Virtual Coaching: The Good, The Bad, And the Disclaimer

By: David Herdlinger

We’re living in an increasingly virtual world. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many industries were forced to embrace the remote or hybrid workplace a lot sooner than expected, or even regardless if they’d ever made such plans.

But like it or not, we now have countless digital opportunities at our fingertips, including professional coaching.

But does it work? Does video-calling your coach yield the same benefits as face-to-face meetings?

Let’s unpack the issue.

The Good of Virtual Coaching

Professional or personal coaching can be incredibly powerful for a lot of people in need of a little help reaching their goals.

But depending on where you live, you might not have access to the best coaches, or even not have one in your area at all.

Virtual coaching, therefore, allows many more people to access these types of services, from anywhere, and even at any time.

This leads to some compelling advantages:

  • Easily fit the coaching sessions into your busy schedule
  • Find more opportunities to get coaching even for niche matters
  • Get the chance to find a coach who can truly help your specific situation, etc.

The Bad of Virtual Coaching

There are two things I want to mention here:

First, you need to be careful who you trust. Since virtual coaching is on the rise, naturally many people may try to take advantage of them. It’s important to fully vet the coach and be sure you’re going to work with someone who’s experienced and can genuinely guide you to the success you look for.

That’s the biggest downside of virtual coaching.

But, there’s also a matter of what style you may respond best to. Simply put, some people still need face-to-face experience. The message resonates much clearer with them when they receive it live, as opposed to a video call.

The Disclaimer

I don’t think it’s necessarily productive to claim one style of coaching is better than the other. Both virtual and in-person coaching can provide you with a great experience.

Instead, be very careful how you select your coach, no matter if the meetings will occur in real life or through a digital platform.

There are some things you should always be looking for in a coach:

  • Compatibility – Like any relationship, you have to be compatible with your coach at least on some level;
  • Experience – If you’re going to learn from that person and take their advice, then they need to have the right experience to genuinely help you reach your goals;
  • Expertise – The coach is an expert in their niche, but is their niche right for what you need? Always be sure to check;
  • Trust – This is the foundation of any collaboration or relationship. If the coach isn’t the type of person you can trust to open up to, then your coaching experience will suffer because of it;

If you find someone compatible with you, has the right expertise and experience, and you feel you can trust them, then you don’t need to concern yourself with the virtual vs. real-life coaching debate.

Achieving Success: Do You Need Personal or Career Coaching?

By: David Herdlinger

It’s a question many of my clients looking to meet success often ask me: what type of coaching is most suitable for them and their goals?

Do you need a career coach to help you stay on track in your professional life? Or, do you need a personal development coach to help you unlock more fulfillment?

And the truth is… most people need both!

Unpacking the “Difference” Between Personal and Career Coaching

It’s easy to think that the two areas of coaching are completely distinct from each other.

When it comes to career coaching, you’d expect:

  • Analyzing your career path and opportunities
  • Get support in case you need to reassess your professional life
  • Unlock even more growth opportunities
  • Determining your goals and staying on your career path to meet them

While personal coaching seems to focus on other areas in your life:

  • Identify the skills you lack and build them (such as confidence, communication, etc.)
  • Create more opportunities for personal fulfillment and happiness
  • Finding ways to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Cultivating a sense of well-being in your life

If you look at it this way, it’s easy to think the two have almost nothing to do with each other. But before you consider working with two different coaches to reach your personal and professional goals, there is one key thing to understand:

These two facets in your life are so intertwined that working on one aspect automatically influences the other.

Success Is Determined by Having a Balance in Both These Worlds

Many personal issues can have a great impact on your professional life, positive or negative. And the reverse is also true.

Only when you have to make real choices, you can understand this strong link. You can’t truly help a person move forward in their career if they are battling with certain personal issues that are indirectly creating unnecessary obstacles. You can assist them in writing the best resumes out there, do countless mock interviews to ensure they get the job, but if, for instance, you don’t address the stress in their personal lives, you know their performance will be affected. And so will their ability to reach their goals.

Choose the “Right” Coach Instead of the “Right Type”

A coach is a person who provides you with 1:1 support to help you improve your life. The means to do it or the goals can differ from person to person, but that’s pretty much it.

So unless you’re looking to work on some very niche aspects of your life, I wouldn’t concern myself too much with the label that comes after “coach” as long as this person:

  • Has the right experience and qualifications
  • Understands your situation, and is able to genuinely empathize
  • Can provide you with support in a way that’s comfortable to you (such as face-to-face, online, on specific days, etc.)
  • You feel you can trust

And the last one is, by far, the most important! Because if you don’t trust your coach, you will not trust the process.

Take Care: Ground Yourself

How do you take care and ground yourself?

More than ever, it’s critical that we take care of our bodies and mind. After all, our success depends on being able to function in a healthy, productive manner.

So when your flight, fight, freeze, or fawn response is triggered, how do you respond? How do you signal to your body when you are in real danger, and when you are experiencing stress?

The term “stress” is overused and often misunderstood, as it’s bandied about to describe both cause and effect:

  • Cause: “There’s a lot of stress at work these days.”
  • Effect: “I’m so stressed that I can’t think straight.”

It’s interesting to note that while neuroscience has taught us a great deal about stress, we cannot always distinguish between the psychological state of stress and the physiological response to it. What is clear is that if we’re in a chronic state of high-level stress, emotional strain leads to physical consequences. The body responds with anxiety and depression, as well as high blood pressure, heart problems and cancer. Chronic stress eats away at the brain’s connective tissue.

We can’t completely eliminate stress. But, we can better manage our body’s natural responses to stress. We can take control, ground ourselves, and even improve our brain’s ability to function.

The Science

Severe stress activates the “emergency phase,” commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. It’s a complex physiological reaction that marshals resources to mobilize the body and brain to peak performance. Fortunately, it engraves the memory so we can avoid this stressor in the future.

Our ingrained reaction is essentially a three-step process:

  • Recognize the danger.
  • Fuel the reaction.
  • Remember the event for future reference.

Unfortunately, any amount of stress triggers neurological systems that manage attention, energy, and memory. Moreover, we can find ourselves in a constant state of stress. You see, the mind is so powerful that we can set off a stress response just by imagining ourselves in a threatening situation. It’s time to take good care and ground ourselves.

