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Self Leadership also means Self Care

Last week, I mentioned in my article that if we want to become better leaders, we have to practice self-leadership, i.e. start with being a leader of ourselves. 

 

It means we have to lead by example. We have to have values that match our words and actions. We have to step of our comfort zone to grow to become a better version of ourselves.

 

To me, self leadership also includes something important: self care. 

 

Self Leadership = self care

 

We cannot inspire, motivate, help or support others if we are not healthy. And when I say ‘healthy’, I mean ‘mentally and physically healthy’. 

When I had my car accident 21 years ago, I had to stay in the hospital for 3 months. During these 3 months, I had to stay and lie in bed for 6 weeks, without being able to stand or even sit. This accident made me realize how precious life is, how precious our health is and that without it, we are of no use to anyone. The doctors told me I recovered so well because I stayed positive throughout this whole experience. They also said I recovered quickly because I was in a ‘good shape’ i.e. not overweight, or having some health issues such as too much cholesterol, or diabetes. We often take our health for granted until something happens, our life changes within a few seconds and we realize that our health is the most important thing we have.

The second time I realized that we also need to be mentally healthy is when I had a burnout. I was doing a job I did not like. I had nice colleagues, but the job was challenging me in the wrong way. So I was stressed and brought my stress home. Because I was stressed, I did not sleep well. Because I did not sleep well. I was more and more tired. So I no longer went to dance (which used to help me get rid of my stress). I was in a vicious circle. Until I was forced to break it. I could no longer work and stayed at home for 2 months. Here again, I realized that even if I was physically healthy, I still was of no use to anyone, not even myself, as I was no longer able to think properly or even relax! I had stretched my resources too thin… This was another powerful lesson.

 

What I learned from these experiences

 

We need to learn to take time for ourselves to exercise, to meditate / pray and to eat healthy. We need to take some time to relax. Getting enough sleep, spending time with our family and friends and doing things we like are necessary activities so that we can recharge our batteries. When the battery of a phone is close to empty, we are quick to recharge it as soon as we can. Why don’t we recharge ours when we are tired, feel drained, cannot concentrate or start having all kinds of issues (such as headaches, backaches, stomachaches, etc.)? Why do we often wait until it’s almost too late?  I’ve learned it the hard way with my burnout. The body is a powerful machine. It tells you everything that is important, if you take time to listen to it. 

These 2 experiences are the main reasons why I dance salsa 💃🏽. With salsa, I found my passion. Salsa is not only my workout, it’s also my (mental and physical) stress relief. When I dance, I can let go of everything and focus on myself, the music and what my dance partner wants me to do. Salsa gave me confidence. It gave me some ‘me time’. It helped me become a better leader and a better follower. The list goes on and on…

 

So what does that mean?

 

That means we need to continue learning new things and unlearning others. We need to develop and improve our skills. This means also starting new habits and getting rid of others. Getting rid of people who put us down, are jealous or criticize us and surround ourselves with people that support us, encourage us and motivate us to become a better person. 

Finally, this means to be aware of ourselves, of our body and our emotions. Any negative signal we get (even if it’s just a headache) is a sign that we need to take care of ourselves more. 

Taking care of ourselves is NOT selfish. It is the right thing to do. If we are not (physically or mentally) healthy, we, as leaders, simply cannot help ourselves and others. 

Our mental and physical health should always be our number 1 priority. 

 

This blog was also published on Linkedin.

#vlvcoach #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #personaldevelopment #globalleader #professionalwomen #HumanSOS #Humansustainability

 

To become true leaders, we have to start leading ourselves

Being a leader does not require a title. We all are and can be leaders, whether at home or at work.

I am convinced that if we want to become better leaders, we have to start with being a leader of ourselves.

We cannot expect people to follow us and/or see us as a role model if we cannot lead ourselves, if we do not lead by example. Each and everyone of us has values. Our actions need to be in sync with these values. Words mean nothing if our actions go in the opposite direction.

When we lead ourselves, we need to make sure we continue to develop ourselves. We need to be curious. We need to be willing to go outside our comfort zone and to take risks to grow and achieve results.

2019 was a year where I put this into practice.

A recent personal experience…

For a bit more than a year, we’ve been suing our heating company with not just one but two court cases. For both cases, we decided to defend ourselves without a lawyer in court. We knew nothing about the Luxembourgish legal system, except that we needed to speak in either French, German or Luxembourgish to defend ourselves.

My husband did most of the preparation work, and I did all the translations into French. I also ‘played’ the lawyer in the tribunal, being the one speaking to the Court and the adverse party, answering questions and defending our case. We won the first case against our heating company who was defended by a well known lawyer and were proud of ourselves. Unfortunately, the adverse party appealed and we have subsequently been forced to take a lawyer as we can no longer defend ourselves in appeal.

Every time we were in court, I had to stay calm, even though false and completely unexpected allegations were made against us (allegations that had absolutely nothing to do with the issues we have had). During several sessions, I spoke clearly and in a confident manner, although the adverse party tried to destabilize us in ways that were simply disgusting. At the same time, I had to translate what was said to my husband, as he does not speak fluently French.

