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I had my eye on a dream promotion.

I had worked really hard in my role as vice president of marketing. My team had the results, we had recruited new talent, our brands had grown market share and our P&L was healthy. I had my eye on the head of marketing position, responsible for overseeing all of the brands in the company’s portfolio. I made my interest known to my boss and my boss’s boss. I thought it was in the bag.

I didn’t get it.

Instead, I got one of the most important lessons in my career:  Plan for your dream promotion, but be prepared to pivot, because something will change . Much of your career is outside your control, no matter how hard you’ve worked or how good your results are. Today, as industries get disrupted, jobs disappear and new jobs are created, this is more true than ever before.

My organization went through a restructuring. I got a new boss. My new boss wanted to bring in someone as head of marketing, someone who she had worked with before. My boss’s boss called me into his office and gave me the news. “We’re moving you to a vice president position in sales,” he said. I heard a loud thud. It was my heart falling to the floor.

Six months later, that position turned out to be my dream role.

Here are six lessons I have learned about dream promotions that I hope will prepare you for yours.

Dream wisely. Most of us (including me) just look to the next rung on the ladder as the promotion of our dreams. It’s logical because that’s what we know, and we assume anything higher up the ladder is better. In retrospect, I learned much more in the vice president of sales role than I would have in the head of marketing role. It prepared me for my next role as general manager. In today’s disruptive world of work, agility is key to development. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you imagine your dream role:

  • What new areas am I interested in learning about?
  • What transferable strengths and skillsets do I have?
  • What differences do I aspire to make? What roles will help me do that?
  • What role will challenge and stretch me outside of my comfort zone?

You don’t know what you don’t knowChallenge your assumptions. I had made all kinds of assumptions about the role of vice president of sales. Truth be told, I felt a bit superior and considered the role beneath me. “Sales people aren’t that smart. There’s not much for me to learn,” I had told myself. It turned out to be one of the most challenging roles I’d had at that point in my career. I realized just how much I didn’t know about leading people and influencing those outside my organization. The role stretched me outside my comfort zone. I learned new skills I would not have acquired had a I stayed in marketing. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What roles have I written off?
  • What assumptions am I making about these roles? Test your assumptions.
  • Who can I connect with who would have insight to expand my perspective?

Develop a dream-skills mindset. According to research by the World Economic Forum, artificial intelligence will disrupt millions of jobs. In an AI-powered world, many jobs that require repetitive tasks or can be enriched by real-time data will be done by machines. According to the book Human + Machine by Paul Daugherty, humans will need to move up the value chain of skills to new skills that work with AI (i.e., designing, training and explaining algorithms) and soft skills (i.e., re-imagining how AI can improve processes and experiences, creativity, emotional intelligence, empathy and leadership).

As organizational hierarchies get flatter, get out of the dream-promotion mindset. There will be fewer layers to get promoted into. Instead, get into the dream-skills mindset. While AI will disrupt, it can also have great promise for human work being more fulfilling, creative and interesting. What are the dream skills you want to acquire? I recommend your list include learning how to influence people over whom you have no authority, be agile in change, connect with your innate creativity and bring out the best in others, whether they work for you or not. What roles—and they may not present themselves as promotions—will help you learn these skills?

You will be thrown curve balls. Be open to exploring, experimenting and pivoting throughout your career. About a year ago, I was asked to interview for a position to be a board director for a publicly traded company. This position was completely outside my “plan.” I was hesitant at first. Would this role distract me from running my business? I decided to go in for the interview anyway. I came away from the interview inspired by the vision of the future the company was creating. I realized that not only did I have value to add, but that I would be stretched and challenged in new and different ways, and that was exciting to me.

Know yourself and listen to your gut. As you get thrown curve balls or explore dream roles, pay attention to your inner GPS. Self-awareness and authenticity in leading yourself and others will be a skill that is more important than ever. As you explore a role for a promotion ask yourself:

  • Does this role excite me?
  • Does the culture of the team I’ll be working with feel like a good fit?
  • Would my boss be someone I can create a trusted partnership with and learn from?
  • What kind of culture do I thrive in?
  • What are the elements of a job that are important to me (i.e., autonomy, contribution, etc.)?

Find the opportunity in change. In the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world we live in, AI will disrupt millions of jobs. We must evolve so that we’re able to move from fear, a normal reaction to change and feeling out of control, to finding the opportunity in change. As you consider dream jobs, learn to embrace a mindset of opportunity. Ask yourself:

  • What can I learn here?
  • How can I connect this role to what’s important to me?

Here’s hoping you will continue to dream, while also being open to what’s changing around you. I will be writing more about the future of work, so follow my writing if this resonated for you.

A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.

The post Your Dream Promotion: Six Lessons For The Future appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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Eleanor Roosevelt famously said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. In today’s chaotic world, the future belongs to those who can imagine, influence, create and collaborate. As I wrote in my pre-Davos piece, it is important for each of us to rise above the urgency of our daily to-do lists to engage in the conversations that are shaping our fast-changing world. We have more ways than ever to do that whether we attend Davos or not.

Here are the questions that World Economic Forum (WEF) asks of us: How do we save the planet without killing economic growth? Can you be a patriot and a global citizen? What should work look like in the future? How do we make sure technology makes life better not worse? How do we create a fairer economy? How do we get countries working together better?

This is a brief recap of the highlights of my week at WEF from the perspective of someone deeply interested in how leaders can create a better future amidst chaos. It is also a call to each of us to widen our perspective and to add our much-needed voice to the essential challenges of our time.

