3 Ways to Master Crisis Leadership

Whether you are a leader in your company, family, community or volunteer group, you have the ability to radically shift how the people in your circle handle tumultuous times. Times of crisis are critical periods for your grounding leadership. Here are three quick ways you can activate these qualities to be a force for good:

  1. Be real. Those around you want to know that you are safe and healthy, but they also want to feel that you are communicating honestly and authentically. They may be having a difficult time and they don’t want to feel alone. If you are having challenges, share those and give your community a glimpse of your daily life (which is easier now that we’re all dialing into meetings from home!).
  2. Connect with your values + communicate them regularly. If you have personal values, or believe strongly in your organization’s values, remind yourself of those and think more deeply about them during this time. As a leader, try to connect these values to the work you and your community are doing to tap into a bigger purpose for yourself and everyone around you.
  3. Show passion + compassion. You are a leader in your organization for a reason–you have a passion for your product, service or mission. Let that passion shine through to motivate those around you to feel the same energy. If you couple this with compassion for your community’s current struggle, they will follow you anywhere!

As you connect with your team regularly, authentically and compassionately, you will see a shift occur. Your ability to be real and to connect on a deeper level will give them permission to do the same, pushing your teams to grow closer, work together more effectively and achieve more.

Today, take 10 minutes to think about what you can authentically share with your team to show passion and compassion for them, to become a #GoldenLeader tomorrow.

Susannah Stokes is the President and CEO of DOUNTO, Inc., a leadership development organization that provides 1:1 Leadership Coaching, Team Workshops, Corporate Diversity & Anti-Discrimination Training. She is a former Marine Corps Captain, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. She is dedicated to helping leaders Be the Change they wish to see in the world, by living and leading by The Golden Rule.

3 Ways to Create an Inclusive Workplace Culture

Our first value at DOUNTO is Love, and it is the underlying message of everything we do. This means being compassionate to the needs of others and spreading neighborly love wherever we go.

In leadership, love looks like inclusion, compassion and empathy, which help us create opportunities for diversity. Here are just a few techniques you can use to encourage diverse leadership throughout your organization, starting from a place of love:

  1. Be curious and assume positive intent. When we come from a place of curiosity, we approach ideas and others with childlike wonder and a Beginner’s Mind. This leads to assuming positive intent, which means believing that your colleagues, community members or friends are coming from a place of love as well. We love what Malcom Gladwell has to say about curiosity.
  2. Encourage and cultivate diverse conversation. We are living in an increasingly polarized world and often our conversations are strained by thinking in a binary way, e.g. “I’m right and you’re wrong.” We believe that Golden Leaders who show up from a place of compassion and empathy for others’ situations build trust better, allowing others to be more authentic, like Simon Sinek talks about in this TED Talk.
  3. Create opportunities for vulnerability and feedback. As a Golden Leader, one of the most important ways you can build a diverse and inclusive team is to start with vulnerability. Being vulnerable enough to ask for–and then listen to–feedback can help give everyone a voice and encourage creative problem-solving. See what Brené Brown has to say about vulnerability as a leader.

Creating spaces that encourage authenticity, inclusion and opportunity for feedback can not only help your teams work more effectively, but will ultimately lead those teams to achieve your mission faster.  As a leader, how do you encourage diversity, inclusion and compassion in your workplace? What can you do, even for just 5 minutes a day, to lead your team toward a more inclusive culture?

Susannah Stokes is the President and CEO of DOUNTO, Inc., a leadership development organization that provides 1:1 Leadership Coaching, Team Workshops, Corporate Diversity & Anti-Discrimination Training. She is a former Marine Corps Captain, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. She is dedicated to helping leaders Be the Change they wish to see in the world, by living and leading by The Golden Rule.

