Guest blogging for me today is Zara Lyttle MSW RSW.
Zara just completed her Master's in Social Work. I remember a time long ago (or so it seems) when I was working on my degree, working full time and raising my family. It was extremely difficult.
Many women want to make this journey. They don't want to decide between career, education and raising their family. They want to do it simultaneously and actually find the experience rewarding.
How do you do that though? in the face of overwhelm and the bombardment of doubts, how do you stick to the path?
Zara found a way and shares her story here. You will find some great lessons for anyone trying to live life to the fullest!
Starting the journey
As a mother of two young children working part-time as a professional in the social work field I encountered a unique opportunity when my son was a year old. It was the chance to take my Masters in Social Work near my home community in Northern Alberta. This was something I always wanted to do and my husband encouraged me to apply. I knew I would be embarking on something that would change my daily life and future direction. I also know myself and if I was accepted into the program, I would commit myself to completing it. Here I am 3 years later and I am proud to say I did it, I have my Masters in Social Work! I want to describe to the reader the process of how I was able to manage multiple roles which still ensuring I cared for myself and was “Present” as a mother, wife, friend, professional, and student.
Supportive employers help
When I started my program I knew I would have to continue work part-time. Luckily I had a flexible employer that let me do a great deal of my reporting work from home. This eased the pressure on my time for attending block week classes and doing my practicum three days per week. The support from my employer was just a piece of the puzzle that was my support system while I completed the two year masters program.
Build a large support network
The biggest support I had was my husband. He provided the encouragement when I doubted being able to juggle everything. He took time off work to care for our children while I was away and generally was just there, telling me how proud he was of me. It wasn’t easy as we didn’t always have a lot of time together, but we soon fell into a routine of “scheduling” time together as almost a reward for me completing schoolwork. It was a motivator for getting my work done.
Another huge support was my mother, who helped me get through a move partway through the program, also provided child care, and allowed me to complain about my workload while still reminding me that I “could always quit if I wanted to”. It was funny, that reminder that I was making a choice to do the coursework was a motivator for me. She kept me sane through the process.
Surround yourself with positive people
Altogether, I took support from friends and family when I needed it and was encouraged all along the way. One friend let me stay with her during my block classes and listened as I excitedly told her what I was learning. I encourage anyone wanting to go back to school for higher education to surround themselves with positive people who love you and will give you the support you need. You also have to be willing to accept that support, as that isn’t always easy either!
Be present each moment along the journey
Lastly, the most important piece of advice that I believe can help anyone attempting to juggle the multiple roles we all have in life is being “present” in the moment. My focus was that for each task, each role I was mentally and emotionally “present” for them. It wasn’t always easy when I had papers due, family commitments, and work reports upcoming. I had to commit myself to being present at all times. When I was with my children and husband I focused on them. When I was writing a paper I focused on that. When I was at practicum I focused on that. Well…you get the idea. Being present was a constant exercise in focus that I believe allowed me to accomplish what I needed to while still being a mother to my children (which was the most important thing to me in the whole process).
This was my visual cue I carried around with me during the two year program. Good luck to all those that embark on the journey of balancing roles and being “present”. It can be done, but not without support …
I am super excited to present you with another blog from a guest blogger. This time it is Robert Manolson BA, CCDP, Creator & Facilitator Powerful Play Experiences.
A few years ago I attended one of Robert's sessions. I love his energy and the fun he created in the room.
I don't think we have enough fun at work. We get bogged down in the "stuff" that shows up every day. The clients I work with want to enjoy life more. That can happen at work too!
Robert presents a powerful message about the value of adding fun into your day.
FUN AT WORK is permission for a time out from an all too busy world of work to feel engaged, manage stressors, open lines of communication, and strengthen employee relationships.
FUN AT WORK achieves the goal of simply bringing people together in a most unique experience. Through the sheer magic of playing together, we create a feeling of community in which team members at work are truly connected, operating more effectively with each other and generating more excitement and energy at the workplace.
A lighthearted introduction to a serious topic that prompts the obvious first question:
Does your Employee Health & Wellness Policy include FUN AT WORK? And more importantly, in your capacity of leadership and influence, are you spearheading a healthy Work-Fun Balance at your workplace? And if not, what's stopping you?
It's really all about big picture thinking and a big picture approach to creating a healthy workplace culture and a healthy workplace environment. In fact, take a look around and check out the number of companies and organizations committed to this whole new attitude towards FUN AT WORK as part of their refreshing approach to Employee/Team Health & Wellness.
