Leadership courage

How Do You Define Success?


When was the last time you stopped to clarify what success looks like for you? Although it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life, take a minute to read and answer the following questions.

1. If you had to write a one-sentence description of success, what would it say?

Writing a personal definition of success can propel you forward by leaps and bounds. The key is to think about the most important elements and remember that this sentence is for YOU, to guide you as you move forward. This definition of success should take a holistic view. Consider sharing it with others as a way to help them understand what influences your choices.

2. How would you measure it?

Come up with three measures of success to help you realize when you have achieved it. High performers can be really good at taking action but don't always recognize when they have accomplished their goals, since new ones quickly take their place. Your measures should reflect what’s important to you personally and professionally. For example, one may be the number of hours of quality time you spend with your family each week.

Take a few minutes to answer the questions above or even ask others how they define success. Just having it top of mind will get your wheels turning. I urge you to take just one step to get more clarity. Remember that small steps can lead to big results.


© 2012 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.

Turn Frustration into Empowerment


My client Debra is a high performer so frustrated with her boss that she is ready to find another job. So, I asked her, “What would have to happen for you to recommit to your current company?” This simple question helped her start moving from frustration to empowerment.

As we talked, I quickly learned that Debra’s boss is under tremendous stress and often micromanages. This leaves Debra feeling mistrusted and underutilized. She feels that the company just isn’t benefiting from her skills and experience because a disproportionate amount of her time now focuses on administrative rather than strategic activities.

Here's how I helped her think through the situation. These strategies may help you the next time you are frustrated:

1. Assume that you have to work within the current set of parameters.

Start by assuming that nothing major will change in the short term. For example, you can’t get any more resources than you have today. You can’t add anyone else to the team or get more time. If resources aren’t the challenge for you, identify the other parameters you must work within.

2. Get clear about what's really going on for you underneath the frustration.

Debra’s frustration made her forget what she enjoys about her role. At the end of the day, she just wants to contribute to the success of the company in a way that helps her grow and feel like she’s making a difference.

3. Identify what's really going on for the other party involved.

Debra pointed out that her boss is laser focused on delivering high-quality work, regardless of the timeline. If her boss understood that her own actions are actually putting the quality of the work at risk (through impending team burnout or turnover), she might make different choices. But no one has yet had the courage to give her feedback.

4. Identify one or two steps you can immediately take.

As you begin to develop solutions, remember that they must address the underlying needs of both parties involved, and must assume the current constraints will still exist in the short-term. Taking this approach will force you to get creative and view the situation from different vantage points.

Because Debra won’t get the luxury of more time, she has to make better use of the time the team already has – by rationalizing and refocusing team meetings and one-on-one time, and identifying what the team will stop doing. We quickly identified several changes that could be easily made.

We also discussed how Debra could get more meaning from her administrative work. Because she often collaborates with business leaders as she does this work, the exposure and relationship-building opportunities are tremendous – but only if she recognizes and maximizes them. Taking advantage of those opportunities would further engage her in this work.

Hopefully you now have some ideas on how to turn a frustrating situation into one where you can more directly effect change. This approach doesn’t fully address the underlying issues, but it starts to create the capacity and energy to do so.

Remember that you work in a system and when one part of that system changes (i.e., you), it can create a shift in another part. So, what small step will you take this week to drive the change you would like to see?


© 2013 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Helping Others Step Up


Working to finalize three new products with my team was a good reminder for me about several key leadership principles. As I moved through the process with them, I realized I needed to keep the following in mind to ensure a successful outcome. These are things we all know, but sometimes don’t fully put into play.

1. Ensure everyone has the same definition of success

It sounds so simple, but people often forget the importance of defining and communicating what success looks like as they quickly dive into action mode. Taking this step can help you surface any differences in expectations that may exist in the team, and help all of you better understand what it will really take to achieve the ultimate goal. This step alone can vastly increase the likelihood of the team delivering the right outcome.

2. Keep things in perspective

When things go wrong, as they often do, think about the true underlying cause. Most people do not intentionally make mistakes. When you can identify what’s really going on, it will help you stay centered and able to solve the problem productively.

3. Keep things on track

Identify what’s working and what’s not, and take the time to help others understand that. In an effort to problem-solve, people often go straight to what needs to be fixed or addressed and overlook the importance of helping others see how to put what they are doing right into play even more. To give you a more balanced view and constructively share your thoughts, ask yourself what the person should keep, start, and stop doing to be more effective.

How you engage as a leader can be the difference between a painful path and a smooth road. Think about one principle you’d like to put into play more powerfully in the next week and one step you’ll take to do that. Remember that small steps can lead to big results.

© 2013 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.

What Are Your Top Five?


Today, I want to challenge you to put the power of self-appreciation into play. It’s something people often overlook, but it can change how you “show up” and participate in everything you do. And, as you know, it’s hard to help others see the value you bring when you don’t have this information top of mind.

1. What are the Top Five things you appreciate about yourself?

For those of you high performers with a constant eye toward self- improvement, creating this Top Five list will help you simply notice what differentiates you and how you uniquely add value. For example, your list might include the following:

  • "I am a quick study."

