Tag Archive for advancement

Self-Discipline for Success

Discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t want to do, in order to get a result that you really want to get.

Andy Andrews

Even as I write this, I can feel the urge to postpone it until later. When I think about self-discipline, I must smile. My journey to self-discipline has been lifelong. I grew up in a family where there were no expectations of me. I didn’t have to do anything, not make my bed, not wash the dishes, not take out the trash. Not a particularly good environment for learning self-discipline. I developed no self-discipline muscle. My discipline and work ethic were strongly influenced by the role model set by my husband, who has an incredible work ethic and self-discipline. It has been a lifelong challenge to develop and maintain self-discipline. My definition of self-discipline is doing what is necessary when you don’t want to or when you don’t feel motivated. In fact, if you wait to feel motivated the action may never come!

When I became an entrepreneur and started my business, it was essential that I develop self-discipline, as I no longer had a boss. There was no one to monitor what I did. The only demands were the ever-present deadlines for sending proposals, creating programs, and presentations. Self-discipline is critical for every aspect of one’s life! Self-discipline is necessary to succeed in your career, to eat healthy, to exercise consistently, to keep organized, to be a responsible parent (human and pet) etc.

I worry about children raised today, especially those with helicopter parents. When a child has all their actions monitored, they never learn to create their own self-discipline. If mom and dad are responsible for you sitting down and doing your homework, what’s going to happen when you go off to college? Flunking out of school is a difficult result of no self-discipline, one that has ramifications far into the future.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of the “carrot” when it comes to developing self-discipline because it’s darn hard! Here are some “carrots”:

  • People who have strong self-discipline are people that reach their goals. It’s so much easier to stay focused on your goals when you are performing the actions necessary. There is no doubt that when you reach your goals it can make you a happier person. One goal reached, leads to multiple goals reached. Discipline is the antidote to procrastination.  I’m not saying there will not be setbacks and failures but when you have stayed the course that gives you time to shift when necessary. 
  • People with self-discipline consistently have higher self-esteem. When you do what you say you’re going to do, you are likely to be proud of yourself. When you see yourself as a person who has good habits and character, the result is a stronger sense of self. When I do my Fast Five (five-minute review of the day), and my discipline has been in gear, I hear myself saying aloud “Way to go!”  This pops up for my clients, too.  They are eager to share that they have been on task and succeeded.  They love hearing me exclaim, “Way to go” for them.  It’s fantastic to celebrate these wins with them.  When someone else knows how challenging your successes have been, it makes it even sweeter to celebrate together!
  • You will find your energy level soaring as you develop more self-discipline. It is incredibly energy sapping to constantly be thinking about what needs to be done and not do it. Often you put more energy into the worry and concern about it than it would take to just get it done. When you do what is in your plan, it can free you for time for yourself and that’s a great payoff. If I am not doing what I know I need to, I hear the loop in my head all day long admonishing myself to do it that’s exhausting.
  • Finally, life looks better on the other side. Small sacrifices now lead to better outcomes in the future. I think about everyone I know who has ever authored a book. Sitting down at their keyboard chapter by chapter has ultimately created a book. That book is a fantastic ticket to credibility and Guru status in your industry. Plus, it can be a huge revenue generator. Having written four books, I assure you it has taken tremendous self-discipline for me and everyone else I know.  This applies to all your career goals. For example, with clients who are looking for that next great position, it means redoing their resume. Discipline allows for the time to reformat, tweak, and polish their resume. It’s unsettling to see a job posting and know your resume is not the best it could be.   

Wow, discipline has a ton of benefits, right? If there is such a huge payoff, why don’t you do it? Well, it’s just darn hard but if you want to start strengthening your self-discipline muscles, read Kay’s corner on how to get rolling on this important skill.

If you are painfully aware that self-discipline is a roadblock in your career success, don’t despair. It is possible to create this behavior no matter what stage of life you are in. If you would like assistance in creating the self-discipline you need, email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we can set up a complementary 45-minute phone conversation to see if my coaching could be valuable for you.

Understanding and Transforming the Need to Please

Strains of the Rick Nelson song, Garden Party, float through my head, “You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”  If you are not familiar with the song, take a minute to listen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PECmjB9df0w. Am I being overly dramatic calling this article, Death by People-Pleasing? I don’t think so! There is a death of self when your very identity hinges on whether others approve of you and like you. This people-pleasing behavior will be pervasive in both your personal and professional life. How did you get in this pickle in the first place? What was it like in your home growing up? Was there addiction? You tried your best to appease them in hopes the addictive behavior would stop. Was there intense controlling behavior, anger, rage, or another dysfunction? As children, we try to manage our environment, as best we can. We may have the illusion of believing that if we are loveable enough, good enough, or pleasing enough, we can “fix” our world. That need to have an o.k. world follows us into adulthood and into the workplace.

