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How an escalation can be something positive

I was in an all day performance review meeting when I got an escalation. My boss had received an email requiring my immediate attention.

My training and evaluation specialist had been working on a new test for new hires (NH). We had started to pilot it in the UK.

What happened exactly?

The test results were bad.

Not because of the NH themselves. They were bad because we had used the same target as the ‘old’ test and this test required new ones.

The problem was that these NH test results were closely linked to the ‘yes/no’ hiring decision. We had to hire many people in a short period of time and the tests were helping us define who was fit for the job/who could make it or not.

With this new test results, all NHs (+/- 20) seemed to have failed while they had not.

To be sure we were not letting go some of the good potential NH, we had continued to use both the old test and the new test in parallel, but the ‘damage’ had been done… People started to panick when they heard how ‘bad’ the results were,

HR escalated to the UK Site Manager. The UK Site Manager then escalated to the EU Manager. And finally, the EU Manager brought this issue to my boss’ attention.

To make things worse, the EU Manager was actually the backup (the real EU Manager was on holiday). Since this whole situation was new to him, he tought my boss should be made aware…

So when my boss told me: ‘You have an escalation!’, I left the room and went to talk to my specialist to get a better understanding of the situation.

How the situation was solved

My specialist wanted to resign as he felt he had made a big mistake.

I did not accept his resignation and told him I was also responsible. I should have appointed a project manager to help him implement this new test. This person would also have communicated the different steps and timeframe to all stakeholders.

I also told him to stay positive. This was a learning experience for both of us: we did not fail but learned a lot.

I then called the UK site manager and the EU manager. I explained the situation to each of them, what we were doing to correct it and how we’d proceed in the future.

The EU manager apologized to me – 3 times. He said he overreacted. He said he should not have made an escalation and should have checked with me first.

I told him the same thing that I told my training and evaluation specialist:

You actually never lose / fail: you win or you learn 😊

#vlvcoach #leadership #Womenleadership

This blog was also posted on Linkedin.

 

Good leaders have regular meetings

Managing a team is definitely not easy. It’s even more challenging when you have an international / virtual team. If you want your employees to work as a real team and achieve your organization’s goals, it is very important to ensure you have regular meetings with all your team members. Your team members may be located in different locations, and perhaps even in different time zones. And some of them may not be native English speakers, which adds complexity in communicating with each of them.

In order to ensure they do not feel isolated but engaged, you as a leader need to have different types of meetings with the members of your organization.

Tips to improve engagement and team building


✅ Have a regular weekly 1-on-1 with your direct reports. This is an opportunity for them to provide their highlights, lowlights/challenges & tell you their next focus. You can help them prioritize, give them guidance & provide them feedback on how they are doing.

✅ Have a regular team meeting (ideally weekly as well) with your direct reports. This is your chance to provide updates, ensure everyone is on the same page & to give them the opportunity to discuss challenges they may face.

✅ If you have a bigger team, ensure you have a wider team meeting every 1-2 months. Some people may not report directly to you but want to hear from you, want to know what’s going on in the company & want to have a chance to ask you questions.

✅ Ensure you have a yearly performance reviews & that you provide constructive feedback.

 

Why is it important?

By having these meetings, you show your team you are taking the time to listen to them & ensure everyone has all they need to do their job.

Have these meetings via video conference call! This makes such a difference with your team. You’ll be able to see each other & it’s a great way to increase team building.

 

This article was also published on Linkedin.

#vlvcoach #leadership #leaders

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Leadership Brand: How to build one

 

We all have heard about a ‘leadership brand’. But what is it exactly?
According to Norm Smallwood, a recognized authority in developing businesses and their leaders to deliver results and increase value, a leadership brand conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader.

It’s a powerful idea or opinion that comes to mind when people think of you.

When we think about people such as Oprah Winfrey, Steve Job or Gandhi, we all have specific words tthat pop up in our head to describe them…. Some words are very positive, some others not so much. However, nobody can deny that these three people are (or were) leaders in their own area…

Things to take into consideration to build a strong leadership brand

To build a strong brand, like these people did, you need to take a few things into consideration. Remember to do the following:

  • Be consistent: you need to keep repeating your message, so that people know your values and what you stand for. They should all be clear of what you represent.
  • Be clear: you need to communicate clearly so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding in your message
  • Building your personal leadership brand takes time. This is not something that is built in one day. This is not something you just do once. No. This is something that takes weeks, months or years to build so that you are being recognized as an expert and a leader in your field.