  • "I enjoy learning and growing."

  • "I am authentic."

  • "I am tenacious."

  • "I am fun to be around."

If you have a hard time limiting your list to five, keep going!

2. How do the Top Five make a difference?

Next, write down how the Top Five allow you to do things others can’t easily do. For example, as a quick study and someone who enjoys learning, you may dive into opportunities that stretch you beyond your comfort zone. For your company, this means that they can put you in challenging situations and you will quickly figure out what you need to do and how to add value. Even if you have been doing this for years, remember that not everyone has this ability.

3. How will you put your Top Five into play even more?

So, now that you have your Top Five list and the "so what" of each item on the list, think about what's going on in your world – personally and professionally.

  • How can you leverage your Top Five to make a bigger difference?

  • Who could use your help?

  • How can you reframe your ideas to make your Top Five more obvious to others, so they can benefit from them?

This week, take 5-10 minutes to answer at least the first two questions above. It will get your wheels turning and you will start “showing up” differently as you consider what you have to offer. Remember that small steps can lead to big results – and the first step here is to simply appreciate what you bring to the table.


© 2013 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

How Hierarchy Impacts Your Presence


When you participate in events with professionals who hold a much higher or lower position than you, does it make you uncomfortable? As someone not yet in the executive ranks, do you wonder how you can make a positive impression on that senior leader who barely knows you? Or, as a senior leader, do you wonder how awkward it will be to talk to someone who is at a completely different stage in his or her life and career?

Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus of Southwest Airlines, has truly mastered the art of removing hierarchy from the equation when she engages with others. I have learned a lot from observing her, and she wrote the foreword to my book Show Up. Step Up. Step Out. – Leadership Through a New Lens. As I have gotten to know Colleen, I have noticed three things that she consistently does. As simple as these strategies may seem, they can make a huge difference.

1. Relate to people as people

Imagine for a moment that titles and positions have no relevance. How would you approach the person if you were just trying to get to know her and trying to make her feel comfortable talking to a stranger? What would you want to ask? What would you share about yourself?

2. Be yourself

People can always sense authenticity. Rather than trying to live up to a certain image, remember what others appreciate about you and let that show – whether it’s your sense of humor, ability to tell stories, or some other aspect of your personality. In advance of your interaction, think about how you want to “show up” and what you want others to take from their conversation with you.

3. Take a genuine interest in others

The simplest way to take an interest in others is by asking questions and being fully present as they answer. Allow yourself to go beyond surface level small talk. To get started, you can always ease into a conversation by inquiring about people's interests, families, or vacation plans. This will allow you to quickly find common ground to build on and set the stage for an even better conversation next time.

So, this week, I want to challenge you to think about how hierarchy impacts your presence and to try one of the strategies above. You might be surprised at the difference it makes.

© 2013 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Three Important Questions to Ask Yourself


I had the opportunity to hear from several leaders at the 2012 national Women’s Foodservice Forum Conference. The theme was “Aspire Higher.” Their wisdom and reminders prompted me to ask you these three questions:

1. Are you “living” your goals?

Carin Stutz, then-CEO of Cosi and WFF chair, kicked of the conference by challenging us to think about whether we are truly “living” our goals. If you’re like most people, you may get caught up in the day-to-day flurry of life and not stop to evaluate whether your goals and actions are in sync. Even taking five minutes to reflect on this can raise your awareness and help you recognize major gaps. If some do exist, identify one step you can take to move in the right direction. For example, many of my clients carve out time each week to reflect (even if it’s starting with 15 minutes) to help them maintain their focus.

2. How often do you accept help?

Karen Williams, executive director, Strategy Implementation at Applebee’s Services Inc., advised, “When someone offers to help, be brave enough to take it.” Especially for those of you high-performing women who are used to being self-reliant and self-sufficient, it can take a lot of courage to do this.

Think about what prevents you from asking for or accepting help. Maybe you don’t want to impose or be viewed as incapable? Or you have perfectionist tendencies? Keep in mind that allowing others to help is not just about you. When you accept help, you give others the opportunity to make a difference, develop their skills, or get exposure — things that matter to them.

3. Do you have a sustainability plan?

One of the speakers talked about the importance of a “sustainability plan.” That was the first time I had ever heard anyone use the term for an individual vs. an organization. But when I think about it, it makes a lot of sense. At the end of the day, this is about heading down a path that will give you the opportunities you want but will also be sustainable.

What will you do to maintain focus on what matters most to you personally and professionally? What is your game plan to make sure you have the support you need, get enough sleep and exercise, and proactively manage your energy? Identify one small step you can take in one of the three areas above. You know I’m a firm believer that small steps can lead to big results.

© 2012 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.

Communicating from a Position of Strength


At one time or another, we have all hit major bumps in the road – challenging us in ways we haven’t been before and testing our resilience. I remember participating in a meeting where I noticed how two people communicated very differently about the same difficult situation. Both people knew there was a lot more work to do to resolve the issues at hand, but one person came at it from a position of strength, conveying more confidence and optimism about the road ahead, while the other person left the impression that this experience had derailed everything and would take substantial recovery time.

