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The Cost of Conflict

According to industry research:

* On average, employees spend 2.1 hours per week dealing with conflict. That’s 385 million working days in the U.S. alone.

* Workplace conflicts cost the employer 10% of the salary of the employees involved.

* Unresolved conflict can escalate to personal attack, absenteeism, inter-departmental conflict, resignation, termination, and project failure.

* Fortune 500 senior executives spend 20% of their time on litigation.

What’s on Our Minds

  • Scaling Up – How Our Hidden Immune System Makes It Hard to Change Old Habits
    “What got you here, won’t get you there.” Many a new leader or manager has heard this truism coined by Marshall Goldsmith and have understood it to mean that they will need to up their game and change their approach if they want to succeed as leaders. They are advised to “be more strategic and less ...
  • Feedback – 8 Tips to Get People to Tell You What You Need to Hear
    Many leaders report that when they ask for feedback, they get very little in response. It’s not because they’re perfect. More than likely, people are afraid that they won’t react well to the truth. What to do about that? You need to make it a safe and positive experience for the other person. Here’s how: Be ...

Is ‘Imposter Syndrome’ Just Another Way Of Blaming Women?

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“Can coaching help me with my imposter syndrome?” asks Sue-Lin, a new client who was recently promoted to director of customer success in a growing tech company. She is not alone among my women clients in making this self-diagnosis. Over the years I have worked with many highly skilled and talented women of different ages, backgrounds and experiences. Despite great qualifications, many cite imposter syndrome as one of their toughest inner struggles. However, a recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey questions the very notion of imposter syndrome and suggests that it is yet another way in which we blame individual women rather than acknowledging and tackling systemic bias in the workplace. 

The term “imposter phenomenon” was coined in 1978, and captures the feeling familiar to so many women (and some men, too) that they are not good enough for the job or environment in which they find themselves, that they are always at risk of being discovered as a phony and a fraud. This notion has been popularized and has given rise to a plethora of advice on how to boost one’s confidence. However, as Tulshyan and Burey write, “What’s less explored is why imposter syndrome exists in the first place and what role workplace systems play in fostering and exacerbating it in women.”

How To ‘Be More Strategic’ – Questions To Ask From The Balcony

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“Be more strategic.”

This advice comes along in the careers of most professionals seeking a management or leadership role. They reach a point at which it is not enough to be productive or to be an expert. In order to progress in their careers and contribute at a higher level they must be–and be seen as–strategic. But what is it to be strategic? Advice about being strategic is often a little vague, accompanied by the exhortations to “ out of the weeds” and “see the bigger picture.” But once you get out of the weeds, what do you do? It can be tempting to think that some people “have it” and some don’t. But I have seen clients build their own strategic capability as well as coach others on their teams to develop a more strategic mindset and approach. Strategic thinking can be learned and practiced.

Giving Feedback: 5 Elements of a More Inclusive Approach

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A client recently asked me to provide workshops to all employees on how to give and receive feedback. There is nothing unusual about that—I do it frequently. What was newer was the growing imperative to cultivate inclusive leadership in all aspects of organizational life, including traditional bread-and-butter management skills. Bringing an awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues to the skill of giving and receiving feedback is critical to creating an inclusive workplace. 

The Four Cs of Decision Making

In a world of abundant data and complex organizational dynamics, many companies and organizations struggle with a proliferation of meetings in which inefficient processes lead to uneven quality in decisions. This is discouraging and annoying for participants and costly for organizations. A 2019 study by McKinsey & Company reported that fewer than half of respondents said that decisions were timely and 61% complained that at least half of the time spent making them was not well spent. That adds up to a waste of over 500,000 hours of managers’ time in an average Fortune 500 company—that’s some $250 million worth of people’s time. And that’s not even counting the business cost of the decisions themselves. Chances are that if your organization can get even marginally better and more efficient about decision-making, it will save a lot of time and money, improve morale and lead to superior business outcomes. 

How To Quit Your Job (Without Quitting Your Job)

“Maybe I should just quit my job.”

I heard this from not one, but two executive coaching clients last week. Both are high achievers. Both love some aspects of their jobs but find others almost unbearable. And both have families to support, so quitting is not something they would do lightly.

Joelle, a partner at a global consulting firm, loves working with clients and enjoys the substance of her work but finds the 24/7 responsiveness incompatible with being the parent and spouse that she wants to be. Meanwhile Boris, a senior strategist in a pharmaceutical company, is passionate about helping bring therapeutic drugs to market that can improve the lives of patients but finds his own health suffering because of the stress of carrying too many high priority projects on his shoulders.

Both feel at the end of their ropes and unable to continue on the current trajectory. They are not alone, as the so-called great resignation demonstrates. But do they have to join the trend and give notice? Instead, I suggested they “quit” parts of the job that are not working for them and try to create a more sustainable path forward. 

How to Overcome Your Fear of Looking Stupid at Work

This post first appeared on Forbes.

How much is fear a driver for your behavior?

Fear and anxiety are pervasive themes in many of my coaching engagements. Whether a client is working on communication, prioritization, delegation or other leadership challenges, fear is often at the root of what makes change hard. There’s fear of failure, fear of missing out (FOMO), fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, fear of change. And here in Silicon Valley, where knowledge is king and imposter syndrome is rampant, there is a huge amount of fear of looking stupid

Fear is an emotional and physiological response to a perceived risk. It is a healthy response to physical danger and is often accompanied by evolutionarily useful behavior: fight or flight. But in everyday life, fear can be triggered by situations where we perceive a risk that is greater than the actual risk. That can lead to problems.

Dealing With Difficult Clients: 7 Approaches To Transform Challenging Client Relationships

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If you’re in a client service business (lawyer, consultant or in-house services), you’ve met them: difficult clients. These clients are demanding. They may be anxious and need a lot of hand-holding. Or they habitually lob in urgent requests at the last minute. Some nit-pick your work. Some are rude or behave badly. Others try to micromanage you or are very hard to please. You see them as “difficult” because they demand special attention or effort and they often make your life harder. In extreme cases, they may seem like the enemy.

However, sometimes difficult clients also push you to do your very best work. They question your ideas and assumptions. They require you to explain what you’re doing and not operate on autopilot. They push you to meet tough deadlines. They require that you apply your skills and expertise and also your emotional intelligence. They can make you better.