Eve Annunziato

Can You Relate? January 4, 2009

On our way home from our annual Christmas trip to the Smoky Mountains (started this year!) while we were singing Christmas carols for three hours at the top of our lungs, I asked my typical question: “What was your favorite part of our trip?”   I expected my daughter to say visiting the aquarium, swimming in the heated pool, attending a show, shopping at one of three outlet malls (oh, wait, that was my fave!), eating the great food, or walking through the streets amongst the sea of beautiful Christmas lights. Instead, her response was, “Being with my family!”   She proceeded to elaborate – “When I was a little kid (as if she were no longer little), I had a dream of a mommy named Eve, a daddy named Charlie, and a brother named Gentry – and they all looked like you.  When I grew-up my prayers came true!”

It occurred to me that my 4-year old daughter gets it.  Even Oharah’s teacher told us she’s often the class leader befriending everyone along the way.  She understands the key to great leadership; management via relationship – what I consider MOST IMPORTANT!  If you don’t put the people you lead before your purpose, you’re not leading to your fullest potential.  It took me a while to learn this vital lesson, after I failed, failed, and then failed some more.

When asked by a very successful businesswoman and volunteer coordinator at my recent Team Building workshop, “Why should I get to know my team members?  Aren’t I supposed to send out schedules, make reminder calls, and organize my teams, only?” This is a common misconception and a popular reaction.  We spent 20 minutes on this discussion, but to sum up my response, leaders can’t afford to get caught up in administrative tasks.  You’re most effective when you have time to encourage, support, shepherd, connect, vision-cast, and interact.  This builds trust, loyalty and community among those whom you’re leading and you.

It’s seems insignificant, maybe even unimportant, but it’s the best part of the job.  Recently, I had lunch with four of my female team leaders.  We never talked “shop.”  Instead, we had in-depth conversations about marriage, kids, faith and life’s challenges.  I want my teammates to know that I first care about them and choose to do life with them.  Completing tasks are easier when they know their existence means something to the organization and me.  Here’s great news – it’s the best part of the job.  Forced leadership is overrated; building authentic relationships is much more inspirational, rewarding and fun!

If you feel relational leadership is over-hyped because it’s too “nurturing” and “feel good” and leading shouldn’t be about popularity, than frankly, you’re missing the point.  Unbeknownst to you, without it, you may unintentionally discourage, deflate, and dispirit workers. Take time to spend time with them and let them know they’re more than just a means to an end result.  No matter how much money you earn, how much power you possess, or what job title you obtain, if you’re missing this mark, you’re not where you COULD be.

By the way, the inquisitive volunteer and Company VP recently contacted me.  She started using this philosophy in her business, enjoying the relational part of her volunteer duties most of all and feeling more “helpful and fulfilled!”  In other words, she can relate, now can you?


Gifted To Lead PART 2 September 25, 2008

I could talk about this subject all day.  But instead, I’ll just dedicate one final post. As a refresher, we’re exploring the book by Author Nancy Beach called, Gifted to Lead, an inspiring and refreshing journey in which Nancy poignantly explores the art of leading as a woman (Men, don’t stop reading, this will help you manage, teach, lead, and understand the women in your world more). The following will resonate with women and men of influence:

“I believe it is no accident that Jesus was the first rabbi to teach women, to include them in his circles, to give them a level of dignity and opportunity that had been unknown.  We’re told in the eighth chapter of Luke that when Jesus traveled around, he went in a community that included the Twelve, along with women who, in some cases, came from pretty shady backgrounds.  Imagine in that day, a little group of men and women, mostly single, traveling together from town to town. Imagine the rumors and gossip!  Yet Jesus was so committed to creating a new kind of community where it was possible for men and women to relate to each other as brothers and sisters that he was courageously willing to run the risk.  And, so was born a new kind of community, where in Christ there was no longer male and female to stand as a barrier that divided humanity.”
John Ortberg, Forward in Gifted To Lead

Wow!  I love that.  This week a wise man pointed out that at the core of who we are, man and woman, we are the same.  Jesus looked directly into our heart, not our sex.  Leadership is an act of the spirit, an immense responsibility, an earned respect, a presence, a skill not to be taken for granted.  After all, on some level, whether mother, wife, employer, employee, volunteer, homeroom mom, community group facilitator, friend or daughter, we all lead in some capacity.  Embrace it, enjoy it, and accept it.

