Dr. Rita's Blog
I’ve been struggling with what to write in this newsletter. I had an article about women and performance reviews ready to go but my intuition kept calling me back to Covid-19. I didn’t want to rehash what’s in the news.
Today this message from Bill Gates arrived in my inbox. It is an important wake-up call and well worth the read.
From Bill Gates:
I’m a strong believer that there is a spiritual purpose behind everything that happens, whether that is what we perceive as being good or being bad.
As I meditate upon this, I want to share with you what I feel Covid-19 is really doing to us:
- It is reminding us that we are all equal, regardless of our culture, religion, occupation, financial situation or how famous we are. This disease treats us all equally, perhaps we should too. If you don’t believe me, just ask Tom Hanks.
- It is reminding us that we are all connected and something that affects one person has an effect on another. It is reminding us that the false borders that we have put up have little value as this virus does not need a passport. It is reminding us, by oppressing us for a short time, of those in this world whose whole life is spent in oppression.
- It is reminding us of how precious our health is and how we have moved to neglect it through eating nutrient poor manufactured food and drinking water that is contaminated with chemicals upon chemicals. If we don’t look after our health, we will, of course, get sick.
- It is reminding us of the shortness of life and of what is most important for us to do, which is to help each other, especially those who are old or sick. Our purpose
is not to buy toilet rolls.
- It is reminding us of how materialistic our society has become and how, when in times of difficulty, we remember that it’s the essentials that we need (food, water, medicine) as opposed to the luxuries that we sometimes unnecessarily give value to.
- It is reminding us of how important our family and home life is and how much we have neglected this. It is forcing us back into our houses so we can rebuild them into our home and to strengthen our family unit.
- It is reminding us that our true work is not our job, that is what we do, not what we were created to do. Our true work is to look after each other, to protect each other and to be of benefit to one another.
- It is reminding us to keep our egos in check. It is reminding us that no matter how great we think we are or how great others think we are, a virus can bring our world to a standstill.
- It is reminding us that the power of freewill is in our hands. We can choose to cooperate and help each other, to share, to give, to help and to support each other or we can choose to be selfish, to hoard, to look after only ourselves. Indeed, it is difficulties that bring out our true colors.
- It is reminding us that we can be patient, or we can panic. We can either understand that this type of situation has happened many times before in history and will pass, or we can panic and see it as the end of the world and, consequently, cause ourselves more harm than good.
- It is reminding us that this can either be an end or a new beginning. This can be a time of reflection and understanding, where we learn from our mistakes, or it can be the start of a cycle which will continue until we finally learn the lesson we are meant to.
- It is reminding us that this Earth is sick. It is reminding us that we need to look at the rate of deforestation just as urgently as we look at the speed at which toilet rolls are disappearing off the shelves. We are sick because our home is sick.
- It is reminding us that after every difficulty, there is always ease. Life is cyclical, and this is just a phase in this great cycle. We do not need to panic; this too shall pass.
Whereas many see Covid-19 as a great disaster, I prefer to see it as a great corrector. It is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten and it is up to us if we will learn them or not.
Don't Overlook This!
It makes sense that if you are taking your team and your organization to its next level of success, you need to take yourself there, too.
The founder of Best Buy, Dick Shultz, was adamant that when he had new goals to take Best Buy to its next level, he needed to get to his next level of leadership in order to succeed. And he would hire a new executive coach to help him get there.
What are you doing to move yourself and your team to the next level of leadership performance?
We know from research at Harvard that one of the most important things leaders can do is take the time to step back and reflect. We also know that it usually doesn’t happen unless you have support and a structure in place that prevents you from giving that time away.
Take the Time
Successful and happy leaders take time for themselves and approach their work from a strategic mindset that includes thoughtfulness, mindfulness and wisdom.
Our fast-paced technology world is full of data and information. What we need most is leaders at all levels who can step back and bring thoughtfulness and wisdom to the table. And that takes a commitment to creating time for YOU and your team to think, reflect and grow.
I’ve been coaching leaders for 20+ years. I know what I’m doing, I have processes that work and I’m passionate about guiding leaders to their next level.
This year I have more bandwidth to work with leaders who want to grow.
Are you one of the growth-minded leaders committed to your own development?