Regardless of how you feel deep down inside, how often do you communicate from a position of strength? To help you determine how you “show up” after challenging situations, answer the questions below. If you are not sure of an answer, ask others for feedback.

1. What does your body language look like?

  • I sigh or take a deep breath before I speak.

  • I roll my eyes or look down or away.

  • I slump over or have my head in my hands.

  • I make direct eye contact.

  • I sit up straight.

  • I smile often.

  • I appear engaged.

2. What does your tone sound like?

  • I sound like I have no energy left.

  • I have an edge, sounding irritated or frustrated.

  • I am soft-spoken.

  • I sound calm and in control.

  • I sound energetic.

  • I laugh.

3. What language do you use?

I use words that indicate that I:

  • can't believe what has happened

  • am in the middle of chaos or transition

  • am exhausted or frustrated

  • blame others

  • have a positive attitude and will march forward

We all have our moments of frustration. The question is how long you allow yourself to stay in that place. So, this week, define one small step you will take to communicate from a position of strength, conveying confidence in your ability to move things forward and engaging others to help you if necessary. Remember, small steps can lead to big results.


© 2013 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.

Maintaining Focus in the Midst of Chaos


Life is moving at a fast pace for many people and shows no immediate signs of slowing down. If that sounds like what’s happening in your life right now, take a look at the three questions below to help you maintain your focus.

1. Are you focusing on the "right work?"

In the midst of the flurry, are you focusing on where you can have the biggest impact on the business and your career? Are you making the highest and best use of your talent and skills, and leveraging others effectively? If you answered no to these questions, what one step will you take to refocus your efforts?

2. Do you create space to be strategic?

High performers know that they can’t simply react to what’s going on around them and still get the results they want. Being strategic and intentional about what they say and do is key. When things get hectic, do you consistently carve out time on your calendar to reflect, so you can do just that? Even setting aside 15 minutes a week can help you be much more proactive.

3. Are you getting enough rest?

Maintaining your energy during demanding times can be the difference between thriving and surviving. When people work long hours, they may not get the rest they need – and sleep is a foundational source of energy. It can affect your attitude, outlook, perspective, and ability to make good decisions. If you aren’t getting 7-8 hours of sleep or taking short breaks throughout the day, what one step can you take to address this? Again, simply adding 15 minutes of rest can have a big impact.

If you are working in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment, it makes it harder to maintain your focus on what matters most. So, this week I challenge you to identify one small step you will take in one of the three areas above. Remember, small steps can lead to big results.


© 2013 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.

To Be Heard, Focus on the Positive


In my book “Show Up. Step Up. Step Out. Leadership Through a New Lens,” the “Show Up” section is about clarifying what you want others to understand about your leadership and identifying where you can have the biggest impact on the business. Communication can play a big role in how much others notice the value you bring. Specifically, when your communication style has a negative edge to it, it can get in your way. It can change how others view or engage you, ultimately diminishing your impact.

So, let’s take a quick look at how you typically frame your ideas. How often do you take an optimistic approach, emphasizing the positive and conveying your confidence in others and future success? Or do you usually take a more pessimistic approach, focusing on what doesn’t work or could go wrong?

Most people who frame things pessimistically don’t do so to simply complain or be negative. They may just want to raise a red flag about possible risks and how to plan for them – which offers tremendous value. However, that value may get lost in the negative delivery. So, instead of listening, colleagues tune them out.

This highlights the importance of how you Show Up and the everyday language you use. To help you reframe and emphasize the positive, let’s look at some examples.

Scenario 1:  Your boss asks you to complete a task in an unrealistic timeframe.

Your boss asks you to complete a task in an unrealistic timeframe.

Compare these two responses: Pessimistic framing: “I can’t meet the deadline because of reasons X, Y, and Z.” Optimistic framing: “I understand the urgency, and I’d like to be able to get it done in that time frame. Here are the challenges...” Both say essentially the same thing. But the first one sounds like a No with no room for discussion, while the second one communicates a desire to help.

Scenario 2: You approach your boss because your progress on a project is being held up by another team member who is not getting her work to you.

Pessimistic framing: “Julia isn’t doing what she’s supposed to do.” Optimistic framing: “To finalize the deliverable for this project by the deadline, I need X from Julia by the following date." The first approach makes you seem like a tattletale; the second approach confirms your focus on deadlines and results.

Scenario 3: Finally, let’s consider how you react when someone presents an idea that needs some development.

Pessimistic framing: “There’s a lot that could go wrong with this idea.” Optimistic framing: “I really like Points A, B, and C of this idea. And let’s also consider these other aspects....”

The first approach makes you seem like someone who enjoys shooting down ideas. The second conveys that you take a balanced approach, considering the pros and cons, and in a way that doesn’t sound so negative.

This week, I challenge you to focus on how you will Show Up. Practice pausing before you speak so you can frame your responses in a positive way – especially in situations where you will say no, push back, or raise concerns. This small step can make all the difference in how others respond to your ideas and view your leadership. If you want to take it even further, check out the strategies in my book.