When you have a strong leadership brand, people will trust you more. You then can inspire, motivate and/or influence others.

However, do not take it for granted! It takes time to build but it can be gone within a few days/weeks!

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

#vlvcoach #leadership #leadershipbrand #personaldevelopment #communication

This article was also published on Linkedin.

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How to communicate effectively and be a true global leader

The definition of communication is: exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.

We constantly exchange information and yet, communication is one of the most challenging area of our lives… Great leaders know how important it is to communicate the right way. That is why they are very often great communicators.

Whether we talk to our manager during a 1-on-1 meeting or are being interviewed for a job; whether we are trying to sell something to a customer or provide a project update to our stakeholders; whether we write a message to our spouse, friends or present in front of an audience, we all communicate with each other.

Communication is also present everywhere in our daily life. We are constantly bombarded with information on TV, newspapers, radio, podcast, etc.

Many conflicts are due to (poor) communication

But… Have you ever noticed that many conflicts we have are due to (poor) communication?

We all have been in one of these situations:

  • We said something and our counterpart got angry because what we said did not come across as we intended.
  • We were too direct asking/saying something to one of our team members and they took it personally.
  • We were trying to explain a problem and the other person was not listening. Or we were the one not listening.
  • Because we use English as the main business language in a multi-cultural world, we used a word or expression and our counterpart misunderstood because English is not their native language.

Whatever it is, communication can go wrong in so many ways.

The good news is that there are a lot of things we can do to improve communication.

Tips to improve communication

When you want to make sure your counterpart really understands what you’re trying to communicate, take a step back. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I communicating what I want to say the right way?
  • Am I using the right media?
  • Am I clear enough?
  • Am I succinct enough?
  • Am I using words or expressions that my counterpart can understand?
  • Am I making assumptions in my counterpart’s knowledge?
  • Am I giving enough time/space for the other person to react and/or ask questions?
  • Have I tried to make a joke and it was not understood?

One of the best ways to improve your personal and professional relationships is to communicate properly and effectively.

Tony Robbins said it:

‘To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others’ .

In the following weeks, I’ll be providing more details on what you can do to effectively communicate with international audiences. Stay tuned!

 

What one year on Linkedin taught me…

Even though I’ve been on Linkedin for more than 10 years, it’s now approximately one year that I started to post regularly on Linkedin….

And what a ride it has been!  When I started, I never thought I would be posting on a regular basis. I never thought I would get connected to so many people from so many different countries. And I never thought there is a ‘world out there’, a world with amazing individuals from all over the world.

Here is a quick summary of what happened, just to give you an idea:

  • I published 268 posts, some in French but most of them in English
  • I got more than 1. 2 million views
  • A bit more than 3% engagement (likes + comments)
  • 1 video reached more than 285000 views and was shared more than 1780 times!
  • I’ve been tagged / mentioned a countless number of times
  • Did 40 videos
  • When I started to post on LI, I had approx. 1000 connections. 12 months later, I now have 7.5k!
  • I was interviewed on 6 podcasts/video interviews and loved each of them (with Alison Moore, Bobby the Bear, Andrada, Kyle Juffs, #CreateTheEdge with Joy and Saheb, Engel Jones, Krista Mollion and one to come with Mario Porecca). Check them out on https://virginielemay.fyi.to/podcasts-interviews/view )
  • I had many offline conversations with incredible people
  • I became an Ambassador of the #WeforShe initiative as well as the #LinkedinForAWoman

In the process, I learned how to write concisely (Linkedin is forcing us to do so with the 1300 character limits!)

I learned to create/edit my videos and add some subtitles.

I learned that engagement is key. You cannot just ‘post’ and do nothing afterwards. You need to respond to the comments on your post and engage with other people’s posts if you want to build meaningful relationships and if you want people to see what you know/ how you add value.