Grounded is a state of being when you’re feeling your emotions and you’re aware of your present moment experience. Being grounded also means that you’re feeling responsible for your safety and well-being. Grounding is an effective therapeutic approach for managing stress, anxiety, and improving overall mental health.

Stress and Your Autonomic Nervous System

The human body is pretty amazing. Not only can most of us choose if, when, where, how, and why to use it, there are systems that automatically work for us. Our autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates our breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and many other functions that allow us to survive.

The traditional view of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is that of a two-part system:

  1. Sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is more activating, and can be triggered by stress to fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. The burst of cortisol may cause our hands to sweat, voice to shake, and stomach to clinch as our pulse rate and blood pressure rise. These are the physical manifestations of anxiety.
  2. Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which counter-balances our SNS and supports health, growth, and restoration. When our brain believes we are safe, we slow down and our systems reboot.

The Vagus Nerve

Our vagus nerve (pneumogastric nerve) is difficult to track, but we know that it is the longest nerve in the ANS. It extends throughout our thorax (esophagus, trachea, heart, and lungs; respiration and circulation) to the abdomen (stomach, pancreas, liver, kidneys, small intestine, and portion of large intestine; digestion and elimination). The vagus nerve can be very powerful, especially when we are feeling stress:

  1. It can trigger the parasympathetic response.
  2. Communicates from the brain to the body and from the body to the brain.

Dr. J. Eric Vance, MD, writes in Psychiatric Times (May 2018) that we are in a constant state of surveillance for risk, safety, threats, and opportunities to respond. He refers to this process as “neuroception.” Fortunately, we can practice calming techniques that send a signal from our body to our brain that we are safe.

Activate Your Parasympathetic Response

Your parasympathetic response (PNS) is your body’s way of returning to rest or calm. Think of it like this: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) works to stimulate fight, flight, freeze, or fawn—ways to keep us alive when in danger. The parasympathetic response system is our parachute out of danger: this system regulates our emotions in stressful situations.

Fortunately, there are ways we can strengthen our parachutes:

  1. Practice deep-breathing (engage vagal tone). Your vagal tone is a measurement of your heart rate variability when practicing slow, deep breathing. A stronger vagal tone leads to better blood sugar regulation, heart health, and digestion; a reduction in migraines; and greater emotional stability and resilience. Lower vagal tone is associated with mood instability, depression, PTSD, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment, and inflammation. Fortunately, deep, slow breathing can increase your vagal tone and trigger parasympathetic response.
    1. To determine your vagal tone, find your pulse. Notice any change as you slowly breathe in and out. If it increases as you breathe in and decreases as you breathe out, you have a stronger vagal tone.
    2. To strengthen your vagal tone, practice slow, deep-breathing.
  2. Soften the eyes/gaze (use peripheral vision). Softening the gaze, or focus, relaxes nerves in and around the eyes. This often occurs naturally when you are lost in thought or daydream. Conversely, when your SNS has been triggered you may experience tunnel vision. When we use peripheral vision, we signal the brain and trigger the PNS.
    1. To soften your gaze, squeeze and relax your eyes. Expand your vision to the sides: notice what is at the outer edges of your vision.
  3. Valsalva maneuver (increase chest cavity pressure). This practice can trigger the heart to slow down.
    1. To practice this, bear down to compress your stomach to your pelvic floor. Alternatively, you can close your mouth, pinch your nose, and try to exhale as you would to alleviate ear pressure. My favorite practice is to breathe in slowly for five second, hold the breath while bearing down, and then slowing exhaling. I do this once or twice, then breathe normally for 30 seconds, and repeat the cycle.

These are just a few of the grounding techniques that we can use to activate our parasympathetic response. If you’d like more information, a qualified coach or therapist can help.

Lead with Love

As a business leader, how do you lead with love? How is love practiced in your organization?

Given the volatility of 2021, I’ve been exploring this facet of leadership. Tension and anger in the workplace is on the rise. Some HR researchers anticipate this will continue throughout 2022.

In a recent article published by Harvard Business Review (January 2022), eleven current trends foster ongoing workplace volatility. Some of the top issues leaders and managers will face include:

  • Fairness and equity
  • Vaccine mandates and testing
  • Shorter work week
  • Employee turnover
  • Permanent shift to remote technology/tools
  • Permanent hybrid work model
  • Wellness tactics, technologies, and metrics
  • The need for a Chief Purpose Officer (CPO)
  • Manager-employee interpersonal relationships

There is a growing urgency to strengthen manager-employee interpersonal relationships, and for some organizations, a shift or addition of a CPO. You see, at a minimum, the volatility we are experiencing creates stress for individuals, poor working relationships, and decreased productivity. Left unchecked, psychological abuse, violence, and ruin ensue. Great leaders can manage and even avoid these worst case scenarios by leading with love.

Our Need for Love

All humans need love: we need to be loved and nurtured, and we need to express love. For many, having healthy business and professional relationships is a top goal. Even the smallest act of kindness can help meet our need for love.

Leading with love is doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right spirit (motivation). This type of love embodies courageousness, discernment, justice, and humility—it’s not about our natural preferences.

Leadership, Love, and Blind Spots

When it comes to leadership and love, even the best leaders have blind spots. As Steven Snyder wrote in Leadership and the Art of Struggle, “Blind spots are the product of an overactive automatic mind and an underactive reflective mind.” This can be especially dangerous for leaders.

In Thinking Fast and Slow, psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman describes how our fast, automatic mind reaches conclusions (re: judgments) quickly, typically prematurely, and frequently incorrectly; but our slow, reflective mind challenges assumptions, generates alternatives, and objectively evaluates and analyzes them.

Fast thinking happens frequently. Unfortunately, it does not address leadership blind spots, especially when it comes to self-perception. You see, most of us have a blind spot for our good qualities and a magnifying glass for our flaws.

The more we deny these blind spots, the more miserable we become. Instead, we can change the stories we tell ourselves that result from habitual fast thinking.

