Thursday, March 16, 2023

Interview by American leadership forum to Soledad Tanner (Women History Month)


๐–๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง'๐ฌ ๐‡๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐Œ๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ก! All month long we will be spotlighting ALF Senior Fellows in our region making history in their fields.

Meet ๐’๐ž๐ง๐ข๐จ๐ซ ๐…๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฐ, ๐’๐จ๐ฅ๐ž๐๐š๐ ๐“๐š๐ง๐ง๐ž๐ซ, ๐‚๐ฅ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ” Founder and CEO of STC Consulting.

๐€๐ฌ ๐š ๐Ÿ๐ž๐ฆ๐š๐ฅ๐ž ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ, ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐š๐๐ฏ๐ข๐œ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ฒ ๐ง๐š๐ฏ๐ข๐ ๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐œ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ฅ๐?
Be your authentic self, be kind, be prepared, smile, and always remember: "No matter who you are, where you are, or where you come from, you can achieve the life of your dreams."

๐‡๐จ๐ฐ ๐ก๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐€๐‹๐… ๐ž๐ฑ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐ฌ๐ก๐š๐ฉ๐ž๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐š๐ฌ ๐š ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ? ๐€๐ง๐ ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐ฌ๐ž ๐ฌ๐ก๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐จ๐ง๐ž ๐ž๐ฑ๐š๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐๐ž๐ฆ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ก๐จ๐ฐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐€๐‹๐… ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ง๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ฑ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž ๐ก๐š๐ฌ ๐ก๐ž๐ฅ๐ฉ๐ž๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐š๐ฌ ๐š ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ.
I have a deeper awareness on how my "coding" has influenced my emotions, decisions, actions and how I show up in the community.

I love the concept of being in "productive disequilibrium" and "raising the heat" to the level where the discomfort of not dealing with the issue could be higher than the consequences of not addressing.

๐€๐ฌ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ซ๐ž๐Ÿ๐ฅ๐ž๐œ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฆ๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ก ๐จ๐ง ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ก๐ข๐ฉ ๐ž๐ฑ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž, ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ฎ๐ ๐ก๐ญ๐ฌ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐ฌ๐ก๐š๐ซ๐ž ๐š๐›๐จ๐ฎ๐ญ "๐ซ๐š๐๐ข๐œ๐š๐ฅ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ง๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ" ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ซ๐ž๐ฅ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ก๐ข๐ฉ๐ฌ ๐ก๐š๐ฏ๐ž ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฉ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ง๐ข๐ญ๐ฒ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฌ๐ž๐ซ๐ฏ๐ž?
The power of connections is crucial because it opens the door to vulnerability and transformation. I have developed deep friendships and a sense of belonging, which is key to long lasting impact and evolution. ALF has been an amazing experience for me!

Monday, February 13, 2023

Burn You Out

Written by: by Rob Cross,
Jean Singer, and
Karen Dillon


Summary. Stress comes to us all in tiny little assaults throughout our day — what we call “micro-stresses” — for example, the frustration of a colleague missing the mark on a joint project, or the emotional toll of a trusted work colleague moving on. These...more

We all have days when we go home exhausted, fall into bed, turn off the light, and drift into a fitful sleep. For some of us, that happens almost every day. You might chalk it up to a difficult project, client, or boss stressing you out. But what you might not realize is that there is much more contributing to that exhaustion. Stress comes to us all in tiny little assaults throughout our day — what we call “micro-stresses.” And it’s coming from sources you might never have considered. The volume, diversity, and velocity of relational touch points (the way we routinely communicate and collaborate with others) we all experience in a typical day is beyond anything we have seen in history, and cumulatively they are taking an enormous toll on our health and our productivity at work.

You probably don’t need us to tell you that stress makes you more susceptible to chronic illness and mental health conditions, such as depression. By some estimates, 60-80% of all doctor visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Stress is so harmful to employees that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress takes a big bite out of productivity, as stressed-out people tend to make lower-quality decisions and are often less motivated, innovative, and productive in their work. Ultimately, unrelieved stress can lead to burnout, which is characterized by exhaustion, detachment, and poorer performance at work.

The problem is that most of us have come to accept micro-stresses as just a normal part of a day. We hardly acknowledge them, but cumulatively they are wearing us down. And what’s worse is that the sources of these micro-stresses are often the people — in and out of work — with whom we are closest. We have identified 12 common “relational” drivers of stress (see chart below) that are likely taking a significant toll on your well-being, without you necessarily being aware of their impact. Until you recognize these sources of stress, you can’t begin to address them.

