Challenges, Empowering Women, Leadership, Tips, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Is Your Glass Half Full?

Is your glass half full? Is it half empty? Might it be time to fill your glass?

I was going to blog about this for the week and had some thoughts planned in advance. During my week at Wharton last week, I got some in-depth knowledge into Emotional Contagion – which reinforces the beliefs and conversation I wanted to share.

Don’t you find it interesting that when you interact with certain people they approach life with the “glass is half empty” mindset? Critical about everything in a negative way? No solution to whatever the challenge is before them? We try and avoid these people and if we are on a team project with them – well, it can be disheartening. These types of colleagues, friends, leaders can literally suck the joy out of the room and drag down a project or initiative.

I have always been a glass is half full type of person and when I have moments of my glass is half empty, I immediately jump to a solution space. My energy shifts to the solution and I become positive, engaged and full of possibility. When I talk to teams and people about leadership, I always talk about putting on our game faces – suit up for the game! Our teams deserve this from us and frankly, who wants to follow a leader who is always critical, in a bad mood, frustrated, and on the verge of throwing in the towel?

We all have those moments in our lives when our glass is depleted – half full: we have a fight with our partner, forgot to fill the car with gas, spill coffee on our work shirt, hit every red light when we are already late for work, the project we are working on lost 30% of its funding but still needs to get done on time and with high quality……and all of that happens on one morning. Yes – our glass is half full, if not empty.

If you are expecting an answer on how to best fill your glass – I am sorry but I don’t have the market on that solution set. I believe that the solutions are as different as we are as people. Music works for me, some quotes of inspiration, and I think my general viewpoint of life’s challenges – “Okay, how do I turn this around.” I also know that as a leader – people watch EVERYTHING that you do and will create their own stories around your actions and behaviors.

Then, this week I learned about Emotional contagion which is the phenomenon of having one person’s emotions and related behaviors directly trigger similar emotions and behaviors in other people.

We learned (and truly we all already know this) that emotions, both positive and negative, actually spread among employees like viruses. Ever wonder why you’re happier around happy people and annoyed around annoyed people? The concept of emotional contagion influences employees’ moods and significantly influences business decisions as well…..and no one typically knows that is happening (sometimes until it is too late).

 

A couple of examples to consider:

• Walk into many Registry of Motor Vehicle locations and you can feel the impact of the prevailing mood instantly — dreariness, irritability, and listlessness.

 

• Walk into almost any Apple store and you’ll experience the opposite — a sense of aliveness and excitement that raises your energy (and makes you want to buy something).

 

Thinking about our actions is critical to leadership efforts and the atmosphere of our teams!

 

Fill your glass and then raise your glass!

Confidence, Empowering Women, Leadership, Reflection, Working Women

A Boss, A Leader, A Mentor 

I often write about what it means to be a leader and a mentor as a woman – a subject clearly near and dear to my heart. I was recently asked to share about a woman leader, a woman mentor, and the most memorable female leader I worked for. Interestingly enough as I reflected on the question (and the ask to write about it) – the boss, the leader, the mentor all point me to the same person – Margaret Serjak.  

I met Margaret in 2005 through my then boss who served on a special project with Margaret. We were connected as well through my Market Area President at the time. I was considered a high potential leader and ready to move into a Director role. I was being put forth to interview and had interviewed in New Jersey. There was a position open in Southern California and I went to interview with Margaret. I was vetted out by others and offered the position!! In April of 2006 I went to work as the Director of Field Operations in Southern California and my journey and the relationship began. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how much I learned in this pivotal point in my career. Operations Strategy, Influence, Technology, Financial Performance, Pace of Change, Marketplace and Customer Strategy, Employee Engagement, and Leadership Engagement – all areas of business and leadership I learned from Margaret as a boss, as a leader, and as a mentor. I also reflect back to moving across the country and relocating my family for a role in her organization in Southern California and she always checked in to see how my family and I were acclimating to our new location. That is another leadership tenet I carry with me – people matter, yes – people’s family’s matter, absolutely!

Margaret was undeniably the hardest working and one of the smartest women in the industry. Margaret was above reproach in the integrity department – it was truly fascinating to watch her approach relative to business, leadership, and professional/personal integrity. Margaret kept a fast pace and executed quickly but with solid quality. She expected that of her team. We had large scope of responsibilities as leaders and she expected much from each of us. Knowing your business was table stakes and knowing how to change a trajectory of operational or financial performance was a measure of effective leadership. Margaret possessed the ability to ask the really tough questions in an operations review or finance discussion (sometimes to the point of being harsh) but it pushed me to ensure I was on point and on my “A” game. While there was that side, there was also the side of Margaret that was my greatest supporter and cheerleader (and I am sure same for my peers as well).

Margaret encouraged me to be creative around employee engagement and innovation, which are areas of strength for me and she always applauded those efforts, as did our employees. It means a lot when your boss encourages your areas of leadership strength. I try to do same with my team. In the fast pace of business with high expectations of leaders, it always feels great when someone recognizes work that you do. Especially when that person is your boss!

The most interesting reflection I have is during the time from 2006 until 2015, Margaret always believed in me more than I believed in myself. In 2011, she believed I was ready to be promoted – she told me I was as good as anyone else, why not. I went into that new leader role back East and Margaret then became a mentor and trusted advisor. As a mentor, she encouraged me and tried to reinforce my professional confidence. My regret is that I wished I had listened and believed. Margaret was not a person to simply say something to say it, she had to truly believe it herself. I realize now how I missed that (on my end) during the time she mentored me.

She has now retired from the business world (well-deserved I might add) and although we may not connect as often as we did when we worked together, I know that all I need to do is simply pick up the phone and she would be there for me!

I have had many mentors, bosses, and leaders over the course of my career – women and men – and I count my blessings for all of the lesson learned from each of them (the good and the not so good). I count my blessings three times though when I think of Margaret and the role she played in my career, my leadership, my confidence, my passion, and my overall business savvy. What an amazing gift!