Practice Self-love

First, take a deep breath to slow your pace and clear your mind. Think back to something you recently did that was loving and kind. Allow yourself to linger in that memory to rebalance your feelings. Then, practice forgiveness. One helpful technique is a loving-kindness meditation:

  • May I be happy
  • May I be well
  • May I be safe
  • May I be peaceful and at ease

Extend Love at Work

The loving-kindness meditation published on Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley  is a helpful way to extend love at work. This meditation was created by Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research Education, who define compassionate love as:

“…An attitude toward other(s), either close others or strangers or all of humanity; containing feelings, cognitions, and behaviors that are focused on caring, concern, tenderness, and an orientation toward supporting, helping, and understanding the other(s), particularly when the other(s) is (are) perceived to be suffering or in need.” (Sprecher & Fehr, 2005)

The Platinum Rule

People are starving for connection and hope amidst all of the uncertainty and fear we experienced over the past two years. In light of these issues, it’s crucial for leadership to offer love using what anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher describes as, The Platinum Rule: treat others not as you want to be treated (The Golden Rule), but as they want to be treated.

Ask, listen, confirm, offer, and if agreed, act.

Love What You Do at Work

According to a recently published article “Managing a Polarized Workforce,” (Harvard Business Review, March-April 2022), “conflict is an inescapable part of work life for employees at all levels.” Their recent survey of US companies reveals that 89% of respondents report experiencing conflict at work and “spend about 3.5 hours a week, on average, dealing with it.”

Given this environment, especially for those who do not thrive in conflict, how are we able to love what we do at work? It boils down to identifying that which is truly meaningful.

Language Matters

Language is powerful. It doesn’t merely describe, it shapes reality. Language becomes the filter through which we perceive the world.
When we talk about work that is truly meaningful, we are talking about the fundamental and essential human need of purpose. Great leaders and managers tap into what is truly meaningful by daily asking (and answering) three questions:

  • What ignites my passion in today’s work? Reclaim your resources—energy, time, and attention—from the urgent to the meaningful.
  • How can I bring true value to this moment? Disengage from emotional entanglements and take constructive action.
  • What would I like my legacy to be in this assignment? Bring more value and meaning to a seemingly onerous task.

Workplace Romance

When co-workers seek connection and friendship, should love or dating be verboten? Views and opinions vary greatly depending on the size of the organization, the history (of the organization and the individual), and the perceived risk of intimate alliances. And so do company policies.

According to a 2018 survey published by Harvard Law School, the number of close personal relationship policies is on the rise. They report that in 2017, more than 50% of respondents have formal, written policies and 78% discourage supervisor-subordinate relationships. However, this does not mean they have anti-fraternization policies. Why?

The Cons of Non-fraternization Policies

  • Grey areas: what is a close, personal relationship?
  • Enforcement: who monitors compliance?
  • Paternalism: should employers have the authority regarding personal matters?

The Pros of Non-fraternization Policies

  • Prevent sexual harassment
  • Mitigate organization’s legal risk
  • Curtail workplace favoritism/toxicity
  • Outline accountability processes and consequences

Clearly, there are multiple considerations, including the approach, the scope, and the consequences. While every employee should review their organization’s policies, leaders and managers should review for:

  • How does the policy address employee’s concerns?
  • What channels are in place to support employees? How can they report/disclose their intentions/status? Who must do this? (The more senior in the relationship?)
  • Where are the grey areas? Who is responsible for decisions in these areas?

Truly successful organizations are led with love; what is happening in your organization?

The Resilience Pill

We are seeing incredible advances in medical science in recent years: portable MRI machines, cancer treatments (radioligand therapy), sickle cell gene-editing treatment, an Alzheimer blood test, and vaccines. Is a resilience pill next?

Imagine: a simple pill that can increase our resilience. No more struggle with set-backs from uncertainty, mistakes, or failure. Stress would be something we could choose: the how, what, where, when, and why. After all, we know that some stress—eustress—is good for us.

According to The American Institute of Stress, eustress is the experience of a challenging event; it is a mindset that accompanies a challenge. And it helps us develop resilience.

Typically, we become more resilient through life struggles. We adapt and grow. But neuroscience reveals that some of us are a bit more lucky: we’re born with a bit more resilience at the start. For the less fortunate, a pill might just level the playing field.

The Study

Scientists have been digging in to the study of resilience and stress over the past two decades. One leader is Mount Sinai Health Systems. According to their research, the most resilient people have the ability to defend, bounce back, and find ways to create “a sense of safety, control, and social connection.”

When examining seemingly adaptive behavior, the researchers were surprised to find that genetics and neurochemistry played a role. They found differences in the molecular biology of resilient brains (as compared to less resilient). When stressed, specific genes in the nervous system become more active. But in the more resilient brain, the genes are more regulated.

This has led to pilot clinical trials with specific epilepsy and/or anti-depressant drugs to boost resiliency at the cellular level. Of course, at this early stage it is too early to predict the outcome. In the meantime, we’ll need to develop and cultivate our resilience in the more traditional ways.

Understanding Resilience

Over the past two years, this word has been tossed about everywhere: in headlines, podcasts, blogs, articles, talks, etc. I’ve noticed that there is a wide array of definitions, and subsequently, understanding. For example, from 2015-2020, 18 different approach processes were published in adult health research.

In the June 2021 issue of Frontiers in Psychology, researchers point to three challenges when it comes of understanding resilience: definition of positive outcomes, process descriptions, and identification of mechanisms that result in resilience. The authors suggest we need to reconsider some of the attributes of resilience.

The Research

Resilience research has been conducted in four primary scientific fields/waves:

  • Developmental psychology: This resulted in an acceptance and usage of resilient scales to identify and/or predict protective factors and resilient personality types, including environmental experiences that may occur at various developmental stages.
  • Developmental and ecological systems: This resulted in an understanding of resilience as a natural phenomenon resulting from many processes. For example: a sense of safety, positive social connections, feelings of competence and control, and positive outlooks.
  • Intervention and training: the technological advances in neuroimaging suggest the possibility to recover functioning after extreme stress.
  • Neurobiology: Studies on mechanisms, including neural plasticity and the interrelations between biological and psychological processes, reveal additional insights.

Researchers explain that our understanding of resilience has evolved from a trait-oriented approach to a process-oriented/outcome-oriented approach. However, there is no universal outcome measure for resilience. At best, there are three core qualifiers: adversity, positive adaptation, and positive outcome.

Adversity

The researchers define adversity as an exposure to significant adverse events or the risk thereof. The events may be acute and chronically stressful and range from daily life challenges to bereavement, job loss, or chronic events.