If so, here are four ways we can connect:
1:1 Leadership Coaching. You determine a leadership outcome you’d like to work on. I create a step-by-step approach designed specifically for you that will get you where you want to go.
Executive Women's Change-Leadership Roundtables
Limited to groups of 15 experienced women leaders with VP/Director-level responsibilities. These peers are from non-competing organizations who want to learn and grow together, solve problems, celebrate success and be part of a network of support and encouragement. Women who participate consistently find their Roundtable experience valuable, practical and inspiring. The 2020 program year kicks off on March 26 and March 31.
A Cascading Effect
Your development matters to both you and your organization. A coach provides an unbiased third-party perspective. When you work with someone who has experience handling the challenges that leaders face, your growth can create a cascading effect throughout your organization.
Research on Executive Coaching
Last year, organizations spent over $1B on professional coaching.
Research on executive coaching is proving why executive coaching is becoming a staple in organizations large and small, who see the value in having leaders reach their full potential.
Highlights of the Coaching Research
Leaders who took part in Executive Coaching report:
Companies who made Executive coaching available to their leaders report:
To see details of the research, go to:
If you’d like to see how leadership coaching or peer coaching as a Roundtable member will get you where you want to go in 2020, call me, text me, or email me for a 20- 30-minute complimentary conversation
Your growth and development matters to us all! Reach out to me: Phone 612-598-6614. Email: Rita@wiseleader.net
I look forward to hearing from you!
I never realized until now…
It became personal
To me, medical technology and the medical staff who use it, was a good thing and something that continues to improve. However, when I watched the medical staff use medical technology to save the life of my son’s fiancée and their baby girl, that medical technology became so much more. It was personal.
There were many challenging moments and the expertise, loving care and quick response that came from the medical staff was nothing less than heroic. They built confidence in all of us that things would be okay.
As I reflect today......
As I reflect today, I’m in awe of the dedication, expertise and extraordinary care my family received from a community of professionals who go above and beyond every day.
It’s impossible to find the words to express my deep gratitude.
Your leadership matters
As you wrap up these last few days of 2019, never underestimate the power of the leadership skills you have learned and that you put into practice every day. The work you are doing matters more than you may know.
May you reflect back on 2019 and celebrate all the good your leadership actions brought to your teams, colleagues and organization.
And may you step into 2020 with renewed vigor and passion for the work yet to be done.
Wishing you and your family all the peace, joy and love the New Year can bring!
So go outside. Let that last task on your desk or desktop wait until tomorrow. Then grab someone you love and take them outside. Walk and look. Talk or be silent. Be present to whatever captures your attention. But most of all, be present to your companion. I promise you joy will be there for the taking.
You can find the same joy if you decide to be present to yourself. Walk and look. Listen to the silence. Walk outside in the morning. Walk outside at lunch. Walk outside in the evening. It doesn’t matter when you go. Just get out there and look and feel.
Then let me know what you discover.
This beautiful photo and haiku from my dear friend and colleague, Barbara Shipka is a wonderful addition to our focus on joy today. To see more of Barbara’s work go to
A Kaleidoscope of Haiku
We are each called to
The place where our deep joy meets
The world’s deep hunger.
I love coaching leaders! They have talents, skills and perspectives that our world desperately needs more of. Working with them as they build their confidence, trust more in who they are and make bigger impacts in their organizations is fulfilling work. Every day I am in awe of their courage and commitment.
Getting to the next level
When I started my business, over 20 years ago, leaders really didn’t know what coaching was. Today coaching is recognized as one of the most effective ways for leaders to grow to their next level of contribution and performance; especially in fast paced organizations experiencing constant change.
Now is the time of year many organizations budget for 2020. I want you to have a first-hand look at the power of leadership coaching so if coaching is a development opportunity of interest to you, you’ll have time to get a line item in your budget.
Recently I asked a leader that I am coaching if she would write an article for this newsletter so that readers would have an inside look at what’s possible when participating in a coaching relationship as an avenue for growth and development.
She gladly agreed. The leader is Kirsty R. Boyd. She is Director of Improvement, Design and Innovation at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. The hospital is located in the Boston, Massachusetts area and is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.