It is obvious the moment you drive up through the 4-foot-high snow-banks into Davos that there are many agendas happening, global and individual. With 600+ simultaneous sessions on topics ranging from Globalization 4.0 to the need to reskill millions of people during the fourth industrial revolution, to impacts of climate change, to cybersecurity and technology policy, your individual agenda drives what you curate on your calendar. It is the place that more Fortune 500 CEO’s can look each other in the eye to make deals in 30 minute meetings. It’s the place that heads of state can drive their agenda to engage (or not) in the world. This year several heads of state (U.S., France, U.K., China, Russia) were conspicuously missing, some dealing with troubles at home. It’s also the place where leaders seek to influence in the chaos where no one is in charge but everyone is impacted by the others’ actions. What are the leadership qualities required to do that?

Leadership 4.0 was coined by WEF founder Klaus Schwab in 2016. He suggested that we need a new model to lead in the 4th industrial revolution: “We need leaders who are emotionally intelligent, and able to model and champion co-operative working. They’ll coach, rather than command; they’ll be driven by empathy, not ego. The digital revolution needs a different, more human kind of leadership.”

Throughout the week, I found evidence of leaders collaborating to create eco-systems of learning and action. Here are the highlights of my Davos experience:

Human + machine – There was a lot of conversation in Davos about the future of work for humans in the age of artificial intelligence (AI). I recommend Paul Daugherty’s book Human + Machine to wrap our heads around how humans and computers will collaborate in the future. Through multiple emerging use cases they describe a world where AI can improve the state of humanity and help us solve some of the most pressing issues of our time. At the same time, AI will require reskilling millions of workers and will significantly shape the future of work. Many organizations are preparing to reskill workers. Suzanne Kounkel, partner at Deloitte shared her company’s bold commitment to reskill 50 million workers in their ecosystem. Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP, talked about the need to create a culture of trust with employees and partners in a world where the pace of change makes humans insecure. To learn more on this topic and WEF’s initiatives go here.

Shaping technology policy – We live in a world of bytes without borders. Who has the power to regulate and ensure that technology helps us move toward utopia rather than dystopia? Eco-system thinking and public-private partnerships are critical. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, who headed the WEF this year (along with six young people from around the world) spoke to the urgent need for new global norms on privacy, data and Artificial Intelligence.

Safeguarding our planet and its people – There were many conversations on climate change. One that I participated in is Matt Damon’s work with Water.org. He talked about the mission of the organization: “We envision a world where everyone has access to clean water…and we envision it in our lifetimes.” He spoke about what makes this personal for him. He wants his four daughters to achieve their dreams and realized that it is the young girls and women around the world that are often kept away from school and a more empowered future because they are tasked with fetching water.

Gender equality – This year 22% of participants in Davos were women. We are a long way from gender equality at Davos. A great place for conversations about advancing gender equality globally was The Female Quotient (FQ Lounge) curated by Shelley Zalis. Here CEO’s such as Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and Tim Ryan of PwC shared the work each is doing to advance gender equality in their respective organizations and beyond. Tim Ryan has created CEOAction to get other CEO’s to commit to diversity and inclusion and share best practices. Bloomberg’s Kiersten Barnet shared the gender equality index selecting 230 companies committed to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women in the workplace. Cindy Robbins CHRO of Salesforce spoke about the company’s annual salary audit to correct gender inequity. Marc Pritchard, Chief Marketing Officer of P&G and Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Advertising & Partnerships at NBCUniversal told the story of how a partnership across the industry led by the Association of National Advertisers have created the Gender Equality Measure (GEM) index. Companies can use this index to score gender equity in ads and entertainment so we can together shape how young girls and boys think about what they’re capable of.

Inspiring conversations with young global shapers – Some of the best connections I had were serendipitous conversations with people while standing in line at the bathroom or standing in line to get through security. One such conversation was with a WEF global shaper Natalie Chan from Hong Kong who is working toward growing young leaders in her community. The Global Shapers Community at WEF is a network of city-based hubs with young leaders between 20 and 30 years old who want to serve society and develop their leadership potential.

Coming back from Davos, it is clear to me that the future belongs to those who can imagine it and can create ecosystems of impact. Leaders of the future will be committed to collaborating with others to move forward agendas that are in service of something other than their ego. We are surely not there today, but we need to get there urgently. This is the journey I am interested in and I ask you to join in that journey. Here are some small actions you can take to add your voice to the post-Davos conversations:

  • Go to the WEF website and see what sessions inspire you and learn more.
  • Familiarize yourself with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and the list of 170 small daily actions you can take by downloading the SDGsinAction App.
  • Add your voice to the six questions that WEF is asking the global community to engage in.

Here is a recap of some of the accomplishments of Davos 2019.

In the coming weeks and months I will be writing more in-depth stories about some of the fascinating leaders who are embracing Leadership 4.0. They are creating in chaos through connecting with like-minded others. They are moving forward the missions that matter to them to solve the most pressing issues of our time. To learn from them, follow me here or on LinkedIn.

A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.