We spent a huge amount of hours preparing for documents, for the court sessions, providing counter proofs, etc. This whole process cost us sweat and tears, lots of time and energy.

Going outside of my comfort zone

Was I in my comfort zone? Not at all.

Did I enjoy it? No! I now know I could never be a lawyer.

But did I learn something? Absolutely!

I now have a much better understanding of the legal system and how things work. I now know how to deal with (and without) lawyers. I know the Luxembourgish law better. I know that when people tell you things, you should never assume they are right and that judges are also normal people. Finally, I feel better prepared in case I will be faced with a similar situation in court in the future.

Our court cases are unfortunately not over yet. We are still trying to fight for our rights. But I see these experiences as priceless. We would never have learned so much if we had read books about the legal system in Luxembourg.

When we stop learning, we start dying

I see myself as a leader in progress. I work every single day to become a better version of myself. And with these experiences, I have learned tremendously, even if I had never planned to go through them!

Tony Robbins’ quote could not be more relevant: ‘All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone’.

#vlvcoach #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #communication #remoteteams #globalleader #professionalwomen

This article was also posted on Linkedin.

Want to see other articles or blogs? Go to https://vlv.coach/category/leadership/

How to take networking to the next level

Yesterday I attended a networking event.

One of my good friends was there and I must say he impressed me.

 

We were talking about one of his connections and told me that as soon as he gets someone’s business card during a networking event, he spends some time in the evening and enters his/her details in his phone. 

BUT

He does not only enter the ‘usual’ details…

 

He pulled out his phone and as an example, chose my name.

Besides having registered my name, phone number and email he also had:

✳️  My picture (the one from the Linkedin profile)

✳️  The exact date he met me and where

✳️  A specific thing about me (in my case he had written: passionate salsa dancer 😊💃🏽)

 

He said that he does that with every single person he meets. This really helps him when he meets people again as he can refresh his memory and check all these details.

 

 And when he mentions them, saying something like ‘Oh yes! We met at the event ‘XYZ’ last year on the 15th October’, it impresses people a lot – just like I was.

 

What do you do with your new business cards?

How do you remember all the new connections you meet?

 

I’d love to hear your feedback!

#vlvcoach #leadership #inspiration #networking

This post was shared on Linkedin.

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Managing a virtual team

“I have been offered a job abroad but I don’t know if I can do it. Managing a virtual team is completely different than managing a team that is physically located around you”

 

This is what one of my clients told me when she reached out.

 

Yes, managing a team virtually is different.

You do not see or hear each other every day

Sometimes, you may have communication issues as some people may not be fluent in English (or another language) or because of the time difference.

You may be struggling with team performance…

 

But it is not impossible!

Nowadays, we can be connected to each other in so many ways

We just have to be creative in our way of doing things

And we have to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes

 

Just like in a ‘normal’ team

Take time to know your people

Listen to them and ask them for feedback

Involve them in your decision making process

 

And before you know it

Your team will be engaged

They will be working hard to achieve goals

And having fun with each other! 

 

Have you ever managed a virtual team? 

If so, what did you do to build the team and improve/sustain performance?

 

I would love to hear your feedback

#vlvcoach #leadership #teamwork #team

This post was shared on Linkedin.

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Have you ever been in a situation…?

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought

‘I don’t know if I can do it…’ 🤷🏽‍♀️

‘Am I the right person to do this job? I am really not sure…’ 

‘What if I fail?’

 

Well…

 

I’ve been there

And more than once!

 

I remember many years ago 

When I was managing Quality Programs in EMEA for a contact center

I was asked to go to a client in London

To do some consultancy

 

I had never really done that before, and was wondering what I would need to do exactly, would I be able to answer all questions? Would I be able to notice everything? Etc. etc. 

Even though I welcomed the opportunity and said ‘yes’

I was full of doubt…

 

I went there for 2 days

Spent time with the client and their employees

And the feedback I received afterwards

Was that the client had been impressed by me!

 

What did I do?

 

I did what I knew, 

I used my skills and knowledge

I stayed true to myself

And I believed in me

 

Sometimes, we have to kill that ‘little voice’ in our head

Because we can be our own enemy…

 

Have you ever been in such a situation?

What did you do to kill those negative thoughts?

#vlvcoach #mindset #Leadership

 

This post was shared on Linkedin

 

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Leaders hire and develop their teams

True global leaders hire and develop the best.

Leaders need to have a strong and diverse team around them. When they hire someone, they need to hire the best people they can find. They hire not only because of what the candidates have achieved so far, but also because they see potential in that person. 

Leaders know that they are as strong as their team. They provide their team members with guidance and support. They give them additional responsibilities. When they are out of the office (in a meeting, a training or on holiday/vacation), they delegate. They give someone in their team the chance to step up, to represent and replace them. Doing so not only develop the individuals, but it also ensures a succession plan when the time has come. 

Leaders also help them grow. They focus on their strengths. Whether they want to become a manager or follow another direction, leaders help their team members in finding the right path, providing guidance or tips. They identify opportunities for them and discuss them with them so that they all know what the next steps will be. Team members may need their approval to apply for another role, or even a recommendation. The best thing you can do as a leader is to support your team members to the best of your abilities.

