Boredom

Boredom Is Actually Good For You

Jen Roberts Leadership, Productivity

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com. Click here to read the full story. Leadership can include periods of nearly overwhelming activity followed by gulfs of quiet, where you can catch up on paperwork and plan your next move. Sometimes, though, those periods of quiet last a touch long, and boredom sets in, leaving your mind to wander. Saying we’re bored is our unimaginative way of labeling a lack of stimulation. The pace of our world today is astounding, and we’ve gotten addicted to being entertained or busy 24/7 year-round. “Boredom” allows time to quiet the mind and body, and replenish our energy stores. Click here for all Seven Ways Boredom is Actually Good For You, by members of the Forbes Coaches Council. — Want to learn more about managing your energy at work? Click here to schedule a Discovery Call.

Personal Brand

Why Consistency Is the Key to Honing Your Personal Brand

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Management

Anyone who’s worked in or around a marketing department for long knows the importance of branding. Good branding can not only increase your business’s value, but can also provide your team with direction, and make it easier to attract new clients. Luckily, businesses are not the only ones who benefit from establishing a clear brand. A strong personal brand can act as the foundation of a successful career. It can provide you with personal direction, increase your ability to find new opportunities, and help others see the value you bring to the table so your worth will be acknowledged. Many people associate branding with a business’s logo, online identity, or mission statement. What could that have to do with you personally, as a leader within the organization? While how we use language and imagery as individuals is important, authentic branding goes much deeper. Your reputation, professional values, and the style …

strengthen your team

Predictable Success: Creating Routine to Strengthen Your Team

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Productivity

Would you describe yourself as a consistent leader? For many of us, one of the most difficult parts of leadership is learning to become immune to the ups and downs of a typical workweek. Especially when our natural reaction when tensions run high is to succumb to reactivity and panic. As someone who leads others, it is important that you behave consistently in all types of situations. Consistency is the key to establishing and maintaining trust with your team. If your reactions are unpredictable or if you give conflicting directions, employees might be unwilling or even afraid to approach you. Unpredictable leaders create feelings of fear and nervousness in the people they lead. While you might think it’s motivating to keep the people around you on their toes, creating a work environment full of anxiety is one of the best ways to crush your team’s ability to innovate and create …

Connecting

Connecting to Your “Why”

Jen Roberts Balance, Leadership, Stress

I live in a small town right outside of Savannah, Georgia. The road I travel to go anywhere has two lanes; four in the commercial stretch. Cutting across this road are two sets of train tracks where I’ve spent many a morning cursing the railroad system for allowing the trains to stop traffic during what we humorously call our “rush hour” when people are trying to commute to work and drop kids off at school. That was back when my commute was more than the two minutes it now takes me to walk upstairs to my home office. It was also when there never seemed to be enough time, and I often found myself counting down the days until it was Friday. “Thank God It’s Friday–TGIF!” You’ve felt it and I’m sure you’ve said it, too. One day as I sat waiting at those tracks something big happened. As I …

leader worth following

Higher Standards: Be a Leader Worth Following

Jen Roberts Leadership

Sometimes being a leader can feel like a thankless job, am I right? All those dreams about “what you’d do if you were in charge” often get replaced by negative, self-destructive thoughts about your efficacy and success once that dream becomes a reality. I’ve joked with my kids that being a parent isn’t as much fun as it looks like. The same can be true of leadership in business. Being in charge and making decisions that affect others can be frustrating and even intimidating at times. Leaders often share their doubts about whether they’ve made the right decisions or whether they’re doing a good job of leading their teams. My mission is to build leaders worth following. I want to work with people who understand that motivation through force and fear is an outdated and unappreciated style. It also doesn’t work if you want to create long-term results. Leaders who …

results within reach

Results Within Reach: 5 Tips to Overcome Inaction

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Productivity

There’s a little voice we all hear in our minds. People call it many different things: your conscience, your higher coach, the angel on your shoulder…whatever name you’ve given yours, you know what I mean. The constant dialog is there because our brains are always at work processing information and helping to guide our actions. Usually the message is loudest and has the biggest effect on us when we’re about to do something that we feel is risky…or that we’re afraid of…Or we’re uncertain about…The common denominator is fear. I’ve recently been experiencing some pain in my wrist AND numbness in my foot. I know that I should go to the doctor. But I haven’t. Why? Because I don’t want to hear bad news, or have to stop exercising, or work harder to recover. I’m scared of those things so I’m avoiding taking action that might just help me.  Oftentimes we know what we …

workplace innovation

The Phrase That Kills Workplace Innovation

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Productivity

The pace of business today requires leaders to readily adapt and willingly embrace change. Yet for many successful leaders, resisting change is one of the biggest obstacles to advancing their own careers and driving their companies forward. Because companies and the leaders within them are often successful, that success can make it difficult to even want to change. After all, leaders usually attribute their success to what they’ve done in the past; their behaviors and choices have worked to get them where they are. The most damaging phrase you’ll hear in your workplace when it comes to embracing change and fostering innovation is, “That’s the way it’s always been done.” My point is this: Just because that is the way it’s always been done, does that mean it’s the right way to approach things today? When was the last time you really questioned the strategies you’ve been taught or have …

With Gratitude

[VIDEO] With Gratitude, Difference Consulting

Jen Roberts Leadership

I made this quick video message for you; just click the image to play.   From everyone here at Difference Consulting, thank you for following us this year!  We’re looking forward to supporting you in 2017 and beyond.   Happy holidays!

