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What’s Your Emotional Temperature?

What’s Your Emotional Temperature?

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This green sea turtle, basking on a Hawaiian beach, is regulating her temperature. Marine reptiles like sea turtles cool off or warm up by changing their behavior. For warmth, they glide into a warm current of water, or lumber up the beach to bask in the sun. Helping leaders regulate their emotional temperatures is one of the jobs of executive coaching, and it starts by figuring out where a person falls on the emotional thermometer. Where do you land? It can be hard to tell from the inside: some of the "coolest" leaders I’ve met thought they were open and warm. It can help to get feedback from trusted friends and relatives. If you recognize that you are projecting a cool if not downright chilly demeanor, consider following the sea turtle's lead, and taking steps to…
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The Vulnerability Superpower

The Vulnerability Superpower

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Some people are naturally able  to be vulnerable with their peers. They are as transparent as possible about their thoughts and motives. They show up as authentic, imperfect selves, and allow discomfort and uncertainty. Why is this so hard for others to do? One big reason is that we worry that others will see this vulnerability and try to take us down. We want to protect ourselves, and appear as if we have all the answers. We value openness in others, but fear taking the leap ourselves. Effective leaders have figured out that vulnerability isn't a sign of weakness, but acts more like a superpower, creating strong relationships and solid trust in a way that nothing else can. "The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you,…
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How To Listen Fully So That Others Feel Heard

How To Listen Fully So That Others Feel Heard

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Research shows employees value respect from their leaders above all else. Yet, as this Harvard Business Review story describes, over half of employees don't feel they get that respect. I have learned that full, engaged listening is one way leaders can show daily respect for others, and nothing breaks it down for me more clearly than the Japanese kanji symbol for listening that illustrates this post.  The left side of the kanji represents the ear. The right side is you—your attention, your focus, your eyes. In the middle is the heart. If you are listening with your ears, your eyes, and your heart, your employee is more likely to feel that they have your undivided attention, and your respect. Some starting points: To listen with your ears, eliminate distractions. If you need to, clarify…
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Conversations That Matter

Conversations That Matter

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It’s common in organizations (as in the rest of our lives) to avoid the conversation that matters. We wait, and hope things get better. They never do. The hidden truth blocks progress, remaining the proverbial elephant in the room. One technique leaders can use to overcome this is to normalize having difficult conversations. Set aside time for the important subjects, and signal that you are open to hearing the truth. What should we really be talking about right now? What’s hard to talk about, but needs to get out on the table? Open that door, and keep it open.
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The Underrated Benefits of Feelings in the Workplace

The Underrated Benefits of Feelings in the Workplace

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My clients are often surprised when I ask them to name their feelings, a subject not often discussed in offices and meeting rooms. (And when I say they’re surprised, I mean that I regularly hear versions of “You’ve got to be kidding me,” and “No, thanks.”) But we all have them, all the time, whether we are paying attention to what we are feeling or not. When we acknowledge our feelings, we are at our most alive. Without a connection to our inner truths our connection to others will falter. At best, we move forward in our work even through our disconnection, but we find ourselves less inspired, less happy, and more frustrated.  At worst, our lack of self-knowledge contributes to the kind of work culture that can drag a business down. This…
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Lead by Knowing Yourself

Lead by Knowing Yourself

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If there is one ability that is important for all truly effective leaders, I believe it can be found in an ancient Greek aphorism: Know thyself. It is only when you know who you are, your beliefs, your values, and how you want to show up in the world, that you are able to have conversations that matter—the heart of great leadership. Ask: what is it I truly believe? What is it I really want? What is it I am here to do? Lead from the answers.
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The Present is Potent

The Present is Potent

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In my work as an executive coach I notice that organizations usually prefer to talk about the future or the past. I often suggest that people also set aside time to talk about and learn from the here and now. The present is potent.
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