A Simple Trick to Create a Great Team

We’re currently working with a number of organizations with relatively new leadership teams. As is often the case, the people on these teams have made their way up the organizational ladder because they have succeeded in their department or in a specific area of expertise.

While it makes sense that they would move up in leadership as their skills grow, the transition to higher levels of leadership requires a major shift in their approach and mindset. In particular, they need to foster an environment of shared ownership for the success of the business as a whole, not just in their area of responsibility.

Great leadership teams understand that, together, they own the success of the whole.

Yet, when you ask people to describe the leadership teams that they are a part of, few describe a great team that works together to create organizational or departmental success while creating success for their individual areas of responsibility. Few understand the kinds of things they must communicate so that they are making decisions with an awareness of how those decisions ripple through the other areas of the organization. 

Developing a great team happens over time as individuals build shared history, succeed in the face of significant challenges, fail in ways that hurt, and learn to disagree in ways that support them working together to create success. That said, we have found a simple action that can accelerate this movement toward greatness. A simple, almost silly seeming, action that has a profound impact on team success. Placing a ball, the size of a volleyball on a drinking glass at the center of the table when the team meets.

Sounds crazy, right? But consider this . . . Your organization is like this volleyball on the table.

There are areas of your organization that are hard to see, just like the part of the ball sitting on the glass and the part of the ball at the top in the center. 

With effort you can see those areas but day-to-day, as you sit in your seat around the leadership team table, those areas are hard to see. And from your vantage point, you, individually, can only see about one-third of the ball. As is true in your day-to-day role, you actually see a very small slice of the overall organization. 

With the volleyball – your organization at the center of the table – you can see that:

  • You need enough people, and the right people, at the decision-making table to ensure that someone has eyes on all aspects of the organization or at least as much as you can see.
  • If you aren’t communicating with your team members regularly and thoughtfully, you will be missing two-thirds of the data about what is going on. 
  • If you make significant decisions without collaborating with the members of your team, the ripples of those decisions could impede the success of other teams and the organization. 
  • If you are the leader of the team, you need your team to be engaged, to understand that they hold the whole, and to communicate effectively. Then, when you meet individually and need to make a decision quickly, there is wisdom about what is happening in the whole to arrive at the best outcome.
  • The “we” of the team, matters more than you could imagine.

We’ve brought volleyballs to more organizations than we can count. Meeting after meeting the ball sits in the middle of the table and the team begins to have different conversations about the whole, they start sharing information that could have rippled problematically through the organizations, and they understand that having one another’s backs means supporting as well as challenging each other to create success in both the individual areas of responsibility as well as in the whole.

Give it a try – not just one time but for 6 months or a year. We’ve seen over and over again that great leadership teams must collaborate to ensure success of the whole. If your team is struggling let us know -  we would love to help. 

If you want to sharpen your leadership skills,
our TAKE 5 Women’s Group may be just what you need. Contact us today for details!

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3 Simple Steps to Effective Delegation

The following is a post that we shared several years ago. We’ve had several clients ask us to run it again as a reminder of the steps to delegate effectively so that they can share it with their colleagues and staff.

As coaches and consultants, we find that many people regularly struggle with delegation, and they tend to feel uncomfortable admitting it because they believe they should know how to do it.

In our experience, delegating is a challenging skill . . .
one that few of us are taught.


People are frequently told they should, “just delegate that” but when they do, and they don’t get the results they hoped for, they give up and just heap the task onto their already full plate.

So, today we’re going to share the 3 steps that will create more successful results when you delegate to others.

Individuals are most successful when they’re engaged in a process and can influence how it unfolds. Yet often when managers are delegating work, they hand off a task with no context, without sharing what success looks like, and without explaining how they’ll need to work with (or around) others to get the task done.

So, whether you’re delegating to a C-suite colleague, a supervisor, staff member, a person who is working on your home, or your child, consider these 3 steps as you’re delegating a task or project:

Step 1:  Context 

Explain the larger context to the person you’re delegating to.

  • Tell them what you’re trying to get done, how it fits into the big picture and why it’s important.
  • When you ask someone to do something for you, they’ll be much more likely to succeed if they understand what you’re trying to achieve and see that their contribution is important and valued.
  • You’ll have engaged them in the larger process so they can see that their work matters.

Step 2:  Content

Tell them the specifics of what you need done.

