Can there be Trust In Virtual Teams?

Who doesn’t know the importance of trust is in the workplace? Okay, so maybe we don’t all get the significance of it, but that’s a topic for another article. Let’s assume trust is the most critical element of the workplace and, in particular, teams.

With huge demands, competition and the pace of technology, the need to collaborate has never been more urgent. Collaboration means coming together formally on a team, structurally defined for the purposes of the organization or, informally (ad hoc) to respond quickly and efficiently to time-sensitive goals.

In both cases, the ability for teams to work effectively hinges on the level of trust the members develop. We know from the work of Patrick Lencioni in his The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, without trust and commitment, results are hard to achieve.

It starts with all team members agreeing and knowing the critical elements of trust. Each must practice fairness, honesty, openness, exceptional listening skills, respect toward others’ expertise, and candor without being competitive or passive. This creates the space for members to be vulnerable, test out ideas, be creative and influence each other toward optimum results.

But what if your team is virtual? You’ve never, if ever, met your teammates in person and you all live in different locations and time zones. How easy would it be to build trust? Is it even possible?

The short answer is: it can be.

Recently working with leaders in a global communications company, I was struck by how highly they spoke of their teams and company culture. They were fully engaged in their work and committed to high quality results. This really surprised me as the majority of them worked virtually with team members thousands of miles away.

However, in another fast-paced global company the employee experience is far from being engaged and connected within the company let alone their teams.

I became curious. Why is it virtual employees in one company thrive while in another they’re stressed, disengaged and looking for the door?

A leader at a global IT firm knows all about success for virtual teams. When asking her if trust is possible for virtual teams, she emphatically answered, “ABSOLUTELY! !”

She cautioned, however, that for companies (large or small) wanting to move from ‘traditional face-to-face’ to a ‘virtual’ work environment, it’s a cultural shift that doesn’t happen overnight. Like any successful change, leadership needs to lead it and provide communication tools necessary to make virtual meetings and collaboration easy and effective.

But it doesn’t end there. The shift actually ignites when the culture of trust transfers from members of small teams to large teams and cross-functional teams they participate within.

These are key leadership behaviors that contribute to building trust in teams:

Essentials for Leaders of Small Teams:

  1. Establish Rapport by scheduling regular (weekly) 1:1’s, assigning work that capitalizes on members’ strengths and providing regular feedback.
  2. Focus intently by listening and actively engaging with your members. Never multi task during 1:1’s or team meetings as it demonstrates you don’t care and that erodes trust.
  3. Set Expectations that your team members show up to meetings prepared, on time, and ready to deliver quality work. Expect participants to activate their computer camera so you can see each other. Making personal connections often is key.
  4. Meet in Person by getting together twice or quarterly a year. It’s the casual as well as formal gatherings that solidify strong relationships.

Essentials for Large Teams:

  1. Build Rapport as above, with the added benefit of the smaller team’s culture and expectations cascading upward as reinforcement.
  2. Span of control for the leader of a large team allows for regular 1:1’s with the next level of leadership to set tone, culture and expectations.
  3. Skip Level 1:1’s several levels below your Direct Reports, scheduled quarterly, establishes relationships at multiple levels. Make sure all team members and employees feel a connection with you and that you care about their success.
  4. Be fully present to focus, actively listen and look to the camera; your team members know when you aren’t and that kills trust.

This is consistent with the findings of Niki Panteli, leader in Information Systems and researcher in trust: it’s the quality and consistency of content and frequency that’s necessary to foster trust in the virtual workplace.

Mutually negotiated and jointly constructed trust relationships are “situated”. As a member of a team, small or large, you too have a responsibility to be part of building the trust:

  1. Collaboratively create team rules – figure out together what’s most important to this team (hint: these may look different from team to team).
  2. Stick to team rules as it aligns with or, despite the culture of the company or leadership behavior.
  3. Hold each other accountable and call out the team when it gets off track.
  4. Embrace each member’s high value and expertise.
  5. Have fun! Work is work, but infusing  time together with a lighthearted personal approach can go a long way to reinforcing trust.

Working from home, I’m keenly aware I’m not my own island. As the future of work continues to be more diffused, so does the need for virtual workers like me, and teams and companies that build foundations of trust. Without it, results can never be guaranteed.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your experience working virtually with a team.

