Brenda's Blog

I needed a break!

I needed a break! In the middle of several intense weeks of writing my next book, The Forgotten Choice, my husband and I decided to book a two-day, one-night stay-cation at a nice hotel in Singapore. It was such a fantastic opportunity to clear my mind and rejuvenate, reminding me of the importance of self-care as a leader. What suggestions do you have for achieving balanced work/life integration?

It’s never too late for an inspiring leader to do “this”

It’s never too late for an inspiring leader to do whatCelebrate wins! 

Years of working with executives has taught me that, unfortunately, we don’t celebrate successes as often as we could.  A few years ago, that learning prompted me to write an article called “The Top 10 Reasons Why Leaders Should Celebrate Wins.”  It was printed in dozens of media outlets around the world, and it was even picked up by bestselling author Guy Kawasaki, who featured it in his book called Enchantment. It’s become such a popular article that I decided to turn it into a short-duration video.

Many leaders wait until it’s the end of the calendar or fiscal year to celebrate successes. But not celebrating more frequently is a lost opportunity for both you as an inspiring leader, and for your team / the people you work with.

Click below to watch my video that shares the top reasons to celebrate wins. I hope you enjoy this gentle reminder of the importance of recognizing successes both for yourself and for others. How will YOU™ celebrate wins between now and the end of the year?

May I ask for your vote?

May I ask for your vote? I’m excited to have been nominated again this year as both a Top 30 Global Coaching Guru and a Top 30 Global Branding Guru! A portion of the final ranking is determined by votes, so I would be incredibly grateful for yours. I appreciate your support! Here’s the voting process:

1) Visit https://globalgurus.org

2) In the menu at the top of the home page, click on “VOTE HERE.”

3) In the drop-down menu, you will see the various voting categories. Please select “COACHING.” [You can return and choose BRAND to vote a second time, if you would like – thank you in advance!]

4) Login via Facebook, Google, YouTube, or LinkedIn [this step is a requirement to make sure the voting stays honest].

5) Scroll down, find my photo and name, then click on the button next to my photo.

6) Scroll down further (near the bottom of the page), and select either Inspirational, Exceptional, Great, Very Good, or Good.

7) Once you have made your selection, click the “VOTE” button to confirm.

As I mentioned, the steps are the same to vote in the Brand category, except for step #3, select “BRAND” from the drop-down menu. Once again, I sincerely appreciate your support. Thank you again, and all the best!

Dinner with the Dean of Harvard Business School

Earlier this week, at a small private dinner for alums, I enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Harvard Business School’s Dean Nitin Nohria. Given our shared passion for developing high-level leaders, the Dean and I had an engaging chat about how to inspire leadership in today’s fast-paced, international world. It was also a terrific opportunity to connect with fellow alumni, reminding me of the importance of consistently networking.

What are some opportunities you could pursue in the coming weeks to broaden your professional contacts?

Be the leader you wish you had

I’ve heard clients say, “I’ve had a series of bad bosses, Brenda—no good role model—so you can’t really fault me for my poor people leadership.”

I see it differently and respond with, “Be the leader you wish you had.” After all, we all know what the characteristics are of a good inspiring people leader. The key is: How often do you embody those characteristics?

The surprising truth about how to create an inspiring leadership legacy

What causes certain leaders to achieve legacy status but not others, no matter how much a leader has accomplished nor how visible he or she has been in a company or in an industry? Just what is it that makes certain leaders so memorable and inspiring – leaving a clear legacy behind – while others are quickly forgotten?

A few months after Xavier was promoted into his new regional CEO role, he came to my office for a coaching session. After he shared a general update on how he was getting along in the job, I asked him to fast-forward in his mind to what success would look like after five years in the post.

He paused, then responded, “I will have left a legacy.”

“That sounds exciting,” I responded. “Tell me more.”

“By then, we will have doubled sales, expanded into five new geographic regions, increased market share by 20%, and added 250 new employees.”

I paused for a moment, then shared: “Xavier, one thing I’ve learned from coaching so many great leaders over the years… Legacy isn’t built by hitting the numbers.”

What does it take to create a legacy?

It’s not unusual for leaders to want to leave an inspiring legacy when they step down from a post. Leaders want to make an impact – to leave their time in office with something noticeable and memorable to show for it.

