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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

Leadership Advantage in the Modern Workplace

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 @ 03:50 PM

Valencia Rayby Valencia Ray, M.D.

Women do have an advantage in leadership style in today’s workplace, not simply because we are women, but more so because “heart” behavior, such as showing another person empathy or exercising better listening skill is becoming more socially acceptable as exemplary leadership behavior. Yet, do not men have a “heart” as well? Judy B. Rosener in the Harvard Business Review article “Ways Women Lead” postulates that characteristics generally considered to be “feminine” accounts for why women are succeeding in the 21st century workplace. “Macho male” leadership styles tend to lead to disengagement in today's world.

-> Sign up for our free webinar Thursday, May 1 at noon PT, Leadership BEYOND Gender: Transform Limiting Mindsets to Become an Engaging Leader.describe the image

Let me be explicit here for a moment. While I know that our language implicates “feminine” as being only of the female or woman, I find it striking that the functional qualities of our right-brain parallel qualities that our language defines as feminine or female. Yet, human beings – men included – have a right-brain hemisphere. Perhaps we need to rethink the etymology of “feminine” and realize that with the clearer understanding of the roles of the brain hemispheres, our tendency to define behavior along gender lines may be antiquated. Our brain capabilities give us the ability to act as we need to in order to evolve and adapt to our environment. Could it be that we have artificially segmented and categorized behaviors unwittingly according to gender, when really it is culture that has determined what is “feminine” versus “masculine” behavior? That true biology as related to the physiology of our brain has much greater flexibility than this?

For the sake of males who are leaders in today’s world where empathy is valued, I would think that looking at behavior based upon our brain’s ability to respond should supersede outdated definitions that connect behaviors along gender lines. Empathy is a human quality that can be cultivated, not a limited-to-gender quality. Perhaps we can start to recognize that our left-brain and right-brain contain functional qualities that can help us on an individual basis as needed, instead of pegging behavior into gender role-playing. Enough said; something to think about.

The opportunity for leadership development is to allow each individual human being social access to their whole brain as needed, and as uniquely expressed by their unique personality. I believe it is fear and the need to conform that is at the root of so many people’s behaviors, with the pressure to conform to gender stereotypes being one of the most pervasive in our workplaces. One’s behavior may not even feel like authentic expression to him or her. I know; I’ve been there, and I am still growing in self-knowledge. Learning never ends. When I was a “command-control” leader, I felt like a fake, though I would not have admitted it. I was hiding my fear behind aggression, which is a common phenomenon. In light of this, I am drawn to the words of Shawn Anchor, a Harvard researcher, taken from his book, The Happiness Advantage:

Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it is the realization that we can.

Men who reject empathy and other “right-brain” related traits and continue to push women into gender conformity boxes are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Think of the word right-brain and the word “heart” as interchangeable. Men have access to “right-brained” styles, but they tend to under-develop them. Recall the concept of neuroplasticity. We need to reframe the connotation of the word “heart” because the right-brain is critical to innovation and creativity. Currently we stereotypically attribute the word “heart” only to females in its connotation. Again, do men also have a right-brain? The brain can adapt and, quite frankly, some men’s authentic personality is more prone toward these “heart-centered” traits, if the truth were told.

More often than not, the brain is performing as programmed. This prompts us as leaders to change the conversation from one that constantly compares women with men as if their biological sex is responsible. Continuing this old conversation only helps to sustain the “battle of the sexes,” which does not serve organizations or society and is now, in fact, limiting our progress as a whole. This kind of conversation also avoids a critical reality: when made self-aware, both women and men can change. This is good news to those who are willing to embrace change and evolve. This is not about “fixing” our self; it is about learning and growing to reach more of our true potential.