management team

[VIDEO] Building Alignment Within Your Management Team

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Management

This article originally appeared on td.org. How would you describe the alignment between you and your management team? Although having a cohesive management team is important in driving workplace culture and productivity, many teams struggle with making it a reality in their work environments. A management team that is aligned in terms of communication, decision-making processes, modeling core values, and working with a common vision and purpose can positively affect many aspects of the work environment. These behaviors lead to greater respect, trust, and productivity within the team. On the flip side, however, lack of alignment in a management team can be disastrous for those they lead. Problems that can arise from a lack of leadership alignment include: Confusion: When employees get different answers or directives from different leaders, they often don’t know which advice to follow, and may not do anything because they don’t want to make a mistake. …

Gratitude

Gratitude: The Secret Ingredient to Inspiring Leadership

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Management

What inspires you? When we’re asked that question it can be tempting to focus on big, momentous acts. In business, leaders imagine standing up in front of their team during a challenge and having the ability to motivate the masses; saying just the right words to make a powerful impact and move people into positive action. When it comes down to it, however, employees don’t need for you to be the Master of the Universe to inspire them on a daily basis. In fact, it can be as simple as taking the time to share your appreciation for their hard work. That’s it. Really. A truly inspirational leader sees the best in each individual and the gifts they possess. Inspiring, in this sense, is a way of stimulating and lifting people to a new level of creativity and energy. It’s about seeing the greatness and value in someone and going …

Ignoring Emails

Leaders: How Much Does Ignoring Emails Cost You?

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Management

How many emails are sitting in your inbox right now? Do you have hundreds or thousands of messages sitting there awaiting action? Email has become one of the most used technologies leaders use to communicate with their teams. The average leader spends nearly 2 ½ hours each day managing email and text communications. That’s average. You might be spending more or less time depending on your personal communication style and business culture. So, with the volume of emails you’re likely receiving each day, do you make the time to respond? In recent years, it has become more acceptable to delay a response—or worse—not send a reply at all. In the busy-ness of corporate environments, leaders may forget that these messages come from human beings. People understandably get upset when their messages go unanswered wondering if the message was received and, if so, why they weren’t important enough to warrant a …

Evolved or old-school

Are You Evolved or Old-School? 5 Questions for Leaders

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership

Ever wonder how you’re “aging” in your corporate environment? How do your employees see you as a leader? You probably don’t want to consider yourself an “old-school” leader. To most, that makes it sound like you’re behind the times, inflexible, or stuck in a rut. Most leaders I work with want to be seen as creative, supportive and innovative, and most of them are just that. Some people, though, might be sending the wrong signals that can turn off their employees. The most successful leaders are adaptable, and able to flex with the changing times. With today’s speed of business it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with all of the emerging trends and technology, not to mention the generational differences in the workforce. Tweet: The most successful leaders are adaptable, and able to flex with the changing times. Don’t think that sounds like you? Well, here’s a quick …

Need More Sleep

For A-Game Performance, Leaders Need More Sleep

Jen Roberts Balance, Leadership, Productivity

When was the last time you woke up feeling completely refreshed? If you can’t remember, it’s possible that you’re trading sleep for work, and it’s probably impacting your performance more than you know. Only 59% of Americans sleep seven or more hours a night, according to a recent Gallup poll. Sound like a dream to you? You might be in the 41% who don’t even get the luxury of that much rest. Getting a good night’s sleep is important, yet a good portion of the population ignores common medical advice recommending seven to nine hours of sleep each night. A lack of sleep has been linked to a number of health problems and can cause cognitive impairment. In fact, studies show that performance, when sleep deprived, is similar to performance when under the influence of alcohol. So, if you put in an 80-hour workweek, you might as well be coming to work drunk the last …

environmental effects of leadership

Climate Control: The Environmental Effects of Leadership

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Management

How much control do you feel you have over your work environment? Many leaders and employees alike feel as if they are at the effect of things going on around them. People say and do things, decisions are made that affect them, and all they can do is deal with the situation at hand. While attending a meeting recently, I heard a great analogy: “As a leader, are you the thermometer or the thermostat for your environment?” Think about the difference. A thermometer provides useful information, but its job is to measure the state of the environment, and is merely a reflection of what’s going on externally; a reaction to changes in energy in the atmosphere. A thermostat, on the other hand, senses the temperature of a system and makes changes to the environment so that the system is maintained near a desired setpoint. Many leaders operate on autopilot, meaning that they don’t consciously …

"They" and "Them"

Why You Should Fire “They” and “Them” and Hire “We” and “Us”

Jen Roberts Leadership, Productivity, Retention

When you look around at your team, do you ever feel like you’re pitted against one another in some unseen battle? A leader I coached once constantly talked about her team as if they were separate from her. She said things like, “They don’t seem to understand how important these goals are. It’s supposed to be all hands on deck but they’re acting like it’s a holiday,” and “I want them to act like they care and do their jobs.” As I heard these statements, I wondered (out loud) why she talked about them as if she weren’t their leader; a part of the group? I helped her shift her language and, more importantly, her mindset, to thinking in terms of “we” and “us” to set her team up for success. Leadership can pose many challenges, not the least of which is letting go of control. Getting results through others …