Oprah, very astutely calls people-pleasing behavior, “the disease to please.”  Don’t get me wrong, we all want to be liked, hope to be kind, and desire to be helpful but when you cross the line into people-pleasing there is a high price to pay. You may already know that this is an issue for you, but others may be unsure. Take this quick assessment:

Do You?

  • Struggle to say “no”
  • Overly care what others think
  • Feel guilty when not being compliant
  • Worry that others will think you are mean or selfish
  • Agree to things you don’t want to do
  • Constantly say you are sorry
  • Live for approval
  • Take undo blame
  • Have no free time
  • Neglect your own needs
  • Take on work of others to the detriment of your workload
  • Match the opinion or behavior of others when it’s not sincerely yours

Sometimes the consequences must be drilled into our head to make a change. Long standing behaviors aren’t easy to change, I get that. Here are consequences of workplace people-pleasing behavior:

  • Exhaustion
  • High stress levels
  • Constant anger
  • Lack of happiness
  • Resentment
  • No time for self
  • Being mistake prone
  • Career stalling or derailment

Author, Mel Robbins wrote, “Letting things slide to keep the peace only starts a war inside of you.”  No one want a war inside. How do you begin to change this behavior? When you have been people-pleasing for a long time, it may be hard to know what you want anymore. That’s a good place to begin. Sit down at your keyboard or a journal identifying things you want and need at work. You want more time to have your projects be excellent, more respect from your upper management or colleagues, time to attend professional development opportunities, shorter work hours, etc. Knowing what you want can motivate you to make changes. It’s really o.k. to have people not be thrilled with your choices, let them be disappointed, or surprised – you will survive. Heck, you may be surprised that their reaction is less dramatic than expected. It’s really o.k. to have a difference of opinion. It’s really o.k. to not always be agreeable. How do you morph this ingrained behavior? Boundaries will be your new watchword. Look at the tips in Kay’s Consulting Corner to start on some basic boundary setting. If your career is suffering because of people-pleasing behavior, ongoing coaching would be beneficial.

Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.

Reaping the Benefits of Rewards

When you read the word “reward,” I am betting your mind immediately went to you rewarding employees, or rewards you might receive from your employer, or rewards you might give to a client for a referral. Did rewarding yourself jump into your brain? The perspective of rewarding yourself may be foreign to you. Maybe you grew up in a family that espoused making your bed, doing the dishes, or taking out the trash were chores you should either want to do or do because you were a member of the family.  Being rewarded for doing these things was not something your family valued. Regardless of the source, somehow you may have received the message that you do not deserve rewards, accomplishing the goal is all the reward you should need. In a utopian world, that might fly but you live in the real world in which changing habits and reaching goals can be tough! There exists a mountain of research for using rewards to reinforce positive behavior. You may long for kindergarten, where you a received a gold star for not eating paste! Rewards can be one of the most powerful gifts you give yourself and others. Today’s parents have used rewards with children very effectively and we can use them as a model for ourselves.  There are many parenting websites that focus on changing children’s behavior through rewards. The Verywell Family parenting site sums it up well:  https://www.verywellfamily.com/behaviors-that-respond-well-to-reward-systems-1094749. Adults can use the same concept. I have a client, who is a business owner, with some new sales goals for her business in 2022. The one major obstacle is getting to the paperwork she hates. That paperwork is necessary to keep the business running and to reaching those goals, but it is boring! She’s an extrovert who is excited and energized by others, being alone doing paperwork is drudgery. We have developed a reward system to get that necessary task done.

Every behavior you want to change, every new habit you want to develop, every goal that you seek can be reinforced by rewards. However, for this to work there may be beliefs you have to let go. You deserve to let go of the belief that to reward is juvenile and to reward is self-indulgent. Why fight what works? Here are components that are part of the system we have devised for her. She is not unique; I have created a similar type of system with many clients. Our first step was to identify what would feel like a reward to her. Then she identified that an hour of paperwork a day will be necessary. She plans to track that and at the end of the week she will assess how she has done. For each daily hour of paperwork, she will give herself a star. If she has five stars at the end of the week, she will go to T.J. Maxx and purchase an outfit; three stars and she’s off to purchase a desk accessory; one star earns her a new eyeliner.

