Are you an Authentic Leader…or just faking it?

Are you an Authentic Leader…or just faking it?

Last week, I attended the National Diversity Council’s Annual Women’s Leadership Conference in Toronto. Speakers shared personal stories of bullying, discrimination and internal conflict over a morning of muffins and coffee. The panel of inspiring female leaders each offered their perspectives on what its like to be an authentic leader in the world of STEM( Science,Technology, Engineering & Math).  We all want to be authentic leaders, but often there is a murky definition of what it means to be authentic in the workplace. The culture of your team and organization directly impacts how you show up- sometimes unconsciously. When it comes to authentic leadership—— how authentic are you at work?   Ask yourself if you are assimilating to the culture or adapting too much? One panelist, a VP of Human Resources told us how she had no problem “being one of the guys” but realized later that it came at the cost of her authenticity. This immediately resonated with me as I recalled my days in all-male corporate teams blending in to survive/thrive. One year into the role, when I brought a colleague to tears,  I realized I didn’t recognize myself as a leader anymore and maybe I had adapted so much that I had actually transformed into someone who wasn’t truly me.  Perhaps there’s an situation or circumstance at work where you feel like this. So, what can you do? Self awareness is key. Ask yourself: Is this really your leadership style or is it just what everyone else is doing? ( i.e your adaptation to the norm). If you realize its adaptation, don’t panic. Experimentation with different...
Make your next conference EPIC (what every participant needs to do)

Make your next conference EPIC (what every participant needs to do)

You probably attend conferences all the time.  You take great notes, network during the coffee breaks and ask challenging questions to the speakers. You feel fired up and momentum from a full day of sessions and knowledge. Then you go back to work and have a day’s worth of emails to catch up on and reality hits you like a martini in the face.  All those well-intended hand written notes get shoved into a drawer never to be seen again. Wisdom gets filed away for rainy day. We are all guilty of it. But it seriously impacts our motivation, momentum and desire for change. So, here are 5 ways you can stop LIFE from getting in the way of you taking action after a conference:   1. Set objectives: As soon as you buy the conference ticket, write down 3 objectives of what you want to get out of this experience. By setting your intentions early, you not only build anticipation for the big day but you are preparing your brain and essentially setting the stage for learning and growth. You are giving your brain a subtle head’s up that new information is coming and here’s why its important. You also remind yourself of the significance of you making the investment of time, energy and money in attending the conference. With so much to gain, there’s no room for guilt of missing a day at the office.   2. Showcase your growth mindset:  You have to set that annoying out of office assistant before you leave for the conference. Why not leverage the chance to do some personal branding?...
Taking steps towards an awesome culture

Taking steps towards an awesome culture

* This is a guest post from Shar Banerjee, Sales Lead at HiMama and Business Development Director at Tania DeSa International   Mentorship is the ugly step-sister to Sponsorship, aka, Cinderella. While a mentor is an individual who advises and assists junior employees by answering questions and giving advice when needed, a sponsor is a powerfully positioned champion who has a) witnessed an employee’s greatness and b) is willing to use their influence to back the employee to unchartered heights. While the mentor-mentee relationship is one directional, the sponsor-protege relationship is bi-directional. Sponsors use their own workplace capital to influence other decision makers, while expecting their protege’s best work and constant growth. This is different from a mentor-mentee’s relationship which is more loosely structured. If sponsorship is Cinderella, then the sponsors of organizations are the fairy godmothers that make the tale of Cinderella a reality. The effectiveness of their workplace, then, is the pumpkin carriage that is the imperative link to getting Cinderella to the ball. So, what would you say makes an effective organization? A meaningful vision, well-defined roles and responsibilities, rewards, recognition or strong leadership? Richard Hackman and his team of Harvard psychologists found that the single strongest predictor of effectiveness is how much help employees provide for one another. In other words, how willing and able are employees to help grow and develop one another? Adam Grant, professor of organizational psychology at Wharton, further argues that there are 3 interaction styles in the workplace; people operate as: givers, takers, or, matchers. In giver cultures, employees operate at high effectiveness levels – they contribute, help, share and make connections without any...
No One Cares its National Mentorship Month

