Becoming a Small Business Leader

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Small business owners spend countless hours working on their businesses. They experience a constant source of tension between responding to the next crisis and making sure the company is headed in the right direction. It takes special skills to differentiate between tasks that are important and those that are urgent, a dilemma known as the “Tyranny of the Urgent”. In my role as director of the UMW-SBDC, I have a responsibility to provide business owners with tools and resources needed to run a successful business. However, building a successful organization and taking it to the next level, requires additional skills. These are skills that can be learned and involve basic leadership. One of the most significant contributions of psychology to the field of business has been in determining key qualities of acknowledged leaders. The increasing rate of change in the business environment creates the need for increased emphasis on leadership. Instead of maintaining status quo, new … [Read more...]

How in the World Do You Stay Positive at Work?

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Here's a hint:  The Eyes Have It Stress and negativity can lead to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual disaster. We all know this because there are thousands of television ads telling us which pharmaceuticals we should be taking to eliminate the stress from our lives. Personally, simply keeping an eye out has helped me, so I’ll pass on a few things you can keep an eye on to maintain your optimistic outlook. Your ultimate goal: “What am I really doing here?” Whether you have clients, constituents, students, patients or a congregation, your goal is to assist them with their endeavors – whatever they may be. Keeping this at the surface will help to re-arrange your priorities and keep the daily pettiness at a minimum. Your reason for working: While some people are employed to keep homes running and bills paid, others work to feel fulfilled and help others. Whatever the case may be, remind yourself from time to time that you have decided that there is a good reason for … [Read more...]

Communication is Key

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I once served on a search committee where the candidate was asked, “What is the one thing you need the most from your peers?” She quickly answered, “Communication.” Having worked in professional settings with varying levels of communication, I couldn’t agree more with her statement. Communication is essential but it must also be effective for the organization. I worked for a smaller organization that had had monthly lunch meetings where all levels, from the administrative staff to the CEO, went around the room and shared a project they were working on. It was successful because it showed employees that their responsibilities were of importance to the overall achievement of the company. Being aware of what is happening within your organization is important even if it doesn’t directly apply to your work portfolio. Having learned specific details on a project at one of the lunch meetings allowed me to assist a co-worker at a later time by sharing an appropriate piece of … [Read more...]

Decisions, Decisions: What Type of Decision Maker are you?

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Based on William Coscarelli’s “The Decision-Making Style Inventory.” Do you ever lay awake at night tossing and turning – lamenting about a decision you have to make? We all have preferred decision making (or problem solving) styles that impact how we approach problems. Appreciating our preferred styles (that self-awareness piece) enables us to rely on our personal characteristics to give us confidence in making a decision. So here’s the deal, there are 2 angles we all approach decision making from: The first is how we gather information and second is how we analyze information. Which statements describe you? Gathering Information Once I have enough information, I’ll decide.(Systematic Decision-Maker) I’ll decide soon enough –the answer will just come to me.(Spontaneous Decision-Maker) Analyzing Information Leave me alone, while I think this through.(Internal Thinker/Processor) Let’s talk about this; Help me think it through.(Auditory … [Read more...]

What’s in a Boss?

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Happy New Year! It’s that time of year when we bundle up, try to keep our resolutions – and when many people look for a new job. When job searching, we usually consider the location and commute time, the salary, and the responsibilities of the job. But while we’re considering whether the job is a good fit, we may not be considering whether the boss for that job will also be a good fit. Can we work well together? Ask any of your family members, friends or coworkers – have you had a terrible boss? Everyone will have an answer, plus a fair number of cringe-worthy (if not outright disturbing) stories! I’ve certainly had my fair share of both good and bad bosses. And I’ve learned a lot from both the good and the bad ones – I’ve learned seemingly effortless leadership requires a lot of effort, I’ve learned what I don’t want in a boss, and I’ve learned how to be a better boss myself. The top traits that my good bosses have been very good at (and the bad ones exceedingly bad at!) … [Read more...]