  • Really talk it through with them.
  • Describe what success looks like, who they need to work with or ask information from to succeed, what the timeline is for the effort, and what the potential ripples will be of this going well or going poorly.
  • Again, if people know what you’re asking of them, they can give you feedback on whether they can actually do what you’re  asking, in the timeframe that you need it, working with others or alone.
  • They’ll have an opportunity to influence you as you determine how you’d like them to move forward.

Step 3:  Connection

Be explicit about how you’ll follow up or how you’d like them to follow up.

  • Don’t hand something off and act like it’s no longer your concern.
  • While you might hope that they’ll let you know if they can’t get it done, have run into an obstacle, or are struggling to understand exactly what you wanted, they probably won’t unless you’ve agreed on check-ins to make sure it’s going well and to help them navigate any difficulties they’re having.
  • People do best when they feel connected to the person who has delegated to them and have a sense of the ways their work is directly helpful.
  • These check-ins are an opportunity to remind them of the ways the work is helpful to you, and to help them understand any new information you have as things unfold.

The ability to delegate is critical to success in work and life. It takes some time and effort to ensure it’s done well, but what you’ll find is that as you delegate effectively to the people in your life, you’ll build a trusting working relationship that will allow you to be more effective and successful over time.

This week as you think of those things you need to ask of someone else, practice these 3 steps and see what a difference it makes. And, watch how you get things delegated to you. See if you can ask your manager to give you clarity on the 3 steps — Context, Content, and Connection — so that you can be highly successful in your tasks as well.

Feeling overwhelmed with too much on your plate? Our TAKE 5 Women’s Group may be just what you need.

Contact us today for details!

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Your Dream Team

One of the biggest frustrations we hear from people in leadership is that they have to be available to their teams “all the time” to answer questions and solve problems. They say that they read about dream teams that know how to move forward in the face of challenges but their team just doesn’t get it.

When we ask them to share some examples of how this plays out, we often hear a long history of our client (as team leader) either spotting an issue or hearing about a problem and stepping in to help resolve it.

While that seems like a practical thing to do in the face of a problem, it does nothing to develop the team’s ability to get the work done on their own. In fact, it communicates to the team that the leader doesn’t believe that they can figure this out independently or move forward effectively.

We remind these leaders that their role is to develop and support their teams in learning to:

  • Define whether the issue is with the process (or lack of!), or the people involved.
  • Then, dig deep and really define the problem – look for the root cause of issues rather than just treating the obvious symptoms.
  • Engage others in providing input and feedback on their ideas and possible solutions.
  • Identify who in leadership needs to be involved or informed (including their boss).
  • Get stakeholders involved to creating the path for action and reviewing and refining as they go forward.

The most successful teams are skilled at leading through a challenge because they are systematic in their approach to solving even the most complex of issues. They use their skills to look for the root cause of the issue and then engage others to achieve success.

When you’re the manager or leader of a team, it’s important to build autonomy by increasing the team’s mastery in finding solutions to problems that arise. Giving the team opportunities to succeed (and sometimes fail) is critical to building the dream team that will outperform your wildest expectations. 

Remember, it takes a village!

- Linda, Stephanie, and Heather

If you’d like support in developing your team’s abilities to move forward in the face of challenges and obstacles, contact us today! about our Executive Coaching. We’d love to help you build a Dream Team! 

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Today is Martin Luther King Jr, and to honor his work around civil rights, we want to share with you a present-day voice advocating for a better world.

On January 7th at the Golden Globes, Oprah gave a powerful speech about the importance of speaking up. The speech she gave was moving, and the reaction of the audience was equally, if not more, moving.

You see, as Oprah spoke, her words fueled their hopes and their conviction for a better day – you can see it in their expressions; the hugs, the smiles and the tears. She reminded us that we must all contribute to making the world a better place by taking action on our own behalf and on behalf of others.

Together, we can make the world a kinder and better place.

Click here to watch her speech. If you’ve already watched it, then forward this to someone you respect.

For those of you who would rather read what she wrote, we’ve included the transcript of her speech as well.

“Thank you, Reese.

In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: ‘The winner is Sidney Poitier.’ Up to the stage came the most elegant man I ever remembered. His tie was white, his skin was black—and he was being celebrated. I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that.

I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people’s houses. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation in Sidney’s performance in Lilies of the Field: ‘Amen, amen, amen, amen.’ 

