Brenda's Blog

All articles from December, 2019

How to demonstrate good self-leadership during the year-end holiday season: Create your own “holiday-season mantra!”

To celebrate year-end holidays, millions of people around the globe will soon be traveling to reconnect with loved ones. Whether the trip is just across town or half-way around the world, reunions with friends and family can make this time of year a time of joy, laughter, and peace — or just the opposite.  Crowded airports, increased traffic, the stress of meeting expectations, and the lack of sleep can lead us to react in ways we regret later, and/or to do or say things we wish we hadn’t.

How can you get through this year-end holiday season in a way that you will look back on and be proud of? Here’s a fun, powerful, yet simple way to do just that:

Fast forward in your mind to the end of your holiday season, days or weeks from now (depending upon how long you’ll be gone)… think of the time when you are getting ready to say goodbye to the friends, family, and loved ones you have visited. Perhaps in your mind you are in your car, backing out of the driveway of your host’s home, or maybe you are waving goodbye as you walk toward the airport gate to catch your return flight.

As you pull out of the driveway or as your hosts catch the last glimpse of you heading into the jetway, those loved ones turn to each other and say, “Wow, this year, he was really _______, ________, and ________!” or “She was so _______ this season!” What five positive adjectives or descriptive words would you want them to use to describe YOU at the end of this holiday time?

Take a moment to really reflect on the five descriptive words you would like to “own” by the end of this festive season. For example, you might choose words like happy, calm, quietly confident, peaceful, fun, enjoyable, pleasant, helpful, supportive, loving…”  Pick whatever five words resonate with you the most.

Throughout your entire holiday season, keep these five words in the forefront of your mind, day in and day out, from morning to night. Make them your “holiday season mantra.” Write them down and keep them in your pocket, purse, or anywhere you might see them regularly.  Write them on the inside of your hand or on your arm, under the sleeve of your shirt. Heck – you can even sing them to a favorite holiday tune, if you want! Whatever you do to remind yourself, the goal is to keep them top of mind at all times.

Once those words are chosen and you are keeping them at the forefront of your conscious, now begin to “embody” those five words.  How do you do that? By reflecting those fives words through the core activities you do each and every day that most communicate your brand:  the way you Act, React, Look, Sound, and Think. (Remember:  a brand is not communicated by what you say you want to be, but by what you do.)

As you take an action, ask yourself, “Am I acting like someone who is ‘calm’ would act?” “Is this reaction consistent with my goal of ‘peaceful’?” “Does how I look communicate ‘confidence’?” “Is what I am about to say in line with someone who would be described as ‘helpful and supportive’?” “Am I thinking like someone who embodies the word ‘loving’?”

Watch yourself like a hawk! Your goal is to be 100% consistent with those five words in all that you do, say, and think.  That’s how you create the brand for yourself you want during the holidays… and beyond.

What happens if you reach a boiling point, have a melt-down, or blow up at someone?  Don’t beat yourself up!  Judging yourself will just cause more angst and frustration. Simply apologize to yourself and others with authenticity, review your words one more time, and choose again. Building a brand for yourself is a journey – your goal is to be as consistent as possible, so just keep at it!

Remember: What you think is what you get.  Keep your desired five words top of mind, and have fun with this holiday experiment!

By the way, I would love to hear your five-word choices and to learn about the outcomes of your “holiday mantra challenge.” Please send me an email at Brenda@BrendaBence.com and let me know how it goes!

How to avoid losing your job to artificial intelligence

I had many great takeaways from attending the 2019 Thinkers50 event last month! Here is one of the quotes that stood out for me. Would you agree?

How well do YOU™ score on this inspiring leadership quiz?

I recently attending a showing of the hit musical Hamilton, in which there is a scene where the lead character (Alexander Hamilton), Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison are all in a private room, having a secret dinner meeting. Out of that meeting came the decision for the capital city of the United States to be situated on the Potomac River – clearly an important and historic moment.

The musical dramatizes the event with a song called “The Room Where It Happens” which highlights how important it was to have been in that room, since those leaders were the only three people who knew exactly what  occurred. This has spurred a new phrase used today: You must “be in the room” in order to be in the know.

In mid-November, I was myself fortunate enough to “be in the room where it happened” – a room of a different kind. I attended the Thinkers50 event in London, a biennial event which honors the best leadership and management thinkers in the world. I was honored and humbled to be recognized as a World Leader in Coaching, along with some of the best and brightest minds in this professional. It was truly an inspiring time.

At the Thinkers50 event speaking with New York Times bestselling author Subir Chowdhury

Even though I was in the room where it happened, I don’t want to keep anything I learned “secret!” I want to share with you my key learnings from the event, which I am doing, below. For fun, I have turned my key takeaways into a “quiz” of sorts – hopefully an engaging way for you to gain some potentially eye-opening information related to today’s leadership and management practices. Have fun!

How well do YOU™ score on this inspiring leadership quiz?

Here are some of my key takeaways from the Thinkers50 2019 event, in quiz form.  (Scroll to the bottom for answers.)

People Leadership

1. Only ____% of people make natural managers, according to Gallup.

A. 10%

B. 20%

C. 30%

D. 40%

2. What percentage of people in the UK say that they would accept less pay to get a new boss?

A. 23%

B. 30%

C. 48%

D. 54%

3. What do people want most on the job?

A. A friendly work environment

B. The ability to work independently

C. A good salary

D. A deep sense of purpose in their work

Organizational Transformation

4. What percentage of transformation intentions fail?

A. 25%

B. 40%

C. 65%

D. 70%

5. What is the single biggest obstacle to transformation?

A. Employees must embrace the change.

B. Leadership of the organization

C. Lack of expertise

D. The cost involved in transformation

6. Unless ______ transforms, the organization won’t transform.

A. The workforce

B. The culture

C. Top leadership

D. The hiring process

Senior Leadership Findings

7. The higher up in the organization you are, the more ____________ you are.

A. Unhappy and deluded

B. Stressed and deluded

C. Optimistically deluded

D. Overworked and deluded

8. Ask yourself as a senior leader: True or False? “My thinking has been challenged in the last five working days.” (If not, there is a likelihood that you are not creating an open enough environment for employees to raise up issues and allow change to take place.)

9. What is the “Superiority Illusion?”

A. When you believe you are superior to other employees

B. When you are promoted to lead an organization

C. When you think you are better at something than others think you are

D. When you believe you can outperform your colleagues

A few additional comments made / learnings gained from Thinkers50 that I feel are worth sharing: 

  • At work, organizations try to “fix” employees who are quiet. Instead, try fixing the system so that quiet employees are heard.
  • The act of speaking up is relational-you will speak up when you feel you have a relationship that supports speaking up.

From the CEO of Haier (Zhang Ruimin):

  • Shareholders cannot create value, only employees can. So put employees first – focus your leadership attention there.
  • Compliments about your product are in fact compliments about the “experience” of your product.
  • What is the best way to avoid losing your job to artificial intelligence? Be a good human being.

Answers to the Inspiring Leadership Quiz

1.A 2.C 3.D 4.D 5.A 6.C 7.C 8.(It depends on you, as a leader.) 9.C