Relationships

Generosity, Gratitude and Grace

by Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
For my gift to you this holiday season, I want to look closely at the three G’s: generosity, gratitude and grace. Let’s think about what those attributes mean to us and the people around us when we give these precious gifts to ourselves.
This time of year always brings out generosity in people as we rush around trying to figure out the best gifts for family and friends, and I like to think of how giving to others really affects us. Every time I reach out with feelings of generosity to help another woman, I receive far more than I ever give. I never want to take that returned gift for granted. Beyond the rewards I feel for helping someone achieve her purpose or move closer to her dream, I am convinced that each little gesture of giving back gets passed on as that person helps someone else. And they always do—always.
“Pay it forward” has become popular in our society as we pass on the payment for the next cup of coffee to the person behind us. But it has much larger connotations when you think about the energy each gesture of kindness creates as it spreads from one person to the next, and beyond your reach to others in ways that you can’t even imagine. If we remind ourselves as we move through our days that we can affect each person we meet positively or negatively, it helps us choose to be generous with our kindness, our respect and appreciation for other people. When we intentionally choose that course every minute, even when someone pulls out in front of us or makes an unkind remark, we gain the power to over-ride a knee-jerk response and remain calm, forgiving, and even grateful for the challenges we receive.
Speaking of feeling grateful–In our culture, women have trouble simply saying “thank you” and expressing gratitude. For some reason, we don’t feel that we are worthy of receiving compliments or gifts. Why we think we have to be worthy to feel grateful is beyond my understanding, but we’re programmed that way by a lifetime of self-esteem challenges in our society. When someone gives us a compliment, women are too often ready with a, “yes, but…” We need to think of the disservice to the person honoring us when we negate their compliment and instead simply feel grateful. We have to let go of our self-limiting beliefs to do this and that takes practice. We have to compliment ourselves and feel our self-worth, look in the mirror and tell ourselves how good we are, pick out the positive aspects–that kindness you showed someone who needed it, how you finally established healthy boundaries with your family, how you pulled off that negotiation at work—and practice, practice, practice.
A gratitude journal is recommended by many professionals (including me) for working yourself out of a stuck frame of mind. When you’re at a low point, thinking about what you are grateful for and writing it down opens your eyes to the many blessings in your life. Do this every day and you will quickly begin to feel grateful and positive about the future. I have long recommended it in consultation and know from personal experience that it works. I have also worked in crisis response and think it’s interesting that the most resilient people always speak about what they still have when they’ve suffered devastating loss. There is a lot of loss around me right now with the California fires in my back yard, but people are saying, “We’re still alive. My family is safe.” Being grateful helps us to focus on what is important–the people we love–not the stuff that is replaceable. And acknowledgement of our gratitude for their survival makes us strong and affirms our values.
We think of grace as an adjective to describe the way someone moves, like a dancer, with poise and surety. But it’s a magical characteristic with the larger meaning of bestowing love and blessings. Grace defines how you live each day and along with gratitude and generosity helps you live your life’s purpose. This is the most important gift and powerfully shapes every relationship you develop. When you develop grace, you’re acting from your heart without judgment or requirements to earn your love. We accept what makes us different and honor those attributes that help us lift each other up in support of one another.
It’s exciting to spend time with like-minded women who share and support one another with generous kindness for their unique gifts. I recently attended Take the Lead Day in New York City. If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch videos from the event here. At the end of the day, everyone was so excited and charged with energy that we didn’t want it to end. The feeling of so many women feeling positive about themselves, the message and their future of having the power to achieve parity and take their place as leaders in our businesses, communities, and to make a difference in the world is indescribable. But it brought home to me why we need to support one another and try to create that feeling each and every day.
I wish that feeling for you, not just through this holiday, but into next year and the many years ahead. Reach out to your sisters with generosity and feel grateful for all your gifts. Bestow gifts on yourself as you care and honor yourself. You matter and are a powerful woman who has the ability to share your gifts with others. Pass it on, so that we can all experience what it means to live in and with grace.

Reward and Indulge Yourself at an Elite Retreat

By Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
For three days and two nights, I was recently privileged to be part of a hand-picked group of women at the Fairmont Princess Resort in Fairmont, Arizona. Holly Dowling, who had recently been my podcast guest on “Conversations with Smart Amazing Women,” is an award-winning keynote speaker and women’s advocate. This was her second such event, where she chose participants who are successful, well-positioned women who are still struggling to fit in time for themselves. I truly felt that the theme for the weekend was “Indulge Yourself.” But it was more than that. Holly put eight women together and gave us a safe, sacred place where we could develop trusting relationships and bonds that would extend well beyond our time at the retreat.
Although Holly had designed all-inclusive mind, body, and soul experiences with conversations and thought-provoking activities for self-reflection and growth, the remarkable thing about the experience was watching trust develop among us. Women need that trusted space. We actually opened up and became close very quickly, yet we discussed trust over and over again. And it took three days for many of us to feel comfortable enough to share our most personal truths.
It still amazes me that professional, successful, well-positioned women so often  don’t recognize their own self-worth. I admire their fearless compassionate adventuresome natures. Yet, when they describe their accomplishments, they do so in an offhand way, dismissing as nothing the achievements most others only dream of accomplishing. Like many other women, these powerhouses often put themselves last and don’t take time to reward themselves or care for their own well-being.
I hope you can recognize and acknowledge your worth and encourage you to indulge yourself. Take the opportunity to participate in a retreat of your own, even if it’s only an afternoon in a peaceful place, taking time to read that book you’ve been wanting to read, getting a massage, or slipping away for a weekend (without your phone). You are uniquely wonderful. Each of us is special, so toot your own horn and celebrate the successes in your life.
By all means, if you have an opportunity to gather with like-minded women in an event such as the Elite Retreat, please take that opportunity. I’m still talking about it more than a month later with the awe that comes from having experienced something precious with my sisters that I will cherish for many years. In fact, the most important part of the retreat for me is remembering who each woman is for herself and the connection we created in just a few days.
To find out about the next Elite Retreat hosted by Holly Dowling, click HollyDowling/Elite-Retreat.