Positive Outcomes

  • Immunity, stability, or resistance: while this outcome may apply for acute crisis, no one is invulnerable when it comes to chronic adversity and/or significant trauma.
  • Bouncing back, or recovery: this implies that adversity is experienced in a specific trajectory for a specified period with a return to homeostasis.
  • Growth: unlike recovery, growth implies new, or the strengthening of functions and/or abilities.

Mechanisms of Positive Adaptation

  • Cognitive Reappraisal: positive (re)appraisal and attention control
  • Cognitive or regulatory flexibility: an ability to modify cognitive and behavioral strategies to respond accurately to changing environments
  • Attachment: secure attachment with family, teachers, therapists, or others
  • Hardiness: sense of purpose, agency/self-efficacy, growth-mindset
  • Neurobiology: functioning brain circuitries
  • Genetics: allele type may affect resilience to adversity.

At its core, resilience is a dynamic, multi-dimensional construct, and there is much more to learn. Today, we must rely on three systems, or sources, to build our resilience.

Build Resilience Today

  • Intra-individual sources: gender, sex, biology, physiology, health behavior
  • Interpersonal sources: education, family, competence and knowledge, interpersonal relationships and social groups, skills, and experience
  • Socio-ecological sources: access, formal, and informal institutions, geography, socio-economic status

Of course, access to resources varies greatly across the globe, and even within a community. We see signs of this more and more frequently as situations and behavior indicate persons are experiencing a lack of agency. How can we create a sense of safety (for self and others), a sense of control, and social connections?

Resilience Strategies

An effective strategy that helps build resilience is cognitive reappraisal. This helps us lessen negative emotions and increase positive emotions. Cognitive reappraisal is changing how we think about the situation.

Sometimes, it’s simply using a mantra, such as the Serenity Prayer: “Help me to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This can help us slow down, breathe, and connect with what we can change: our own thinking.

Researchers have found there are many psychological benefits when we experience positive emotions, without necessarily altering negative feelings. After all, it is unrealistic to avoid all negative emotions, such as loss or grief. But we can grow through these experiences when we change how we respond to the situation, including our thoughts and feelings about the situation.

You see, cognitive reappraisal can change the intensity and duration of our feelings. Neuroimaging reveals that when we practice this strategy over a period of time it actual changes our brains; cognitive reappraisal increases our overall sense of well-being and resilience. And when we build our own resilience, we can help others, too.

Get the Right People on Your Bus

As a leader, how do you get the right people on your bus?

While the U.S. unemployment rate declined to 3.9% in December 2021, many managers and leaders feel an increasing urgency to fill open positions. And it’s understandable: short-staffed teams are at greater risk for disengagement, errors, and burnout. So, it’s not uncommon to see new-hire incentives including signing bonuses, flex work schedules, and childcare grants.

Unfortunately, filling open positions with the wrong person can make matters worse. When this topic comes up with leaders and managers, I hear about the impact to efficiency and productivity, client trust, and the triple-bottom line.

Instead of hiring the wrong person, great leaders improve their recruitment efforts, discernment in talent selection, and development (and support) of their existing talent pool.

The Pressure to Hire

Even in the best of times, getting the right people on the bus is a persistent challenge for leaders and managers. After all, talent is a critical driver of corporate performance. Consider the factors that greatly influenced the past two decades:

  • The irreversible shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age: an average of 1.9 million new knowledge workers was needed every year.
  • Intensifying demand for top-performing managers
  • Drop in the number of workers ages 20-54: in the U.S., this was 10 million fewer than anticipated from 2000 – 2020.
  • Ability to search for and find other positions (switching from company to company)
  • Ongoing earnings inequality

As a result, managers often feel pressured to hire, even if it is not the right fit. This contributes to hiring mistakes, attrition, and increased expenses. It also impacts the organization’s potential managerial and leadership talent pool.

Avoid These Hiring Mistakes

Even in the best of times, managers report that the hiring process is time consuming and often frustrating. This leads to a negative bias, and an increased risk of impulsive hiring. Eager, energetic, and articulate candidates become more attractive when hiring decisions rely too heavily on interview impressions and intuition.

Consider the 85 years of data collected and analyzed by Frank L. Schmidt and John E. Hunter. Their research reveals that employment interviews are only 57% accurate when it comes to getting the right people on the bus. This is only slightly better than a coin toss.

Instead, great leaders develop a process tailored for their organization and culture. They commonly assess candidates on intelligence, work sample (results portfolio or work sample test), integrity test (conscientiousness), and structured interviews.

However, before testing and interviewing can take place, it is critical to understand the real performance requirements. This is the time to review, and if necessary, update job descriptions. It’s important to know what you are looking for.

The Best Job Descriptions

The best job descriptions reflect what needs to get done today, and in the near future. Savvy leaders and managers also focus on the behavior and traits necessary to achieve desired results. They consider how the role:

  1. Solves current and future anticipated business challenges/needs.
  2. Impacts (affects/interacts/collaborates) other teams, departments, lines of business.
  3. Benefits from specific competencies and traits.

For example, a combination of four key traits has the greatest impact on workplace teams, according to a recent article in Harvard Business Review. These include:

  1. Reliability: Flexibility only goes so far if an employee is unreliable.
  2. Readiness: A growth mindset may be more important than training and experience.
  3. Attitude: Positivity is contagious.
  4. Communication: Look for clarity, coherence, and comprehension.

Performance & Outcome Job Descriptions

If the past two years has taught us anything, it’s the importance of flexibility and adaptability. However, what got us here may not get us there. Sure, experience and skills are important. But an outcome-oriented job description is a better predictor of future performance. For example, “reduce operating expenses by 9% within the first six months” emphasizes performance and potential and provides measurable objectives.

Talent Attraction and Management

Talented, high performers may expect top-pay and perks, but they need to believe in and feel passionate about what they are doing. Over the past two decades, creative freedom was a priority for many; today it is the balance of freedom and safety. Attracting top talent requires the right messaging.

One way to evaluate this is to review your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Does it truly reflect the real employee experience: culture, values, work satisfaction, leadership, compensation, and more? How do you know this?

Employee Survey

Ask your employees what they value. You can offer options and/or write in answers, and ask them to rank in importance. For example, top performing managers often report that they value:

  • Exciting work
  • A value-drive culture
  • Great leaders in a great company
  • Incentives and rewards
  • Opportunities for growth, development, and advancement
  • The ability (and support) to meet personal and family commitments.

Ask what they would change. How could their work experience improve? What about the organization?