describe the imageIn fact, our inclination to cling to stereotypical role-playing models based on gender is at the heart of many of our leadership woes. For example, men limit their leadership ability by clinging to the belief that they must be stoic and repress their sense of empathy and connection to others. This type of behavior limits heart engagement and the ability to inspire others. There is new research demonstrating that men indeed show signs in early childhood development and into adulthood that they have equal ability to access empathy. Women who believe the “woman’s place” is to remain in the background are not very likely to assert themselves when needed, or to voice their authentic opinion without fear of rejection. Needless to say, the ability to navigate change in organizational culture is limited by this type of behavior on the part of the leader. Both of these socially perpetuated behaviors tend to be unconsciously conditioned in us as children and in social contexts, and there is now new, compelling research to support this claim. If we are all going to start performing at our best and living more passionate and fulfilling lives, we will need to move leadership beyond gender. What are your thoughts or experiences?

VALENCIA RAY, M.D. coaches and consults for organizations that want to help their leaders and teams perform at their very best. She also helps to restore vision by shining a light on the core issues that keep people from reaching their true potential. She is the author of, Leadership BEYOND Gender: Transcend Limiting Mindsets to Become a More Engaging Leader. To contact Valencia, visit her website at www.ValenciaRay.com.

Click now to sign up for the complimentary webinar 5/1, Leadership BEYOND Gender: Transform Limiting Mindsets to Become an Engaging Leader with Valencia Ray.

Topics: career, team work, leadership

7 Public Speaking Tips for Business from Author, Speaker Jenny Blake

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 @ 01:47 PM

Jenny Blake has a refreshing take on public speaking—it’s OK to feel nervous! It’s normal!

“It was simply my body doing its job—engaging my flight or fight response as a survival instinct during what it perceives as a very dangerous situation,” reflects the Life After College author and now international speaker on the inevitable nerves that came with one of her first, big speeches.

Even though, it’s perfectly normal to get the pre-speaking engagement jitters, Jenny is quick to remind, “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Join Jenny as she presents at our free webinar on April 3, 2014, "Speak Like a Pro: Practical Tips to Propel Your Confidence, Delivery, and Impact."

According to Jenny, speaking like a pro is all about preparation of mind AND body, and knowing how to give yourself a break while engaging with your audience with full authenticity.

Here are seven public speaking tips below adapted from Jenny’s writing on the topic:

    1. Know where you want to take the audience.

      A great speech involves taking your audience on a journey and inspiring them to action. Go-to quote from Jenny: “How do you want to impact the audience, and what would you like them to DO as a result of your speech?”

      jenny blake wds speaklikeapro

        2. Make change happen.

          The desired outcome of your speech should improve the lives of the audience members in some way. If you’re not making change happen, then there’s no point.

            3. Get prepared.

              Commit your speech to memory over and over again, so it actually moves out of the front of your mind it's become so natural. (Jenny will discuss the brain science behind public speaking more at our upcoming webinar.)

                4. Get prepared some more.

                  Jenny recommends practicing your speech in the morning and at night for one week before your presentation. Practice “sticky” sections until you have them down. Record yourself and listen, or seek feedback from a trial audience, co-worker, or friend.

                    5. Make the mind, body connection.

                      Proper sleep, deep breathing exercises, and even pacing will help to quell and channel that adrenaline before the big speech.

                        6. Have fun!

                          “The audience wants you to succeed and they want you to be human, not a speech robot!,” says Jenny. During the presentation, it’s important to be yourself. Give yourself a break, smile, and enjoy the moment.

                            7. Keep strong and carry on.

                              The most important thing to remember is that you CAN do it! Even if nerves take over or technical problems occur, it’s still your time to shine by taking your speech to the finish. As Jenny shares, “People will love you more for keeping strong and (awkwardly) carrying on.”

                              Register now for Jenny's free webinar, "Speak Like a Pro: Practical Tips to Propel Your Confidence, Delivery, and Impact," on April 3, 2014 at noon PT.

                              You can learn more about Jenny Blake in the video below, or by visiting www.jennyblake.me.

