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Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail info@fawngermer.com

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Choosing Clarity for Life Balance

When I’m speaking onstage, I’ll often use a Power­Point slide of an old movie still of a woman on her deathbed.  She says, “Okay, I only have a few more minutes, so let’s review the budget for the next fiscal year…” Everybody always laughs at it because what kind of a nut-pot would think of something so meaningless on his or her deathbed? Yet we sacrifice so many days in our young, healthy years obsessing about things that, in the end, won’t matter at all. Are you spending your time on what matters most? Are you choosing clarity for life balance?

If not, reset.

Of course, we all have certain obligations that we have to fulfill in order to live the lives we want to live. But these are secondary to what is really important in life. You can enjoy your work, you can enjoy your possessions, but look at your life by looking at your day. When you reach the end of the day, ask yourself if there was any newness to it, any learning, any love, any energy, any movement.

So many people don’t get that clarity until it’s too late to do anything about it. You can decide to have that awareness right now.

 

Work-Life Reset This week, enjoy excerpts from best-selling, Oprah-featured author Fawn Germer’s  new book, Work-Life Reset, which shows how to reset to end what’s not working in  your life. 

 Order inspiring author and keynote speaker Fawn Germer’s new book, Work-Life Reset here.

Promote Yourself, and the Raise Will Come

Make conscious decisions to advance yourself without waiting to be advanced. Numerous leaders told me they get a bad taste in their mouth when they hear someone coming right out and asking for a promotion or a raise. Promote yourself, and the raise will come. You do that by raising your hand and taking on challenges that expand your value to the company and showcase the breadth of your experience and abilities. If you are constantly taking on more responsibility, the promotion or raise should come. If it doesn’t, you should talk to your boss and say, “What else can I be doing in order to advance to the next level?” Then do it.

Oh, and don’t forget the most important thing. Make sure you advertise your performance. There are all these different terms for it. Market yourself. Self-promote. Toot your own horn. Whatever. What good is stellar performance if you are the only one who knows about it?

Okay, let me repeat that again. Don’t assume your excellent work will be noticed. Bosses are busy. They have a lot of things to worry about. Their attention generally goes to what they are worrying about, instead of the things that are going well. They might notice what you are doing, but they might also forget it as soon as something bad distracts their attention. They aren’t keeping running lists of all your accomplishments that they can review before they sleep at night just so they can feel good about the world.

Procter & Gamble’s Maria Edelson gives some especially insightful advice about how to put the word out there, and numerous women will tell you why it is so critical that you do it. Accept it. As uncomfortable as it may feel to show how great you are, you must develop the talent. I liked Kathy Hannan’s story, which showed how her failure to self-promote left a window wide open for a less diligent, less able, less deserving    co-worker to claim credit for what she was doing.

Performance alone will not make you the CEO. But you will not become the CEO without CEO-worthy performance. And you do belong at the highest level if you think you do.

We assume that people at the top are more naturally brilliant and possess far greater brainpower than the rest of us folks, but Broader says that assumption is just plain wrong. Granted, it may be easier for some people to operate in that realm than others, but we do have far more control over our own destiny than we acknowledge. And we can exercise that control by making the decision to perform, learn, and deliver results.

Performance Matters

First off, you’ve got to want “it”. “It” being the operative “it” in “Go for it” or “Just do it,” “Do what it takes” and “Give it all you’ve got.”

“It” is significant because it isn’t always definable, but it is ever-present in the mind-set of the people who actually combine talent + drive + brains + ability to come up with a level of success that eludes 99.9 percent of the rest of the world. They might sense they can do great things and they might know full well they have superior skills, but a lot of super achievers admit they did not lay out a plan that would get them as far as they went. Essentially, they went for “it” without knowing what “it” was.

So there is a lesson there.

It’s about making a decision about achieving a level of performance that will accomplish what others can’t or won’t dare try, then following through with such forceful, determined effort that you rightfully deserve the exceptional success you will ultimately and inevitably build.