Keep your survey as short and simple as possible, and start with why: how you will use the information to improve their work experience. Follow-up with the results of your survey and any action (next steps) you will take.

Retain Top Talent

Providing optimal working conditions is even more crucial for leaders and managers. Monitor tasks, conditions, and outcomes and their relationship to roles, responsibilities, and strengths:

  • Communicate: Provide status updates and opportunities for real-time dialog.
  • Consider support strategies: Help people “play” at work, develop strengths to achieve mastery of their work, and ways to reward their efforts and results.
  • Re-examine roles and responsibilities: Consider if/how to create new/different/temp/AI positions), or hire for a different position.

While we may learn from our mistakes, we grow even more when our successes are noticed and praised. Recognize achievements, efforts, and attitudes.

Many factors cause disengagement, but the most prevalent is feeling overwhelmed—physically, mentally, or emotionally.  Acknowledge this in your employees. Our level of engagement depends on how we feel: optimistic, grateful, autonomous, able, hopeful, supported. We need to feel true appreciation.

Renew Yourself: The Power of Awe

When was the last time you experienced an overwhelming sense of awe? How did it transcend your understanding of the world?

Even if you can’t answer these questions, chances are the experience lifted your spirits and increased your joy. Maybe that’s why some holiday traditions begin and continue over centuries: they are a way to renew yourself.

Consider the first time you recall seeing the lighting of a Christmas tree. Were you warm, or cold? Was it daytime, or nighttime? Who was there? Chances are your caregivers were focused on your reaction and able to view the spectacle through your eyes, turning a task into something extraordinarily awesome.

Unfortunately, responsibility and daily pressures can rob us of awesome experiences as we focus more and more on organized, goal-directed, and competitive activities. (Yes, it is possible to turn tree-trimming into a competitive sport.) Add to that the strain of uncertainty and ongoing changes experienced with a pandemic, and our worlds seem to shrink and shrivel. We lose our ability to experience awe.  Fortunately, we can cultivate awe.

The Benefits of Awe

To be sure, stress can be tiring. Even the holiday season can leave us feeling a bit frazzled and worn down. But before you dismiss cultivating awe as another task for your to-do list, consider the benefits of awe. Experiencing awe allows us to:

  • Enhance our connection to and with others. We become more aware of how we are connected.
  • Be more comfortable with uncertainty. Our need or desire for cognitive control decreases.
  • Take risks. Experiencing awe increases our need to take risk, and we become better able to do so.
  • Gain greater understanding of our sense of self, our history, and our place in the world.
  • Reduce inflammation. Experiencing awe improves our physical health as it positively impacts our cytokine response.
  • Be curious, courageous, and move forward.

Defining Awe

Awe can be difficult to precisely define. Many people describe awe as a human response to a spiritual presence; a complex emotion that can be positive or negative. According to scientific research conducted by behavioral neuroscientists, “Awe differs from common positive emotions, triggered by vast stimuli, and characterized by a need for accommodation (NFA).”  Based on studies of people in 30+ countries, researchers have identified certain properties of awe. These include:

  • Vastness: anything perceived as being immense in physical size, social status, scope, or complexity as compared to the self. In addition, awe comes from a vast variety of sources, including physical, epistemological, temporal (i.e. how music can stretch time)
  • Transcendence: awe transcends our understanding of the world and requires a new mental schema reorganization to accommodate the experience(s).
  • An embodied response (universal patterns of behavior), including emotions, the nervous system, and a brain state:
    • Down regulation n of the pre-frontal cortex, responsible for executive function/intentional control
    • Up regulation of the DMN (the default mode network, which is the interaction between multiple areas of the brain that are active during ideation: imagination, divergent thinking, creativity, innovation, etc.)
    • Increase of activity in the right side of the brain (and decrease in the left), which is correlated to the brain state when people engage in society or culture

Awe has a widespread effect on our sense of self. Studies also find that awe affects our sense of time, humility, prosocial behavior, and life satisfaction, all great reasons to cultivate awe.

How to Cultivate Awe

While many of us have had fewer opportunities (or the ability) to travel, socialize, or even work face-to-face with others, it is possible to renew yourself with small daily doses of awe. Keep in mind that by its very definition, awe comes in a vast variety of sources: what works for one person, may not work for another. So, start with a little inventory of your own awesome experiences.

  • Awesome writing! Block ten minutes early in your day to cultivate awe. Scan your memories for awesome experiences. It might be something you witnessed, read about, or an event in which you took an active role. Consider the ways in which you experienced the vastness: was it physical, psychological, or both? Describe your experience in writing with as much detail as possible. What did you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel? How did you respond? What did you learn; how did you change?
  • Awesome reading! Again, block ten minutes early in your day to find and read an awe inspiring story. It might be a biography, a scientific discovery, a blog post, or a news story. (Avoid negative or clickbait headlines.) As you find stories that trigger awe, curate go-to sources (websites, journals, blogs, etc.) Look for stories that illustrate a sense of vastness (physically or psychologically) and alter your understanding of the world (and your place in it.)
  • Awesome tripping! This may take a bit more time than ten minutes, but depending on where you live (or work), it may require as little as 30 minutes daily. You see, awesome tripping is about being in nature; it’s noticing the natural state of things around you, including the landscape and weather. Go for a walk, sit in a park, visit a museum, or simply stand outside. Even viewing nature virtually—through photos, paintings, videos, etc.—can create awe. (Here’s the research.) So, if you can’t get outside and experience nature “in person,” experience nature virtually.

Remember, awe comes from a vast variety of sources. Explore your own personal, historical sources of awesomeness, and be open to future opportunities. Consider spending time with younger and older individuals. Children can help you see the world as novel and wondrous. Older, more experienced individuals might just be a hero in disguise.

Show Up for Your Best Self

How do you show up for your best self?

Let’s face it: the past 20 months have not been easy. Remaining open, yet vigilant; positive, yet cautious; and resilient, yet flexible has been no easy task. For many, taking care of our loved ones has taken precedence over care for our self. Yet, if we don’t show up for our best self, how do we fully recover and care for others? How do we live our best life?

Demonstrating care (and affection) for ourselves begins with self-compassion. To some degree, everyone suffers. It is part of being human. Unfortunately, denying our suffering may make us more prone to self-sabotage.