These Girls Are On Fire: Five Keys to Being Part of the Sisterhood of Success

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The Sisterhood of Success was alive and well at the University of Mary Washington’s Women’s Leadership Colloquium this past fall. Business and community leaders filled the ballroom to learn how to become even better, even stronger and – best yet – how to support each other as individuals and as a community. Step one in the concept of the Sisterhood of Success implies concepts of togetherness. We discussed role models, and mentoring, and how to channel that to achieve our potential. Also discussed was the right and wrong way to mentor. Here are five summary tips and to-dos to kick off your goal-setting and mentoring. Mentoring with teeth. One of the first concepts discussed was mentoring with teeth. Is mentoring, for you, a variation of coffee talk? Or, do you have objectives in the back of your mind to help move your mentee – or yourself – up to the next level? This is one way to make sure you are mentoring the right way. To do: Be a go getter. Remember that self-seeking … [Read more...]

Resolve to Find Your Joy

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Many of us spend countless hours working at the job we were hired to do, only to continue the work once we get home. We are often giving of our time to others: bosses, co-workers, children, spouses, and parents, but find little time for ourselves. With a new year shining brightly before us, the promise of finding more time to exercise, relax with friends, shop, read, or just sleep a little longer, may seem like a pipe dream. With a little effort though, 2015 could be the year you realize and live your personal work/life balance. When I took on the task of marketing a brand new hospital in 2010, I found myself working over 80 hours per week. I was there nearly every day because there was so much to do. The stress was masked by the exhilaration and excitement that my colleagues generated during the months before and after the opening. Everything we did was a first: first baby, first surgery, first 100 ER patients: the list goes on and on. My job was to report all these “firsts” as … [Read more...]

Coworkers Will Be Watching you at Office Parties

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IF IT’s December, it must be time for holiday parties. If you are quite the social animal, you probably have been or will be invited to numerous gatherings in upcoming weeks. Parties are fun, but there’s one key thing we need to remember: A party with the people you work with is still work. Say what? Yes. A work party means your company or nonprofit is footing the bill to spread goodwill and holiday cheer. So you get a date, and a holiday party is probably not the best venue for a first date! Your date needs to understand all of the “rules” below as well. Your co-workers consider your date as an extension of you. You get a baby sitter, if needed, and buy a sparkly outfit (if you’re a woman) or clean your suit or decide what fun sweater you will wear. Then off you go to the party place, and it’s generally not where you toil daily. You may see this as a night of revelry and fun, but remember that people are watching. And by watching, I mean judging. Their first … [Read more...]

Holiday Button Reduction Program

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Growing up, I absolutely loved to put three little "red hots" on my gingerbread men before I baked them. They were buttons, of course.  One sat centered just between the others, simulating a perfect gingerbread man's jacket or gingerbread lady's dress. Now, "red hot buttons" have a whole new meaning. In the iPEC coaching world, we teach our clients about buttons and how "People can't push your buttons if there's no button for them to push." Eyes light up when we share these words. YES! It makes so much sense. Now, what can we do about it? First, it helps to get real. Everybody has buttons. For some, the buttons are big and for others they are small. For some it's the "I'm not smart enough" button. For others, it's "I'm a fraud". At holiday time, the rush and stress, not to the mention the reunion with certain family members, can result in an excess of button pushing. And, the bigger the buttons, the easier they are easier for others to push. Our past experiences, … [Read more...]

Susan’s Top 5 Etiquette Tips

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Susan’s 5 Top Etiquette Thoughts on Common Courtesies That Seem to Have Gone by the Way Side In today’s world of texting and self-absorption, we have, as a community, lost much of our civility. I don’t live in a Pollyanna world of wishing it were the 50’s again…but I do wonder why some very common courtesies have gone by the wayside. I am not a credentialed authority on etiquette but I have spent much of my life responsible for ensuring etiquette of events while following the proper protocol. The manners appropriate for the European Courts came to be called “courtly” manners or “courtesy.” We have been working on these for a long time! My top 5 Etiquette Thoughts are really just common courtesies that should be, in my humble opinion, followed to the letter. It is very difficult to pare down to five thoughts but I believe these are the items that everyone deals with often and that will annoy others if not followed. Take a moment to stop and think about these in context to your … [Read more...]