best leadership advice

The Best Leadership Advice You’d Give Your Younger Self—In Two Words

Jen Roberts Balance, Leadership, Productivity

Some people think leaders are born. Others believe (myself included) that leaders are made; shaped by their experiences. They say hindsight is 20/20. Your leadership experiences and observations have likely taught you much over the course of your career. In life and leadership there are probably things you wish you’d known or figured out sooner that would have saved you time and pain along the way. What do you wish you’d known at the start of your leadership career? This is the thing you wished you’d known when you were younger, and would have made your leadership career easier and better. If you could leverage your wisdom to make a change earlier in your life’s trajectory, what advice would you share with your younger self? In a letter to her 20-year-old self, Oprah Winfrey advised, “see yourself with your own eyes.” She claimed her younger self “spent too many days …

advice

The High Cost of “Good” Advice

Jen Roberts Balance, Leadership, Management

Think back to your early days in leadership when well-meaning bosses, mentors and co-workers shared their personal opinions and advice to help you quickly advance up the corporate ladder. While I learned many valuable lessons from seasoned corporate leaders, I got a few really bad tips as well. The worst piece of advice I ever received sounded something like this: “If you want to be successful—be seen as ambitious; someone who really cares about the company and your career—you need to be the first one in the office in the morning and the last one out.” The idea, of course, was that if I demonstrated my undying commitment to my job that I’d be rewarded in the future. And, being an eager young career woman, I wanted to do whatever it took to be viewed as a committed and competent employee. In those formative years, I tried to follow this …

Yesco signs undercover boss

#UBPub Yesco Signs (The Hidden Leadership Secrets of Undercover Boss)

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Stress, Undercover Boss

This week’s #UBPub features Jeff Young, Co-Owner and third generation leader at Yesco (Season 7, Episode 5). Jeff Young is the heir to a sign dynasty based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Yesco is known as the preeminent custom sign company. With humble beginnings in the early 1920s, Jeff’s grandfather launched into the largely unknown world of neon-lit signage. Yesco has grown generation over generation now boasting $250M in revenue and over 1000 employees in 85 locations! Although you may not realize it, you’ve probably seen Yesco signs everywhere from sporting events and restaurants to the Vegas strip. (While the “Welcome to Vegas” sign is one of the most famous, here’s my pic of the sign at the Aria hotel where we recently stayed—I had no idea!) The company values “its customers first, and employees second,” according to Jeff. Their goal is to create opportunities for the next generation. I …

Sam Dushey Undercover Boss

#UBPub Shopper’s World (The Hidden Leadership Secrets of Undercover Boss)

Jen Roberts Leadership, Management, Undercover Boss

This week’s #UBPub features President and CEO Sam Dushey of Shopper’s World (Season 7, Episode 3). As a third generation leader in this New York based family business, Sam Dushey has taken Shopper’s World from 8 stores to 40 locations states across the northeast– And his vision doesn’t stop there! Sam has plans to grow to over 500 stores in the next few years. Having grown up in his father’s and uncle’s shops, Sam lived and breathed business and saw the retail potential of these stores from a very young age. Watching his family’s success inspired Sam to scale the business beyond the modest scope they’d always cherished. As the last family member in the business, Sam is proud of the changes he’s implemented as CEO and of his tremendous accomplishments at such a young age. He resists his father’s conservative (and outdated) ideals for how these businesses should be …

muscle maker grill

#UBPub Muscle Maker Grill (The Hidden Leadership Secrets of Undercover Boss)

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Undercover Boss

This week’s #UBPub features not one but two leaders! CEO Tim Betts and Founder Rod Silva go on this undercover adventure inside of Muscle Maker Grill, a rapidly growing healthy fast food alternative (Season 7, Episode 4). Muscle Maker Grill was founded by Rod Silva, a “skinny boy” who, as he found success in body building, realized that what you eat is just as important as the workouts. Over the past 20 years Rod has been the face of the brand that has grown to over 50 locations with more than 600 employees who help the company generate over $30 million. His energy, passion and enthusiasm are contagious and would be easily recognized by the employees. Tim Betts, the new owner and CEO of Muscle Maker Grill, has quite the opposite type of personality. Tim is more of the traditional boardroom leader, with numbers, systems and policy on his mind. …

communicate

7 Reasons Technology Might Be Hurting The Way You Communicate With Your Team

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership

How do you typically communicate with your team members? Most leaders use technology as their go-to communication method, which is understandable given the global nature of business. But how effective is communication when technology replaces the human interaction? Many of the subtle nuances of direct communication are lost in translation when leaders rely too heavily on electronic methods of communication such as email, text messaging, and Skype. Just because a message is sent does not ensure receipt or an accurate interpretation of its meaning. And this lack of connection can affect everything from employee engagement to your bottom line. “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~George Bernard Shaw Click the link below to read my newest Forbes Coaches Council publication that addresses how technology may be hurting your ability to communicate as effectively as you’d like: Seven Reasons Technology Might Be Hurting …

Leadership Secrets

#UBPub Nestle Toll House Café by Chip (The Hidden Leadership Secrets of Undercover Boss)

Jen Roberts Leadership, Management, Undercover Boss

Last week I wrote about my love of the show Undercover Boss and why the show is both fun and inspirational. I also mentioned starting a new type of post I’m calling the UBPub (Undercover Boss Publication) to share the juiciest leadership moments from my favorite shows. In case you missed it, you can read the full article here! For my first #UBPub I am featuring Season 7, Episode 2 with COO Shawnon Bellah for Nestle Toll House Café by Chip. As a single mom with no college degree, Shawnon Bellah worked her way up through the company to grow the brand to over $55M in revenue selling more than 17 million cookies last year alone! Shawnon prides herself on being one tough cookie (pun intended!)—both at home with her kids and at work. She attributes her success and that of her company to working harder and faster than the …

