want to, don’t have the authority to execute, or because of some other constraint you won’t or can’t follow-through.

Broken agreements are at the heart of most damaged and dysfunctional relationships, both in the workplace and at home.  If you’re not going to keep a commitment you made, tell the affected person or parties, as soon as possible.  Offer a sincere apology for not following through on what you said.

Keeping your word is an act of honor and accountability.  It makes you stand out as trust-worthy when people know they can count on you to keep the promises you make, and when you can’t, they know you’ll give them the respect of informing them directly and early.

Boost the trust level in your relationships.  The trust you earn by keeping your word will open doors and keep them open.

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Are You C-Suite Ready?

October 9th, 2012

While personal styles among those who occupy the C-suite can vary dramatically, from the reserved and analytical to the warm, outgoing people person, exceptional leaders – those who get results in the short run and long-term – all share a special set of common characteristics.  And, it’s not technical competence, nor the gift of exceptional intellect.

Daniel Goleman says, “…the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way:  They all have a high degree of emotional intelligence.”  EQ – emotional intelligence – makes it more likely that you’re C-suite ready and will thrive once there.

Goleman’s work suggests that strong IQ and technical capabilities are necessary in that they help you gain the attention of those who make the hiring and promotion decisions.  IQ and technical competence open doors.  But, it’s your EQ – your level of emotional intelligence – that can derail your ascendency or help you excel and shine.

To get a quick read on your current level of EQ, for each component below, answer the following questions.  Rate yourself – 1 if you’re at the lower end of the continuum and up to a 5 at the highest end.

These questions are designed simply to make you think and help you self-assess.

  1. Are you self-aware? To what degree do you recognize and understand your moods, emotions, drives and impact on others?
  2. Do you self-regulate? To what degree are you able to control your impulses?  Do you to think before acting?
  3. Do you motivate?  To what degree are you energetic, passionate, persistent, and work to achieve goals for their own sake, not simply for money, acclaim or status?
  4. Are you empathetic?  To what degree do you understand and take into account the emotional makeup and reality of others?
  5. Are you socially skillful? To what degree are you able to build rapport, find common ground, maintain relationships, and influence others to move in a particular direction?

This “quick and dirty” self-assessment can help you get a feel for your current level of EQ.  Add up your scores and divide by 5 to find out where you are on the continuum.

No matter where you are, you can strengthen your competency in any or all of the EQ components identified by Goleman if you commit to doing so.   Set clear goals with relevant actions steps.  Practice the behaviors that will produce the change you want.  Along the way, get other’s perspective on how you’re doing.  Ask for feedforward from colleagues, direct reports, senior leaders and coaches.

With dedication and persistence, you can strengthen your EQ, be C-suite ready and flourish once there.

To learn more about Daniel Goleman and Emotional Intelligence, Google Daniel Goleman or click here.

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Want to Change the People Around You?

September 18th, 2012

LIES That Limit discusses culture – familial, racial, religious, regional, national, etc. – Each has its intended and unintentional impact in the way culture is passed on, not only through the rational, spoken messages we receive, but also through invisible, energetic exchanges.  Now, I understand such transmissions to be the magical work of mirror neurons.  Now, that’s cool!

Mirror neurons provide clues as to how culture is transmitted and why it’s so hard to change.  Because we mimic what we see, we tend to keep doing what we see those around us doing.  We imitate what we observe, making our behavior clearly and easily influenced by those around us.  People who live together, work together, play together, hang out together begin to act, sound, feel and think alike.  Our behavior tends to be a reflection of what we see.  The same is so for those around us.

With every feeling you experience, every intention you hold, and every action you take, you’re having a significant affect on others.  Your feelings, thoughts and behavior stimulate the same thoughts, feelings and behavior in those around you, through the action of their mirror neurons.  They can read your thoughts, feelings and intentions.  To extend the logic, the more consistently you engage in a certain behavior, carry a certain feeling and intention, the more likely you are to shape or contour – influence – the behavior of others.

At home, leading by example is more than a catch phrase or way to keep kids from behaving badly.  Mirror neurons are another argument for walking the path you want your children to walk — which is infinitely more effective than, “do as I say.”  Often you hear parents wonder, “Where on earth did she pick that up?”  Now we know there’s a chemical reaction that shapes these behaviors. Actions you take that you don’t think your kids pick up on or that you might not be aware of are working their way into your children’s brains.

If you work in an organization – on a team or lead a group – you can positively affect the culture by maintaining a positive pattern of feeling, thought and behavior.  Your consistent, repetitive behavior will impact the mirror neurons of those around you and they will, sooner or later, begin to reflect back to you what they’ve experienced.

To change the culture of your organization or your household, hold firm and stay the course.  As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see…” and notice how others will eventually mirror back to you your beliefs and behavior.

Learn more about mirror neurons:

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The Right Words For That Difficult Work-Appropriate Dress Conversation

July 24th, 2012

If the uncomfortable task of coaching someone on how they dress for work falls to you, you may be struggling with what to say and how to say it in a way that maintains a good working relationship.

Words can be your enemy or your friend in a conversation that strikes so close to the heart of the person you’re talking to.  How we dress is a direct expression of how we feel about ourselves, so asking someone to change can bring up unforeseen issues.  For that reason, using a technique called “FeedForward” is extremely helpful because it removes the sting borne out of criticizing past behaviors.

