Feedback Is an Investment, Not a Gift

Catherine Flavin

How leaders think about feedback matters a lot.  I would like to propose a simple change to a common mindset. While I liked the “feedback is a gift” metaphor back in the day, I now much prefer, “Feedback is an Investment.” Let me tell you why and see if you concur.  

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The Pause as a Power Source & 16 Simple Ways to Practice It

Catherine Flavin

Pausing when we react emotionally is NOT something most of us do well, far from it. Why on earth does something so core to emotional intelligence -- seemingly so simple -- elude so many of us so often? Maybe it’s because our days are too full and we are rushing.  Maybe it’s because our brains move fast and draw quick judgments (About "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman). Maybe it’s because we get triggered (http://www.thriveleadership.com/boost-emotional-intelligence-by-identifying-triggers). Maybe our ego likes to be in the right, and we have a shortage of humility about what we may be missing or where we might be misguided. Maybe we want to avoid feeling whatever emotions are in play.  

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How to Stay Authentic While Using Best Practices

Cathleen Swody

Leaders often ask “How do I apply recommended ‘best practices’ and still be authentic?”  Searching Amazon for “leadership” yields over 200,000 results.  A stream of recommendations flows continuously on social media.  Leaders can feel they are chasing fads.  How does a leader stay genuine while taking advantage of best practices?  Below are three ways to filter advice and find what works best for you.  

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Quiet Insights are Wise & Useful

Catherine Flavin

Much of our work with leaders is about advancing self-awareness in a compassionate, inclusive way.. Susan Cain’s 2013 book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, does just that for introverts and for people who want to effectively engage introverted colleagues. It is a great read, rooted in authentic life experience and research.  

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Self-Aware Leader: How to Tell You’re Disengaged & What to Do About It

Catherine Flavin

Disengagement burns energy poorly. It wears us out and wears others down. Basically, it is a problem of self awareness and being out of sorts with the current environment. It isn’t a slacker problem. It hits all of us at some point, but we typically don’t see ourselves as disengaged.  

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30-Day Challenge for Better Leadership

Cathleen Swody

In many of our programs, leaders create action plans to guide their professional development.  These action plans are crucial to translating learning and aspirations into real results.  Following a post on three ingredients of an actionable action plan, people asked about the best way to get started with a new action plan.  In response, I recommend a 30-day challenge.  

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Boost Emotional Intelligence by Identifying Triggers

Theresa Hoffman

A lot of us are not that aware of how we actually feel or why we react the way we do in many situations. Emotional self-awareness, the ability to understand what we are feeling and why we are feeling that way, is the foundation of emotional intelligence. The good news is that it’s never too late to learn how to recognize and manage emotions. Developing this skill set  helps us through better interactions and  relationships with other people.  

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Focus Attention for Less Stress and Better Choices

Cathleen Swody

Is your week off to a busy start?  You’re in good company!  In his book Focus, Daniel Goleman quotes Tony Schwartz,

“Attention is now the number-one issue on the minds of our clients.”
Focused attention is rare in a world of increasing distractions and multi-tasking.  People often run on autopilot.  They constantly rush to the next meeting and attention is pulled in multiple directions.  This is both stressful and risky for those responsible for making decisions affecting their companies!   As leaders, we can address this risk.  

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Making a Personal Action Plan that Gets Results

Cathleen Swody

Before we stand a chance of influencing other people, we must show we can lead ourselves in a positive direction.  360 feedback, self-assessments, and reflection can be excellent channels to seeing ourselves as we are.  However, we don’t tap into full value of this increased self-awareness until we act 

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Jumpstart Self-Awareness Using the Enneagram

Theresa Hoffman

Self-awareness leads to better performance, influence, and authenticity. One tool we use to jumpstart self-awareness is a personality system called the Enneagram (ennea is Greek for nine and gram means figure or model).  The Enneagram describes nine different ways people think, feel, and behave and sheds light on what is actually motivating our behavior most of the time.  All nine personality types have tremendous gifts as well as challenges that can become derailers when not acknowledged.  

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You Have 360 Feedback…Now What?

Cathleen Swody

360 feedback is an incredibly valuable developmental tool for leaders.  Many people realize that gaining perspective on strengths and opportunities from the people with whom they work is essential for professional growth and development.  However,  

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One-on-One Meetings: The Habit of Better Managers

Cathleen Swody

Recently, I talked about how stockpiling feedback for “the right time” is a bad idea.  Waiting until performance review season can be overwhelming and disengaging for direct reports.  In addition, this is wildly inefficient for you as a manager!  So how can we avoid this tendency?  

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Useful Feedback Is Bite-Sized and Prioritized

Cathleen Swody

For many leaders, giving feedback to employees is the only thing harder than getting feedback.  “I don’t want to sound like a jerk” is how one new manager described the awkwardness of providing constructive feedback.  No matter the industry, organization, or level of position, giving feedback often makes leaders  

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3 Strategies for Leading with More Self-Awareness

Theresa Hoffman

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of talking to the Thrive Leadership Women Leaders Network about self-awareness.  Self-awareness has become a central theme in our leadership development engagements because we have seen tremendous improvements in leaders’ performance and well-being once they see themselves more clearly.  The patterns of behavior that help (like strengths and self-knowledge) and hurt (unconscious self-defeating behaviors) come into focus and allow leaders to pause and consider their best options for moving forward.  In coaching hundreds of leaders over the years, my colleagues and I have seen the most significant improvements when leaders  

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Self-Awareness: Why You Don’t See the Whole Picture

Theresa Hoffman

We’ve all had those moments that test our self-awareness. You know the one where someone says something about how they see you – either directly or through 360 feedback – and it just doesn’t match your self-image. “That’s not right – I don’t see myself that way!” We experience a fair amount of denial, but on some level, we fear the feedback might be true. In reality, very few people are willing to give us constructive feedback and left to our own devices, our tendency is to stick with our own story of ourselves. Many research studies show we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do. According to Chance and Norton,  

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How to Pull for the Feedback You Need

Cathleen Swody

Some people have managers who readily offer useful feedback and coaching; many do not. People too often tell us that expectations are unclear and that they don’t know how to ask their manager for what they need to develop. Asking skillfully for feedback is the best way to get information to fuel your growth and development.  In this post, I’ll share three recommendations from our team for setting up a successful conversation with your manager about your development.   

