7 Reasons Why You Need a Leadership Development Coach to Get Ahead

A couple of years ago I was asked to work with the Vice-President of a large health care organization and coach her on what it takes to have Executive Presence. After my initial meeting with HR, clearly, what they wanted was a mentor/trainer not necessarily a coach  as there is a a significant difference between a coach, a mentor and a trainer. The prospective client and I met to discuss her needs and expectations. Yes, indeed she too was expecting training in the areas of interpersonal skills, communication skills, personal branding, presentation skills, and leadership best practices.

At Corporate Class Inc. we have developed a unique robust Executive Presence training program. In fact, this program has gained us the international reputation we enjoy today. We began her private Executive Presence training and this allowed me to go a bit deeper in some of the issues that impacted several areas of her career. I noted after the training that the next logical step was to engage in private coaching and work on her thinking process which we decided was going to be critical in advancing her personal development one step further.

Towards the end of our training engagement, and with great accolades from her CEO on her growth and development, my client shared confidentially that the current CEO was leaving. The departing CEO was encouraging my client to throw her hat in the ring for the CEO role. He said he would support her, that she was a great fit for that role. She was hesitant and didn’t think she had a real chance of landing that position. This hesitation was undoubtedly caused by some toxic thinking and confirmed to me that coaching was a definite must. We then engaged in private executive coaching sessions for 6 months.

The job interviews started just towards the end of our engagement, perfect timing. My client did a lot of good work during those 6 months and she had successfully shifted her mindset. Two months later, over a nice dinner, we celebrated her becoming the CEO or her organization. By the end of the first year in her CEO role, we resumed executive coaching and once again, great work was done and she reached new stretch goals she had set for herself.  

Before we get into why you need a leadership development coach to get ahead, it’s important to understand the difference between coaching, mentoring and training because it may set you up for disappointments if your expectations aren’t met.

What’s the difference between Coaching, Mentoring and Training?

Coaching

According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), an association and regulator body for coaches defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”  Coaching isn’t about giving advice or providing roadmaps telling the client what to do and how to do the job. Coaching is about helping clients with their thinking process so that they can gain life changing insights. The client has the answer to his/her issues. Unfortunately, often the client is too busy to make thoughtful decisions or find the better solution to solve the problem or situation. They react instead of thinking, feeling, and choosing.

Mentoring

Many use the terms coaching, mentoring and training interchangeably, yet the meaning of each is quite different.

An article titled ‘What’s the Difference Between a Coach and a Mentor?’, published in Forbes stated that, “Mentors are successful people who share their hard-earned wisdom to provide insight and guidance as a mentee encounters challenges along their journey. They typically function in a reactive capacity, responding to issues as they arise.”

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has distinguished that, “Mentoring may include advising, counselling and coaching whilst the coaching process does not include advising or counselling.”

Training

A trainer gives advice based on their expertise in that specific field. Mentoring and training have similarities yet still, it is not the same. Mentoring is more informal and usually done one-to-one. The mentor may meet the mentee in a coffee shop and the mentee is for the agenda. Training is more regulated and typically done in larger groups. Although, often for the Senior Executives, it is done one-on-one as they do not wish to be part of a larger group. Training is like teaching, the trainer shares knowledge in one very specific area or topic.

Two diverse serious businesswomen discussing business project working together in office, serious female advisor and client talking at meeting, focused executive colleagues brainstorm sharing ideas

Here are 7 Reasons Why You Need a Leadership Development Coach to Get Ahead

You are at a time in your career where you have had the opportunity to attend several training programs, you have a mentor, and now you need an executive business coach. Why is that so important?

  1. Help you define your goals and make them shine so you are motivated to accomplish them.
    Having goals ensures the coaching process is solution-focused and developmental instead of remedial. Strategies are developed for each goal and they perform several functions. They help the coachee see their goals as more tangible and possible by breaking each goal down into stages. They also ensure the coachee does things differently. Goals without strategies that group actions together, end up with a long “to-do” list that can become overwhelming. The real value of the coaching is not so much in achieving the goals but in the learning journey the coachee goes through, new confidence developed, new skills learned, and in building new habits.

  2. Ensure you are creating action steps that will actually get done.
    Once you have clear strategies, it’s time to set actions. For each strategy, list a set of required actions to achieve the goal.
    These actions are:
    a. Helpful – the action relates directly to the strategy and will help you achieve it.
    b. Likely to happen – the action is clearly worded, challenging and achievable, specific, and within a timeframe.

  3. Benefit from a third party sounding board and totally confidential.
    Maintaining confidentiality is a must and is expected of the coach in accordance with the ICF Code of Ethics. Unless there are special agreements put into place prior to the start of the engagement, the coach is bound to confidentiality with client information per stakeholder agreements and pertinent laws.

  4. Leadership is always changing and your coach helps you navigate these uncharted territories.
    Changes are usually difficult and need to be approached iteratively. It is the coach’s responsibilities to help the client formulate the process for the implementation of the changes and consider the impact on all parties.

  5. Benefit from the opportunity of having someone reflect back to you some of your thoughts.
    Leaders are often people who get things done but also less adapt at being self-aware and they rarely take time to reflect. The coach helps the active leader develop the discipline of reflection to help them maximize learning from what they do in life.

  6. Be challenged by powerful questions to help your thinking process.
    The coach is a “Master of Asking”. The questions aren’t meant to trick you or make you feel inadequate. They are meant to help you think deeper about the issues or challenges you are facing. The clients often underestimate how smart they are and that in fact they have the answer, they just haven’t had a chance to properly think and they feel stuck. Anxiety sets in  and clarity of thoughts disappear. We often get the wrong answer because we ask the wrong questions. You can count on your coach to ask the right questions.