Other lessons learned

  • You sometimes need a little push from friends to ‘jump’ into social media and post on a regular basis. I will never thank Omozua and Karen enough for their help and support.
  • I found out I love writing posts to help and/or inspire people. I always knew I love to help people, it never occured to me before I could do it via Linkedin / social media.

If you are considering posting on Linkedin, here are a few tips and tricks:

  • Keep a copy of your posts/articles and keep the links of your posts: You sometimes need to refer back to them or one of your new connections may be interested in a topic you covered before he/she got connected to you.
  • Make sure you keep track – and measure – what you do. Even if the number of likes/comments is not so important, it will help you see which topic works well, what people are interested in, the day and time you should post – different depending on the region you’re in -, whether it’s a post, an article or a video, etc.
  • Have a goal in mind depending on whether you’re trying to increase your number of connections or followers, increase your visibility or get leads / clients. You may approach things in a different way.
  • Use hashtags to increase views but also to find topics you’re interested in.
  • When you do not feel inspired, do not get angry or disappointed. Creating content is like anything else; the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Take time to observe, listen, watch carefully. It’s often when you do not have any ideas that something will happen, or someone will say something, and it will trigger your inspiration and creativity!
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help. There is always someone who will give you some advice, tips to improve your content and help you focus.

I am not yet where I want to be however slowly but surely, I’m going in the right direction.

So to all of you out there: THANK YOU! MERCI! YOU all inspire me in one way or another, and keep me going! 🙏🏽

 

Top 5 Leadership Skills to be a great Leader

There are lots of managers out there. Yet, there are not so many leaders…

Being a leader is not easy. Everybody can be a leader but it takes time. There are many characteristics and skills leaders should have. Some are easier to master than others.

WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?

Leadership is the ability to lead people or the action of leading a group of people.

Leadership is about planning where you need to go to achieve a goal and succeed as an organization.

VLV Leadership Development Coach - Top 5 Leadership skills

The concept of Leadership means different things to different people around the world. However, there are a few constants, no matter the situation. Whether we talk about a political leader, a famous TV presenter or a parent, they all have several common leadership skills.

Here are the top 5 Leadership skills every leader should have.

5 TOP LEADERSHIP SKILLS

  1. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to monitor your own emotions as well as the emotions of others, to distinguish between and label different emotions correctly, and to use emotional information to guide your thinking and behavior and influence that of others (Goleman, 1995; Mayer & Salovey, 1990).

At work, we use emotional intelligence when we empathize with our colleagues or team members. At home, it’s when we try to manage a difficult child. Or when we have deep conversations with our partner. Emotional intelligence allows us to connect with others and relate to them. It helps us understand others and ourselves better. So that we live a more authentic, healthier and happier life.

Emotional intelligence as a Leadership skill

Good or great leaders have high emotional intelligence. People such as employees or team members are more likely to work better with a leader with high emotional intelligence. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent are very good listeners. These leaders empathize, ask questions and are open to feedback. They gain the trust of others. Because of that, their team members will be more inclined to follow them. They will be more committed to doing the work to achieve goals.

A leader who has emotional intelligence is not going to push his/her way forward. He/she isn’t forceful. He/she listens and does not make assumptions. A good leader shows understanding and is open to suggestions, ideas or constructive criticism. Team members know they can trust him/her. They know they can discuss things openly and that the leader will try to support them to the best of his/her ability.

Highly emotional intelligent leaders control their emotions. They keep a positive attitude, even when they are facing challenges. It does not mean they never have negative emotions. They also have some, they are still human after all. However, good leaders recognize their emotions. They manage and control them, rather have their emotions take control of them.

  1. Long term thinking

Good leaders think long term. They think big. These leaders have a vision for the future, a clear image of the desired outcome. They set long term goals and have a picture in mind of what they would like to achieve, where they would like to be in the future.

Good leaders are very creative and are ready to take risks to achieve their goals. Good leaders think strategically. They accept that they may have to sacrifice short term gains for long term wins.

The leader’s job is to communicate his/her vision to his team or organization in the best possible way and on a regular basis. This will help people to stay focused and work towards the vision.

VLV Leadership Development Coach - Top 5 Leadership skills

Communicating the vision is one thing, ensuring that it will be delivered is another.