What Are You Bold About?


To leverage your strengths, you first have to get clearer about who you are. Take a look at these attributes and think about where you fall on each continuum.

  • Big-Picture Focused

  • Detail-Oriented

  • Deep Expertise

  • Broad Knowledge

  • Energizing

  • Steadying

  • Analytical

  • Intuitive

  • Risk Taker

  • Risk Spotter

  • Structured

  • Flexible

  • Challenging

  • Accepting

There are no right or wrong answers because there is value in each and every attribute. For instance, we need people who can energize a group around a new project, and we need people who exude steadiness and calm in a crisis. The key is to recognize your own qualities and their value, and to be bold in how you use them.

To help you do this, answer the following questions:

  • What is the value of this attribute – to my team, peers, and company?

  • What one example in the past three months demonstrates the value that I bring using this attribute?

  • How can I more boldly bring this attribute into my work (e.g., to advance a specific project or goal, or resolve an issue)

This week, choose one attribute to focus on. Then look for at least one opportunity to be bold in leveraging it.

4 Ways to Lead by Lifting Others


Lifting up others is an essential part of being a leader. Here are four quick ideas for adding a spirit of inspiration and service to your day.

1.Make yourself accessible.

One of the most meaningful ways you can lift another person is talking her through a situation where she feels stuck or where an outside perspective would be invaluable.

2.Show confidence and belief in someone else.

Your faith can make all the difference in encouraging someone to take a risk or pursue a passion. Sometimes just saying the words, “I believe in you” or “You can do it” can go a long way.

3.Bring humility and respect to your interactions with people at all levels.

When you engage with people as people and value what you can learn from them, it lifts them up and strengthens your relationships.

4.Keep your legacy in mind.

Finally, remind yourself of what you want your legacy to be in the lives of others as you go about your daily interactions.

From these lessons, pick one that you will integrate into how you work with others this week. Who might need you to be a voice of reason, reassurance, and comfort now? Who needs your vote of confidence? How can you bring more meaning and service to your daily interactions? Remember that small steps can lead to big results.

The 4 Most Powerful Ways to Be More Successful


More than 75 percent of our clients at Newberry Executive Solutions get promotions, and today I want to let you in on some of the strategies that consistently help them succeed.

Choose one of these areas to focus on right now. Then, as you master each strategy, pick a new area for growth and development.

1. Focus on the Right Work

You face constant demands for your time and attention every day. This means you have to be intentional about making sure the “right work” gets done. To get to the heart of this, identify your "Big 3", the three areas where you should focus to have the biggest impact on the business. It probably comes as no surprise that there's often a gap between what leaders should be doing and what they actually do. To determine if that's true for you, track your schedule for a week or two to see if the way you're spending your time aligns with your Big 3 priorities, and be sure to validate your Big 3 with your manager.

2. Understand Your Value

The most successful leaders do more than get results. They also know how they get those results. This is something that a lot of leaders overlook, but it makes a huge difference. By taking some time to understand how you accomplish what you do, you can more effectively leverage your strengths and repeat your successes. You'll also do a better job of giving others "strategic snapshots" of your performance, which helps them appreciate your value and opens up new opportunities.

3. Thrive Without Feedback

At one time or another, you will have a boss who fails to give you meaningful feedback. But you can't let that stand in the way of your growth, development and career advancement. Do what you can to open up communication with your boss, clarify expectations and share your results (always tying everything back to your desire to advance business goals). Sometimes simply sharing a self-assessment with your boss can make it easier for him or her to comment on your performance. If your boss still doesn’t say much, reach out to others you trust to give you candid feedback and seek insights and advice from peers or mentors.

4. Make Time to Network

When it comes to networking, even high performers frequently miss the mark. They know (in theory, at least) that a strong network helps them achieve results and supports their success, but then they keep their heads down working hard and neglect to invest time to build relationships. Networking isn't something to squeeze in if you have time (i.e., “nice to have”). It's a vital part of your job. In just 15 minutes per week to take consistent action, you can make solid headway. In that time, you can send a quick email about an event or article of interest, make an introduction, ask for advice or input, or informally drop by someone’s office. Every little bit helps keep your relationships strong.

Tired of Wasting Time? 3 Ways to Be More Efficient

Do you ever feel like you're crazy busy but not getting that much done?  

Your days can be full of tasks that devour your time but that don't contribute to your most important work: using your talents and skills to advance the most critical business results.


I've got a few quick strategies for you that will immediately put some time back in your day so that you can be more productive.

1. Get a Handle on Your Meetings

I challenge you to find anyone out there who doesn't think they spend too much time in meetings. For executives, meetings eat up almost 23 hours per week.

As much as you may want to, it's impossible to get rid of meetings entirely. But a few simple shifts can reduce your meeting load and make the meetings you do have to attend more productive.

Are the regular meetings that you have some control over — such as your team meetings or one-on-ones with your reports — happening with the right frequency? For example, if your weekly team meetings tend to be mostly updates, you can probably meet less often. And be sure to have agendas with start and end times, and the desired outcome for each topic (for example, input, decision-making or updates). That will help you ensure that the agenda is manageable for the amount of time you have and focused on what you want to get out of it.