You can’t win if you don’t perform. But, there is that critical caveat, which is that you must perform and build the proper relationships that will advertise and advance your performance. Networking and self-marketing are so key, but you have nothing to market if you don’t perform.

So performance matters.

The first step is to decide to go beyond average, above average, excellent and extraordinary. I have interviewed so many women who have achieved unthinkable things. They did it because they didn’t talk themselves down. I remember how my life changed when I interviewed Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for leading the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Williams received the award because she got foreign ministers from 135 countries to sign off on the treaty banning landmines, and eighty-one of their countries to subsequently ratify it into international law.

She did it by herself, without even having a secretary. I asked her, “What separates an ordinary woman from an extraordinary woman?” She didn’t hesitate with her response. “The belief that she is ordinary.” I have seen that play out in the hundreds of interviews I have done for my books. It is the choice to go beyond—and the belief that you can—that lets you do what others can’t or won’t.

So the first step in moving on this fast track is deciding to get on it.

The second step is realizing you belong there.

The third step is making your engine perform harder, faster and stronger than you ever imagined any engine could perform. It is so easy to slow yourself down by comparing yourself to everybody else. If everybody performs at one level, and you perform above that level, aren’t you doing extraordinary work? Well, maybe.

To be honest, that is the zone where I operated for most of my career as a journalist. I delivered more front-page investigative stories than anybody else at the paper, my work was excellent, and I was treated like a star. But the truth is, I could have done much, much more. I just didn’t feel like it. I had other priorities and distractions. That is perfectly okay, too. I set my priorities and honored them.

But when you hear that I was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize four times, you should also note that it also means that I did not win the Pulitzer Prize four times. Granted, some of that comes down to newspaper politics, but let’s get real. If I had pushed as hard on my work, I’d have won it. I had the ability. I didn’t have the drive. I will never minimize what I accomplished as a journalist because I know it was extraordinary. But I always will know that I gave it 96 percent of my energy. That last 4 percent is what makes the difference.

And that is the 4 percent you need to commit to give if you wish to attain and sustain yourself at the highest levels of business. If you want to go where these women have gone, you have to commit to an exhausting level of performance that pushes you every day. The only thing stopping you from getting there is your own mind-set.

Leadership Communication Tips

We’ve all had bad bosses who had lousy people skills, so we definitely know what not to do. But, what do great leaders do to communicate? How can you win friends and influence people to get the job done? Here are some leadership communication tips from my interviews with leaders from my books:

• Speak plainly, keep it simple, and say exactly what you mean.

• You don’t have to slam your fist on the table. You don’t have to swear. But, you can

say you are disappointed—and you should.

• “Because I said so” does not win leadership points.

• Pay attention to your people and don’t cut them off with questions or by giving your

opinion before they tell you the information that they have that might help you make

the right decision.

• Develop the win-win mind-set. Always remember your ultimate objective, and get to

that without having to prevail in a conflict.

• Break down the intimidation to get the truth from your people.

• You are never too high up to ask for help. Actually, you are a fool if you don’t.

• If people want to offer advice, listen to it.

• Put yourself in the shoes of your people and figure out what is on their minds.

Fawn Germer works with organizations to drive the bottom line by getting talent out of the pipeline and into leadership. Book Fawn for speaking or coaching at info@fawngermer.com.

Creating Successful Women Leaders

There are times when I get so discouraged, like when I see a Catalyst report that says only 6.7 percent of the top-paying positions in the Fortune 500 belong to women. But then again, there are times like this moment when I see the potential that exists because of who we are as women. We are growing into our power—together. We are learning from our mistakes and triumphs—together.

The first time I tried to get an interview with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, I got the same answer that I’d gotten from the other women CEOs on the Fortune 500—a polite-but-firm no. The reason was the same, every time. The CEOs wanted to be viewed as CEOS—not as “women CEOs.” It was as if the qualifier suggested “less than.” But I asked Whitman’s spokesman if he would pass on a memo that I would write. He agreed, and I spent quite a bit of time composing my argument.