  7. Broaden your perspectives.
    There may be countless ways to solve a problem, approach a challenge but you are exhausted, stressed and don’t seem to be thinking as clearly as you would like to, or maybe you just seem to be stuck and can’t think out of the box and come up with a more creative solution. Your coach will help you explore solutions from different angles and check on the validity of your assumptions perhaps so that you get a fuller picture of what’s going on. Broadening your perspectives means you are expanding your worldview, experience and point of view.

Make sense? To find out more contact us at 416-967-1221.

8 Trail-Blazing Women Leaders to Inspire Your Career

The current workforce has dealt women setback after setback during the pandemic. A report by McKinsey found that women experienced more exhaustion, burn out, and pressure than men in the workplace, and it’s no wonder that they also found that one in four women are considering leaving the workforce.

Many women who lost their jobs to COVID are now looking to re-enter the workforce as pandemic restrictions loosen. It’s important that women are empowered to return to the workforce and forge their own paths toward success and leadership. If you’re a woman looking for motivation to restart your career or climb the corporate ladder, check out this list of eight women leaders who blazed trails in their respective industries. 

1. Julie Sweet

Taking the number one spot on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet is blazing trails as a prominent business leader. With a bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College and JD from Columbia Law, Sweet is breaking barriers in the C-suite with her unconventional background. Her background as a lawyer gives her an edge in business, helping her put clients first, make sense of vast amounts of information, and act with integrity. 

Sweet is no stranger to breaking gender barriers. After seven years as a senior lawyer, she became the ninth female partner at law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore. She acknowledges that being a woman in corporate America is a difficult road to travel on and has since prioritized diversity and transparency in order to build trust and accountability as a leader. Inspired by Julie Sweet and eager to promote diversity and inclusion as a workplace leader? Check out her quote below to help you get started.

“Treat inclusion and diversity like every other business priority, which means you set goals, you measure, you have data, you have accountable executives, and you have an execution plan.”

Julie Sweet

2. Helen Hanna Casey

Although women in real estate make up 67% of the industry, leadership across the board has yet to accurately reflect that statistic. One powerful woman in the industry is Helen Hanna Casey, CEO of Howard Hanna Services. Named the most powerful woman in real estate and one of Women’s Business Magazine’s Top 200 Women in Business (among numerous awards), Casey demonstrates that female leadership can take a real estate company to new heights. 

Casey serves as a powerful role model for all women leaders aspiring toward the C-suite and is also a prominent leader at industry events. Check out her quote below for inspiration on how focusing on the success of your employees will bring your company growth. 

“One of your goals has to be that you want your company and employees to expand and grow. […] You have to look at the talents of your people and decide how they can help expand the business.”

Helen Hanna Casey 

3. Shan-Lyn Ma 

Shan-Lyn Ma is disrupting the wedding industry with her company, Zola, which is on the fast-track to becoming a unicorn (a privately-held startup that’s valued at over $1 billion). Founded in 2013, Ma used her previous experience as a product manager to revitalize the online wedding industry and provide a better experience that customers love. As someone who started her entrepreneurial journey after years of work experience, she’s showing other women that it’s never too late to switch up your career. If you have a great idea that solves a problem, hard work can lead you to success. 

It can be hard being a woman in business, so Ma recommends leaning on a network of other female founders or professionals for advice. If you’re working on building your own network, take some of inspiration from her below on how it’s possible to do it all. 

“I think every founder has to be a motivational leader in order to build a great team and business. I do feel an extra responsibility to show it’s possible to be a woman, be a respected leader, and run a fast-growing startup.”

Shan-Lyn Ma

4. Cynthia Marshall

Cynthia Marshall is a strong woman leader who is changing the standards for diversity and inclusion in the male-dominated world of the NBA. As the first Black woman to be CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, Marshall has worked hard to develop a company culture where anyone at any level of the business can speak their mind. She accomplished this by having a personal one-on-one meeting with everyone in the Mavericks organization when she started. From there, she’s made sure that everyone has a voice and that all cultures feel welcome in her organization. 

As a woman, we’re often faced with pressure to conform to certain standards of what a leader is, but those standards are so often biased. Remember that being a true leader is leading as yourself and bringing your authentic personality and work to the table everyday. If you are ever told to change who you are, let the following quote remind you that your identity is important. 

“When you fundamentally try to change who I am, when you tell me I can’t say blessed, when you tell me I’m too loud, you’re actually telling me you don’t want me to be a Black woman.”

Cynthia Marshall

5. Rosalind Brewer

With decades of experience in C-level positions across major companies like Starbucks, and Sam’s Club, Rosalind Brewer became one of the first Black female CEOs of a Fortune 500 company in 2021. Currently, she is #27 on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. Despite her vast experience and status as such a prominent figure in business, Brewer still faces the effects of bias and prejudice in the industry. She’s reflected on how her identity as a Black woman has caused others to underestimate her place in the C-suite and mistake her for someone of a lower position. 

If you’ve ever experienced judgement and prejudice in the workplace, emulate Rosalind Brewer’s strength and keep her quote in mind when you need the courage to push back and demand the respect you deserve in the workplace.

“You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect.”

Rosalind Brewer 

6. Melanie Perkins

Melanie Perkins is the CEO of tech unicorn, Canva, and is serving as inspiration for young female entrepreneurs across the globe. Recently, Canva’s valuation was set at $15 billion, making her and her co-founder husband billionaires off an idea they cooked up at university. Aiming to challenge design and tech giants in the industry, Canva is a graphic design platform that allows you to create things without the steep learning curve of programs like Adobe. 

However, the Australian native had a rough time getting her company started up. Being far from the network of tech connections and funds that is Silicon Valley, Perkins had to take up kite-surfing just to get her foot in the door with investors at a kite-surfing competition in Australia. She was successful at securing funding and the rest is history. Without her vision and drive, Canva wouldn’t be around to make graphic design more accessible to all. For inspiration on being a visionary and a leader in your industry, follow Melanie’s advice below.