Here are three components to remember when setting up a system like this:

  • The rewards must feel important to YOU! This is your plan, and you don’t have to justify it to anyone.
  • The rewards must be timely, the shorter the gap of time between the behavior and the reward the better.
  • The rewards must be consistent, skipping a reward will diminish the effect of the reinforcement.

This is something I do myself. I own a Michael Kors purse that was purchased as a reward. It is a constant reminder of reaching an important goal.

There are all sorts of challenges you have in the workplace. A toolbelt full of tools is an asset in overcoming those obstacles. Using rewards is one more tool at your disposal.

If you are facing many challenges in your career and not reaching your goals in the workplace, guidance is only a click or a phone call away.

Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.

Breaking the Rules for Success

At my core, due to my upbringing, I am a rule follower. I can hear my mother now, “Good little girls are polite, look pretty, wait their turn.”  Can you hear your own mother, father, grandmother, schoolteacher? It’s a common lament of women, we have been taught to follow the rules. I am not proposing anarchy. Or am I? I love the quote from Katharine Hepburn, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”  I was always considered a “Goody Two Shoes”! In 6th grade, we were allowed to walk home for lunch but not go anywhere else.  One day a group of kids decided to walk to a local café for lunch, strictly forbidden, and I summoned all my courage and went.  Someone ratted us out and we were to be punished. I was giddy to be part of the rebel group. However, when the time came time for the punishment, our principal didn’t put me in detention because she couldn’t believe I would be part of the insurrection. I was devastated and begged to get detention like all the rest of the gang. This shows how entrenched I was in following the rules. It has been a lifelong battle to resist this upbringing, as it can be such a career obstacle.

If you want to maximize your career, you must learn to break some rules for success. I would love to tell you I can do this blithely, but not so. I still feel some anxiety and queasiness, but I do it anyway! Sometimes I break a rule just to prove to myself that I still have it in me. Here are examples from my speaking career:

  • I always advise, in advance, how a room is to be arranged. If you ever train or speak you know that this is essential. The seating can make or break a training. When real life sets in, the seating is often wrong. When I can find staff to fix the problem, I direct them in how to make changes. Sometimes, I change it myself. When I comment on this to others, they often express concern that I haven’t asked permission. My ultimate responsibility is to assure the event is successful, if it means breaking some rules, so be it.
  • Meeting planners will sometimes request I speak on the stage and behind the lectern. That can be the kiss of death in connecting with an audience. I now will not even agree to it. In the past, there have been situations where I agreed but invaded the audience space anyway. That’s a rule I love to break.
  • Have you noticed that conference participants often spread throughout a meeting room? For energy, connection, and activities it’s important for an audience to stay together. Consequently, I direct participants where to sit. In my traveling bag, I carry caution tape. Think of the type you see at construction sites. Taping off seats that I do not want occupied is common for me. I have had people shadow me to learn speaking and training techniques. It’s not uncommon to have someone ask, “Did THEY say this is ok?”  I didn’t ask permission and don’t intend to. However, I will explain why it was necessary.

What are some of the rules that it makes sense to break?

  1.  “You must pay your dues.”  Just because you are new or young, doesn’t mean you have to wait to rise to the top or ask for the plum opportunities. Are you great at what you do? Then jump over everyone else. Might you hack people off? Yep! Might people say, “Who does she think she is?” Yep! Do it anyway. 
  2. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  There’s a proven way to ensure mediocrity! Shake things up, break that rule. Try new things, that’s how organizations evolve, stay ahead of the competition, and innovate.
  3. “Wait your turn.”  Most recently, I have a couple of clients that have held back on asking to go to conferences because no one in their organization was sent during the pandemic. This seemed pushy to them. Push away! All that can happen is you hear, “No.”
  4. “Newbies keep your thoughts to yourself.”  Diversity of age and tenure are smart ways companies are hiring. Organizations desperately need latest ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. Break that rule soon. You do not need to wait. In fact, when coaching women in their first professional position, I nudge them to speak up early in their career. Don’t wait until an arbitrary amount of time has passed. Make your mark from the beginning.
  5. “Work and play don’t mix.”  Men have figured out this is ludicrous! It is the essence of the “Ole Boys Club”.  Making business contacts and deals on the golf course isn’t just a story, it’s real.  Some of my best opportunities and clients have come from conversations in social settings. I recently struck up a conversation at the nail salon with the woman next to me and it looks like an article for a magazine will be the result. 