“I challenge all leaders – women and men – to discover their unique style of leadership and then to live it out with confidence and passion.  The church and our world need all kinds of leaders!  When I see a man lead a team by building strong community, or a woman who displays amazing skills of strategy or vision, I celebrate.  Being true to how God made us makes leadership less of a burden and more of a natural outpouring of how we function best.”  Nancy Beach, Gifted To Lead

I’ll leave you with that.  It will have to be all for now.  I have to sew a flag costume that includes a red, white, and blue wig for my son’s history project this week.  If you know me, I give you permission to laugh aloud.  Alas, it’s time for me to lead this costume making undertaking (Pray for me!).


Gifted To Lead Like It Or Not September 13, 2008

I remember it well.  It was our 8th grade end of the year assembly right before 4th period.  Time to hand out the scholastic and academic annual awards.  I got up three times to receive my Captain of the Field Hockey, Captain of the Basketball and Captain of the Lacrosse letters.  Then unbeknownst to me, Ms. Macklin, our athletic director, got up and announced that they had a special medal this year to one of the only female athletes to receive 3 Captain titles in the history of our middle school.  As she announced my name, I went up to receive my special award and when I turned around there he was.  My father was cheering from the back row standing and clapping (he was easy to spot, since he was the only person in the room standing and frankly I don’t even think he realized it or cared).   Surprised to see my dad, I ran up to him and gave him a big hug.  My dad never missed a game or an opportunity to encourage me.  Dad leaned over to me and said with a smile, “Eve, I don’t know what you’re going to decide do with your life, or all the places you’ll go, all I can tell you is, like it or not, you’re going to lead and people are going to follow.”

It was at that point I had my defining moment.  And from that instant on I set out to do just that – figure out how, what, and who to lead.   Sometimes liking it and sometimes not.  But, what my father neglected to tell me is that I was going to be one of the only women in my management circles.  He never warned me that the other department heads hanging out at “mahogany hall” weren’t going to look like me.  He didn’t elaborate that I was going to have to work smarter, try harder, and accomplish more than my male collogues while yearning for respect.  He didn’t share the stats that show women earn less money, get less important job titles and smaller office space (crazy isn’t it – but think about your work, do the men have bigger offices, better titles and more pay?).  And it never crossed my dad’s mind to make a list of setbacks that would befall me if, and when, I ever chose to start a family.  He didn’t advise me of the enormous challenges ahead whilst trying to balance being a wife, mother and employee that can sometimes result to even more gender hurdles, resistance, and loneliness. No, my father never put it that way. However, Author Nancy Beach poignantly illustrate this exact journey in her latest book, “Gifted To Lead: The Art Of Leading As A Woman In The Church.”  It’s inspiring, refreshing and filled with guidance, hope and truth coupled with Nancy’s passion and grace to help women navigate leadership roles in a man’s world.  Such experience from this pioneer, (that makes her sound too old) rather, this revolutionary woman of influence.   I’m going to spend some time unpacking her discoveries that will resonate with every leader – men leading other women leaders, women leading their household and/or the PTA or folks leading a team of any kind with her hard-earned wisdom such as:

“No mistake was made in heaven when God gave you a gift of leadership or teaching. …We must stop apologizing for our gifts and opportunities!  We are not taking up too much room if we are seeking to fulfill a God ordained calling – a calling which may just require us to get over ourselves, take a deep breath, and simply start leading.”

