Eve Annunziato

My Leadership Crush May 25, 2008

Filed under: Leadership — Eve Annunziato @ 3:20 am

I have a confession; I have a major crush. Well, at least an affinity; an affinity for any leader who possesses the virtue of humility – a very, very rare feature to find. This week, I met with an effective, great yet grounded leader who reminded me of the uncommon but necessary humble quality. Not a characteristic I possess personally, but one I precariously long to attain. I tend to be more haughty, my husband refers to me as a “confident and assured leader.” But, keep in mind, he loves me! (note, that very sentence wasn’t a very humble remark now was it? I rest my case!). Make any excuse you want – one of the most attractive attributes of any leader is humility, especially for those of us who struggle with restraint. Humility certainly doesn’t mean you lack assertiveness, strength, determination, competitiveness or lack intelligence. In fact, it’s quite the contrary:

“The temptation of ego enhancement often entices many young leaders down the road to frustration and compromise . . . .One could argue that a lack of humility would be acceptable in high-intensity operations. However, the need for stable leaders with authentic humility remains constant.” Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Doty

Leadership guru and author, Jim Collins, describes a humble leader as follows:

  • Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation, never boastful
  • Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate
  • Looks in the mirror, not out the window to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck
  • Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will

I’ve seen leaders start out unassuming, but after an unhealthy dose of power, their feet no longer reach the ground. Don’t overlook the essential component of genuine humility. Modesty is compelling, pride is repelling. Humility in an organization will create a loyal environment, trustworthy relationships, and quality results. Additionally, an unassuming spirit appeals to others, as they, too, aspire to achieve the same unpretentiousness. As, I, constantly aspire to achieve.

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Cel-e-brate Good Times (Come On!) May 19, 2008

Filed under: Leadership — Eve Annunziato @ 2:34 am

Okay, you can stop tapping your fingers on the keyboard and breaking into your best rendition of Kool And The Gang! Here’s the deal… I met with several clients one-on-one this week. And, as I reflect on these sessions, one commonality stands out. After spending hours and hours reorganizing, restructuring, revamping, rebuilding, reevaluating, reflecting and so on – it can be a rather draining, exhausting and an overwhelming process for these guys. Personally, I’m passionate about the entire drill – it strengthens me. But, not everyone gets fired-up about it. Consequently, after each meeting, I take the final moments to motivate the leaders and celebrate all their positive attributes, efforts, and milestones. Most of these incredible A-class players put so much pressure on themselves; agonizing over mistakes, decisions, and failures as they see it. Therefore, taking opportunities to point out his/her amazing effort, growth, and extraordinary feat is vital for personal growth. It’s during these celebrations I notice the change in one’s demeanor from tense to elated, from overwhelmed to motivated. Yes, there’s a lot of work ahead as you strive for efficiency and excellence to take your staff or business to the next level. While you sharpen your skills, take time to enjoy the journey and appreciate the excursion. Leaders – let’s stop putting so much pressure on our organization, our team members, ourselves, and let’s take a moment to celebrate all that is triumphant.

Kevin and Jackie Freiberg are co-authors of “Nuts,” one of my favorite principle-centered leadership books. The Freibergs inspire managers to achieve beyond expectation in a non-traditional yet creative, authentic, and free spirited style (my personal favorite method) and says the following about the importance of celebrating with your team members:

  • Call it gratitude, a sense of exhilaration, or emotional release, when we work hard and win, there’s something inside us that screams out, “Let’s celebrate!” And celebration has become a way of life…You don’t see much festivity and celebration in the corridors of corporate America. Under the cloak of “professionalism,” we’ve become too serious. Seduce by the mentality that says business, if conducted responsibly and effectively, must always be serious, we have grown heavy-hearted. Oh, we still celebrate, but in many organizations, celebrations lack real impact and joy. Perhaps this is because by not understanding the value of celebration we lack the passion for doing it right.
  • Without celebration, we are robbed of the life and vitality that energizes the human spirit. Latent and undeveloped though it may be, there is within our nature as human beings as inherent need to sing, dance, love, laugh, tell stories, and celebrate. When we work in an environment where we are not encouraged to express this festive nature, part of our humanity is repressed and life becomes dull and spiritless. When this happens, our celebrative faculties, like unused muscles, begin to atrophy. Of course, this has a devastating impact on morale and productivity.
  • Celebration inspires motivation and reenergizes people. Celebrations, even small and spontaneous ones, can recharge people’s batteries and leave them feeling refreshed. When people feel renewed, they think more clearly and their attitudes become more positive.

Before you sit down with your management team member to conduct your post-mortem, hand out your to-do list, or go over their performance evaluation, take time to celebrate the extraordinary. It’s fun, it’s motivating and inspires us to excel and work even harder toward obtaining the vision.

 

How Women Can Rule THEIR World! May 11, 2008

Filed under: Leadership — Eve Annunziato @ 11:53 pm

Again, men don’t stop reading this post. I think this will help you, too, as a leader, husband, father, son and/or friend. Continuing my thoughts about women in leadership, inspired by the Dee Dee Myers book, “Why Women Should Rule The World” (a tongue-and-check title by the way!), I thought I would discuss how ALL women can rule THEIR world no matter the occupation, calling or passion.

