In order for leaders to be able to put their best foot forward each and every day, it’s important that they incorporate self-care into their daily routine. Now you may be saying to yourself “I literally have no time for all the things that already must get done. How on earth do you expect me to be able to add self-care to that list?”
Here’s the thing, self-care doesn’t need to take hours. It can be as simple as taking five minutes during a very busy day to sit in silence with your thoughts. Or, taking 15 minutes in the morning to practice affirmations and gratitude. There are plenty of time-friendly and free ways to reduce your stress levels, get centered, and be ready to make the critical decisions your team needs you to make.
To start with, we suggest these helpful resources that specifically address the needs of leaders.
In addition to taking care of their own needs, leaders may also want to consider tangible ways they can work to better support self-care for their team members.
“Of course, now we understand more clearly the link between employee happiness and outcomes like higher engagement, increased productivity, and business growth. We also know that there’s a link between workplace stress, burnout, low productivity and employee turnover…Company leadership that fosters a work culture of self-care is more likely to find itself with happier people and higher employee engagement.” (15Five.com) With employee turnover rates at an all-time high, focusing on employee wellness and self-care may be one way that companies can better retain team members.
Here are three simple strategies that can be implemented in the workplace to encourage more staff to practice self-care.
Encourage employees to take PTO: One of the easiest ways to prevent burnout is by insisting that your staff take time off. With many organizations moving to unlimited PTO policies, it’s clear that leaders understand the importance of time away from work.
Build in physical wellness into your policies: Whether it’s reimbursement for gym memberships, bringing a yoga practitioner into the building for weekly sessions, or chair yoga during zoom calls, maintaining physical wellness is a critical part of self-care.
Know your staff as individuals: As a leader, one of the best ways to support self-care is to get to know your team members. When you know your team well, you will begin to get a sense when someone is “off” and perhaps starting to show signs of burnout. Leaders can then take action to ensure staff members get the support they need.
I recently watched a TedTalk that resonated deeply. It was by Adam Grant, a highly impactful Organizational Psychologist. He described a familiar feeling that I’d previously not been able to name. There were times during the pandemic when I just felt “off.” I talked with many friends and colleagues who described the same experience. We were feeling a sense of disconnectedness and “feeling like you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.” According to Organizational Psychologist Adam Grant, this phenomenon is called languishing. “In the early days of the pandemic, a lot of us were struggling with fear, grief and isolation. But as the pandemic dragged on with no end in sight, our acute anguish gave way to chronic languish. We were all living in ‘Groundhog Day.’ It felt like the whole world was stagnating.” (There’s a name for the “Blah” You’re Feeling)
So what’s to be done if you are feeling like this?
In my experience, one of the best ways to overcome this is to practice gratitude. Taking time each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for is critical because it has a direct impact on your happiness.
“How is the connection between happiness and gratefulness? Many people would say, well, that’s very easy. When you are happy, you’re grateful. But think again. Is it really the happy people that are grateful? We all know quite a number of people who have everything that it would take to be happy, and they are not happy because they want something else or they want more of the same. And we all know people who have lots of misfortune, misfortune that we ourselves would not want to have. And they are deeply happy. They radiate happiness. We are surprised – why? – because they’re grateful. So it is not happiness that makes us grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy. If you think it’s happiness that makes you grateful, think again. It’s gratefulness that makes you happy.” (Ted Radio Hour, The Gratitude Chain)
With that in mind, here are some things that I am grateful for.
– My family and close friends who support me in unconditional ways
– My clients who are inclusive leaders committed to creating an equitable and vibrant workplace for their people
-My team of fellow coaches committed to the vision of building organizations that inspire people to do their best work.
-My tribe of fellow professionals working to create businesses of the future that are committed to making a deep impact on society as a whole.
Years and years ago, I worked for a company that wasn’t a good fit for me. During the selection process, I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach that it was not a good match. Let me tell you, from the very first day I learned that instincts are not to be ignored! Despite it all, this opportunity also gave me the opportunity to meet some extraordinary people with shared values and work ethic and we formed our own tribe. The level of support and love we afforded one another is etched into my memories. I would not have met those beautiful humans if I hadn’t made the decision to work for that organization. They are still close friends to this day. Even if you’ve made a mistake like taking the wrong job, life still provides you with gifts like good friends, and ultimately, reasons to be grateful.
By now, it is likely that you or someone you know has been personally impacted by the “Great Resignation” in some way. The number of people leaving their jobs is increasing month after month and this trend shows no sign of stopping. Just this past January, 4.3 Americans left their jobs.
It’s critical that you nurture your current workforce and demonstrate the flexibility needed to retain them.
The pandemic caused massive shifts in where work takes place. Prior to the pandemic, around 20% of Americans worked remotely. At the onset of the pandemic, that percentage jumped to a whopping 71% (Source: Pew Research Center)!