Our conclusions about micro-stresses are based on research we’ve done over the past decade involving dozens of top-tier companies, where we engaged with hundreds of people across industries such as technology, biopharmaceuticals, finance, and manufacturing and asked them to share their experiences of relationship-driven stress with us, using both quantitative studies and in-depth interviews. Our goal was to identify the sources of micro-stresses that are the direct result of the way we typically interact with each other at work and home. We have categorized these stresses into three buckets: 1) micro-stresses that drain your personal capacity (the time and energy you have available to handle life’s demands); 2) micro-stresses that deplete your emotional reserves; and 3) micro-stresses that challenge your identity and values. Do any of these feel familiar?

What’s Driving Your Stress

Micro-stresses infiltrate our lives in ways we often do not realize. The chart below shows 12 common micro-stresses and the relationships from which they emanate. Select the two or three that systematically drive the greatest stress for you.

Micro-stressesBossOther leadersPeersClientsTeamLoved ones
Draining your personal capacity
Unspoken tensions in the ways we routinely work with our colleagues create stress when they generate additional work or reduce our ability to do what we already have on our plate.
Misalignment of roles or priorities
When others don’t deliver reliably
Unpredictable behavior from a person in a position of authority
Poor communication norms
Surge in responsibilities at work or home
Depleting your emotional reserves
Some micro stresses cause us harm through negative feelings that drain our emotional reserves: worry for people we care about, uncertainty over the impact of our actions, fear of repercussions, or simply feeling de-energized by certain types of interactions.
Managing others and feeling responsibility for their success and well-being
Confrontational conversations
Mistrust in your network
People who spread a contagion of stress
Challenging your identity or values
Most of us like to think that we have a clear set of values and identity that guide our actions, at work and at home. Interactions that routinely create friction with those values or challenge your sense of self can be emotionally exhausting.
Pressure to pursue goals out of synch with your personal values
When someone undermines your sense of self-confidence, worth, or control
Disruptions to your network
Source: Rob Cross, Jean Singer, and Karen Dillon©

The point is that these micro-stresses are all routinely part of our day and we hardly stop to consider how they are affecting us, but they add up. They may arise as momentary challenges, but the impact of dealing with them can linger for hours or days. In our research, we have seen a plethora of high performers who seem to inexplicably burn out. But when you look more closely, the trigger becomes clear: a battery of micro-stresses building up over time.

So what can be done to mitigate the micro stresses in your life? Traditional advice on coping with negative or stressful interactions doesn’t work because micro-stresses are deeply (and invisibly) embedded in our lives. They are coming at us through relationships and interactions that are too numerous and high velocity to easily shake off. Consider even just one micro-stress in your day — perhaps the frustration of a colleague missing the mark on a joint project, or the emotional toll of a trusted work colleague moving on — and try explaining it to someone close to you. This kind of discussion traditionally helps people process and deal with stress. But it can take 30 minutes to describe the history, dependencies, and context so that that person can empathize and possibly make helpful suggestions over the next half hour. A precious hour later, you might feel better… or you might have wasted both of your time. In many scenarios, we’re getting hit with 20-30 micro-stressors a day. Who has time to articulate this all? And who, on the receiving end, wants to hear it?

Micro-stressors pose a different dilemma than we have seen before so we need new tools for mitigating them. Our work shows three promising approaches.