Raising Fun Levels
What if your team members had permission for FUN AT WORK, permission to play at work, to interact, to laugh, and to engage in play experiences that totally generates a buzz of excitement in the workplace? Isn't it really all about happy staff? 100% of people surveyed agree that they all can use more FUN AT WORK, generate more excitement and energy, and create a dynamic team of individuals working together as partners in their department's success. That's a pretty bold statement. Agreed? But if asked, wouldn't your employees also clearly state that they too could use more FUN AT WORK? After all, the atmosphere at work is much more appealing and people even report an increased feeling of “community and connectedness” in the workplace.
1. When planning for the upcoming year the first step to best address incorporating FUN AT WORK is to organize a set of standards in your best practices model around the driving belief that we need to have more fun. Your ability to focus on enhancing the value of your department's services by totally integrating this attitude into your best practices model results in organizational learning opportunities, AGMs, meetings, staff appreciation events, etc., that are more appealing, invigorating and leading edge for staff and management.
2. Over the past couple of years, it's quite encouraging to see more and more companies wanting to increase fun levels at their workplace. They believe in the value of fun and play as solutions to workplace challenges. While there may be different reasons or objectives as to why they want to harness the power of FUN AT WORK, there are common threads. And although we can streamline these common threads to nicely fit into one or more of the following intentions, it is vital to be clear as to your FUN AT WORK intentions that best fit your particular workplace.
3. Ultimately it does starts with you when including FUN AT WORK in your Employee Health & Wellness Policy. Because FUN AT WORK is a whole new attitude and a vehicle for positive change, you need to embrace a refreshing, personal philosophy towards FUN AT WORK and play.
Because decision makers are motivated to get their employees happy to be where they are and all pulling in the same direction, the range of service providers as well as the techniques they apply continues to grow in popularity. There's been a noticeable increase in adventure activities, extreme sports and creative variations on the deluge of reality shows we see on television. How complex does this have to be? The only limits are your imagination. My general rule of thumb is to involve a broad range of staff and management in the planning process, yet keep the process simple and filled with lightheartedness. Most significantly, the value of FUN AT WORK means giving attention to people's concerns for their own physical and emotional safety. A safe experience is played with a responsibility that nobody is hurt. After all, at the end of the day it's really all about a smile on everyones' faces.
Now, go ahead. Make it happen!
Robert Manolson is the Creator & Facilitator of Powerful Play Experiences and is in the business of FUN AT WORK. He leads organizations in Workplace Fun & Wellness Workshops and believes that each day and every day we must re-energize and ignite our spirit within through the power of play and the value of FUN AT WORK. Contact Robert at www.powerfulplayexperiences.ca
I’ve had a number of conversations with individuals lately that either don’t get true supervision or don’t know what it is. I believe supervision is vital to growth and development of any employee and so I figured it’s time to write about it.
Supervision is one-to-one time between an employee and supervisor. It is regularly scheduled, not just in response to a crisis or problem. This time is proactive rather than reactive. Supervision provides the opportunity to talk about things that don’t often get attention during the day-to-day operations. Yes, we find time to ask questions, problem solve and put out fires. What I am talking however is conscious time to look at employee growth. The key to great supervision is that the individual receiving supervision comes out feeling lifted, inspired and engaged in their work. Hint, if they come out feeling like a kid leaving the principles office it was definitely not supervision!
Following are five things you should cover during a scheduled supervision time.
How often should you schedule supervision with your employees? It all depends on the type of work you are doing and your organization. Ultimately monthly would be lovely but we all know that in the real world that may not be able to happen for a variety of reasons. In that case, minimally every three months would be best.
Place this time as a priority. As much as it’s tempting to reschedule when a crisis comes up or to cut the meeting time a little short because there are other pressing issues, I urge you not to. One of your primary roles as a leader is to grow the talent in those that follow you. Your best way to do this, is to focus on growing them. Step by step!
Finally, make sure that you have supervision time for yourself as well. Ask your boss for scheduled time. Bring an agenda. Carve out the time you need to grow yourself!
I’ve attached a sample supervision form for you to use or be inspired by!
I am currently reading “The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward” by Kevin Cashman, who also authored “Leadership From the Inside Out”. Cashman is a brilliant man and one of our thought leaders on the topic of true leadership. In my reading last night I came across his concept of the difference between hesitation and pause. I had never considered the difference between the two words. Hesitation is a warning, almost the alarm bell that we need to pause, reflect and consider before moving on. I am intrigued by the difference.