                               Additional Resources & Webinars

                              Topics: career, Lunch & Learn Webinars, leadership

                              Reach More Customers with eBooks | Hear a 2-min. Audio Preview of our Free Webinar on 12/5/13 with Author Dalya Massachi

                              Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 @ 05:24 PM

                              In an era where content is king, publishing a book or ebook is a powerful way to not only distinguish yourself as a professional in your field, but to attract many more customers and clients to your business.

                              Want to learn how?

                              Then you won't want to miss award-winning author Dalya Massachi as she presents, "Publishing Your eBook for Greater Business Impact," at our complimentary Lunch & Learn Webinar on 12/5/13 at noon PT.

                              Click now to register for the free webinar!

                              Topics: career, business writing, books, business results, Lunch & Learn Webinars, webinars

                              What leadership lesson can be learned from a zebra? (Video)

                              Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 @ 11:44 AM

                              No, this blog post title isn't the opening line of a joke—it's a powerful lesson about leadership co-author of The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes, shares in this video below.

                              Watch to learn how true leaders earn their stripes (pun intended.)

                              Share your thoughts on leadership in our short survey, and you'll be entered into our drawing to win free leadership training, and more.

                              Also join us for a complimentary, leadership webinar on Thursday, August 1 at noon PT, "Time for Leadership: Finding an Hour to Lead."

                              Register now for the free session!

                              Zebra Leadership People OnTheGo

                              Topics: career, management, leadership

                              3 Ways to Quickly Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

                              Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Jul 15, 2013 @ 03:53 PM

                              growthmindset People OnTheGoLet's face it, we all have weaknesses. But instead of having an "Oh no!" moment when a challenge comes your way, these weaknesses should be thought of more as opportunities to grow and learn — which may sound simple, but it's far from how some professionals and leaders behave.

                              In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, describes this very powerful difference between a "fixed" and "growth" mindset:

                              "In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I'm going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here's a chance to grow. If you find yourself afraid of challenges, get yourself into a growth mindset and think about all of the growth potential in following this opportunity, even if it's out of your comfort zone."

                              Here's your chance to grow and learn three quick ways to turn that feeling of "Oh no!" into a success-oriented "Now what?"

                              1. Turn a challenge into a chance to problem solve or "task design."
                              2. Turn a difficult task into a 30 to 40-minute focus session.
                              3. Turn a difficult situation into a chance for awareness and wellness.

                              For more insights on maximizing your strengths and productivity, join us for a complimentary webinar Thursday, August 1 at noon PT, "Time for Leadership: Finding an Hour to Lead."

                              Register now for the free webinar!

                              Additional Resources & Webinars

                              Topics: career, productivity, management, leadership

                              Are Leaders BORN or MADE? Survey and Chance to Win Kindle Fire, Leadership Training, & more

                              Posted by Pierre Khawand on Tue, May 21, 2013 @ 11:56 AM

                              "How many of you are completely comfortable with calling yourselves a leader?" It's the question Drew Dudley, founder of Nuance Leadership Development Services asks in his powerful TEDxToronto Talk below. Indeed, the subject of leadership raises many issues and questions—among them: What does it take to be a good leader? What the the key attributes of effective leaders? Are leaders born or made?

                              We're hosting a short survey on leadership in the workplace, and would love to hear your thoughts. It takes just about 10 min. and you'll be entered to win some excellent prizes.

                              First Prize: A complimentary seat in our upcoming leadership program describe the image($1,250 value) and a copy of David Sibbet's latest book, Visual Leaders: New Tools for Visioning, Management, and Organization Change.

                              Second Prize: A complimentary, one-year individual membership ($120 value, includes 12 workshops) and a copy of Visual describe the imageLeaders.Kindle Fire Tablet Apps

                              Third Prize: A Kindle Fire Tablet, 7" LCD Display, Wi-Fi (value $159), and a copy of Visual Leaders.