Here is what she said.
So much more
I entered into this coaching thinking specifically about how I could be more effective in my current role and at the same time begin thinking about what my next role could be. In retrospect, this journey has been about so much more than that – I have learned so much more about myself and also about others that I work with.
Some of what I have learned:
Doing less and only engaging in the right things was hard, but I am slowly but surely realizing that this is giving me more time to think and to contribute in a truly constructive way. The times that I have had the greatest success are when I have ”done” the least.
There is a lot still to work on, and there always will be!
I know that I can get in my own way
I have loved walking through all the activities my coach and I have done together. For the last couple of months, though, I felt like I got stuck on one key activity, the question, “What is my ideal role?” Working with a coach has been so valuable in emphasizing the value of sitting with this and knowing that the answer will emerge (hard for a do-er!).
Sure enough, I am realizing now that my ideal role isn’t written in a job description anywhere. There is no job posting out there that outlines how I will spend my days. But in many ways, that is the beauty of working toward creating the role that you love and that only you can do.
Thank you, Kirsty for your vulnerability, your openness and your willingness to share the insights of your coaching experience. You are a joy to work with! Your ability to see the big picture – and your courage to speak up – combined with the wisdom you bring to the table, are inspiring.
My hope in sharing Kirsty’s words is that they have given you some ideas for what you can do to get to your next level of leadership and that you are not alone. We need more of your perspective and voice, too.
If you’d like to know more about how leadership coaching could be helpful to you, please reach out. I’d be delighted to chat with you. 612-598-6614 or Rita@wiseleader.net
Every month I lead Roundtables for women leading at the Director and VP level who are leading change. We focus on three key areas: implementing strategy, leading change and retaining/developing talent.
Recently, June Klaphake was a guest presenter. June is an experienced change consultant. She shared insights and wisdom gained from consulting with a wide range of organizations and leaders taking on major change initiatives.
What we appreciated most about June is her authenticity and willingness to share both challenges and successes. She was a wealth of information.
What stood out for me was realizing that one of the most important perspectives leaders can take during a change initiative (which is basically constant these days) is to be open to new perspectives and be willing to adjust on a regular basis. It’s important to have a vision of where you are going, and at the same time to know and expect that the path will not be smooth. During change, it’s vital to allow new information to come forward, respond to that information in a thoughtful way and provide guidance and inspiration to those you are leading.
I’m always stressing to my coaching clients, and to the women leaders in the Roundtables, the importance of taking time to step back and reflect and think strategically. I know it’s hard to do, especially when it seems like there are not enough hours in the day. HOWEVER, stepping back is key to staying grounded, gaining clarity and lowering stress.
Whether you are a sponsor leading a change initiative in your organization or you are a leader who is an influencer helping to implement the change, here are a few insights from June that you may find helpful:
A big thank you to June Klaphake for her time and for helping us think about ways we can step into our next level of impact as leaders of change!
If you’d like more information about the Executive Women’s Change Leadership Roundtable, go to https://www.wiseleader.net/executive-womens-change-leadership-roundtables.html
Or contact Dr.Rita Webster at Rita@wiseleader.net or 612-598-6614. Applications are now being accepted for the 2020 program year.
Change is all around us. Below are resources to help keep up with the latest research and change practices.
The Minnesota Change Management Network https://www.mncmn.org They host monthly Change Summits where change topics are presented and discussed. I have found them to be very informative.
John Kotter is known as the change guru. To learn more about his research, go to https://www.kotterinc.com/research-and-perspectives/ or watch on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QWiMkXyTP4
I’ve been coaching women leaders for over two decades. Progress is being made, but we still have a long way to go. The good news is that we now have numbers to show that when more women are in top leadership positions, their organizations do better in almost every measurable area.
One of my clients was recently invited to be on a panel of top-performing IT women leaders. I was in the audience and was impressed with how helpful their insights were along with how much fun they had. Here is a summary of the key messages they shared for women leaders who want to move up.
Don’t be concerned about being likeable—aim to be respected, approachable and fun. If you aim to be likable, you’ll give up your power in exchange.
Put yourself first, your family second and your work third. Many women make the mistake of putting work first and yourself last. That is unsustainable. When you put yourself first, you have the energy to be your best for your family and your work. If you feel guilty, get over it. We all need the best of who you are.
