Friday, 18 December 2015

3 Powerful Coaching Questions I Will Never Stop Asking

IIf you are interested in coaching, you will know that it is all about asking the POWERFUL questions. 
Not only powerful, but insightful, mind-opening, thought-provoking, challenging ones. 
You will probably also know that these questions often start with what poet and writer Rudyard Kipling used to call his 'little friends ' : what, how, when, why....you get the picture.

The truth is, questions can be immensely powerful and developmental when they are insightful, when they are timely and when they encourage a domino-style effect in your thinking process. Through these type of questions one grows, one raises his/her own self-awareness and one learns, most importantly, about what really counts, what is at the core, what is the absolute heart of the matter.

I have three questions in particular that I find routinely match the description above. These are the questions I never stop asking whenever I coach individual or teams, whenever anyone asks me for help even informally. I want to share them with you in the hope you can also begin to use them and experience the staggering results on yourself and on others.

Question #1 WHAT will this mean for you?

This question is about understanding the impact of achieving one's objective. It is crucially important because in answering it will bring to the surface a layers of drivers, motivations and motifs far beyond one's initial idea and intentions. The fact is that one can keep on asking this question until one is satisfied that all motivations and reasons have been explored and explained. If motivations falters outcomes must clearly change or be adjusted. If motivation persists and actually it becomes even stronger every time the question is asked one can eat assured that the identified objectives are the correct ones.

Question #2 HOW will you go about achieving the desired outcome?

The is question is about available resources, strategies but also tactics that will enable one person to achieve their outcome. It is a very powerful questions because it enables the person to think about a variety of related issues, such as the resources needed to achieve the desired outcome, be it time, money, personal influence, other people's support, expertise and knowledge to mention but a few. But also it brings to the fore the need for action and action planning. 

Somebody said that leadership is half vision and half action and I totally agree. Unless you take action to execute your vision it will be impossible to achieve any outcome in practice.

Question #3 WHAT else can you do?

Often people come to me because they feel stuck in a vicious circle, they believe they have gone around it so many times they can no longer look at it objectively. Yet all they need is to be asked this simple yet ever so powerful questions, which is all about options. Having options brings hope and positivity to anyone's mindset, but particularly those who feel that had no more hope and no more options! I often drop it casually and then stop. After a few silence-because-brain-is-thinking type of moments people start to focus on their network, their colleagues, their peers, their friends and family. Finally they build an overall picture of where options maybcome from and generally come up with at least one answer. It may be a first small steps but it's importance should not be underestimated as people begin to take ownership and demonstrate a more dynamic and pro- active approach.

So what are your powerful and is nightfall questions? Please share the ones you use and think are crucially important ! As always I would love if you got in touch and shared some comments directly with me or below. 


Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.  

Friday, 11 December 2015

4 Things You can Do Now To Improve Your Self Awareness

I was working with a team this morning discussing self awareness and the role it plays in building stronger relationships at work. The team recognised that not enough time is spent either by individuals or teams thinking about their own strengths and weaknesses, nor understanding how as a team they can be most effective. This is a common problem I find as people are generally focussed on the 'here and now' of work and hardly ever take the time to reflect and assess. As individual adults we are also quite set in our own ways, whether they are favourable or otherwise.  This means that we would rather not reflect on what might be obvious shortcomings, as the moment we raise our self- awareness we also feel compulsed to do something about it....and that takes hard work!

Nevertheless, without self awareness we cannot begin to establish trusting relationships. We also cannot as leaders chose the team that best complements our own strength and skills and thus best help us achieve our business objectives. 

So how can we begin to build our own self-awareness ?

Here are 4 things to implement immediately in your professional environment:

#1 - Ring-fence specific times to reflect, alone and with the team
Simple and obvious yet quite hard to implement due to people's busy schedules. It is critically important though and therefore must be done properly. This means using effective reflection tools to ensure the time is used most effectively and in a structured way. End of projects, performance management reviews, year-ends are all ideal times to undertake this analysis. 

#2 - Encourage feedback at every level
Organisations that foster open and transparent communication are also likely to encourage a culture of feedback. If you do not feel that your team is feedbacking enough, first and foremost open yourself up to feedback. Once the team sees the you are willing to accept it as well as to give it, feedback will become accepted as a 'modus operandi' and will be used for many purposes at individual and team level. Please remember that feedback is a 360 degree activity and you can choose to gain insights into your own strengths and shortcomings through junior as well as peer or senior colleagues, but also suppliers, customers and partners.

#3 - Strech yourself out of your comfort zone
Trying new things is a sure way to find out what you are good at and how you react and feel to new situations. For that to happen, you have to be willing to embrace a certain amount of risk, but it is worthwhile in order to learn new skills. Organisations can encourage or hinder the process - you as a leader of people should certainly try to encourage it as it will benefit yourself and-  by role modelling - your team.

#4 - Undertake regular, personal SWOT analysis
Many of us are likely to be familiar with SWOT analysis applied to products and markets. We are much less likely to have carried out this analysis on a personal level, highlighting personal strengths and weaknesses. It is a very helpful exercise that we should undertake on a regular basis to ensure we keep on recording progressing and filling gaps. Feedback can be used to cross check our thinking with colleagues but also friends. They will hopefully point out to us many additional qualities we did not think we have!

However good you think you are as manager and leader, however well rated by your colleagues, think about whether your self-awareness can be improved and whether you are doing enough to support your team through a similar process. Which tools do you use for this purpose and which results have you enjoyed? Please share in the comments as I would love to hear! 

lessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.  

Friday, 4 December 2015

Why Giving Is Better Than Taking ( and Not Just at Christmas)

Yes, it is Christmas time in case you had not noticed....shops' windows, supermarkets, songs, television and in particular a certain British department store suggest that this is the time to buy, to give, to share...at least at Christmas, at least once a year. What a shame that it has to be once a year and it has to be a 'material' gift to make us feel like we are doing something good for other people, so that we can hide our feeling of guilts. 


How about experimenting with giving a little more often, a little less 'mechanically' or because it is expected, but because we want to and because it is actually good for us?