These are just a few of the rules that are worth breaking. You will think of more rules that apply to your situation. These obviously are not ethical violations or legal issues. These are perspectives, traditions, unwritten rules. Frequently, they are sexist at the foundation. If we didn’t eventually break the rules, women would still be wearing hats, gloves and dresses every day when they left their home. I think of Amelia Earhart, the stir she caused in breaking the rules of attire. She wore PANTS! She flew airplanes!  She was a rule breaker! Thank you, Amelia and all the other women who have gone before us breaking rules so we could thrive in life and in the workplace.

Are you sabotaging your career as a rule follower? It’s not your fault, you are just following the rules, LOL! If your career is being held back due to adherence to some unwritten, arbitrary set of rules, or other behaviors, there is help. Let’s talk. Did you know that High-Heeled Success offers 45-minute complimentary telephone consulting? Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call 513-561-4288 to set a time to assess your situation. 

Sounding Powerful and Professional

Some of you may react to this article with a shrug of your shoulders.  You may be thinking, “As long as I do a good job and know my stuff, I will succeed.”  Though doing a good job and knowing your area of expertise is critical, how you express your knowledge can be a game changer.  Let’s face it, women have a disadvantage in the workplace.  Period.  It is in your best interest to have everything possible working for you.  That is what I strongly recommend that you start paying close attention to your language.  If you recorded yourself today, would you hear a woman who sounds assertive, confident, and powerful?  Maybe not.  In the media, I have been quoted saying, “Every time you open your mouth it’s a speaking opportunity.”  When YOU open your mouth, are your words advancing your career or undermining it?  You likely are presenting department reports, or pitching to a potential client, or speaking on a podcast. Unfortunately, you may have learned verbal habits that undercut your power in each of those situations.  They are so entrenched you don’t notice you are using them.  Sometimes you use these phrases intentionally, in an effort to be accepted, soften the blow, or seem less aggressive.  Regardless of the foundational reason, it’s still causing you to shoot yourself in your High-Heeled foot. 

There are many power-robbing phrases that I hear women use.  The focus is going to be on three in this article:  hedges, add-ons, and the indecisive “I”.  Curb your inclination to be defense about this, I am not scolding or berating you, instead guiding you.  We need every tool in our career tool belt.   

  • Eliminate hedges:  By the time you are presenting at a meeting, to a client, or are on a Podcast, you have thought things through.  You have a stance, perspective, or recommendation to make.  You see it as the right direction.  You have crunched the numbers, done research, or conferred with others.  It’s not mere opinion.   You may sound unsure, subjective, or tentative if you use hedges.  Hedging may be your attempt at reducing rejection, but it has the opposite result.  Consider these hedge statements:
    • “This may not be important, but…”
    • “I just wanted to say…”
    • “In my opinion…”
    • “This may not be right, but…”

“This may not be right, but I think shifting the marketing plan to a new target audience could be beneficial.”  No doubt you recognize how the hedge under sells your well thought out direction.  

  • Eliminate add-ons:  Add-ons, phrases added at the end of sentences, are frequently reflective of female learned behavior growing up.  Keep the peace, don’t ruffle feathers, get along!  Add-ons may be a sign of your leadership style.   If you have a more collaborative than commanding leadership style, you are apt to use these phrases.  If you are seeking collaboration, there are better verbal tools to use then add-ons.  Your add-ons may be more a sign of easing your discomfort with taking a position.  If you seek changing the marketing strategy, own it.  This is the time to be persuasive, impactful, and convincing.  You will recognize these add-ons:
    • “don’t you think?”
    • “right?”
    • “okay?”
    • “isn’t it?

“Changing the target market is aligned with the company vision, right?”  This add-on opens the door for controversy and dissent.  Your collaborative efforts, fact-finding, and alternate perspectives need to come well before you take a stance.

  • Eliminate I think and I feel:  One of the disadvantages women have had for decades is the belief by many men that women are too emotional in the workplace.  You see it in every industry, companies small and large, and in politics.  In 2019, an analysis by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found 1 in 8 Americans believe women are not as emotionally suited as men to serve in elected office.  This presents a significant barrier for women.  We don’t want to do anything that reinforces this bias.  Starting our sentences with the words “I think…” or “I feel…” is self-sabotaging.  You can readily see the issue.  By using this verbal habit, you are suggesting to others that this is merely an opinion, or you are speaking from an emotional response.  Sometimes we DO have an emotional response to and issue and that may need to be expressed.  But by starting every other sentence with I think, or I feel can be disastrous. 