5×5: Essential Leadership Lessons From 5 Years in Business

Jen Roberts Balance, Engagement, Leadership

When I was still working full time in my corporate job and feeling stressed to the max and way out of balance on the personal side, a wise friend said to me, “Five years after you leave this place people will say, ‘Jen who?’” This part hurt my ego a bit, but then she went on to say, “But your kids will never say, ‘Mom who?” Tears still well in my eyes each time I recall that pivotal conversation. Shortly after that, I struck out on my own and founded Difference Consulting determined to build leaders worth following from the outside-in and help them create work environments that bring out the best in everyone. I won’t say that being an entrepreneur is always easy, but starting this business was easily the best decision I’ve ever made. I want to share my biggest and best lessons to save you time in …

Winning leadership brand

3 Factors to Create a Winning Leadership Brand

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership

When you think of a typical career trajectory, most people start out as individual contributors—the doers of the office—and aspire to getting promoted one day. However, many people don’t CHOOSE to be a leader with intention (they take on the role because it’s the next logical step). Once in a position of power, they often feel they’ve arrived. In leadership, there is no arrival. You’ve probably heard the famous Woody Allen quote, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.” Have you ever stopped to wonder how you “show up” as a leader? I hear people all the time complaining about their employees’ behaviors: they can’t be trusted, they aren’t good communicators, or they just don’t perform up to par. Here’s the reality: Much of what you see in your environment is a reflection of how you lead, both good and bad. Remember that employees often model the leadership behaviors …

4 Wheel Parts

#UBPub 4 Wheel Parts (The Hidden Leadership Secrets of Undercover Boss)

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Undercover Boss

This week’s #UBPub features Greg Adler, CEO at 4 Wheel Parts, the nation’s largest distributor of off-road and Jeep accessories (Season 7, Episode 8). 4 Wheel Parts has traveled a bumpy road in its growth over the years. Starting small and growing to over 40 locations and 1600 employees, the company moved from “growth mode to survival mode” as the auto industry tanked in 2009, forcing 4 Wheel Parts to have to make major cutbacks in its workforce. 4 Wheel Parts has regained their spot in the race for growth, however, and boasts $700M in revenue and over 70 locations. Greg Adler isn’t just the CEO of a company that specializes in providing the toys to trick out your ride, he’s also an off-road enthusiast and racer himself. Greg strikes me as the type of guy who likes to walk the talk, having learned some hard lessons working alongside his …

Make your vision a reality

Livin’ the Dream: 5 Truths to Make Your Vision a Reality

Jen Roberts Balance, Leadership, Productivity

This week I’m working with one of my client groups training and coaching entrepreneurs to step up and become true leaders in their businesses. The theme for the week is “Livin’ the Dream,” which completely resonates with me because I get to do work I love every day, helping people in meaningful ways, and having the time and flexibility to actually enjoy life. But not everyone feels this way. In fact, many leaders would describe their days as hectic, stressful, and exhausting and they feel stuck in a continuous loop that they can’t escape. The idea of “Livin’ the Dream” may seem more like a fantasy than an achievable reality. There seems to be endless list of reasons that we can’t fully realize our personal definition of this term. If you find yourself thinking, “Well, that sounds wonderful, BUT…” …I have people counting on me. …this project is already behind …

taking care of business

Taking Care of Business: The Importance of Time Off

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Productivity

Recently I did something I rarely do. I took a sick day. I pride myself on being a good listener for my coaching clients, but I guess I haven’t been listening to myself very well lately. For the past few weeks I’ve been pushing myself to keep going despite feeling sick-ish, knowing how much I have to do. Finally, my immune system gave in and I had no choice but to slow down. When is the last time you took a full day off because of an illness? And I’m not talking about just not physically going to work—I mean not working. I’m guessing it’s been a while. That day, I did nothing. And I discovered something… It was difficult to keep myself still and quiet to get the rest I needed to get well. I felt a wide range of emotions: guilt for not working on the myriad things I …

Kill Engagement

[VIDEO] 5 Leadership Behaviors That Kill Engagement on Your Team

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com. As a leader, what do you expect from your direct reports? Most leaders want employees who take the initiative, get involved, make decisions and generate ideas. In fact, because your team is likely made up of educated, competent, seasoned employees (some of whom you may have hand selected), it’s natural to expect that they would need little direction to take the proverbial ball and run with it. You have a vested interest in their success because, when your team performs well, everyone wins. Likewise, employees of all generations share a desire to work autonomously toward the communicated vision. No one wants to feel as if they’re operating under someone else’s thumb, especially team members who are smart, ambitious and motivated. If autonomy is an essential ingredient for promoting employee engagement and motivation, and given that both leaders and employees desire empowered environments, what keeps leaders from encouraging …

encourage fun

Encourage Fun in the Workplace: 5 Tips for Leaders

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Productivity

What words would you use to describe your work environment? My guess is that FUN probably isn’t one of them. It’s called work for a reason, right? Should work also be fun? My vote is yes! Here’s why… You spend as much or more time with your office mates as you do with your significant other, and you wouldn’t stay in that relationship if it didn’t make you happy. Imagine waking up each day and actually looking forward to going into work! Making fun and enjoyment a part of your work culture can drastically impact how you feel about going to work, how you behave when you’re there, how you interact with others, and how well you perform. Happy people are more motivated and engaged. When people have fun and enjoy what they do, they are more motivated to work harder and to put forth their best effort. People who …