“As a leader, I feel my job is to set the vision and the goals for the company, and then to work with everyone to empower them to dream big and crazy.”

— Melanie Perkins

7. Mari Elka Pangestu

As World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships, Mari currently leads the research and data group at the World Bank using her expertise in policy and management. However, she is well-known for previously serving as Minister of Trade for seven years and Minister of Tourism for 3 years in Indonesia. As Minister of Trade, she put a special focus on growing Indonesia’s economy and finding ways for women entrepreneurs to have better access to trade.

With a doctorate in economics, Mari has also led as an expert on global policy regarding food research, geopolitics, sustainable developments, and renewable energy. Although the international trade field is mainly dominated by men, Mari’s life and career show us that with hard work and dedication, your expertise and experience will be rewarded with high levels of leadership. If you’re interested in a job as a woman in trade, check out Pangestu’s quote on how tourism benefits women. 

“Tourism is a very serious industry: it creates one out of 11 jobs, and benefits women and local communities, in particular.”

Dr. Mari Elka Pangestu

8. Kathrin Jansen 

Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Development at Pfizer, Katherin Jansen has played a major part in Pfizer’s global success. With 28 years of experience leading vaccine development, Jansen recently led a 650-person team to pioneer one of the first COVID-19 vaccines. 

Although the race to a vaccine was one fraught with urgency, Jansen showed true and effective leadership by not sacrificing quality for speed. Jansen believes the science behind her vaccine speaks for itself and that should inspire confidence from the people. With a woman at the helm of such a leading scientific accomplishment, Jansen is a role model for other women in science. See her quote below for how women in STEM can help each other succeed. 

“For me it was important to support female colleagues and make sure they have the opportunities, and you know, just look out for them.” 

Dr. Katherin Jansen

All women in the workplace should be empowered to advocate for their own career growth, but we can’t do it alone. Take inspiration from these examples of successful women leaders and motivate yourself to achieve just as much or more. Whether you’re interested in tech, business, real estate, sports, science, or trade, there’s a female leader out there who’s blazed a trail for you to succeed after them.

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? Try a leadership workshop or coaching to grow your skills and reach your career goals.

Effective Leadership in Changing Times — Looking Back at the Year Where the World Had to Pivot

effective leadership in changing times

Is there anything to be said about the past year of dealing with COVID-19 that hasn’t been said already?

I believe, yes, there is. The year 2020-21 has been the year of momentous change where every individual, irrespective of race, faith, gender, socioeconomic class, and organizations across sectors had to pivot.

The world witnessed unprecedented changes and our collective ability to adapt to challenging times and channel our leadership abilities on an individual and community level.

As a leadership coach and mentor, it was hard to miss the resilience of individuals and organizations, the power of teams and that of our leaders in hard times.

How did professional development and effective leadership training adapt to the ‘new normal’?

The first few weeks were unsettling because of the lack of knowledge about COVID-19 and preventative measures. We at CCI chose to work from home for what I originally thought would be a few weeks. I quickly realized this would be a lot longer hiatus and reached out to each of our clients to let them know we were still there for them. Like many within our industry, we had to pivot to a completely virtual setting to deliver all our programs and services.

Prior to 2020, I spent many hours at airports and lounges while traveling worldwide to support our clients. I would spend time in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and many places around the world to deliver training and private coach some of our elite senior level clients.

Now, both our clients and I have benefited from virtual sessions, which make better use of our time, financial resources, and the reduction in travel for non-essential reasons, has also helped the environment.

My leadership takeaway for the year has been to review our strategy and processes to be more efficient constantly.

I didn’t expect us to be equally successful at training or facilitating online, especially when dealing with topics such as body language and presentation skills.

However, through effective leadership training and interactive communication, we could easily replicate results in our virtual sessions, as indicated from our client’s feedback. Our success with our virtual sessions demonstrated how many non-essential processes we hang on to out of habit.

As human beings, we need connection. Connecting might be challenging for some when the recipient may choose not to have their camera on, limiting the visual cues available to the speaker. But I have learned that when the speaker chooses to be open, warm and authentic, listeners and team members do engage with the speaker through different means.

With that in mind, here are some of my takeaways on how organizations have adapted to the ‘new normal’ and are developing leaders who are thoughtful, inclusive and authentic:

We are human beings who value and need connections

Our evolving leaders need to rethink how to build connections and ensure the well-being of individuals within their teams given the complexities of a virtual workplace

In the first few months of the pandemic, we saw a surge in organizations doing happy hours and free pizzas for employees to maintain team morale. At first it was different, but then ‘Zoom fatigue’ sunk in and the novelty of these types of activities wore off, as the pandemic extended beyond a year, with several lockdowns and restrictions, impacting individual circumstances and at times, mental health.  

  • Do virtual social activities really help employees feel better equipped to handle their circumstances?
  • Did it empower them with the tools to demonstrate their skills online?

These are questions each team leader/organization must ask themselves before determining the right method to provide value to their employees.

For example, one of our biggest successes over the past year has been our How to Fascinate Workshop because it’s entertaining, informative and helps team members understand themselves and each other better.  

The workshop allows teams to bond, gain greater insights as to why people behave the way they do and how to ensure everyone can work together more effectively. It really is fascinating.

There are opportunities everywhere

The only way to really achieve success is to make your people your highest priority.

I delved into the increased resource efficiency with reduced traveling at the start of this blog, but I need to make a special mention of how much that has helped individuals. I noticed many of my clients benefiting from the reduced travel. They have more time for their families and themselves, and it’s less tiresome.

Many clients have told me they have been able to use the time to focus on their personal goals and health, while still being as productive as before.

Organizations and leaders must reconsider their work culture policies about working from home and traveling for work, as well as ensuring that employees are creating work-life boundaries that allow them to thrive.