Practicing self-compassion means acknowledging that we may be self-handicapping: we anticipate a real or imagined obstacle to living our best life and use it as an excuse for inaction. We practice self-compassion when we recognize this as an ineffective mechanism against suffering, and begin to notice this behavior.

As clinical psychologist and author Alice Boyes, PhD, writes for Harvard Business Review, practicing self-compassion has four components:

  • Practicing a kind tone (and language) that appeals to you.
  • Accepting pain and suffering are part of being human.
  • Allowing and recognizing all feelings (without attachment).
  • Anticipating that you can and will do the best you can at any point in time.

Unfortunately, our self-handicapping can be very subtle. It’s also one of the ways we get and stay stuck, trapped in the familiar, or worse, bad habit loop.

Recognize Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage can be cunning, especially for highly intelligent and successful people. For example, resting on past accomplishments (too much positive thinking) can sabotage future success. Here are nine other ways we self-handicap:

  • Negative thinking (“I’m not good enough.”)
  • Withholding/silence (Not contributing/responding/offering ideas.)
  • Delaying action (Failing to act.)
  • Excuse making (“I don’t have the time/resources.”)
  • Failure to accept responsibility (Similar to excuse making, we may point to others or circumstances outside of our control.)
  • Adopting a “good-enough” attitude to avoid failure/rejection. (Becoming too risk averse.)
  • Imbalance of focus: too small picture
  • Focusing more on feelings, rather than facts.
  • Allowing (or encouraging) distractions to derail us.

Understand Why We Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage just might be another part of being human. Fortunately, our brains can help us thrive in the face of adversity, practice self-compassion, and become our best self. We know this through the study of positive neuroscience—the study of positive psychology using neuroimaging techniques to explain the neurobiology.

To some degree or other, we are inundated with information or situations that can evoke an emotion. Whether it is happiness, gratitude, sadness, sympathy or any other emotion, we vary in how we respond. One study leads researchers to conclude that happier people are better able to see opportunities without missing threats.

The Research

Happier people—persons with high positive affectivity—are typically characterized as open-minded, sociable, and helpful. They have high energy and enthusiasm, are alert and active, and have confidence in their ability to achieve—if not now, then later. Persons with high negative affectivity are typically characterized as having a poor self-concept. Nervousness, guilt, fear, disgust, contempt and/or anger are common experiences in persons with high negative affect. 

With the use of fMRI studies, researchers find that our amygdala responds to emotional stimuli according to our affective style. If we have a more positive affect style we are less reactive to stimuli, are better able to regulate our emotions, and our disposition is more positive. If we have a more negative affect style we are more reactive, less able to regulate emotions, and our disposition tends to be more negative. (This is not all bad news: negative affectivity does have benefits.)

According to researchers, our affective style is the result of our genes, attachment style, adversity in early life, and mental disorders. While there is nothing we can do to go back in time to change our genetics or early life influences, we can change our style, specifically, how our brains respond to emotional stimuli or situations.

Self-Sabotage Alternatives

When taking action to counter self-sabotage, especially self-compassion, it’s helpful to understand how emotion regulation can change the brain. While it’s important to recognize the feeling, name it, and allow it to happen, regulating emotions has a bit more nuance.

Emotion regulation is an attempt to influence what, when, and how an emotion is experienced. According to Stanford Professor of Psychology James J. Gross, PhD, and the November 2021 research paper, Assessing Emotion Regulation Ability for Negative and Positive Emotions: Psychometrics of the Perth Emotion Regulation Competency Inventory in United States Adults, we can, and do, regulate both negative and positive emotions. Gross, and his fellow researchers, posit that this ability is “a cornerstone of adaptive psychological functioning.” And they are not alone.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, emotion regulation techniques are a way to show up for your best self: emotion regulation can change our brain. First, let’s look at some of the conscious techniques:

  • Avoidance: avoiding a situation
  • Focus: noticing breath or other repetitive pattern
  • Seeking support: contacting a friend or support person
  • Smiling: forcing a smile, even by clamping a pen or pencil in your mouth, can stimulate the amygdala, releasing “feel good” neurotransmitters  
  • Exercise

Researchers find that two techniques, cognitive reappraisal and meditation, have lasting impact on our affective style

Cognitive Reappraisal

The technique of cognitive reappraisal can alter the emotional impact of a situation by changing how you think about the situation. Not only can you use this strategy to lessen negative emotions, reappraisal can increase positive emotions. This is important because it allows you to experience your feelings, including unavoidable and constructive negative feelings, and increase the psychological benefits of positive feelings.

You see, when we reframe our thoughts about a situation, experience, or stimulus, we can experience change in our emotional response. Research finds that using cognitive reappraisal correlates with activity changes in specific parts of the brain. We can change the intensity and duration of the emotion, depending on the tactics and frequency.

Meditation

Mindfulness meditation—such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)—which focuses on the experience of thoughts, sensations, and emotions by simple observance—has been used in many neuroscientific studies of emotion regulation. Researches find that:

  • Long-term meditators are better able to accept their emotions.
  • Short-term (8-week) MBSR training increased the functional connectivity between the amygdala and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and the ability to regulate emotions.  

There are other strategies to counter self-sabotage and show up for your best self, including spotting the warning signs, stating your goals, and working toward mastering a domain that you value. A qualified coach can help you develop strategies and techniques that work best for you.

The Importance of Coaching Today

How is your organization working within the ever-growing gig economy? Let me ask: how do leaders engage with and develop future leaders?

This is a frequent topic of discussion with many millennials today. And it’s no surprise. The number of entrepreneurs, freelancers, or gig workers—those independent contractors who offer services in “one and done” or project contracts—is growing.  

According to data the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics collected in 2005, 2-4% of all workers were contingent (i.e. short term) and 7% were alternative (freelance, independent consultants, or on-call workers). In 2017, the total number grew to 34%, or 55 million workers, and according to Reuters.com, was projected to rise to 43% for 2020. (Studies are still pending.)

When half of U.S. workers polled prefer the flexibility of independent or gig work, retaining high-performers, and identifying and developing future leaders, is more important than ever before.  

Effective Execution

Recovering from a crisis is a process. It takes time, preparation, and effective execution: a culture that executes specific behaviors and techniques. Going beyond recovery for competitive advantage requires a discipline and system: a comprehensive understanding of the business, its people, and its environment.