Leaders do not micromanage. They empower people. Great leaders trust their team members that they will do the job they are supposed to do. They allow reasonable failure.

They provide tools, policies and procedures so that their team can do their job.

Last but not least: Leaders listen to their team and ask for regular feedback, because they know they do not know everything. 

 

This post was also shared on Linkedin and fyi.to. You can also watch the video there.

 

👉 Contact me for help on multicultural leadership, women leadership, communication, diversity or team performance!

 

#vlvcoach #leadership #leaders #professionalwomen #executivesandmanagement

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Strategic Thinking is key in Leadership

What sets a leader apart from a manager is first and foremost the strategic thinking.

 

Strategic thinking is  the ability to think in the long and short term, and into the past and the present. Strategic thinking becomes increasingly essential as you ascend the corporate ladder.

 

Leaders like Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Coco Chanel or Martin Luther King had a vision and they all have worked towards it. 

 

How do you improve your strategic thinking?

  • Observe and look for trends. Be proactive about connecting with people in and outside your organization to understand their observations of the marketplace (remember my previous tip on networking? )Then, share your findings across your network.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions
  • Sound strategic: Pay attention to the words you use. Take a step back and try to see the bigger picture. Do not always think only about your team or department,  think also about your organization as a whole. 
  • Finally, block some time in your agenda to think. It may seem like a waste of time, but it’s your ‘ME time’, just as important – or even more – as other meetings. During that time, pause, take a step back, reflect. 

 

One tip I was also given was to play chess (or learn how to play it). This will also help you develop your strategic thinking skills.

 

To view the video, go to Linkedin or fyi.to.

 

👉 Contact me for help on multicultural leadership, women leadership, communication, diversity or team performance! 

 

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Leadership and the importance of Networking

Networking… A word we hear a lot nowadays…

We all have heard the expression ‘It’s not what you know but who you know’. 

And in a sense it is true!

 

Networking is a very important part of leadership. And this is also an area where women are usually less strong (I know, I’ve been there: we often prefer to ‘finish the job’ or finalize this project rather than ‘waste time’ going out for a drink with some colleagues…

 

And yet, as a leader, online and/or offline networking has big advantages:

 

  • It increases your visibility. You meet new people who will know who you are, what you do and what value you bring
  • Networking can help you set up your business or climb the corporate ladder. By telling people your story and your goals, people will help you and will keep you in mind when they have an opportunity that fits your profile, experience and skills.
  • You can discuss things and get different ideas/opinions and even tips

 

Don’t forget: networking is a long term investment. You should always try to keep in touch with your network throughout the year, and not reach out to them only when you need them!

 

So, networking is not only who you know, but it’s also who knows YOU!

This post was also shared on Linkedin and fyi.to, where you can find the full video.

 

👉 Contact me for help on multicultural leadership, women leadership, communication, diversity or team performance! 

#vlvcoach #leadership #networking #professionalwomen

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How leaders deal with conflicts

As a leader, you will sometimes face challenges, conflicts or difficult situations with either your team members, senior leaders, peers, suppliers, customers etc.

 

A conflict often arises when your values, ideas, opinions and/or actions are not aligned with those of your counterpart OR when there is miscommunication between different parties.

 

There are 5 different styles of conflicts.

As a leader, it’s very important to recognize them and to know when to use which one.

So what are they?

  • 1st conflict style is: Competing. You should use it in either emergency situations or if you have to make a quick decision

  • 2nd conflict style is: Collaborating. You should use this style if you want to improve a relationship or if you are trying to gain commitment

  • 3rd conflict style: Compromising. This style should be used if you are dealing with time constraints or if you are trying to create a temporary solution

  • 4th conflict style: Accommodating: You should use it if you are trying to create goodwill or when you are developing performance in a team

  • 5th conflict style: Avoiding: When you want to reduce tension or need more time

To view the full video, go to Linkedin and fyi.to.

 

👉 Contact me for help on multicultural leadership, women leadership, communication, diversity or team performance! 

#vlvcoach #leadership #professionalwomen #conflict

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Leadership and time management

Time management is something we all struggle with.

 

When you’re in a leadership position, time management is very important. Nothing can substitute time. And the worst part is that once you’ve wasted that time, you can never regain it. 

 

Leaders know that. Effective leaders use their time management skills to ensure that they maximize their time and accomplish their goals. They also know that when time is managed properly, they can accomplish more in less time.

 

Here are my tips for today:

 

  • Leaders set the vision, and work backwards from then on. They set long, medium and short term goals so that their teams know what to work on.
  • They set priorities or help prioritize activities. Are they urgent or important? What is the impact versus the effort? 
  • Leaders get rid of distractions. They make sure meetings are run efficiently. True global leaders do not waste time and know when to stop a task. They keep things simple

 

I could talk more about time management but I’ll stop here for today 🙂

 

This post was also shared on Linkedin and fyi.to.

 

👉 Contact me for help on multicultural leadership, women leadership, communication, diversity or team performance! 

#vlvcoach #leadership #professionalwomen #timemanagement