Make Self-Care a Priority for a Better Work-Life Balance

By | Career Guidance, Leadership | No Comments

Professionals in C-level support are so used to taking care of everyone else they often forget to take care of themselves. But with such a challenging job, you need to make self-care a top priority, or you will likely experience burnout. Here’s how to make self-care a priority and incorporate it into your daily routine.

Make a List of Your Needs

Start by making list of what you need to stay healthy. This includes physical needs like water, nutrients, sleep, and exercise, as well as psychological needs like mindfulness, community, and quiet time. The most common excuse people use to explain not practicing self-care is time. By making a list of your basic needs, you can more easily organize your schedule to incorporate healthy practices. Periodically reevaluate your needs. They change depending on what’s going on in your life at any given time.

Take Small Steps

Most people will find it difficult to completely change their behavior and lifestyle. Committing to self-care can be overwhelming at first, so start with baby steps. For example, start by drinking more water, then carve out time to start meditating or exercise. Eventually, you can address other issues like diet or sleep schedule. Don’t try to do it all at once. Eventually, you will turn these healthy behaviors into habits.

Be Kind to Yourself

Another reason many people struggle with self-care is that they believe they can’t do it. Society has trained us to concede defeat at the first sign of failure. For example, if you set a goal of meditating every day, you may feel defeated if you miss several days early on. You have to adjust your mindset. It takes time to turn behaviors into habit, so be kind to yourself and don’t agonize over every misstep. Everyone has the ability to practice self-care.

Remember Why You Practice Self-Care

As you work on making self-care a priority, always remember the why. You want to improve your health, reduce stress, and enhance your performance at work. Don’t rely too heavily on goal setting, schedules, and to-do lists. You also have to think about what you need in the moment. If you schedule in a hot shower in the evening as part of your self-care for the day, but you get home from work and can barely keep your eyes open, go to sleep. In that moment, sleep is more important to your self-care than a shower.

When you practice self-care, you develop better relationships with yourself, as well as your co-workers. You will also develop a more positive attitude, reduce your stress levels, improve your overall health, and increase engagement and focus. Take the first step and commit to making self-care a priority.

Read More

African American Women Are Overcoming Barriers to Leadership

By | Career Guidance, Leadership | No Comments

As is true in many fields, there is a lack of diversity in leadership, especially when it comes to African American women. Still, some women of color are overcoming the barriers to leadership. These women know what it takes to succeed in today’s employment environment, and they share their unique insights.

Developing High Emotional Intelligence

Minority groups face a higher number of obstacles and barriers, so their resilience often becomes a driving force to succeed. This entails developing high emotional intelligence. When constantly judged by gender or skin color, it’s natural to feel anger and animosity. The key is to learn how to control your reactions and establish a strong understanding of who you are.

The women who are overcoming barriers learned to convey self-assurance even when people doubted them. In addition, when facing adversity, it starts to become easier to read people and situations. They learn to distinguish people who are prejudicial or close-minded from those who want to see them succeed. One leader who serves as chief financial officer says, “You have to seek out messages and people who affirm your identity.”

Understand Stereotypes

Society expects strong leaders to be autonomous, confident, capable, resolute, and ambitious. These are all traits stereotypically associated with men. Even though leadership styles can take many forms and gender stereotypes are inaccurate, these stereotypes create a bias that often works against women in the workplace. African American women have an even greater challenge because they also have to contend with stereotypes and biases associated with race. Once you understand the biases you face, you are in a much better position to counteract them.

Many professionals may be the only African American employee at their company, so they have an added attention put on them. The vice chair of an investment firm put it this way, “There are so many rooms I’ve gone into in my life where I was the only black person, and I immediately started to see that as an advantage. Because they’re going to look, they’re going to listen….They’re wondering how I got into the room, so I have an opportunity to get their attention. All I have to do is deliver into that space.”

Stay Genuine

One trait that most women and African American leaders share is sincerity. They know who they are and embrace it. They don’t change to please other people. It is systemically even more difficult for African American women to be honest about their professional and education background, because they are often judged more sharply than their peers. Despite this difficulty, it is always important to be candid about who you are and what you want. People respect honesty and frankness.

Overcoming barriers to leadership starts with establishing a strong sense of identity. At the C-suite level, women of color often make some of the best leaders. Even though they face more challenges than their competitors, their demonstrated resilience, high emotional intelligence, confidence, decisiveness, and sincerity drive them to succeed. As we slowly move into an era of more diversity in leadership positions, expect to see more women of color rise to the top.

Read More

Desire to Inspire: Solidify Your Future as a Phenomenal Leader

By | Career Guidance, Leadership | No Comments

Motivate and inspire. The two words are often used interchangeably, echoed perpetually in the minds of any leader trying to spearhead the charge. However, view the two as the same and you are missing a critical component in your evolution as a senior executive. Why? Motivation is of the ego, while inspiration is of the soul. Knowing how to motivate can make you a phenomenal boss, while knowing how to inspire will solidify your future as a phenomenal leader.

“Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and carry it through to its conclusion, and inspiration is when an idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

Being inspirational can be a trait that appears to be intangible; you either have it or you don’t. It seems that individuals like Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, Tony Robbins or JFK were most certainly born as charismatic and influential individuals. So if being inspirational to others is something we all want, but it’s something you are and not something you get, then inspiration must be impossible to teach, right?