Private coaching for your teams is a great way to invest in their personal development

In the first few months of the pandemic, we saw an increased interest from organizations about providing private coaching for their teams to help them deliver their presentations, sales pitches, and lead their teams virtually.

The demand for it led us to create our Leadership Presence: Online Training Program. Such programs empower leaders with the skills, confidence, and knowledge they need about human behaviour to inspire confidence and foster trust among a diverse team of employees.

Now, what can individuals do, you ask?

Here are my lessons for you on how to become an effective leader

Take the time to reflect!

This is my biggest advice for you.

Although traveling to work every day may have been stressful for some of you, the everyday commute provided us with an opportunity to reflect on our lives, listen to our favorite podcast and give our brain a break from our work. This time is essential. The only way to adapt and embrace change properly involves a lot of reflection and introspection.

Please take the time out in a day to reflect, and it can be as short as 10 minutes. This time will allow you to be more creative and approach your challenges from a different perspective. Maybe you do this by going for a walk or getting up a bit earlier than everyone in your household to have me time.

Yesterday’s leader is not tomorrow’s leader

Adapt to changing times.

The last year has demonstrated how leaders who lead with empathy perform better. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, is a perfect example. Not only is New Zealand one of the most successful countries in the fight against COVID-19, but it is also a source of inspiration to many because of its use of empathy to inspire.

Our ideas of effective leadership have changed, and leaders today are expected to be personable, empathetic and inclusive. Authoritarian leadership has not performed well across the world.

Invest in yourself

This advice on how to become an effective leader is tied to the previous two points. With increased flexibility and the rapid changes in leadership expectations, it is vital that you invest in yourself.

Be it choosing a program to develop your leadership and presentation skills, your emotional intelligence, understanding how your brain works to improve your performance, or understanding how to lead diverse teams virtually.

I recommend taking the time to reflect and identify your strengths, weaknesses, and identify opportunities for professional development.

leadership presence training program

You need to up-skill to be the leader of tomorrow. And, there’s no better time than now.

More power to you!

Leadership Training Online: Virtual Learning Proven to be 600% Better!

While the full implications of COVID-19 are still unknown, one of the major shifts most businesses have experienced is clear — customers scaling back their in-person purchases and going online instead.

In the key area of “Learning and Development” emerging evidence points to the same, a huge shift in how training, coaching and consulting is delivered.

In our training and coaching practice, we saw very quickly that teams around the world had to rapidly learn how to collaborate with one another virtually all whilst working remotely and under great stress brought on by uncertainty at so many levels.

At CCI, recognizing the pressure this was adding to leaders and workers around the globe, we quickly pivoted, offered virtual workshops and accelerated the completion of a robust Leadership Training Online Program we had been working on.

Why Leadership Training Online?

Recent research, conducted by the Neuroleadership Institute, shows that virtual learning, when done right, can be dramatically more effective than in-person workshops.

“In fact, an analysis of the likelihood of people taking action on a learning program, showed that a smart virtual learning program was around six times more likely to get people to take actions than the usual way learning is delivered in person. Not 6% better, or 60% better, but 600% better.”

The purpose of learning is to better ourselves, our skills, our decision making and ultimately our environment. Much of the training organizations are now investing in, involves human skills.

The ability to work effectively together, motivate, inspire and influence, especially under times of uncertainty and changes, is critical to the success of an organization.

And, leadership training online, a new way to virtually learn and grow, can take you from where you are to where you want to be.

Whether it is about:

  • How you show up in a Zoom meeting
  • Engage in difficult conversations
  • Stand out when you speak as you deliver an important presentation
  • How you provide psychological safety for everyone to have their voices heard
  • Run inclusive meetings
  • Mitigate biases
  • Enhance your emotional intelligence for greater effectiveness in your daily interaction
  • …And more

One thing is undeniable — being present, intentional and in the moment is where great leaders shine.

CCI’s Leadership Training Online Program

Our Leadership Presence: Leadership Training Online Program has been designed with a unique approach for sustainable learning.

Our modules are short and highly interactive. Through the use of videos, quizzes, coaching tips, extra resources, a comprehensive workbook, and the possibility for private coaching as an option, the learning is impactful, transformational and long-lasting.

Leverage this unique opportunityand seize the moment to grow and flourish, individually, as a team and as an organization.

This is your moment to shine, elevate your confidence, and increase your competitive advantage by embarking on a life-changing learning journey!

Leadership in a Crisis: Coronavirus Crisis Management Strategies in Under 3-Minutes

I have had my share of professional crisis to manage in a 30+ year career in industry. 

However, nothing compares to what we are experiencing right now with the coronavirus pandemic.  A year ago, in helping a major university with a scandal that rocked their world, I volunteered to formulate a program, using my experience, which we internally called Crisis Leadership: The New Normal?

As I use the material now with coaching clients (former and current) and any friends who will listen, I find myself apologizing that this is too simplistic.  However, I am told by them to “button it,” and it’s helping.  I guess it’s beneficial to have some frameworks against which to plot their current experiences.  So, I am happy to share a little bit of that with you.

When it comes to leadership in a crisis…

It is much smarter to prepare for and prevent a crisis than repair and repent. 

I am not sure from whom I borrowed that phrase. One of the most important things we all learn when going through a crisis is the cost is always high and unnecessary. However, if handled poorly, the costs and risks will increase exponentially. I imagine this sounds familiar to you if you have experienced a crisis.  We also learned that the impact (its power and force) of any crisis, though it may feel like an event or a relatively discrete moment in time, will persist far longer in terms of impact including loss of reputation, increased cost of regulation and compliance and now, of course, lives. 

It is not too late to do your best as a leader! Can I give you a few pointers?  If I can’t, we will talk about that leadership problem later.