“I feel changing the target market will be align it with the company vision.”  Are you convinced this is a valuable direction?  If you are, say so.  Surely, this is not just your gut talking.  You’ve done your homework, say so.  Followers of my articles, keynotes, workshops, and books will recognize tis quote from author and Pediatrician, Sally E. Shaywitz, MD, “To be someone, a woman doesn’t have to be more like a man, but she does have to be more of a woman.”  Women are strong and powerful, let your language reflect that strength and power.

Are you concerned that you are undercutting your career with your speaking style?  Many women face this problem, and it can be solved.  If these and other challenges are preventing you from your goals in the workplace, guidance is only a click or a phone call away.  Email Kay@highheeledsuccess.com or call (513) 561-4288 and we will set up a time for a complimentary 45-minute telephone consultation.

The Art of Making More Money

This article starts with celebration!  One of my clients just received a fantastic raise, big raise!  She is very smart, works her tail off, is an amazing leader, etc.  Yet, she has been underpaid throughout the time she has been in her current role.  There are many reasons women are underpaid in the workplace, including systemic bias and sexism.  Additionally, many women struggle with the “ask”, my client did.  It took a systematic approach to having this wonderful celebration.  Are you struggling with the “ask”, too? I get it.  One of the personal stories I tell in a keynote is about messages received in childhood regarding asking. If you had been with as an 8-year-old child on that sweltering July day, you would have seen my grandmother and me go into Niebuhr’s general store in the tiny town of Cobden, IL.  Imagine a scene right out of a movie set in the early 1900’s.  Picture the old scales to weigh produce and barrels of bulk candy.  Out of one eye I spied a bin of lemon drops, my favorite.  I was just ready to ask for some when the proprietor commented to my grandmother, “Helen, it’s so refreshing to have Kay in the store, she isn’t like other kids who demand candy from their parents the minute they walk in the door.”  My grandmother said, “You are so right, Kay is such a sweet little thing, she never asks for anything.”  Any “ask” that was in me died on that old wooden floor.  I still struggle with asking for what I want, so I get it.  However, I have made huge strides, my clients have made great strides and you can, too.  Never fear, I am going to break the process down for you.  Will this guarantee that you get a raise?  Nope!  However, I can GUARANTEE you likely will NOT receive one if you do not ask.

What keeps you from the ask?  Let’s break it down:

  • Women having traditionally been taught not to ask for much of anything!  From childhood, you may have been taught that powerful message.  Don’t ask for the last roll at dinner, don’t ask for the larger bedroom, don’t ask for a larger office, don’t ask for more money.  Asking has been equated to greed and being greedy, especially for women, is a no-no.  Heck even talking about money in many families is a no-no.  Often the lack of conversation about money causes intense conflict with family members when someone passes away.  Lack of conversations about money prior to marriage, can create problems that end in divorce.  Lack of conversations about money can create difficulties with teens headed to college.  The result may a significant discomfort with asking for more money, whether you work in a corporate job, a small business, a non-profit or you own your own business. For entrepreneurs, raising fees can bring out all the challenges listed above.  I challenge you to consider the messages you received about money growing up and are still receiving.  You must break through those messages to be paid what you are worth. 

  • For some women, another obstacle is the ongoing challenge of worth.  Many of the women I talk with struggle with their value in the workplace.  There often is a focus on what they don’t have versus their contributes to their workplace.  You may have a laundry list of what is lacking: 1) time in the role 2) an advanced degree 3) additional certifications, you get my drift.  It is essential to reframe this conversation.  Reframe the conversation around value, we will focus on this in the next bullet If you can objectively see that there are some gaps, work on remedying those.  Perhaps take an online course, write some articles for LinkedIn, join a professional organization for your field.  These actions indicate your willingness to invest in value to your company.

  • The third leg of this money stool is your approach.  This approach MUST be based on the value you are bringing. What value do you bring to the workplace?  Have you cut costs? Have you increased revenue?  Have you solved problems?  Refocus on your contributions and what you do have.  If you are unsure about what you have and are contributing, go to my website: https://www.highheeledsuccess.com.  Visit the Library tab, our newsletters are archived there and read the March/April 2019 newsletter, pay special attention to the third bullet in Kay’s Corner regarding documenting your successes/value.  Keep in mind, your salary “ask” is NOT a conversation about your needs!  Maybe you have a compassionate boss who really cares about your needs, but most raises are calculated on what you bring to the plate.  Coming to the conversation with your needs only makes you look needy, not valuable.

