Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 3

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series. Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1 and Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

Characteristic three:  Confident communication skills

One way of building credibility is being able to clearly articulate your views within a group situation. Below are six key components that will help you succeed in doing this:

  1. Preparation and progress

Prepare before going into a meeting. Know what the key points are that you want to make and actively listen for the correct time to contribute

Know what you want to achieve before you begin

Always ensure action points are taken and verbalised to the group – to ensure everyone is on the same page. If no actions are taken – then why are you meeting?

  1. Acknowledgement

Acknowledge other people’s contributions. This will build comradery, team spirit and motivation.

  1. Separate yourself from the product

This is a great skill to possess! In order to improve a product or service, it is important that it adequately meets the needs of the intended audience. In order for that to occur the feedback of others is crucial.

It’s essential that you don’t take that feedback personally. No person or product is perfect. Because everyone is different, others can add additional and alternative elements that could improve the product or service. It’s not imperative to take all feedback on-board– just make sure that the feedback is taken on appreciatively. 

  1. Effective communication is enhanced by active listening

Active listening helps us learn more before coming to conclusions. Its importance cannot be underestimated.

  1. Be heard and understood

Your stance and tone can make a huge difference when communicating effectively. Never slouch or mumble. If you are scared in anyway – it’s important that you take a moment to JUST SLOW DOWN. Slow down your speech, slow down your breathing, and let this ‘slowness’ steady your mind. So that you can clearly articulate your points. Depending on the situation, you may need to repeat your point in different ways in different meetings, but the important part is that you ARE contributing.

there is no point in complaining after the meeting if you are not happy with the outcome if you have not spoken up when you had a chance to. Don’t quietly tell a colleague sitting next to you your viewpoint. Have confidence to share your thoughts with the wider group.  

  1. Communication effectiveness is enhanced by how to develop your documents

Ensure documents are simple and to the point.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series.  Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1 and Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 3

Characteristic two: reputation

Your thoughts, words and actions combine to form your reputation. Hence, it’s important to focus on your reputation as a key component to being successful in leadership. Specifically, five key elements are important to master.

  1. Influence the performance of others successfully

Often frustrations are caused by lack of clarity. To achieve what is required it helps if you know how to effectively influence the performance of others. It’s not fair for you to get annoyed at someone’s output when you have been vague with your requirements and expectations. Key tips for doing this well are:

  • be purpose-driven
  • control your expectations
  • forgo perfectionism (follow the 80-20 rule)
  • set clear boundaries
  • keep instructions simple
  • focus on the key learnings/skills that the employee can gain so they feel empowered and inspired to improve.
  1. Assert yourself in the right way

You really get to see the character and weaknesses of people when they are under pressure. Watch your stance and manage yourself. It is important to keep your responses in check, particularly your email responses. Emotionally charged heat-of-the-moment responses are an easy way to ruin your reputation in seconds. When required, step away or ‘sleep on it’ to ensure you have control over your emotions and your responses. This means – leave your drama at home and/or keep your frustrations in check.

  1. Understand which tasks are worth your time

Having the awareness and ability to understand which tasks are worth your time is vital to successful leadership. Time is precious and it should be used wisely. 

  1. Build trust and relationships

Leaders build and maintain effective relationships with a wide variety of people. To be successful you can’t work a silo. Good leaders develop relationships and connection both within and outside their organisation. Importantly, you need to build trust and make positive connections with your peers and your subordinates by doing what you say you will.

  1. Confront and resolve conflict

Conflict in the workplace reduces productivity, as it distracts employees from their core focus. It’s not a fun part of the job but it is an absolute necessity that should not be avoided.

Key tips when dealing with conflict are to:

  • don’t try and ‘win’ the discussion
  • prepare yourself, be genuine, ask for their help, and establish a mutual purpose and respect
  • be aware of your biases
  • take ownership of mistakes and bad outcomes and learn from them
  • practice active listening. Wait and learn before coming to conclusions. Listen to understand and paraphrase.
  • focus on contribution and solutions. NOT BLAME.

Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 1

How being more positive and valuing yourself can make you more successful

I have spent the past 20 years working for government and the private sector. For most of those years I held key executive positions. Three characteristics in particular have been instrumental to my success. They are: having a positive attitude, a solid reputation, and confident communication skills.

For key tips on each element, see the three-part series.  Women in leadership – the secret to success – part 2

Characteristic 1:  Positive attitude

The most important characteristic that has always done me extremely well in my career, and arguably  a key promotable asset – is my positive and proactive approach. The reason this is vital to leadership is that is inspires others.  