It came down to this: Some successful women know innately what it takes to break through in difficult environments. They know how to use their strength without being punished for it. They know how to fly above the politics and build teams that perform. It doesn’t come so naturally to all of us. That doesn’t mean the rest of us are less able or less deserving—it means we need a little guidance so we can get our chance to prove our mettle.

If the intuitive leaders don’t share what they know instinctively, they always will be viewed as “women CEOs” because they will be the only ones up there. If they share their wisdom and enlighten the rest of us, they won’t be so rare. Whitman wound up giving me an incredible interview. I loved her. The other “women CEOs” didn’t come around, and I couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t share their mentoring wisdom.

Fortunately, a new lineup of great women is in power, and they not only agreed to participate this time—many said it was their duty. You are their legacy. What you do with what they teach you will play out over years and even decades. Just don’t do it alone. Remember the women coming up behind you, and help them along. The more success you create for others, the more you will succeed for yourself.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

You need a better reason for doing something than “Because I said so,” even though there are times when you have to be the decider and drop the illusion of management through democracy.

Listen, listen, listen. I saw that theme in several of the interviews I did with some of the most senior executives in American business.

Some of those leaders made critical communication errors—by accident. They thought they were simply sharing their opinions with their people, but because they outranked those who were listening, it was assumed the executives were shutting down the discussion and the decision was made.

Some admit that they made decisions without hearing their people out—and that was to their peril, because their people already had answers that would have prevented bad decisions and the subsequent fallout.

Sometimes it is hard to communicate because subordinates are intimidated by the people who outrank them.

I asked several of the leaders about the intimidation factor and they said they understand it, but they don’t like it. That intimidation makes their jobs more difficult because their people may not feel comfortable enough to give them important information that may be negative or upsetting. They have to work to break down that intimidation so they can get to the truth. They know they aren’t always successful at it.

If you are in a position of leadership, recognize that you may be intimidating others just because of your title.

I remember being a new bureau reporter at The Miami Herald and getting nervous every time managing editor Vicki Gowler walked into the office. A chill followed her! I am not kidding. I was twenty-six years old and I was so intimidated by her position. She broke that down the day I ran in with a huge story that was due in less than an hour. I had to write the story and type in a large chart—but there was too much to do and no time to do it. Gowler walked over to my desk, asked for my notes for the chart and sat down and typed it in herself. That’s when I decided to be a leader, not a boss when I move to a higher position.

Nearly two decades later, I still remember that gesture, because it said everything about how she valued the newspaper, the story, her team—and me.

Fawn Germer delivers more courageous and creative performance to the organizations that hire her to work with their people. For more information, write info@fawngermer.com or call 727-467-0202.

The Campaign for Women’s Equality In The Workplace

Not that long ago, women were banned from the Harvard Law School Library

because we might distract men from their studies. We couldn’t get credit in our own

names. Employers fired us if we got pregnant, or didn’t hire us because we might con-

ceive. We were excluded from jury duty because, apparently, our opinion didn’t count.

There were male bosses who freely demanded sex from the women who worked for

them—without consequence.

It wasn’t so long ago that classified ads used to be split in half, with one set of

jobs—the good ones—for men, and the rest for women. It was legal to pay men more

because, well, just because.

Our history inspires me because our gains were the result of a brilliant, deliberate

campaign for women’s equality that began with the most crucial battle—the fight for the right

to vote. Ninety years ago, we couldn’t even vote! But our foremothers knew that, if we

could vote, we could make change. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Women’s Liberation

Movement and the National Organization for Women executed a strategy that made

discriminatory laws fall like dominoes. Reading that history is so exciting and inspiring.

The women who are now in their fifties, sixties and seventies fought those battles—for

us. We have a legacy to protect—and create.