Another one of my top strategies is to ask for the primary objective for the meeting before you fully commit to attending. This will help you and the other party clarify the purpose, define the right duration for the meeting, and make the most of your time.

2. Manage Interruptions

You might pride yourself on your ability to juggle a lot of tasks at once, but multitasking profoundly damages your productivity. Each time you get distracted, it takes an average of 15 minutes to immerse yourself again in your work. And you're up to 40 percent less efficient.

To keep colleagues from dropping by your desk constantly, set up a consistent time slot a few days a week ("office hours") to handle urgent issues that can't wait until the next meeting. Technology can also be a huge distraction. When you really need to get something done, consider changing the status of your instant messaging software to show you are not available and closing your email. You can let people know that if something is really urgent, they can always call you.

Remember, your most thoughtful, high-impact work — the very work you were hired to do — requires focus. And you'll never have those periods of focused work if you're at the mercy of interruptions.

3. Create Time to Reflect

Setting aside time to review, process and look ahead might sound like the last thing you have time for with your packed schedule. Sometimes high performers focus more on taking action. Planning and reflecting can make them uncomfortable because it doesn't feel like doing something. According to researchers Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats:

People feel more productive when they are executing tasks rather than when they are planning them. Especially when under time pressure, they perceived planning as a waste of time — even if it actually leads to better performance than jumping into the task head-first.

But trust me: Investing even a few minutes each week to reflect may become the single most productive thing that you do and allow you to get better results in less time. To get started, block as little as 15 minutes on your calendar once or twice a week. When my executive coaching clients start doing this, they always see rapid results and pretty soon are carving out an hour or two to do this each week.

Which one of these strategies would make the biggest difference for you? Start implementing it this week. And to continue building your leadership skills even when you're pressed for time, check out WOW! Highlight Audio℠. With a sampling of strategies from the full WOW! Women On the Way to Peak Performance Program℠, the format of this self-paced program will help you make shifts on the job quickly.

10 Years of Purpose, Presence and Power

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of Newberry Executive Solutions. In that time, we've helped countless leaders get raises, get promotions and amplify their impact through our products and services. To say thank you for your ongoing support, I'm sharing a special series of blog posts with some of the most powerful insights I've gained through 10 years of coaching (and 16 years in business before that). This week is Part 5 — stay tuned for more! You can also catch up on past posts from the series below:

Part 1: Build a confident executive presence

Part 2: What your boss won't tell you (but you need to know)

Part 3: How to communicate like a strategic leader

Part 4: Go from frazzled to in control

Many High Performers Make This Mistake — Do You?


You're dedicated, capable and hard-working. But you might be falling victim to a stumbling block that keeps others from seeing your full potential as a leader.  

What is this stumbling block? You're working so hard and you're so focused on getting things done that you don’t pay attention to the way you come across to others.

As an executive coach, I've seen this happen to too many high performers. They're driving for results and making things happen. In fact, part of what may be at play is them overusing the actual strengths that help them get results. As a result, they get passed over for opportunities for which they are otherwise qualified.

Are you wondering if this might be an issue for you? This week, notice whether you engage in any of the behaviors on this list that might make people wonder if you’re really on top of things:

  • Failing to stick to the start and end times for your meetings (i.e., chronically running late).

  • Constantly reacting; rarely planning or anticipating.

  • Pulling out your laptop or device during meetings to do unrelated work.

  • Interrupting others because you already “know” what they are going to say.

  • Walking fast.

  • Talking fast.

  • Having a default answer like this when others ask how you are: "I'm soooo busy!"

  • Sighing into your words.

  • Showing frustration, sometimes by using a harsh or loud tone.

  • Fidgeting (i.e., looking like you’re ready to leave the room)

What Messages Are You Sending?

So why is any of this important? As a leader, your success doesn’t just depend on what you can do. It also hinges on how you do it, your executive presence. You can think of executive presence as all the messages that you're constantly sending, both deliberate and unintentional, to your colleagues about who you are as a leader.

Think about some of the messages the above behaviors might be sending:

  • Walking and talking fast makes you look overwhelmed, like you have to do everything quickly or you can’t fit it all in.

  • Fidgeting could make others at a meeting think that you're bored by what they're saying.

  • Using a harsh tone conveys a lack of respect and reactivity that might cause others to avoid you or keep bad news from you.

  • Working on unrelated tasks during a meeting shows colleagues that you don't manage your time well or respect their time.

"That's not who I am!" you might be protesting to yourself. But these are the stories that others may tell after observing you.

How to Go From Overwhelmed to Confident

Becoming aware of these behaviors — and their effect on others — is the first step in making changes that will strengthen your leadership. The next step is addressing the stress that's driving these behaviors. Here are a few past blog articles that can help:

I also recommend the The WOW! Lite Program℠, which contains two key modules from the complete WOW! Women On the Way to Peak Performance Program℠.