You Can Be the Woman Who Is Helped Today

Keynote Speaker, Author, Leadership Coach

Judy Hoberman


After a successful 30-year career in sales and writing numerous books on gender differences in business, Judy Hoberman has found her true purpose and has focused on her newest goal, “to help one woman a day.” When she announced this goal to different groups of women, she was always surprised when a woman in the audience would raise her hand and ask, “Can I be the woman you help today?”
This is why Judy has expanded her reach in two ways: she wrote her new book, Walking on the Glass Floor: Seven Essential Qualities of Women Who Lead, and launched her new foundation at the same time. Judy knew that her purpose was to give women the tools they need to succeed in their careers, provide for their families, and have time to do what they truly desire. She already did this through the business she founded, Selling In A SKIRT, which is an acronym for:

  • Standing Out
  • Keys to Success
  • Inspiring Others
  • Results Oriented
  • Time Management
  • All while having Fun!!

Through coaching, consulting, sales training, speeches and a weekly radio show, Judy gives women important tools to help them succeed at their purpose.

Women Who Are Mentored Become Amazing Role Models for Other Women.

Walking on the Glass Floor is different than anything Judy has ever done. She began with the idea that if you have cracked through the glass ceiling, you are now walking on the glass floor. If you’re there, you have a responsibility to help other women get there too. Her purpose turned the corner of feminine leadership, to help women realize that we are phenomenal leaders and many of the skills that we don’t think of as being leadership skills are in fact the best tools for effective leadership.
Growing up and being told that she couldn’t do certain things because she was a girl created an obstacle for Judy that she felt she must overcome. In the process, she discovered her gifts, one being the way that she coped with being told that she couldn’t do something. It fueled her fire and she became all she wanted to become and in turn, was determined to help others do the same.

Create Relationships Before You Need Them.

Although her career was in sales, Judy doesn’t think of what she did as selling. She saw it as a form of communication and creating relationships. She helped people and worked with them to achieve what they needed. She advises her clients now to make relationships. It doesn’t matter who you are speaking to, there is always an opportunity for a wonderful relationship.

Help Another Woman Today

This conversation is full of helpful information for women leaders. Judy comments on women’s lack of self confidence. Even women who are at the top of their field have told her that the most difficult thing for them is having the courage to show their self-confidence. Dr. Nancy adds that it’s also fear of failure that holds many women back and comments on how much she likes Judy’s chapter on taking risks. Judy says she knows how important this information is for women and that is why she formed the foundation, to get the book into the hands of the women who need it and to help women in more ways than she could otherwise. The mission is to support women and women’s initiatives through writing, workshops and publications.
Underneath it all is Judy’s desire to help women know what incredible leadership skills they already possess. It only requires a shift of perspective to see how passion, a sense of purpose, a talent for creating relationships and working in collaboration can be essential tools in the hands and heart of a gifted leader.  Check out Judy’s website, Sellinginaskirt.com, for more information and listen to this conversation for more of Judy’s personal story and why she and Dr. Nancy say we desperately need more women leaders.