                              Fourth Prize: A copy of the Accomplishing More With Less Workbook and a copy of Visual Leaders.

                              Click here to take the survey now:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/leadership-today. And please feel free to share, email, and tweet it with your colleagues.

                              We'll be publishing the results of our survey and findings in the coming months, so stay tuned for further updates. The final prize drawing will take place when we reach 1,000 participants; winners will be announced at one of our upcoming free Lunch & Learn Webinars, and will also be notified via email.


                              Topics: career, survey, leadership

                              Transform Your Message From Confusing to Clear with Storytelling (VIDEO & 5 Quick Tips)

                              Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Apr 26, 2013 @ 04:16 PM

                              Don't miss our free Lunch & Learn Webinar, The Power of Three—How to Distill Your Message to Its Essence with acclaimed author of Beyond Bullet Points, Cliff Atkinson, on Thursday, May 2 at noon PT. Register now for the complimentary webinar!

                              The Art of Storytelling at a Glance:

                              1. Be authentic.

                              2. Know your audience. Be interested in them, rather than just focusing on being interesting

                              3. Have a clear goal.

                              4. Be interactive. Listen as a storyteller. Engage in a dialogue with your audience.

                              5. Create an emotional component along with the information in order to make it memorable.

                              describe the imageWhat are your tips, strategies, and suggestions when writing your marketing and communications message? Do you use the art of storytelling in your presentations, sales copy, and other content?

                              Attend The Power of Three—How to Distill Your Message to Its Essence, our free Lunch & Learn Webinar on Thursday, May 2 from noon to 12:40 PT. Reserve your webinar seat now!

                              Additional Resources

                              Topics: career, business writing, Lunch & Learn Webinars, leadership

                              Tap Into Your Creativity Now With These Top 5 Books

                              Posted by Pierre Khawand on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 @ 01:29 PM

                              Forget oil, it’s creativity that may be our most elusive untapped resource. And it’s the reason why major global players like Google and 3M have famously allowed for “creative free time” at work, in which employees can engage in projects they’re passionate about for a nice chunk of time each week, be it a personal hobby or the like. This carte blanche on workplace creativity has been credited in leading to significant innovation at these companies. Moreover, they’ve given us insights on how to foster a more creative work culture, and are contributing to a greater movement in discovering how the brain can access and harness its amazing powers of creativity and innovation.

                              describe the imageDaniel Guillory, CEO of Innovations International, is a recognized expert on creativity and innovation, having worked with Toyota Financial Services, Ronald McDonald House Foundation, Merck & Co., and many other corporations and non-profits. We asked him to share his top five book picks on creativity, the brain, and innovation for both in and outside the workplace, so you can better tap into that vast, subconscious well:

                              1. Innovators DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and bestselling author Clayton M. Christensen

                              Innovators DNA-Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators
                              2. The Dream Workbook: Discover the Knowledge and Power Hidden in Your Dreams by Jill Morris

                              The Dream Workbook Discover the Knowledge and Power Hidden in Your Dreams
                              3. Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life by Shakti Gawain

                              Creative Visualization  Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life
                              4. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. by Daniel Coyle

                              The Talent Code  Greatness Isn%27t Born. It%27s Grown. Here%27s How
                              5. The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle

                              The Little Book of Talent 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills
                              Daniel Guillory will be presenting at our free webinar, “Creativity and Innovation—How to Experience the Lightning Bolt Every Day,” on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 from 12:00-12:40 p.m. PT.

                              Register now!

                              Topics: career, business results, Lunch & Learn Webinars, management, webinars

                              Virtual Team Challenges & Solutions from career experts at the Kenan-Flagler business school

                              Posted by Pierre Khawand on Sat, Mar 31, 2012 @ 01:39 PM

                              describe the imageA recent report by RW3 LLC, a cultural training service, found that 46 percent of employees who work on virtual teams said they had never met their virtual team cohorts and 30 percent said they only met them once a year. The report, The Challenges of Working in Virtual Teams, was based on a survey of nearly 30,000 employees from multinational companies. The survey also found that:

                              • The top challenge for virtual team members was the inability to read nonverbal cues (94%).