Attributes for Success
The panel identified these tips for success:
I hope you find these insights helpful. If you have women on your team, be sure to share these tips with them. It’s important to keep these things top of mind as we all work to get more women into higher-level roles.
Thank you to Lanna Neimeyer, Office of the CIO, Prime Therapeutics; Lisa Schlosser, CEO, MN High Tech Association; Kathryn Freytag, CIO, Donaldson Company; Julie Flaschenriem, CIO, Hennepin Healthcare; Debra Bauler, CIO, Cargill Protein and Salt; and moderator Saima Prabhu, GM, Quality Engineering, Magenic.
The Women’s Heath Leadership Trust https://www.whltrust.org recently hosted a gathering of women leaders to discuss the highlights of the research on women CEOs conducted by Korn Ferry and supported by The Rockefeller Foundation. https://engage.kornferry.com/womenceosspeak I was fortunate enough to attend.
One of the key takeaways for me was the clear understanding that sponsors are absolutely vital to women getting into higher-level executive roles.
Sponsors are Different
Sponsors are different from mentors. Sponsors put women’s names forward for next-level roles when the women are not in the room when those decisions are being made. Sponsors actively advocate for women with the clear intention of building the pipeline that gets more women to the top.
There were a number of senior executive women in my discussion group that night who clearly stated that they got to their next-level role because a senior leader told them they could do it. And then the senior leader put their name forward for an advanced role.
Tough and Unpredictable Assignments
We know from the research that women tend to underestimate themselves. They put their heads down and work hard, thinking that’s the way to move up. Getting results is important, but to move up, aspiring women need to take on tough and unpredictable job assignments.
These women need to build the characteristics of courage and resilience along with developing the abilities to take risks and manage ambiguity. Sponsors are important because they usually know where those tough and unpredictable job assignments are. And they are in positions to recommend who should get those assignments.
The Research Says
The research identified six differentiating skills women need to develop on their way to senior executive roles. Page 30 of the report notes those skills and their definitions as:
Engages and Inspires: Creating a climate where people are motivated to achieve the company’s objectives.
Develops Talent: Developing people to meet both their career goals and the organization’s goals.
Builds Effective Teams: Assembling and leading teams that employ diverse skills and perspectives to achieve common goals.
Directs Work: Providing clear direction, delegating, and removing obstacles so work gets done efficiently.
Courage: Stepping up to address difficult issues and saying what needs to be said.
Manages Ambiguity: Operating effectively even when things are uncertain or the way forward is unclear.
If you are in a position to sponsor a talented woman leader, you have three things to do:
For Aspiring Women Leaders
If you are an aspiring woman leader, here are three things you can do:
Remember this Quote from one of the women CEOs:
“I was hit in the face with the epiphany that as a leader I did not need to have all the answers, but in fact, if I surrounded myself with people who were smarter than I was in critical areas, we could collectively move our business much further and faster.”
A Sign of Corporate Health
Increasing numbers of women at the top of executive leadership is a sign of corporate health. The Peterson Institute for International Economics, and others, have established the positive links between gender representation and business performance as well as gender equality and economic growth in general.
Spread the Word!
Being a sponsor and having sponsors is one of the most powerful actions we can take to get more women contributing at the highest levels in our organizations. And that’s good for everyone.
If you’d like to know how you can use leadership coaching to propel yourself to your next level of performance or work through challenges you are facing today, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you! Rita@Wiseleader.net.
Are You Showing Your Passion?
Recently I had the privilege of attending the 2019 Medical Alley Annual Dinner. Medical Alley Association board chair, Sheri Dodd, introduced the key message for the evening which was that the future of health care is collaboration and the collaboration exists beyond the clinic walls.
The annual dinner drew more than 1,000 attendees. It was an amazing networking opportunity as well as a place to have conversations with the best and brightest leaders working to solve the challenges we all are facing with health care in this country.
What got me thinking about passion was Cindy Kent. She is a new Best Buy board member and former general manager with a health care division at 3M. Cindy is exceedingly passionate about what’s possible for health care and her ability to lead and influence at the board level of Best Buy.