What marketing, managers and mentors have in common

It’s that time of year again. The pressure’s on to buy buy and buy more. On the heels of Black Friday (whoever came up with that name was cheekily brilliant), we now have Cyber Week! Everywhere we look there’s some corporate giant waiting to pounce on our wallets.

This mass media marketing is, of course, designed to make us think we must have that new electronic, or fancy pair of shoes. But do we really need it?

The same thing happens in our careers. We’re told we must develop our leadership competencies so we can climb that ladder that beckons us to the top. Managers tell us we must directly supervise employees to become a Director. And the message is, everyone must aim to be a leader. 

If you’re an entrepreneur you’re hearing so many “must” do’s to earn multiple figures or market to our target niche. Business mentors are ripe with recipes for that one path to success.

Like the pre-Christmas mass marketing that dupes us into thinking we must have the toys, gadgets and latest of the latest, so do the manager, mentors, leadership books and business publications demand we need to be and act a certain way.

But are they right? Or are they really telling us how to reach their goals and their vision of success?

I’ve recently had the privilege of coaching a large number of rising stars in a sizeable organization. Their managers tapped them on the shoulder to attend an intensive leadership program. While some of them truly do have the goal of making it up the ladder, others are confused and feeling pressured.

What I find most interesting is when we peel the layers off their onion we find that their own career goals are in contrast to what they believe they’re “supposed” to do as defined by their manager, organization or business mentor.

This is when the confusion sets in. Questions invariably come up:

  • Will the company still value me if I don’t want to move up?
  • Will I be passed over for interesting projects?
  • How will my colleagues view me?
  • What value do I bring to the company?

If you own your business, your questions are likely:

  • Why do I have to follow what everyone else is doing?
  • Will I be a failure if I don’t make 6+ figures?
  • Why does my sales funnel have to look like B-School’s?

These are natural responses and reactions. But what if I asked you, “What’s your definition of your purpose and the legacy you want to share with your organization or business?”

That changes everything!

I know this may seem obvious, but it bares saying: it’s unlikely you’ll ever be happy following what others do or what they expect you to do.

So now what?

While having a coach guide you forward is an asset in gaining clarity and perspective, you can start by tossing aside the previous questions and focus on uncovering your true goals and a path to achieving them. Start by asking yourself:

  • Who is responsible for my career?
  • How important is my work/life balance?
  • Am I passionate about the work I do?
  • Do I like being an expert in my field?
  • Do I crave greater responsibility for and interest in leading others or the bigger picture?
  • Is financial achievement my primary motivation?
  • Am I open to moving laterally versus up, in the organization?
  • Do I actually care what others think of my career direction and me?

The next step is getting clear on your beliefs. Try writing down 5 beliefs you hold regarding work and career. Compare these with your answers to the questions above. Do they align or are there disconnects? These disconnects are critical holes that need your attention; this is the vacancy between what you believe and what you desire. The idea here is to go into this space and honestly ask yourself which is your truth – your so-called belief or your so-called answers to the questions.

Please know there is no right or wrong answer. You’re entitled to your own career goals and a path to reach them. You’re also entitled to question your beliefs.

There are no musts or rigid rules in your career – only your ability to discover what is right for you. Like the catalogue full of enticing trinkets guaranteed to bring you joy and happiness, so too are your managers’ or mentors’ expectations for you – illusions painted by someone else.

The bottom line is – you get to decide. You actually need to decide. Getting clear and forging your true path is no doubt the most important career development step you can take.

Change Ahead? What You can Learn From OD Experts

The biggest reactions I see in clients facing change are fear and eroded confidence. We could debate that the notion that lack of confidence fuels the fear, but really, what does it matter? The fact is that change brings out two emotions we’d all rather keep under wraps.

When a major shift is staring you in the face, you can either run for the hills, face it head on or take a step back and assess what it’ll take for you to understand it, know it, accept it and embrace it?

Tons has been written, researched and TedTalk’ed about change. So, bear with me as I give you a slightly different way to approach it.

We can learn a lot from corporate change management practices. These are designed to mitigate the discomfort and maximize success of large transformation initiatives. There are variations in change management models, but what they share is a structured and intentional approach. It starts with knowing the “why” of the change and turning that into a compelling story. It ends with measuring the success of and sustaining the new reality.