Create a Different Filter for Workplace Interactions

If you’re someone who Is easily put-off, feels you’re being criticized, overwhelmed or picked-on at work, maybe it’s time for you to learn how to not take things so personally in the workplace.  To be blunt, it’s time to grow a thicker skin and grow up!  Put your big girl pants on!

I’ve seen this issue surface with coaching clients many times, and once you realize how to have a thicker skin, the benefits are huge.  When you can be pragmatic and less emotional, you will be seen as more of a professional, as someone who is tougher in the workplace and capable of playing with the big dogs.

A certain toughness will make you less vulnerable to the constant changes that can simply be part of everyday office politics and workplace changes.  For example, if you’re used to doing a project a certain way and parameters change, there’s less stress on you as the individual if you can roll with the changes.

Taking things too personally also takes a toll on your productivity.  For example, you are more creative and productive when you take things less personally.  The reality is, it takes mental and sometimes physical energy just to get through the day when you take things too personally.

And, the risks are too great, when you outwardly display your inability to put your big girl pants on.  When you respond to perceived slights and show that you’ve taken something personally, you’re seen as someone who is defensive at best and worst case, you’re perceived as a whiner.  Unfortunately, you can be seen as someone who is not willing and ready to grow in your professional development.

Bottom line, you live in intense fear and stress, maybe to the point of paranoia, when you take things personally in the workplace.  To help you learn how to deflect these unnecessary and sometimes harmful reactions in the workplace, remember some of these important realizations in your everyday dealings at work:

  • People want what they want and you may be an obstacle to what they want — this is not about you, you may simply be getting in the way
  • Workplace is the business of business and getting a good result — if you’re there to do a job and you’re not performing or producing, you’re obstructing business
  • It’s everywhere — you’re not going to move to a new position, a new job, a new state, a new country and find a place that’s different

When taking things personally, a common first instinct is to get a new job.  You need to manage that response and simply learn to own your behaviors and take things less personally.  I’m here to tell you this isn’t easy — we are who we are, flawed and growing all the time.

For example, I had a coaching client come to me, because she felt persecuted at work.  She reported crying about everything and left in tears every day.  One of the first things she said was, “I’m constantly being criticized by my boss.”  Her issues showed up right away in her interactions with me, making this criticism seem justified.

Unfortunately, she was late for coaching calls and didn’t complete her assessments.  She would agree to everything I suggested, then she didn’t have it done.  These were the exact same things she was hearing from her boss.  She was always late, didn’t get work done, and always had an excuse.  Yes, she would always agree and say, “Yes, I can get that done.”

When we uncovered what was happening, I think it was one of the longest pregnant pauses I’ve ever experienced.  She said, “You’re right, I’m taking things personally because these are personal problems.”  So, if this is you or you have some growing up to do, you’re not a bad person, just put your big girl pants on and move on!

Look at everything from a very pragmatic, business perspective.  Ask yourself, what will it take to do this?  If you’re making errors, do you need to slow down?  Maybe you need more technical skills to sharpen your performance.  Maybe there are areas where you actually need to say, okay fine, take the next step and don’t think about it too much.  Sometimes, it simply is what it is.

If you are struggling to have a more professional focus at work and know you need to take challenges less personally, coaching may be your answer.  Call Kay at 513-561-4288 or email kay@highheeledsuccess.com.

Emotional Intelligence is a Critical Factor for Success

Self-Awareness, Emotions, Empathy at Work

While you might not think much about the topic of emotional intelligence, it’s an issue that comes up frequently during my individual client sessions.  Putting your best foot forward as an emotionally intelligent boss and co-worker is a need in the workplace, a need for anyone who manages people.

By definition, emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of your feelings, being in control of them and able to express them.  For example, if you’re going to succeed with challenging employees, the administrator needs to set the tone.  The administrator needs to serve as the model for what you want others to emulate.

Historically, the foundation of emotional intelligence was laid when Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., wrote his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence (Bantam Books), which helped to explain the differences between traditional IQ (intelligence quotient) and EI.  The book was on The New York Times bestseller list for a year-and-a-half and is available around the world in 40 languages.

