1. Being an Exceptional Leader Requires Exceptional Empathy

    empathy, leaders, great leaders

    In a world where life is busy, complex, and filled with stress, empathy is the glue that holds great workplaces together.

    Empathy is the ability to detect other’s emotions and understand their perspective. When we feel accepted and validated, it builds trust and leads to better performance. Studies find that empathetic leadership has a direct impact on employee productivity, loyalty, and engagement.

    Empathy isn’t reserved exclusively for our personal lives, either. It’s what you need to comfort a grieving co-worker, get people on board with your ideas, or diffuse tension with your boss, for example.

    You don’t have to be professionally trained to be powerfully empathic. Humans are social beings and our brains come wired for connection. So all you (yes, you!) have to do is give your empathy muscles a workout.

    Steal these lessons I’ve learned as a coach in working with hundreds of clients to become a highly empathetic leader.

    To Feel Empathy, Be Fully Present

    Before I see clients, I create an environment where I feel comfortable and can focus fully. To create empathy in your workplace, you need to do the same.

    Turn off your phone, or at least turn it face down. Silence email notifications. Better yet, leave your laptop behind before going into a meeting. Always give people your complete attention and respect. Wouldn’t you want the same?

    Master the Art of Active Listening

    As a coach, my responsibility is to help clients move past roadblocks so that they can take action to best support their goals.

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  2. 3 Types of Energy Vampires and How to Deal with Them

    energy vampires, drag you down, how to deal

    You work hard, and there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done, it seems. You do everything you can think of to prioritize, schedule time for important things and work efficiently. Whatever is within your control, you’ve mastered it. Often, you’d be able to get more done if it weren’t for that co-worker, too. You may be in an unfortunate situation to have regular contact with an “Energy Vampire.”

    What is an Energy Vampire?

    These are people who seem to get your attention at the most inopportune times. They draw you into a conversation that leaves you feeling exhausted. You’ve probably tried to graciously get away, but you feel trapped.

    An energy vampire may interrupt you at every turn, be the purveyor of office gossip or take way too long to leave your desk because they have “one more thing” that is so important. You leave the interaction feeling depleted and off-kilter.

    You can’t change other people, but you can take actions to get back control of your time. Here are practical steps you can take to minimize the distraction and keep your energy protected from this type of difficult co-worker.

    Types of Energy Vampires at Work

    First, you need to know is what you’re dealing with. Energy vampires come in many forms, but a few types are more common than others.

    The Melodramatic

    This person has a poor concept of personal boundaries. They aren’t aware of what’s appropriate to share at work and what isn’t.

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  3. 3 Ways to Apply the Kaizen Philosophy to Keep You Thriving

    Kaizen, daily routine, philosophy, sustainable

    In the years following World War II, American auto executives visited Toyota manufacturing plants in Japan to examine how the company was able to produce so many vehicles so quickly. They discovered a humanizing philosophy driving the manufacturer’s innovation, one that intrinsically motivated workers to change process, procedures, and themselves for the better.

    Instead of punishing employees for errors, Toyota encouraged workers to stop production at any time to fix a problem or provide suggestions to management about how to reduce waste and improve efficiency. As a result, Toyota’s factories experienced fewer costly errors and benefitted from consistent improvement.

    This philosophy, Kaizen, is one that the American executives took home and has since revolutionized multiple industries, from healthcare to software development.

    What is the Kaizen Approach?

    Put simply, the Kaizen approach is based on the belief that continuous, incremental improvement adds up to substantial change over time. When teams or groups implement Kaizen, they circumvent the upheaval, unrest, and mistakes that often go hand-in-hand with major innovation. It’s fitting that the Japanese word kaizen translates to “good change.”

    While Kaizen is typically applied to industrial processes like supply chain and logistics, it’s useful in the context of personal productivity and work habits, too. Think of it as an antidote to every “go big or go home” motivational trope you’ve seen in your newsfeed.

    Kaizen is less about hustle and working more, and more about thoughtful adjustments, accepting failure and applying learnings in order to work better.