    1) Isolate and act on two to three micro-stressors. The chart above can help you to locate two to three micro-stresses that have a persistent impact on your life. These have typically become things we’ve considered to be “normal” in our lives that if altered can have a significant impact. Micro-stressors create emotional build-up that needs to be released before you can think rationally about a constructive response. So the first step is to decompress — hit the pause button, close the laptop, and undertake an activity that is self-affirming and that absorbs you so “the nonsense of all the things that bother you melts away.” When you narrow the list of micro-stressors you’re focusing on to two or three, it’s easier to find time and energy to vent, if that’s helpful to you. Our stressors often look different after we’ve had a chance to distance ourselves from the “noise” of anxiety or defensiveness. Conversations with trusted people in our network can help to unpack what’s really bothering us and why, or reframe and see our stressors in a different light. We can then act and know that we’re taking direct aim at the source of our stress, for example by having an awkward-but-crucial conversation that can transform a relationship, by pushing back on unreasonable demands or dysfunctional behaviors, or by strengthening the network of people who can help buffer us from negative interactions.
    2) Invest in relationships and activities that keep the less consequential micro-stresses in perspective. To be sure, there are truly important mindfulness practices — like meditation or gratitude journaling — that can help on this front. And, of course, maintaining physical health through exercise, proper nutrition, and good sleep habits is probably the most important lever we have for combatting stress today. But there are also important relational solutions: people who have greater dimensionality in their lives and broader connections just don’t experience micro-stressors in the same way; they are able to keep them in perspective. When we talk to people who tell a positive life story, they often have cultivated and maintained authentic connections that come from many walks of life — athletic pursuits, volunteer work, civic or religious communities, book or dinner clubs, friends from the local community, and so on. Interactions in these spheres can broaden their identity and “open the aperture” on how they look at their lives. Key to riding above the sea of micro-stressors are relationships that generate a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives — not just in the nature of our employment, but in the connections that sustain and define us beyond our work.
    3) Distance or disconnect from stress-creating people or activities. Over time, it’s not always easy to detect when a friend or colleague is routinely causing you stress, rather than lifting you up. But that’s what makes it all the more insidious. We can become intertwined, both personally and professionally, with people who routinely leave us feeling emotionally depleted. Take a step back and evaluate the relationships in your life over which you have control — and make an effort to create some distance in the ones that create more stress than joy. To be clear, stress-creating relationships are not just negative or toxic ones. They can be people that we enjoy spending time with, but that enable unproductive behaviors (“Come on, you can finish the project tomorrow, let’s check out that new restaurant tonight!) or those who routinely leave us stranded with work because they haven’t come through on what they promised (“I didn’t finish the report, let me give you my notes and you can take it from here…”).
    You don’t have to disconnect from the people you enjoy being around, but you do have to recognize their effect on your mental and physical well-being and try to put some boundaries around those relationships.We don’t have to accept micro-stresses as destiny. Stress patterns are often predictable, and if we see them for what they are, we can build the support network, mindset, and constructive responses that we need to head them off. As one leader told us, “I’m just going to lay down some new rules that may upset the cart at first, but in the long run, are going to make me a better contributor, because I won’t feel frazzled all the time.” Once you learn to recognize the patterns of micro-stressors in your own life, you, too, will be able to put the proper conditions in place to mitigate them.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Choose Courage Over Confidence

Jonathan Kirn/Getty Images

Summary: Self-doubt is a pervasive and often paralyzing concern, and research has repeatedly shown that it impacts women more than men. So what makes high-achieving women power through their self-doubt? According to the author’s research, they focus on building up their courage, not their confidence. She offers three strategies to help women take bold actions in the face of self-doubt and fear: 1) Don’t underestimate the impact of small, yet significant, acts of courage; 2) Practice courageous acts in all areas of your life; and 3) Try again tomorrow.

Have you ever shied away from taking on a role or opportunity because you didn’t feel confident enough? Perhaps your inner critic told you that you weren’t yet ready, weren’t capable enough, or didn’t have enough experience. Perhaps the voice in your head asked: “Why me?”

If you can relate, you’re among the majority of women with whom I’ve worked. I recently asked more than 120 women, from areas including the U.S., UK, Australia, Georgia, Italy, India, Jamaica, and Bermuda: If you’ve ever avoided risks, what factors and reasons contributed to this? More than 70% reported that self-doubt, or not having enough belief in themselves, their capabilities, or their skills, was a driving factor.

As one high-profile executive told me: “Every day I doubt myself. I doubt that I am good enough to be where I am.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. We know self-doubt is a pervasive and often paralyzing concern, particularly for women. A study by psychologists at Cornell and Washington State highlighted higher levels of self-doubt in women. Research has also shown that women will apply for a job only if they meet all of the qualifications, while men will apply when they fulfill only 60%. Another recent study identified a substantial gender gap when it comes to self-promotion, with women systematically providing less favorable assessments of their own past performance and potential future ability. Ultimately, men take more chances on themselves, and that pays dividends in the long run.

Focus on Courage, Not Confidence

While this pattern of self-doubt emerged again and again in studies, my interactions, and my client work, I also noticed another commonality: These women’s self-doubts weren’t sabotaging their success. The vast majority of successful women leaders I’ve interviewed and coached have built vibrant and fulfilling careers even while facing self-doubt.