As time goes by I find that the most fulfilling moments in life - and especially in my worklife - are those in which somebody realises they 'owe me'. Not money, not presents, but a good piece of advice, perhaps time, perhaps knowledge. The realisation that they have been given something for nothing, openly, willingly and with no expectation of an immediate return is something that touches people deeply as it is considered a luxury, a rarity, not the norm. This realisation I find is often physically visible, in the way people return a smile or open their eyes to you....it is a moments of pure joy and fulfilment as far as I am concerned and it helps me build trust and loyal relationships. 

But is this a sustainable strategy or a naive, idealistic way? Perhaps it is not possible to do this every time, perhaps not with everyone. But in my latter years I have discovered the wisdom of the popular phrase ' what goes around, comes around'. The more I have given, the more I have received. The more I have shared, the more It has been returned. The more I have offered, the more I have been asked to take. And it seems to go on and on. 

Some may say that perhaps it is not business savvy or perhaps it is not commercially sound. But when we encounter people who are genuinely facing challenges and open their heart to us,  being generous is the only strategy that will ultimately provide a win-win. Try it to believe it, and not only at Christmas !

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.    

Monday, 30 November 2015

3 Things I Have Learnt from Running Women Leaders Event

Last Friday I run another women leaders panel, this time at the University of Hertfordshire. Needless to say it was another animated discussion about the why and why not of women leadership. Reflecting on the fact that I have now run several of these panels/ events across different sectors I have found a number of commonalities that I think are worth while sharing :

#1. When women get together in a room to discuss career related issues emotions run high. 

When the curtain eventually draws on any such debate the one thing that continued to linger on is the incredibly high level of emotions charging the room. These emotions span from a strong sense of empowerment and opportunity, to sisterhood and a feeling that we are all there to share, learn from each other and celebrate our achievements and just as well, our mistakes. I jsometimes get  the impression that women are being told to hide their true emotions, as if they were a bad thing, something to be almost ashamed of, especially in a professional environment. Yet, far from it, emotions are a positive force for movement (emotions, from the Latin verb’ movere’ , to move) and they are natural, ancestral forces that push us to act, originally on the all important, survival ‘fight or flight’ question. So emotions also enable us to analyse, process and review information. If we are able to positively harnessing emotions we can drive actions and ignite our thinking process. Furthermore, I believe that natural, positive, emotional responses such as laughter can engage the hearts and the minds of people and really show our authenticity.

#2. There is one critical question...and several possible answers

I always ask the one all important question: Why are there not enough women in leadership roles? 
In response to that I get a range of answers:

- It is women's own lack of confidence, not wanting to negotiate, not asking.
- Women do not buy into the senior lifestyle, it is about work life balance and ethical choices too
- It is a mix of obvious and hidden biases in organisations. 
- People recruit people who are similar to them especially if they are in a hurry.
- Not enough mentoring, sponsorship, networking.
- Not enough role models and ambassadors.
- There are policies, but practices are different, companies do not walk the talk.

#3. And what about the solution?

It seems that top leadership and most immediately line management is critical to finding a solution. 
Line managers must encourage and develop the next generation of talented women, put them forward for more challenging roles, make them visible to the organisational eye. Unfortunately it is often the opposite and women get sidelined.

So here we are, AD 2015 still talking about female leadership as a thing of wonder. While I do not wish to sound disparaging, I am starting to feel rather impatient....so here I say, bring on the quota....! 

 
Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.    

Friday, 20 November 2015

Why we need to talk about elderly care to engage male colleagues in discussions about women's career

Yesterday I attended an excellent conference here in London called Inspiring Women, organised as every day by management focussed publication Management Today. In summary: inspirational speakers, insightful debates, excellent networking.

 

An all round worthy way to spend a day!

Throughout the day, the debates ranged from how to climb all the way back up after adversity, the future of female leadership, work life balance and so on. On of the things that came up many times is the old child care conundrum.  How can women reconcile career and family and live without guilt? How can employers offer more flexibility in order to keep their talented women?  Can women have it all? Childcare is in my opinion a forever-brought-up-and-never-resolved-issue for women. That is until such time when child care policies are designed with women ambitions in mind. Child care - it was repeatedly said - is simply too expensive and especially for young women, reason why mothers tend to be older and older. Hats off therefore to law firm Vardags that declared at the conference to pay pre-school childcare cost for all employees....if only more employers took that step, the world of work would be populated by many happy, talented and loyal professional women (and their happy families...) ! 

Of perhaps three hundred or so attendees in the conference room, only a handful were men. And here is where all the ambitions, intelligent debates, insightful discussions and challenging ideas end up wasted. Because unless the men, the male colleagues, the CEO, the employers are in the room, how can we move forward the discussion? I would be utterly hypocritical if I said a women only conference has no value, as I run a women platform myself (Women in Travel at World Travel Market). But we need the decision makers to be in the room and we need to engage them at the right level if we want dreams to turn into possibilities and ideas into actions. Take for example the issue of flexible working to suit child care hours. Nobody will dispute the relevance of this, but why not speaking about that looming catastrophes with awful financial consequences that is Elderly Care?

You don't just need flexible working because you are looking after little people, you also need it if you have senior and possibly ill parents and by the way, most of us will need the support of their children if the cost of care continues to rise at this pace plus there are not enough structures and infrastructures to accommodate us all, at least here in the UK. Certainly men need the flexibility as much as their wives in this instance? Certainly the CEOs, the MDs, The Senior VPs who do not have to worry about looking after their young kids because of the mums and the nannies can however relate both on an emotional level and in practical terms to the fact that their aging mums n' dads need time, care and looking after?  By extending the reasons behind flexible working we make the whole more inclusive and democratic, a debate that involves men as much as women, women without kids as well as mothers, stay home dads as well as super charged career dads. And I really believe that all voices must be heard in the room if we want things to become better for women and ultimately for society.

So I do hope that more male colleagues will be in the room next year and that we open up the discussion to include other, perhaps less obvious but equally important areas. I would love to know if you agree and what else we could add to the discussion pot.   
 
Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.    

Friday, 13 November 2015

Learning from leaders: how successful entrepreneurs define resilience

If you have read my earlier blog from last week you know that I have been recently running a Women in Travel platform at travel trade fair World Travel Market. 

The first of my two debates was dedicated to the big R word: R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.E. Or - as I call it - the art of bouncing back. 


As somebody said, it is not about how many times you win, but how many times you are able to pick yourself up after you've fallen.

To discuss the topic and provide some really genuine insights into the importance of resilience there were 4 leading ladies, each at a different stage in the development of their business, start-up, growing and mature. Although from different backgrounds in the industry at large, all four ladies talked emphatically about the importance of being resilient both in your business and personal life. 

Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, the following insights into resilience will hopefully help you with building few more ammunitions for when challenges arise and you need to find that extra element of strength in you.

Resilience can be learnt. True, some people are born inherently more resilient than others but ultimately as life goes by and we experience different challenges we build our self confidence and our set of resilience tools.

Resilience can be nurtured through strong relationships. Family and close friends are some of our most vital resilience tools. Their love and care for us helps us define who we are, helps us develop self confidence, self esteem and self worth which we need to maintain intact at times of crisis or difficulty.

Resilience can be strengthened through helpful routines. Finding a little time for ourselves in our busy life can be critically important to maintain some balance, particularly when you are building a business full time or giving all you have to a job. One of my speakers, Carolyn Pearson of Maiden Voyage, spoke in particular about the fact that to avoid burning out she practices daily meditation, watches her food, makes sure she drinks enough water throughout the day and so on. Carolyn actually has a schedule which she keeps close by and checks throughout the day to ensure she sticks to it.

Resilience increases when challenges can be shared. Building a business or focussing on delivering a top performance takes a lot of energy out of any individual and besides, it can be a lonely business especially right at the outset. All my ladies stressed the importance of being out there and making sure you network and mix with other like minded professional and entrepreneurs on a regular basis to avoid the risk of becoming anxious and even depressed. Finding groups to network and sharing challenges or celebrate success helps us keep loneliness and self doubt at bay even though we might be building a business from scratch and from our kitchen table.

Resilience requires courage and self belief. At the debate speaker Daniela Wagner shared some very personal business experience and spoke openly about the need to trust your instinct and follow your guts or intuition when the world seems to collapse around you. Ultimately you know what needs to be done, you know what is right and must find the courage to do it even though it may appear scary or out of your comfort zone. 

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.





Friday, 6 November 2015

Lessons in leadership from top travel executives...the Women in Travel meet up

This Tuesday just gone I facilitated a Women in Travel meet up at World Travel Market, the leading travel trade fair taking place in London every November.


Piloted last year, in 2015 the event consisted in two panel debates, mentoring sessions, a key note and networking.

The first debate discussed entrepreneurship and resilience, while the second focused on leadership, authenticity and what it takes to be a woman leader. The panel was chaired by Prof Graham Miller from the University of Surrey.  

My speakers were 5 senior ladies from the industry holding positions either as MD or Directors in their respective companies. They provided genuine, insightful and bottom-of-the-heart views on women in the sector and what paths are available to them. Over an hour the discussion span from positive discrimination to the need for retention, from describing leadership traits to helping women shine under the spotlights. We also discussed ways to increase gender equality and how to ensure women are fully engaged in the work place. Below I highlights some of the comments/insights that resonated the most with him and we can all - as women - learn from.

Leadership Insight #1

In leadership be fair, treat others as you would like others to treat you. However as women we must be careful not to appear 'weak'. Carol Hay, UK Director of Marketing for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, said that the risk is that people will mistake kindness for weakness...'Nice girls do not get the corner office' she concluded.

Leadership Insight #2

Jo Rzymowska, MD for UK and Ireland at Celebrity Cuises, suggested that it is crucial for women to lead a diverse team and that team diversity is more important to the leader than recruting the right person for the job. Great Goals are achieved through great teams, thus it is essential that the 'sum of the parts' becomes bigger than the individual components if we are to succeed in business. We need to recruit from a wider pool, from a least-obvious pool, in order to incorporate a wide variety of skills, background, gender, races and perspectives to create the 'winning team'.

Leadership Insight #3

All speakers agreed that Emotional Intelligence is a critical aspect of leadership. It was also said that women generally demonstrate great EI traits but to be a great leader emotional intelligence has to be used in an authentic, non manipulative way. Authenticity, with passion and tenacity, were identified as key leadership traits.

Leadership Insight #4

Mentoring, networking and role models were identified as very important tools for women. 'The more women there are in leadership roles, the more inspirational role models there will be' said Julia Lo Bue, MD of the Advantage Travel Partnership. Women leaders must identify young women and support them through their career journey. 

Leadership Insight #5

To achieve great leadership positions women have to help themselves. This also means gaining greater knowledge, learning all the time. Knowledge supports self-confidence and self-esteem and helps build our reputation, thus never stop learning!

These leadership lessons are highly applicable in my opinion and potentially valid for most if not all industries. What are your views and what is your experience as women leaders? Share your view with me by leaving a comment below or writing to me, thank you! 

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

#TuesdayTRIOS - 3 Reasons Why Fear Can be A Positive Force

Halloween is now upon us and with that a whole imaginary world of fear, scary monsters and zombies...But fear in our life is not just imagination, although it may be described in less gory words or pictures! Truth is, there are always situations we fear in our life, both personally and professionally, although time and experience teach us to manage and control it, is it such a bad thing to feel scared?

Actually, I believe that fear is a healthy aspect of our emotional intelligence. We need it in order to make better decisions, to act upon situations. Just like others emotions, as I have argued in a previous post, it should not be refused or hidden at all cost, nor should we feel embarrassed by it, as long as we recognise it, accept it and address it!

Here are three reasons why fear should not be considered an enemy of our personal and professional development, but quite the opposite, as it teaches us to be better people and better leaders.

