Reading Like Mad

For years and years and years, reading more had always been a goal. Finally, I knew that I had to change it up to get better reading results. Get some small wins by finishing books that I had already started, read shorter books to gain a feeling of accomplishment, and embrace technology. So in 2018, I signed up for the Audible. Read more than ever, and finished 19 books.

In 2019, I signed up for the FREE Libby app, via my local library. Deleted my Audible account, which saves me $15/month. And the result is even better than 2018. In just four months, already completed 11 books and have two more books that will be finished by the end of April, which will total 14 books in the first four months of 2019.

Why am I reading so much? Because I have always wanted to. And because when I read about our seniors and the elderly, they wished they would have worked less and read more, among many other things. With Libby and Audible, we can listen to the book, and drive. We can listen and work out. Listen and go on a walk. Even listen while in the home, on our Echo Dot. Reading via Libby has been a wonderfully efficient use of my time. What a great way to leverage technology to increase my learning, knowledge, and relevancy.

More than ever now when I am speaking and coaching, I have a calm confidence to recommend books that are specific to a situation. If a team is trying to implement their first business plan, I recommend “Traction” by G Wickman. If a team is trying to figure out their brand and how to be relevant online, I recommend “10X” by Grant Cardone or “Crushing It” by G Vaynerchuk. If a team is facing some dysfunction, I recommend “Strengths” by T Rath or “Five Dysfunctions of A Team” by P Lencioni. If someone is refining their leadership skills, B Brown’s “Dare to Lead” is spot-on. If I am trying to make sense of current events, then consuming history helps me to better understand that we humans have a tendency to repeat what our ancestors did.

How are you staying relevant? How are you sharpening your saw? How are you helping others refine their skills? I believe that at the end of life, I will be very glad that I read all of these fascinating books (consuming books via Libby & Audible) and kept my learning edge sharp.

In The Next 100 Days, I Will…

This is the week in January when New Year’s Resolutions stop, stall, or become unrealistic for most people. Back on January 1, just 21 days ago, these were invigorating ideas to attack with energy in 2019. Things have changed. So what is getting in the way of these resolutions? Why are they losing steam? Now what do you need to do?

In our coaching work, we find that New Year’s Resolutions lose steam due to a variety of reasons. We also find that the art of delegation and accountability is tied to how you ask questions and give clarity around when, who, what, and why.

WHEN. When do you want to accomplish your goal? It’s a simple question, but the most critical one that is typically not understood. Many goals are set, and are missing a date. Thus, the goal keeps getting pushed out or not achieved, because a date was never set. That’s why it’s a great tactic to state, “In the Next 100 Days, I will...” When we force ourselves to identify what WE will do in a more defined time period, we tend to be more successful. Just try it and simply ask, “When does this need to be done?”

WHO. Who can help hold you accountable? Having a partner, teammate or coach will help you push through barriers, and sometimes even help you get there more quickly and smoothly. Who can help you with their expertise, and are you asking for it?

WHAT. Goals that are specific and truly have some ummph behind them tend to be achieved than ambiguous or unrealistic goals. For example, if I want to weigh in the 150s this year. I want to get there, and before the end of April. Why? Because I want to feel and look better, while at the lake in the late spring and all summer. Before that though, we head to the Florida beaches right after Easter. So it’s time to get serious and be wise on portions: reduce one meal every day to simply fruit and a small handful of nuts, and also increase my exercise to at least 10,000 steps every single day.

WHY. Plenty of goals are loosely defined, i.e. “lose 10 pounds.” However, when we add some why and purpose behind it, these goals tend to be MUCH more achievable. Let’s take my simple, “weigh in the 150s this year.” WHY is that so important? Because in the summer of 2018, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis at just 53 years old. My doctors gave me a list of things to ensure that I do for the next few decades of my life, and one of the specifics was “weigh in the 150s, carry less weight on your briddle bones, and strength train so that your muscles are strong to carry your body/weight.” DONE. That’s all I needed to hear.