When We’re Bullied We’re All Children

stressed bullying victim
Have you noticed that when we find ourselves in the crosshairs of slights, snubs or outright attacks, we suddenly feel small and vulnerable? Our typical instinct is to go hide somewhere—like under the bed.  While that may be a child’s response, full grown women and men can come under attack from a bully at a moment’s notice. Why is that behavior so common and what makes people of any gender or age turn to bullying others?
Bullies aren’t evil, according to “5 Ways to Help Children Deal with Bullies Compassionately” from Fractus Learning. Bullies are unhappy. Bullying indicates inner turmoil. The author behind the info graphic, psychologist Chiu Lau, says that there are many reasons people behave badly. One reason is that they may feel bad about themselves, so by making others feel bad, they feel better. Some people learn that being mean to someone is a way to get what they want. Others bully because they have been bullied, so they try to protect themselves by scaring others. The list continues, but the point is there isn’t one simple answer. In general, the bully lacks something and perceives he or she will gain from acting badly. So how can children (and adults) deal effectively with bullies?
There’s a lot of advice about this. One is to understand that it may not be about you, unless you’re standing in the way of the bully’s pursuit of a coveted job, love interest, or other perceived desire. Even if the bully wants power over you, it’s still not about YOU; it’s about how it makes the bully feel. Some just want to win and feeling power over another person makes them feel powerful. But fighting back only adds fuel to the bully’s fire. Anger and aggression beget more anger and aggression. Running away also is not a positive option unless you’re in physical danger. Then it’s the best option.
Although it’s an unpleasant situation, maybe you should actually thank the workplace bully for giving you a chance to grow, suggests Marlene Chism, author of Stop Workplace Drama.  She says it gives you an opportunity to examine your personal boundaries and figure out what you’re willing to accept from another person and also why you’re avoiding confrontation. Most important, Marlene recommends that you take this opportunity to reinvent and realign. If you see yourself as a weak victim, you definitely need to change your perspective and invent a new YOU who is a powerful creator. She advises changing your communication style starting with how you communicate to yourself.
However, if you feel personal danger, you should immediately seek help. Tell someone you trust, suggests Fractus Learning. In a child’s case, it could be a favorite teacher or parent. Whoever you tell, remember there is power in sharing your stories. If a bully is bearing down hard and you fear for your job, your safety or even your life, don’t try to handle it alone. Even if you don’t have a trusted person you think might help, explaining your situation to someone else will help you understand your own feelings so you can get some perspective on the situation. Leading Women co-author, Bridget Cook-Burch talks about how changing the story you tell yourself can transform your life. In the situation she describes in her chapter in the book, she feared for her loss of livelihood when a client began to harass her. Sometimes, the threat can seem so severe that we can’t see a way out and try to avoid or ignore it. But this kind of fear only compounds itself if it’s allowed to fester inside. Bridget’s powerful story tells how to overcome the fear to reinvent and realign your life, much as Marlene suggests.
Elaborate studies have been performed to determine if bullying is cultural or inherited. Bullying not only crosses cultures and time periods, it also crosses species, according to Hogan Sherro, who analyzed it for Scientific American. Therefore, he concluded that it must be a human trait––part of the human condition–– which is used to intimidate and control the balance of power in social situations. In fact, some companies develop an entire culture based on bullying, according to Bullying Statistics. This develops because management doesn’t admit to or deal with underlying problems. The same article lists the unproductive outcomes from bullying, including stress, high turnover, absenteeism, loss of motivation, etc., all of which can result in a costly impact on the bottom line. The author urges victims to document the bullying behavior and report it to management. “Companies with good anti-bullying policies usually hold meetings from time to time to remind employees what workplace bullying is, how to report it, and the consequences for bullying,” she writes.
Whatever the social situation, it’s important to name the behavior accurately. Identifying bullying, whether it’s on Facebook, in the classroom or at work, is the first step. Then, advises Fractus Learning, treat the bully with compassion. If you’re strong enough to come out from under the bed, invent your own story and become a powerful creator, this might indeed work. The bully is unhappy and feels powerless. When you’re sincerely kind to people, they feel valued. Being an example of kindness may be difficult in the face of someone telling you that you’re ugly, but that’s what Chiu Lau (and Mother Teresa) recommend.
If kindness was simple, then everyone would be kind and no one would experience meanness and bullying,” writes Susan Swearer, Co-Director of the Bullying Research Network. She challenges us to imagine a world where kindness is the norm and then create it by teaching, modeling and rewarding kindness. Punishing bullying behavior doesn’t work. Instead, she says, “it makes better sense to focus on teaching and modeling pro-social behavior, like teaching kindness.” Pro-social behaviors include being respectful, creating gratitude activities, volunteering and giving service, and fostering working together. She outlines this teaching plan with the intention of presenting it to children.
But imagine if we grownups did the same thing in our workplaces. Suppose we encourage each other to help out when one of our workmates seems stressed or overwhelmed. What if we hold employee meetings to brainstorm ways we can reward one another for good work, support each other’s ideas, and even-out the workload? Apply that same model to any social situation—committee, community event, city council, or foundation—kindness begets kindness and toxic relationships cannot thrive in its midst. It’s not easy to always be kind when you’re under pressure, and it may be impossible in a heated moment with a bully bearing down on your neck, but it feels a lot more satisfying and rewarding when you achieve it. And when you practice it on a daily basis, thrown in with a dose of gratitude every day, you diffuse the power of any potential bully by setting out the best example of the human condition. Yes, there are just as many studies that report kindness is also part of the human condition. And these random acts also span centuries and species, just as bullying does.
Kindness is actually intuitive, reports Melissa Dahl. It’s only when we think it over, that we become selfish.  She cites studies where college students’ first inclination is to share, not hoard, and heroic acts where people risk their own lives in a matter of seconds to save the life of a stranger. Overwhelming evidence of everyday heroes blazes across the front pages of every crisis. In each case, people reach out to help a neighbor they may never have met, possibly one who shook a fist at them in traffic. So kindness is a matter of choice. YOU can choose how to react to bullying behavior. You can focus on resenting the bully or YOU can try to help a powerless person to get beyond their feelings of loss. Even though it may take practice, remember that your first instinct as a human being is to be kind.

Empowering Girls Creates Empowered Women

by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly
My mission of empowering women began with my own daughters. I embarked on a college career while my girls were still young to provide them with a role model of infinite possibilities for their own futures. I had wonderful role models in my mother and both of my grandmothers, so I know how important this is to growing up strong, self-reliant and having the skills to live the life you want and deserve. Unfortunately, too many girls don’t have these benefits resulting in our juvenile justice system being overrun by girls. In fact, the fastest growing population in our juvenile detention centers is girls.
Girls Inc. is working hard to stop this trend and to equip and inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold. I recently had the opportunity to participate in this mission at Girls Inc. of Santa Barbara. Their summer program built on the Wonder Woman theme and invited women to share their stories with the girls involved with Girls Inc. The initiative continues in their after school program, so it’s not too late to get involved. If you’re not in that area, Girls Inc. is national organization, which has supported girls for 150 years. Recently it was ranked among the top high-impact youth service social profits!
“If you can see it, you can be it!” Those words inspired Geena Davis to found the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in the Media, SeeJane.org. I firmly believe this is true. I try to show up every day as an example of what feminine leadership can achieve. Sharing my story with the girls at Girls Inc. was tremendously rewarding. Their enthusiasm and warmth was contagious and I want to encourage you to share your story, too. If you don’t have a Girls Inc. chapter near you, please seek out other girls clubs. They need our support and inspiring examples. We’re all Wonder Women under the skin.
Here’s a shortcut you can use for your proposal to speak to a girls’ group near you. It’s the invitation Leah Tabas, Center Director for Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara put together for her Wonder Woman program.