Reason #1

When we feel fear, we begin to investigate our emotions at a deeper level. Fear forces us to ask: why do I feel this way? What is at stake? Where is this fear rooted in...? That actually means that we become much more self aware, and we also begin to appreciate more our past, our journey and any possible limiting belief we may hold. Hopefully we also begin to question whether they are justified and raise our own self-esteem in the process.

Reason #2

When we feel fear we also ask the question...What would happen if? So we build different scenarios and we open ourselves up to different opportunities. We also manage risk better as by asking ourselves what fear is encouraging us or stopping us from doing we understand what we may gain or lose from addressing the root cause or ignoring it.

Reason #3

When we feel fear but put ourselves all out nevertheless we actually push the boundaries between comfort and discomfort, the boundaries between known and unknown. This is the area of ourselves which is outside our conscious knowledge and often that of others too as nobody - not even our friends or closer colleagues - have seen us operating within it. As such this is an opportunity for learning, innovation and creativity. We may find we are capable of much more that what we expected if only given half chance!

So don't hide your fear as a negative or shameful emotion, rather seek to understand it in order to turn it into a positive experience that will enhance your leadership capabilities!

What is your experience of fear? What fearful emotions have you experienced and resolved? I would love to hear your comments! 

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Why Authentic Listening Needs Your Heart

The Chinese symbol for listening tells us a very interesting story.

According to it, you can only be genuinely listening if you deploy your ears, your eyes, your undivided attention and your heart.  Your heart? 

We are often told to listen TO our hearts - but are we ever told to listen WITH our hearts? Somehow it does not seem to make as much sense and yet, the more I think about it the more the need to deploy my heart while listening to somebody or something becomes clear:

When we listen with our hearts we listen not just for words but for feelings and emotions. This means that we actually attempt to appreciate what is inferred, unspoken yet felt by others. When we do that we are more likely to comprehend the totality of the message that is being put across by the speaker rather than simply accept what appears to be the facade or what is shown externally.

When we listen with our hearts we are more likely to feel a natural empathy for the speaker. We may not agree with what is being said but by appealing to our hearts we almost always attempt to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. Empathy is at the basis of all communication and without it we are unlikely to be able to engage others in the conversation.

When we listen with our hearts we will almost certainly use our senses - and particularly our eyes - to find confirmation for our feelings about what is being said. Do our eyes also tell us the speaker is genuine, happy, sad, excited or perhaps annoyed or even angry? How we perceive the speaker's body  language through our eyes will become a powerful proof that what our heart has been feeling is true, or that there are discrepancies. In any case it will help us with understanding what is being said to a deeper level.

To be leader at what ever we do we need to be first and foremost good listeners. If we want to engage the heart and minds of our people we need to demonstrate that we too can deploy our heart to listen for meaning beyond the spoken words. This naturally lead us to understand better and more sympathetically, which in turn will enable us to ask better and more insightful questions.

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Why Jennifer Lawrence's Millions Are Making All Women Better Off

If you have been going around your business with your eyes open this week you will have not missed this one woman battle for pay equality. Actress Jennifer Lawrence has been all-over the press for daring to challenge male film stars' earnings and openly denounce that she - for the simple reason of being female - is paid half of their salaries... a few millions less possibly, give or take a zero!

I have heard a few people saying they feel outraged at her and her open challenge as righteous b******t '...as she earns hundreds of thousands if not millions anyway' but I totally disagree with that and actually believe that we should all care about her battle because - if she wins it - all women will be richer.

The point is, whether you earn in the 10s, 100s or 1000s why should your job be less remunerated than the one of your male counterparts all things being equal? Yet, this is the situation we encounter in Hollywood, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Canary Wharf or the City.

Up and down the professional or manual job pay scale you will encounter women with or without degrees, doctors, lawyers or waitresses in restaurants earning a lot less than their male equivalent. How much less depends on the sources you read, but quite commonly at least 20% to 30% less. Why is this happening? There is hardly a sensible response to this - ultimately it is because employers can.  But up and down the country (this country, the UK, as in many others) women are calling out for change and enlightened companies are starting to put in place pay audit to rectify the situation. Recently I was reading about the french (but globally spread) Hotel Group Accor doing this. So far these companies are only a handful and we need many more to follow.  

Women, unfortunately can add to the issue by not fighting their own corner, not negotiating hard enough, not taking an assertive stance at the discussion table. Clearly we should NOT blame the women for this situation but I would love to see more of us (I most definitely put my self in this group) clearly articulating what we are worth, explaining possible employers our values and why we deserve whatever pay we deserve. Men would do that no problem, so why don't we? But of course it is hard to shake off centuries of social conventions, whereby we as women have been taught to be modest, not to argue, not to assert our rights (suffragettes can you hear me...?) so that we now believe doing a good job is the reward, consider yourself lucky to be paid a salary at the end of the month in the first place, let alone earning millions like glitzy Jennifer!

But Jennifer is really angry now and, paraphrasing her own words, tired to be looking for excuses and nice words as to why it is not OK to be paid less than male actors. This is healthy anger,in my opinion, because what Jennifer is doing is taking a stance for all of us who have not quite got the time, the confidence, the impact that she has being a young celebrity.

So I really do not care how much Jennifer earns and as a matter of fact I hope that it will be a lot as that would mean she is catching up with her male colleagues. What I really hope is that this brings even greater attention to a well recognized but little acted upon issue thousands of women encounter every day. Maybe on the back of this more young women will take a stance and negotiate harder, because they will have the confidence to do so having been inspired by Jennifer.

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.
     

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

#TuesdayTRIOS 3 TED Talks on Women and Equality That You Cannot Miss

This #TuesdayTRIOS speaks for it self.


I have found these 3 talks so enlightening, entertaining and thought provoking, I thought I would share them with you.

So whether you are a man or a woman go on and watch them, I am confident you will love them too.

TALK #1 - Michael Kimmel - Sociologist

WHY GENDER EQUALITY IS GOOD FOR EVERYONE MEN INCLUDED
bit.ly/1G4QRP1


TALK #2 - Isabel Allende - Novelist & Activist

TALES OF PASSION
bit.ly/1RH5eu2


TALK #3 - Elizabeth Nyamayaro - Politica Scientist

AN INVITATION TO MEN WHO WANT A BETTER WORLD FOR WOMEN
bit.ly/1LLmtp2


Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.