What’s YOUR WHY? Name it. And then state, “In the next 100 days, I will...”

p.s. Many thanks to Dr. Kevin Elko’s message here in Indianapolis last week. He inspired me to write this blog. He asked the crowd to say out loud, “In the next 90 days, I will…” MANY thanks to Dr. Elko for his reminders on what we CAN do. Follow him on twitter @DrKevinElko

The 7″ Snowfall

As the weather channel updates shouted, “the snow is coming,” most were thinking, “so run to the grocery store, drive home quickly, squeeze in those last minute errands, get outside and shovel that snow, salt the sidewalk,” right? Well, actually no was the answer for me this snowfall. Yes, I said, “No!”

Stayed Inside. The snow arrived on a Saturday morning and snowed all day. I purposefully made the decision to stay inside. This decision allowed me to get some tax prep done, sort thru some piles on my desk, watch some NFL playoffs, get on the treadmill for over an hour, catch up on my Linked In connections, and just be/do nothing. I lit candles, had the fire burning all day.

Plenty of Food. We looked at all the food in the frig (removed some items that were dated “best used by 2017 and 2018”) and kitchen cabinets, and realized we had plenty of food for 4-5 days. Plenty! Even had time to make soup, rice, bean salad, omelettes, whole wheat pancakes, and protein shakes. Sorted thru and organized the canned goods, and noticed that we are truly executing on the Mediterranean diet: very little meat, lots of beans, fruits and veggies, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, some dairy, and yes, some red wine.

Write and Read. Staying inside, enjoying the views of the snow while sitting by the fire just simply allowed me to slow down. I read. I wrote. I refined my 2019 goals a bit more. I talked to some friends and family. I slept over 9 hours!

Leverage Others. One of our contractors came by with a snowplow on his truck, and he plowed my drive quite easily. Thus, zero back pain for me. When I went thru my grocery list, I ordered groceries with an online app, and after the snowstorm had subsided for more than 24 hours, I easily drove on clear streets to pick up my groceries curbside. These both were huge time savers, and that’s interesting during a weekend that I was choosing to spend time in the home, on me and friends/family.

How do you say “NO?” When do you say “NO?” It’s a decision that only YOU can make. I feel refreshed as I head in to my Sunday evening. How you manage YOUR time is YOUR decision. My recommendation is to maybe more thoroughly enjoy the 7″ snowfall, instead of getting caught up in the craziness. If you choose to “Stay Outside”, then go sledding. Play. Make a snow angel. Enjoy the 7″ snowfall.

Perfect Pancakes & Leadership

How could anyone ever correlate making Perfect Pancakes and Leadership? I have used this metaphor many times over the last couple years, especially when a leader may need to practice their key messages, or talk through key topics prior to having a critical conversation, or prep before they introduce a new product launch.

This Sunday morning, I whipped up some pancake batter and grabbed the Nutella spread from the kitchen cupboard. My mouth was salivating, thinking back just one year ago as we enjoyed our time in Cantania, Sicily, Italy, savoring all kinds of chocolate croissants, espresso and cappuccino. However, my first two pancakes didn’t turn out so well. Why did that happen, when I had such a great visualization going on in my head?

Because, I hadn’t made pancakes in a while. With no recent practice, I burnt the pancakes because the temperature in the pan was just too hot. Yes, I over cooked those first two pancakes. Torched them! The third and fourth pancakes turned out much better, and I quickly spread the Nutella on them and devoured them. And I am encouraged and now ready to make even more pancakes on New Years Eve and New Year Day mornings.

In our coaching work, I continue to be amazed at how some colleagues hardly practice for those huge, critical conversations, or for that presentation to the key prospect that might help make your yearend numbers look brilliant, or on how to deliver a new message or product to current clientele. As a former college athlete, I recommend to practice. In fact, I recommend it too frequently. Too many colleagues just are not practicing, and so when they don’t get the results they intended, they are frustrated and surprised. As a coach, I recommend practicing your messaging in your car, in front of a mirror, on a walk with a trusted mentor, and even with your spouse or partner.