Are you someone who is passionate about life and would like to inspire girls to be STRONG, SMART, and BOLD?  If so, please consider participating in our Wonder Woman project. This volunteer opportunity involves preparing a five to ten minute presentation about yourself – What YOU love about your life, your job, your hobbies, and how YOU got to where you are today.

Your story can create a spark and help motivate girls to see how much opportunity there is for them.  Your enthusiasm and experiences will encourage girls and help them see they CAN achieve their goals and even their wildest dreams.

WHO:  You and a group of fourteen 5th–6th grade girls (+ one of our staff to help with behavior management and participation).

WHAT:  A 5-10 minute INTERACTIVE presentation or activity that discusses and introduces your professional and life experiences, how you’ve gotten to where you are and ways that your story and passion can relate to these girls all while encouraging them to pursue their dreams whether it be in a similar field or something completely different.

WHERE:  Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara – 531 E. Ortega St. Santa Barbara, CA 93102

WHY:  There is nothing like a positive, encouraging and successful role-model who is able to relate to young girls and spark their interest in a variety of careers as well as open their eyes to the possibilities that lie before them.  At Girls Inc. we encourage our girls to actively explore the world around them, find their own voices and strive to be responsible, confident and independent young women and would love your help in doing the same!

DO:  Talk about what you LOVE, your hobbies and your job.  Ask the girls about their interests and try to find ways to relate these interests to specific skill sets within your hobby or profession.  Share what you loved doing as a kid and if it influenced your career choice.

WHERE TO BEGIN:  Please contact Leah Tabas, Center Director at ltabas@girlsincsb.org

Whether you contact Leah, another Girls Inc. director, or some other group near you, please do reach out to share your story. There is nothing more empowering than telling girls how you grew into the person you are today. Every day that offers us a challenge also offers an opportunity for growth. Telling others how this happened to yourself may say something special that you cannot imagine. I especially want to encourage you to reach out to girls. They are the women leaders of tomorrow and they need our help today. Check out the good works of Girls Inc. and the many ways a little support can transform lives when they need it most.

Lead Like a Girl

10 Ways to Put Your Feminine Strengths to Work at Work

As we move further into the 21st century, the face of leadership is becoming more and more feminine. Here, the coauthor of Leading Women shares 10 traditionally feminine strengths that make women ideally suited to take their place as leaders.