Not quite.

Turns out, inspirational leadership can be built with thoughtful and measured practice. There’s even an incredibly easy place to start.

You.

Want to be inspirational to others? You must first be inspired yourself.

Think about it; reflect upon some of the individuals in your life who have inspired you. You’ll see a common thread between them all – you fed off of their enthusiasm. If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect those around you to be inspired to join you on the journey?

Great leaders have a crystal clear vision for what the future holds, and they can articulate that vision precisely and with contagious energy. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech is proof of his ability to paint a picture so clearly that it almost seems we are already living in the future state. To truly inspire, you must start from within:

  • What problem does our firm solve or service does our firm provide, and what’s our connection as to why that matters?
  • What are we building together?
  • Why is this team special? What makes us proud to be part of this unique collection of individuals?
  • What are my 1, 3, and 5 year dreams for my team? What will life look like then for all involved?
  • How does my dream connect on a personal level with each team member?
  • How do each of my team members want to be remembered in terms of the impact they had and the role they played in making a difference, both internally with peers and externally with clients?
  • What gifts am I giving to those I work with every day?

Highly successful people ask the right questions, and thus, they receive the answers that help them advance in life.

Change from the Inside Out

Focusing on motivation is the comfort zone of many in a leadership role. Motivation can be wildly effective as it forces us to keep up, compete, and compare ourselves to others. Motivation works as it compels us to take action, to push past limits, and do more than we thought possible. But motivation without inspiration is temporary, and it can become exhausting. Though motivation can drive results, inspiration drives the purpose connected to those results.

That connection is what keeps individuals tethered to a mission and a leader for years and decades to come. When a leader is able to reach in and inspire the hearts and minds of individuals, those individuals are changed from the inside out. When people want to take action because there is a deeply connected desire from within, that action is sustainable and infinitely more meaningful.

Perpetual Improvement

One of the strongest value propositions a leader can give to an employee is the ability for that individual to perpetually grow in all dimensions. The message that someone else believes in you, sees potential and growth in you, can be a powerful connector. Obvious areas of growth include professionally as well as personally, but do not overlook the importance of financial, mental, and spiritual growth as well. In nature, plants either grow or decompose; they do not stay the same. In an organization, nourishment is supplied by the broad term of training, but a more accurate term is learning. What is being done within your organization to foster learning, growth, and new perspectives each week?

Don’t be afraid to set your team free. Open the gates and let the human need for autonomy and significance flourish. People want to do well and succeed, but can sometimes be suppressed by your own need for control or cumbersome processes within the organization. Inspire others by giving them a purpose they connect with, a timeline for results, and the authority to act.

Hardest Worker in the Room

When the team is out of gas, you inject more fuel. When the team doesn’t know what to do next, you lead by example. Whether acknowledged or not, employees what to see a leader who is desperately hungry for the mission to succeed and will do whatever is needed whenever it’s needed to get the work done.

Don’t mistake this final point; this doesn’t mean you need to be the first one in and last one out every day without exception. In fact, many times the “busiest” people are the ones who simply manage their time the poorest. Unplugging or taking time off is important, but the team should be able to clearly see your dedication to doing the hard work to achieve success. You will be thrilled to see the byproduct of that dedication, when the rest of the team follows in your direction.

Read More

4 Examples of Successful Leadership

By | Career Guidance | No Comments

Transition to a leadership role can be challenging. You may not be used to giving direction and being someone who must set an example for everyone else. Even long-time leaders know that there is always room for improvement where leadership is concerned. Leadership is especially important in the world of high-profile CEOs, venture capital investors, and the high-level professionals who support them. Here are four examples of successful leadership.

Practice Accountability

Great leaders don’t make excuses when things go awry. They take full responsible for their decisions and performance. They own up to their mistakes and work hard to become better for their team. They don’t shift the blame to their employees because they understand that part of their role as a leader is to motivate employees and make sure they live up to their potential.

Don’t Dwell on Failures

The best leaders don’t let failure bring them (or the team) down. As humans, it is natural to feel disheartened when we experience failure and often obsess over the mistakes that were made. But as a leader, you need to maintain a positive attitude. It’s important to accept failure as part of the job, learn from it, and move on. Otherwise, it’s just going take longer for you to succeed.

Action-Oriented

When there is a problem or crisis, great leaders don’t wait to take action. They acknowledge the problem and find a solution. Sometimes, leaders will take their time when they need to make an important decision because they fear making the wrong choice. Be willing to take risks. You need to inspire confidence from your employees and clients. Inaction won’t accomplish this.

Rethink Hierarchy

When most people think about the hierarchy of a business, they imagine the CEO and other executives at the top of a pyramid and everyone else is below them. Great leaders, however, don’t see themselves as the most important part of their company. They understand that one of their biggest responsibilities is to support their team and provide them with the guidance, mentorship, and resources they need to perform at the top of their game and make the company successful.

When an organization has exceptional leadership, it attracts and retains better talent. Strong leadership also ensures that your employees stay motivated and morale and productivity stay high. To improve leadership, practice accountability, learn to bounce back from failure quickly, take prompt action, and provide the team with a support system.

Read More