  1. Make the case for change
  2. Identify resources
  3. Build champion coalitions
  4. Scope the change
  5. Communicate the message
  6. Assess the cultural landscape
  7. Listen
  8. Prepare for the unexpected
  9. Face resistance
  10. Sustain the change

Knowing this planned approach is used for wholesale corporate shifts, what if I say, “In order to manage what’s coming ahead, what if you take this structured and intentional approach to your impending change?” It’s likely you’d say “huh?”

And you’d be right to be quizzical. After all, we so often wait until things happen and then react. Think about the last time major change happened to you and the amount of energy you gave away by facing it without a game plan? And let me guess – the resulting experience brought up fear and a strip off your confidence?

So let’s tackle this by applying what the OD (Organizational Development) experts do for wholesale change in companies. Let’s say you switch positions within the same company. You know it’s coming. Your not convinced it’ll be successful even though senior management is behind your transfer.

Let’s follow the change management best practices above to set you up for change success:

  • Making the case for change – get clear on why you’ve been chosen for a new position. What expertise or attitude makes you the choice? Does it make sense? Do you even want the position? If not, ask senior management for more information. At the end of the day, you have to own the why.
  • Identifying resources – what do you need to make the shift and be a success? This can be anything from bringing your administrative support along with you, to a closer parking spot (no harm in asking)
  • Building champion coalitions – Figure out who in senior management is gunning for this change. Think of them as your new mentor(s) and keep them close for support down the line.
  • Scoping the change – Is this a long-term assignment? Does it come with specific deliverables etc.?
  • Communicating the message – What is your self-talk telling you? Is it giving you red flags? Do you need to ask for more information? Pay attention and keep asking questions to get to the bottom of any hesitation.
  • Assessing the cultural landscape – Does this opportunity align with your vision, values, ethics and beliefs? Will the position be a “good fit”?
  • Listening – Avoid making assumptions by paying attention to how this change will play out for others (family, co-workers, executive etc.).
  • Preparing for the unexpected – How will you protect yourself against what you don’t know yet?
  • Facing resistance – Listen to your own intuition and let it guide you safely forward – even if it means turning the position down.
  • Sustaining the change – How will you know when this has been a successful transition? What will that look like?

You’re on the path toward change. You’ve prepared, anticipated and asked the right questions. You’ve turned the unknowns into concrete information. Little is being left to chance. So how is your fear level now? Do you feel ready to step up? If not, go back to the best practices list and look for gaps or niggly bits that still don’t make sense.

For most of us, change isn’t a picnic. But it is part of life and sometimes we don’t have a lot of choice but to move with it. The point here is not to reach 100% buy-in; it’s to do the best preparation possible to set yourself up for success.

And if you need help, reach out to me at eveofchange.

Is this the year for my Promotion?

My question is why do you need to ask such a question? Glib perhaps and we could end the blog right there, but let’s talk about this.

I heard this question from a friend in a large corporate company. Apparently it’s stuck with me.

The way this question is posed makes it seem like the asker is looking to someone else (or the universe) for the answer. If that’s the case, then I’d say you probably have less than 10% chance it is this year, or any year.

A while ago I wrote a blog, Your Career, Your Responsibility. If there’s one thing I learned as a senior manager, it’s that no one is going to hand you a promotion or dream job, nor does the company owe you a thing.

So let’s pretend I’m coaching a client and we’ll call her Clare. She asks, “Is this the year for my promotion?” I let the silence hang for a moment and I repeat the question back to her. Only this time I phrase it, “Is this the year of your promotion?” – with an emphasis on “is”.

Taken aback, she spews a laundry list of why it’s her turn, how she deserves this and that so-and-so got promoted last year. I let her rant for a moment. Silence again.

“What will it take YOU to be promoted?”

It was so quiet I heard the light bulb go on in Clare’s head. In that moment she realized if anyone was going to boost her on the career ladder, it could only be her.

Okay, by now you’re likely wondering where is this all going? We’re into the new fiscal by several months and chances are if you work in government or corporate, this is when the yearly planning happens. Performance plans are laid, budgets set and re-organizations planned.