Leaders are pushed to make decisions quickly
As leaders, there is constant pressure to make decisions quickly. Time is of the essence and people are relying on us to make good decisions, communicate them and move forward. I can think back many times and even just in this week alone where I have been hesitant to make a decision, yet feeling the pressure to do so. Cashman insists, that hesitation is a message.
Hesitation is a warning signal
Hesitation is a reaction. It is your body and mind encouraging you to think twice. Pause is the conscious decision to reflect and to be mindful of the decision we are making. Consciously rather than reactively we take the time to look at all of the information we have, the emotions surrounding the decision and the implications of the choices available.
Use hesitation as a gift
I will be using this insightful gift now. I will pause when I feel the hesitation. Welcoming that as a reminder, I am reminded that great leaders reflect, are mindful and take the time to, in Cashman’s words again, “step back to lead forward”.
Yes, it is summer and don’t forget, you (and a few others) are still working. You are still in the office. Despite that already everyone is thinking about how so much won’t get done now until fall. Meetings are being put on hiatus until September. Plans for projects are taking in consideration everyone’s holidays. It is almost like we leap forward two and half months wiping out the calendar for the summer. And really, it stretches into three months because we start writing things off in mid June and then also acknowledge, “Nothing will happen in the first week of September”! Whoa! Stop the horses! This is the perfect time to keep on track.
We talk about being mindful when in a meeting or when we are in a conversation with someone else. Mindfulness is about being in the moment and aware of what is going on. Consciously we focus on the task at hand and the person we are with. Mindfulness in June is kind of similar. What is the task at hand? Who are you working with? Put the effort in to staying present at work during the summer rather than jumping forward too fast.
It is different in summer
Yes, there tends to be a leaner staffing component over the summer months. People are at the lake, relaxing in the sun and having BBQ’s with their friends. And so they should be! It is summer! They are also working. At least most people are putting in at least a few weeks of work over the summer. Make the most of that time when people are actually at work.
Make good use of what is available to you now
If you are working on a project, I encourage you to think twice before putting it on hold over the summer. Granted although you may not have all of the participants at every planning meeting, it is a great opportunity to take advantage of the natural fun and slowed down pace of summer. Use that to your benefit. Let the mellowness flow into the project. Allow creativity in both your planning and in the project itself.
Don't throw away 3 months of the year
Rather than throwing away three months of the year (oh and another 1-2 months at Christmas) consider how you can keep on track over summer. There is a lot of work going on in organizations and there is a shortage of resources. Making best use of your time resource over summer will help keep the projects on track and provide you access to creativity, fun and an opportunity to build relationships.
Have you seen this?
It's not too late to sign up for my FREE Summer Virtual Book Club - Find out more here!
Great Leaders are readers. Great Leaders realize that leadership isn’t about a title. Leadership is the essence of who we are. To be a great leader we need to know who we are. With those concepts in mind, I am excited to be having a FREE virtual book club this summer to review Robin Sharma’s book The Leader Who Had No Title. I love Sharma’s ideas that leadership comes from who we are, what we believe in and how we show up. Sharma gives valuable and practical ways of stepping into leadership in all areas of our lives, regardless of our title. He packages the messages into a story about a guy who has returned from war in Iraq and takes on a job in a bookstore, because he not quite sure what to do with his life now. Do you want to read it with me?
Imagine a staff meeting. The boss is sharing information about budget restraints and they indicate there is no money for training in the next six months and likely the entire budget year. Person “A” leaves the meeting discouraged. There was a course they wanted to sign up for. They head out to smokers corner or the coffee room and join in the venting session with their co-workers. They lay blame (i.e. play victim) on the government for cutbacks, their agency for not advocating for them harder and the world for being in a downward spiral. They complain about the price of gas and food, potholes in the streets and of course, they grumble about the weather.
Does this sound a bit unbelievable? What if it wasn’t? In the FREE virtual book club this summer we will explore how leadership comes from all levels and how we can, as Robin Sharma says ,learn “Transformational leadership lessons to transform a company”. Click here to find out more details. or sign up below! Then join your colleagues and myself in exploring ways to bring out the leadership in everyone, including yourself.