communication

What You Hear is What you Get: Communication Lessons for Leaders

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership

In business, effective communication is crucial to your success. Most leaders aspire to be viewed as effective, if not eloquent speakers and writers. Leaders are called to communicate in myriad ways every day. You use these skills to resolve conflicts, convey ideas, inspire your team, defend decisions, and hold performance and development conversations, to name a few. When you consider all the ways to become a better communicator, what most likely comes to mind are things like improving your ability to influence and persuade others, being able to “think on your feet” and appear competent and articulate, speaking with ease in front of large groups, or sharing your expertise to garner respect. All of these aspects of communication are concerned with the delivery of your message, regardless of the modality you use. It’s interesting that the most important part of communication (the part that matters to others, anyway) doesn’t require …

habits to build awareness

Three 5-Minute Habits to Build Awareness & Enjoyment at Work

Jen Roberts Balance, Engagement, Leadership

I went shopping the other day while my car was being serviced. I decided to go into a home and craft type of store where I can get lost for more than an hour. I couldn’t believe my eyes; there were Christmas decorations lining the aisles. “Christmas decorations in June!?” my disgusted inner voice shouted. Ridiculous! As I stood in that store, frozen in place for more than a minute, I wondered when we started getting so ahead of ourselves. What ever happened to enjoying the season we’re in? This, of course, made me think about my corporate clients and the workplace equivalent of “Christmas decorations in June.” It occurred to me that many leaders I coach struggle with being present in the moment. The typical corporate environment supports—even rewards—futuristic thinking. Don’t get me wrong: strategic planning serves a great purpose in guiding work, and I love a good plan. …

Leading by Example: Why Consistency Matters

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership

You’ve probably heard the phrase “consistent action leads to consistent results,” which makes logical sense. The more important, and perhaps unspoken, truth in this statement is that the quality of our results depends not on merely doing something, but on taking intentional action that fits our end goal. In other words, you get out of something what you put into it. Consistency, or lack thereof, can be the defining factor between failure or success. If you have children (or know anyone who does) you’re probably aware of the importance of consistency. Children learn how to behave through reinforcement and punishment and also through observation. To feel secure, children need parents to be consistent with them and are trusted not to send conflicting or confusing messages. Consistency as a parent can be difficult and exhausting, but it is of paramount importance. The same is true in business. One of the most …

employee development

Raising the Bar: An Investment in Talent and Employee Development

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Productivity, Retention

There’s an age-old dilemma that stymies many leaders: How to decide if investing in employee development is worth it. I recently saw a thought-provoking quote concerning employee development. It went like this: CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?” CEO replies, “What happens if we don’t and they stay?” This is an interesting perspective and one that’s probably important to consider when it comes to ensuring that your organization’s talent pipeline is fully prepared to move into key leadership roles to sustain your company’s success. Yet in many organizations employee training and development and leadership coaching are seen as “nice to have” but not necessarily essential. In fact, according to a survey from executive team consultancy Gap International, only 43% of executives planned to invest in leadership training and development. In the spirit of debate, let’s assume the CFO’s point is valid. …

workaholic culture

Are You Promoting a Workaholic Culture?

Jen Roberts Leadership, Productivity

Do you consider yourself a workaholic? How many hours do you typically work each day? Each week? Be honest with yourself. Don’t exclude the time you spend in conversation during your commute, or reading and answering emails on evenings and weekends, or working while on vacation. When you look at that number how does it make you feel? If you’re like many corporate leaders, your answer might be “exhausted” or “stressed-out” or “overwhelmed.” These descriptors are commonplace and have become the norm, but are they necessary? Some research shows that we’re working harder than ever, and there’s a cost to be paid in the way of productivity and engagement. Did you know that there are Workaholics Anonymous groups popping up everywhere?! On a recent coaching call, my client mentioned that a co-worker proudly told her he worked upwards of 14 hours per day. Some people believe that if they are …

Inspiring Leader

Are You an Inspiring Leader?

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership

Inspiring. It’s a word most people think of as an important leadership quality. But what does being an inspiring leader really mean? Oftentimes when leaders imagine inspiring, they think of standing up in front of their team during a challenge and having the ability to motivate the masses; saying just the right words to make a powerful impact and move people into positive action. This is about them. On the flip side, what would happen if leaders shifted their awareness to inspiring for the benefit of others? My son came home from school with a handmade bookmark that captured several statements about “Luke’s Super Star Qualities” written by his classmates (not all of whom were close friends). I was so moved to read some of the things that were written. Among them were… “Luke is helpful!” “Luke is strong.” “Luke is a great writer.” “Luke makes people laugh a lot.” …

manage energy

6 Ways Leaders Can Manage Energy During Transitions

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership, Management

How do you feel about change? In times of transition, some people thrive and are filled with excitement about new possibilities, while others cringe at the uncertainty and ambiguity of the situation. I personally love change. I see transition as an unfolding of a new chapter, and I have a tendency to tackle more than one change at a time. Like when I got married, moved to a new city, started a new job, and began building a house all in the span of a year. Or, when I left my corporate job and started my coaching business full time. Big change = big fun! Regardless of how you feel about it, one thing is true: Change is constant. And, in business, it’s necessary. After all, if things stay the same for too long you risk stagnation. Here are a few examples of transitions my current clients are experiencing: • …

employees

5 Clues Your Employees Aren’t Buying In

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership

We all have things we’re “supposed” to do. Sometimes we want to do them, sometimes we don’t. This is just a fact of life. In the workplace, we label these as tasks or objectives. The basic premise is the same, however. Employees are either engaged and bought-in to completing these tasks to the best of their ability or they’re not. Have you really ever stopped to think about what holds people back from being completely engaged in a task or activity? When it comes to engagement and buy-in, there are four main approaches to work: 1) Resistant to engaging The employee won’t take positive action. Maybe they don’t feel like it’s worth it, or they’ve tried before and failed. The chance of success is low. 2) Engaged, but through effort or force The employee is enthusiastic about the activity, but they feel unprepared somehow to effectively complete the work. Success …