An effective execution links three core processes of any organization: the people process, the strategy, and the operating plan to achieve its mission and goals. But in a gig economy, the three core processes are at greater risk to disconnect. Leadership, regardless of level, must be passionately engaged in the organization.

The importance of coaching today cannot be overstated. It is no longer reserved for problem employees or top performers. Enabling all employees to achieve business objectives in the shortest possible time is critical for success.

What Type of Coaching is Best?

At its core, the objective of coaching is to increase performance, achievement, and/or well-being in individuals, teams, and organizations through proven methods grounded in scientific research. There are many types of coaching (and many ways to achieve results), in four broad categories with different emphases:

  • Behavioral Coaching/Coaching Leaders
  • Life Coaching/Career Coaching
  • Coaching for Organizational Change.
  • Strategy Coaching

While there are distinctions between coaching, consulting, mentoring, advising, and counseling, qualified coaches meld differences into a successful coaching process at different times in particular situations.

Debunk Coaching Myths

One of the greatest coaching myths is that coaching is simply goal setting with accountability and a bit of “rah-rah” or hype for motivation. Sure, taping in to the human spirit is an important component to expand human capacity to achieve stretch goals. But more importantly is to consider and alter the underlying context in which goal setting, motivation, and feedback occur.

Underlying context is all of the conclusions, beliefs, and assumptions you (and/or the group of people) have reached in order to succeed. It is shaped by the shared interpretations you have about your business environment. It also includes the management culture, inherited or self-imposed. This basic cultural context must be considered in creating a framework for effective coaching.

Effective Coaching

Today’s successful organizations rely on a new kind of management culture, one that is based on creating new knowledge. This requires constant learning. A crucial catalyst in this new management culture is the transformational coach. His or her job is to provide direction while leaving plenty of room for people to pursue their passions, personal interests, and projects.

In its simplest terms, effective coaching involves expanding people’s capacity to take effective action. It involves challenging underlying beliefs and assumptions that are responsible for one’s actions and behaviors. At its deepest level, effective coaching examines not only what one does, and why one does what one does, but also who one is.

Measure Your Coaching ROI

When applying common return on investment (ROI) standards for evaluating training and development programs, the amount of variables challenges the ability to establish reliable data. It is difficult to quantify data of a qualitative nature.

The marketplace is perhaps the most vocal proponent of the use of coaching. Top corporations and leading organizations are among those that invest heavily in hiring coaches for their executives. According to ibisworld.com, 2021 annual spending on business coaching in the U.S. will reach $10.9 billion.

Organizations, entrepreneurs, and even gig workers with smaller budgets are wise to follow. Successful companies don’t throw money at programs that don’t have a positive impact on their bottom line—or, at least, they don’t for very long. Even so, the question remains how to measure the ROI.

5 Key ROI Indicators

To measure your ROI, look to changes in individual and/or team:

  • Productivity
  • Outlook/feelings
  • Specific behaviors and/or skills
  • New insights that support progress toward goals
  • Qualitative and quantitative measures: feedback, scores, self-reporting, etc., and what matters most to the client.

Get the Most from Your Coaching

Consider these questions to ensure that those being coached, as well as the organization, are getting the most from coaching:  

  • Is the organization committed to coaching as a process, rather than just an event?
  • Are supervisors of those being coached committed to the coaching process?
  • What are the types of changes that you hope will result?
  • Have you established internal measurements to identify when you have achieved success?
  • What are the benchmarks/baselines/waypoints on those measures?
  • Do you have a control group identified?
  • Are you using the right period of time (at least 18 to 24 months) to properly achieve the results you are looking for?
  • Have you considered indirect measures? (i.e. employee satisfaction or turnover)
  • Are you measuring the coach on the results that the coach achieves or the time that the coach spends?
  • Have you ensured that one of the measurements is perceived improvement, as viewed by those who work with the coachee on a frequent basis?
  • Based on everything that you know about the person being coached, is there a reasonable probability for change?

What’s Most Important to You

When working with your coach, talk about your important needs—what really matters. Here are seven other tips to get the most from your coaching:

  • Make space for feelings. Feelings drive behaviors. To change behaviors, change how you feel. Awareness is the first step.
  • Simplify. Simplification also creates space, which allows you to learn and evolve.
  • Make yourself a priority. Examine activities, environments, and attitudes that impact your energy. Identify ways to reduce drains and replenish your energy.
  • Be curious and open. Be willing to examine your assumptions, ways of thinking, expectations, beliefs, and reactions.
  • Practice mindfulness and awareness. Sensitize yourself to see and experience things quicker.
  • Clarify goals and objectives. Ensure you and your coach are clear about your goals, short- and long-term.
  • Improve feedback skills. Practice giving your coach feedback, especially at the end of each session.

Coaching is a developmental process. As you evolve, you will think differently. A more accurate and expanded personal vision of yourself—and your place in the world—will replace outdated beliefs and assumptions. You’ll learn how to accomplish more with less effort.

The Learning Style of Leaders

What is your learning style?
Depending on when you attended school, you may have been tested and/or identified as a particular type of learner: the way you process and retain information. Typically, most children learn through the five senses, including seeing, hearing, touching, and doing/moving (which can include tasting/smelling). As adults, we bring depth of experience and greater self-awareness to our learning.
The theory of learning styles is not new and has evolved since it was introduced in the 70’s by social psychologist David A. Kolb. According to Kolb, our styles are based on genetics, experiences, and current environment. With his colleague Ron Fry, Kolb identified a four-stage experiential learning cycle:

  1. Observation of concrete experiences
  2. Reflection and interpretation of observations (creation of hypothesis)
  3. Formation of abstract concepts (generalizations)
  4. Testing of new concepts in different situations

Learning Preferences
Kolb and Fry posit that learning preferences are based on two continuums:

  1. Active experimentation <—>  Reflective observation
  2. Abstract conceptualization <—> Concrete experience

When combined, the two dimensions create four learning styles:

  1. Converger (Active & Abstract) This type of learner is known for their practical application of ideas.
  2. Accommodator (Active & Concrete) Known for their agility and adaptability, this type of learner is an active, risk-taking doer.
  3. Assimilator (Reflective & Abstract) This type of learner is known for their research and planning abilities, and they excel in creating theoretical models.
  4. Diverger (Reflective & Concrete) Known for their ability to see the big picture and create meaning, this type of learner is often most creative.