10 Years of Purpose, Presence and Power

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of Newberry Executive Solutions. In that time, we've helped countless leaders get raises, get promotions and amplify their impact through our products and services. To say thank you for your ongoing support, I'm sharing a special series of blog posts with some of the most powerful insights I've gained through 10 years of executive coaching (and 16 years in business before that). This week is Part 4 — stay tuned for more! You can also catch up on past posts from the series below:

Part 1: Build a confident executive presence

Part 2: What your boss won't tell you (but you need to know)

Part 3: How to communicate like a strategic leader

How to Communicate Like a Strategic Leader


What is one of the biggest ways to demonstrate that you are ready for a promotion or bigger opportunities? Show that you can think strategically. How often do you take advantage of everyday opportunities do so? Although you may not realize it, you have a chance to communicate your strategic perspective every time you speak at a meeting or deliver a presentation. Use these tips to take your communication up a notch.  

Reinforce the Big Picture

First, make sure others "connect the dots" to the bigger picture. In other words, help them understand the "why" behind everything you say and do. As you prepare for a meeting or presentation, think about how the topic you will discuss relates to broader business strategies, goals or priorities. Even if the connection seems obvious to you, remember that people may not be stopping to reflect about it. So take a moment to frame your ideas and thoughts in a way that makes the linkage for others.

Headlines First

Many leaders think that they have to demonstrate in great detail that they have done their homework or socialized ideas with the right people before they share their conclusions or recommendations. They think that if they convey all the steps they took, others will recognize that their ideas are solid. In concept, this is true, but the way people often do this can have the opposite effect. For example, in a meeting, the leader may come across as lost in the weeds or failing to understand the audience or the strategic issues at hand.

To keep this from happening, I coach leaders to start with the "headlines" (the two or three key messages they want others to leave with) and then share any supporting information as needed. The audience can always ask for more details. But if they are inundated with details right out of the gate, they will probably tune out before the leader gets to the most critical messages.

Keep it Short and Sweet

Whatever your message, keep it concise. Using too many words can confuse or bore your audience. Bryan A. Garner puts it this way in "HBR Guide to Better Business Writing": "Wordiness can exist on many levels, from rambling statements to unnecessary repetition to verbose expressions that could be replaced by shorter, sharper alternatives." When you curb wordiness in your presentations, you make it easier for others to understand and apply your ideas, Garner says. Take time to boil your messages down to the most important takeaways.

Focus on Continuous Improvement

Finally, take time to understand how you’re coming across, and use that information to continue to hone your communication skills. If you want to go one step further, pick up a copy of "Communicating with Impact” which is part of my Leadership EDGE SeriesSM.

Part 1: Build a confident executive presence

Part 2: What your boss won't tell you (but you need to know)

8 Things Your Boss Won't Tell You (But You Need to Know)


Are you damaging your career without realizing it? As an executive coach, I see even high performers get tripped up by some common stumbling blocks when no one gives them feedback about the effects of their behaviors. Here are a few things that your boss might be thinking but not voicing.

  1. 'Your Hard Work Doesn't Speak for Itself'If you're heads down assuming the right people will recognize your hard work when the time comes, consider this a wake-up call. Your boss is busy and her attention is divided. There's just no way she's going to notice everything you're accomplishing unless you let her know. And she wants you to let her know. She needs to understand your capabilities to fully leverage them. Need some pointers on strategic self-promotion? Check out these videos from one of my most-requested presentations: "Tastefully Tooting Your Own Horn."

  1. 'Indispensable Equals Stuck'If your boss can't afford to lose you in your current role, you might have trouble moving up to a new one. Start by identifying candidates who could fill your shoes someday, and develop a succession plan.

  1. 'Office Politics Are a Fact of Life'Sure, you'd like to remain above it all, but the truth is that what's going on politically in your office — and how you navigate it — affects your ability to get results. Your boss wants you to know how to cultivate relationships with people who can help you get access to the influence, information and resources to make things happen. Don’t opt out. Get in the game with authenticity and integrity.

  1. 'It's Not All About You'Unfortunately, a lot of otherwise effective leaders seem too focused on their own agenda or team because they forget to frame things in terms of the bigger picture. Remember to connect what you say and do to the larger goals and needs of the business as a whole.

  1. 'Working 24x7 Doesn't Impress Me' You may think that sending emails in the evening and on weekends conveys your commitment, but it can leave others with the impression that you are overwhelmed and possibly on a path to burnout. Even worse? Doing other work during meetings. Regardless of your rationale, it can communicate disrespect to other attendees by implying that their work is less important than yours, or that you are so overwhelmed that you have to use their meeting time to catch up. Notice the messages that you’re sending with your work patterns.

  1. 'I Pay Attention to How You Treat Others'One of the fastest ways to damage your standing is by delivering harsh feedback to peers or direct reports in group settings. Most people guilty of this behavior aren't trying to be bullies. Instead, they are focused on their own reactions in the moment or on pushing hard for results. Remember the career-limiting implications of behavior like this: a step down in your leadership credibility and a step up in resistance from peers who wouldn’t want you as a future boss.