The post Leadership 4.0: The Call To Lead From Davos 2019 appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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From January 22 to 25, 2019 thousands of the world’s most influential leaders will gather in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. This is my first time participating and as I reviewed the agenda, it was frankly overwhelming. In 600 sessions over four days, leaders will come together to discuss how to cooperate and create solutions to several major challenges we collectively face. The series of global dialogues include:

  • peace and reconciliation in an increasingly fragmented geopolitical climate,
  • the future of the economy including new technologies and monetary systems like blockchain and cryptocurrencies
  • new technology policy and ethics in a world of artificial intelligence and gene editing
  • how we manage the impact of key environmental systems (climate, ocean, biosphere)
  • how we rethink the future of human capital to help people upskill and self-actualize

That’s just a start. There are many more global dialogues engaging heads of state, CEOs of organizations, NGOs, policy makers. Whether you are attending in person or participating through the news or social media, here is a guide on why and how to engage in the conversations in Davos.

Each of us who aspires to “make our ding in the universe” must engage in the conversations in Davos . This is because in a world that is changing rapidly, we need to carve out time to constantly widen our perspective to the changes that are happening that will impact us and the people we lead.

How to engage?

First, we must move beyond our limited day-to-day focus toward a view of ourselves as concerned and caring citizens of a shared planet. After all, we are more interconnected and interdependent than ever: the air we breathe, the products we consume and discard, the media we create and consume, the geopolitical and economic climate and systems we are part of.

Second, we must take responsibility for climbing up to the tree-tops and constantly renew and seek new perspectives that are wider and broader than we currently have. We can only do this if we seek to listen, learn and dialogue with people who have very different perspectives than us. This requires both a curiosity and a willingness to hold lightly our own convictions.

Third, we must dig deep into our own roots to discover the unique missions that matter to each of us, the most pressing issues of our time that inspire us to make our “ding in the universe” (quoting Steve Jobs). We realize we are just one of many who need to come together and join the people who have a similar mission. When we do this, we emerge as transformational leaders who are engaged, energized, inspired, and willing to be agile in service of a mission that is bigger than ourselves. We move toward our self-actualization as leaders.

So, whether you are at Davos or not, I urge you to follow the dialogues that most matter to you. To discover what those are, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Of the global dialogues, what are the topics that impact me or that I’m interested in learning more about?
  • Who are the people I want to learn from who inspire me?
  • What are the concerns of the stakeholders that are important to me? What can I learn from the dialogues at Davos that will help me better align with these stakeholders?
  • Based on what I’m learning, what is a way for me to contribute or a mission that inspires me?
  • What is one action or small step I’m inspired to take as a result of this learning and reflection?

I hope you will take the time to broaden your perspective, learn, and emerge more connected to a mission that is important to you to make our collective world better. Stay tuned and follow me as I reflect on what I’m learning at Davos as a first-timer.

A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.

The post The High-Impact Leader’s Guide To Davos appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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The new year 2019 is here. Many of us are setting goals for 2019. Before you do that, take time to step back. Get a new perspective on 2018 so you can set more authentic and meaningful goals for 2019. Here are the self-reflection questions I am asking myself and sharing with my executive coaching clients.

The 10 Questions

If this year were a movie, what happened?

The idea of this question is to help you get yourself out of your usual perspective (the main character) and watch what happened as an observer. Describe the year as you would if you were sharing the story of a movie. Describe the characters in the movie (including yourself) and what happened from their perspective. You might even engage them in the exercise. It helps you get a meta view and notice things that you hadn’t seen before.

For example, as I wrote this movie narrative, I realized that life has been messy, challenging, and full of change this year. I come away with a greater appreciation for my resilience in dealing with change and challenge than I had before. I also have a better perspective on how important people in my life experienced this year.

What worked well that I’m grateful for?

As I asked this question of a friend, he realized that he hadn’t taken the step back to recognize all that had gone well, what he had created, and how he had grown. When you ask yourself what you feel grateful for, you discover more deeply what matters to you. This helps you set more authentic goals for the coming year. As you do this, take the time to actually savor what you feel grateful for.

What was challenging or disappointing?

This question helps you acknowledge what was hard and be in touch with any emotion associated with it. For example, when I asked an executive coaching client this question, she realized that one of the most challenging aspects of the year was negative feedback from her boss. She’s a top-performer and felt frustrated: “No matter how hard I try, I’m never good enough!” As she said this, tears welled up. She got in touch with her anger and hurt. This resentment she had felt toward her boss had eroded trust in their relationship.

After she processed the emotion, in our next session she was able to get a more balanced perspective: she has development opportunities, she also has strengths that help her be successful, and she had taken her boss’ feedback too personally. She realized that in 2019 she wants to work on growing her confidence in herself. If she had avoided getting in touch with emotion, she would have missed the opportunity for greater insight about herself. As you do this exercise be sure to be compassionate with yourself.

What were my most meaningful moments?

Getting in touch with what is meaningful and re-living the moments that mattered this year helps you bring into greater focus where you want to spend your time and energy in the coming year.

Where did I spend my time and energy?

As you review the year, take a look at where you spent your precious time and energy. Does this reflect what matters to you? Many of us spend our time in distraction. As you look to next year, what do you want to spend more energy on and what less?

Where did I fail? What did I learn?

Acknowledging our failures without letting them define who we are is a great act of courage. It helps us fully accept ourselves as we are, see ourselves more clearly, and be more open to feedback from others. It helps us learn and grow. My friend and colleague Whitney Johnson asks “Did I do my best?”. We often have lots of goals we want to pursue and simply asking ourselves did we do our best helps us acknowledge our failures with compassion.

Looking back overall, how do I rate my happiness on a scale of 1-10?