Culture of Recognition

5 Ways to Build a Culture of Recognition (Without Salary Hikes)

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership

I have two elementary-aged children who are great students and also play sports. At their age, recognition is a given.  Parents, teachers, and coaches recognize their accomplishments like getting good grades on a test or report card or scoring a goal at the game. Why? To build their self esteem, boost their confidence, and to simply celebrate. Something shifts, however, as we become adults and enter “the real world” and suddenly all that praise comes to a screeching halt.  Do adults not need recognition anymore because they earn a paycheck?  Does your job ever seem like a thankless endeavor? Your employees may feel the same way.  Oftentimes, leaders feel that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” In other words, as long as everything is going well, there’s no need to point anything out to employees. It’s when problems arise that employees hear about it and the challenges begin. It can certainly …

Micro-Management Creates Macro-Problems!

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Productivity

Micromanager. Just that word alone might make you have a visceral reaction. Along the path of our careers, we’ve all probably encountered the dreaded micromanager. You know, the boss who always seems to be looking over your shoulder, inspecting, controlling, or criticizing everything you do. But have you ever stopped to wonder if you’re one, too? Yikes! Leaders micromanage for lots of reasons, not all of which are to intentionally make your work life difficult (I know this might be hard to believe!) Some of the most common reasons for micromanaging are often well-intentioned but leaders fail to see the negative effects these behaviors bring about. For example, leaders might micromanage because of: Concern about the details of a project (and ultimately feeling responsible) Feeling like they’re the only one who can do a particular task (or perform it best/fastest) Time or performance pressures from others Insecurity about his/her own …

saying no

The Courageous Power of Saying No

Jen Roberts Communication, Leadership

Many people struggle with saying no for a number of reasons. Thinking you have no choice, wanting to please others, or fearing you’ll be seen as uncooperative are among the many reasons you may feel uncomfortable saying no.

connected to friends

5 Regrets of Leaders (and How to Avoid Them), Part 5: Staying Connected to Friends

Jen Roberts Balance, Communication, Leadership

How big of a priority are friendships in your life? In the hierarchy of relationships, friendships are typically subordinate to those of our partners and family. Friendships, like romantic relationships, are unique in that you choose to enter into them. Usually, people forge friendships with those who share common interests and due to proximity, like attending the same school or in the workplace. Over the course of your lifetime you’ve likely had many different types of friends. Does it seem like things were simpler when you were younger? They probably were. Once upon a time you could run over to your friend’s house to see if s/he could play, but as you get older, friendships take more planning and intention to prioritize. Both people and friendships change over time and get trickier to nurture as you get older. As people age their priorities shift and friendships are often negatively impacted. …

engaged leader

Are You an Engaged Leader?

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership

This  post will be short and sweet. Why? Because if you’re like most people, your attention span is pretty short (so I included a video). After all, you have a lot going on! We all have our own unique way of viewing the world. Everything you experience passes through this filter, and your perceptions shape how you think and feel about, and behave in response to situations. We tend to attract into our lives what we focus on and pay attention to. You’ve probably heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy: If you expect something to happen and focus your energy on it, you’re more likely to get the experience you expected (whether positive or negative).  We also have a tendency to selectively look for data that supports our belief systems–this is called a confirmation bias. That’s the reason that we choose to pay the most attention to the things we care about and are …

busy

Think You’re Too Busy? 5 Ways to Break Free

Jen Roberts Leadership

I’m probably going to upset a few readers with this confession: One of my biggest pet peeves is when people tell me how busy they are. These days, when you ask anyone how they’re doing you’ll likely hear things like, “Oh, I’m sooo busy,” or “It’s been crazy!” I don’t even think they realize what they’re saying; it’s just a habit. Being “busy” has become a badge of honor in our society. Somehow, we have come to believe that if we aren’t constantly doing something (or telling others everything we’re up to) that we’ll be viewed as lazy. (Related: Are You Promoting a Workaholic Culture?) The work/life balance dilemma that’s affecting our society may be less about busy-ness and more about effectiveness (or ineffectiveness, as the case may be). I help leaders like you take back control of your time and energy and view time in a completely different way. Being busy is an …

5 Regrets of Leaders (and How to Avoid Them), Part 4: Courageous Authenticity

Jen Roberts Balance, Communication, Leadership

When you were a child, what did you dream your life would be like? What did you aspire to do, be, and accomplish? Are you “living the dream?” Or, like so many, have you lost sight of your true self and settled into a safer, smaller existence that leaves you wanting more? When looking back on their lives, the BIGGEST regret of the dying was this: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Authenticity is one of the most desired qualities in a leader. Authenticity is measured by your ability to express your ideas, beliefs, and values in a way that is true to yourself. It sounds like it would be easy to be yourself yet many people struggle with authentic self-expression their whole life. Instead, they allow fear to guide how they “show up,” masking their …

