Where Do You Need More Clarity?

ClarityIn my recent post, Three Ways to Gain More Clarity, I shared some of the easiest ways to improve the level of clarity in your life and in your work.  One reader asked:  How do you know where you need more clarity?  Wow!  What a great question!

As a speaker and a coach, whenever I discuss clarity, I encourage my audience to ask themselves where more clarity is needed.  And I have a few suggestions on where to start.  One of the simplest is this:

What do you want?  It’s surprising how powerful this simple question can be.  Many of us, especially women, spend so much of our time, energy and attention on helping other people get what they want, that we forget to ask ourselves.  In fact, when I ask clients this question, they are usually stumped for a moment or two.  And often, they can more easily say what they don’t want and we have to work backwards from there.  This works very well, by the way.

Why do you want it?  Once you know what, it’s helpful to know the reason behind the what, especially if the “what” requires time, effort, attention or money.  What I’ve noticed, over time, is that, without the why, it becomes easier to give up on the what.  So when the what is important, so is the why.  In fact, I recommend that you ask yourself why multiple times, to get to the real baseline motivation that will help you overcome the inevitable challenges on the way to the what.

Here’s an example of an exchange with a business leader who told me she wanted a promotion. I asked her “why is that important to you?” and continued to ask that same question with each answer she gave me:

  • Because I want more money.
  • Because I want to buy more things.
  • Because I want to have more things.
  • Because that means I am successful.
  • Because I want other people to see me as successful.
  • Because my parents and teachers told me I’d never amount to much.

Once this client realized that she was relying on external sources for her sense of self-esteem and self-worth – once she gained clarity — we were able to re-focus. We worked on identifying the intrinsic value and rewards for the work she was doing, the contributions she was making and the ways she was able to help and support others.

She began to understand that those reasons were far more powerful and far more sustainable as a source of motivation.

Clarity is indeed power, as Buckminster Fuller said.  Once you have clarity, you have a better idea of where you want to go and how to get there. Everything falls into place.

Clarity is so important to success that it’s one of the first topics in my High Performance Coaching Program.  If you want to learn more about how to consistently perform at your best, just click here.

Clarity is also one of the main tools I recommend when I speak on “Hope is Not a Strategy, You Need a Plan: Getting to the Next Level Using the 5C’s.” If you are interested in a keynote – or a workshop – on this topic, just send an email to info@ellisbusinessenterprises.com or, for more information, click here to see my Speaker’s Profile.

#clarity #womenleaders #businessleaders #highperformance



How Women are Changing the FACE of Leadership

WomensDayToday is International Women’s Day and an opportunity to reflect on the unique contribution of women and certainly to reach out and acknowledge and thank the women who have made a difference in your life or career or business.

Since I often get asked how women are changing the face of leadership, today seemed like the right time to write about it.  I used the acronym FACE.

F = Freedom and Flexibility.  Women are free to pursue their own unique path through life and make the required trade offs—and with far less judgment from others than was the case when I was “growing up” in business.  This, in turn, has resulted in greater flexibility for men and women in choosing the roles they are best suited for at home and at work.  We’re OK with the dads who want to stay home to raise the kids and the moms who need to work.  It took awhile to get here and lots of women pushing that agenda.

A = Acknowledgement, Acceptance and Advocacy.  Women have been acknowledged as effective leaders, albeit with a distinctly different style than men.  That style is marked by increased empathy and greater participation—and let’s face it, that’s good for everyone.  We now accept women in leadership positions and it’s not so unusual any more; in fact, there are many women and men who are advocates for more parity and more equality – in pay, in executive leadership and on boards.  We will have a long way to go but the issue has far more awareness and far more support than ever before.

C = Collaboration.  Having been excluded in the past, women are more inclined to be inclusive and to gain ideas and insights from a variety of perspectives, leading to greater collaboration.  The ability to collaborate effectively has become one of the most significant requirements in working in today’s complex, fast-paced, global business world.  Women are naturals at this.

E = Expectations, Excellence, Empathy, Encouragement.  Lots of E words work here. We see rising expectations of what women can contribute, while they raise the overall level of excellence.  And their leadership style is often marked by greater empathy for others and encouragement for continuous improvement, overcoming obstacles, mistakes and failures to ultimately succeed.

True, there are still many challenges that women face on the way to gaining parity in leadership numbers—and compensation.  But today is a day to pause and reflect on the progress.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

#women #leadership #internationalwomensday


A True Level 5 Leader

Level 5 Leaders are rare.  Having worked with and observed thousands of leaders in my professional career, I’ve only worked for one and I’ve personally observed very few.  I had the pleasure of meeting one last week and hearing her speak to a group of business professionals—mostly women—as the Morris County Chamber of Commerce kicked off it’s Women in Business program with keynote speaker Sheri McCoy.

McCoy took the risk of leaving a truly stellar 30-year career with Johnson & Johnson last year to take on the challenge as CEO of Avon Products, Inc.  She spoke about that move as one of three examples of taking big risks in her professional life.  She encouraged us all to step out of our comfort zones as the place where true growth occurs and the rewards can be more than we imagine.

Each time she took a big risk, it paid off in ways she didn’t even anticipate as she deliberated the decisions.  However, she counseled us of the need to have a good support system in place as well, including great mentors.

Among Sheri McCoy’s mentors were her two grandmothers and her great grandmother.  The stories she told about each were both humorous and poignant and reminded me that we can take leadership lessons from just about any life experience, if we’re paying attention.

Finally, she spoke about the importance of networking, especially for women, who don’t do enough of it in McCoy’s opinion.  Allowing that it’s difficult with all the other responsibilities we carry day-to-day, connecting with people has nevertheless been a critical ingredient in her success.

So, what’s a Lever 5 Leader and how is it I put Sheri McCoy in this category?

The first time I heard about Level 5 Leadership was when I read Good to Great by Jim Collins.

The basic premise of the book is that Collins set out to determine what are the factors that distinguish good companies from really great ones?  He defined “great” companies as those that were able to achieve extraordinary and sustainable growth and increasing profits. He studied and compared 11 pairs of companies to determine the elements that set them apart.

Level 5 Leadership was among the 6 distinguishing factors Collins & his team found that made a difference.   A Level 5 Leaders is an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will and a fierce resolve.

 “Level 5 leaders are not high profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and achieve celebrity status.  Instead, they seem to come out of nowhere.  They are self-effacing, quiet, reserved, maybe even shy with a paradoxical blend of humility and professional will. (More like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton and Caesar).

These are leaders who channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great organization.  It’s not that they have no ego or self-interest, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.”

Can you see how rare that might be?

The book contains several great stories about the leaders on both sides of the fence and my personal favorite is about Darwin Smith.  Read the book!

This is clearly a style of leadership to aspire to.

John C. Maxwell, considered one of the world’s authorities on the subject of leadership, also teaches about the 5 Levels of Leadership.  In John’s recent book, The 5 Levels of Leadership, he traces the progression of leaders from the initial “Position” level, where people follow you because they have to, all the way through to the Pinnacle Level, where people follow because of who you are and what you represent.

This in turn, reminds me of the great quote from Frances Hesselbein:  “Leadership is much less about what you do and much more about who you are.”

What I saw in Sheri McCoy was the real deal.  She combines humility and grace with a fierce underlying resolve to do the right thing and to make a difference.  Her personal commitment to the mission and core values of Avon was obvious. And, her intention to help others—especially women—along the way through mentoring, coaching, developing and challenging them beyond their comfort zone—was especially refreshing.  And rare.

I couldn’t help feeling that the stockholders, customers, team members and other stakeholders at Avon are in such good hands with Sheri McCoy leading the way.