In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille award right here at the Golden Globes and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.

It is an honor—it is an honor and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them and also with the incredible men and women who have inspired me, who challenged me, who sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible. Dennis Swanson who took a chance on me for A.M. Chicago. Saw me on the show and said to Steven Spielberg, she’s Sophia in ‘The Color Purple.’ Gayle who’s been a friend and Stedman who’s been my rock. 

I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. We know the press is under siege these days. We also know it’s the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice, to tyrants and victims, and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this:

what I know for sure is that speaking your truth
is the most powerful tool we all have

I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell, and this year we became the story. 

But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace.

So tonight, I want to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military. 

And there’s someone else.

Recy Taylor. A name I know and I think you should know, too. In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and mother walking home from a church service she’d attended in Abbeville, Alabama, when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped, and left blindfolded by the side of the road coming home from church. They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported to the NAACP where a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case and together they sought justice.

But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted[sic].

Recy Taylor died ten days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed – if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.

Their time is up.

And I just hope—I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks’ heart almost 11 years later, when she made the decision to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery, and it’s here with

every woman who chooses to say, “Me too.” 
And every man—every man who chooses to listen. 

In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave. To say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome.

I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.

So, I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, (are) fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again.”

On this Martin Luther King Day in 2018, we send you our commitment to supporting women and men as they stand in love, step into their power, use their voice, and create a better world.

You matter and we’re here for you,

Linda, Stephanie, and Heather

If you’d like support in stepping into your power and using your voice to create a better world, contact us today! Our Leadership Coaches can help.

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Provide Powerful Input

There is a big difference between sharing your opinion and giving credible input and knowing that difference can have a powerful impact on your success.  

Giving relevant, useful input is an important skill that requires practice and thoughtfulness. Without a framework for giving input on a question or issue, many of us get anxious and then resort to giving our opinion.

Yet, when decision-makers look to you for your expertise, they generally don’t want your opinion—they want useful input. They want you to think critically about the situation and then give them data that they can use to help make an informed decision.  

When you’re asked to weigh in on a subject, you’re being asked to provide input based on your position within the organization. A good way to do that quickly is to ask yourself: 

  1. What are the benefits – as I see them from my role in the company? 
  2. What are the concerns – as I see them from my role in the company? 
  3. Do I have any suggestions for how to move forward given the benefits and concerns? 

If you’ve been getting our Monday Morning Business Coach emails, you’ll likely to have seen the Benefits, Concerns, and Suggestions (BCS) structure in a previous post. It’s a great tool with multiple uses. 

If you weigh in by giving the information in the format listed above, you’ll have more influence than if you only say something like, “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” The BCS questions (as we call them) can help you articulate your input and provide data that others can use.

And, if you have a strong opinion about the issue, it’s fair to share that AFTER you’ve given usable input.

Here’s an example: 

A client of ours was at a board meeting where she’s the treasurer. She shared what she saw as the benefits of taking a loan, her concerns about taking the loan, and a few suggestions about how to get information from local banks about loan terms.  

After sharing that information, she stated, “My opinion is that the loan is a good idea because of the benefits that I stated. I don’t think that the concerns outweigh those benefits and I would like to see us move toward taking a loan.” 

The power of this approach was that the conversation didn’t turn into an emotional debate with people trying to win, but moved forward with a discussion on the Benefits, Concerns, and Suggestions others had about this decision. Everyone’s voice was heard, what mattered to them was honored, and the decision was made with minimal angst.

Just so you know, our client’s opinion didn’t “win,” but because of her use of our BCS structure, she was delighted with how it went and believed the decision that was made (and more importantly HOW the decision was made) was, in fact, good for the organization. 

Take some time today to determine whether you give powerful input or if you get caught up in giving your opinion. Practice using the BCS questions so that when asked for your thoughts, you can provide valuable input to the person asking.

The world needs your wisdom and expertise. Learning to share it in a way that people can hear it and act on it will be a game changer! 

You’ve got this!

If you’d like a coach to help you develop powerful input skills, contact us today!

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Teach Others Who You Are

We know that 2017 was a challenging year for many of you for various reasons and that you’re excited about the new year. Unfortunately, the change of date alone won’t provide a change in your life. BUT what will change your life is changing the way you go about leading your life and leading in your life.