Cindy is one of my dearest colleagues. She and I met a few years ago and had one of those instant-connection moments that continues today.
A Fire-side Chat
Cindy was part of the fireside-chat portion of the Medical Alley program. What I noticed was how the energy of her passion was contagious. It’s obvious she is well-qualified for her role and brings insights and experience that are second to none.
But when she spoke, the room listened in a more optimistic way. She allowed us all to experience a new level of interest, hope and engagement. We felt the power of her leadership.
Cindy mentioned how passionate she is about what Best Buy is doing to contribute its expertise to solving some of our nation’s health care challenges. She had my attention. I was silently wondering “What is Best Buy doing in health care?” I soon found out.
Best Buy is taking an active role in exploring how their technology experience and connection with consumers in their homes can be applied to helping aging adults remain in their homes longer and more safely. Many caregivers today are in the workforce and need ways to check on aging loved ones that is proactive and linked to their smartphones. Best Buy is committing resources to figuring that out by working with innovative partners and helping make home a hub of care.
Back to passion. I decided to look up the definition. The one I liked most is from UrbanDictionary.com. “Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement; passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible.”
Don’t ever apologize for the passion you feel. Passion is contagious and we need more of it in our leaders today. It’s key to inspiration and determination.
Sometimes it takes a while for us to trust the passion that we feel. Be patient. I know it took me a while to acknowledge the passion I feel for working with women leaders. Now, I trust that passion within me one hundred percent.
Opportunities to Apply Passion
We are facing big challenges and big opportunities in all sectors of our world today. We need more leaders like Cindy Kent who are courageous enough to bring all of who they are to the table—and lead the way.
Keep up the awesome work, Cindy. We are watching, engaging and being inspired!
Lately my new coaching clients all seem to be struggling with having too much to do and not having enough time for themselves and their families. We’ve been talking about strategies for focusing more on the important and less on the urgent.
When I sat down to write this newsletter, I thought it might be a good idea to review this topic.
A Breeding Ground
The fast-paced world we live in is a breeding ground for distractions and urgencies masquerading as important.
As leaders, it takes daily awareness to say no to what’s in front of us and carve out (and protect!) the time we need to think long term and strategically.
When we talk about this subject, my clients almost always ask, “Where do I find the time?”
My response? “You have to take the time. And then guard it ferociously. No one will give you the time and you won’t find it.”
That leads to a conversation that includes a few significant ideas.
1. Schedule on your calendar the time you want and need for strategic and important thinking.
2. Guard that time. Say no to anyone (unless it’s the CEO) who tries to schedule something during your strategic thinking time.
3. Figure out what you can delegate. And then actually delegate things to the capable people you have on your team. Remind yourself that you are giving them opportunities to learn, grow and develop in their careers.
4. Experiment with letting things fall off your to-do list. Yes. I said, “Let things fall off your to-do list.” If they are truly important, you’ll get feedback telling you so. And if they weren’t important enough to get feedback, they don’t belong on your to-do list in the first place. You may be surprised at how many things you think you need to do, but you really don’t.
Don’t Be Surprised
Don’t be surprised if you feel uneasy at first. One of the reasons the urgent is so seductive is that we get an adrenaline hit when we can accomplish something in a short period of time. Or we feel needed for a perceived “crisis.” That feeling of being needed is also seductive because it gives us a “feel-good” moment.
Wisdom is Waiting for You
As you practice scheduling and keeping strategic thinking time on your calendar, you’ll start to experience its power. You’ll notice that it’s the key to keeping you ahead of the game. You’ll feel less stressed and more centered. You’ll make better decisions. You’ll tap into a wisdom that can’t exist without the time to think deeply. We need more leaders who know how to bring wisdom to decision making. Answers will start to come to you from seemingly out-of-the-blue.
Taking this time isn’t easy. I give this assignment to the women in my Executive Women’s Change Leadership Roundtables all the time. They often report back that something “important” came up or there was something they just “had to do” instead of holding fast to the time they had on their calendar for strategic thinking.
Keep At It
If at first you feel like you are sluffing off and not doing enough with this time, that is a clue that you are on the right track. Stick with it. You, and your team, will function more effectively with less stress. And that’s good for everyone!
I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
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