What Nadal teaches us about Leadership

I love watching sports – the players are always so in-the-moment, they are future focused (i.e. where the ball is going not where it was, where the game is going, not where it was). In many ways, athletes and leaders have quite a bit in common in terms of discipline and focus. 

Two days ago, Ana Botin of Banco Santander, offered Rafael Nadal a job with the company when he retires on a video call in front of her employees.  What she wrote about Rafa about what he can teach us resonated with me, and I thought I would share it with you. The bullets are her words, not mine.

  • If you overthink the last point, you won’t be prepared for the next one.
  • Learn to forgive yourself, accept and control frustration, and keep working to improve.
  • Step-by-step, try to find a solution in every moment.
  • Don’t rush to success. Achieving your goals requires hard work, patience, and a long-term commitment.
  • Even with a winning strategy, you will not win every match. Accept it.
  • To be the best, you don’t have to have all the answers. Lean on your team, and let them speak up.
  • And a piece of sage advice from his father: observe everything and everyone around you carefully, take the good things and discard the bad ones.

Words to keep with us!  What do you think?

If you would like to see her post (source of this article) and watch the video, click here

All the best,

Trends for 2022

Happy New Year! I hope you are settling into 2022 despite the upheaval and chaos that, by now, is part of our world.  These days, one of the biggest questions that I have been pondering – both at work as well as when I look at the world around me – is how we can create more fairness and opportunity for all.

And lo and behold, Harvard Business Review just published a great article 11-trends-that-will-shape-work-in-2022-and-beyond!

And the first trend they cite that will “be the defining issue for organizations” is a focus on Fairness and Equity.  They say it better, so let me quote directly from them:

“Debates that have fairness at the core, whether it’s around race, climate change, or Covid vaccine distribution, have become flashpoints in society.

According to our analysis of S&P 500 earnings calls, the frequency with which CEOs talk about issues of equity, fairness and inclusion on these calls has increased by 658% since 2018.

And questions of fairness and equity are emerging in new ways:

  • Who has access to flexible work? We’ve seen organizations where some managers allow their employees flexibility while other managers don’t.
  • What happens when employees move to locations with a lower cost of living? Should employers lower their compensation even though the impact of their work hasn’t changed?
  • In today’s labor market, companies are paying 20% compensation premiums to hire new employees. Is it fair to pay new employees so much more than established employees?
  • Companies are offering new, targeted investments for specific segments of their workforce (e.g., additional financial resources to support employees with children). While these investments are critical to help those employees do their job, employees without children have asked “Why are employees who are parents getting something and I’m not?”

In 2022, executives will need to address how they are managing fairness and equity across the increasingly varied employee experience. In fact, this will be the number one priority for HR executives next year

Read the full article here, and I always enjoy hearing from you and your perspectives – I would also be thrilled to hear about what you and/or your organizations are doing to move concretely on some of these issues. 

All the best,

My Gift to You

2021 passed so fast, and with COVID ups and downs, my memories are blurred – I don’t remember what happened and when.

If you remember at the beginning of the year, my word for 2021 was “FLOW” – and having this word front-of-mind has really helped me. I have been “Flowing” – accepting the need for quiet and recharging (and maybe even a little bit of NETFLIX) when I feel drained. It also means that I have given myself permission to not be super regular with my newsletters these last few months. 😊

I know that so many of my clients and friends are also wrestling with staying energised and emotionally stable. We are great over-thinkers and over-planners – as though that will erase the tiredness.

So for the holiday season, my gift to you is this lovely poem by Mary Oliver that really resonated for me.

“I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can d
o it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.”

I wish you all lots of physical and mental “singing” this holiday season. May you connect with yourselves and with loved ones, and may we all have some respite from worrying.

With warmest holiday wishes,

Finding and Creating Psychological Safety

The world seems to be opening back up today and we are all trying to figure out what we’re comfortable with. We’re figuring out where, how, and when to emerge from being “locked down” with a feeling of security and safety – in this sense, a physical safety.

What has become increasingly acute to me, however, is the concept of psychological safety. In a fractured world with hair-trigger reactivity, how do we allow people to feel that they can say/do/be their truths without feeling attacked, embarrassed or insecure in any way?

For corporations this is a big issue, getting their employees to work at peak performance requires them to create an environment where it is easy for employees to bring the full breadth of their perspectives and ideas without feeling at risk. A study conducted by Google found that psychological safety was the most important contributor to high performing teams, along with dependability, clarity, meaning, and impact.