Leaders must ensure that the long term goals are properly managed – either by themselves or by a manager to whom the leader delegates this responsibility – so that their vision is delivered successfully.

From then on, other goals will be set for the medium and short term. These SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals will be set to make sure the main milestones are achieved so that the end goal can be met.

  1. Inspiration and motivation

Having a compelling vision is the basis for leadership. But it’s the leader’s ability and responsibility to motivate and inspire people that help them deliver that vision.

The leader will describe his/her ideal picture. He/she will set long term goals and will expect people to work hard. However, he/she will also make sure that his/her team members will be rewarded when the goal has been achieved.

Usually, leaders are experts in certain areas. They are not afraid to start from scratch and get their hands dirty. They know what they are talking about. People admire and believe in these leaders because they are expert in what they do. They have earned their trust. They have credibility and have earned the right to ask people to listen to them, to work hard and follow them.

Thanks to their expertise, these leaders can motivate and inspire the people they lead more easily.

Certain leaders also have a natural charisma or appeal, something that attracts people to them and makes them likable or trustworthy. However, these leaders do not rely on their charisma to inspire and motivate people. They know it is not enough, especially in the long term.

  1. Lead by example

Good leaders say what they do and do what they say. They walk their talk.

A leader who leads by example shows respect and understanding. He/she supports all his/her team members, no matter which country or culture they come from. He/she is honest, sets expectations and meets them. Good leaders communicate clearly and openly. They listen to their team, involve their team members and ask for regular feedback.

A good leader takes responsibility. He/she takes calculated risks and is not afraid to test new things. If a mistake has been made, he/she does not blame someone else. Good leaders know that it’s ok to fail, as they always learn something in the process. They are persistent and do not give up easily.

A leader who leads by example is not afraid to roll up his/her sleeves and get their hands dirty. At the same time, a good leader also delegates to develop his/her team further and empowers his/her team.

A good leader takes care of him/herself. They know they have to be in an optimal (physical and emotional) state so that they can take care of their business, their team and customers.

  1. Hire, develop and coach the best

A leader is as good as his/her team members

Hiring the right people is one of the key elements of successful leadership. When a leader interviews a potential candidate, he/she not only looks at the candidate’s skills, previous experience, motivation. He/she also needs to be able to recognize if the candidate has the potential to perform well in his/her organization. Good leaders know that some people have some hidden talent and can identify these strengths during an interview.

Once these persons have been hired, the leader will need to ensure that the employees get the proper training and onboarding. The new hires will then acquire the necessary skills and knowledge about tools, processes so that they are able to do their job and work towards the leader’s vision.

After the new hires’ onboarding, the leader will need to provide regular feedback, by coaching and/or mentoring them or ensuring they get the right support from other peers or colleagues. Leaders need to develop their team members further, by delegating some tasks and providing additional responsibilities. One of the most important tasks of a leader is to identify and support team members who demonstrate they have the potential to become future leaders themselves. By developing the leadership skills within their organization, good leaders not only create a succession plan. They also create an environment where people can be successful in the long term.

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The keys of success

I recently met a group of coaches and we asked ourselves: what is success? How come some people are successful and some others aren’t? Success is obviously different for everybody, as we all have different goals or yearnings. However, we all agreed on two things: to be successful you first have to make a decision and you have to take action.

Whether you decide to go right or left depends on circumstances and does not really ‘matter’, as long as you keep moving. Deciding to stay at the same place is not a decision as it means staying in your comfort zone. This in turn means stagnating, which in turn means that soon or later, instead of moving forward, you’re regressing.

These observations are valid not only in our professional life but also in our personal life. We all heard the expression: ‘Knowledge is power’. I do not fully agree with this, but agree with what Napoleon Hill wrote in his book ‘Think and grow rich’: Knowledge is only potential power. If you have the knowledge but do nothing about it, then this knowledge is lost because you have not taken action.

So, don’t be afraid to grab opportunities! Don’t be a spectator of your life, but act, i.e. be literally an actor! When you make a decision and take action, you have nothing to lose. The worst that can happen is that you’ll learn something new. And as for me, I have decided to win the Oscar for best actress in my own life! 🙂