Let’s don’t over-complicate how to execute better as a leader. Most leaders are former athletes. Do what you used to do, all the time: Practice! When on a team, the coach held more practices than games you played. Many more practices than games. Athletes become good because they learn how to execute under pressure due to their countless hours of practice, and yes, winning some games along the way.

As a leader, are you practicing? Are you learning from other leaders? Are you practicing on simplifying your messaging with great clarity? Are you taking time to develop personnel? Are you prepping for those critical conversations that can change the trajectory of you and your colleague’s professional relationship? Like making the perfect pancake, it takes a few before the good pancakes are eaten. Practice makes better pancakes, and it makes better leaders, too. Practice!

Start A Business at 49? Yes

My great grandmother (GG Kate) immigrated here in the early 1900’s, when she jumped on a ship and landed in the USA from Lithuania.  As a teenager, she had the courage of a lion, to leave her family and country, and go abroad. She lived in East Chicago and bought apartments one by one, and then bought the entire building(s).  During the early 1970’s when our family traveled to Daytona Beach, FL, we visited my great grandmother.  She was a woman entrepreneur,  living near the beach, and a  good story of immigration done right.

Fast forward approximately 100 years from when she fled Lithuania. It’s now 2013. When you’re 49 years old,  and you want to start a real estate business, well, you just do it.  You courageously, just like your GG Kate, buy some properties, evaluate, buy and sell more, and now five years later, you have a profitable business that serves others in a very desirable community. And serves my bucket list of travel, enjoying life, and helping others.

Here are some TIPS on what TO DO as you start a business, and what NOT TO DO:

  1. Prep: Walk, think, look, inspect, read, listen. Before I bought my first three homes in the same week in June 2013, I walked the streets of downtown Carmel, looking at traffic flow, understanding prices, learning about infrastructure, asking other landlords how to be landlords, etc. for 18 months. NOT DO: buy properties based on emotion.  Instead, make business decisions.
  2. Draft: While in bed one evening in April 2013, I hand-wrote a business plan on one piece of paper. It was short, to the point, and gave me great clarity.  In short, it stated, “Provide homes with incredible walk-ability to shops, schools or restaurants. Be able to walk or jog to these homes. Focus on ranch homes for the safety of families and older clientele. Ensure that 10% gross income is achieved annually on your initial investment.” This draft helped me start my business and invest in homes the following 60 days. NOT DO: wing it, with nothing written down.  Instead, do the prep, plan, and then execute.
  3. Team of Advisors: Call an attorney familiar with establishing LLC’s, especially a law firm that understand real estate laws.  Not only did they help get the LLC going, but they provided me with a detailed and fair lease. Get a CPA who has other clients like you.  Align with a good realtor.  Find ethical and reliable contractors, and then pay them quickly. Establish a very strong relationship with at least two bankers.  Understand your own financial plan with your financial advisor.  NOT DO: Not willing to pay or slow to pay for advice and help. Instead, realize there is always risk with any business and pay for guidance, help and advice. Build your team by sharing your vision and business plan.
  4. Work: On a downright yucky/rainy/cool Sunday in Spring 2013, I walked the streets of downtown Carmel.  When open houses were cancelling that day, I was out there working.  In the next week, my realtor helped me on offers, buy and close on three homes within 1/2 mile of each other. NOT DO: Rest, assume others will find the homes and do the work.  Instead, YOU do the work.
  5. Adjust: Of the 3 homes, the first home was rented quickly. The 2nd home was a ranch, but it was dated and had two bedrooms downstairs in a dark basement. The 3rd home was my personal home.  Adjusting quickly, I sold the 2nd home to a realtor and cleared a few thousand dollars, thank the Lord.  And I sold the 3rd one, my own home, after I remodeled it and captured a nice gain 2.5 years later. NOT DO: Move slowly. Instead, when it’s the wrong decision, quickly own it and fix it. Learn from it.
  6. Care: Once you have a client (tenant), take good care of them.  Your first client should help you quickly learn what’s important to them/future clients. If a client needs something and it’s a reasonable request, do it quickly.  NOT DO: Ignore your clients.  Instead, remember they are paying you, providing revenue, so be thankful and aware of what feedback they are providing.
  7. Ask: The first home that I bought had a nice home next to it. So I asked the owner if he would be willing to sell it.  Timing was everything.  I got it bought before he put it on the market.  And then I asked my realtor about buying the messy/skinny/wooded lot on the other side of the first home.  Within a few months, I had 3 properties next to each other, directly on The Monon in downtown Carmel. Location, location, location. NOT DO: Wait. Instead, you will make the difference in your business. You are in charge of the decisions. No one else.
  8. Track: Once the business starts, track every single expense and revenue.  I set up a spreadsheet, put it in the cloud, and can view the status of all the homes from anywhere.  And I can share this easily with my accountant to assist with tax prep. Created folders for every home, for every receipt, for every year.  NOT DO: Fall behind in tracking expenses.  Instead, to be profitable, you need to know your revenues and expenses.
  9. Grow. Let others/neighbors/tenants/realtors know that you are a local business owner, looking to grow the business, wanting to buy more homes, etc. Good people will help you.  Be opportunistic, and buy distressed assets. And update your assets AND your business plan regularly. NOT DO: Get lazy.  Instead, keep learning, sharing, and growing.
  10. Buy Low, Sell High. Seems simple, but the lower priced homes with nice remodels or updates are the ones that are most liked by our clients and most profitable.  Sell them when you are comfortable with the gain.  NOT DO: Sell Low, Buy High.  Instead, be wise. Have a goal for your profits and then execute.