This is also the time for the Clares of the business world to reset their career path. If a promotion is the desired objective, then here are the key things Clare and others must do for themselves:

  1. Take an environmental scan of the business and industry. Is it growing or stagnant? What are the corporate priorities? Where are the job growth opportunities? Understand the current and five year context.
  2. Ask for informal chat sessions with a senior leader and/or HR Director within your organization. Take an interviewing approach to mine their perspectives on current needs and culture of the organization. Focus on them, not you. It will give you good insights, and let them know you are committed and invested in the organization.
  3. Pull out your past performance reviews and any psychometric personality assessments you’ve done. Start doing research on yourself. Take a dispassionate look and ask: What are this person’s strengths? Do these and their skills match their current position? What would they need to do to develop gaps in their leadership? Are there potential new areas of work they could evolve into?
  4. Mind map all the information gathered so far. Grab an empty sheet of paper and get scribbling. See what comes up – a straight path upward, a lateral detour to get new insights and experience, or a run for the elevator?
  5. Decision time. Is there likely to be openings in your current organization that match your path? If so, then stay close to home and jump on job postings when they’re published. If opportunities are stagnant, the decision to look farther afield is obvious. So get networking and suss out where the lights in the cracks are. This means reaching out to friends, former colleagues and even cold calling people in organizations that just may be expanding.
  6. Don’t just dust off the old resume – re-craft it! Nothing smells like an old running shoe than a resume written for your current job. Let’s face it, with the onset of social media, how we write about who we are and what special talents we have has changed. Google resume writing and click only on blogs written since 2016. Follow the recipe.
  7. Like the running shoe says – just do it! The bottom line is (in case you haven’t figured this out yet) you are responsible for your next career move. Promotions don’t come to those who wait; promotions come to those who go after them. So what’s stopping you?

There you have my seven steps to getting your promotion. But wait, there’s one more. Be really honest with yourself; do you have what it takes for the next step? Not sure? Then go back to step two for feedback from those who see your current performance, and ask for what you need to develop to move ahead. Listen carefully and act upon what they tell you.

The paradox is that just because you want the promotion, doesn’t mean you’re ready for it. But if you know you are, it’s up to you to make it happen!

Must Ask Questions Before Hiring a Coach

I remember the first time I hired a coach. I had no idea what to expect, nor did I know what coaching was really about. Our first meeting was like getting to know a friend. Sure there was trust building through our conversation, and he was super nice. But when I left I didn’t feel challenged.

I returned to our next meeting and again it was more of the same – great listening on his part, but I still wasn’t sure where we were going. Eventually I realized that I had entered into this arrangement without enough information to give me the greatest impact. Was the coaching helpful? Yes, but I believe it would have been way more powerful if I’d asked the right questions at the beginning to make the most of the experience and to really get the “right fit” with my coach.

It’s common practice to interview a coach before signing on. Here are 7 critical questions to ask to make sure you get the most out of your experience – after all, you or your company are paying good money for the service so why not get the absolute best for you?

 

 

  1. What are her credentials and work history?

I don’t know about you, but knowing my coach is trained and credentialed is really important for me. It tells me she isn’t a flash in the pan or someone who’s just decided to hang out a shingle. Knowing my coach’s background is key. I want to know there are common milestones we can both relate to. After all, you wouldn’t hire a CEO who doesn’t have the requisite credentials.

  1. Does she give advice?

If I’m going to work with a coach on my vision and goals, I don’t want advice. I want the focus to be on my story. I’m looking for clarity and direction that works for me. I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of friends waiting to give me advice. For my coach, I want them to listen and ask me the powerful questions so I can figure things out.

  1. Is she available in between sessions if something important comes up?

Life doesn’t just happen in a one-hour time slot every few weeks. It happens   constantly and sometimes we find our self in a sticky situation. If that occurs in between our sessions, I want to know I can email or call her to talk about the issue. That’s what I’m paying my coach to do; be my thinking partner when the going gets tough.

  1. Is she willing to challenge me?

I’m looking for change. I want to shift my perspective and find out what I don’t know. I know this will be tough work, but I’m committed so I want to make sure my coach is comfortable challenging me with tough questions. It’s like peeling an onion and if I’m not challenged we’ll be sitting with a smelly vegetable rather than getting to the essence of the issues.

  1. Will she be my champion?

This is especially critical if my company is paying for my coaching. I want to know that she’s in my corner, and even though there may be common goals with my organization that we work on, the sessions are about my success and me. Having a champion thinking partner will enable me to be open and know that even when the going gets rough, I have her in my corner.