The trick to retaining a positive attitude and approach come by way of five vital elements.

  1. I retain two distinctly different, but very intertwined, outlooks. Quite simply – I choose to remain grateful and optimistic in life and in my daily activities.

    Happiness is contagious! When I smile and be positive – others are too.
  1. A key enemy to positivity and creativity is self-doubt. I squash self-doubt when it starts to rear its ugly head. Because it adds no value.
  1. I don’t believe that I have been successful due to luck. Instead I have actively pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I make opportunities present themselves by being proactive, agile in the face of change, and by putting my hand up for new tasks in order to learn more.
  1. Being able to value your own worth and believe in yourself is also vital! As this provides the confidence in your ability to learn how to do something.
  1. Lastly, I believe that I control my own life. If I am unhappy then it is my responsibility to change something. Do not wait for circumstance, or others, to change your life for you. Make yourself responsible for your own happiness today!

The key to staying positive and motivated

When starting a new business, it’s hard to stop paid work and watch your bank balance hit rock bottom. It’s hard to do tasks that you have no idea about how to do. People close to you sometimes come across as negative when they think they have your best interests at heart.

Even without starting a new business, life has a way of throwing you roadblocks and challenges.

The trick is to face them, acknowledge them, and actively do something to move past them.

I remain positive and motivated by being diligent in doing the following four things:

Planning and trying my best to achieve my goals – so this means that I not only have I written down key goals that I want to achieve in my business over the next 2-3 years, but I also have a project task register that covers all the essential tasks I need to do to launch my online company, plus I have a daily to-do list (which is often just three things that I’ve jotted down on a post-it note at the end of each day). I find that having a plan of action keeps me motivated and less free to think negatively.

Removing internal self-doubt: one of the biggest hurdles that people often face is internal negative thoughts. This may be because a mistake has been made at work or something bad was said or the perceived task is too hard – the list goes on. Nothing is gained by beating yourself up internally. The trick is to acknowledge your issue or problem – learn from it – and then make the conscious decision to move on from it the next morning. That means – DO NOT DWELL! Sometimes you may need to rectify the issue or problem with an action. But do this swiftly and then stop thinking about it. Because otherwise it’s a waste of your energy and it uses up positive productive mind space.

Moving past roadblocks – when I face a roadblock I either steadily work through it piece by piece (because you can learn anything on the internet these days). Or if it’s not time sensitive, then I set it aside and focus on every other task – with the knowledge that I ‘ll come back to it when I have more information or I’m in the right frame of mind.

Making positive change: If you are unhappy then change something in your life. Don’t wait for circumstance or others to change your life for you. Make yourself responsible for your own happiness. For me this meant starting a new online retail business, because I’m passionate about the product. I also very regularly note how grateful and thankful I am for many things in my life. It doesn’t matter how I say it but just that I am saying it out loud. For example, I will constantly tell my children how thankful I am that they are mine and why I’m so happy to have them. Yesterday I found the positive about my husband missing out of a job he really wanted – which made us both much happier.

Life essentials – steering me towards entrepreneurial success

It’s been eight weeks since I started my entrepreneurial journey towards developing an online business selling leakproof underwear for pee, periods and perspiration.

I found it quite easy to stick to a healthy routine for the first five weeks, but since then I begun to slacken off. I’m hoping that by writing this post and becoming more aware of my naughtiness, that I will start to do better.

Below is my list of five essential healthy habits that I’m trying to stick to. The checkbox identifies how well I’m going.

Sleep – the no-brainer! Go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day and allow for some quiet wind-down time before bed. Not only is this great for my mood and focus but its also great for my skin. My current problem is waking during the night. If I wake then I focus on my breathing and try to clear my mind. If that doesn’t work then I read a book on my dimly lit phone with the black back light. I realize that this is probably not good. But it does take my mind off everything else and put me back to sleep swiftly. But I’m sure that listening to a meditation podcast would be better. Might have to try that.

Water – drink a full glass of water with lemon or lime first thing each morning. Then grab a 1L bottle of water and I make sure that I get through this, and then some, each day. Initially I was trying to aim for 2L but that was impossible with my weak bladder.

 3Exercise – I like to exercise as soon as I wake up, but if that’s not your best time – then find a time that works for you and program it into your day. I find that if I look at my phone when I first wake up then I am more likely to skip exercise. NAUGHTY! But if I get up and put my activewear on straight away – then I’m good to go! The question is – how best to stick to this? Because I started off great and now, well – I’m just ok. Starting NOW – I’m going to make a goal (not too ambitious) and stick to it.