Friday, 9 October 2015

3 Little Secrets That Will Make Your Mentoring Programme More Effective and Successful (PART 2)

A few weeks ago I started this blog on what makes your mentoring programme successful. I gave you three initial tips which will help you to substantially ' up the ante' on any mentoring programme, so if you have not had the chance to read it yet, please do so before reading today's blog as it will give you a much more comprehensive overview.

For part 2 of the blog, I am going to discuss three additional tips that can make the difference between your mentoring programme barely surviving, 'plodding along', or indeed fizzling out and ....sustainable, long term success!

TIP #1 MIND THE MATCHING!

This could actually take the entire blog as it is such an important aspect. How do you go about matching mentees and mentors once they have been recruited? Lets face it, mentoring is NOT an exact science so whatever you do you can expect that a small dose of 'best guess' will be required.

However you can most certainly help yourself by taking a number of steps:

1. Make sure you have no personal history between mentor and mentee. If they are both internal to your company, ensure you are aware of any past event that may jeopardise their relationship. Have they worked together on project and did not get along? Have they had an unpleasant exchange during a meeting? Have they been in a manager-staff relationship that did not work? Do they have any other cultural or personal reason why they may not get on well together? If any of this is known to you or if you have any question mark about it try to investigate further and if in doubt, do not match!  

2. Set up and communicate matching criteria. Mentee and mentor need to know why you think it is a good idea for them to work together. They have also have to know that you as a sponsor/administrator have clearly thought it through. Criteria can be based on knowledge, experience, background, future objectives and/or a mix of all these and more. Alternatively, you can ask your mentees whether they have anyone in mind to use as their mentors and discuss whether they are indeed right for the assignments.

But what if a matching does not work? It is always helpful to have spare mentors that can be called upon if need be, as it is likely that 5-10% of relationships may be unsuccessful. There must be no finger-pointing here, just the realisation that something is not working and needs addressing!

3. Create 'open days'. This can be an easy way to ensure your chances of matching success. By inviting aspiring mentees and aspiring mentors to a social meeting in which they can meet and talk and get to know each other informally before the formal matching takes place you will encourage self-selection and you will begin to create a wider network for mentees and mentors to access.

TIP #2 INDUCT AND TRAIN

Many people believes that mentoring is intuitive and that a couple of articles on the subjects will make mentees and mentors savvy and knowledgeable enough to embark on a successful relationship.
Far from intuitive, the mentoring ethos can be quite a struggle for managers who are used to telling rather than asking questions. So ensure that mentors have come today for at least half day, better still a day, of mentoring skills training and the possibility o ask questions about the initiative. The more time you spend on the training and on giving the mentors an opportunity to test their mentoring skills in a safe environment, the better the chance of a healthy relationship developing when the matching has officially taken place.

For mentees it is also critical that they are they are inducted into the programme. The focus here should be on understanding on how mentoring works, what they wish to achieve by the end of the programme and how to manage/take ownership of the relationship.

TIP#3 MONITOR. REVIEW. ADJUST. REPEAT.

Monitoring how your mentoring programme is going is important to ensure couples are actually getting together and mentees making progress on their objectives. The thing is, work will become busy, business travel will take staff elsewhere and it will be relatively easy for appointment to be skipped...so you need to keep on top of that and ensure there are alternatives ways in which mentor and mentees can meet, be it phone, skype or email.

Keeping momentum on a mentoring programme is not an easy task. To ensure it stays at the fore front of mentors' and mentees' mind it can help to send remnders or updating emails, organise additional social events, set up a bulletin, interview participants...and so on.

If you have established key performance indicators (KPI) at the outset, it will be helpful to take stock about half way through a programme and see whether they are being impacted positively. If that is not the case, it will be necessary to review and investigate why and take actions to address any latent unhappiness or obvious shortcomings. This is particularly about mis-match or lack of commitment on the part of the mentor or mentee.

So I hope that by implementing these 3x2 tips your mentoring programme will flourish. It will be good to hear from you about what you have found works well....And if I can help in any way to succeed, as I have done with the likes of Imperial Business School, KPMG and Surrey University I will be only too happy to help!  

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.
  




Friday, 2 October 2015

What do you teach future #leaders?

This week I was privileged to spend my time teaching students on a postgraduate degree course in France.

The course being international at its core, 25 students were enrolled from about ten different countries around the world. A real rich mix of culture, languages and ideas!

My hours were devoted to employment and employability, a very real and nail-biting topic if you ask me, as people still compete for a limited number of jobs. 

It is always a pleasure to teach young professionals, the students often have limited professional experience but they have tasted work and are keen to pursue a career in their sector of choice, becoming tomorrow's leaders,

Yet I must admit it was a little disparaging to see how little these young and bright adults knew about themselves and how few of them realised the importance of taking ownership of their personal development in order to become those leaders. 

Together we looked at self confidence, personal branding, how to establish and nurture helpful  relationship and navigate both on line and offline networking in order to make the most of connections.

As we did that we kept on relating back to ourselves by observing how are personal qualities, the way we communicate and come across to people, how our strengths and weakness impact others and everything we are trying to achieve.

I felt that for many of them this was a discovery in the first place, or at least, a connection they had not made. Or perhaps just something that had not stop to think about let alone analyse in depth. 

I wonder how we expect these young and bright minds to become tomorrow's leaders of people and ideas without empowering them early on in life to appreciate that leadership starts with ourself, with our ability to accept but also improve upon who we are and how we therefore relate to others.

This group was lucky as they had a been given the opportunity to do just that, albeit briefly and past their 20's. Yet hopefully the seeds have now been planted and as many thanked me for my work I feel reassured they will now continue to cultivate their' personal garden'.  But too many other professionals starting out in their career do not, ever, think about their personal leadership, their own development and how it affects others. And yet later on they are found in positions of leadership and responsibility in companies and governments.