We are taught as leaders to take charge, be at the front of the pack. So, what we often see is leaders who tend to exhibit excessive confidence in how they manage the moment, often with minimal preparation or study.  This can be a lonely place to be and is dangerous to you and others.

You can still prepare to be a better leader in this moment.  While I can’t get it all done, in this 3-minute leadership in a crisis education bite, what I can give you is:

  • a definition of a crisis (thanks to Pearson & Clair),
  • the 3 phases of a crisis, and
  • a competency to quickly explore and eliminate

So, what is an actual crisis?

When developing this program originally, I did not have an operational definition in my back pocket.  I had examples and illustrations but not really a definition.  Let me share one that I found useful. 

A crisis is a situation or event that is likely to be:

  • high in consequence
  • low in probability
  • high in ambiguity relative to solutions

I am going to assume that with the coronavirus pandemic, we can all agree that we have these 3 factors today in abundance. 

  • Consequences: Consequences are dire and have already impacted lives and families around the globe.
  • Probabilities: We can debate probabilities of this disease and contagion factors. However, from my perspective it appears we did not think this was probable at this magnitude and this might be the toughest challenge of all.  How long will this go on and how will we recover?
  • Ambiguity of Solutions: It seems to me we have in great quantity ambiguity of solutions:  how we respond, where supplies can be secured, what will work for containment, steps to mitigate, medications to use, vaccine development and who’s in control of what decisions. The list is endless.

We agree it is a crisis, so now what?

These 3 elements can help you to contain and focus the conversations you are likely having daily.

The Phases of Crisis Management During the Covid-19 Pandemic

No doubt we are in the acute phase of this pandemic, and yes, there are 2 other phases (pre and post).  Many organizations have risk plans, conduct annual environmental scans and even drill practice, as part of their leadership in a crisis strategy.  Use that experience and relish it if you have it in place.  In the heat of the moment you might not remember, ‘oh my god we modeled a similar scenario.’  There might be insights to revisit.  We have heard that the CDC or maybe it was FEMA has a 400+ page resource guide for such an event we are experiencing – I personally hope someone is using it.

Acute Phase

In the acute phase you should have a response team not a response individual!!!  Even if you are the sole leader of your practice/department/business, we are all in this together.  If your “go to” leadership style is to take on too much alone, this will not work.  Don’t shield people from the truth, don’t limit a spokesperson to one individual.  Keep messages simple but frequent, and always let people know when they will hear from you next.  Ask a lot of questions, keep lines of communications open and listen as much as you speak. 

Pre and Post Phases

We will discuss the pre and post crisis management strategies and phases another time, but we are all learning a lot!  My greatest caution is to stay present on the crisis. No one wants to be where we are, so natural inclination is to talk about what’s next: when operations are back to normal or when the economy really turns back on.  Stay present. 

Lastly you have a lot of leadership strengths that will help you.  In our original program, we identified 16 crisis leadership traits to cultivate and 2 traits to avoid at all cost.  In this limited time lets go straight to the one trait that will PUNISH you and those around you:

Don’t be a Blocked Personal Learner: resisting new information, confident only with your current skills, unwilling to try new approaches, certain that you have it all figured out.  So how do you know if you have this deathly trait?  Quite honestly, others can tell you but if this is a problem for you but they are likely to fear you as you have more power or status or degrees or accreditations. 

Have you ever been called a perfectionist?  Does the “stubborn” label work?  Have you been accused by your spouse or children (who are braver than most) of being stuck in the past or your own solutions?  A friend’s young adult son frequently tells him his views are no longer relevant and he better wake up.  This harsh feedback can have a positive impact if you take action. I can offer a few quick suggestions on how to compensate: collaborate more, listen more, ask questions, delegate or defer to others

If you are brave, give permission to someone who works for or with you to speak truth to power and tell you if this could be you.

I wish you were sitting across from me (yes 6 feet away and wearing a mask) I would ask you about how you are doing in effectively managing leadership in a crisis.  I would close our conversation focused only on you and your personal resilience. 

We all know this is going to be a long haul in the acute phase.  How you weather this storm, how you rebound from adversity is key.  Managing your stress, accepting tough feedback, forgiving your mistakes, managing your emotions and building your empathy skills takes a lifetime of work but you have never needed these traits more. 

I will say that if you can advance your resilience capabilities during this crisis you will likely be well set for the rest of your life. 

Chris Oster
Associate Partner, Corporate Class Inc.

Top 5 Presentation Tips from a Public Speaking Coach in Toronto

Your upcoming presentation is an important initiative. No doubt, you have an exciting message to convey to a sophisticated audience. Since your audience will be listening with great anticipation, it’s important to deliver opening remarks that lend credibility and sets the tone for the day. The content needs to be clear, brief/to the point, and impactful. Although the content is critical, it is not what will convince your audience — you will. As a public speaking coach in Toronto, I’ve helped many clients polish their presentation skills, and in this post, we will work on some of those key principles together. Truly powerful communication inspires audiences to action. As a speaker, your job is to persuade. Whether you seek to change beliefs, perspectives, or actions, all communication is geared towards changing something. The only way to change anything is by persuading the audience with ideas. The goal is to communicate clear, concise and convincing ideas. Let’s make sure your remarks convey your ideas and that your audience is prepared to commit to them at the end of your speech. The courage to speak with conviction elevates the definition of communication. As an expert, you want to focus on the ideas you believe your audience needs to hear.  At the onset, the audience may be skeptical or not agree with you. That’s why it’s so important to engage them from the start and be sure to persuade them in the end to commit to your idea. The presentation tips outlined below will help structure your speech in a way that is engaging to the audience right from the start.

1. Speak with Conviction

To speak from a point of belief and conviction, it must be clear in your mind, as to the reason why you are speaking to this audience. You can ask yourself: a) why are you speaking to this audience of senior executives? and b) why should they listen to you? Once this is clear in your mind, it will trigger your mindset and support you to speak from a point of belief and conviction.