While many employers are considering bringing teams back into the office, this hasn’t always been a smooth transition. If your organization is also grappling with this challenge, here are some tips to consider.
Chances are, there will be differences of opinions as to what return to work looks like. But the best way to put together a plan that staff can agree upon is to be transparent. Leaders need to be clear on what options they are considering and ensure that they give space for their team to give feedback on these options. You will get buy-in faster on any new remote work policies if team members feel they were heard in the decision-making process.
We once worked with a leader who wanted to put a positive spin on everything. I understood why they preferred to shine a positive light on every situation but the problem with that is employees can sense when a leader is not being transparent. And the lack of transparency can erode trust. Remember Jack Nicholson’s famous line from one of his movies, “You can’t handle the truth?” Well thankfully employees can handle the truth and can be a great source of ideas when allowed to be involved in the problem solving.
Consider the Current Labor Market
According to Pew Research Center, 54% of American workers would like to continue working remotely at least part of the time. While remote work obviously isn’t feasible for every industry, if your organization fails to consider worker sentiment around this issue, you may be in trouble given the widespread staffing shortage that is impacting almost every aspect of American life.
Restaurants are closing their doors completely or operating on more limited hours. Limited numbers of dock workers means that harbors are backlogged with container ships waiting to unload their goods. Flights are being cancelled by the hundreds. Airport security lines are longer because of a lack of TSA employees. Parents have been unable to return to work because daycares cannot find teachers for their young pupils. This worker shortage makes it even more imperative that you create a compassionate plan to return to the office or you may find yourself short-staffed with no replacements in sight.
Consider your Options
Remote work isn’t an all-or-nothing decision. Many organizations are creating flexible policies that allow their teams to work from home for a certain number of days. Leaders might also want to consider the unique needs of each team member. Parents and caregivers responsible for dependents or aging parents may have more challenges returning than others. Make sure you take these barriers into account when deciding on how to move forward.
This helpful article from the Center for Creative Leadership makes a strong case for why companies need to embrace flexibility in the workplace. “The majority of employees say they want flexible and remote work options to remain — one study even found that 64% would prefer a permanent work-from-home situation over a $30K pay raise. If organizations want to succeed in the future, it’s not a question of if they should be flexible, but how they will be flexible.”
Here’s an uncomfortable truth- Americans are more polarized than ever. More and more, we are seeing that these polarized views are seeping into the workplace and causing conflict. Not only does this negatively impact interpersonal relationships, but it also reduces psychological safety and even impacts your bottom line. A recent “comprehensive study finds that US employers spend 2.8 hours of their entire workweek dealing with conflict. This results in an annual loss of $359 billion.” (Source: What to Become)
These statistics resonate with us because we’ve worked with teams that were severely siloed and compromised due to unresolved conflicts. Some stemmed so far back that team members could not remember what the other team members actually did or said to upset them. The divide continued to deepen until the leader realized that they were incapable of handling it on their own and they called us in to assist. Which we were successfully able to do over a period of time.
But imagine how much was lost over the years. How much anxiety team members carried around with them each day when they came to work (and probably when they went home as well)? How could they perform at their best with all of that occurring?
As employers, you can’t tell people not to have opinions about controversial topics, so what can you do? A good starting point is to truly understand what is causing conflict. While on the surface a disagreement might seem to be caused by differing opinions, things like unmet workplace needs or poor management may actually be the main reason conflict erupts.
Rather than immediately jumping to disciplinary measures, it’s important that you or a member of your HR team meet with individuals involved in the disagreement to identify a potential root cause. When meeting with team members to hear their stories, make sure to state your intentions upfront and establish ground rules. Lead with empathy and try to understand their perspective.
Once you know more about the causes of the conflict, you then need to take steps to resolve it. Get each party’s feedback on ways to move forward and obtain a commitment on action steps to resolve the conflict and prevent future disagreement. If you are new to conflict management and resolution, we recommend starting with this helpful article that lays out a simple, step-by-step process for mediation in the workplace.
It’s critical that as an employer, you take swift action to manage and resolve conflict. “Unresolved issues of interpersonal tension and conflict can create emotional stress for employees, politicize the workplace and divert attention from the organization’s mission. If employers do not act, conflicts will escalate into larger problems, discrimination and harassment complaints may increase, and the employer’s reputation could be damaged.” (SHRM, 2020)
If you are a new leader struggling with conflict management and resolution, we’d love to help! Our personalized leadership development programs for both teams and individuals will provide you the support and tools needed to improve this critical skillset and more.
Our Evolved Leadership Program is specially designed to assist new and emerging leaders with the skills they need to become an inclusive and effective leader. To learn more about our leadership development programs, click on the button below to schedule your discovery call today! Let’s work together to evolve your leadership!