This is a question that my friend Dorie Clark asks every month. She recommends digging deeper to ask yourself what’s contributing to the rating, and continuing to dig so you understand what habits or choices (often unconscious) may be contributing. For example, when I asked myself this question, I gave myself a seven. As I dug deeper, I realized that I undermine my satisfaction when I over-commit myself, often thinking about what’s next, and don’t take the time to pause and appreciate what’s here. As I set goals for 2019, I am deliberately making a list of projects I will let go of.

As I look to next year, what will be the highest use of my talents?

This is a great question to take stock of your talents and take a step back to notice where they can be most useful. The question invites us to choose where we will spend our energies in the coming year that will serve the purposes that matter to us.

What is an area where I will exercise courage to stretch, grow and learn next year?

This is a great question my friend Kathy Caprino encourages us all to ask. She is passionate about helping us all “find brave”, and set goals that will inspire us to move beyond our comfort zone.

What does success look like to me next year?

As you review meaningful domains in your life (e.g. professional, personal relationships, health & well-being etc.) create a clear vision of what success is in each domain. Prioritize what’s important. And (mostly a reminder to myself), don’t bite off more than you can chew!

Whether you start with one question or attempt all ten, I recommend you take the time to jot down your own answers so 2019 can be a year of greater purpose and fulfillment for you.

The post Ten Questions To Ask In Your Personal Year-End Review appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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“Sure, I can self-promote but that just doesn’t feel authentic.” I heard this from a female leader during one of my speaking engagements. This and other mindsets often hold women leaders back.

As we work to drive gender balance in workplaces we must work with organizations to remove barriers for women’s advancement. We must equally work within ourselves as women leaders to become aware of and remove the glass ceilings in our own heads – habits and mindsets that lead to self-sabotage, and make it exhausting for so many of us to move our careers forward.

How Women Rise, a book co-authored by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith, is a great resource to discover the 12 habits that hold women back and how to overcome them. Marshall Goldsmith is a bestselling author, preeminent executive coach, and No. 1 leadership thinker. Sally Helgesen is a leading authority in women’s leadership and author of multiple books on the topic. I recently sat down with Helgesen to talk about their new book.

Henna Inam: What have you learned about how men and women define success differently?

Sally Helgesen: A study I ran a few years ago with Harris Interactive about differences in how men and women define satisfaction at work showed many similarities but a few clear differences. The most important is that men tend to take chief satisfaction in financial reward and position, whereas women also want to enjoy the quality of their days — not every day, but in general.

Quality in this case means they need to maintain some control over their schedule, have time able to build strong relationships with colleagues, clients and customers, and feel as if their work is making a difference in the world. Don’t get me wrong: salary and position matter to women—if they feel underpaid or under-recognized they will not be happy. But salary and position alone are less likely to make a job seem “worth it” to women who have other choices. I believe this is one reason certain organizations still struggle to retain talented women: they ignore quality of life issues, expecting that if they simply pay people enough, those people will sacrifice any ability to take satisfaction in their experience of work.

Inam: What are the beliefs that hold women back?

Helgesen: I would say two primary things. First, that ambition is a bad thing, and that you can’t be a wonderful and caring person if you are also ambitious. This is true even at senior levels. I recently interviewed a senior female equity partner in one of the top ten law firms in the US and she opened by informing me that she was not ambitious!

Secondly, women still often believe that if they don’t do a great job on everything, they have seriously fallen short. This sets them up for self-recrimination—Why did I do that? Will I never learn? We have a wonderful chapter on Rumination full of ideas for letting this kind of self-defeating internal dialogue go.

Inam: What are the most prevalent habits that prevent women from advancing?

Helgesen: Expecting others to spontaneously notice and value their contributions. Overvaluing expertise. Building relationships but not leveraging them. Putting their job before their career. Trying to please everyone in every circumstance. Falling into the perfection trap. We have 12 behaviors, but these are really common.

Inam: So many of us know what we should do (e.g. self-promote) yet don’t do it. How do successful women overcome the gap between knowing what’s the right thing to do and actually doing it?

Helgesen: They find a way to do it that they are comfortable with. That is, they avoid the opposing poles of routinely diverting or disclaiming credit or simply mimicking the behavior of someone who sucks up all the air. They are gracious and generous but make clear their contribution. For example,  “Thank you so much for noticing that we placed first in client satisfaction on that job. Our team worked very hard on it, and I had terrific support. But I’m glad that I reached out to our senior client in the initial phase of the project so we could better understand how to meet her needs.”

Inam: So often change is temporary until we return to old habits. What can you share about making these new habits stick?

Helgesen: Enlisting help, enlisting support. To me, this is the most important point we make in How Women Rise. Bring other people on board in your attempt to change. Ask them to hold you accountable. Check in with them to see how you are doing. It’s also really important to work on one habit, or even one part of a habit, at a time. If you’re engaging others, you want them to have a very clear idea of what to look for as they find ways to help and give you feedback and support.

Inam: As you rightly suggest in the book, many of these habits are based on unconscious biases that exist in our workplace cultures, and our expectations of the role of women in society in general. As women do the work of breaking the habits that hold them back, is there work their bosses (and organizations in general) can do to support them by challenging the cultural expectations?

Helgesen: Definitely! We strongly urge men to read the book. Knowing what habits the women who work with and for them can fall prey to will help them be better advocates, allies and mentors for women. Men signing on as allies is key to changing organizational cultures and making them comfortable places for women and for diverse people as well.