2. Get to the Point in One Sentence

Build a relationship with your audience instantly by starting with a strong introduction.  Frame your introduction as a headline: Ex: “I believe THAT new finance will be the major driver of global economic growth. So much so, we at Company XYZ have invested $9B in R&D towards that.” Tell us in one sentence (7 words or less) what you want to talk about. Get to the point immediately, audiences will wander away if you don’t. Most speakers start from creating a context for their content in order to help the audience understand how they came to their conclusion. The problem is that the audience doesn’t know what the speaker is trying to prove or defend. So, they get lost, confused, and sleepy, and we hope they wake up for the big reveal and the call to action. People’s attention span is about 3-5 seconds. If the speaker is interesting, people will go in, out, in, out…if the speaker is not engaging from the start, people go in, out and stay out. The word THAT is useful in ensuring that the sentence is an active idea rather than a passive statement of fact.

  • The one idea I have is THAT…
  • The message I want to share is THAT…
  • My argument is THAT…

a) What do you want your audience to feel and think at the conclusion of your talk? b) What do you want your audience to do at the conclusion of your talk? It is not easy to ask. Although, whatever your ask is, it stands to reason that your chances of success skyrocket when you actually ask for what you want.

3. Identify Your Main Points

Answer the WHY Example: a) Every social advance has resulted from technological progress b) Industry 4.0 means huge opportunities and challenges for the financial sector Show the HOW Example: a) The global financial information platform will be based on cloud services and Big Data, and everyone will be more and more able to access the platform via apps on their mobile phones, anytime, anywhere. Prove your conclusion up front, it engages the audience.

4. Prove Your Point

Identify the evidence that support your main points: Use only details that support your conclusion. If you need to discuss a list, call out all items first before discussing each.

5. State Your Call to Action

What do you want your audience to do at the conclusion of your talk?  Again, your request has to be concrete. By leveraging our strengths, we will contribute to social development and help create a better future.”  This is not concrete enough… This conclusion will invite smiles and nods and allow the audience to leave without demonstrating their commitment to your message/ideas. This message will soon be forgotten.  Presentation Tips Recap:

  • What is your goal in delivering these opening remarks?
  • How do you want to set the tone for the day?
  • What is the main topic you want to discuss?
  • What idea/s do you need to convince them of?
  • What arguments will you use to convince them?
  • Come full circle in the end … “So now you can see/understand why I said at the beginning THAT…”
  • What do you want them to do now?

I trust answering all of these presentation tips will move you closer to the end goal of delivering a polished speech with poise and command. If you’d like to work with a public speaking coach in Toronto or virtually online, get in touch with us. We can help take your presentation skills to the next level!

Business Strategy Planning: Is Strategy Relevant in the Absence of Leadership?

It has been said that strategy is destiny.

Robert Burgelman’s book notes that, “successful and unsuccessful strategies shape a company’s destiny. But if strategy shapes destiny, destiny has ways of asserting itself and constraining strategy.”

With COVID-19 many organizations and businesses have had to rethink and re-imagine their business strategy planning in what seems to be a blink of an eye. The tension between shifting strategy and external and internal factors is not new; what is different is the current economic climate and the impact of a pandemic on constraints of business strategy.

The limitations of the pandemic have essentially created lesser degrees of “stragility” or lesser degrees of freedom for organizations to be strategic, agile and nimble in shifting their course of action.

Given Canada has 1.78 million SME’s, a bulk of which are in the service sector, it is not surprising then that these companies are hit hard by COVID-19 and the ripple effect of closures, social distancing and economic shrinkage.  Many SME’s do not survive the first 10 years in business; in fact, Statistics Canada notes that SME’s that make it past a 10-year mark are 42.9% in the service industry.  So, is all lost and should small and medium sized business owners just give up? Are the odds just too high?

Absolutely not.  With any crisis there is opportunity.

How might you ask can there be opportunity when my bottom line is shrinking and my business model is no longer robust? 

For the first time in my lifetime, the whole world has slowed down to an unprecedented pace.  Take time to reflect on your current business model and re-evaluate your business strategy planning and what drives it.

Let’s assume the stay at home policies go well beyond 6 months…

  • What can you do differently to keep your business alive?
  • What are you selling and how are you selling it?
  • Are you using various technology and tools to leverage your brands and products?
  • Is your marketing strategy shifting to new platforms and if so, are you tracking your data to inform strategy?
  • Are you shifting your marketing methodology to align with the data and opportunities?
  • Is your marketing integrated in a way to drive profits and sales?
  • Who is your competition and what can you learn from them?
  • Does partnering to complement what you offer make better sense than competing in this environment and allow you to expand the scope of your brand and client base?
  • Can you really step back and look at your company objectively, where it fits in current market and assess it in an arms length objective way?

It has been said if you do the same thing over and over you will get the same results.

Therefore, in a climate of chaos, change is the only constant.

Change and change management, business strategy planning, and more importantly strategic implementation are all critical leadership skills that are absolutely foundational to any organization’s success and sustainability.

It is not surprising then that many SME’s maybe struggling to figure out what next? How do I re-strategize? What are my options and opportunities?

And to be fair, these are difficult questions to answer when you are a leader that is heavily invested in a business you built through hard work and doing what you have always known as best.

I would suggest companies may want to consider reaching out to a business strategy consultant to get an objective view of their landscape, a fresh set of eyes on their business model, a coach to help them work through perhaps the biggest business crisis they have dealt with – these are all worthwhile investments as they will help leaders and organizations not only re-evaluate what they do and how they do it, they will help leaders retain their confidence in leading change, making thoughtful and smart business decisions and developing new strategies that set the stage for the next phase of the organization.