And I think this is true for all of us – humans in a fractious world socially, politically, and economically, but also as parents and family members trying to raise and grow grounded children.

At its core, psychological safety is “a condition in which human beings feel (1) included, (2) safe to learn, (3) safe to contribute, and (4) safe to challenge the status quo — all without fear of being embarrassed, marginalized, or punished in some way.”[1]

Don’t we all want this for ourselves?

What are you doing to create psychological safety for yourself and those around you?

If you would like to read more about this, check out my article 3 Ways Leaders Can Boost Psychological Safety and Enhance Team Performance in this month’s issue of Training Industry Magazine.

All the best,

[1] From “The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety,” by Timothy R. Clark 

Reflecting on “Beyond Burnout”

Even though I have written about exhaustion recently, it continues to persistently turn up in my conversations with organizations and their leaders. And just in time, here’s a fantastic article from Harvard Business Review that does a thorough, but efficient, deep dive into the issue as well as give lots of practical tips and insights which I thought you might find useful. 

If you would like to read the full article, here is the link: Beyond Burned Out

What was most interesting to me, was that having an empathetic managerwas the second-most-cited need by respondents to a survey, just a touch behind manageable workloads. Those of you who follow the leadership space and have worked with me, know how central this notion is to my work.  

Check out this excerpt from the article:

“According to Harvard Medical School’s Helen Riess, who is also the cofounder and chief scientist of Empathetics, communicating empathically increases job satisfaction, reduces burnout, and is highly correlated with enhanced well-being. It is perhaps the most critical skill in a crisis and something that we can all improve on.

Empathetic leadership requires three things: acknowledging and overcoming any personal biases and privileges you might have; actively listening to your people; and taking action. I want to focus on the second — active listening — as something that’s particularly important today. It involves giving people a safe place to share and demonstrating that you’ve heard them by acting on their words. You can do this one-on-one or set up open forums through Slack or Teams or any other workplace social collaboration tool, where good ideas can proliferate. You may also want to create the opportunity to provide anonymous feedback; there are survey tools out there that make it easy to do that.”

How do you fare on the empathy scale?

Your Word

The start of every new year gives me hope and excitement. Of course I know that there is very little difference between December 31st and January 1st. But, nonetheless, the idea of closing one cylce and starting another reminds me of the pacing, the rhythm and dance of life. And this gives me hope.

I have never been a resolutions person. I find they are too easy to break as your life and needs play out. I find they are often made by a sense of “what I should do (but don’t really want to)” rather than intentional, excited, hopeful creation of the the kind of world/future I want to build for myself.

But for over thirty years, since my early twenties, I have been picking a one or two word “focus of the year”. This word serves as a sort of mantra, a theme for the next big direction I want my life to take in the coming year. Having to choose my word has always been a clarifying exercise for me, forcing me to focus and get to the very essence of what I want. 

Through the years my words have included “let go”, “thrive”, “streamline”, “ignite” and “go big”.  This year my word is “flow”. As often is the case, there can be several meanings or ways these words play out. Flow, to me, means not fighting events. But it also means moving with ease and grace. To be in the flow is to enter a state of being rather than doing. I chose a word that will guide me in all its meanings – and will most likely help me to see and be in different ways. 

I love hearing my clients’ and friends’ words – each as individual as they each are. Last year many focused on “listen” while others on “speak up”. One chose “seminare” (Italian for “sow” – as in plant seeds), another “shine” and yet another “laugh”.  We are all at different points in our lives and our words reflect our different hopes, goals, aspirations for that moment in time. 

How do I use this word? Well first of all, it is my screen saver – so that it always top of mind. And whenever I have to make a decision, I think of how my word would impact the big decisions. For example, how would I think differently if I were “in the flow” or “letting things just flow”. This will help me push myself not to overthink, second-guess or stress about every detail, but to show up in a different way. Of course, that doesn’t mean I abandon strategic thinking, it’s just a way of refocusing my energy to what really matters at this point to me. 

For those of you who are results oriented, I cannot say that finding your word will give you easy, peaceful achievement. But I will say that every year, by focusing on my intention, my word, I have always managed to “fulfill” my words – regardless of how the year went. That, in turn, always helped me to grow deeper roots, self knowledge and the satisfaction of having managed to move in the direction I wanted regardless of external events. And then, for the new year I am always ready to think about and take the next, best direction for myself. 

What is your word? 

P.S. If you are interested, the internet is filled with great prompts and processes to help you think through and find your word…and of course, you can always call me, and I’d be happy to share with you the process I have always used 😊.