For decades, women in business strove to become members of the boys’ club. We mimicked how men thought, communicated, and even dressed. But now, trying too hard to tap into our “masculine side” has gone the way of severely tailored 1980s power wear (complete with giant shoulder pads). Women have realized that we think and communicate differently—which means that we also lead differently. And—here’s the best news—because our natural skill set is increasingly valued in the global economy, we’re perfectly positioned to become today’s and tomorrow’s leaders.
(As the powerful and popular campaign by Always proves, doing anything “like a girl” is something to be proud of—and that includes leading!)
“Women already have the raw material we need to become successful leaders,” says Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly, who along with 19 other women, cowrote the new book Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life (Adams Media, ISBN: 978-1-440-58417-6, $16.99, www.drnancyoreilly.com). “We just need to shift our attitudes and master the best practices to put these natural skills and abilities to work.”
To be clear, this isn’t a contest between the sexes. As one of O’Reilly’s coauthors Lois P. Frankel, PhD, points out, women aren’t better leaders than men—just different leaders. And bonus: What followers expect from leaders in the first decades of the 21st century are behaviors and characteristics traditionally associated with women.
In her book O’Reilly has brought together 20 nationally acclaimed women authors to share their real-life advice for breaking free of women’s traditional limitations in work and community. Coauthors include New York Times and Amazon best-selling authors, corporate coaches, an Emmy Award-winning television host, and more.
Here, O’Reilly and some of her coauthors share 10 ways you can use your feminine strengths to lead like a girl:
Reframe your ideas about power.  If you think power necessarily means “command and control leadership,” think again. Women wield our own style of power and, frankly, it packs quite a punch. (Consider the fact that we influence 85 percent of all buying decisions and are thus pivotal to the success of many industries.) Often, just shifting the way we think about power can make women feel more comfortable with taking the lead.
O’Reilly’s coauthor Gloria Feldt explains that instead of seeking “power over,” women are more comfortable seeking the “power to.” Feminine power is the ability to accomplish our goals, provide for our families, and make the world a better place—and to help others do the same.
“Women understand that more for you doesn’t mean less for me, that power isn’t a finite resource,” O’Reilly comments. “The more girl power we use, the more of it there is.”
Don’t try to be the strong, silent type. Because women are seen as talkative and chatty (often non-productively so), many make a conscious effort to hold their tongues in professional settings. But research suggests that this is a misconception: Men actually talk more and hold the floor longer than women during meetings.
Claire Damken Brown, PhD (another coauthor), says that women’s reputation for wordiness might stem from the fact that our talk patterns are indirect and detail-driven, meaning that we usually provide more background information than men. But research has found that women talk to exchange information and establish cohesion.
“So as long as you stay focused on goals instead of gossip and practice the art of the brief response, it’s okay to use your words,” O’Reilly observes. “Odds are, your feminine communication is making you an effective leader.”
Ask for help. The traditional image of the “strong” leader is a man who is self-sufficient and capable. He’s the prototypical rugged individualist and never asks for help. Of course, this is an outdated stereotype, but for many leaders (male and female alike), the reluctance to ask for help persists. What we need to understand is that women have long realized the benefits of tapping into the resources and expertise of others—Will you watch the kids? What’s your advice? Can we work together on this?—and it’s an incredibly efficient—and effective—way to get things done.
“For millennia, women have actively built strong, supportive connections to help their ‘sisters’ live their very best lives,” points out O’Reilly. “Because women don’t mind admitting what we don’t know and are willing to share the credit, we are good at spotting problems and making sure they get fixed. When we don’t let our egos get in the way of asking for help, we’re far more likely to achieve progress and success.”
Take to the podium, woman-style. How many women do you know who’d rather do almost anything than speak in public? Anxiety about public speaking is common to both women and men, but it’s especially important that women overcome this fear. To advance in leadership roles, women will need to be seen and heard at the podium—and be remembered positively afterward.
Leading Women contributor Lois Phillips, PhD, says women have a natural affinity for public speaking. We tend to provide information to help listeners achieve their goals, rather than to establish dominance over the group or negotiate status. We also want to connect to our audience and have an innate ability to read and respond to their nonverbal cues.
Shift your perspective (and theirs, too). Women have a special brand of resilience. We are able not only to power through tough times, but are often able to creatively use obstacles as teachable moments and stepping stones. And a big part of this quality has to do with an ability to reframe who we think we are and what we think we deserve. (M. Bridget Cook-Burch tackles this subject in Leading Women.)
“The stories we tell ourselves about events in our lives are every bit as powerful as the events themselves,” says O’Reilly. “For example, if your company is failing in one area, you might see that ‘failure’ as a springboard to move in a fresh new direction. Being able to shift your focus away from what you don’t want to the things you’d like to create will not only help you survive and grow; it can help your entire organization become more future-focused and productive.”
 Stop trying to network. Instead, connect. Women love to make satisfying, mutually fulfilling connections with each other. (And we’re good at it!) That’s why the mile-wide-inch-deep world of social media, insincere business card exchanges, and traditional “What can you do for me?” networking often leaves us feeling cold.
“The good news is, it’s easy to start asking instead, ‘What can we create together?’” O’Reilly comments. “This is Connecting 2.0—it’s the powerful force behind the women-helping-women movement that is rapidly changing the playing field for women in business, government, education, philanthropy, and other fields. It feels good and it works.
“There are so many ways to make authentic connections,” she adds. “You can gather successful women in your community and organize a round table discussion. You can collaborate with a different team at work. You can get involved with a philanthropic cause. The idea is to reach out to other women, offer to share resources, and see what happens.”
Don’t be afraid to get a little personal. Historically, female leaders have tried to compensate for being the “emotional,” “soft” sex by keeping it all business, all the time. But women’s ability to nurture relationships can actually be a huge asset in a business context. The quality of a leader’s relationships with peers and employees can have a major impact on company culture and morale, and thus productivity and growth.
“Feminine skills like showing empathy, being emotionally intelligent, being able to put others at ease, caring about their concerns, and more are now ‘must-have’ abilities for leaders,” notes O’Reilly. “And make no mistake, these are not ‘soft skills’; they are actually quite difficult to learn and develop. Case in point: As my coauthor Birute Regine, EdD, points out, no one ever succeeded in mastering relational intelligence during a two-hour seminar.”
Extend a helping hand, especially to other women. Women are natural collaborators. We know the significance of a helping hand, mutual support, and mentorship, and we value the satisfaction and meaning that come from aiding others. In the workplace, this ability can mean the difference between being a “boss” and being a “leader”—a distinction that creates employee buy-in and engagement.
“Giving your time, knowledge, understanding, empathy, and support to other people can have a huge ROI,” observes O’Reilly. “Be especially vigilant for opportunities to help other women by being a sponsor or mentor. This can lead to improved opportunities for both of you via reciprocity. Plus, it sets a positive example and is good karma. Helping other women claim their power and passion is always a sound investment. When the hands that rock the cradle join together, they really can rule the world.”
 Use your collaboration skills to tap into “collective intelligence.” Successful collaboration is a lot more than just putting a group of people in a room and asking them to work together. As Birute Regine, EdD, notes, it requires participants to accurately read nonverbal cues and others’ emotions, to use empathy, to put ego aside, and to be sensitive to fairness and turn-taking. All of these are feminine skills. Without them, collaboration can easily devolve into group-think and follow-the-leader. With them, though, a group becomes capable of “evolved thinking.”
Furthermore, Regine says, research shows that groups are most likely to display a level of creativity that’s greater than the sum of its parts when at least half the chairs around the table are occupied by women.
“Women are adept at creating conditions of mutuality, equality, and trust—all of which are necessary for team members to feel comfortable enough to share ideas and take risks,” observes O’Reilly. “That’s why it’s so important for women in leadership positions to reach out to bring other women into the fold. When we join forces, the benefits have a powerful ripple effect that extends well beyond the original participants. No individual woman is as creative, skilled, or powerful as we are together.”
Trust yourself. From the way we dress to the jobs we do to the way we spend our time, society feels especially free to tell women how to live their lives. It’s very easy to internalize those voices and allow them to shape our choices, aspirations, and dreams—a path that leads to regret for too many women.
“Trust yourself and listen to your instincts,” O’Reilly urges. “They are usually right. Don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself by telling you what you ‘should’ think or feel. One of the best ways I’ve found to stay on track is to stay present and turn on your senses. When facing opposition or making a decision, tune in to how you’re feeling, not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally too. If you’re headed in a good direction, you should feel alive and energized.”
“As women, it truly is our time to step up and take our place as leaders,” concludes O’Reilly. “When we focus and hone our feminine skills, we can make a positive impact on our companies, our communities, and our world.”