Because whether we want to acknowledge this or not, there will be a next phase with a new economy and a new way of doing business post COVID-19.

How, as leaders, we reset our business strategy planning, how we use the crisis as an opportunity to rethink our business models, our offerings, our marketing, our strategic partnership and our support systems will all impact and determine if your business is going to be in the 50% that survives in the next decade.

Silence Speaks Volumes and Why You Need to Master it to Get Heard

silence speaks volumes

Recently I read an anecdote about the power of silence. It described an event with thousands of people crowded into one room, with everyone chatting at once and no one paying attention to the individuals speaking at the front of the room.

Three speakers failed to get the attention of the crowd – until, at last, one speaker simply stood in silence in front of the microphone. Soon after, all eyes were on him and you could hear a pin drop in the room.

He achieved this using no words at all.

Immediately it reminded me of a keynote speaker at a conference I had attended a few weeks earlier. He was introduced by the Master of Ceremony and once the introduction was complete, the keynote speaker started his way up to the podium. He was already all mic’d up and started speaking before he even reached the lectern.

Results: No one was ready and missed his first comments.

By the time he got to the lectern, he was well within his presentation. It felt like we had missed the beginning of a movie and then were trying to figure out what’s happening. Had he waited to reach the lectern, paused, looked at the 4 corners of the room to make sure he was connecting with everyone, and then began to speak, it would have made a world of difference.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to recover.

He had failed to get everyone’s attention by not using silence to create anticipation, and not waiting for everyone’s eyes to be on him, before he began to deliver his message.

This story inspired me to think that silence speaks volumes, and of the great value of silence in business, and what using silence can accomplish to:

  • capture the attention of a crowd
  • demonstrate respect
  • speak using other forms of non-verbal communication
  • help you be the most articulate you can be

In this post, we’ll cover a few of the many ways silence speaks volumes, and why you need to master it to get heard.

Silence Speaks Volumes: Listen Up!

silence speaks volumes

In a conversation, sometimes the most important thing you can contribute is simply listening.

To remain silent and listen may seem like no contribution at all, but it takes effort to be fully present in a conversation – and the rewards pay off.

Some people may have the “gift of the gab” but ultimately, being a skilled listener takes equal or more attention to detail.

Listening is hard work that requires focus, practice, and patience. Apart from being the hallmark of a good conversationalist, the ability to really listen is invaluable. 

  • Listening at Level I

This is all about grabbing control of the conversation.

For example:

Person A: Where did you spend your last vacation?

Person B: I went to India.

Person A: I love India. The Taj Mahal is amazing – gigantic, beautiful. I have never experienced so much poverty and so much luxury at the same time. And we took a train; then we had a driver for part of our trip…

  • Listening at Level II

This is a give and take – a two-way conversation.

Person A: Where did you go on vacation last summer?

Person B: I went to India.

Person A: What did you enjoy most about your trip?

Person B: The people! 

  • Listening at Level III

This is all about listening to the environment.

When you enter a room — what is the mood?

Or, when you enter a boardroom — do you sense tension? How do you adapt? Is the mood somber? What can you do to lighten things up? If the boardroom is quiet, it would never occur to you to speak loudly.

Silence Speaks Volumes: Pay Attention

What can you expect to learn from another individual, whether a mentor, colleague, superior, or friend, if you constantly feel the need to assert your own opinion?

  • In a professional setting with new or unfamiliar information, keep your ears open constantly. By taking in the most knowledge as possible from others, you will continue to learn and grow — which will lead to upward mobility in your career.
  • Show the utmost respect to the person you are conversing with by silencing your other conversations. Unless absolutely necessary, take your cell phone off the table during meetings. When someone comes to your office to talk, darken your computer screen or close your laptop. This will help you focus on the individual and will make your meetings more efficient, too.

Silence Speaks Volumes: Choose Your Words

silence speaks volumes

Never be afraid of letting a conversation hang in brief silence before answering a question or responding to a comment. In fact, you should get used to it!

  • Before immediately jumping to respond to a question or comment, take a moment to reflect on your words. Not only will this help you to craft a more articulate response, it will also incite the attention of others. People will begin to notice that you take time, energy, and thought into answering a question — and that you are not simply blurting out the first thing that pops into your mind.
  • This is an especially important tip during a job interview or a first-time meeting with a client. It creates a positive first impression that you are a thoughtful, conscious individual. This first impression will inform your professional relationships and will work to your advantage.

Silence Speaks Volumes: Body Language

Silence speaks for itself.  

When you are silent, in no way does it mean you are not communicating. The next time you are not talking, pay close attention to how you may be speaking without words.

  • Body language, even when standing still, says a lot about you and your attitude. Are you standing with slouched shoulders, arms crossed, or fidgeting? If so, others may perceive you as bored or apathetic. Or, is your posture aligned, your shoulders back, and hands on your hips or at your sides? This suggests you are confident, prepared, and alert.
  • When listening to someone, eye contact is key to let that person know that you are interested in and engaged with what they are saying. If you are truly listening but your eyes are wandering around the room, the speaker might suspect your indifference.
  • Just like silence speaks volumes, your professional image speaks volumes about you too. If you do not take the time to polish your image by paying attention to dress codes, fit and cut of clothing, age-appropriate attire, and grooming, your image can silently override anything you have to say – no matter how articulate you are.

At Corporate Class, our expert facilitators provide in-person and live online leadership training that covers everything you need to know about mastering body language, communicating with confidence, nailing first impressions, leading with purpose, and more!

Learn more about our Individual Training programs or get in touch with us to host a customized Business Workshop.

You can also master your leadership, body language and presentation skills with CCI’s Online Self-Paced Leadership Presence System!

leadership presence training program

Learning to Rise During COVID-19 with Dare to Lead by Dr. Brené Brown

We’re all experiencing a new normal – both in grieving our past lives, prior to February 29, 2020, and in finding a new way forward. The psychological effects of COVID-19 have been devastating for our society.