Accept That Everyone is Different

As a newspaper editor, I couldn’t understand why other people didn’t behave like me.

Why would a reporter start writing a story at 6:10 p.m. if it was due twenty minutes later and there was no way he or she would meet deadline? Why would so many people want to linger an extra two hours at work when they could get their work done and leave? Why would they turn in stories they hadn’t proofread? Why would anyone do a lousy job on a routine story like a weather story if it was going to be seen by a million readers and his or her name was going right on top of it? Why didn’t people take pride in their work?

That lesson—that we aren’t all alike—took a long time for me to learn. Some of the leaders I interviewed for my books had the same experience and had to learn that people are motivated by different things and inspired in different ways. They learned to accept that everyone is different.

Good leaders know people are different and don’t try to nudge or push their people into cookie-cutter performers who will deliver the same thing as everybody else. Doing that requires a great deal of good communication and humility.

Fawn Germer works with organizations that want more courageous and creative performance from their people To book Fawn, write: info@fawngermer.com or call 727-467-0202.

 

Building Employee Loyalty

How do leaders begin building employee loyalty? I asked them. In hundreds of interviews for my books, I asked top leaders what it takes to create the loyalty that makes them successful as leaders. Here’s what they said:

• Talk to and value everyone from janitor to president.

• Help your people grow and expand. People follow people where they know they willgrow. Great leaders make them stronger.

• You get more when you show that you value somebody’s efforts, acknowledge that their work was difficult.

• People want to be listened to. They want to be recognized for their accomplishments.

• Remember small things like anniversaries, birthdays, special occasions.

• Say thank you—all the time.

• Share power.

• You can be efficient and get something done yourself, but are you being effective? You need consensus. You need to get people involved.

• As a senior executive, learn to lean back in your chair and hope the answer comes out of someone else’s mouth.

• When the other person flat-out loses on everything in a battle, you end up losing, too.

• You don’t have to get an A+ in every subject. Have people around you who get the A+ in the subjects that you don’t.

• Don’t hover and micromanage your people. Develop them.

Fawn Germer works with organizations to drive the bottom line by getting talent out of the pipeline and into leadership. Book Fawn for speaking or coaching at info@fawngermer.com.

Is Your Role to Boss or Lead?

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Is your role to boss or lead? Bossing may work at the lower levels, but if you want to ascend to the greater positions of influence, your role has to be to lead.

So many of the leaders I interviewed for my books took jobs in areas where they had no expertise, and they credit their ultimate success to those risky moves.The way they survived and actually succeeded wildly in those situations was by leading people, not managing minutiae.

Once you attain a certain level on the hierarchy, it doesn’t matter whether you know the technical details. It matters that you know human nature and have the right people around you who do know the details. It matters that your people want to help you succeed because they know you will help them succeed. It matters that you have a vision and can communicate it and build the alignment to execute it.

Also, share the glory—or just give it away. When your people succeed, you succeed. You don’t have to put your name on every victory, and when someone else deserves credit, boost them up by sending notes of kudos up the chain.

Appreciate everyone, from the janitor to the CEO You can’t boss people to excellence. You influence them by valuing them.

Time and again, I was told how important it is to value every single person in your organization, from the janitor to the president. Talk to and get to know as many people as you can—at every level.

I keep thinking of the story former Sara Lee CEO Brenda Barnes told about her first post-college job—on the night shift at the post office. The bosses were inhumane, and that taught her everything about how not to lead. She knew she was nothing without every level of employee contributing and serving to their greatest potential.

People want to be heard and valued. They want to know that the organization appreciates them and will grow them. Do the small things to show how much you value your team. Praise. Say thank you. Remember anniversaries, birthdays, and special occasions. Recognize the “whole person” who is coming to work. Get to know their families.

Be human. Be approachable. You don’t own the team — you lead it.

Fawn Germer works with organizations that want more courageous and creative performance from their people To book Fawn, write: info@fawngermer.com or call 727-467-0202.

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