I would argue that children in secondary school  - thus, teens- should be already given the tools to develop self awareness and enabled to appreciate that unless we are prepared to work on ourselves we may well reach position of leadership but we will not be leaders. This probably requires a whole new set of commitment from educational institutions, but I bet it would make a welcome difference to society! 

I wonder if any of you has a different perspective and experience to share? How can we instill greater self awareness and a desire for personal development in tomorrow's leaders? Please feedback and comment below, as always that is much appreciated.

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.





Friday, 25 September 2015

Being a Female Leader In Business Still Makes You Interesting.

This week I am sharing a blog from the fabulous Jo Rzymowska, Managing Director of Celebrity Cruises, UK and Ireland. Jo will speak at the Women in Travel Meet Upin November and here she reflects on the fact that women leaders in business are still a 'rare breed' and why we need to change that. She also highlights the importance of finding a mentor, always a winning move if you ask me! I am delighted that Jo is participating in the panel as she has a wealth of experience to share. Whether you are in travel or not, join this Women in Travel event to hear from some really experienced leaders!   

Unfortunately, being a female leader in business still makes you interesting. There simply aren’t enough of us.


That’s why I’m pleased to be speaking at the WTM Women in Travel meet-up event during World Travel Market 2015. I’m hoping to meet more of the women who will be leaders in travel in the future, and the women and men who will inspire them to get there.


Events like the WTM Women in Travel meet-up provide a reason for the travel industry to take a moment to think through how we can attract more great female talent into the sector, and retain it.  
We also need to show young people first thinking about their 
careers, those considering a career change, that travel is a 
business that recognises the value that women can bring to the 
boardroom table, and is a diverse and rewarding choice. 

Personally, for me events such as the WTM Women in Travel meet-up are really inspiring. I meet incredible people who are all at different stages in their career, all have different stories to tell about being an ambitious female in business, and all who I learn different things from.

From my own career experience, I know that having exceptional mentors and people you trust to chew-the-fat when it comes to crunch-time decisions, are really important. The moments where my career accelerated have all been down to other people giving me an opportunity, or pushing me to a situation that felt uncomfortable.

None of us takes the next difficult step without encouragement. My hope for the WTM Women in Travel meet-up is that many of us attending meet our next mentor or the next person who will present an unexpected opportunity. Responding to change and making hard decisions is what makes of us better at our roles, and improves our comfort when taking risks.

For me, the greatest risk is that I will remain being a minority as a female managing director in the travel sector. I hope that you join me at this meet-up and show me that my fears are unfounded. I look forward to meeting the future female business leaders. 

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieving their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

#TuesdayTRIOS 3 Questions To Ask In Order To Decide If Working With A Coach Is Right For You

Recently a friend mentioned to me that they had been offered a coach at work. 'Great' I answered, 'So what did you say to that?' 'Actually - she replied - I said I need time to think. I am still not sure'.


I believe that my friend was right to ask for thinking time, even though the offer sounded enticing. Coaching (and mentoring) are often mentioned to individuals as possible /available interventions, but unless the recipient is willing and on board with the whole idea, they are unlikely to work at all.

Sometimes coaching is even imposed on people as a result of their (inadequate??) performance, or to help them achieve certain objectives (e.g. promotion) but even when the rational is totally positive (as in the case of a promotion) people still need to agree to work with a coach and fully understand what is involved! This is because the relationship with a coach can be quite personal, intense and often emotionally engaging, thus individuals who are being coached must be ready for it and welcoming it!

So, whether you are thinking of hiring a coach to support you in achieving your aims, or whether a coach is being suggested to you by somebody else (most likely via work) here are three important questions to ask yourself to decide whether you will benefit from and enjoy the experience.

Question #1 - To what extent do I happily communicate with others?

Communication flows are at the core of any coaching relationships. Unless you are a good communicator, or you are prepared to work on your communication skills, coaching will not work! So to benefit from a coaching or indeed mentoring intervention be prepared to open up, discuss matters that are important to you but also listen carefully and actively.  Also, be prepared to take and act on feedback. This can be even ore daunting at times as it supposes that your conversations will focus on strengths but also on weaknesses or areas for improvement (even when the intervention is meant to support you in achieving a promotion or other positive steps, as ultimately it is about personal and professional development!)

If all of the above does not sound like you; if you generally keep to yourself and do not share ideas; if you are out of your comfort zone receiving feedback, you will most likely struggle to maintain a positive coaching relationship!

Question #2 - To what extent am I willing to talk openly and honestly about myself?

In a coaching (and, as I keep on repeating, mentoring) relationship not only do we need to communicate and open up about about important and sometimes delicate matters, but we need to do that while staying honest and transparent about them too. Basically, there is no point in forging the truth when in a coaching relationship because that will firstly, stop the relationship working to the client's benefit and secondly, an experienced coach is likely to pick up on many others non verbal signs. Naturally there are areas that at the outset can be identified as not open for discussion. But my experience - especially with women - is that women tend to open up totally and 'bear their soul' and this is how they obtain the greatest and most positive of impacts from a coaching/ mentoring relationships. You could say that being highly emotionally intelligent will contribute to make coaching more effective!

Question #3 To What Extent Do I Invest In My Personal and Professional Development?

Whether you are paying yourself or your company is sustaining the coaching coast, the point is that you will invest a lot in this relationship. Your emotions, energy and time are all key part of this investment! So let's sure you maximise the returns on it. 

If you'd rather spend your cash on something that, apparently at least, will have an immediate impact, or provide an immediate boost to you - think of a new business suit or an expensive hair cut - there is nothing wrong with that, but you may not be suited to coaching or mentoring as their impact won't be instantaneous nor will it provide a 'quick fix'.

I hope I have put my points across clearly. I am passionate about what mentoring and coaching can deliver and believe in them enormously. But there are many ways in which we can learn and develop and if you chose to go this way it must be because you are totally convinced of the value it brings to you.

Do feel free to share your views. I hope this has - if nothing else - has helped you clarify what you need and whether coaching is right for you! 

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.