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  4. 5 Ways to Battle Negative Thinking and Win

    fight negative thinking, AWARE, grow self confidence

    No one feels good after receiving harsh feedback or making a mistake. It’s natural to feel bad about yourself when you face a setback. But for many people, negative thinking can seep into your mind in other sneaky ways.

    Why We Have Negative Thoughts

    Perhaps you feel like an imposter as if you’re not qualified or cut out for your job. Or perhaps you spend a lot of time consumed by comparison. You worry that you’re falling behind. You judge yourself against colleagues, friends, and strangers on the internet who appear to be more successful than you.

    Negative thoughts are natural. No one can be positive 100 percent of the time. Mindset missteps are common among even the brightest, most well-meaning people. It’s simply part of being human, an evolutionary response designed to keep you safe and protected.

    But problems arise when your irrational thoughts run amok. It can not only interfere with your productivity and focus but also limit your success. Recognizing and releasing unhelpful thoughts is critical to letting go of the stress they bring and maximizing your potential for creativity and success.

    An effective way to work with negative thoughts is by following a simple mindfulness exercise, AWARE, which stands for allow, watch, act, repeat, expect.

    Here’s how it works:

    5 Ways to Battle Negative Thinking … and Win

    Allow

    Allow your thoughts and feelings to come and go like the weather. This helps you accept that negative thoughts are a temporary response to a situation, not a sign that you’re a bad or incapable person.

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  5. 4 Things You Should Never Apologize for at Work

    Alternatives to Saying "I'm Sorry" at Work

    “Sorry, could you just look at this?”

    “Sorry to bother you but…”

    “I’m sorry, let me move that.”

    Why We Over-apologize

    Apologies, when warranted, are a sign of empathy in the workplace. But over-apologizing— or excessively saying sorry when you don’t need to — is a bad habit that can undermine your authority. More importantly, it hurts your self-esteem.

    Recently, there’s been a great deal of talk and controversy about women apologizing too often in the workplace. Research shows that women do tend to say sorry more than men, which is partially the result of socialization. While young girls are raised to be polite, deferential, and studious, young boys are encouraged to be bold and more confident. As adults, women perceive themselves as making more mistakes than men, and therefore, having more to be sorry for.

    Many of the women I work with as an executive coach dislike their tendency to be over-apologetic. While they rightfully bristle at the thought of their language being policed, these women nevertheless realize that their habit of saying sorry too much stems from a lack of confidence. They recognize that excessive apologizing may reflect internal doubts they hold about their own capabilities.

    Oftentimes, they tell me that they can’t help but over-apologize. The habit has become so ingrained over the years that the words seem to come out automatically, mostly because they don’t know what else to say. These words act more like filler than anything else.

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  6. 5 Ways to Streamline Your Efforts and Gain Measurable Success

    Ways to Productize Yourself

    You’ve spent years honing your craft, learning the industry, and perfecting your methods. You’re the consummate expert. A specialist through and through.

    There’s tremendous value in being a go-to resource and becoming indispensable at work. But, reaching new levels of success requires letting go of certain day-to-day tasks.

    Delegation, while an essential part of leading effectively, can be difficult — especially if you’re a detailed-oriented person who truly enjoys execution.

    Last week my client Emily shared that she felt stuck in this expert-to-leader trap.

    For years, she played a big role in project management, despite being the CEO of her small company. Now that the company was entering a growth stage, she realized her hands-on approach was no longer sustainable. She needed more time, white space, and mental clarity to focus on the company’s vision and strategy.

    I posed one simple question to her:

    How can you productize yourself?

    Productizing yourself comes down to creating systems that allow you to streamline your efforts. Your expertise can spread without your direct involvement, freeing you up to focus on the bigger picture.

    In other words, I was asking Emily to think about how she could scale the knowledge locked away in her head to make it more widely accessible.

    If you find yourself in a similar situation — whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, or a manager moving to leadership — here are ways to scale your personal knowledge in a way that gives you back time while ensuring your expertise has an impact.

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