leadership actions

Leadership Actions Speak Louder than Words

Jen Roberts Leadership, Management

You’ve probably heard the phrase “consistent action leads to consistent results,” which makes logical sense. The more important, and perhaps unspoken, truth in this statement is that the quality of our results depends not on merely doing something, but on taking intentional action that fits our end goal. In other words, you get out of something what you put into it. Consistency, or lack thereof, can be the defining factor between failure or success. If you have children (or know anyone who does) you’re probably aware of the importance of consistency. Children learn how to behave through reinforcement and punishment and also through observation. To feel secure, children need parents to be consistent with them and are trusted not to send conflicting or confusing messages. Consistency as a parent can be difficult and exhausting, but it is of paramount importance. The same is true in business. One of the most …

creating success

Creating Success: The Power of Intention

Jen Roberts Leadership, Productivity

How do you define success? Some people believe that success just happens; it’s the good fortune of some and elusive of others. Maybe you think success is a matter of luck, and either happens for you or it doesn’t. It’s 50/50. Chance. For others, success is something they choose and create from within. The most successful people believe that consistent action creates consistent results. And it can’t just be any action. Intention is where it all begins. Success takes intention, clarity, and commitment to proactively creating and practicing the habits that help you stay aligned with your goals. Without intention, your work is unguided and unfocused. You may find that you’re exhausted at the end of the day, but have no real results to show for all your busy-ness. This happens because most people spend their time and energy reacting to things, and much less time proactively creating their experiences. One of the most powerful habits …

the happiness factor

5 Regrets of Leaders (and How to Avoid Them), Part 3: The Happiness Factor

Jen Roberts Balance, Leadership

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “The grass is greener on the other side.” While it’s normal to strive for the next best thing, that type of thinking probably doesn’t lend itself to helping you feel happy or satisfied. We’ve all fallen into this tempting trap before at some point or another. It’s hard not to look around and compare yourself and your life to others. These types of behaviors, however, often leave you feeling unhappy and frantically scrambling to stay ahead in the game of life. It’s much easier to think, “When I get X, then I’ll be happy.” Thinks like: When I finish school and start working, then I’ll be happy. When I get a promotion, then I’ll be happy. When I can finally retire, then I’ll be happy. That list can go on indefinitely. What you think will make you happier becomes a mere stepping stone to the …

power in vulnerability

5 Regrets of Leaders (and How to Avoid Them), Part 2: Power in Vulnerability

Jen Roberts Balance, Leadership

Vulnerability is the state of being easily hurt or attacked. Opening yourself up to being vulnerable goes against all of your biological wiring to protect yourself from harm. Despite this, some of the most powerful leadership moments I’ve witnessed came as a result of the leader letting down his or her defenses and taking a risk. One potent example was when a CEO client of mine stood in front of the entire company to share his 360 feedback results—the good, the bad, and the ugly. He was poised and humble as he bared his deepest feelings to his employees, something he’d rarely done before. The range of emotions in the room were astounding; there was laughter and tears by him and the employees. Afterwards, I heard nothing but praise and comments of admiration from the group. His vulnerability demonstrated not weakness, but amazing strength. “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels …

regrets of leaders

5 Regrets of Leaders (and How to Avoid Them), Part 1: Work Less – Live More

Jen Roberts Balance, Leadership

My husband recently lost one of his closest friends to cancer. I always try to look for the learning and opportunity in every situation. And sometimes, that’s difficult to do. Over the past couple weeks we have spent a lot of time reminiscing over old stories, and looking at photos, laughing and crying, as we talked about life, work, and friendship. In a post she shared on Facebook, Brian’s sister-in-law expressed her gratitude for his example, calling him “an incredible leader and a faithful friend and father.” She went on to say that he taught those around him “invaluable lessons about what is truly important,” and she learned from him to find purpose, love deeper, and dream way bigger.” Times like these make me think about the choices we make in our lives. One of the best personal decisions I made was to start my own leadership coaching business to …

leadership autopilot

Are You on Leadership Autopilot?

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Productivity

How much of your day do you actually spend engaged in leading others? Most leaders say things like, “I give 110%,” or “I can’t work any harder than I already do,” and even, “I put out fires all day. Then I do my work.” Sound about right? When you think back to your first leadership role what did leadership mean to you? What did you envision for yourself and the people you’d be leading? What kind of impact did you imagine your leadership would have on not just the individuals you lead, but the entire organizational culture? Actually, many people haven’t put much thought into these types of philosophical questions about leadership.  For most workers, assuming a leadership role (or management/supervisory if you must) is just the next logical step in their career; a reward for their hard work and success. Perhaps you imagined having people who could help do all the work; a team that …

Build Mental Resilience

5 Ways to Toughen Up and Build Mental Resilience

Jen Roberts Leadership, Management, Stress

Truth: stress and adversity can pop up anywhere, any time. Just when you think you have it all under control when–BAM!–you get hit with something that derails your best intentions and sends you into a tailspin. You got up early and are walking out the door on time and ready for your day, then you spill your coffee on your lap in the car. You spent the week preparing for a big presentation at work and are ready to rock their socks off. At 9am the meeting gets pushed out for 3 more days! Seriously?! You get the drift… Things change, pressure exists, stuff happens. What you do with that pressure and how to move forward are the keys to success. Why is it that things seem so easy for some people? They go about their daily lives seemingly without a worry, while others around them struggle and muddle through …

Undercover Visit

What Would an Undercover Visit to Your Company Reveal?