The next major resource to come along was the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, written by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, Ph.D., which provides case studies, tools and techniques to improve your emotional intelligence.  In fact, Dr. Greaves is co-founder and CEO of TalentSmart, Inc., and the website talentsmart.com is a great resource to learn more.

Now, emotional intelligence is very much part of the fabric and conversation in any workplace.  If you work in a large company, you could probably talk to the human resources department to find out if you have taken or could take a formalized EI assessment.  When assessing EI, you’ll be looking at overall social awareness, relationship management and your ability to empathize with others.

If you find an area is lacking in yourself or your employees, there are strategies for improvement and some people can benefit from identifying an EI mentor – someone who seems to get along and understand others.  A mentor can be responsible for queuing you if you talk too long or if you misread communication.

For example, if an employee has negative reactions to someone else’s behavior and there is emotional fallout due to low self-awareness, this situation needs to be managed.  Or if you find employees want to leave a department because they don’t want to work with her, or headaches and stomach problems are being caused by a difficult co-worker, these situations need to be managed too.

5 Components of Emotional Intelligence

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation or emotional control
  • Motivators
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

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When it comes to social and relationship skills, we’re not just talking about charm.  As human beings interact with each other, we need to be able to interpret voice, facial expressions and body language.

Certain careers, such as information technology, engineering and research, require a high IQ; however, without emotional intelligence, success can hit a certain ceiling.  Both qualities are needed to be successful.  From Abraham Lincoln to Temple Grandin and Bill Gates, there have been many recognizable people who have lacked relationship skills.

Whether you decide to take a self-assessment or talk to a colleague for mentorship, it’s critical to identify where you have strengths or where you might need some emotional intelligence work to do.  A perfect opportunity to dig in on this topic is during your next job review.  Is there a tool or can your boss provide some guidance in this area?  A performance review is a gift to both the employee and the employer, so be smart and take advantage to help you put your best foot forward!

If you are eager to make a greater impact in your career, it would be my honor to be part of that process with you.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com, so we can empower you to achieve that goal.

©Copyright 2018.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Think Strategy Before You Say ‘Yes’

April was National Volunteer Month – a time to honor all the volunteers that contribute of themselves to improve our communities.  The month also brings attention to volunteer recruitment, so maybe you’ve been thinking more about how you might contribute your time and talent.  Our time is our most valuable gift, so I encourage you to differentiate strategic volunteerism that provides leadership enhancement opportunities vs. other volunteerism for altruistic reasons.

Volunteerism for altruistic reasons is personal and leads you to a cause that provides pure personal satisfaction, such as serving in a soup kitchen.  While this is very important too, I’ll focus on strategic volunteerism to help you choose volunteer positions with visibility in mind.

The most obvious and accessible path is to choose opportunities within your industry or field of expertise, such as a professional association.  An example would be women in commercial real estate getting involved with Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW).  Stepping up to serve in professional organizations is especially important if you’re working in a male dominated field, such as engineering.

Once you’re settled in a volunteer position, don’t be shy about it.  Broadcast your volunteer leadership roles in emails to the boss, at annual review time and even in social media.  Unfortunately, women are less willing to toot their own horns, yet we absolutely must to be recognized and advance.

Look around your community, read the news about accomplished business leaders and the organizations they serve.  If you are more thoughtful about determining who in a volunteer position is a powerful leader, then you can go after opportunities to lead with them.  Think about the leaders you want to know, and find a volunteer situation that meets your other parameters.

Some volunteer positions can help you advance professionally and gain certifications.  Toastmasters is the volunteer experience that provided this opportunity for me.  I was already a seasoned presenter when I joined Toastmasters 20 years ago; however, I was joining to further develop my leadership skills.

I believe I have held every office in our club, serving several terms as president.  Additionally, I served as an area director for our district.  My volunteer job was a perfect match for the skills I wanted to hone – to develop leadership in others.  In a volunteer organization, there are no bonuses or raises, so you must find ways to inspire your colleagues.

In my business, I wanted to become a leader of leaders, a developer of talent.  The goal to be able to recognize the spark, then fuel that spark into greater leadership.  Gradually, I developed step-by-step ways to hone in on the spark and groom the right person for leadership succession.