If you are in any type of leadership role, the ability to manage conflict is critical. Conflict is inevitable as it is a natural component of team development and growth. Here are a few things to keep in mind as a leader:
Conflict is not always a bad thing
Conflict is often avoided- even when it shouldn’t be
When avoided, conflict can fester and become harmful to the individuals involved in the conflict as well as other team members
Providing your team with skills to manage conflict is a powerful way to improve team dynamics
What Can You Do When There is Conflict on Your Team?
Here are some tips you can use if your team is currently experiencing conflict.
Honor differences in individual conflict styles
Have open conversations directly with the parties involved
Share specific behaviors (what was actually said or done) as opposed to the way those behaviors were interpreted and labeled
State the impact of the behaviors
Actively listen (be present, listen for understanding, paraphrase, summarize)
Find out what needs are not being met so that the expectations of all parties are understood
Assume that all parties have good intentions
Talk about resolution in a collaborative way. Ask questions such as:
“What do we both want?”
“How can we resolve this in a way that respects our individual needs?”
Be willing to compromise
Be mindful of their own verbal and non-verbal communication
By engaging in this type of dialogue, individuals often discover that they have made invalid assumptions. Usually, this happens due to an absence of information. Assumptions are tricky and often result in conclusions that do not serve either party well. If both parties are open and willing to do the work to resolve the conflict, the negative assumptions will be clarified and positive solutions will be achieved. Communication, not avoidance, is the key!
As part of our executive and leadership development programs, we ask leaders what their struggles are regarding giving feedback. The responses indicate that the lack of feedback stems from a desire to avoid a negative reaction, a flat-out denial, uncomfortable tension, or hurt feelings. This form of conflict avoidance that can prevent your direct reports from performing at their highest level. Make sure to follow the tips above and regularly engage in open dialogue with your direct reports.
Are you a leader that struggles with conflict management? You might be a good fit for Kindall Evolve’s coaching programs. Set up your free discovery call today to learn more.
At Kindall Evolve, we are deeply committed to cultivating leaders who fully embrace empathy so they can transform their team and company culture. We intentionally focus on developing leaders because these individuals have a significant impact on the people, systems, vision, culture and results of an organization. Leaders set the tone and mirror what is acceptable within an organization. Leaders create compelling visions that inspire the people on their teams. Ultimately, they hold an organization’s keys to success.
From years of working with leaders at every level, studying leadership and conducting research, we know there are several key factors that hold leaders back from being their best and getting the best from their people. One of those key factors is self-awareness.
Dr. Tasha Eurich, an industrial psychologist who has conducted research on self-awareness, looks at self-awareness in two ways: internal and external. Internal self-awareness is knowing yourself, your values, and your aspirations; external self-awareness is knowing how other people see you and how you impact others. In her research, she’s discovered that people who work on both internal awareness and external awareness have much more success in their personal and professional lives.
Why is self-awareness so critical for leaders?
When our founder Jackie Kindall was an internal HR Director, she supported a leader who thought he was great at leading people. However, over a short period of time, 70% of his team resigned and cited that he was the reason they were leaving the organization. This, of course, got her attention in HR and caused immense concern amongst the senior leadership team.
When provided with feedback, he was resistant and extremely defensive. He disagreed with most of what was said and felt that it was nonsense. Instead of acknowledging that there were areas that he needed to develop and making a commitment to changing his behavior, he dug his heels in and continued leading as he saw fit. His lack of self-awareness prevented him from taking accountability and eventually led to the termination of his employment.
Lack of self-awareness does not have to be career ending. Kindall Evolve coached another leader who also received tough and unflattering feedback. It shocked her and she felt blindsided. After taking a few days to gather herself, she became determined to step up her game and demonstrate that she was capable of leading authentically while meeting her revenue goals. She rolled up her sleeves, took advantage of available resources, and committed to making positive changes. She was successful in doing so and was pleased to see that her efforts positively impacted the culture and the bottom-line results of her business unit.
Many people are unaware of the impact they have on others. Research suggests that nearly 80% of society lacks self-awareness. The statistics are staggering. But if you think about the people you know, how many truly know themselves and how they impact others? How many of those are leaders?
In an interview conducted by Knowledge@Wharton, Dr. Eurich states, “My research has shown that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but the real number is closer to 10% to 15%. I always joke that on a good day, 80% of us are lying to ourselves about whether we’re lying to ourselves. It can be problematic. A lot of times, the people who have the most room to improve are the least likely to know.” We concur!
Because leaders have a special and significant impact, it is paramount that leaders become more self-aware. Thankfully your levels self-awareness aren’t permanent. All of us can work to improve these skills.
Activities for improving your self-awareness
At the end of each day reflect and write about the following in a journal:
o What went well? How did you react?
o What did not go as desired or anticipated? How did you react?
o What was your role in the things that went well? What did you do or say? What should you continue to do?
o What did you do or say in situations that did not go as planned?
o What is your desired outcome?
o How can you ensure that you get the results you want?