5 Ways Leaders Can Uplevel Remote Team Culture

As a modern leader, the challenges you face are unique and constant. If you are operating in a fully-remote work environment, you are likely facing a continuous barrage of emails, instant messages and virtual meetings–and that’s just on an individual basis! So, how do you balance all of this while also creating opportunities for your team culture to grow and flourish? Here are five tips to help you take your team culture to the next level:

  1. Be available. One of the best ways to improve your remote team’s culture is to show your team that you are available to them and their development. Having regular 1:1 meetings with each of your team members (particularly any direct reports), hosting virtual “office hours” and using language that expresses support for their development, or encourages them to come to you with any challenge, can make all the difference in how supported your team feels. The more available you are to support them, the more authentically they will show up for you and your team’s mission.
  2. Create time and space for real connection. If your team members have spent most or all of their time working remotely, they likely haven’t had the opportunity to connect through synchronous moments, like in the mini kitchen or bumping into each other in the hallway. These are crucial moments because they help team members grow to understand each other on a deeper level, which increases trust and confidence. To create moments like these in a remote setting, you can add a chat thread that’s specifically for “Water Cooler Conversations” or even something silly like “Meme of the Day.” Even better, you can plan a weekly “Virtual Trivia Hour” and divide your team into smaller groups to encourage a fun and healthy competition. Any kind of dedicated time together where you are not focusing on work-related discussion, will make all the difference!
  3. Model and encourage work-life balance. If you are the manager, teammates will follow your lead when it comes to hours worked and how to practice healthy work-life balance. This means you have the chance to set some of the standards by modeling them yourself. If you are able, set specific work hours when you will be available, rather than responding to emails or messages far into the night hours. When you take time off, be clear that you will not be able to respond to emails during that time and stick to that boundary. This will encourage your team to really take time off and set clear boundaries with their personal lives that help to keep their attention fresh and on point during working hours.
  4. Ask for feedback often. When I worked at Facebook, our COO Sheryl Sandberg would often say “Feedback is a gift.” She regularly encouraged leaders in the company to seek out and receive feedback with an open mind, which allowed them and their teammates to grow through mutual understanding. As a leader, you can seek feedback by dedicating a few minutes of your weekly 1:1s to “constructive upward feedback,” or by creating a monthly team-level “Pulse Survey,” that asks your teammates to anonymously rate their experience of various aspects of team culture. Over time, this consistent exchange of feedback will create a culture that will encourage others to have a growth mindset and be active participants in creating the best environment for everyone.
  5. Be authentic & vulnerable. One of the toughest things to do in our corporate culture is to show up in your most authentic self and be vulnerable with your emotional challenges. However, you as the leader can change these stereotypes and emulate the values that you stand for. If you are having health issues that may affect your ability to work, it is important to share what you’re comfortable sharing with both your own manager as well as your teammates. Or perhaps you are going through a divorce and know that you’ll need to be unavailable during some work hours to attend legal proceedings–remember that all of these are very human problems and you can encourage your team to be honest about their life challenges by modeling this behavior yourself. You may be surprised how much your team will support you (and each other), when you show up in your most authentic self!

As a leader, you likely have goals to rise above the rest while caring for your team. Take a page out of the book of many great leaders before you and consider partnering with a coach who can take your leadership, life and business to the next level. If you’re looking to start your search, email Susannah Stokes, a leadership coach and team facilitator, at susannah@dounto.co today!

Susannah Stokes is the President and CEO of DoUnto, Inc., a leadership development organization that provides 1:1 Leadership Coaching, Team Workshops, Corporate Diversity & Anti-Discrimination Training. She is a former Marine Corps Captain, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. She is dedicated to helping leaders Be the Change they wish to see in the world!

5 Reasons Great Leaders Work with A Coach

Rumi is quoted as saying, “Whoever travels without a guide needs two hundred years for a two-day journey.” His wisdom is wonderfully prescient, particularly for leaders in the modern business world who are seeking to be the best in their industry. If you are one of these leaders, read below to learn more about how a coach can guide you on a journey of self-development–and save you money–in just a mere matter of months…