  1. 'Being Chronically Late Diminishes Your Personal Brand'That's true even when you have "good" excuses. What would you infer about someone who's always late? Remember, everything you do sends messages to others about your leadership capability.

  1. 'Sometimes I Just Need You to Show Up'A meeting doesn't seem that important, and you have a legitimate scheduling conflict. So it's no big deal if you don't show up, right? Actually, it could be a really big deal for your boss. For him, perhaps it’s less about the topics to be discussed and more about you showing your support by making time to be there.

Which of these behaviors hit home for you, whether your own or someone else’s? Take the first step by asking others for feedback. If you don’t exhibit these behaviors, kindly raise the self-awareness of someone who does. My book "Show Up. Step Up. Step Out" can help you navigate these leadership challenges and many others. You can read the first five chapters for free now.

10 Years of Purpose, Presence and Power

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of Newberry Executive Solutions. In that time, we've helped countless leaders get raises or promotions and amplify their impact through our products and services. To say thank you for your ongoing support, I'm sharing a special series of blog posts with some of the most powerful insights I've gained through 10 years of executive coaching (and 16 years in business before that). This week is Part 2 — stay tuned for more! Missed Part 1 of the series? Catch up and get my tips to build a confident executive presence.

What is Silencing? (And Why Your Company Must Care About It)


Although the labor force is more evenly split between men and women, men and women are not equally using their voices. As a female leader, you may have experienced a phenomenon called “silencing.” Dr. Carrie Arnold says feeling silenced as a female leader is a “unique and widespread leadership issue impacting millions of women in the workforce.”  

Arnold, who has done extensive research on the topic, says that silencing leaves women feeling "muted, suppressed or muffled" and unable to express themselves. As a leader, this can introduce substantial barriers to upward mobility.

How Are Women Being Silenced?

As a female leader, how many of these silence-inducing situations have you experienced?

  • Deliberately exclusion from meetings

  • Lack of responsiveness to your requests or emails

  • Public and private criticism or controlling behavior

  • Dismissive comments that question your expertise because of your gender or role

  • A system that reinforces a predominantly male view of leadership

Arnold says that women can be silenced by both peers and supervisors, and equally by men and women. She also cites "systems of privilege" that silence women — for example, systems that favor one style of leadership over another or that favor certain groups or affiliations. A woman may even silence herself when "she has a perceived locus of power that is outside herself."

What Are the Consequences of Silencing?

Silencing reduces a woman’s effectiveness as a leader and can alter her career trajectory.

  • Silenced female leaders become disengaged, viewing their situations as no-win.

  • Only about 25 percent recover their voice without making a job change or opting out of a leadership role.

  • Even when they opt out of leadership or change jobs, only about half of the women fully recover from their silencing experience.

  • When women silence themselves, they often opt out of leadership.

  • Silencing takes a cognitive, emotional, spiritual and (for many) physical toll with digestive or respiratory issues and full-body stress.

How Can We Address Silencing?

The first step is for companies to better understand the phenomenon of silencing. This is critical given that companies with women in the C-suite are more profitable and a higher percentage of U.S. companies had no women in senior leadership compared with five years earlier.

Recovery from silencing requires community and self-care.

Arnold says that female leaders who have been silenced need relationships with other women who understand what they're going through and who have experienced similar things. She adds that a woman may need to look outside of her company to find this community.

Silenced women can also heal by helping give a voice to others. "As she becomes aware of those who are also silenced in her organization or community, she seeks to not further silence," Arnold writes. "She finds voice by becoming a role model and a sponsor for women."

Whether you are woman who has experienced silencing or a leader who wants to stop silencing at your organization, please read Arnold's white paper on the issue. I also invite you to explore my products and services that cultivate the potential of high-performing women. Organizational leaders may be especially interested in the facilitated version of my award-winning WOW! Women On the Way to Peak Performance Program℠, which helps women build community as they learn.

Does This Hold You Back as a Leader?


How you “show up” in different situations tells others a lot about who you are as a leader. That’s why I focus on this so much with every person I coach.

And your mindset dramatically affects the way you “show up.” To get a better sense of your own mindset, let’s explore how much you see the world in terms of scarcity vs. opportunity. How often do you engage in the following behaviors? (Even if you don’t do this, this article might help you give feedback to someone who does.)

  • Withholding information that could be useful to others, to give you an edge.

  • Refraining from making an introduction to someone in your network because you don't want to share that person as a resource.

  • Defining success or prioritizing based only on your piece (or your team's piece) of a project or situation instead of the bigger picture.

  • Being exclusive vs. inclusive — for example, inviting only certain people to take part in meetings or a project instead of thinking broadly about who should participate.

  • Focusing more on what you stand to lose vs. what everyone might gain.

In politically dynamic environments, many of these behaviors emerge far more frequently. There may even be positive intent behind some of these behaviors. For example, you might be thinking, “I have to make sure I can deliver, so I’m going to prioritize and focus on what I really need. I don’t want anything or anyone else to get in the way.”

