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Just Saying “Sorry” Doesn’t Cut It

September 24th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, we’ve heard multiple “I’m sorry” statements from public figures who have been accused of bad behavior. Most of them sound pretty much the same. “I’m sorry for how I’ve hurt my family, my friends, my (fill in the blanks)…

Let’s get real.  Just saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it.  Apology not accepted.

While you can’t go back and undo whatever the offense or error was, a few robo-words in response to it do not in any way compensate, nor do they make the offended party feel any better. You need to take ownership, acknowledge the impact of your error or offense, and assure the other person that it won’t happen again.  In other words, you need to be sincere about it. Saying “sorry” and being sorry are not the same things.

This applies to all errors or infractions, not just the big and public ones.

Imagine this scenario.  You’re on a project team with four other people.  The target project completion date is looming, and your deliverable is key to hitting that target. You’ve had a hellish couple of weeks. Family issues, and “fires” in your day-to-day responsibilities have put you behind. You didn’t alert anyone, because you were so sure you’d be able to catch up.  The day of reckoning – the status meeting – has arrived. How do you convey “mea culpa” to your team?

"I’m really sorry, folks. Between family issues and fighting fires there was just no way I could get it finished. I know it puts us behind, but it just couldn’t be helped."

Or…

"I realize that my slipping this deadline has put our hitting the target date in peril. I should have given you a heads up early last week when I first recognized I might not make it. I didn’t, and I know that was irresponsible. Here’s what I’m going to do to get us back on track, and how I’ll prevent things like this in the future…"

As a member of the project team, which would convey more sincerity to you?

I’m on a mission to encourage more kindness and courtesy in people’s day-to-day lives. Promoting sincere apologies is part of that.  We’ve seen multiple examples of insincere apologies from politicians and other public figures. Enough already.

Let’s move the tide in a different direction by: 1) taking ownership; 2) acknowledging the impact; and 3) assuring the injured party that it won’t happen again.

Till next time,

Karen

 

conflict resolution, Kindness, Learning, Life, Relationships

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Women Supporting Women – Getting Real About Your Career

March 27th, 2017

By: Karen Colligan

One of the most satisfying aspects of the work I do is helping other women create a strategy to achieve their business or career goals, keeping them accountable, and then seeing them attain those goals. As I like to say, women supporting other women – just as it oughta be.

In my last blog on this topic I talked about tips for women entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses. This time I’d like to share some tips for women who want to grow their careers in the corporate environment. (Men, these tips will work for you, too!)

First of all, it’s important to understand that you are in charge of your own destiny.  You need to keep an open mind, be curious, and get really clear about what YOU want for your life and career, and stop listening to those voices telling what you “should want.” Remember the old saying, “if you don’t know where you’re going any road will get you there.”

Assess where you are. When you’ve decided what you want, take inventory. What skills do you have, what skills do you need? How will you attain those skills? What are your values and interests? What are some internal blocks or other obstacles that have held you back so far in your career?

Understand trends. Bersin by Deloitte recently published a research report about HR and talent in 2017. Here are a few of their predictions based on trends they saw.

-Organizational design will be challenged everywhere. Organizations have to be able to “focus on customer-centric learning, experimentation, and time to market.” Functional groups should be organized into teams that are “smaller, flatter, and more empowered. Leaders should focus more on hands-on leadership, and less on leadership from behind a desk.”

-Culture and engagement will remain top priorities. Deloitte research shows that “86% of business leaders rate “culture” as one of the more urgent talent issues, yet only 14% understand what the right culture is.”

-Human performance and well-being will become a critical part of HR, talent and leadership. Employee engagement levels have not improved in the past 10 years, productivity is down, and U.S. workers take 4 to 5 fewer vacation days today than they did in 1998.

What opportunities do you see in these predictions based on your skills, experience and competencies?

Assemble your supporters. Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, talks about 3 important people you need to cultivate to help advance your career: an advisor, a mentor, and a sponsor. Their roles are different.

Your advisor is there to help you understand who’s who in the organization, provide context about the way things are done, and answer the “dumb questions” you think you should already know the answer to. Your mentor is the one you share your hopes and dreams with. Maybe they’re already doing what you want to do and can share how they got there. Or maybe they’re in a different organization, but know you well and can give you honest feedback and advice. You can tell your mentor both the good and the bad stuff. The sponsor plays a different role altogether. This is the person – maybe someone on the senior management team – who advocates for you when you are not in the room. This is the person you share only the good stuff with.

Learn continuously. Not just to attain the skills to achieve your current goal, but also so that you are always ready for the next opportunity. As we all know, the world changes at a rapid pace. The job or skill “de jour” may not be needed in a year or two. Keep up to date on technology, pursue new interests, read, network, stay informed about what’s going on in the world around you. Many have watched their careers go adrift because they failed to do this.