Friday, 18 September 2015

3 Little Secrets That Will Make Your Mentoring Programme More Effective and Successful (PART 1)

Mentoring in the professional as well as entrepreneurial environment has been a buzz word for a number of years and its popularity does not appear to decline. It is easy to see why...Mentoring is effective in so many ways, whether to improve your performance, support your path to promotion, increase team cohesiveness, identify and tap into your potential...and the list goes on and on. So it is just as natural that many companies decide to run internal mentoring programmes,

However, mentoring is far from simple or unstructured when it comes to running a programme that is company wide. Quite the opposite! Identifying, recruiting, training and matching mentees and mentors is truly a work-intensive affair that requires plenty of resources, including time, budget and administration...so it is not surprising that mentoring sponsors can become a little 'frustrated' with the process, particularly when soon after set up mentoring relationships start to lose momentum and fizzle out.

As somebody who has facilitated and run mentoring programmes for over ten years and a whole range of companies - from small to very large - I know that mentoring can prove extremely effective for most organisations and at so many levels, but securing its success requires planning, experience and expertise!

So if you are planning to launch your own mentoring programme, whether your organisation has 20, 200 or 200,000 employees, please take note of the following 3 top tips!

TIP #1 - Start with the End In Mind!

Just like you are likely to do with other initiatives, it is critical that you understand what are you hoping to achieve through your mentoring programme. Is it about employee engagement? It is about retention? Or maybe talent development? Whatever the case it is important that mentoring objectives are clearly identified and then aligned to overall business objectives, that is the only way mentoring is going to maintain its momentum, demonstrate its return on investment and keep all sponsors happy!
Once you know what you wish to achieve you can plan around it by engaging the most appropriate stakeholders and devote the right resources to it.

If you cannot identify some obvious and really clear objectives, then perhaps the initiative needs more thinking through! You may in that case want to ask your self: Does my organisation really need mentoring? What evidence have I got to support this ? Is my organisational culture in tune with mentoring? Depending on how you answer these questions you may then be able to identify your core objectives. But be honest! Or mentoring will never truly become embedded in your organisation!

TIP #2 - You need to sell mentoring too!

Some people expect their staff to jump at the opportunity of having a mentor, but actually this is not often the case.  And why should they? It will require their time, some preparation, it will need honesty if it is to work and who knows if mentors can really be trusted....so you see, there are many reasons why you may discover you have reluctant mentees!

In order to set your self up for success, any mentoring initiative will need to be 'sold' and 'marketed' as you would with your external product or services. Start by identifying 'what's in it for me' for mentees, but also for mentors. Create a campaign that builds on clear expectations, a step by step approach and positive outcomes. Make it aspirational, focus on excellence and self-ownership too.
It may take six months or a even a year to build the right amount of momentum and buy-in, but that is OK because once you feel you have achieved it you will have people queuing up to find a mentor!

TIP #3 - The way you recruit mentors is as important as the way you recruit staff

You may be thinking that that is statement too far but seriously, mentors are vital to the success of any mentoring programme and you will need to think carefully about the who? why? and where? of mentoring recruitment if you wish your initiative to remain successful and keep momentum!

The first question to ask yourself is: do I have enough potential mentors internally or do I need to go outside and if so where? To identify internal mentors you require a pool of staff that is large enough to be able to discount at least 10% of your initial mentors. For that you will probably need a company with several departments or divisions. Otherwise you need to think about a whole range of organisations from alumni bodies to professional associations and you will need to carefully select them from there.  

Next is about your recruitment and assessment criteria. How will you go about identifying mentors, by their knowledge and expertise, interpersonal skills, ability to open doors or a mix of all those?
You will need to ideally create a check list and weight each criteria so as to understand what really matters to you and your mentees and that will depend on your initial answers as per tip #1!

Thirdly, how will you go about getting mentors on board? You can organise open days, go via recommendations, self nominations, applications or again a mix of these.
Will you assess their suitability through self assessment, an interview process, or whether they have mentored before and have been recommended by others?

As you can see there is a lot to do and a lot to think about. But if you take these 3 tips into careful consideration, your mentoring initiative stands a much greater chance to flourish in the longer term...

Next week there are more tips to come. But how does your organisation go about its mentoring? Do you have a well established, carefully structured programme? Or have you tried and failed at mentoring? I would love to hear your comments and experience and should you have any question, please do send them through!

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here. 







Monday, 14 September 2015

Meet me at the #Womenintravel meet up 3 November 2015 World Travel Market

The WTM Women in Travel meetup is the international event for women in travel by women in travel. Now in its second year, it is held on Tuesday 3 November 2015 at Excel, London during Work Travel Market.

The event starts at 1330 and finishes at 18.00. It is free to attend for all WTM visitors, exhibitors, guests and media.  Women and men are all welcome!

The event includes:
  •  Two inspirational panel discussions with leading corporate women and entrepreneurs from the industry. 
  •  Two one-on-one pre-bookable mentoring clinics with entrepreneurs and travel industry leaders
  • A fabulous key note speaker by Jacki Hill-Murphy film director, adventurer and travel writer
  • A networking reception sponsored by the University of Surrey, School of Hospitality and Tourism

 Join us for one session or join us for the afternoon to enjoy inspirational talks, motivational speakers, to challenge yourself constructively and to network with like minded professionals!

Friday, 11 September 2015

Is There An #Adventuress In You?

It seems that everywhere I look I see amazing women doing amazing things. Climbing mountains, crossing oceans, walking to the poles....I have started to notice the trend the moment I booked my own adventuress - Jacki Hill Murphy - to come and speak at the forthcoming Women in Travel meet Up at World Travel Market 2015 on 3 November in London. This is a platform for international women in travel to meet, share ideas, learn, network and connect, which I launched last year and it is now growing and expanding.

Jacki has been undertaking a number of adventurous journeys, recreating those that were completed much, much earlier and with seriously poor equipment, information and overall preparation, by women living in the 18th and 19th century.  Jacki will talk about her experience, but also what these amazing women and adventuresses had to endure in order to fulfil their journey. 