  1. A coach saves you time (which saves you money). As a leader in the modern business world, you know that time is your number one most valuable asset. You know that every minute wasted can equal a dollar (or several hundred) spent. When I worked under the top leadership at Facebook, I noted how Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and other executives dissected their schedules down to the instant, ensuring that every moment of each day was maximized to its fullest potential. If you try to “go it alone,” on achieving your top leadership potential, it may take you two hundred years for a journey that could take two days, if you choose the right guide. Like these leaders, working with a coach can ultimately save you time AND money.
  2. A coach helps you be proactive about potential challenges. As you focus on your mission and vision, you can sometimes experience “unconscious bias” that causes you to miss the signs of impending crises or upcoming obstacles. A coach has the ability to see you and your team from an outside perspective, while also keeping your best interests at heart. By partnering with a coach, you are able to spot potential threats that you may have otherwise missed and be proactive about solving problems before they even arise. This, once again, saves you and your team time and possibly, very expensive mistakes.
  3. A coach uplevels your leadership style. If you are like many other modern business leaders, you may have studied management styles in required college or MBA courses. But, what about leadership? There are many books out there that can help you gain a deeper understanding of how to lead a team, but nothing compares to working 1:1 with a coach. A leadership coach provides personalized, tailored guidance to give you deep insights into how to best motivate your team in ways that feel most authentic to you, so you aren’t trying to copy leadership styles that don’t fit.
  4. A coach gives you the tools to make thoughtful, strategic decisions. One of the most challenging aspects of being a leader is balancing the many priorities that come from dozens of directions–your team, your Board of Directors, your co-founder or partner, and even your friends and family. The constant bombardment of opinions when you’re trying to make decisions can seem exhausting, especially if you don’t have a solid grasp on your own purpose and values. Partnering with a coach helps you to set aside time to figure out what really matters to you and your business, giving you a clear head to make the most solid decisions that align with your authentic self.
  5. A coach helps you show up as your best self everyday. As a modern leader, your life is nonstop–you’re traveling, answering emails, meeting new people and cultivating the members of your team constantly. If you have a family, you’re doing all of this and caring for their well-being also. So, when do you have time for you? With a coach, you have an advocate who helps you advocate for YOU-time, which helps you to recover from the 24/7 nature of the modern business world and set boundaries that help you be your best self for everyone who needs you so much.

As a leader, you likely have goals to rise above the rest, while caring for your team. Take a page out of the book of many great leaders before you and consider partnering with a coach who can take your leadership, life and business to the next level.

Susannah Stokes is the President and CEO of DOUNTO, Inc., a leadership development organization that provides 1:1 Leadership Coaching, Team Workshops, Corporate Diversity & Anti-Discrimination Training. She is a former Marine Corps Captain, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. She is dedicated to helping leaders Be the Change they wish to see in the world, by living and leading by The Golden Rule.

 

4 Qualities Can Make You a #GoldenLeader

What does it take to be a conscious, #GoldenLeader in today’s modern business world?

Two of our founders, Arch and Susannah, served in the Marine Corps, where they led teams both in and out of combat. They learned that especially when lives are on the line, it takes powerful leadership qualities to stay grounded during times of crisis, while also creating a place of compassionate growth for their people.

Here are a few of the priceless characteristics they learned while serving:

  1. Grit. The definition of “grit” in the dictionary is “courage and resolve; strength of character,” (and if you look it up on Google, the subext is “he displayed the true grit of the navy pilot”…how’s that for an example?). Leaders in the military, whether officers or enlisted, learn how to have courage and resolve from hours spent in extreme situations, the constant “hurry up and wait” that instills deep patience and the ability to withstand discomfort for hours, days, or months at a time.
  2. Resilience. Along with grit, the ability to “bounce back” from tough times is a required skill in the military. Whether it be transitioning between duty stations every 2-3 years, recovering from injuries, or making the shift to the civilian world, servicemembers and veterans have built up a high level of resilience to life’s obstacles. If you want to learn more about veteran resilience as it relates to PTSD and transition, check out Dr. Shauna Springer’s fantastic new book Warrior.
  3. Servant Leadership. In the Marine Corps, officers are always expected to eat last and the “lowest ranking” Marine eats first. This defines the spirit of leaders serving their people, rather than the other way around. Arch started his working career as a busboy at restaurants and 50 years later, has “served” his way to representing top clients in the hospitality industry, embodying a servant leader mindset from start to finish.
  4. Leading by Example. They say “to be it, you must first see it.” From the very moment you stand on the yellow footprints or take the Oath of Office, the military expects every member to personally uphold values like honor, courage and commitment. This means that each member operates with integrity, so they can lead their teams from a place of authenticity, rather than just position. Remember, you have to #BeTheChange you want to see!

How do you practice these qualities as a team leader? Take 10 minutes today to reflect on one of these characteristic, to discover how you can become a #GoldenLeader tomorrow.

Susannah Stokes is the President and CEO of DOUNTO, Inc., a leadership development organization that provides 1:1 Leadership Coaching, Team Workshops, Corporate Diversity & Anti-Discrimination Training. She is a former Marine Corps Captain, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. She is dedicated to helping leaders Be the Change they wish to see in the world, by living and leading by The Golden Rule.