Give back.  As you move ahead in your career, never forget how you got there. Be willing to be a mentor or advocate for those in whom you see potential. Give honest productive feedback. Help others avoid the bumps you had along the road. Be willing to give informational interviews.

And, of course, don’t stop believin’.

Till next time,

Karen

Career, Career planning, Development, Learning, The Get Real Guide to Your Career, Women

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From Possibility to Reality – Creating Effective Goals

January 23rd, 2017

By: Karen Colligan

We’re nearing the end of the first month of what I’m calling The Year of Possibilities. I hope you are keeping your eyes, ears and heart open for wonderful possibilities that may be in store for you.

Once you’ve identified a possibility you want to pursue, I encourage you to turn it into a reality by creating a goal and a plan. Make it a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goal and keep your plan simple.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’ve heard that within the next six months there will be an opening for a team leader in your organization. This is something you’ve been thinking about and hoping for. Now it’s your “possibility.”  Your goal setting / planning might look something like this.

Step 1

Create a SMART Goal: To become a team leader within my organization by June, 2017.  It’s Specific (become a team leader); Measurable (you either do or you don’t); Achievable (you are already in the organization); Relevant (it’s an actual position); Timely (by June, 2017).

Step 2

Create action steps to achieve the goal. Find out what the qualifications are for the role. Which do you have? Which do you need? What do you need to do or learn to close the gap? What will you need to do or provide to apply?

Step 3

Keep your goal visible. Write the goal and action steps down. With dates. Revisit your goal and progress every day. Share it with someone who will keep you accountable. Better yet, find an accountability partner who will keep you accountable about your goal while you keep them accountable about theirs. Track your progress and add or modify action items as needed.

The main thing is to keep it simple and doable. Too often there’s SO MUCH we want to do or have to do that we end up getting bogged down in our daily “to dos” and miss the opportunity to transform possibilities into reality.

My challenge for you is: before the end of January think of one goal (and create your plan) that you will accomplish by June, 2017 to turn a possibility into a reality.

“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Till next time,

Karen

Learning, Planning, Professional development

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Here’s to the Year of Possibilities!

January 11th, 2017

By: Karen Colligan

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” - Gloria Steinem

As the New Year begins, everyone is talking about losing weight, working out more, eating right, getting more sleep. I am exhausted just listening to the same blah…blah…blah every year. Why set yourself up for failure? Instead of those same old broken-by-February resolutions, how about this year you think about all that can be possible for you?

We wake up every morning and start our routine, and before we know it, it’s bedtime. Then suddenly it’s July and everyone is saying “can you believe it’s July already?” And then before you know it, it’s December, and everyone is running around saying Happy Holidays!! Give…me…strength!

Do at least one thing this year that will stretch your being…your thinking…your heart…your soul… Think about it. What will that be?

To figure it out, you have to slow down long enough for your mind catch up to you. My best dreaming and thinking comes when I run. I don’t use ear buds to hear music, and I don’t run with anyone. It’s just me and nature. I sometimes amaze myself at how smart I am when I run. I come up with ideas I would never come up with if I were at home or in my office. For me, running is my dream space. What is yours?

I’m declaring 2017 The Year of Possibilities. I encourage you to take some time and find your “dream space” whatever that might be – running, a walk in the park, a stroll on the beach, a comfy chair by the fire, etc. – and allow yourself to dream about possibilities.

Here are 5 tips to get you started.
1. Just DO IT already. How often have you said over the past few years – “I can’t do that now, it’s not the right time”? Well, if not now, when? Go on that vacation, learn a new language, or how to play an instrument (air guitar does not count). Read that book you’ve been meaning to read for years. Or just do nothing for an entire weekend!
2. Stop multi-tasking. How many studies do we need to read to be convinced that multi-tasking is nothing more than getting nothing done well? Besides, it is very disrespectful. And how are you going to see the possibilities if you are busy doing 3 things at once?
3. Pay attention to what’s around you. Do you ever get home from a day at the office and wonder, “how the heck did I get here?” Commuting can be stressful – by planes, trains or automobiles – and often we just tune out. Open your eyes and allow yourself to see things you miss when you’re just going through the motions.
4. Listen…really listen. What I’m talking about is listening to the signals all around you – what is this wonderful, crazy universe trying to tell you? I can promise you, it ain’t telling you to work more!
5. Dream Big. If you don’t dream for yourself, no one else will. You don’t want a “regret list,” you want a “possibility list.” Say what you want out loud. Tell your friends, family and partner. The more you say it, the more real it becomes.

Expand your thinking and believe in what is possible…

Here’s to a dreamy 2017!!!