Kathy Archer, 780-332-1777
Cindy Millar, 780-618-2690
International Coaching Week
Coaching Supports the Development of Great Leaders
Peace Country – Two local Coaches offer support to Leaders in the Peace Country through support, training and individual Coaching.
I know that Great Leaders are grown from the inside out. Great Leaders take time to learn about who they are, what they stand for and what they believe in. They are curious about how their leadership style impacts others and want to know how they can have the most positive effect on their teams and in their work. Coaching is a great place to start both this internal look at self and to increase a Leader’s awareness of their impact on the world around them.
Kathy Archer, Leadership Coach, Silver River Coaching
Organizations are only as strong as the people at the top. In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, leaders need to set the pace and direction for success. Leaders grow other leaders by investing in themselves and their staff. By becoming a leader that others want to follow, everyone wins! One way to achieve this success for the leader, the staff and the organization is through coaching. It really can make a positive difference!
Cindy Millar Chief People Officer, Caisse Horizon Credit Union
Leadership is a passion for both of us. We believe strongly that Leaders become Great Leaders by growing themselves. They never stop bringing in new information, learning, applying it to themselves and evaluating the results and then doing it all over again. Great Leaders realize that they are the ones who set the tone in an organization and as such need to be on top of their game.
There are two key ways to grow. First, learn more. Take training, read or attend sessions. With the variety of learning modes these days, where we live no longer is a valid reason to not continue with training. A second great way to grow is through Coaching. A coach helps you to look at taking in all you know and applying it or figuring out why it is that you struggle so hard to apply it. Coaching grows leader exponentially!
In honor of National Coaching Week May 20 - 26, and to assist with your learning and growing your two local ICF Certified Coaches have put together a list of 12 of our favorite Leadership books:
- Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
- Mindful Leadership: The 9 Ways to Self-Awareness, Transforming Yourself, and Inspiring Others by Maria Gonzale
- Leadership From The Inside Out by Kevin Cashman
- Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis and Annie McKee ·
- Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute
- The 360 Leader by John C. Maxwell
- Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell
- Fierce Conversations & Fierce Leadership by Susan Scott
- Have a Nice Conflict by Tim Scudder, Michael Patterson and Kent Mitchell
- The Servant as Leader by Robert K. Greenleaf
We hope you have the opportunity to pick up one or two and apply them to your own Leadership. The Peace River Municipal Library has agreed to look into purchasing some of these books so that they are available to everyone. And if you ever want to talk about what you’ve learned in them, feel free to reach out to either of us for a conversation. We love to talk more about developing leadership.
The International Coach Federation is the leading global organization for coaches, with over 20,000 members in more than 100 countries and more than 9,000 credentialed coaches worldwide. ICF is dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high ethical standards, providing independent certification, and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches. Coaching is a distinct service and differs greatly from therapy, consulting, mentoring, or training. ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. For more information, please visit our website at www.coachfederation.org.
I started a LinkedIn group called Emerging Leaders of Alberta Organizations to have discussions with organizations around Alberta on the challenges and successes in growing great leaders. Leaders who lead their teams through change and growth to provide better services for their clients and the people they serve. Leaders who inspire their team and lead with integrity and determination.
Currently many organizations are facing the imminent retirement of their senior leaders and are not sure where the next leader will come from. While there are some key people within the organization that may have been identified, those people are not sure they want to step into the 70+ hours/week responsibility of running an organization. If these people do not move up, the organizations are left with the challenge of recruiting outside the agency, which can have challenges as well.
By organizations, I mean non-profits, private agencies and volunteer organizations and probably many more. And by emerging leaders, I mean individuals in organizations who have the desire or potential to step into leadership positions or who already are in junior leadership positions and who may see a continued path of leadership in front of them.
Here are some of the things I am wondering and thinking about:
- Do we have sufficient training in the province to set the foundation for leadership?
- What might be missing?
- When leaders continue to struggle, after getting good training, what is the issue?
- Are talents and skills being leveraged best in organizations?
- Where does overwhelm and overload play an issue?
I am curious also as a coach, where mentoring and coaching might benefit emerging leaders. Do current leaders have the skills, desire and time to commit to that? What does it look like? And do agencies have the resources, curiosity and interest to try that? For agencies that are already trying, how is it working?
I believe conversation is one of the best starting points to overcoming challenges. I have been a part of these conversations already and feel the urgency among those to address the leadership crisis that is appearing in our province.
What do you think? Is there a leadership crisis? Why or why not? What can we do about it or what is already being done to address it?