No One Cares its National Mentorship Month

January is National Mentorship Month in the USA. So, let’s salute all the mentors and mentees out there. But we may find there are less business duos that we think. If mentorship is a proven career accelerator, why do so few women have mentors? A LinkedIN poll of over 1000 US women confirmed that 82% found mentorship to be critical to career success.  Despite this belief,  1 in 5 women have NEVER had a mentor.  And it’s having an impact on the number of women in boardrooms. In fact, fewer women run big companies than men named John. So what’s holding women back from developing mentorship relationships?   The Challenge for Mentors: Time.  Often women who feel they are in a senior role to mentor others are also trying to balance their careers and family life. The lack of time to meet in person monthly or offer consistent feedback to emails and calls leads them to de-prioritize mentoring. The Solution: Give yourself permission to design the mentoring relationship so that it compliments your life. Strict mentoring structures can be old-school and in desperate need of an update to accommodate for modern life and the advancement of technology.  In the first meeting with any potential mentee, test the fit. Chemistry is key for a mentorship relationship having longevity. Next, talk openly about what you each want the communication- frequency and methods- to look like. Perhaps you meet in person quarterly for lunch and have monthly calls at 8am on the drive to work. Perhaps you Skype every two months and allow for email communication in between. Set expectations together, thereby...
Resilience: The art of bouncing back

Resilience: The art of bouncing back

You can’t predict where life will take you or where your career journey will lead you. But you do have control over how you respond and bounce back when life throws you a curve ball. In fact, positive psychologists have a term for this “bouncing back”, they call it resilience.   Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. Stress and adversity can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, among others.  Resilience is not a rare ability; in reality, it is found in the average individual and it can be learned and developed by virtually anyone. Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had. (Wikipedia)   In this Leadership Lounge episode, we meet Andrew Soren, Leadership coach & Senior Advisor of Leadership Development at BMO. He shares critical information on how we can all become more resilient at work and in life ( with some practical tips we can take action on today):     There are moments in life when things go wrong. Horribly wrong. I remember when I put a $25 million launch at risk and I’ll never forget the feeling of fear + dread+ shame+ anger when I was called into the General Manager’s office to explain the situation. It was a feeling I’d rather not feel again. Ever. But resilience grew in me a little more that day when I realized we all make mistakes and the big question is what we do about them  (Resilience Factor of emotional awareness + self-regulation).  Looking back on that situation, I’m proud of the failure...
What circus arts and business have in common

What circus arts and business have in common

Have you ever seen someone leaping off a 25 foot platform, swinging by their legs then somersaulting into the air? Or even better, have you tried it yourself?  Two weeks ago, I did (let the photo above be exhibit A).  It was terrifying, exhilarating and amazingly fun at the same time.  Let’s face it, that mix of feelings is more common in life than most of us think. Whether you’re giving a big presentation to executives at your firm, interviewing for a promotion or asking for VC funding for your growing startup, there’s a mix of fear and hope rushing through you.   “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.” – Unknown   So, similar to the circus performing trapeze artists, how can you harness the fear AND hope to drive business performance?  Here are 4 principles to keep in mind: 1. Focus on the outcome:  its easier to visualize yourself grabbing the bar and swinging into a perfect somersault when you are standing at the top of the trapeze platform. Sometimes,  its the vantage point that helps you more distinctly define the end goal. Clearly deciding and articulating the outcome you are looking for in any situation will help your mind focus on the real reason you are doing this crazy, fearful activity. It immediately reminds you of the positive result you are seeking and helps you break down the process into little steps that lead to success. By clearly visualizing the end result, a little bit of fear transforms into excitement. It may be just enough to propel...