Since my grandmother came to America in the early 1900’s, she grew, learned, moved, and leveraged advisors.  GG Kate owned multiple properties, and even had a will in place when she passed.  Her daughter (my grandmother Bernice) and my paternal grandfather George owned real estate. And my mom and dad own land, as well. So one might say that I have a natural gene that’s called, “the love of real estate.” What’s YOUR plan to start YOUR business? Don’t let age, or being a woman, or fear stop you.  Instead, be courageous like a lion, execute with a plan, and make YOUR dream a reality, just like GG Kate did in moving to America. And then truly becoming an entrepreneur.

 

It’s Time For Fun, Isn’t It?

On a cool, rainy evening in October 2018, Hoosier Park was hosting the “Super Night” of Indiana’s best in harness racing.  And a long-shot named “It’s Time for Fun” was in 6th place as the horses came down the stretch. But then “Fun” hit a faster gear and sprinted past them all and won easily.  Friends and four generations of the breeder and owner got to the winner’s circle just in time for the celebration and fun. And that owner shined a grin and said, “It takes a team!”

Who is the owner and breeder of “It’s Time for Fun”? My dad, Lynn Wilfong, 79 years young. I intentionally used the word “young”, as he sure loves his phrase that he shares regularly: “Have someone to love.  Love what you do. Have something to look forward to.” And he has also been heard to say, “I will die with my boots on.”

Love. Four generations showed up to see “It’s Time For Fun” win the 3 Year Old Filly Indiana Sires Stakes: his wife, Barbara, of 58 years; his three adult children & their spouses; and some of the grand children and a great grandchild.

Work. Lynn has been working with harness horses since he was a young boy.  And he continues to be patient with them, even after 6-7 decades of being around these large and loving creatures.

Look Forward. Although my dad has suffered some losses and also some health challenges in the last couple decades, he sure studies his own health and how to improve it just like he studies harness horse breeding and racing. He is looking at ways to find the right mixture of breeding to win at the value that he is willing to pay, and still bring a return to his harness racing business.

How does he do this and also leverage his team? He has a vision, and that is to keep winning, especially in Indiana and Illinois. He and mom, along with my brother and his wife (Brett and Candy), truly have defined roles.  Dad studies and recommends breeding, and helps ensure the mares have healthy foals.  He and Brett raise and haul them, and Brett trains them.  My nephew, Kyle (Brett’s son, who is 4th generation in the harness racing business now) is the driver.  Kyle’s girlfriend, Nicole, is the caretaker (groom) of the horses that are being raced and trained, and she is growing and now a trainer.  And the revenue and expenses are tracked by Barbara and Candy.  For decades, Barbara leads the effort to ensure all of the horses are named and registered.  Very clear roles, with a goal of winning in Indiana and Illinois with well cared for horses.  They also leverage vets, blacksmiths, and feed companies. All of these roles are very specific, and they rarely duplicate work.  The goal for everyone is to be accountable to helping the horse(s) be as healthy as possible so that it can professionally perform in nearly any condition (rain, heat, sleet, wind and cold weather).