  1. What is the process of coaching and what can I expect will happen?

Would you leap off a cliff edge into a cold river without asking what to expect? Not likely. So why enter into a coaching relationship without knowing what the process will be. I use the Essential C process that clearly describes how the client and I move toward sustained change (check out my Essential C blog). I want to know my clients are in expert hands and that we aren’t just meeting for tea.

  1. Will the coaching sessions be confidential?

This is the most important question of all. Like question five, if my company is paying for the coaching, I need to know that anything we discuss is completely confidential. Confidentiality creates trust and safety, and believe me, coaching can bring out deep ideas and emotions that most of us would prefer not be made public.

Let’s face it, coaching costs money and getting the most from it requires entering into the relationship with eyes wide open. Not every coach will be the right coach for you. So before you hire a coach, take in your list and don’t be afraid to ask your tough questions.

You deserve the “right fit”!

 

 

Business Made Easy? The Differentiator is YOU!

Its no secret that social media has given birth to a new breed of entrepreneurs – the online, work anywhere, small team types. While I think this is a great thing (full disclosure: I’m one of them), I also have some serious hesitations about recommending it to my friends.

Don’t get me wrong; I love going from my bedroom to kitchen to office down the hall with latte in hand. And I answer only to my clients and me. But if you were wondering if it’s easy you would be completely wrong.

Let me explain by telling you how this type of business really works. Over the past couple of years since I began my business I have listened to everyone and their dog on the perfect formula for success, bought “courses” from other on-line entrepreneurs and learned lots I don’t need, and “hung out” with people via social media groups whom I actually have nothing in common with.

Before you click delete, this isn’t a rant. In fact I’m one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet. So stay with me on this.

The truth is, there’s no easy path to being an entrepreneur. It takes time, commitment to your clients/customers, ingenuity, trials and failures, guts (of the intuitive kind), and sheer grit. Kind of fun really.

What I’ve found to be the toughest part though, is figuring out the great differentiator. Cause let’s face it, coaches, wellness gurus, candle makers etc. are a dime a dozen. What do I mean by differentiator?

Having a differentiator means knowing who I am and exactly who and why I attract certain people to work with me – and then capitalizing on it.

I know you know we can’t be everything to everybody. And yet for some reason, the majority of us end up unconsciously trying to do exactly that. Impossible!

So who are YOU? And why do you attract certain people? What are you doing that is so unique and special that others want in on your community?

No worries, you don’t have to answer that right away. Let me tell you how I’m doing it. I’ve ditched the formulas, stopped looking for the magic genie (think Marie F) and scrapped the launch of an e-course that’s ready to roll. Back to the drawing board cause the process just didn’t feel right for me.

Instead, I’m spending my energy to thoughtfully – eyes wide open – look at exactly what I show up with and how that is attractive to others. As a coach, people are buying me, my time and my expertise. So the question I’m faced with is what makes me different? What is that special something extra I bring to my clients?

The weekend before my webinar I had this queasy feeling that a piece of the puzzle wasn’t fitting. With the help of my Angel Amy, we’d spent hours on marketing, sales funnel and webinar in prep for the big launch. Of course it didn’t help I was heading into knee surgery in ten days.

As often happens, my good friend and fellow executive coach Diane called me on the phone Monday morning. After she asked about my launch I fessed up to having second thoughts and a hunch it related to the audience I was marketing to. Without skipping a beat, Diane piped up, “When I think of you, Eve, I think of women executives. Those are your peeps!”

Eureka!

Not only was Diane right, the truth is that I’ve always been a mentor to corporate women. I speak their language. I know what it’s like to climb, fall, dust off and keep going through the glass ceiling.

Even the majority of my current roster of 1×1 clients is new senior managers and executives. So why didn’t I make the connection? The answer is, I’ve been looking at what everyone else is doing and trying out their formulas and connecting with their communities. Guess what? It doesn’t work! It can’t work because I’m not them and they aren’t me.

So now, post-surgery, I’m switching things up to spend more time where it counts. My social media time has dropped significantly. Sure I’m still posting on FB and active in a few FB groups (love the professional Nathalie Lussier, beautiful Jennifer-Dawn Gabiola and super-smart Dr. Kelly Edmonds), but I know that isn’t where my people spend their days. They’re linking up on LinkedIn.