                              • There is an absence of collegiality among virtual team members (85%).

                              • It is difficult to establish rapport and trust in virtual teams (81%).

                              • Most virtual team members (90%) said they don’t have enough time during virtual meetings to build relationships.

                              • Managing conflict is more challenging on virtual teams than on conventional teams (73%).

                              • Decision making is more difficult on virtual teams than on conventional teams (69%).

                              • It is more challenging to express opinions on virtual teams than on conventional teams (64%) (Hastings, 2010).

                              If you have been part of a virtual team, you've probably dealt with your share of these challenges and you are wondering about where to do from here. 

                              Career experts at the Kenan-Flagler business school have produced a comprehensive white paper exploring virtual teams, their benefits and challenges to organizations, and outlined the three key steps that HR and talent management professionals can follow to ensure that virtual team members and leaders in their organizations have the skills, competencies and tools needed to succeed inspite of these challenges. These important steps are:

                              1. Participate in the selection process of virtual team members and leaders.

                              2. Ensure for the appropriate selection, training and use of virtual team technologies.

                              3. Provide training for virtual team members.

                              Refer to the white paper online or the PDF version for the in-depth review and recommendations.

                              And how about your experience and recomendation on how you have addressed the virtual team challenges in your environment? 


                              Topics: career, virtual teams, management

                              Your strengths – Why it’s important to know yours and how to do so, by Kathleen Sexton

                              Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Jun 27, 2011 @ 12:00 PM

                              Guest blog article written by Kathleen Sexton, Career Counselor, Founder & CEO of Kairos Learning

                              strengthCan you list your top 5 strengths easily if someone asked you?  Being able to acknowledge your top strengths is very helpful during different phases of your career path.

                              Informational interviewing/networking
                              During informational interviewing to explore new career opportunities, it’s very helpful to ask the people you’re talking with a question like “I’m very good at strength #1, #2, & #3.  Where do you think I could put those to use?  What type of career fields or jobs would let me use them frequently?”

                              Resume development
                              When you’re creating your resume, you want to highlight your strengths frequently.  You can use accomplishment statements to demonstrate your strengths.

                              Job interviewing
                              You want to showcase your strengths in your responses to interview questions.

                              Performance reviews
                              When you’re talking with your manager about your development plans for the next year, it’s helpful to articulate your top strengths. Talk about how you’d like to use them more and the benefits of doing that for the team as well as your career satisfaction.

                              If you would like to assess your skills, check out these websites’ online tools:

                              • VIA Signature Strengths Assessment is a free, online assessment through the University of Pennsylvania’s homepage of Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of positive psychology, a branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions.  http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu
                              • Skillscan’s Career Driver is an online, self-directed skills assessment tool that provides you with a profile of your transferable skills and preferences — knowledge essential to identifying satisfying work options, creating a career development plan or strategizing your next career move.  There are 2 different reports you can get -- Career Launcher Report for individuals planning their first careers or Career Transitioner Report – individuals considering a career change.  It’s $14.95.  http://www.skillscan.com/
                              • Marcus Buckingham, a leader the strengths movement, has several assessments out and a new one being released this September.  Access to the assessments requires that you to buy his books and then get a link to the online assessments.  Now, Discover Your Strengths (Clifton Strengths Finder) and Go Put Your Strengths to Work (Strengths Engagement Test)

                              Additional Resources

                              Discovering Your Strengths and Putting Them to Work (60-minute webinar, 7/27, 8:00 am PT)

                              Career Management in the Age of the Apps (2x60-minute webinars, 7/11, 7/18, 12:00 pm PT)

                              Social Networking for Career Development (2x90-minute webinars, 8/12, 8/19, 9:30 am PT)

                              Topics: career, productivity