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.” …

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 …


Organized Chaos? 3 Office Improvements for Productivity and Focus

Jen Roberts Balance, Productivity, Stress

Removing clutter and creating a better space can help you improve your focus and productivity. I know this first hand. We all have our own little rituals or quirky behaviors when it comes to what makes us feel in control. Mine is cleaning. When I feel anxious, angry, or otherwise like I’m not as in control as I’d like to be I find solace in Clorox wipes or clearing out a closet. Sometimes I can’t even think or concentrate when I’m distracted by my physical surroundings. While it might sound weird, it actually makes some sense from an energy perspective. Everyone has good days and bad days, energetically speaking. Some days you’re on fire and feel unstoppable and others you might find yourself completely distracted and unable to be productive at all. There is science behind your energetic engagement as you approach any role, goal, or task. Your physical environment …

Kill Engagement

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

Jen Roberts Engagement, Leadership

This article originally appeared on 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 …


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 …

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 …


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 …

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 …

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 …


5 Tips to Harness the Power of Intention

Jen Roberts Balance, Productivity, Stress

Many people believe that success just happens; it’s the good fortune of some and elusive of others. The most successful people know the truth: 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 I have built is setting aside focused time to gain clarity about what I choose to do, and setting deliberate intentions to drive my actions. Creating a new habit isn’t as easy as it sounds. …


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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

More Resilient

How Changing the Way You Think Will Make You More Resilient

Jen Roberts Balance, Productivity, Stress

Truth: stress and adversity can pop up anywhere, any time. Just when you think you have it all under control –BAM!– you get hit with something that derails your best intentions and sends you into a tailspin. Things change, pressure. What you do with that pressure and how to move forward are the keys to success. While we all hit road blocks, there are some people who go about their daily lives seemingly without a worry. What’s their secret to keeping calm while everyone else is struggling to make it through the day? As far as we can tell, it’s pretty simple, really: they’re RESILIENT. Being resilient doesn’t mean you’re immune to stress and problems, it just means you know how to be tough in the face of them and you can bounce back quickly from setbacks. While resilience might come a little more naturally to some people, there are …

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 …