~

Originally appeared in Working Mother, March 3, 2015. Working Mother is a women’s interest publication offering ideas, solutions and support for all aspects of working mothers’ lives, including work and family conflicts, balancing roles as a mother and employer/employee and child care

Make Room for Social Justice

Lead Coach Leadership Matters Consulting

Patricia Jerido


Patricia Jerido has earned her MSW, and served over 30 years as an advocate for social justice, so when she founded Leadership Matters Consulting, she engaged her skills to help those well-intentioned people who wanted to do good but needed a road map and guidance to truly make a difference in the world. She says the stakes are too high to rely on simply wanting to do good; we must employ strategy, discipline, review, candor, and compassion to make our work effective.
Since she was a small child during the Cold War, Patricia thought adults were way off the mark in focusing their energy on ways to destroy the world instead of making room for the people who could make the world a better place. Given that there are so many talented people in the world, Patricia wonders at the inefficiency of a society that would limit their participation. In fact, her view is to level the playing field by assisting those who need a step up to help create a socially just system that uses all of its resources for a sustainable way of life.

The Challenge Is to Dream Bigger

When Barack Obama was elected president, Patricia realized that she hadn’t been dreaming big enough.  The possibility of a black president had never occurred to her and suddenly it was real. To enlarge her dream, she became a Take the Lead Leadership Ambassador to help women reach parity by understanding their relationship with power. Patricia says that power is about connection. She realizes that she is more powerful when there are more people like her who have power. When she is the only person in the room, that’s when she has the least advantage. She says the key is to build your network by working with other people like yourself. Parity isn’t going to come by itself.
Like all social justice initiatives, we have to develop strategies and work toward that end. Patricia has her eye on the long view. Today, she speaks to groups about the need for patience to stay sane in this political environment. As an example, she explains that the Underground Railroad existed 35 years before the Civil War. Then she reminds them that it’s only May.

Mindfulness Meets Social Justice

Many of Patricia’s words of wisdom center on staying alert to what’s around you. With things so easy In today’s world, we’re apt to go on auto-pilot. Patricia warns against it. She agrees with the Dalai Lama who told Dr. Nancy that the fate of the world is in the hands of the western woman, but she must wake up to improve it. Patricia says that we must be aware of what we do and live our lives fully. To find out more, listen to this conversation and visit Leadership Matters Consulting.com and follow Patricia on Twitter @culturalmusings.