Inam: What do you hope male mentors and sponsors will learn from this book?

Helgesen: A much better understanding of some of the factors that hold women back and concrete steps they can take to help them. This book is very practical and full of tips, not just in terms of making changes in your own behavior but also helping other people to make positive behavioral change. Again, this is the most powerful way I know of to change a culture.

So if you happen to be a woman leader or have one on your team, this book is for you! It is full of great insight, on-point advice, and I found myself chuckling more than once as I recognized myself in many of the stories that the book shares. I hope this helps you or a teammate you care about in their journey to rise toward their potential.

A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.

The post Women Leaders: Break 12 Habits That Hold You Back appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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True story: One of the most uncomfortable moments of my corporate career was when I was invited to go to lunch with the general manager leading my division. I was a young assistant brand manager at Procter & Gamble and he was three levels above me. As a form of recognition for my work, my boss arranged for some “informal face time” with the GM.

I am not sure who was more uncomfortable, the GM or me. We walked to a noisy Skyline Chili restaurant in downtown Cincinnati, quickly wolfed down the chili hot dogs and were both grateful that the noise was too loud for any real conversation. I realize now that it was a lost opportunity to build an authentic relationship and see each other as people, rather than through the haze of hierarchy. An authentic relationship would have allowed me to feel more confident in presentations, and to influence him better.

What creates an authentic relationship? Research on the human brain suggests that when we meet someone, our brain (often unconsciously) scans all the possible information to determine whether he or she is trustworthy. This is part of the evolutionary human survival instinct. As cave people, our physical survival was paramount. Only when we established our safety in a relationship did we next scan for how confident the other person might be. Fast-forward to the 21st century: While physical survival is often not an issue in the corporate jungle, the survival of our ego is. In fact, Google’s research on teams suggests that the highest performing teams have one thing in common: “psychological safety,” or the ability to share your ideas and who you are without fear of being judged by others.

Here are five practices that can help you make authentic connections.

Start with the right intent. This has to be the starting point in an authentic relationship. Ask yourself, “What is my intention for this relationship?” It is transactional (i.e., I want to get what I need from them) or relational (i.e., I want a trusted relationship in which both parties look for ways to benefit each other)? For relationships to be authentic, your mindset has to be one of a genuine desire to be of value to the other person. Take a deep breath and let go of fear, anxiety or discomfort. Our emotions (including positivity towards and willingness to trust another person) are read by others and are contagious.

Ask questions that build positive energy. A great way to develop a stronger connection with someone is to ask questions that create positive, shared emotion. Start by asking questions like “What do you like most about your role?” or “What was the best part of your day?” or “What are you passionate about?” Neuroscience research shows that our brain see-saws between two different domains: an analytical domain, which is task-focused, and an empathic domain, which is relational. Questions that build positive emotion activate the empathic domain. When our brains are in this domain, we are more open to being influenced by another.

Be mindful of labels. Our brain is a bit like a popcorn machine: It pops thousands of thoughts a day, keeping a constant commentary going. Most of our thoughts tend to err on the side of the negative. We are constantly labeling our experiences (good, bad, ugly) and sometimes this includes the people we connect with. For example, I tend to be impatient with people who are long-winded. I have a bias because I assume people who can’t get to the point aren’t very smart. When I make this assumption, it can prevent me from seeing the ways in which the person is smart. It can also prevent me from appreciating their other qualities and make me less likely to reach out to them to collaborate or seek out their point of view. By being mindful of the commentary in our brains, we can prevent judgement from standing in the way of our authentic connection and influence.

Listen with full attention. Most of the time, when we listen we only pay partial attention to what someone else is saying. Some of our attention is spent deciding how we will respond or what we think about what the other person is saying. This is level one listening. Level two is when we listen fully to the other person’s words. This is better. Level three listening is when we fully listen, but also pay attention to their body language and the underlying emotions. When we feel what they are feeling and reflect that back to them, it helps the other person feel understood and valued.

Be willing to be vulnerable. Each of us has mirror neurons in our brains. It’s these neurons that make behavior and emotion contagious. When we take a risk to share something personal (for example, a dream we have for the future, a childhood memory, a personal story about a sad or happy time, a meaningful experience), we send a signal to the other person that we trust them. Research shows that when we are willing to open up and show someone that we trust them, they become more trustworthy and open.

Authenticity and trust in relationships is not only critical for performance and results on teams. Authentic relationships are actually good for our well-being. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s book Love 2.0 points to research that micro-moments of connection among humans actually improve our immune systems. The vagus nerve (which connects our brains to our hearts and regulates the body’s inflammation, glucose and heart rate, protecting the body from heart attacks) strengthens as the body experiences more of these micro-moments of connection. Based on the research, these micro-moments require three factors: a sharing of positive emotions among two or more people, synchrony between their biochemistry (via mirror neurons in their brains) and a mutual desire for each other’s well-being.

Which of these practices resonate most with you? Who will you choose to establish a stronger relationship with? I’m on a mission for us to create workplaces where we are each inspired to do our best work, and authentic relationships are the foundation.

A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.

The post Five Practices To Build Authentic Relationships At Work appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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We live in a world today that is fraught with volatility, uncertainty, change and ambiguity. There’s even an acronym for it. VUCA. The pace of change, our 24/7 global economy, rapid tech disruptions and constant restructuring create significant stress in the workplace. According to the Korn Ferry Institute, employee stress has increased nearly 20% in three decades. Human beings are not built for this rapid change. The stress of change puts us in “survival mode” where our ability to adapt and think creatively is compromised.