As I moved up to take more responsibility within Toastmasters, I became a more skilled delegator.  Eventually, I was an area director, overseeing several clubs, coaching and developing other leaders.  I had successfully leveraged my volunteer role with Toastmasters into one that provided exactly what I needed professionally.  I developed better delegation skills, better meeting planning and execution skills, effective talent search and development in creating a succession plan both as a president and as an area director.

While I was taking my own skills to a higher level, I was also helping others, which is the pure essence of volunteerism.  The opportunities with Toastmasters provided both the feel-good opportunity to volunteer and serve others at the same time I was growing my own skills and taking my leadership abilities to the next level.

If you are eager to make a greater impact in your career, it would be my honor to be part of that process with you.  Please give me a call at 513-561-4288 or connect with me via email at kay@highheeledsuccess.com, so we can empower you to achieve that goal.

©Copyright 2017.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.

Be Smart When Taking Risks

We all know that taking risks – the kind that will pull you into the C-suite or grow your business or simply change your outlook on risk-taking as a woman – is a defining characteristic for those who are successful.  When deciding whether this risk or that risk is the right thing to do, you should be aware of some basic concepts to help you examine your options and ask yourself the most important question, “Is this a Smart Risk?”

The risk can potentially be the kind that will give you the courage to jump to new levels, to go beyond what you thought was possible.  Many women tend to be cautious by taking baby steps, yet jumping levels is exciting.  Picture grasping the brass ring, the position you’ve always dreamed of having.  At this stage, ask yourself:

  1. “Do I have the skill set behind me to do the job?”
  2. “Can I gain the skills to do the job?”

If either answer is yes, it’s time to take the big step.

Men have no trouble thinking and believing that they are qualified for the next level.  In fact, a man will often believe he’s competent enough to advance having acquired one or some of the skills necessary for the next level.  While a woman will believe she’s qualified or ready to advance, if she has mastered ALL the skills in the job description.

For example, a woman often needs to be invited, and sometimes more than once, to take on a new and unfamiliar role, whether it’s being committee chair, advancing to the chief level at work or running for public office.  Have you ever heard a man say, “Oh, I couldn’t do that?”  Well, women, you shouldn’t either!

As a woman, whatever risk you’re considering will likely be a challenge to the way things have always been done.  Women have had to buck history for centuries, so don’t let the way things have been done in the past be your albatross for taking a risk.  Women also suffer from wanting to be liked, so please put that need on a shelf and look at your situation with new perspective.  When you do, you’ll realize you’re probably ready to take the risk.

Unfortunately, risk-taking has been suppressed in women since they were girls.  Think about it this way.  Parents, family members and school teachers more commonly discourage girls from taking risks, both academic and physical.

Personally, I was an only child and my parents were terrified something bad would happen to me.  My mom was always telling me to “be careful, be careful!”  Thus, I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 12 years old, taught by my best friend in secret.  This issue requires consideration from two angles, how it affects our own decision-making and risk-taking as an adult professional, as well as how we may be doing our own daughters a disservice if we’re telling them to be careful all the time.

You will take smart risks when you have made sure your self-esteem is not wanting.  If you believe you’re struggling with low self-esteem, I have a must-read for you: Women and Self-Esteem: Understanding and Improving the Way We Think and Feel About Ourselves, by Linda Tschirhart Sanford and Mary Ellen Donovan.  Many women worry that they don’t deserve success; harbor fears that they are not bright enough, not talented enough, just not good enough.  This book examines how women’s harmful attitudes about themselves are shaped and offers concrete help to help build higher self-esteem.

When deciding whether to take a risk, assess the reality of the situation.  Remember, there continues to be a double standard for men and women in the workplace.  Failure is perceived differently for a man vs. a woman.  When a man fails, the failure is viewed as something that will be fixed and he is given another chance.  Unfortunately, when a woman fails, that failure hangs with her and she might be judged by it for much longer.  Like so many things, failure is viewed through a different lens for a man, than it is for a woman.

Risk-taking doesn’t always have to be in the workplace to empower you.  It’s possible to take a risk that helps you overcome a fear in your personal life.  With a lifelong fear of swimming, snorkeling in Jamaica made me feel incredibly empowered to take risks to advance my business.  Every time I look at the t-shirt, “I snorkeled the Cali wreck,” it empowers me to take additional risks!  Taking a step forward in terms of risk doesn’t always mean a workplace risk.  Anything that helps you flex your muscles will move you in the right risk-taking direction.

Read Kay’s Corner to find practical tips for SMART risk-taking.

©Copyright 2017.  Kay Fittes.  All Rights Reserved.