I’m getting back in touch with Eve, the professional, polished, caring, direct, insightful coach with dynamic presence and credibility that makes people feel like they just want to open up (actual clients’ words). This is my differentiator!

I plan to re-launch my course in early fall to my people and continue creating value and offerings based on what they want and need. This time it will be way easier, just like the rest of my business. Because when you know your differentiator and your audience, everything flows.

I’d love to know what your differentiator is. Go ahead and share in the comments below. Not sure? Drop me a line and let’s figure it out!

 

 

 

 

 

Why you should be afraid of the noise

I remember taking a big sigh and letting out a lot of unwanted air when I stopped working for a large organization.

Slipping into my home office every morning with my hot latte felt like heaven – no chitter chatter, no one else’s lunch bag ruffling and best of all, not having to listen to the unsubstantiated theories on who’s going to get then next coveted job.

Fast forward a couple of years and I noticed my shoulders starting to tighten and my head slightly ache by the end of my workday. I don’t keep music on when I work, and my client appointments don’t take up every hour. So what was underneath this tension? These feeling were the same as I used to get at my former workplace.

At first I felt a little panic creep in. Was I headed to toward the big S(tress), god forbid. Was I afraid? You bet!

So then I started to purposely pay attention to what was going on around me. Where was I letting my attention roam? What was I hearing? What was I doing?

Eureka! I discovered that I was, in fact, in the early stages of noise stress.

But how could that be? My ears weren’t hearing banter, shuffling, clicking or muffled sounds of tense board meetings.

The noise was coming from my computer in the form of emails, instant messaging and social media in the form of a constant onslaught of written words aimed at grabbing my attention.

In my quest to feel “connected” with the world, I had managed to follow every successful on-line entrepreneur, coach, techie and writer out there! They all seem so smart and successful. I could learn from each of them. They could be my online mentors. And they offer great free advice.

And don’t get me started on Groupon and other online markets. Like a great fashion or home décor magazine, they have everything I don’t need!

Now I don’t for a second blame anyone else for enabling this noise – and it’s definitely noise – creep into my head. I did it to myself.

But here’s the thing. If you don’t take control over what you let into your inbox and social media feeds, the noise level will just keep rising. It’ll draw you into the care and feeding cycle of social media. Worst of all, it’ll impact your production, your time, your mental health and even your confidence (cause let’s face it, there’s always someone smarter, better looking and more creative in the virtual world).

So what to do? Here are 6 tips I’ve found to dim the clamor and relieve the tension in my shoulders:

1. If you work from home, keep your work email and social media feeds free from on-line shopping carts – after all, if you work in an office for a company you wouldn’t go shopping on work hours (I hope)

2. If you do work for someone else, leave your personal iPhone, or Android safely in the bottom drawer of your desk with the ringer and buzzer off

3. Schedule time once or twice a day to check your social media if you must; otherwise wait till evening – it’ll all still be there

4. Choose to follow only your top 7 on-line mentors – the people that you continually get value from and unsubscribe to everyone else

5. If you do subscribe to a new business/website to get their free opt-in or make a purchase, immediately unsubscribe afterwards. If you think they’ll give you ongoing value with amazing information, keep the subscription BUT drop another website/business off your list that isn’t giving you real value

6. And finally, be mindful of those who follow you and make it worth their while every time you tweet, write a blog, or email – make it your goal to be on their top 7 list!

I’m so glad I got afraid of the noise. It made me realize I only want a community around me who share ideas, believe in the idea of reciprocity, have something relevant to say and most of all, who I can give value to.

Now how about telling me how you manage the noise?

Wait! Before You Jump Jobs


Have you ever found yourself desperate to find and move to a new position or career? Or you’ve been let go (outplaced) and need to find your next corporate home? The pressure is on. You start applying for everything under the sun. You’re sure the “right fit” is just around the corner.

Whoa! What you might really need is a time out. And I don’t mean taking a holiday or battening the hatches.

I can’t tell you the number of clients who’ve found themselves in this spot. And, more importantly, they share one thing in common. In their frantic quest, what they don’t realize is they’re doing more harm than good to themselves.