At the same time as there are major problems to be solved (climate change, the impacts of population growth, income inequality), 70% of workers globally are disengaged based on Gallup data.

Our high stress work environment demands an evolution in human beings. It also calls for new ways to lead. What are the ways in which human beings and leadership need to evolve? I sat down with Jessica Joines, CEO and founder of the Consciousness Economy to discuss these trends.

Henna Inam: What is the “Consciousness Economy”?

Jessica Joines: The Consciousness Economy is a platform, mission and a hope for our future. It started from the belief that we can and must do better when it comes to business. That businesses should do more than simply turn a profit. As an important and active “member” of society, business should serve to raise the consciousness of people and society. Particularly, if humanity is to continue to positively evolve and flourish. What the Consciousness Economy has become is a passion and a commitment to people deepening their path to purpose, which I believe is the key to global prosperity.

For too long, the vast majority of us have woken up each day, working in jobs we don’t like or even hate — living in a state of “survival consciousness.” Each day is about just getting by and our passion and purpose is not aligned to how we make money. I don’t believe this is what’s meant for us. When each person is able to align purpose and passion with how they make money is when I believe we’ll experience true abundance on this planet and heal many of world’s problems. This requires the current business environment and aspects of society to change. So, what the Consciousness Economy has also become is a platform that is dedicated to helping people deepen their personal path to purpose.

Inam: Can you share your own story about how you went from being a Chief Marketing Officer to being an advocate for the “Consciousness Economy”?

Joines: For years and long before I was a CMO of a global brand, I learned to settle for what was offered versus going after what I really wanted. My life was a series of safe, practical choices that were compromises of my true self. I didn’t know how to acknowledge or pursue what I really wanted, because I lacked self-belief and self-love. In my 20’s in my first job, I had daily panic attacks, because I couldn’t believe that the “rat race” I was living in, was what life was. Later, I thought working in toxic environments, with #MeToo moments, not loving what I did for a living, were par for the course.

As my well-being took a series of massive hits, I took time off in 2011 to travel for a year in Southeast Asia. This expanded my spiritual horizons and perspectives about humanity. Ultimately, this trip accelerated my path to purpose. Starting the Consciousness Economy has been a reflection of me honoring myself to step into my life purpose. I threw out a lot of illusions I had come to accept as “truth”, including a mindset anchored in various limiting beliefs. Instead, I found the courage to follow the wild call of my heart. It has even inspired me to begin writing my book to share my journey with purpose in the hopes of inspiring others entitled, Dare to Believe, scheduled for release this year.

Inam: What is the unique role you see women playing in advancing the “Consciousness Economy”?

Joines: With female buying power valued at over $18 trillion, many women are leading the charge when it comes to effecting change within business, encouraging their companies to have a higher sense of purpose.  While I believe there is a role for everyone within the Consciousness Economy, I believe women can take the lead in this initiative as part of their own healing process. We are in the midst of trying times where women are facing injustice head on and insisting their voices be heard.

Via much of our collective shared experience, women are innately in touch with the healing that needs to be restored in the workplace (and the world). As more and more women step into their purpose, they step into their authentic power, which I believe is key to bringing the world into balance. As such, women can play a great role in ensuring the companies they represent are aligned with a renewed consciousness.

Inam: We connected via a women’s purpose retreat. Can you share more about the importance of women connecting to purpose?

Joines: As Marianne Williamson said, “The change that will save the world is a personal one.” And, there has never been a more important time for women to heal through focusing on their own their personal growth and purpose. When you are not connected to your unique purpose, it’s hard to impact the kind of change that’s needed. I wanted to harness this in an intimate environment where C-level women could come together to encourage, support and commune based on shared values and a shared vision for the future. It is via small yet powerful communities that we will drive the change the world needs.

Aligning with women such as, Nilima Bhat, author of Shakti Leadership, Jennifer Willey, global gender equality expert and CEO of Wet Cement, and Elaine Dinos, founder of Kindred Lane, who all have a proven record of effecting change within their organizations, empowering women, and encouraging growth and leadership, was critical to the retreat. I wanted participants to be inspired to embrace their unique characteristics, recognize their strengths and passions and translate that new-found energy into both their personal and professional lives.

Inam: What is the role of a leader in the “Consciousness Economy”?

Joines: A leader in the Consciousness Economy has a continuous commitment to their personal transformation and purpose. They have to realize that it’s not just about becoming a better leader or driver of impact, but a commitment to their own spiritual journey. I believe these are all one in the same, not separate endeavors. With that, it’s important to be clear on your values and looking for ways to more tangibly live them and activate them in all aspects of your life. Finally, look for ways to best serve others and in turn the world each day. Honoring and supporting each person’s unique purpose, as much as you do your own — that’s how to show up as a powerful leader in the Consciousness Economy.

Now, back to you, the reader. What one action does this interview inspire in you?

A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.

The post Got Stress? Why Leadership Needs Evolution appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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Today is the International Day of the Girl.

It’s also a day, unprecedented in recent history, when there is a widening gap in trust among genders. As more women are speaking up in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, more men are feeling like they are the victims of this movement. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings to confirm Judge Kavanaugh have electrified the space even further. They thrust our country into a place where the political divide is impacting the gender trust divide.

Does women’s empowerment have to mean that men are losing their power? Is power a zero-sum game? I believe not.