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership, Management

I have a confession: I love the CBS show Undercover Boss. If you know me well you’re probably already aware that I can kinda geek out over things related to leadership and coaching. I play games with people in line at the store and I eavesdrop on bosses’ phone conversations with people when I’m in the airport then blog about it later. But #UndercoverBoss is one of my favorite downtime activities. I even have my family watch with me and we have a big discussion afterward (our kids are 8 and 10 and nerdy like us). The show is currently in its 7th season. If you’re a leader and you’ve never watched before, you should. Here’s why I love it so much: 1) As a self-professed rule-breaker, I love the sneaky component of the boss going into their own space without anyone’s knowledge. 2) The boss rarely does the other …

resolutions

Find Your Truth: How to Set Achievable Goals

Jen Roberts Leadership, Productivity

We recently hired a dog trainer for our 1 ½ year old Labrador Retriever. A lot of what we’re working on is helping him un-learn some of the bad habits we’d allowed him to develop. The trainer told us that we might see his bad behaviors increase before they got better (what we Psychologists call an extinction burst) and that the key to Cobi learning new behaviors was consistent practice on our parts. Since we’re in the first few weeks of the new year, it made me think about resolutions and how many people struggle to make desired changes in their lives. Whether it’s a personal goal, a promotion, or feeling more satisfied at work, making changes can be difficult. Research shows that when it comes to habit formation, consistent action brings about consistent results (both positive and negative). Did you make any resolutions this year? How’s it going for …

live to work

Do You Work to Live or Live to Work?

Jen Roberts Balance, Leadership, Stress

Do you ever feel like your schedule is so busy that you don’t have time to focus on the things that are most important to you? One of the things I most appreciate as an entrepreneur is the opportunity to set my own schedule, do work that I love with leaders who inspire me, and to have the flexibility to spend quality time with my family. I haven’t always felt like I had this much power to choose my approach to work and life. For years in my former corporate life I often worked long stressful hours that made me feel out of alignment with my core values. I was living to work; not working to live. I knew something had to change, but that’s not an easy task in the frenetic pace of corporate life. As the year winds to a close, offices around the world often fly into …

gratitude

The Benefits of Choosing an Attitude of Gratitude

Jen Roberts Leadership

Thanksgiving is a celebration marked on our annual calendar. For some, when the day is done and it’s time to go back to normal life, work, kids, homework, and responsibility, it becomes more difficult to focus on what you have and take for granted every day. Our lack of gratitude isn’t intentional; it’s just that we don’t always guide our attention to the abundance in our lives. Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives as parallel realities. It is always our choice which we will attend to. When we choose not to focus on what we lack, what is missing in our lives, but are grateful for the abundance that is present, we are free to experience true joy and fulfillment. It’s easy to get swept up in our busy-ness and daily hassles that cause anxiety. I once read an article about telling our children to, “Hurry up.” …

The Workaholic’s Guide to Taking a Break

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership, Stress

It’s holiday season—a time for rest, relaxation, and trips with family and friends. But for many reasons, the idea of taking time off is tough for most leaders I coach. Leaders often tell me they’re too busy to take time off. My coaching clients constantly express how stressed they feel as they prepare for vacation (or the aftermath of 200+ emails upon their return). Many say they feel like they “have to” work during their vacation and aren’t the slightest bit rested when they come back. “I need a vacation from my vacation,” one client shared. Here are a few challenges my coaching clients have shared about why it’s hard for them to take breaks: Feeling the need to be available or “on call” even when out of town “Having” to check emails at night/weekends/on vacation for fear that they’d be too overwhelmed upon returning to work Feeling compelled to …

3 Steps to Your Happiest New Year

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership

Last year, my husband and I were fortunate to spend a week sans kids relaxing in a tropical paradise. The resort was an all-inclusive so all the meals and drinks were part of our package. Many patrons choose not to tip on services as they’re not expected, but we enjoy giving excellent employees gratuities when they provide great service. We usually have a few “favorites” by the end of the trip, and this vacation was no exception. Our favorite on this trip was our friend Simon. He made our trip amazing with his positive attitude and exceptional service and served up a lesson that all leaders can use to create happy and productive environments. The café where we ate breakfast every day was a huge, open and airy space designed to seat hundreds of vacationers. In the bustling breakfast area dozens of servers buzzed around pouring steaming coffee and delivering …

performance reviews

Performance Reviews: From Transactional to Transformational

Jen Roberts Communication, Engagement, Leadership, Productivity, Stress

As a leader, how do you usually feel when the time for performance reviews rolls around? Let’s be honest. Most leaders don’t enjoy the performance review process for several reasons. Usually, they feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of meetings they have to hold in a short period of time. Often these conversations are also tied to employees’ compensation. With many companies making budget cuts these meetings can be tough when you don’t feel like you have much to offer beyond praise. The result is that many leaders end up viewing the performance review process as tedious and time consuming (and it shows). Employees, on the other hand, can fall on both sides of the fence when it comes to performance reviews. Mostly, employees just want a chance to sit down and chat with you, offer up some ideas, and walk away feeling like it’s worth getting up each morning. …

3 common time management mistakes leaders make—Which one is yours?

Jen Roberts Leadership, Productivity, Stress

Do you constantly struggle to manage your time, lead your team, AND complete all of your other work without feeling exhausted? You’re not alone! The reason this problem is so prevalent is because the corporate environment is notoriously reactive in nature. The speed of business today often makes people feel as if an immediate action or response is required. Leaders often get stuck in a continuous loop of putting out fires instead of making real progress which can lead to frustration and burnout. This cycle is perpetuated because of three common time management mistakes that many leaders—regardless of level or type of industry—make every day. The traditional approach to time management equates task completion with productivity, but To-Do lists alone won’t help. The most effective among us know the secret: you have to learn to manage yourself and your energy to get the best results. Time Management Mistake #1: Being Reactive …