Till next time,
Karen

Learning, Life, self-awareness, wellness

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Conquering Fear in the Grand Canyon – One Step at a Time

November 11th, 2016

By: Karen Colligan

A lot of the work I do is around helping people increase their self-awareness and gain clarity on how to develop to their highest potential. I recently discovered that one of the most effective ways to learn about yourself is to face fear and find your way through it.

For me, it was a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon, or seen pictures of it, it’s pretty clear that there are some significant cliffs and drops and ridges. But ah, the beauty! How could any place so majestic, so serene, so awe inspiring, so spiritual, instill such terror into an innocent first-time visitor?

I was soon to find out. In the past, I had a fear of heights, which I thought I’d overcome. Not! (Perhaps hiking down into the Grand Canyon was not such a good way to test that). We did several trails while there, and the hardest was a 7-mile stretch of the Hermit Trail on the South Rim with a 1700 ft. elevation change. The highest point on that trail is over 6,600 feet, and the lowest 2,400 ft, so wherever you are on the trail it’s a long way down!

I have to admit, I was petrified! I was with a group, and two very competent guides, and…I did not want anyone to see my fear or to be held back by it. I’m just not used to being so vulnerable in front of other people. So I cried, silently. I sweated, profusely. I lost my appetite. I moved along the trail in baby steps. And I fooled no one. In fact, one of the other hikers said to me, “I could feel your fear.” Imagine how that made me feel! And as it turns out, I was not the only one who was scared. I just happened to show it (as much as I thought I was hiding it).

Here’s the good news: I survived! By allowing myself to be vulnerable and to completely rely on my team and our leaders I got through it. This gave me the boost of confidence and support I needed to push myself to complete something that was terrifying for me. If I had been on my own, I would have turned back and would never have realized how fantastic it feels to feel the fear and just keep going.

And here’s what I learned:
• Mother Nature is very powerful and she really does rule the world.
• We need to occasionally take stock of who we are in the context of the bigger world – do I love what I do? Am I making a difference? What are the things that really matter?
• It’s OK, and in fact recommended, to rely on others.
• Patience is a virtue. It took 5-6 million years for the Grand Canyon to become the majestic masterpiece it is. Maybe instant gratification isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
• Feeling fear is OK and actually good. (I don’t recommend being terrified, however).
• Embrace adventure – stretch everything you think you know about yourself.

Hiking the Grand Canyon was a wonderful and enlightening adventure. I’m very proud of my accomplishment. I might even try it again. Someday. In the meantime, there are so many other adventures to pursue!

Till next time,

Karen

Learning, Life, self-awareness

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Achieving Clarity and Focus as a Leader

October 3rd, 2016

By: Karen Colligan

One of my goals in the Leadership Workshops I facilitate is to help participants achieve clarity around who they are as a leader, and how that impacts their people and the world around them.

The leadership model I use – Lumina Leader – looks at four domains of leadership: Leading with Vision, Leading with Drive, Leading to Deliver, and Leading through People. As leaders, we should develop competency in each of these domains, yet we tend to operate most frequently in one or two of them.  Here’s a brief description of each. Where do you see yourself?

Leading with Vision - focuses on strategy, innovation and inspiring the team.

Leading with Drive - provides the team with very clear direction and is focused on achieving excellence.

Leading to Deliver - strength lies in planning, follow-through and accountability.

Leading through People - focuses on coaching and developing the team, and creating win-win partnerships.

Once we’ve done some discovery around these domains, we do an activity I call “Developing Your Leadership Mantra.” Originally, a “mantra” was a word or phrase used to help concentrate during meditation.  More recently, though, it’s used in reference to a statement or slogan that is repeated frequently; a truism, or saying.  Although the definition has strayed somewhat from its original meaning, a mantra can still be very effective in helping you achieve clarity and maintain focus.  And clarity and focus are essential to your success as a leader.

Your Leadership Mantra is what you are willing to “own” as a leader. It is created by you and for you. It is an oath that you will live by as a leader. Your Leadership Mantra will help you gauge your actions with your colleagues, your direct reports and your superiors. It also gives you clarity around how you operate in the world. You will make decisions based on your Leadership Mantra. It will serve as a guide throughout the day as you ask yourself, “Does this action align with who I am and who I want to become as a leader?”

Here’s an assignment. Take some time to think about where your strengths are as a leader and what kind of leader you want to be. Then develop your Leadership Mantra. Your mantra should be simple, memorable, and applicable. It should be no more than three short phrases. Once you’ve developed your mantra, write it down, memorize it, and live by it.

And on those days when everything seems to be falling apart or going haywire – use your Leadership Mantra to bring you back to clarity and focus. And if you do that while meditating, so much the better!

Till next time,

Karen

Behavioral assessments, Leadership, Learning, Professional development