Talk of leadership and resilience! These women never lost sight of their goals, never thought they would give up, even though they risked their life on several occasions and were left for dead on others. 

Is it the same with modern heroines? Jacki says that some of the places she visited recreating the journeys are still very hard to reach and only seen by few, so she feels very lucky to have shared these experiences and every journey, however difficult, feeds her wonderlust even further!

I believe that it is part of our human nature to want to set ourselves challenges and work through them and there are many lessons here that can be learnt and applied to our business environment. Jacki says that staying humble and being able to organise yourself are some of the leadership lessons she has gained while studying the life of the adventuresses in order to recreate their journey.

And what about you? What challenge are you setting for yourself? Or which leadership skills have you recently acquired through a journey, a sporting challenge or some other event? As usual I look forward to your comments and also invite you all to join us on 3rd November In London for what will no doubt be a challenging and stimulating event!  

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here. 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

#TuesdayTRIOS 3 Reasons Why Hiring A Coach Is Critically Important To Buddying Entrepreneurs

I read and tweeted today about a very interestingly article on entrepreneurship from Forbes.com . The article identifies a list of 11 practical things entrepreneurs can do to become immediately more successful. To my delight, right at the top it lists 'hiring a coach'!

Am I glad? Absolutely ! Am I surprised? No....and yet, YES! I know and many know that investing in coaching and personal development is critically important on the one hand...on the other I also know by experience that many people would rather invest in a new business outfit or in an expensive hairdresser instead!
So the fact that this article reiterates the importance of having somebody to support you and push you in equal measure while setting up and growing your business means that more of you out there may come around to the idea that you simply cannot do it all alone! On my part I would like to expand on some of the explanations the article touches upon to give you even more 'food for thoughts' as to why you should hire a coach.

Reason #1 It is about 'making it happen'.

A start up client told me recently that one of the best things about working with me as her coach is the fact that she knows that I will keep her on the 'straight and narrow', I will ask her to get on with business plans, excel spreadsheets and will expect to see those documents and review them and feedback to her.  Basically, it is about the discipline and doing all those things that will make the business happen even though they may well be the less exciting part of developing a business - but absolutely necessary! 

Reason #2 It is about 'striving for improvement and keeping it real'

As also suggested by Forbes, we have mentors and coaches in sport, in academia and often in corporate environment. This is because we understand that our developmental journey can be a lonely one and because we need support, motivation and challenge to keep focussed and aim high. So why would we not have a coach when launching a business? Entrepreneurship is an all-consuming activity that will require a huge amount of drive, energy, concentration and sacrifice. Everything we own and care about is likely to be put at risk in some way or other, from remortgaging our house to relationship and family. So this is the occasion when a coach can provide timely support keeping us in check and making sure we direct our efforts in the most effective way.

Reason #3 It is about 'exploration: yourself, the environment and more'

This is one reason that personally I believe is very important to buddying entrepreneurs. Having a coach enables you to explore your-self, your ideas and the environment, feeling absolutely safe and empowered to do so without biases or judgements. Exploring and blue-skying is critical important especially at the beginning of the setting up business process because entrepreneurs must fully understand themselves (answering questions such as : What truly motivates me? Why am I doing this? What do I wish to achieve? What will success look like?) and then be able to think through the 'crazy ideas', the dreams and the unspoken or unfulfilled wishes (discussing the 'What ifs'), which they may not willingly discuss with staff or other stakeholders.

In all these years I have worked in business I have never heard anyone regretting going through a coaching process, providing the coach was right. And for all of you starting up in business, do you have a coach or are you thinking of getting one? Please feedback or leave your comments below! 

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here. 


Friday, 4 September 2015

Could Emotions Actually Be The Sign of Authentic Leadership?

There is a lot of talking (and writing) about leadership these days, and especially about Authentic Leadership.
This is because Leadership is the one quality that is absolutely crucial to business and politics and yet it is so NOT readily available! Look around you and you will see plenty of exceptional managers and great operational business drivers..but Leaders and indeed, Authentic Leaders? I mean people with the strategy mindset, the vision, passion, beahaviours, communication skills, the ability to make things happen, but also the foresight, the kindness, the human touch, the integrity ...it is a daunting list and if you ask me, very few people out there can tick every item on this list. I truly believe however that women inherently have most of the traits required to be Authentic Leaders. But I would argue the fact that too often, whether in a corporate career, in politics or other areas, women appear to forget about the importance of being authentic and believe that to succeed they need to put on a mask and stop being themselves. By this I mean that women - in my experience, particularly those women who are working in highly demanding corporate environment culturally dominated by a alpha-male mindset - often deny themselves the opportunity to be who they really are in fear of being judged as too weak or too soft and thus being overlooked for promotion.

Yet, being ourselves is the best thing we can be. As women, we are likely to experience a great range of emotions. With our families and our friends we can easily cry, whoop for joy, laugh, become angry and opening up because we feel safe and supported. But when it comes to the work environment, we are more likely to repress positive as much as negative emotions, as if they are career-enemies, perhaps a sign of irrational, out-of-control behaviour...something a leader cannot afford to show.

However, 'emotions' as strong feelings or passions (with a slightly negative connotations to it) are a relatively modern concept. If we go back to the original meaning or ethymology of the word, the latin verb 'movere' meaning 'to move' takes center stage. So emotions are natural, ancestral forces that push us to act. When I see a lion and feel the fear, I can flee or decide whether it is a fight worth having. Without that emotion I could be dead! On the other hand I can actually process information to decide I can fight. So emotions also enable us to analyse, process and review information. This is an important function in any leadership role!

So while I am not advocating that professional women - and men for that matter - should readily display their emotions without control or thoughtfulness, I believe that emotions can be used as powerful energies to drive actions and ignite our thinking process. Furthermore, I believe that natural, positive, emotional responses such as laughther can actually engage the hearts and the minds of people and really show us for what we really are as human beings, fostering trust and building relationships that every leader needs.

But what is your view and experience of using and displaying emotions in a working environment? As a woman, do you fear being judged as 'too emotional'? Please comment and feedback below, I would love to hear!    

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.