Yet, just like Xavier, too often leaders fall into a trap of “needing to hit the numbers” and using that, and only that, as the key benchmark for success. As a result, they place all of their short-term attention on the profit and loss statement, moving from quarter to quarter to quarter, achieving incremental growth, satisfying their bosses, their Board, shareholders, and Wall Street. But in the meantime, they haven’t stepped back enough to realize that those achievements are temporary and, by primarily focusing on numbers, leaders won’t have made an impact on the hearts and minds of their team members.

Don’t get me wrong: Of course, you must “hit the numbers!” It’s very clear that, if you’re not meeting stakeholder expectations from a top-line and bottom-line business standpoint, it’s likely your time in position won’t be long.

But true legacy as a leader doesn’t come from statistics and achieving tangible measurable benchmarks. Achieving numbers is the price of entry for leaders, the basic requirement of your job.

What is often overlooked – and that which will truly create a legacy for a leader – is the “how” of leadership.

Ok… so, how do YOU™ start building a legacy?

What about YOU™? If someone in your organization were to stop and ask your team members, your function heads, your direct reports, and peers to state what they felt your legacy was in your post so far, what would they say?

Here are a few questions to consider that will help you get a sense of the kind of legacy you are in the process of building for yourself:

  • Are you focused primarily on building people or on building business?
  • What kind of culture are you instilling (and culture “is” instilled from the top). What are five words to describe the culture you want under your leadership? Is that how people would describe the culture now?
  • What kind of balance are you achieving when it comes to time spent on relationships versus tasks?
  • Are you using a “pull” style – engaging and asking powerful questions – or are you using a “push” style – simply telling people what to do?
  • Is your overall attitude positive or negative? (Just like in the animal kingdom, leaders of any organization establish the overall tone of the entire company.)
  • Is your energy marked by calm confidence or is it rushed and frenetic?
  • Within your organization, are you genuinely focused on helping people grow, learn, and develop, or are you judging them?

Your answers to the questions above are the keys to building a legacy.

Let’s put it this way: In years to come, I guarantee no one will ever say, “Do you remember Meredith? She was the Vice President who always hit the numbers!” No, you will be remembered by the impact you made on people and on the organization as a whole, the “feel of the place” while it is under your guidance. If you’re not paying attention to that, you will become “just another leader” who did his/her job.

I’m reminded of this quote by Maya Angelou, which I like to share with leaders I coach: 

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, 
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Create a legacy for yourself by not only hitting the numbers but by being a leader people “want” to work for. Of course, you should achieve success in building the business, but it can be done through engaging people and inspiring them. That’s how you create followership, leave a lasting legacy, and in the process, build an inspiring leadership brand for yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about how to be a leader others want to work for, you might benefit from reading my book Would YOU Want to Work for YOU?

(Also available in e-book and audio book formats.)

A key message to help embrace feedback

I just finished several days of what I playfully call “Book the Coach.” Seated in a conference room at a client site, I laser-coached seven executives per day over the course of seven days. The goal? To help these already gifted leaders become even more inspiring, especially when it comes to providing feedback to direct reports.

I shared this quote—highlighted below—as one key message I personally like to embrace when coaching around feedback. In general, we tend to point out what is “wrong” with something or somebody and, as a result, we fail to inspire others towards what is possible.

To what extent does this quote resonate with you and your own experience of giving (or receiving) feedback?

What is the secret to earning more money and getting promoted?

A raise or promotion can be guaranteed by using one simple yet powerful tip. Watch and learn this sure-fire approach that I have shared with tens of thousands of clients around the world—with amazing outcomes. Excerpted from an interview I did as a guest on Christopher Rainey’s HRD Leaders Podcast, this one method can catapult your career trajectory.

Honored to be one of Thinkers50 World Leaders in Coaching!

I’m excited to share that I have been selected as one of the inaugural Thinkers50 World Leaders in Coaching! This award is named in honor of Marshall Goldsmith, to recognize his extensive contribution to the world of Executive Coaching.

This award will be celebrated in London at the bi-annual Thinkers50 gathering, which recognizes extraordinary management and business thinking.

The picture below was taken at a coaching conference a few years ago where Marshall and I were both keynote speakers. (It was so nice to be able to share with Marshall a copy of one of my books that he had endorsed.)

The surprising truth about sitting “idly” at work

Thinking strategically is a critically important skill that must be developed in order to get promoted to higher levels of an organization … but most aspiring leaders don’t take time to do it. In this video, I share a client’s story you might relate to and emphasizes the importance of occasionally “doing nothing” on the job. Watch to find out why!