With a clear Vision, clear Roles, and clear Goals for each person on your team, you will most likely continue to succeed even as you approach your 8th decade.  In my coaching work, I can sense dysfunction or lack of accountability quickly.  It typically is because something is NOT clear with the Vision, or the Roles, or the Goals.  If all three are clear, you can most likely expect good results.  And good results just might lead to “It’s Time for Fun”.

 

 

Please, Take Vacation.

Please, Take Vacation.
Millions of vacation days every single year in the USA go “unused.”  This makes me shake my head. As we approach the end of our lives, loads of research indicates that our seniors/elders say that they remember the memories and relationships. They also  wish that they would have worked less, and been more bold and courageous. So please, take vacation.
What a recent, one full week of vacation did for me and my partner?
Rest.  We didn’t wake up before 6am and we fell asleep around 10pm or earlier every night. That’s at least 8 hours of sleep. Yes, the amount of sleep that we are encouraged to get by all health experts.
Recover. Enjoyed downtime by the pool and the Caribbean Sea did wonders for my soul and mind. The water and sun were soothing.
Health. The resort had a  spa that was very handy; it offered hydrotherapy, massages, pedicures, manicures, personal trainers, etc. It was integrated right in to the resort, instead of being a separate building. The four restaurants all had vegetarian options, which played right in to my new focus of eating no meat or dairy.
Prioritize. Being away from my coaching work and my companies actually allowed me to refocus and re-prioritize what I needed to improve upon during the next 90 days.  It also gave us both great satisfaction as we reviewed what we got accomplished in the last 90 days.
Read. I finally had time, yes time, to sit and read a very impactful 400-page book. This book, “Being Mortal”, will probably help me age more gracefully and also help us as we help care for our parents as they age, too. It was a pivotal read, and I can’t imagine NOT taking the time to read it. And by the way, it had been on my bookshelf for 3 years…
Write. You see that here.
Reconnect. The time out of country, for the second time this year, allowed my partner and I to really connect, talk, and just be together. We were NOT busy, we were instead very present. We were there for one another. And yet still had our own alone time to do whatever the heck we wanted.
So please, take vacation.  It is good for your soul, mind, body, and your relationships at home and work.

90 Day Priorities

You have some goals and priorities at the “new year”? Do you keep those goals progressing every 90 days?
Here’s a hint to help you execute on those goals:
Write them down. 
Review them and discuss them with someone you deeply trust throughout January.  Weekly. Then do that same process again in February. Weekly.  And again in March.  Weekly.
Wisely attack a few of your goals. All of your annual goals do NOT have to be started in January.
For example, I have always wanted to read more. Every single year. But in 2018, I was more specific with my “read more” goal. I wanted to read books that would help me improve my leadership training and business ownership skills, and to help me coach others on sales growth. After discussing this with a ferocious reader, he recommended that I utilize an app and listen to books as I drive. So I downloaded the mobile app Audible, and got my first book free. I have already finished it, downloaded another book and finished it, too. And have read five hardback books that were within reach in my office. Yes, three books read by Feb 4. And now 7 books read by March 17, 2018. A new record for me, all because I changed a few critical behaviors: downloaded an app, listened/listening to books on Audible, and taking more time to read the good books that I already own.
The annual “eat more healthy goal” was also written down. However, this year I am taking trips to the grocery store and buying different type of foods. Olives. Oranges. Sugar-free dark chocolate. And I listened to a podcast on mindful eating; now I am much more aware of WHAT I am eating and the size of portion, as I now compare those portions to my palm and hand.
Lesson learned for me is simply this: take VERY specific actions to change behavior quickly, after you write down and share your goals. Review your progress weekly, and then re-evaluate every 90 days.  Simply ask yourself, how did you do? If you progress and achieve at 75-80% success rate, pat yourself on the back, and continue your progress.  Kudos to YOU!