My dear friend, amazing leader and woman of influence presented this book as a gift with the following inscription:

“I love the leader that you are – encouraging, generous, selfless, humble, loving.”

Not quite sure I can live up to her kind words, but I’m going to work really hard trying. Sure, I’m going to fail along the way, and probably often. But no matter what, I’m going to follow my calling whether I like it or not.


Tired Of Being Tired? August 30, 2008

My husband recently got me very excited (no it’s not that, get your mind out of the gutter people!  That’s another blog topic altogether!).  It was after reading his recent post about being tired.   I think many of us are tired of being tired, tired of being status quo, and tired of mediocrity.

Today, I received a phone call from my best friend here in Nashville.  She said she was in the process of reading a motivational book when she started to think of me (it was at that point that I was flattered that I was in her thoughts!).  Susie explained that she understood that in the past I’ve been told I have a restless spirit and she said that although that description has hurt my feelings at times, she wanted to let me know she thinks it’s one of my positive attributes.  She proceeded to explain that my somewhat restlessness has me always taking risks, setting and achieving my goals all the while saying, “Okay, I’ve finished that! Now God, what’s next on my agenda to accomplish?”

I’m not sure if I can live up to her standard, but I accepted the kind words nonetheless!   Like almost all of you, I do indeed make a concerted effort to strive to achieve excellence – not always getting there but trying all the same.  Charlie’s below post, made me stand up and cheer!!

I think many people are tired…

Tired of the status quo…

Tired of average…

Tired of unremarkable…

Tired of the same old, same old…

Tired of feeling like there’s more…

Are you?

What if you took being tired of these things and used it to motivate you to change? What if you decided it’s time to…

break out,

step up,

take a chance,

be different,

dream higher,

reach higher,

be nicer, serve better,

follow your dreams,

and be remarkable?

Is an extrodinary life calling your name?  If so, isn’t it time to answer the call?


Compromise – But Why Should I? July 14, 2008

Filed under: Life and Leadership — Eve Annunziato @ 4:29 pm
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There was a time long ago (okay, not that long ago) that I didn’t like to compromise. I didn’t care for the concept, the idea, the act because I thought it was a sign of weakness or a declaration of defeat especially in leadership. I had that, “this is my story, and I’m sticking to it” mentality. I felt I could balance the dichotomy of having a teachable spirit with out having to “give-in” or bend against my wishes. Have you been there?

However, after a few years of marriage, I realized that if I continue to think the “c” word was a bad word my marriage would suffer the consequences. Incidentally, the more I fail, the more I become a pragmatist and open to practical change. My wise and sweet-spirited husband kindly taught me the benefits of this “give and take” approach by leading through example. I began to mature in this area, and I would soon commence to appreciate the art of compromise is other avenues of my life. Eventually, I learned that it’s a sign of strength. However, there are still situations when we should NEVER compromise – and I thought my husband’s latest post (http://lifebarometer.wordpress.com) on the subject put it pointedly. Here are his thoughts; I would love to hear yours:

If you’re not very good at compromising, you’re missing out on opportunities to strengthen relationships and to make your world better than it is today. Compromise can improve your relationships because it shows others that you consider their side important. It assures them you take their feelings seriously. In business, if you’ve ever closed a big money deal, you know the importance of the “give and take” in negotiations. Most deals wouldn’t be done without some compromise from both sides.

Compromise is generally a good and productive thing. However, there are things you shouldn’t compromise. Hold fast to your morals and principles. Don’t compromise your core values. Your values determine your daily actions and how you conduct your life. Don’t change who you are to satisfy someone else if you have to lower your morals to do so. No deal is worth that. The goal in compromise is to create a win-win situation. Everyone should get something of value out of the deal. But how can you get value by compromising your core values?

The truth, I have compromised my values in the past, but now realize I was making the wrong kind of deal. No longer entering into that kind of one-sided deal is a skill I plan to work on and develop in both leadership and in Life!