Here’s how you might tie conversations about appearance to work ambitions and be specific about what you’re recommending.  Use language like, “As you’re well aware, we’re all judged based on appearance – whether or not we look the part.  From past conversations, I know you want to take on a bigger role.  Everyone knows you have the talent to do the job, so that’s not a concern.  One suggestion I have, that will help you look the part, is to start wearing tops that come a little higher up at the neckline to cover your cleavage or skirts and dresses that come to the knee.”   Or, for a man, “May I suggest that you make sure your shirts and slacks are pressed and crisp looking.  In our conservative organization, this change will help you to look the part, which we all know goes a long way toward convincing others that you’re a good fit for the role and will represent the company well.”

If you’re giving feedback to a person who is already in the role and you’re trying to help them refine their appearance, try using statements like:  “I know you want to move ahead.  You might increase your chances if you made a few changes in the way you dress.   Here, those who get the kind of opportunities you want demonstrate their competence, as you already do, and they also dress more conservatively and very professionally.” More examples of specific recommendations might include, “If you’re serious about your career progression, I suggest you begin wearing clothing that is less form fitting, skirts and dresses with longer hem lengths, professionally laundered shirts, wear a shorter hair cut (for men), wear blouses that fit a bit more loosely, or suits that are well tailored.”

Once you’ve offered your suggestions, check-in and listen:  Ask, “Given what I’ve just said, do you have any questions or concerns?”  If the person says, “Nothing; I understand.”  The meeting is over.  If he or she says, “I don’t know why you’re picking on me.”  Respond with, “I’m sorry to hear I came off that way.  That’s the exact opposite of what I intended.“   Or, “This is probably a lot to take in at once.  What if you take a day or two and think about it.  Then, if you’d like to discuss it more, we can.  Could that work for you?” Whichever statement you choose to make, do so, then stop talking and listen.

If he says, he doesn’t agree with you, don’t debate the point.  Simply say something like, “Okay.  I understand.  I wanted to provide this perspective because I thought it might be helpful.  That was my goal.  I regret that I missed the mark.”  Then, let it go.   As circumstances change for the person – new roles, new challenges, new failures – you may decide to approach the topic again, perhaps differently, if that feels appropriate and is likely to serve the person’s best interest.  For now, politely, end the meeting.

No matter what the recipient’s response – “This is exactly what I needed to hear” or “You’re nuts.” – close off the conversation with, “Thanks for hearing me out.  I appreciate your willingness to at least consider the perspective I’ve offered.”

Remember, like feedback, FeedForward is a gift you give.  As is true with all gifts, the recipient can open it, love it and use it immediately, save it to unwrap later, ignore it or trash it.  It’s entirely up to them.  You’ve done your part when you muster up the courage to share the information.

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Too Much Cleavage, Thigh Or Butt At The Office?

July 17th, 2012
Taking the Sting Out of Giving Feedback About Work-Appropriate Dress

The way we look is a very personal and sensitive matter. Yet, physical appearance defines our image – our brand – and influences the way others see us. It impacts our credibility and plays a significant role in opening and closing doors to opportunity. Talent will take you a long way, but if you don’t look the part, it will take a lot of regular, continual convincing to prove you belong in the role, IF you’re even given a shot.

Most people know and follow the rules – written and unwritten. They dress appropriately, in a way that’s consistent with the professional, self-respecting image they want to project and the company and customers expect. But occasionally, we encounter those whose daily appearance gives us cause for pause. We wonder, “Did he sleep in that shirt?” “Why is his hair is so long and messy?” “Why doesn’t someone tell her she’s showing too much cleavage, thigh or butt?”

These rule breakers are also often the people who question why they aren’t taken seriously, or haven’t been considered for the opportunity they want. It’s as if organizational and professional norms are invisible to them.

Giving feedback on dress can be a very uncomfortable position – even if you know it will be helpful. It can get complicated, and you might feel intimidated – particularly if the person is of a different gender, race, class or ethnicity. Yet, if you’re the person’s manager or mentor, it’s your responsibility to communicate the unspeakable.

Assuming that your goal is to support the success of your direct report, mentee, colleague or friend, and do no long-term harm to the relationship, there is a way to speak the unspeakable. Use FeedForward.

The basic idea of FeedForward is to focus on suggested changes for the future. That means you, the giver of feedback, are encouraged to make affirmative statements – statements that describe what to do. Focus on what the person needs to do going forward to better align their daily actions with their goals and increase their effectiveness. FeedForward allows you to step out of that awkward space of criticizing past behavior.

Here are some guidelines for an effective FeedForward session about dress.

Prepare: Clarify what you think the person needs to do, going forward. Write down your suggestions and make sure they are clear, specific and focused on suggested changes – to dos for the person to consider.

Practice: Conduct a confidential practice session with a trustworthy ally. Behave as if your practice partner is the recipient of the FeedForward. Practice and refine your approach, wording, tone and non-verbals until you get it right. Then, practice it once more. It’s worth the investment if you sincerely want to be helpful and maintain the relationship.

Set a Time to Talk: Tell the person you’d like to talk with them about something important. Ask, “Is now a good time or would you prefer another date and time?”

Speak Privately: Demonstrate respect by finding a private setting to insure confidentiality and decrease the likelihood of being interrupted. Consider using your office or theirs, a conference room, a secluded spot in a restaurant or coffee shop. Go for a walk or sit in the park.

Acknowledge Your Intention to Be Helpful: Start with, “I’m going to make a suggestion that I believe will be helpful to you in your career. I want to do it in a way that feels respectful and supportive of your success, and I want nothing to get in the way of our relationship. The topic is a sensitive one in that it deals with your appearance, the way you dress.”

Connect FeedForward with ambitions: This gives evidence of your intention to support the person’s success. It may also, perhaps apart from your conversation, give him or her a chance to consider how their current style of dress aligns with their career goals, as well as organizational and industry norms.

Learn more about Feedforward and Marshall Goldsmith, author and founder of the FeedForward coaching process, in which I’m certified.

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