Know your worth if you want to master your leadership
Every once in a while, I ask a client a very interesting question – “What gives you your sense of self-worth?” I’m often met with a blank stare. What usually prompts me to ask that question in the first place, is the coaching client is struggling with one of what I call the 3 reactive traps. These are the places we go to when our sense of identity or worth is threatened, our amygdala gets hijacked, and we feel we are under attack. The Three Reactive Traps Approval – I define my self-worth based on whether people like me and approve of me. I aim to please and will turn myself into a chameleon. Whatever I think the other person wants and needs I’ll be! Boundaries, what are they? It’s more important that I do whatever it takes to win someone over. Recognition and appreciation – it’s more than a nice to have, it’s a must. It’s my drug. It’s only then that I’m safe. Conflict is scary and I’ll do anything it takes to avoid it. Conflict is for difficult people. I’m a people person. I’m flexible. Other people do conflict. I do what it takes to make it work. Knowledge – I define my self-worth based on my smarts. I’ve got the answer – so you’re better off listening to me. If you don’t, I’ll tell you defensively or with an air of arrogance why you are wrong. You’re criticizing my work? No way! How dare you! It’s not my fault, someone else is to blame. Or apathy is the name of the game when I’m feeling challenged or ignored — I just can’t be bothered, you didn’t listen to my advice, so I’ll stay away and disengage. The project is doomed anyway, and I don’t want any part of it. The less I’m associated with this crappy piece of work, the better off I am. You made a mistake? I’ll be the first one to point it out and only highlight only the negatives. If someone receives the feedback badly? Who cares? Most people just aren’t that good at their jobs and they can’t take criticism. Accomplishments – I define my self-worth based on my achievements. I’m out to prove that perfectionism isn’t an illusion, and I will get there or die trying (and take the entire team down with me in the process). If the proverbial ‘you know what’ hits the fan, no problem, I’ll just do all the work. And if I think about it, it’s easier if I do, because then I know it will be done right. You have an idea on what would work best? Forget it – we don’t have the time and it’s better if you just do what I say. Celebrating success – what’s that? It’s on to the next thing! There’s always something next to do and we can’t drop our pace. It’s about getting ahead. I need to get ahead and prove how successful I am. The […]
May 26, 2023
6.5 min read
Communication, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership
The (more subtle than we realize) Art of Listening
Recently I was helping facilitate a program on coaching for leaders, and on day 1 we spent quite a bit on time on the subject of listening. You may wonder why, considering it’s something we do every day and most of us think we’re more than competent when it comes to this skill. Think again. “This is hard!” “I keep wanting to butt in and offer my thoughts or advice.” I so appreciated the honesty and vulnerability from the participants. The bottom line is that most of us are average at best when it comes to this skill. And the problem is if you’re a leader looking to inspire and motivate your team to greatness, average just won’t cut it. This reminds me of a story from many years ago. I was speaking with someone who was known in the organization I was working for at the time to be a great leader. A fantastic reputation, the kind of person people sought out to join their team. So I asked this individual, what’s your secret. I was expecting something magnanimous, something I’d never thought of before. Some simple but not easy advice on listening The response caught me by surprise. “I give whatever or whomever is in front of me 100% of my attention.” I was underwhelmed to say the least. But they were really on to something. Because the reality of how we show up is often quite different. Let’s take the following scenario: Someone pokes their head in your office – “Do you have a minute?” They ask. “Sure!” you say, wanting to sound interested and helpful. You’re the boss that cares. You’re approachable. People like you. They walk in and your eyes are still on the email you were in the middle of writing. Your thoughts are still halfway consumed by it. You’re unaware you’re doing this. You’re halfway listening to what they’re expressing. You’re nodding your head in agreement, eager to get back to your draft. They leave and you carry on, you barely notice the interaction and later you forget all about it until they awkwardly remind you of what you’d agreed to in that moment. Listening isn’t an innate thing we can take for granted. It’s a skill. And just like any skill there is a methodology to it and we must practice it. The levels of Listening Level 1 – Halfway listening. In the previous example the manager I mentioned was listening at the equivalent of level 1. They’re halfway there, they’re caught up in their head in something else. They really didn’t have the time for the interaction but instead of setting a boundary and asking the person to please come back later, they acquiesce. The result is they’re not present, they’re not tuned in, and the person on the receiving end of the conversation knows it. The employee with the question leaves disengaged and slightly annoyed. People know when they’re not being listened to. Another version of level 1 is what […]