Let me explain. Ever heard the expression, “I can smell a rat a mile away?” Well, there are two things prospective employers can smell right away in a candidate: low confidence and desperation. Yup, walk into an interview with either odor and you may as well walk right back out the door.

Heck, the best piece of advice I got when I lost my job was, “Don’t even think about applying for positions, let alone search the want ads for at least a few months. You aren’t the best version of yourself right now, so wait until you can bring your best to an interview.”

Here’s the truth: nobody wants to hire someone who has a current dip in their confidence, no matter what the reason. Nor do they want to work with someone desperate. Not that there’s anything bad about being earnest, but desperation tends to make others suspicious.

Moving from one job to another means cleaning up your last job – be it emotional, spiritual or a whole lot of paper to be shredded – and moving forward with clarity, positivity and an open heart. You just can’t take your baggage with you.

So what does it take to realize you are in one or both emotional states and what do you need to do to get past them and job-hunt ready? Remember those clients I mentioned? I’ll tell you exactly what they did.

First, they listened to me asking them to listen to themselves. They discovered their self-talk was less than compassionate and kind.

I asked how they thought they’d appear to prospective employers? For most, it doesn’t take long to get an “aha” – meaning they may not be putting forward the best version of themself.

Net we reacquaint them with their strengths, talents and gifts. We all need to be reminded of how we make the world a better place. Then we move into readjusting their expectations of time. Getting the next job isn’t going to happen right away.

This whole process is done within the construct of coaching (check out my Essential C process). The clients do the work; they have everything they need to figure it all out. I just help steer them to a place where they can clean up and put away any outstanding issues while reminding them they’re capable, experienced and have much to offer.

I know this sounds easy but it takes courage and a lot of self-reflection to move from here to there. Especially since for most of us, identity and self-worth are tied with our work.

I use a metaphor with my clients. It goes like this: when we’re feeling low and all consumed (as we are when our confidence is low and desperation high) we look downward. I’ll ask the client to look up and over the fence toward the horizon. Practicing this throughout the day opens up their chest, breathing and vantage point. It moves them from being an isolated island to being part of something bigger. It’s called perspective.

I know the client is ready to put all their hard work into action when I see them look up at me and I hear “I can do this”.

They can move ahead realistically and with sureness. Having an open attitude improves their chances of finding the “right fit” position.

To recap, if you find yourself lacking in confidence and over the brim with desperation, here are 7 steps to move you from the sour odor of despair to the scent of a front runner:

1. Check if your self-talk is negative, self-sabotaging or unrealistic.
2. Think about how a prospective employer would view you should you interview with them today. Who and what would they see?
3. Talk with a trusted friend or family member about how you view your situation. Or hire a coach to guide and be your champion.
4. Think back to a time you were in a job you enjoyed. What made you successful? Write down the skills, attitude, and service you brought to that position (only the positive ones). Read the list every single day.
5. Take an athlete’s mindset. Set a realistic time frame – like several months – before you start applying for positions. Use the time to train to be successful again.
6. Practice lifting your head and noticing things around you everyday. Whether at home alone or in a crowd of people, notice what is going on way over there.
7. When you hear your own voice say, “I’m good. I’ve got this”, you’re ready to go and create your future.

So go ahead and put on your best scent – you’ve got this!

Why blog posts on leadership can be the worst

Don’t get me wrong – leading for change and inspiring people to act in alignment with their goals AND the company purpose is the stuff dreams are made of. Effective transformational leadership is art. It’s poetry. It’s hard to do and good for everyone when it’s done well.

However, I don’t know about you but I’m suffering from a little bit of leadership best practices fatigue. There are so many articles, so much information, so many little things we can do to be better leaders.

What does that actually mean? What EXACTLY are we talking about when we’re talking about upping our transformational leadership game?

And how do you implement all of those tips that are constantly barraging your inbox and social media networks?

Allow me to introduce some academics to set the scene.

Could you be failing at the top? (and what you can do about it)

It’s lonely at the top.

But, guess what?

It’s also lonely in the middle.

And at the bottom (in the beginning).

Our corporate culture sets leaders up to fail. Why? Because we are encouraged to “go it alone” up the corporate ladder. We compete for positions, we compete for the best projects, and we compete with the exact colleagues that we’re meant to be working with.

On the other hand, there are amazing new Millennial-run businesses that are shifting the values and norms of business.