 4Stretches – for me this involves stretches for a frozen shoulder, a stiff neck and pelvic floor exercises (gosh I sound old!). I’m not sure why I’m so bad at this – but while initially I started off doing this daily and I felt great too – now I’m lucky if I do it once every three weeks. I need to do better! Much better!
I know that I’m pretty good at doing them if I remember. So, starting NOW – I’m going to set a daily reminder alarm to get me back on track.

 5Staying positive and motivated – remaining positive through problems and roadblocks is very difficult – but absolutely essential! I’ve been able to do by being diligent with four things. But that is way too much information for this one blog post – so if you are keen to read more go to: The key to staying positive and motivated.

Remember – happiness is contagious!

The light-bulb moment that caused the passion project

One day I was on an overnight tramp with friends. We were sleeping in a Dept. of Conservation hut at the top of a gorgeous mountain, in a dorm room with single mattresses covered in thick durable plastic. The kids got to sleep fine after a long day of hiking, but I lay awake all night feeling uncomfortable, hot and with a mind full of thoughts. It was that night that I had a bit of a light bulb moment.

I had not been open with my girlfriends about my personal problem – and yet we are really close friends. I guess its because no one really wants to talk about bodily fluids – because that’s nasty!

But here I was, lying awake, thinking about how annoying it was that my backpack waist-strap had dug into my bladder all day during our hike and that I wish I had better pelvic floor muscles. Because not only had I leaked through the pad in my undies that day – but I was also dreading having to put another pad in the next day, as the only private place to do that was in the outdoor long-drop toilet, which was a haven for mosquitoes. 

As I lay awake that night there were three key fields of thought that just kept swirling around my head.

Firstly, I wanted to understand why I wasn’t being more open about my bladder leakage issue. I remembered some data that I’d read once that said only 1/3 of people with incontinence issues seek help. This felt wrong to me and I vowed then and there to be more open about my issues. But i thought – why not also see what I could do to foster a more open conversation about female incontinence in general.

Secondly, I was annoyed that I hadn’t been able to buy any leak-proof underwear in New Zealand prior to our overnight tramp. I had found some online providers overseas, but the cost of the product was out of my price range, particularly when I added shipping. So I decided then and there – I needed to do something about this too!

Lastly, I was annoyed with my husband. We’d had a disagreement prior to the hike and my inner self was telling me that something had to change. The thing is – I am a naturally positive and optimistic person. My husband on the other hand, is more of a realist, or a pessimist some may say. For the past 24 years that we have been together my constant level of happiness outweighed any negativity that he could bring to the table. But over the past year something had changed. I was becoming resentful and less happy.

Initially I blamed him – and that was what our disagreement was about. But then I realised – it was me that I could change. Not him. And that was the start of my much better life. And also the start of my passion project!  

My embarrassing problem

I have an embarrassing problem. My bladder leaks when I run, sneeze, or even just walk too fast. And because I love food – I need to run (ok so running is overselling it. I jog.) But also, I sneeze a LOT – if its not hayfever, then its cats, if its not cats then its dust – you get the picture right. On top of that, I grew up in a relatively big city called Melbourne and this means I like to walk fast. Slow ambling walkers often annoy me. But all this fast walking results in bladder leakage. And I haven’t even started on the days when I’m trying to be good with my water intake!!! 

It all started 12 years ago when I had my first son. He was 10lb and boy did he have man-boobs. My second son, two years later was as 12lb. He came out looking like a toddler – which was not ok. My boys are the joy of my life but my pelvic floor muscles have never been the same.

Here lies one of my biggest problems. I’m told that I should be able to fix my pelvic floor muscles. My physio told me to do the exercises. My mum sent me a brochure about a wave machine I can sit on. My friend told me about electrodes that pulse and I put them up my girly parts. My doctor suggested a surgical mesh operation. But after three postponements of the operation (because compared to others, my needs were in no way urgent) I decided that the universe was trying to tell me something, so I gave up on that.

Instead I have decided to work on my pelvic floor muscles. Here is a link to my article on the 4 steps for how to do your pelvic floor correctly.

As you may read, I understand how to do the exercises correctly – my problem is – REMEMBERING to do them! At first I tried doing them every morning and night as I brushed my teeth. But for some reason that didn’t stick.

I need to create a habit. Google tells me that it takes on average more than 2 months before a new habit becomes automatic. I guess that’s why I have still done nothing about my embarrassing problem that has plagued me for over 12 years.

I’m hoping that maybe you might be able to help. Any guidance would be great. What has worked for you to start a healthy habit?