March 16, 2023
5.4 min read
How to create psychological safety in your team (and why it matters)
What is psychological safety? The topic of Psychological safety has been getting a lot of airtime recently. One definition of this term is the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes. And as a leader, you’re responsible for cultivating it and fostering a healthy level of it in your team. It’s not about just being nice There’s one frame that often gets in the way on this front. Quite often, when leaders think about psychological safety, they assume it’s just about being nice to your team members, and they worry about sacrificing high performance for the sake of tiptoeing around each other and not having the hard conversations that need to be had. But the point is you don’t have to trade high performance in your organization for psychological safety. You can actually have both. I often find it helpful to start this discussion by looking at 4 different situations that often arise in team environments: So which of these 4 zones is your team currently operating in? Be honest! Over my time in business I’ve worked in a version of every one of these zones. But you don’t get to the Learning and High Performance zone by accident. As a leader, you’ve got to work to create it. So what can you do as a leader to increase psychological safety and performance? Consider some of these options, adapted from the work of Amy Edmonson, Harvard psychological safety guru: Coaching questions for thought: Shelley Pernot is a leadership and career coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and find a career that utilizes them. Reach out to me here for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you! I’ve recently been featured in Feedspot’s top 50 career coaching blogs. Check out what other career coaching experts have to say here!
January 20, 2023
4.7 min read
Silence Really Is Golden
Yesterday I was teaching a leadership class, and we got into an interesting conversation about zoom, and given the fact that so much happens in the virtual world now the question was: How do you effectively engage with people in a virtual environment and create meaningful connection? My leaders were voicing their frustrations about the lack of “real” connection in the virtual world, and how you get team members who are on the quieter side to speak up, to participate, to engage, particularly in a group setting. “I’m often looking at a screen of black boxes with people’s names. I ask if there are any questions when I’m finished sharing my thoughts, and it’s just crickets. And then I just move on to the next item.” The scary sound of silence The dreaded sound of silence. The awkwardness of it. I remember when I first started facilitating, I was afraid of it. What if I ask a question and it doesn’t land? What if the participants aren’t getting it? What if they think I’m a fool who has no idea what she’s talking about? When I first started out, I tended to rush through the content, because awkward silence was scary. I would fill it with my worst fears about my performance. I would imagine folks were thinking horrible things about me, the material, or the learning experience. I was afraid of silence. And to be frank, I think most people are. We’re not used to silence We live in a busy world, full of notifications, full of ims and dings and the next thread on slack to respond to. It’s not often you hear silence . I doubt we’re even used to it anymore. There’s often a tv playing in the background in the airport, the radio or podcast we listen to in the car, even in my old office in Houston CNN was always running on the monitor in the background. Noise is everywhere. Silence is a gift And then another participant in my class shared something interesting. “You know, my manager brought me in the other day to facilitate a team session for a group that he warned me in advance was often quiet. He told me they probably wouldn’t have any questions. They wouldn’t engage. So I thought hard about how to approach them to get a different result. I started off the session slowly and methodically and told them that I’m comfortable with silence. I’m not in a rush, we can take all the time we need for this experience. And then I sat back and patiently waited. And the questions kept coming, 8 in total, when they’ve never asked one before.” The story didn’t surprise me. Probably the hardest thing for me to learn over the years as a facilitator of learning was to embrace silence. To learn to love it, and to use it like Erika did in this story effectively. Because the truth of the matter is, there is magic in silence […]
October 28, 2022
4.2 min read
It was a privilege to work with Shelley as my leadership coach! The process was structured and yet flexible enough to meet needs as they arose. Shelley helped me to grow, learn more about myself, and to really achieve what I set out to accomplish. We worked on planning, navigating a promotion successfully, and so much more! I experienced many successes as a result of working with Shelley, she has great resources, knowledge, and really helps with setting the foundation to this coaching work. She won’t let you down!