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You Can’t Change What You Can’t See

Theresa Hoffman

Leaders will often ask us, “How can I change my behavior?”  Or they ask us something which sounds like, “Do I really want to change behaviors that work for me?”  To change a behavior, we have to first see it and understand what works about it and what doesn’t.  

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New Study Reveals Top Four Ways Working Moms Thrive at Work and at Home

Thrive Leadership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE−WEST HARTFORD, CT, May 10, 2016 − High performing female leaders report using self-compassion as an antidote to unproductive guilt in a new LeaderMom© study released by Thrive Leadership, a leadership development firm. “LeaderMoms who are thriving the most operate with a resilient mindset and practice habits that prevent energy-depleting behaviors and overly-negative thought patterns,” says Thrive Leadership Managing Partner Catherine Flavin, MA. “It’s not that these women don’t have guilt. They do. They just have a bit less and they manage it better, which makes a meaningful difference in their ability to thrive.” Comments from the 25 percent of LeaderMoms who are thriving the most focused on four themes that can help advance the retention and engagement of all women leaders: 1. Cultivate high levels of self-awareness and authenticity, and be vigilant about clarifying what is most important. 2. Take a disciplined approach to prioritizing by making mindful tradeoffs at work and at home and enlist colleagues, family and friends to participate in the process. 3. Focus on growth, reframing setbacks and guilt to learn and improve. 4. Factor in self-care as an essential way to renew energy and sustain high performance. “This LeaderMom panel includes mostly senior leaders with almost half in executive-level roles,” says Thrive Leadership Director of Assessment Cathleen Swody, PhD. “To learn how LeaderMoms navigate challenges and pursue their full potential, the survey combines rigorous, strongly recommended published measures along with our proprietary Thriving Index™ and open-ended questions to capture advice from LeaderMoms in their own words.” LeaderMoms who rarely feel guilty about choices they make are significantly more likely to: • Energetically pursue goals that really matter to them • Trust people at work enough to let go and delegate more effectively • Believe that being a mother has made them more effective at work and • Report that their involvement in their work makes them a better family member. “In our work with senior leaders we see that incremental improvements make a meaningful difference in performance over time,” says Flavin. “We believe focusing on what works advances the retention and engagement of women leaders, for everyone’s benefit.” Thrive Leadership focuses on helping leaders find their own success. With offices in West Hartford, CT and West Chester, PA, the firm provides practical insights through executive coaching, evidence-based education, professional networking, assessments and original research.

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6 Things Savvier Employee Survey Consumers Know

Cathleen Swody

People often ask us about what makes a good employee survey.  The quality of an employee survey can have significant implications for your organization.  Here are the 6 things that stand out to us the most based on nearly 20 years of experience helping companies use opinion surveys to move to drive a strong culture of continuous improvement.  

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Don’t Keep Improvement Efforts a Secret

Thrive Leadership

Across disciplines, research shows that a major difference between good and great performers is deliberate practice. To grow as a leader, practicing skills is essential, and so is sharing what you are doing to improve with a friend, colleague, direct report and/or family member. Although it can feel uncomfortable at first, here are 4 really good reasons to do it:  

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Making Networking for Women Leaders Work

Thrive Leadership

A strong network is essential for success, especially nowadays as people change jobs more often, companies evolve faster, and job security is a distant memory. Most executives will testify that you can’t get to their level without a strong network and strong sponsors; still, for the majority of the women with whom we work, active networking does not happen enough. Women are so busy “getting it done” that it is hard to make time for networking. Many networking events are so big and seem like “nice to have,” not essential. While women know it’s important, networking is not urgent on a typical day (and by the time it is, it’s too late). The time to build relationships is before you need to start a job search or hire new talent. Putting off networking limits opportunities both internally and externally. A quiet, key goal of our Women Leaders Thrive practice is to facilitate regional networking among talented leaders across companies and industries. We created forums where women have a rare opportunity to lift their heads, learn skills, deepen self-knowledge, and gain connections. Our goal is to create deeper ties, help women support each other’s success, and invest in a diverse leadership pipeline. Here are the 5 approaches that we find effective:  

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What SIOP Can Teach Organizers about Inspiring Conferences

Cathleen Swody

Motivated. Reinvigorated. Excited. These are not typically the words that describe me after spending three long days in a conference hotel. Something was better about my experience during this year’s Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). And for anyone planning a conference, these 4 highlights are reasons why.  

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Practice Self-Awareness Early and Often

Theresa Hoffman

Few things are more important to leadership than self-awareness. Self-awareness reveals what works and what does not work for us and helps us understand where we can add value and feel fulfilled. Self-awareness is also the foundation of emotional intelligence, which is essential to engaging others and fostering teamwork. The benefits of self-awareness are significant! Self-aware people communicate and influence better, produce more, maintain better relationships, and are overall more successful and happier than less self-aware colleagues. Sounds great, right? We each have strengths and less desirable qualities. However, admitting and embracing what’s not-so-great about us can be hard to do. The truth about us is inevitable; whatever it is, it eventually emerges. The goal of self-awareness is to seek the truth about who we really are early and often. Here are three keys to gaining – and sustaining – a level of self-awareness that gets real results:  

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