Understanding learning styles can help us become better leaders. However, we can achieve greater success—personally and professionally—by learning how to think and learn in new ways.  When we limit ourselves to a particular type of learner we can miss learning opportunities and important lessons, both critical to reach our full potential as leaders.
Debunk the Myths of Learning Styles
One of the most widely accepted learning style theories is that everyone (including children and adults) has a specific aptitude for processing different types of information and instruction. Perhaps this explains why over 70 models have been created since Kolb and Fry began their work, including Neil Fleming’s VARK model: visual, auditory, read/write, or kinesthetic/tactile (hands-on).
However, studies fail to show a “statistically significant relationship” between learning styles and comprehension. You see, we learn best when we experience a blend of cognitive (knowledge/information), affective (attitudes/beliefs), and behavioral (practical/practice) activities. If you want to learn to think and learn in new ways, expand your cognitive capacities.
Howard E. Gardner, developmental psychologist, renowned professor, and senior director of Harvard Project Zero, has spent decades researching the development of the human mind. His studies on how people learn, create, lead, and influence others are the foundation for his book, Five Minds for the Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2009).
Expand Cognitive Capacities
According to Gardner, we can expand our cognitive capacities in five different kinds of minds:

  1. Disciplined mind: a mastery in at least one specific scholarly discipline, craft, or profession. With a joyful passion to know more, a disciplined mind continues to learn as more information emerges every day.
  2. Synthesizing mind: an ability to discern crucial information across disciplines. By weeding out the false or unimportant, the synthesizing mind can organize new information (and skills) to make sense for self and others.
  3. Creating mind: the knowledge to make quality, acceptable judgments that pose new, relevant questions, offer new solutions, and/or create new genres. Creating minds also have a disciplined mind and require a medium to work with or against along with performance opportunities.
  4. Respectful mind: the capacity to welcome different ideas, opinions, and needs that moves beyond tolerance for greater understanding and unity. Respectful minds respond to differences among individuals and groups constructively and with empathy.
  5. Ethical mind: the tools to conceptualize how to move beyond self-interests to improve the lot of all. Ethical minds act consistently with conceptualizations, striving for good work and ethical balance in micro to global environments.

The first three kinds of minds deal primarily with cognitive capacities. The last two deal with our relations to other human beings. Unless we increasingly place value on diversity and common good, we risk our very survival.
As Gardner writes “…it is not enough to state what each individual or group needs to survive on its own turf. In the long run, it is not possible for parts of the world to thrive while others remain desperately poor and deeply frustrated. Recalling the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We must indeed all hang together, or, must assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
The critical questions to ask are:

  1. With which of these minds do I already show strength?
  2. How can I expand my cognitive capacities?
  3. Where can I stretch my abilities to enable growth?
  4. Which of these minds do I need to learn?
  5. Who in my organization can help mentor me?
  6. How can I assist others with this knowledge?

A Mindset for Learning
As a leader, how do you learn? Let me ask: when was the last time you learned something in a new way?  Was it intentional, or unexpected?
The mindset we develop over the years (heavily influenced by our caregivers, educators, or other environmental factors, like a pandemic) exerts a powerful impact on our attitudes and beliefs toward learning and achieving.
As psychologist, Stanford professor, and author Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., shares in her audiobook, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, (Random House Audio, 2019) our mindset creates our whole mental worldview and determines whether we approach life with an optimistic or pessimistic attitude. It shapes our goals, our attitudes toward work and relationships, and ultimately, it predicts whether we reach our full potential. How?
We have one of two basic mindsets:

  1. Growth: open to growth and learning, this open mindset believes that one can always do better.
  2. Closed: closed to growth and learning, this closed mindset is entrenched in the belief that natural talents and abilities predetermine success.

With a growth mindset we believe that we can always learn more, do more, and improve. We are confident, yet humble enough to do the work required to expand our potential. Our open mindset allows us to seek and accept criticism as important feedback—not a personal insult.
With a closed mindset we believe success is based on innate talents; we shouldn’t have to work hard to achieve (change, grow, improve, etc.) Abilities are set in stone: either you have them, or you don’t. A closed mindset requires that you prove yourself over and over again. This is the path to stagnation, or worse.
A closed mindset chips away at our confidence and sense of self. As a result, we try to look smart and accomplished at all costs. We seek validation of our worth and want to be “right,” instead of showing an interest in feedback and willingness to make changes or adjustments.
If you have an open (or growth) mindset, you know your talents can be developed and that great abilities are built over time. This is the true learning style of leaders: the path of opportunity and leadership success.
Explore Attitudes and Beliefs
What are your attitudes and beliefs about your own intelligence? Consider the statements listed below. Which is most true for you at this point in time?

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic that cannot change much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how intelligent you are, you can always improve.
  4. You can substantially change how intelligent you are.

The first two statements reflect a more closed mindset, while three and four indicate a more open or growth mindset. Now, consider other key areas, roles, or abilities in your professional and personal life. For example, substitute creativity, relationship skills, or parenting for intelligence. Where is there room to improve your attitude or beliefs?
The Learning Mindset for Leaders
In his best-selling work, Good to Great (Harper Business, 2011) Jim Collins writes about the type of leader who takes companies to greatness. They’re not larger-than-life, charismatic types who ooze big egos and self-proclaimed talent. Rather, they’re self-effacing individuals who constantly ask questions and have the ability to confront the most brutal answers. They look failures in the face, including their own, while maintaining faith that they’ll succeed in the end.
Collins calls such open-mindset executives “Level 5 Leaders,” who:

  1. Always work on self-improvement.
  2. Surround themselves with the most able people they can find.
  3. Look squarely at their own mistakes and deficiencies.
  4. Identify the skills that they and their companies will need in the future.

These traits allow them to move forward with confidence grounded in facts, not built on fantasies about their own talents.
Open-mindset leaders aren’t afraid of debate and questioning. They prod—and then prod deeper—to uncover realities and weaknesses.
Anyone can change his or her mindset. It requires conscious practice and vigilance, as well as a willingness to be open to learning and changing.
Still, it’s not easy to let go of something that has felt like your “self” for many years and has served as your path to self-esteem. It’s especially difficult to replace it with a mindset that requires you to embrace issues that feel threatening: challenge, struggle, criticism, and setbacks.
You see, we adopt a closed mindset because it protects us from feeling vulnerable. But opening up to growth allows us to experience the fulfillment of our real potential. This is the true learning style of leaders.