In our December 11th post, Take Small Steps, we offered you a simple tool to begin to think about the areas of your life that you need to attend to in order to have greater meaning and satisfaction. If you haven’t done the exercise, give it a shot – even if you have done it all before, pausing as we begin a new year and reflecting on your life is powerful.

Once you’ve given some thought to what life would look like at a 10 and how that compares with your current life, you’ll have a sense of where your life needs some attention.

This week, we’d like you to think about how you talk about yourself, the stories you tell about who you are – everything from telling people about your history to sharing what you did over the weekend – and assess if you’re telling people who you’ve been historically or who you’re striving to be in the future. 

Our stories to others reinforce our stories to ourselves.

If you’re looking to have greater success this year in your work, then refine your story to share how you’ve learned, where you’ve grown, and how you’re moving toward what matters to you.

Even sharing your weekend story may change from “I slept late and then took a hike” to “I’m not certain yet how I can make the move to greater responsibility in my organization so I went hiking to think through my options to lead at work.”

As we often remind our clients, everything is a communication and how you communicate to others is how you communicate to yourself.

You’ll feel different if you tell the story about hiking and strategizing about your options – and if that same day, you dress for work as if you’ve already been promoted, you’ll start to see your future self.

This is your year, not because the calendar changed but because you’re a leader in your work and your life. Make sure the stories you’re telling others, and therefore yourself, support the future you’re leading toward.

Looking forward to a new year together!

If the stories you tell others don’t lead you to the future, let us know. Our coaches would love to help.
Contact us today!

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The Gifts You Offer

It’s December 25th, defined as Christmas Day by much of the world. Some celebrate the religious meaning of Christmas, others celebrate family and friends, and some just think of the day as the 25th of December with no meaning attached.

Whatever your relationship with December 25th, we wanted to take this opportunity to get you thinking about the gifts you bring to the world.

You have your own unique gifts – the ways you love, lead, provide, support, enlighten, build, nurture, inspire, create, solve, laugh, help, invite – the list goes on and on.

You may offer your gifts to people, to communities or with other species of our planet; you may share your gifts with the world by building something, writing things, thinking in new and creative ways; or you may bring your gifts through your silence and presence.

Take a few minutes today to consider the gifts you offer. Write them down somewhere so that you can see them regularly.

It’s important to remember that you dazzle the world with your gifts.

When you share your gifts with others, everyone wins.

Dazzle on!

Having a hard time determining the wonderful gifts and strengths you bring the world? Our coaches would love to help.
Contact us today!

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Starting Your Small Steps

In last week’s post, Take Small Steps, we invited you to take a few minutes to reflect on your vision for your life – what it would look like at a 10 – and how that vision compares with your actual life.

We’ve heard from many of you that you found the exercise helpful yet are concerned that, despite the best of intentions, you won’t make the time to take the small steps that will lead you to a life of greater satisfaction, meaning, and purpose. We understand.

  • We understand how busy you are. 
  • We understand that there are pressures for you to be who you’ve been.
  • We understand that loving yourself can feel so selfish.
  • We also understand that if you are not loving toward yourself, you won’t have the energy to bring your passion and purpose to the people and concerns you care about most.

Today we want to make a few suggestions for ways to start taking your small steps:

  1. Looking at the worksheet from last week, review what you said a 10 would look like, feel like and live like in areas of self, systems, spirit, communication, leadership and any other area you added.
  2. Now, look at how you rated your current life on a scale of 1 – 10 and notice the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
  3. Next, ask yourself this question,
    “If I truly matter to myself and love myself deeply, what 2 to 3 things would I do TODAY that would move me forward in creating more alignment between my vision for my life and my actual life?”
  4. Pick one of the things you thought of (no matter how small) and do it today.
  5. Do this every day for 5 days and you will start to see new ways to take action on the small steps that will make your life more satisfying and meaningful.

Continue to do this exercise daily (it should take less than 5 minutes), keep notes, and review them from time to time.

You should start to experience an amazing shift in the quality of your life.

If after doing this exercise for 7 days, you’re finding that you aren’t coming up with ideas, consider who can be your ally in starting to take these small steps.

Not knowing the path forward is not an indictment of you – it’s an indication that another path may work better for you. Don’t give up on your effort to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be!

Spending time over the next few weeks to identify your small steps will support you in starting the new year with a different sense of how to take action on your own behalf and on behalf of the people and issues that matter most to you.