A Collaboration Crash Course

How to Join Forces With Other Women (When You’re Used to Going It Alone)
Collaboration is an incredibly valuable skill in today’s marketplace, and what’s more, women are naturals at it. But if you’ve always been the “lone (she) wolf” type, you may not know how to get started. Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly offers 10 tactics to kick-start your collaborating career. 
We all know that the ability to collaborate is a crucial skill in the global economy. And it’s not hard to see why. The problems faced by today’s organizations have gotten so incredibly complex that a diverse range of skill sets is needed to solve them. After all, no one can possibly be good at everything. No two people will ever arrive at exactly the same solution. And of course, there’s an amazing synergy that arises when we join forces with others.
And here’s the coup de grâce, says licensed psychologist Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly: Women are perfectly poised to catch and ride the collaboration wave to unprecedented heights.
“Women are hardwired to connect, to share ideas, to combine resources, and yes, to change the world,” says O’Reilly, who along with 19 other women, cowrote the new book Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life (Adams Media, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-440-58417-6, $16.99, www.drnancyoreilly.com). “This ability is the cornerstone of the women-helping-women movement that’s taking shape.
“Women are at our most powerful when we join forces, so if we don’t do it, we squander our greatest strength,” she adds. “Plus, working together for the greater good feels good!”
So what is collaboration? “Basically, it’s what happens when you put five women in a room and watch how they can make anything happen. The word impossible disappears from the language when we apply our individual talents with our power to achieve a common purpose.  We not only get it done in record time, we have a lot of fun doing it.”
“Magic happens when we collaborate,” she explains. “We’re influenced by each other’s take on things, and ideas begin to evolve. We draw from each other’s energy. Something entirely new is born, and it’s often far greater than anything one person could have come up with alone.”
One thing’s for sure: Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur seeking to start something new, an employer wanting to expand her company, or an employee hoping to “lean in” further, collaboration is an incredibly valuable skill for staying viable in today’s marketplace.
So if collaboration is as natural as breathing for women, why can’t YOU seem to do it? Maybe you’re steeped in the “rugged individualism” mindset. Maybe you’ve had some bad experiences with “group projects” in the past. Maybe you’ve even bought into the outdated notion that other women are competitors. For whatever reason, you’re just not used to seeking out other women to join forces with—and it’s time for that to change.
Here, O’Reilly shares 10 tactics to help you unlock the “power of sisterhood” by tapping into the women-helping-women movement:
Understand up front that collaboration goes beyond mere “connecting.” Technology may have made it easy to reach out to and network with a large number of people, but collaborating in a strategic way goes far beyond collecting LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, or Twitter followers. (Not that there is anything wrong with doing these things; actually, social media can be a valuable collaboration tool.) How deep and how broad our reach is, and how well we can partner with other women, determines our success.
“Collaboration is about building a real relationship with someone, not just striking a business deal or adding another name to your digital Rolodex,” O’Reilly comments. “So don’t rush to the close. Take it slow, get to know each other, take an interest, and follow up. Don’t miss out on the satisfaction of gaining a new friend.”
Think creatively about who you might collaborate with and why. Sometimes potential collaborations are fairly obvious. For instance, if you have expertise as an interior designer but lack experience with bookkeeping and managing a staff, you might partner with another woman who does have those skills. But other times, fertile collaborations aren’t so obvious. Think outside the box about who might have the same needs and goals as you.
“For example, let’s say you sell home alarm systems,” says O’Reilly. “You could seek out other businesses that have a customer base you’d like to tap into—like contractors and home builders—and pay them a percentage for referrals. I’ve even heard of women who collaborate with competitors. If one person is approached by a client who would benefit more from a competitor’s expertise, she refers that client—and vice versa. Ultimately, everyone wins—each woman is able to play to her strengths, and the client walks away happy.”
 Don’t gravitate toward women who are like you. It’s a natural human tendency to seek out and spend time with people who share our viewpoints, opinions, attitudes, and methods. It feels good when others validate how and what we think. But on the flip side, that’s not how we learn.
“Be careful that your efforts to collaborate don’t turn into groupthink or an echo chamber,” O’Reilly warns. “Instead, seek out women who have skills and strengths you don’t already have. Remember that as long as respect and civility are present, debates and disagreements are a good thing. That’s how amazing, higher-level creativity is fueled.”
 Set a collaboration goal. Put some numbers with it or get it on the calendar. Good intentions don’t mean much when it comes to successful collaborating. If you don’t have a finite goal to work toward, it will be all too easy to “think about it tomorrow,” Scarlett O’Hara-style.
“Decide that you’ll connect with X women a month or meet X times a month with a collaboration partner,” O’Reilly suggests. “Insert your own numbers depending on your circumstances, goals, and personality. Quantifying your intentions will force you to be accountable. Otherwise, your desire to collaborate will remain just a vague dream.”
Assume nobody is off-limits. You may assume that “eligible collaborators” have to work in your industry or be within a few rungs of you on the corporate ladder. This is not true. The world is full of all kinds of women, in all different industries, and at all levels of authority with whom you might mesh perfectly. In an ever-flattening world where hierarchies and titles are less important than ever, it doesn’t make sense to categorize potential collaborators this way.
“Don’t let how busy or important another person is hold you back from reaching out,” O’Reilly urges. “If you want to collaborate with a thought leader or C-suite resident, ask. I am usually pleasantly surprised by how willing women are to share ideas, best practices, advice, and support—even with so-called competitors.
“One of the things I love most about working with other women is that there really is a sisterhood that supersedes making money and getting ahead. Women who have achieved success know how much it means to help their ‘sisters’ get a leg up.”
When you approach someone, don’t just wing it. Whether your proposed project involves a business venture, a community cause, personal development, or something else, have a few ideas going in. Put together a convincing pitch and be prepared to sell your idea. If your idea is too vague and unformed, what should be a dynamic meeting of the minds can quickly fizzle out or turn into a rambling gab session (which is fun but doesn’t count as collaboration).
“You don’t need to (and in fact, shouldn’t) have every little detail mapped out, but you should be able to explain your overall goals for the project and what you envision each person bringing to the table,” O’Reilly notes. “While there is incredible synergy when talented minds meet up, they still need a plan to follow. Don’t expect something great to coalesce from idle chit-chat.”
On the other hand, don’t be too rigid or dominating. Even if you initiated a particular collaboration, stay open to the other woman’s thoughts and input. Let the interaction unfold organically, even if it veers from the path you’d envisioned. Nothing squashes creativity and innovation faster than a perceived lack of respect for others’ opinions.
“Believe me, I understand how difficult it can be to unclench, take a risk, and let other people have partial control of your ‘baby’s’ destiny,” O’Reilly acknowledges. “It isn’t always comfortable, but setting aside your original vision and staying open to 360-degree feedback is the best way to spot problems, work out kinks, and discover the most innovative ideas.”
Keep ideas doable (and fun). Keep in mind that most potential collaborators are likely to have plenty of preexisting commitments and responsibilities of their own. If you make your idea seem like just another box the other woman will have to check off her to-do list, you’ll be less likely to get her buy-in.
“All I’m saying is, don’t overwhelm the other woman by making your project seem like a ton of work or a huge drain on her time,” O’Reilly comments. “Your ideas need to be realistic and energizing so that she will want to be part of them.
“Often, it can help to pair your collaboration time with other activities,” she adds. “It doesn’t have to happen at a conference table during business hours. Get creative about when you collaborate. For example, you might ask the other woman to join you on your daily walk to discuss ideas. Or have a tête-à-tête while your kids play together at the park. And so on!”
 Make sure you’re not just a “taker.” Sure, collaboration is a group effort—but it’s one in which you need to pull your own weight. Even if you’re approaching women with more experience and/or resources, you must bring value to the table. Show that you are prepared for and invested in the project and make it clear that you are willing and ready to work hard.
“The women-helping-women movement isn’t about free lunches; it’s about combining forces,” O’Reilly comments. “Both parties need to benefit. Think long and hard about your knowledge and skills and how they can help your fellow collaborator. Spell this out up front so she won’t think you’re just looking for a free lunch.”
Think long term. If you can’t make a project happen with someone right away, don’t write her off forever. A “no” today might be a “yes” six months or a year down the road. Remember that successful women often have a lot on their plates, so whenever possible, stay flexible with your timeline. The wait will probably be worth it.
“If you get a ‘maybe later’ answer from a potential collaborator, check in every once in a while,” O’Reilly advises. “Be persistent without being annoying, and keep the other woman updated on any new ideas or progress that might affect how you work together.”
“Over the course of human history, many wise people have observed that we become like the people we spend the most time with,” O’Reilly concludes. “So why not seek out and work with as many smart, talented, passionate women as possible? Together, we have the power to change our lives, our industries, our communities, and our world!”

~

First appeared in Imperial Valley News on February 26, 2015. http://www.imperialvalleynews.com/index.php/news/living-and-lifestyle/1826-maximize-your-collaboration-skills-a-crash-course-for-the-lone-wolf.html

Imperial Valley News is an online publication for the Imperial Valley Weekly, a weekly newspaper serving the El Centro, CA area.