Review the journal at the end of the week and make note of any themes that emerge.
o Are there patterns?
o What have you learned about yourself?
o What actions will you implement next week?
o Reflect on times in the past when you performed at your best. What strengths did you use? How can you continue to leverage those strengths?
o Reflect on times when you wished your performance had been stronger. What contributed to the lackluster performance and what can you learn about yourself from the situation?
o Ask 3 – 5 people who you trust to be honest with you. Make sure you ask people who care about you AND who will tell you the truth vs what they think you want to hear.
o Prepare yourself for the feedback by planning to be open to what they share.
o Ask for specific behavior-based examples (what did I do or say, etc.?).
o Listen without being defensive and without responding except to say, “Thank You.”
Here are a few suggested questions:
1. What do you believe I do exceptionally well?
2. What would you like to see me do differently?
3. How does my behavior impact you?
The journaling and feedback alone will help you gain valuable insights about yourself you might not have been aware of. Once you gain this knowledge, it is up to you to take action.
Set Goals – Be Purposeful
o Start by setting 3 – 5 goals that will positively impact yourself and others.
o Make a commitment to yourself and hold yourself accountable.
o Practice new techniques and learn new skills.
o Track your progress.
o Find an accountability partner to support you.
If you have been struggling to successfully lead your team, you may want to start by assessing your levels of self-awareness and take action to improve. We’d love to hear from you- which of these tips did you find to be most helpful? Drop us a comment below!
One of the things that keeps us from reaching our potential as leaders is fear. There are a variety of fears such as fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success, and fear of judgment. It’s important to tackle these fears so that you continue to grow and live life fully. To do so, we must allow ourselves to be uncomfortable.
If the thought of doing something new, taking a risk and potentially failing, makes you shake in your boots, welcome to the journey. We will start with a discussing on FEAR because it has a way of keeping us steady and stuck. Humans are hardwired to be this way. There is a part of our brain that is resistant to change because it registers change as danger. That’s where fear comes into play. My good friend and colleague often says that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real and I couldn’t agree more.
Let me tell you my story about fear. For years, I dreamed of owning my own business focused on helping organizations and leaders excel. I envisioned partnering with leaders to build strong teams that performed at such a high level that they consistently exceeded their strategic goals. Despite the strong conviction and passion, it was years before I took the leap. Whenever I found myself close to doing so, I told myself that I needed more knowledge, more experience, more certifications and degrees, more time in my current position, and so on and so on and so on. This went on for more than 15 years. Even though I enjoyed my work, was successful, loved my co-workers, and worked with great teams, it just wasn’t enough.
What kept me stuck? It took me years to realize that it was fear. I was afraid. All those years I’d been allowing fear to be in charge. I was riding in the backseat of my career bus. I was having a great time, there were plenty of snacks and beverages, and the ride was scenic; but I wasn’t driving.
Imagine my joy once I switched places with fear. It was, and still is, absolutely incredible. I will admit it was a process that did not happen overnight. I needed support from a fantastic coach to help me work through my blind spots. Only then was I able to create a plan and work my plan until I successfully moved fear out of the way.
It took a lot of courage and it was well worth it. After 27 years in corporate America, I’ve now been running my own coaching and consulting practice for six years. I work with leaders who are deeply committed to achieving their vision but struggle to get there. I help them shine as leaders, build high-performing teams and experience extraordinary transformation. The transformation is achieved through one-on-one executive coaching, leadership and team development workshops, strategic planning and related organizational consulting services. There is sheer alignment with my gifts, passion, purpose and work and it exceeds my wildest imagination.
The elation that I feel is what I want for everyone. I’m committed to doing my part as a coach to help others push fear to the side and say, “No more.”
In that spirit, here are some tips to recognize fear and work through it.
Be aware – If you notice yourself stalling and procrastinating, ask yourself what is holding you back from moving forward? Is there a legitimate reason or could it be fear? Be honest and realistic with yourself.
If it is fear, ask yourself: What are you actually afraid of? Is it a real threat? What is the likelihood of it happening? What’s the worst thing that could happen? If that happens, what will you do? Then what?
Reframe your thinking – How else might you think about this? If you stay where you are, what will be the outcome? What options do you have?
Learn about your strengths and how to leverage them – When we play to our strengths, the likelihood of success is greatly increased.
Get feedback from others about what they believe your strengths are.
You can also take a strengths assessment such as StrengthsFinder at www.strengthsfinder.com (free with the purchase of the book) or the free VIA Survey of Character Strengths at www.viacharacter.org. These tools provide helpful insight into what makes you tick.
Develop a plan that includes small milestones. Each small step will move you closer to your goal. Be sure to celebrate the small wins along the way.
Even if you are afraid, do it anyway. Get into action. If you don’t do it, then who will?