Your Outlook Matters!

Are you a Woman in Leadership in a corporate or entrepreneurial setting? Or do you have a desire to become one? We work with women like you. Women who aspire ‘to sit at the table’ confidently; to run the financial side of business; to lead, collaborate with, and facilitate others; to let ambitions go hand in hand with a good work life balance; and to turn ‘hard work’ into ‘heartwork’, as this propells their leadership.

Our passion is to support/coach women, helping bring out their full potential and taking their leadership to a next level. We focus on the whole person, both work and private life, as we don’t see these as two separate worlds. With our monthly blog, (leveraging examples from our coaching and consulting practices), we provide tips, advice, and new outlooks which will encourage you to move forward. In our blog ‘What’s your top priority?’ we focussed on the importance of putting yourself first (#1), as leadership starts with you. What’s next?! Let’s start with a test.

Test your outlook (Self-Assess)
Answer the following questions with yes or no. We recommend you just follow your heart with your answer, not thinking too long. Tip: why not share your answers with a trusted friend or partner? It may turn out to be the start of your heartwork ‘support-team’.
1. When I wake up, I usually think ‘yes, this is going to be another good day!’.
2. When I receive a ‘bad’ comment, I typically view it as a learning opportunity.
3. I truly believe that not all people have to like me.
4. When my boss wants to have a talk with me, I don’t expect ‘trouble’.
5. When things go wrong or not as planned, I look forward to find the best solutions.

What’s your score?
Did you score four or more yes answers? If so, then there’s a big chance you are the optimistic type who sees the glass as always half-full. With mostly no’s on your list, you are probably the type who’s glass is half-empty or as a person with a pessimistic outlook. Did your answers ‘split’ with 2-3 yes’s or no’s? Then you first have to do some work on self. With a coach, you can explore what makes your answers a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, what’s getting in your way, and find out more about your outlook.

Does it matter? 
Yes! In our practice, we see that optimism facilitates women with their heartwork. Optimists stay focussed, action oriented, and keep moving ahead instead of spiraling down when things do not go the desired way. Optimistic ‘framing’ supports women to sustain themselves on their path to leadership.

Good news!
If optimism does not come naturally to you, the good news is that it can be learned. You can train yourself to be more optimistic, use less energy on negative thoughts, and prevent yourself from spiraling down. In our practice, here’s what we have learned as some tips from other women:
1.    Reflect on what’s really meaningful for you. Listen to your heart and make ‘adaptations’ in your (whole) life, if needed. It ‘brightens up’ your outlook.
2.    If you are a ‘worrier’, list all things you worry about. Which ones can you truly influence? Think of specific actions that will help you influence & solve them,  and then do it!
3.    When something goes wrong, do not think of the worse-case scenario. Instead,  reverse it! As a practice, sketch the positive scenarios first.
4.    Do you often have a little voice in your head that amplifies and/or dispapproves of  every mistake? Talk back and move forward!
5.    Are you an ‘approval junkie’? Then reflect on ‘What makes others opinions more important then my own?!’
6.    Do you avoid conflicts? Remember that conflicts are part of life and not the end of the world. On the contrary, they often lead to the long sought-after solution! Embrace this solution.
7.    Is your environment a bit ‘gloomy’? Then step out of this environment regularly. How? By meeting new people and doing new things. Like siging up of an art or fitness class, doing community work, reading inspiring books and articles…….
8.     Go the appreciative way: look for what works, instead of what does not work. It ‘opens up’ new possibilities and changes your worldview.

Just do it
It is this ‘simplicity’ which will make the tips effective. At the same time, this is the ‘difficult’ part. It requires letting go of old habits, exploring new territories, and adapting your framework. Yes, this is a challenging process and it may take some practicing. Where do you start? It all starts with a choice: choosing yourself and engaging in heartwork. Once you have taken this leap, practice is the key. Take many small steps (instead of one big step). Be aware of ‘overdoing’ it, as being too optimistic often leads to excuses. With all that in mind, just imagine what could happen if you go the optimistic way? Do not stop there, just do it!