It’s time we start an important dialogue that bridges this trust gap. In the view of the world that suggests that if women are to get power, men have to lose power, no one wins . In this view of the world, power is defined as “power over” rather than “power to.” Working together, men and women have the power to drive the human race and progress forward. I believe that you, the male leaders in business, get this and you have a unique opportunity to lead us forward.

I am inspired today by a young woman whose video is going viral. I’m inspired because in some of the first lines of this video she starts to share what the experience is like for many young women:

“I can’t walk to my car late at night while on the phone, I can’t open up my windows when I’m home alone, I can’t use public transportation after 7 p.m., I can’t be brutally honest when you slide into my DMs, I can’t go to the club just to dance with my friends, And I can’t ever leave my drink unattended.”

This young lady’s words describe a sense of constant vigilance, an experience to which I can personally attest. Likely this is not something that many men are even aware that women experience.

This sense of vigilance is an experience of many young women in the workplace as well. It can be related to how they dress, whether and how they speak up in a meeting, how they are being perceived by others, their self-perception that they have to work twice as hard or be twice as good in order to be promoted. It’s exhausting.

This is where you, the male leaders in organizations come in. I know that you are well-intentioned. You want the women in your lives (your daughters, wives, sisters) to succeed. Likely you have even advocated for the women in your workplace (your colleagues, your mentees).

Here is my request of you. Take the time to get curious about what it’s like for the women in your family and on your team. Have a conversation with them about their hopes, the impact they want to make, what they believe is getting in the way of that impact. Ask them what it’s like in the workplace for them: what energizes them, what exhausts them. Then just listen with an open mind and an open heart.

Share your own experience of what it’s like to be a male leader in a #MeToo world. Yes, it can be confusing and you don’t want to cross any lines that you’re not sure about. You want to help, but you’re not sure how. If you have any questions about what is appropriate (in meetings, lunches, dinners, informal interactions) just ask them. Don’t make any assumptions.

Yes, I know this conversation may be hard. I promise you that this trust-building conversation in itself will be transformational for both of you. And yes each of us together can bridge the gender trust divide one conversation at a time. Because that is what leaders do. We exercise courage to influence others and make a positive impact. There is much work to be done and we need both genders to be powerful to move our world forward.

Please share your thoughts, and even better, your experience. That is what we need in today’s world to heal this gender divide so we can move forward more purposefully toward the missions that matter to each of us.

A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.

The post An Open Letter To Male Leaders In A #MeToo World appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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You’ve found yourself in the job market. You’re likely tempted to start polishing up your résumé, looking online, networking. Stop. Before you do any of this, start dreaming. An executive coaching client of mine recently found out his division is up for sale and he may be out of a job. While his first reaction was fear, as we discussed this, he discovered that he can use this change as an opportunity to find his dream job. I followed a similar process when I left my corporate career to pursue my dream job.

With employee engagement levels stuck at a dismal 30% (only about 30% of employees globally are fully engaged in their jobs), it’s clear that most of us aren’t in our dream jobs. Low engagement not only impacts our productivity—I believe it also impacts our well-being as human beings. When it comes to looking for a new job, start by getting to know yourself so you can bring all of who you are and what you have to offer to your workplace.

Find a quiet place where you can relax and be uninterrupted so you can connect more deeply with yourself. At this point, it’s important that you connect with your authentic self so you can differentiate between what you need and what you think you need in a job (a certain salary, job title, industry or company).

Here are five questions my client and I worked through to discover his dream job.

What work energizes me? Take a deep breath (close your eyes, if it helps) and remember the last time you felt joyful, purposeful or impactful while engaged in an activity at work. Fully experience that situation again through your senses. How were you feeling? What was the activity you were engaged in? What was the impact you were having? Jot down the activities you were engaged in. Among my executive coaching clients, what’s meaningful is often quite varied. Some people remember situations where they were solving tough challenges with an energized team. Others remember situations where they were in one-on-one settings mentoring others. When I looked back on my most energized moments, I realized they were when I was connecting with people one-on-one helping them to grow as leaders and they experienced an “aha” moment when they saw a greater possibility for themselves. Sharing the unarmed truth that helped people grow always energized me. This led me to start a second career as an executive coach.

What contribution inspires me? When you contribute in ways that are meaningful for you, it creates impact. It also helps you go the extra mile, enables you to take risks and persevere despite obstacles. You become more resilient in the face of failure. You’re willing to stretch outside your comfort zone for a dream that matters. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes and imagine that you can make whatever positive impact that inspires you. What would this look like? Who would you want to benefit from this impact? Imagine this in as much detail as you can and jot down the contributions that inspire you.

What strengths do I enjoy exercising? I believe each of us has unique superpowers, and when we connect with them we are most successful and engaged. In the situations when you felt most energized, what strengths were you exercising? Sometimes we don’t see our strengths as clearly as others do. Reach out to at least three trusted colleagues who know you well and get feedback from them on what strengths help you be impactful. There are also lots of assessments that can help you discover your strengths. A popular one I recommend to my executive coaching clients is StrengthsFinder.

What work culture do I thrive in? Look back at your career and map out the high points when you were most fulfilled and successful. Find the times when you were being successful and enjoying yourself. What elements of the culture helped you thrive? For some people, it’s a culture where they have plenty of autonomy. For others, it’s a culture where their contributions are valued. Jot down the culture elements that help you thrive.