Leadership Lessons from Horses

Executive Coach, Author

Evelyn McKelvie


The transformation of her life and career as took place during her first experience with a horse, recalls Evelyn McKelvie, Executive Coach, author and founder of Equine Coach. She describes its effect on her as both physical and spiritual, to the degree that she felt her emotional body had been given a deep tissue massage. At the time she was working in Information Technology, which she calls a knowledge-based abstract intellectual pursuit, while learning all she could about horses and searching for a trainer. She found her perfect trainer in western Canada, named Chris Irwin, who opened her eyes to the secret world of horses, their language and the way they behave with each other. Erwin taught her how to communicate with horses so they understand her.
Evelyn began comparing the socialization of horses to that of humans in the workplace. Both species are mammals that perceive the world in terms of threats or safety. In fact, technology has recently shown that people react to potential threats much faster than possible rewards. Horses also perceive threats most of the time, but because of the difference in their brains and social patterns, their response is much different. In fact, the stability of the herd lies with everyone knowing their roles in the hierarchy and behaving within those roles.

First Respect, Then Trust, Finally Love.

Evelyn wrote a book about her experience and how she incorporates it into coaching called, The Executive Horse: 21st Century Leadership Lessons from Horses. She Executive Horse Book Coversays that the idea of the stallion as the leader came from the Victorians and is not how the herd actually works. The lead mare is acknowledged by the herd when she has proven that she can care for the herd and keep it safe. Horses don’t love until they know they can trust you. She describes the stallion as the doorman or bouncer who keeps other stallions from mating with the mares. But the leader is chosen by and earns her place within the herd. If humans chose their workplace leaders in the same way — based on behavior and character, instead of by power or money — Evelyn says our workplace leadership would be much more authentic, and our work more productive and positive.

Awareness of the Present Moment

Both Evelyn and Dr. Nancy talk about how you have to remain in the present when working with horses. Dr. Nancy laughs about what happens if you let your attention stray. Because of horses’ size and strength, self-awareness becomes absolutely imperative. Evelyn became comfortable with living in the now while riding. This present-focus kept her acutely aware of the interaction dynamic and how she could create a greater sense of ease and calm with the horse. If we would apply that to other humans, our relationships would be much more rewarding for both parties.
Evelyn invites everyone to check out her website. She has a 7-minute self-assessment there that only takes around seven minutes called “The 8-Fold Path of Equis,” which is based on the principles from her horse trainer. She also has a blog and offers to sign her book if you order it from her website. Also attend her monthly webinar in which she interviews women leaders with executive coach Carrie Galant at “Alpha Mare Leadership.
Be sure to listen to this interview for more comparisons and contrasts from Dr. Nancy and Evelyn between horses and humans. Learn how very much they have to teach us about creating relationships that work.

Leverage Your Strengths for Mutual Gain

Gallup Certified Strengths Coach

Marsha Friend-Berkson

Guiding teams down their paths to ever-greater success is the passion of Consultant and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach Marcia Friend-Berkson. When her marriage and business with her husband ended, her coach suggested that she analyze her with the Clifton Strengths tool. In organizing some work for an organization at the time, she realized that she naturally had tasks that energized her and others she pushed to the side. It was liberating to know that she could outsource those and focus on what she was good at.
What she learned about herself intrigued her so much that she took the workshops to become certified and for the past two years has helped several San Diego companies and social-profit organizations to utilize the system for their own team-building success. As Berkson says, when you leverage your strengths for the organization’s greater good, you realize that we’re all in this together and everyone contributes more when they work from a place of empowerment.
“What would happen when we think about what is right about people rather than fixating on what is wrong with people.”

– Donald O. Clifton, Father of Strengths Psychology

Dr. Nancy and Berkson talk about how people usually want to fix what needs improvement, rather than celebrating their talents. When Donald Clifton invented the tool, he thought it really could be transformative. Gallup’s measurement of it shows that when you leverage from your strengths, you’re three times happier in life and six times more engaged in your job. Berkson says that you soar when you understand your strengths, because they describe you, influence your choices and explain how you filter the world. And because you understand that you are good at some things, but not so great at others, you work in ways that are in sync with your natural gifts.
Women are typically strong at relationship-building skills, but don’t think it’s valued as much as analytical skills in business. However, when men discover how good women on the team are at collaboration and developing relationships, they reach out to leverage the skills that they lack. For the women, it’s validating and increases their sense of self-worth. For the men, it reveals how crucial these strengths are to the success of the organization.

Imagine being excited about going to work every day.

Gallup research shows that only 18% of the United States workforce are actively engaged in their jobs. Dr. Nancy quotes a statistic that reports over 50% of American workers are unhappy with their jobs. She wonders about how so many people could follow paths that leave them so dissatisfied.
Berkson says that’s why she is so excited about what happens to people when they find their own strengths. People get energized and happy to figure out why they are drawn to particular skill sets. People start to feel good about where their secret sauce is and how they can leverage theirs to have someone else support them.  The spirit of trust grows. The atmosphere becomes collaborative over leveraging each others’ strengths to reach a common goal. Her goal in the process is to ultimately help people become their own advocate and to be able to talk honestly about their strengths and how they would like to use them to accomplish their work.
To find out more about Berkson’s experience of how the assessment works with different organizations, listen to this interview. Then check out her website, marshaberkson.com,  for her on-going writings and to contact her with questions.

Scroll to top

SITE MADE WITH LOVE BY CHOICE DIGITAL MARKETING