Having the opportunity to have Shelley as my Leadership Coach could not have come at a better time in my career. I was recently promoted to CFO and was new to the Senior Management Team. Shelley helped me navigate joining the team as well as helped me to determine who I wanted to be as a leader. The Leadership Circle Profile helped our team to discover our blinds spots and to be able to understand each other better. Working with Shelley not only has affected my professional life in a positive way, but also my personal life. She helped me take leaps and has given me the resources to continue this journey of self-improvement. If you’re looking to find more about yourself and how you can be the best version of yourself, I highly recommend working with Shelley.
I have been working with Shelley for the past 2 years on my leadership development journey. What I thought would be a straight line, I soon learned with Shelley’s guidance, was a winding path with several ups and downs along the way. Shelley supported me as I took a deep dive into my professional and personal history and learned how it affects my approach and my perceptions. She helped me to slow down and recognize certain behaviors and understand that I can pivot in the moment or try again next time. Ultimately, my work with Shelley turned out to be so much more than what I expected. Her approach to coaching was exactly what I needed.
Senior Vice President, Consulting
I’ve learned more about leadership in the past six months working with Shelley than I have in my 10+ year career. She is an incredible coach with many tools in her toolbox. The guidance and mentorship I’ve received from Shelley has been life-changing. She will challenge your limiting beliefs and inspire new ways of thinking.
I highly recommend Shelley if you need a coach, thought partner, and guide as you consider the next steps in your career. She provides practical tools and advice to help launch your career exploration, but most importantly, she is an expert at helping you cut through the noise of your limiting beliefs. At the end of our time together, I had a much clearer vision of what I wanted in my life and a plan to make it happen. My only regret is that I didn’t find her sooner!
My career coaching sessions with Shelley have brought me back to living. It’s been contagious, spreading throughout my personal and professional life. I now have the building blocks I need to continue setting healthy boundaries, the freedom to show up as my authentic self, and an adaption of a growth mindset that has allowed me to make bold decisions and try new things. I’ve discovered that there’s always another way and how to eradicate barriers that lead to tunnel vision. These sessions with Shelley have been a great gift and have given me the momentum I need to continue the journey to be my best self.
It is amazing to think where I was only 10 months ago when I first started working with Shelley and where I am now. Not only professionally but mentally and emotionally. Shelley helped me navigate out of an unhealthy work environment by challenging me and asking me those tough questions we never seem to ask ourselves. What are the values of a true leader? How do those values align with my own? Shelley challenging me and guiding me through some of those tough questions is what led to my epiphany and me having the courage and confidence to leave an environment that threatened my well-being. She taught me how to become more self-aware and self-compassionate. Reminded me to be kind even when the world would understand if I did otherwise. And the biggest one for me, shutting down that crazy inner voice (we all have it!) and replacing it with being present. Shelley has armed me with tools that I will carry with me for a lifetime. Tools that will help me to continue to grow and learn. Life can be hard but working with someone like Shelley does make it easier. She will help you navigate the good and the bad and you’ll learn so much about yourself in the process.
Director of Marketing
First of all I would like to say that I would recommend Shelley to anyone needing career guidance. As my counselor Shelley helped me transition my career from bartending to Tech Sales which was a difficult and scary transition for me. From the start Shelley was fantastic. Initially I had no idea of which direction I wanted my career to go, I just knew I wanted it to go somewhere else. Shelley was so kind and patient as she helped me figure this out, and gave me a step by step guide on how to explore my options and make an educated decision. She also helped me assess my skill set which played a large part in directing my energy. I landed a great job within days of my final session with Shelley, and now I’m month 3 I am absolutely loving it and doing very well. It was the perfect job for me and Shelley was the one that got me there. Working with Shelley was one of the best decisions I have ever made, she literally changed my life and I am so much happier for it.