What these women also had in common is courage in the absence of confidence — a trait that is often weaponized against women and used to explain why they fail to achieve career goals. My work has found that successful women take decisive action to move forward even while grappling with fears and doubts and questioning their own “readiness.”

“As women, we often feel like we have to be 100% ready in order to move forward. But, if you are 50% or 75% there, jump. Just do it,” said Megan Costello, former executive director of the Boston Mayor’s Office for Women’s Advancement.

An added bonus? Confidence is the byproduct of courage. The executives I’ve spoken with shared that with each challenge accepted and conquered, they gained confidence. “Gaining more responsibility has given me reason to believe in myself. Now, I’m the president of a brand,” said Julie Hauser-Blanner, former president of Brioche Dorรฉe, a Canadian bakery chain.

By refocusing our internal narratives on courage instead of confidence, women can take bold actions in the face of self-doubt and fear. Here are three strategies to get you started.

Don’t underestimate the impact of small, yet significant, acts of courage.

Micro acts of courage — seemingly small-scale acts that have incremental impacts over time and long-term returns — are key to unlocking a courageous mindset. As Su-Mei Thompson, CEO of Media Trust, shared: “It is not just about taking a few big risks but about pushing yourself each day to get outside of your comfort zone.”

Early in her career at Unilever, Leena Nair often found herself in rooms with few other women, where it felt intimidating to speak up. She came up with a method to encourage her own micro acts of courage. “I used to have a little book in which every time I spoke up, I would draw a star,” she told me during our discussion at the Global Unilever Headquarters in London. “If I opened my mouth five times, then I would draw five stars. If I made a point that really resonated, I gave myself double stars. By doing this, I kept myself accountable.” These micro acts led to long-term rewards — Nair rose to become the first female, first Asian, and youngest-ever CHRO of Unilever, and then went on to become CEO of Chanel.

Courage begets courage. It’s a muscle that gets stronger each time you use it, no matter how small the act.

Practice courageous acts in all areas of your life.

Nervous to start in your working environment? Start with courageous acts outside work. Courage is a transferable mindset that then permeates all aspects of your life.

One woman with whom I worked made a goal of going on a dinner or date or lunch with someone new every week so that she could expand her friendships and dating prospects in a new city, while becoming more connected. Others will go out of their comfort zone and join a gym or fitness class that they previously would have shied away from. Others started saying no more often and protecting time for themselves, rather than trying to please others.

DEI executive Karen Brown shared that she pushes herself outside of her comfort zone in her personal life by “constantly stretching myself to learn, especially that which is unfamiliar to me. This could range from traveling to countries with cultures that are completely opposite of what I’m accustomed to, attending an event, listening to and/or reading content outside my area of expertise.”

Try again tomorrow.

A strategy used by Dr. Elizabeth O’Day, who founded Olaris, Inc., a precision diagnostics company working to change how diseases are treated, is to continue to make a daily commitment to going beyond her comfort zone, even when met with resistance. Now in her 30s, O’Day serves as the company’s CEO, co-chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Biotechnology, and is a member of Scientific American’s steering committee for the publication’s “Top 10 Emerging Technologies.” However, her impressive rรฉsumรฉ doesn’t tell the full story of the challenges she has overcome.

“Every day as a young female scientist CEO in biotech, there are challenges, and it takes a lot of courage to face these challenges,” she said. When her company was in the startup phase, O’Day often faced investors who would ask “ridiculous or sometimes insulting” questions, and even challenge her expertise and achievements. “Every time that I was asked to derive mathematical equations or list a dozen metabolic pathways and their links to disease, I would do it without error. Yet, rarely did it translate into the investment that I was seeing male counterparts with far less data or degrees receive.” O’Day’s experience tracks with the numerous studies showing that women receive more scrutiny, including doubt-generating statements, than their male counterparts.

Does O’Day always feel confident? No. As she shares, “I often remember the quote by Mary Anne Radmacher, ‘Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.’”
. . .

As Anaรฏs Nin, a twentieth-century French-Cuban-American diarist and writer, said: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Your career is no different. It’s time to refocus your efforts from seeking an elusive feeling of confidence to taking decisive action with courage.

About the author: 

Christie Hunter Arscott is an award-winning advisor, speaker, and author of the book Begin Boldly: How Women Can Reimagine Risk, Embrace Uncertainty, and Launch A Brilliant Career. A Rhodes Scholar, Christie has been named by Thinkers50 as one of the top management thinkers likely to shape the future of business.