Note: Authors Maleene de Ridder and Jen Wilfong are passionate about developing women as leaders. They embrace purposeful balance, wellness and ongoing learning, as well as leveraging global trends to further their coaching & consulting businesses. Both are certified coaches from the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, CA. For more information, check them out on the web at www.maleenederidder.com and www.jenwilfong.com

Get Connected!

Are you a Woman in Leadership in a corporate or entrepreneurial setting? Or do you have a desire to become one? We work with women like you: those who aspire ‘to sit at the table’ confidently; to run the financial side of business; to lead, collaborate with, and facilitate others, and to let ambitions go hand in hand with a good work life balance. Women who want to turn hard work into heartwork as this propels their leadership.

Our passion is to support/coach women to help bring out their full potential and take their leadership to a next level. We focus on the whole person, both work and private life, as we don’t see these as two separate ‘worlds’. With our monthly blog, from our coaching and consulting practices, we provide tips, advice, and new outlooks which will encourage you to move forward. We started with “What’s your top priority?” and focused on the importance of putting yourself first (#1), as leadership starts with you. The second “Your Outlook Matters” blog underlined the importance of optimistic ‘framing’. As nobody does it alone, this third blog is about the relationships you build along your way to leadership. We see that women with strong networks and the ability to connect benefit from it. Personally, and professionally, and their team benefits, too!

Use your Connecting Talent

Connectedness is the core to heartwork. It is essential to your sense of meaning and fulfillment. A leader with strong connections can share this with her colleagues and team members, and by doing so, inspire others to commit to the work. So it can work both ways, as employees thrive on the support from the person they work for. It gives the leader the most important support she can get: commitment from her ‘team’.

Most women are natural ‘relationship builders’ and most are focused on inclusiveness. These strengths can make women extremely effective leaders, capable of mobilizing talent and inspiring commitment. With our clients, we see many women under utilize their connecting talents in an effective way to network for work for them. Why? Women tend to build deep relationships and therefore have a relatively small network. Men, on the other hand, tend to build broader and shallower networks, making them more visible and thus have a wider range of resources available for career opportunities. Furthermore, many women do not allocate the time to build professional networks. Main reasons are their home responsibilities and ‘aversion’ to networking. To be an effective leader, women need to use their connecting skills intentionally and do business networking actively. It is not optional; it is a must to turn your connecting talent into a value.

Become a Connector

Connecting starts with you. Read our blog ‘What’s your top priority?’ on how to connect to the things that are meaningful to you and what makes work heartwork for you. Connecting with the people inside and outside your organization starts by recognizing and ‘reading’ one’s own and others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence (EQ) plays an important role in this regard. It requires awareness of emotions and the effects of it on self and others, managing those emotions, and building relationships by the ability to inspire, influence and develop others. The good news is that EQ competencies are not innate talents, but rather learned capabilities that must be worked on and can be developed to achieve outstanding performance.

Start smart

Where to start? First step is to ‘assess’ your own EQ. Explore and note how you read your own and others’ emotions? And then assess how you manage your and others’ emotions? Start with your strengths. Other actions to become a connector might include:

– Ask instead of tell. It makes people feel worthwhile and creates followers;

– Practice inclusiveness;

– Build a broad network with lots of casual connections;

– Use your network on a regular basis. How? By ‘giving and taking’;

– Find a sponsor.

CV becomes Connecting Value

Leaders who are motivated to work on both their EQ, as well as their network, will strengthen and enlarge their connecting value and improve their leadership. For them, this CV will matter more than their other CV (resume). What’s your next step?

Note: Authors Maleene de Ridder and Jen Wilfong are passionate about developing women as leaders. They embrace purposeful balance, wellness and ongoing learning, as well as leveraging global trends to further their coaching & consulting businesses. Both certified coaches from the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, CA. For more information, check them out on the web at www.maleenederidder.com and www.jenwilfong.com