If you’d like an accountability buddy to help you create actionable and achievable goals in 2018, our Productivity Coaching can help.
Contact us today!

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Take Small Steps

Those of you who know us, know that we believe deeply that change occurs in small steps made consistently over time.  As much as we all wish we could make one big leap into a new life, greater success, more money, etc., for most of us, true change is about taking small steps consistently over time toward creating a life and work that matters to you.

Today we’re celebrating 6 years of the Monday Morning Business Coach!

That’s three hundred and twelve weeks of small steps
and nuggets to support you moving forward in your life and work.

To celebrate, we’d like to offer you a simple exercise to get you thinking about your vision for your life and your life as it is now.

As you look at how your vision for your life and your actual life differ, this can be a helpful framework for identifying the small steps you can take to bring your vision and your actual life into greater alignment.

We encourage you to print out this exercise and explore. It’s simple and it’s powerful.

If you’ve done this exercise with us before don’t hesitate to do it again – it’s well worth seeing how you and your life have changed!

Spend a few minutes thinking about the following areas of your life, Self, Systems, Spirit, Communication, and Leadership (if there are other areas you want to address, be sure to add them at the end).

Write some notes about what a 10 (your highest aspiration) looks like, feels like, and lives like for each of these areas that are central to creating a life and work you love.

If my Self (my personal growth, intellectual stimulation, and health/well being) is at a 10, I will look, feel, and live like this:


If my Systems (my satisfaction in my work, connection with family/relationships, and sense of community) are at a 10, they will look, feel, and live like this:


If my Spirit (my sense of meaning and purpose, time in reflection or spiritual practice, and feeling that I matter in the world) is at a 10, it will look, feel, and live like this:


If my Communication (my ability to articulate my thoughts, listen deeply, and stay in dialogue through times of difference) is at a 10, it will look, feel, and live like this:


If my Leadership (my willingness to influence my world, my willingness to be influenced by my world, and my ability to inspire others) is at a 10, it will look, feel, and live like this:


 If my _______________ is at a 10, it will look, feel, and live like this:


Now that you’ve described your life at a 10 in these areas, on the wheel below, draw a line indicating where you would rate your current life in these areas.

Use a scale of 1-10, with 1 being totally unsatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied (your highest aspiration as you just described above):

We’d be surprised if you rated all aspects of your life on this wheel at a 10, but if you did . . . congratulations!

Most of us have a number of areas where the gap between what we want our lives to look like and how they actually look is considerable. Look at the areas where you have lower scores and circle the 2-3 areas you most want to focus on this upcoming year.

Spend some time considering what small steps you can take in these 2 – 3 areas that will truly move the needle . . . or in this case, the line on your circle.

If you’d like an accountability buddy to help you create actionable and achievable goals in 2018, our Productivity Coaching can help.
Contact us today!

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Workplace Stress Is Higher For Women


Two weeks ago we did a post titled, Life is Anything but Fair, about seeing the ways the unfairness of life has sometimes brought you gifts. It’s good to pause and remember the things that you have gotten that others have not.

Today, we want to talk about those times when you’re treated unfairly in ways that are harmful to you.

Workplace stress is a challenge for both men and women and, there is research that shows that workplace stress is higher for women than it is for men; and for women with children under 18, it’s even higher – almost staggeringly so.

As a woman-owned business, we often work with women who have been treated not just unfairly in the workplace but at times quite cruelly. These women come to us to find their voice, their clarity, and a way forward, despite the profound challenges they have lived through.

Sometimes, due to the caustic nature of the job, these women choose to leave their place of employment for new opportunities in roles where they’re seen and recognized for their contributions. Other times, it means finding a way to discuss the problems with their employer and working to solve the issues – first locally and then more globally within the company.

In both cases, it means finding support for grief and healing.

And sometimes, women are simply surviving – because life has been anything but fair over the years – and simply managing to hold on is the best that they can strive for on a given day. 

These are all brave and honorable steps.

This week, we’d ask you to reflect on your experience in your workplace as well as the experiences of those around you. If you or someone you work with – female or male – is experiencing things that are unfair and wrong, please get help for yourself and seek support for your colleague.

Life is better when we’re in it together.

The support and wisdom of other women is powerful and life-changing. Join our Overwhelmed to Outstanding online community and get the tools you need to navigate your work life with skill and grace.  

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