But if a lot of these statements resonated with you, your worry and concern about limited resources (i.e., a scarcity mindset) could be making you less effective as a leader. Let’s take a look at some of the significant consequences that come with each of the behaviors above:

  • Working around you to get information or resources

  • Less information or resource-sharing with you because others don’t trust you

  • Engaging people with influence or power to make you comply or share information

  • Limitations on your career advancement because you are considered a roadblock, difficult to work with, or more concerned about your own interests instead of what’s best for the company

Ultimately, all of this affects how much people are willing to trust and invest in you.

It's Time to Shift Your Focus

The good news is that you can shift out of the scarcity mindset and make a bigger impact as a leader.

Viewing situations from a place of scarcity comes from seeing situations at the micro level instead of the macro one. It's focusing on the short term vs. the long term and the few (you and your team) vs. the many (the overall organization). The truth is that there are more opportunities, rewards and recognition to go around than you realize. You can create win/win situations.

The next time you find yourself saying “no” or resisting, stop to think about why. How much of your reaction ties to your assumptions about scarce resources, whether that’s time, budget, or valuable connections? How narrowly are you framing the other person’s need or request in your head? Prompting yourself to take a bigger picture perspective, whether that’s one that considers your long-term career or your company’s goals, will open you up to more possibilities about how to best navigate a situation.

To further elevate your presence as a leader, check out my Leadership EDGE SeriesSM. It covers a variety of topics and will help you show up powerfully in every situation.

3 Questions to Keep Your Year on Track


Have you had a hard time finding your groove as 2018 kicked off? Well, you’re not alone. I am surprised at how many people I’ve talked to spent the first few weeks of the year trying to recover from or continue to work through issues from last year. With spring break season starting (it's this week for many of us here in Texas), take time to catch your breath, reflect on the year so far, and make any necessary tweaks. Use these three simple questions to guide you:  

1. How has the first quarter of the year unfolded for you?

For me, 2017 ended with a bang with some life-changing decisions and lots of unexpected new business. I thought this year would kick off with a crazy pace but it has been even keel, allowing me to take time to clear some physical and mental clutter out of my life. It’s amazing how much lighter I feel after taking time to organize my office, purge old paperwork, and finish important tasks that I kept putting off.

2. What's working — and what's not?

Some of you might remember that at the end of last year, I decided to stop tolerating what isn’t working for me. I’ve continued to focus on that and it has worked well, freeing up space in my life to cultivate stronger relationships and focus on the right work. And a short but miserable bout with the flu reminded me how important it is to keep self-care at the forefront. I realized that I had let that slip a little.

3. Based on your answers to the first two questions, what's one shift you want to make?

As you consider fine-tuning your approach for the rest of the year, what tweaks would you make?  Remember that you can make shifts either to amplify a strategy that's working well or to make a course correction. For example, my cathartic mental and physical decluttering in January reminded me that I need to continue to make more room in my life for people who energize me and limit my exposure to those who drain me.

I also realized that I have to adjust my workout routine because I’m struggling to keep my cadence. So, I’ve changed it up with some more basketball and weight lifting with my son. That makes it much more fun (especially when we take silly pictures of our “bulging” biceps). And I’m heading out to surround myself with beautiful landscapes and physically challenge myself with some hiking in Arizona later this week.

There's tremendous power in pausing—even if it’s just for a few minutes each week. So, I challenge you to answer the three questions above today and identify one action to take based on what you learn. For other strategies to stretch yourself, pick up a copy of my book Show Up. Step Up. Step Out: Leadership Through a New Lens. You can read the first five chapters for free now.

Five Traps of High Performers


I thoroughly enjoy my work with high performers. They motivate me, challenge me and help me bring my best. But they can also be their own worst enemies. Take a look at the five common traps of high performers to see how you might be getting in your own way.  

1. When you make a mistake, you beat yourself up for longer than those impacted by the mistake. (In fact, some may not even think of what you did as a mistake.)

High performers expect so much of themselves. That helps them achieve tremendous results but can also result in harsh self-judgment. Keep in mind that you were doing the best that you could in the moment, based on what was going on.

2. You keep expecting the frustrating people in your life to change.

To keep from going out of your mind, expect people to show up exactly as they always do. Your frustration may change into amusement as you realize how consistent people are with their behavior—and how valuable that information can be for you, as you develop new strategies to engage them.

3. You don’t celebrate successes. You simply move on to the next thing you need to get done.

By simply noticing and enjoying the impact of your results, you can amplify the power of your strengths. You don’t have to plan a huge celebration, but start taking some steps in this direction and see how it feels.

4. You pay more attention to information that validates your hypotheses.

We all have our moments when we know our opinions or conclusions must be true. When you have that strong sense of conviction, that’s when you should ask yourself, “What else could be going on?” That will help you eliminate those blind spots.

5. You're not fully present. You may be sitting in front of someone, but you're not really “here.”

Divided attention steals so much from our daily lives. Once you decide to be in the moment, you may be surprised at how much you notice about what’s happening around you. As a leader, this will arm you with invaluable information.

This week, notice if you fall into any of these traps. How can you choose a different course of action next time? As you continue to build the skills and habits that support sustainable success, I think you'll also enjoy exploring my WOW! Women On the Way to Peak Performance Program℠.