Since March 1, 2020, our global environment has changed due to COVID-19. CBS anchor Gayle King says, “I feel emotionally drained. I feel spiritually drained. I think a lot of people are feeling this during this time.”

The second order of effects of COVID-19 include disruption of family routine, social distancing, isolation, loneliness, layoffs, job loss, exposure to extreme stress, and moment by moment digestion of knowing that more than 2 million people across the globe have COVID-19 exposures and that there are more than 180,000 deaths globally. These are all anxiety provoking.

Learning resiliency skills during and after a major event such as COVID-19 is not easy. Modern neuroscience tells us that we experience physical, social, and mental threats, all with the same intensity.

However, in this light, our rising skills are ever so imperative. Author Dr. Brené Brown says that gaining skills in rising up enable people to take risks and jump into the vast unknown. Learning to rise is a three-part process: “the reckoning, the rumble and the revolution.” People are emotional beings. When you react emotionally to something, you can move forward by becoming curious about what you feel and why. Tune into your mind and body’s reactions, such as an increased heartbeat, a dry mouth or ruminating thoughts.

Let’s take a closer look at the three steps to Learning to Rise:

  1. The Reckoning: Our reckoning during COVID-19 is being in a situation where our emotions run high. We find that our physiology is taking over our thinking, and logic and behavior are not present. The key to the reckoning is being aware, present, and conscious that something has gotten a hold of you. Next, it’s time to get curious about it. For instance: I’m in a lot of pain, feeling really vulnerable, my stomach is in knots, feeling like I am paralyzed, want to punch something, or I need to get away and run from this situation (freeze, fight, or flight). This step can be hard because most tend to blame others or outside circumstances.
  2. The Rumble: Brown describes how people “offload” emotions onto others instead of reckoning with their feelings. They tamp down their emotional reactions until one small comment or action sparks an out-of-proportion outburst. Or, they get angry, place blame and make excuses. Rumbling is stepping into the story, owning it and taking it to the mat! Rumbling typically includes the story we make up absent of data. Consequently, it’s usually based in fears and insecurities. These evolve into conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories can often contain confabulations. Brown defines this as a lie told honestly. We replace missing information with something false that we believe to be true. This shows up at work when we share what we believe is factual information, but it’s really just our own opinion. Brown encourages us to write our SFD (shxxx first draft) to start an interruption. It’s a simple way to notice your story while being in your story. To put rising skills into practice, start with:
      • “The story I’m telling myself…” or “The story I make up…”
      • Write it down!
      • There are a whole host of follow-up questions that Brown outlines as the Story Rumble process. The most challenging question is: “What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?”
  3. The Revolution: According to Brown, the revolution is all about claiming authorship of our own stories and lives. It’s about taking off the armor and rumbling with vulnerability, living in our values, braving trust with open hearts and learning to rise!

As we move to gain control of our lives through building, deepening, and strengthening our resiliency skills, we practice mental endurance and model resilient behaviors for our communities and families. By doing that we embrace Daring Leadership. I Dare You to Lead.
————————————————————————————————————————————–

Terri L. Williams
Senior Consultant, Corporate Class, Inc.
Dare to Lead Certified Facilitator

5 Tips to Help You Stay Present During a Time of Uncertainty

By Corporate Class Inc.

Have you ever heard the saying “don’t let the future steal your present?”

It can be challenging to do, especially during times of uncertainty. The COVID-19 crisis has many of us worried about a number of factors like our health or the health of our loved ones, financial commitments, and our jobs…just to name a few.  Our minds can easily get distracted by worrying or feeling anxious about things that we “think may happen” in the future. This impacts our overall mental and emotional well-being and our ability to make effective decisions in the present, which will help our future.

Try these five tips to help you stay present:

1. Conduct a “What if?” detox

The words “What if?” can be very powerful and can often lead to creating your own narratives about what may happen in the future. Most worries, anxieties, and fears start with “What if…?”. What if I catch the COVID-19 virus? What if I fall very ill? What if I lose my job? What if I can’t pay my rent? What if the economy does not recover?  If not properly harnessed, all of these “What if’s?” can destroy your confidence and ability to stay present.

Try replacing What if with “I can” or “I will”, to help you stay focused on what you can control.  For example: “I will practice social distancing and wash my hands regularly to mitigate the risk of me becoming ill.”

2. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness means being more in tune with your thoughts and emotions and recognizing what your body needs. Focusing on your breath will draw you back to the present moment.  This allows you to more effectively communicate whatyou are thinking and how you are feeling with others, which helps minimize your anxious thoughts. Listen to what your body is telling you and give it what it needs. If it is feeling run down, rest.  Maybe you need fresh air or a glass of water.

3. Minimize News and Social Media

During a crisis, it’s important to stay informed on what’s happening in the news; however, it can be easy to become completely consumed.  When you check social media or listen to news first thing in the day it becomes a lot harder to concentrate on anything andit’s harder to not be dragged into a negative loop. Limit the amount of time you’re spending watching the news and scrolling on social media. Give yourself limited time slots during the day to check-in. ⠀⠀

4. Feed the Senses

Focusing on your five senses can be one of the best tools to bring you back to the now. If you find your mind wandering, take control of your thoughts by asking yourself: What do I hear? Taste? Feel? See? Smell? This helps take you away from ruminating and reminds you that what matters most is what’s happening right at this moment.

5. Create a Reminder

Creating a reminder for yourself can give you the nudge you need to get back to the present moment. You can use sticky notes, screensavers, set an alarm on your phone, or a picture of something that grounds you and helps bring you back to the present moment.

Get Present. Pause. Connect.

Wherever you are be all there. ~ Jim Elliot