Leadership Power Through Titles
When I was a manager, supervising a team of employees, my leadership came partly from my title or the role I was in. Supervisor, Manager, Director or Boss; all titles that give someone power in a position. But the real power, the real beauty of great leaders comes not from their title (see works by Robin Sharma) but through who they are as leaders.
Leadership Power From Within
Reread that last sentence again. It comes from who they are, not what they do. The essence of a great leader comes from within. It comes from their values and beliefs, their life experience and how they see those as well as their vision for the future. It comes through their willingness to be courageously authentic in all they do.
Authentic means real, as opposed to false or imitation. That means if you are angry, you are angry, if you don’t know what to do, you don’t know what to do and if you need help, you ask for it. It also means if you believe strongly in something; you say that and your actions align with what you believe.
Where upcoming leaders often struggle is they look externally for fixes and as such, tend to blame others or their situation. “If only I had better educated staff”, “If only my boss would let me handle the situation the way I want to handle it” or “If I didn’t have so much on my plate I could give this the attention it deserves”. While all of these facts may be true, the real truth is great leaders look internally at themselves and see what they are doing, how they are handling the situation, but more importantly, what their inner beliefs are and how those beliefs may be getting in the way.
One of the ways upcoming leaders can do this is to participate in regular reviews of their performance. 360’s performance reviews (See The Leadership Circle Profile) are great ways to start this process. These reviews allow leaders to hold a mirror up and see the reflection back of what they are emitting to the world.
· What do the people around you say about you as a leader?
· How does this align with who you think you are as a leader?
· Where are the gaps?
This starting point allows you to go deeper. It allows you to look at why you might not be getting the results you want. And rather than looking outward through your glasses that say “It’s their fault things aren’t working out” or “I just need to get better at delegating, time management or running meetings ”, you start to look at your beliefs, how they get in the way,
Find your Shadow Beliefs
Kevin Cashman, author of the Leadership From the Inside Out says
“personal mastery is acknowledging our strengths and talents while facing our underdeveloped, hidden or shadow sides of ourselves”.
Do you remember the adage, a strength overused becomes a weakness. Cashman takes it one step further. He says, a strength, combined with what he calls a shadow belief, can become a weakness.
The strength of the leadership competency of “focus” combined with the shadow belief of “I must know ever detail to feel comfortable” suddenly can become the weakness of rigidity and lack of trust in your employees.
Focus + I must know every = Rigidity/lack of trust
detail to feel comfortable
Great leaders take the time to get to know themselves. They value personal growth and increase awareness. By looking internally at how they lead, they are more consciously projecting what they intend to project and find when they hold the mirror up again, they are pleased to see the results of their hard work.
I vision leaders who are aware of changes in their organizations. They are mindful of the effect of change, how it is affecting everyone on their team and how it is impacting the day-to-day work.
I vision organizations where leaders are not afraid to name the change, to acknowledge it is there and to identify what is really happening. Neither are they afraid to address changes, to work through them, to meet them and to consciously monitor change, with the leader being in control of its speed and direction.
I vision organizations where there are many many leaders. I vision organizations where leaders rise to the challenge whether they have the title or not.
I vision organizations where everyone is invested. People care for and believe in what they are doing.
I vision organizations that work through conflicts. They find alignment in the direction they are going and as such are not afraid of disagreements, challenges or difficult paths.
I vision organizations that flourish, bloom, compete and create things that others never thought possible.
My belief is that by visioning, dreaming, creating, imagining, doing, living and being that these organizations can exist again and again and again.
This dream, this vision, this belief is:
- the way in which I do my work
- the way in which I move forward as I encounter others, as I coach individuals and teams, as I train, as I speak to them and as I write
- the way in which I live my day-to-day life with my family and in my community.
I approach life and I approach day-to-day challenges and opportunities with the belief that it is possible to have a world and to have organizations in which people are connected, people are conscious and people passionate about what they do, where they live, where their children go to school, the earth around them, the air they breathe and about other people.
From this place I am able to sit down at my computer, pick up the phone, go to an event, write and do my work, knowing that others believe this is possible; knowing that others are creating this same vision as I.
Special Note: My company is called Silver River Coaching. The Silver River is the Milky Way Galaxy. It reminds me that we should always be reaching for the stars!
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
And if you want to know more about me check out my personal blog at www.kathyarchersblog.com
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Overwhelm / Overload / Burnout
Work Life Balance