What’s the work you always put off doing? The really big important stuff, right? It’s easier to knock off a few little tasks. Makes you feel productive! But avoiding larger projects and strategic thinking can be a career killer for anyone wanting to grow their career. So often those are the projects that get us noticed.

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One of the senior leaders I coached today told me a classic failed delegation story: “I delegated some research work to one of my junior staff members. I asked her to follow up with a client who needed us to assess the effectiveness of their web site. I gave her the client’s phone number, asked her to call and get the URL, then look over the web site and give me a report on what she found on the web site. A week later, she emailed me ‘Here’s the URL you requested.’ “

You can almost hear her sigh of frustration, can’t you?

I find as I coach leaders that there are very specific elements that go into effective delegation. Without these, delegating becomes a frustrating cycle of failed attempts to get work done that leave you wishing you’d just done it yourself. Maybe even questioning the competency of your staff. Read more

“You’re not adding enough value in meetings”. Just in the last year I’ve coached close to a dozen people who all got the same feedback from their manager. All turned out to be introverts on the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). As I asked more questions about each situation, I realized “not adding enough value” was code for “we want to hear you talk more”.

One of the biggest differences between extroverts and introverts is how we process and share information. Extroverts talk to think. Introverts think before they talk. For many introverts, trying to talk in a team meeting is like trying to jump on a fast moving merry go round set in motion by the extroverts in the room. The extroverts are happily processing their thoughts out loud. The introverts are listening intently, trying to process everything they’re hearing, find their own insight or opinion, then find the right words to express it. Read more

It doesn’t seem to matter whether the economy is booming and work is pouring in, or the economy is down and you’re scrambling to keep clients and get everything done with a lean staff. There is a perpetual Big Squeeze for time. Nearly every business leader I coached last week was facing the same dilemma: where do you find more time when you’ve been over-committed for years and there’s nothing left of your life to squeeze more time from?

One of the executives I spoke with last week described how her organization had advised everyone to block out 30% of their time for the unexpected. Sounded like a wise plan to me. But she reported her “unexpected” workload regularly far exceeded that 30% figure. When I probed on exactly what the unexpected work looked like, it turned out that recent layoffs and reorganizations were causing even more impromptu 1:1 meetings and phone calls than usual. “It’s where I lose the most time every day,” she told me. “People drop by my office unexpectedly, my calendar is crowded with 1:1 meetings. I never know how long these things are going to take. They eat up my whole day.”

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In a previous post, Visions that Inspire Right Action, I talked about the purpose of vision and how a great vision informs teamwork. How do you actually write a great vision?

Ask yourself or your team the following questions and put the answers in a bullet list. Edit and organize for readability. There’s your vision. I find the best visions are typically one-half to full-page in length.

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Just got off the phone with a coaching client who has goals that rely completely on her ability to influence others to do the work. We looked at how she could create a focused, intentional communication strategy to guide what she says to whom and how best to do it.

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Over the 20 years I’ve been doing business coaching and meeting facilitation work, stakeholder management is one of the top factors I’ve seen lead to success or failure.

One particular experience stands out in my mind. I was asked to help facilitate a final agreement-building session on changes to a process that would impact multiple departments. A cross-functional team had worked hard for months putting together a redesigned process. They were excited to share the final proposal with key stakeholders and get their commitment to dedicate staff hours to help implement the plan.

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All introverts I coach face the same challenge: speaking up. For some of us, this is a challenge in situations with something at stake, like speaking up at work in front of very senior leaders or making a presentation to a group. What’s at stake is usually “sounding stupid”–tripping over our words, forgetting what we wanted to say, or saying something we worry will expose what we don’t know. For others of us, speaking up is a regular challenge; we find it challenging to speak up in team meetings, at social gatherings like parties and networking events, even in 1:1 conversations with some of our extroverted friends.

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Creating mission and vision statements are basic building blocks of any good business plan, team launch or annual strategic planning process. So basic that I notice a lot of organizations going through the motions of creating or updating them without thinking about how the vision can be used. The result is often a bland one-liner that says everything and nothing (“to put our widget on every web site”), or a dense paragraph of sentences that knits together everyone’s input, reads like a stream of business clichés, and again says everything and nothing—like “to be #1 in our market space through best practices and leading edge technology…” You know this vision and can fill in the rest of it, right?

A great vision includes details that inform and inspire right action.

A great vision paints a picture in people’s minds of what things will look and feel like when your team accomplishes its mission.

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“Hi, I’m Jane, I’m an introvert, and I’m networking challenged.” In the comedy routine of my mind, I feel like there should be an introvert support group where we introduce ourselves. If a group like that exists, I’m sure it would be small, just the way we like things.

Like several of my coaching clients, I need to get out and network as part of my business. I find it’s an activity that in the past I have avoided, postponed and outright dreaded. The thought of walking into a room of strangers, all happily talking and networking away, scares the hell out of me. Read more