What are my other requirements and deal-breakers? This is where you can bring location, compensation, benefits, work flexibility or other requirements into the mix. Your dream job is equally about being open to creating new possibilities and being clear about where you will not compromise. Think through the areas that are deal-breakers for you. It could be related to travel requirements or an industry that doesn’t appeal to you.

Now write yourself a job description of your dream job in the present tense as if it were already true. Here’s how that goes.

My dream job is one where I’m (list from the first question of what energizes you). I am inspired by (list the contributions I am making). I am exercising my strengths of (list from the third question).  I am working in an environment where (list from question four). My other requirements are (specify other requirements important to you). My deal-breakers are (specify what are deal-breakers for you from the fifth question).

Here’s what my client created: My dream job is one where I’m inspiring people to be their very best. I’m inspired every day by creating trusted teams where people work collaboratively and find joy in their work and I’m fostering a culture of diversity of thought, learning, growth, and innovation. I am using my superpowers of building people up, recognizing, nurturing, growing talent. I am working in environments that value people at the core of who they are.

Once you have connected with this dream job, it’s time to start practice talking about it with trusted advisers and friends. It will also be good to create a list of questions that you may want to ask during an interview process to find out more about how the opportunity stacks up against your dream job. You may also want to share parts of this during the interview process if appropriate. As you network, share with people your dream job so they can help connect you with the right opportunities.

I encourage you to keep coming back to this exercise. As human beings we continue to evolve and what’s important to us changes and is shaped by our life events. I wish you tremendous success in your job search and hope you will use this change as an opportunity to dream big. I hope you find what excites, energizes and inspires you so you can be the leader that our workplaces need. Because what our workplaces need today are leaders who are inspired, engaged and alive.

A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.

This article was written by Henna Inam, executive coach, speaker, and author of the book Wired for Authenticity. She works with people to help them realize their potential to be authentic, transformational leaders. They create organizations that drive breakthroughs in innovation, growth, and engagement. Her corporate clients include Coca Cola, The Home Depot, and others. Join the thousands who follow her blog here. Connect on Twitter @hennainam.

If this resonated with you please comment, subscribe and share with others.

The post Five Questions To Discover Your Dream Job appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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Did President Donald Trump do the right thing in separating illegal immigrant parents from their children? As this story has unfolded over the last weeks, the United States is more divided than ever. Yesterday, Saturday, June 30, marches happened across the country in protest of children being separated from parents. It is a war for who Americans are and what Americans believe. It is a fundamental disagreement about who we are as Americans – and whether we value our identity as Americans above our identity as human beings.

The issue of immigration is complex, volatile and fraught with emotion. There are no easy answers. Each of us reading this is likely at different points on the spectrum in this particular decision. What I would like to point us to is the opportunity to look in the mirror about our own values in how we make decisions.

As leaders, one of our primary roles is to make decisions. The higher up we get in the hierarchy, often the more ambiguous the decision and the greater the impact of that decision. The buck stops at your desk. Here is what I would like us to ask ourselves today: How often do I stop to consider my own values as I make decisions? How do I take into account the values of my stakeholders? What are important values as I lead and influence others? How important is maintaining my own humanity in the workplace and standing up for human dignity?

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about from a recent conversation with an executive coaching client (let’s call her Anna): “I’m ready to fire him!” she exclaimed. She sounded tired and exasperated. She had hired a new leader six months ago and has steadily lost faith in him. While he is brilliant at his job, his disrespectful and hierarchical behavior toward his team are contrary to the culture she is creating in the organization. There have been many complaints from his team. She is getting pressure from human resources to start documenting his erratic behavior to build the case for an exit. She has given him feedback, but he is often defensive. She faces an important decision. Should she fire him or give him another three months to change his behavior? She faces (arguably) an even more important decision. Who is she as a leader?

I asked her a question: “What values are important to you as you make this decision?” She paused. I could see that the question caused her to see this situation from a different, less emotional perspective. She shared that at one point when she gave him feedback, he had actually cried because he didn’t want to lose his job. He is divorced and had relocated for this job to be closer to his daughter. He had shared with her that it’s important for him to make the relationship with his daughter work. At that point, Anna saw and connected with him as a human being and not just an employee. His sharing and her seeing his humanity connected with a value of kindness and human dignity that is important to her. As she explored this value, she realized that she is committed to helping him succeed by being a better coach to him than she has in the past.

What happens in three months and whether he ultimately meets the expectations of the organization remains to be seen. What undoubtedly changed as Anna connected with her values was Anna’s attitude toward him. Instead of blaming him she is now more willing to be curious and committed to helping him grow in his own self-awareness. She also came away from the conversation more rooted in who she is as a leader and a human being.

What Anna learned is that pausing to connect with values before we make decisions helps us become the leaders we aspire to be. As we make decisions, seeing the humanity of the people we impact, is a gift. It changes us. It changes the tone of our conversation with them. It changes how we treat each other. It changes our workplaces. All for the better.

A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.

This article was written by Henna Inam, executive coach, speaker, and author of the book Wired for Authenticity. She works with people to help them realize their potential to be authentic, transformational leaders. They create organizations that drive breakthroughs in innovation, growth, and engagement. Her corporate clients include Coca Cola, The Home Depot, and others. Join the thousands who follow her blog here. Connect on Twitter @hennainam.

If this resonated with you please comment, subscribe and share with others.

The post The Importance Of Leading With Humanity appeared first on Transformational Leadership.

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