Some more thought-provoking bullets from her book:

  • The truth is women do certain things differently. That’s not to say all women are one way and all men another. Of course not. But on balance, women tend to communicate a little differently… We’re more practical. There are complicated reasons for this, some bequeathed by Mother Nature, others carefully taught. Regardless, the effect is that women can seem less confident; less sure of themselves. This can, in turn, make it more challenging for them in a world that is still largely shaped by men. A world where ‘I think’ can sound weak, rather than generous.
  • In so many ways, and for so many reasons, women have been told that they’re not as good, that their accomplishments aren’t as valuable, that what’s important to them is, well, less important. And too often, women have been willing to believe it. As a result, they’re less eager to speak out, less willing to put themselves forward – and less sure of themselves when they do. And that creates a downward spiral, in which too many women never test the proposition and consequently never find out how good they really are.
  • In the same way a proud mother wants to see her child recognized for his or her achievements, she should want the same for herself and for other women. Only when women take (and give each other) credit will their contributions be valued alongside men’s. Only then will they close the confidence gap. Only then will they be able to really give the best, true measure of themselves.

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission,” revealed the wise Eleanor Roosevelt. Let’s take a moment to unpack that point. It doesn’t matter if you choose to not have children or 2.5 and if you manage your household as a Stay At Home Mom, Home-schooler or lead in the workforce part-time or full-time, as a CEO, Admin. Assist, Teacher, attorney or doctor. We need to support decisions of other women rather than judge. Embrace, accept, and celebrate our differences and the many admirable paths we women follow. However you decide to juggle your life, embrace it -do it with fervor, conviction, confidence, self-assurance and pride. Do it with zeal, heart and soul all the while knowing your decision is the right decision

Personally, I stopped apologizing for my career directions – an excursion that modifies, alters and adjusts with each ever-changing season of my journey. Lately, I’ve been freelancing and consulting. I traded job titles for schedule control, intensity for flexibility, all while aiming for life balance. This is an individual choice that allows me the freedom to spend more time on my relationships with my family. I’m much more content, satisfied, and joy-filled when I spend quality time with those I love most. Rather than focusing my efforts and resources on doing what makes my boss happy – a very conditional relationship where I’m accepted for what I accomplish, judged on my performance and what I can do for the organization – I work for myself and focus on my family – a very unconditional relationship where I’m accepted for me and never judged. Don’t get me wrong; a home-based career takes self-discipline all the while building positive client relationships and isn’t as reliable, steady, or predictable.

I certainly enjoy my rewarding work because it works for me at the moment yet might not work for you. In every case, it’s important to remember wherever you decide to lead, make a decision without reparation and with notable confidence and rule YOUR world!

 

Should Women Rule The World? May 5, 2008

Filed under: Leadership — Eve Annunziato @ 4:28 am

Before you answer that question, let me explain! I just finished a thought-provoking and insightful book written by Dee Dee Myers, entitled, “Why Women Should Rule The World.” The former White House Press Secretary for President Clinton challenges all of us to consider the possibilities if women were to reach the top ranks in every field. This is not a male bashing book nor does it attack men in any way. Rather, this compelling and sensible read emphasizes the positive strengths women can offer any organization.

Drawing from interviews with successful women, extensive research and her own experiences, Myers presents a compelling case of why women are quite capable of being in charge!

Here are some highlights and quotes:

  • Genetically speaking, men and women are incredibly similar; 99 percent of our genetic material is the same. Hmmm, I thought. Only a 1 percent difference; that doesn’t seem like very much. But when I read that chimpanzees differ from humans by just 1.5 percent, that small difference is pretty darn big.
  • Do men and women lead differently? Is there such a thing as a “female style?” A recent analysis of forty-five separate studies addressing the questions found that the answer was “yes.” Women are slightly more likely to be “transformational” leaders, collectively setting goals and empowering their teams to achieve them. Men are more likely to be “transactional” leaders, letting subordinates know what is expected, rewarding them for their success, and holding them accountable for their failures. Not surprisingly, some leaders did not fit neatly into one or the other of these categories, but there was, nonetheless, a measurable difference based on gender.
  • Not only do women have a somewhat different style; it’s more likely to be successful. It’s further evidence that there is more than one way to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, that different leadership styles – regardless of their gender – can get the job done. And that gives everyone more options; it creates a more flexible, more adaptive and ultimately more productive workplace.
  • The areas of the brain that track gut feelings are larger and more sensitive in the female brain, according to brain scan studies. Therefore, the relationships between a woman’s gut feelings are her intuitive hunches are grounded in biology. Among other things, women are particularly sensitive to what other people may be feeling. An analysis of 125 separate studies found that, “women are better than men at decoding emotional messages – and better at spotting lies.”

As a mother to a boy and girl, I have my own unscientific observations of how the two sexes think and act differently. Currently, as I post my entry, my daughter has emptied her entire closet on the floor and started to iron each piece of clothing with her toy iron and board. In the meantime, her stuffed animals surround her each with its own tea set. Occasionally she’ll stop to refill every cup, give her “friends” a kiss, and stroke their fur, all the while engaged in full conversation with each of them as she continues conducting her daily chore! While at the same time, my son is playing baseball and running around the house using stuffed animals as the ball, smashing them with his bat, and hurling them through the air. This is the same boy that at the age of 2, would construct his PB&J sandwiches in the shape of a weapon and go around shooting his potato chips. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter has lots of energy, loves to get muddy and is very busy. But their creative play is instinctually different. A combination of nature and nurture no doubt.

Men and women are different but equal. Consequently, when building a healthy leadership team, be attuned to the distinctions, welcome the diversity, embrace the differences, and appreciate the vast array of skill sets and gift mixes both genders bring to the board table! What do you think?