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Moving Forward – Meaningful Changes From the Pandemic

In March 2020, we all watched as the world was put on “hold”. “Stay at home” orders were put into place, remote working became the new reality, and we all were forced to make adjustments in order to cope with the growing pandemic. Fast forward to today, and there seems to be a possibility of reclaiming some of the past that we considered “normal”. As vaccinations roll out across the world and countries start to relax restrictions, it provides us an opportunity to reflect on the past year and all of the changes that came with it. 

The Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, launched The World After Coronavirus Video Series, featuring more than 100 interviews with leading experts and practitioners across the world, exploring the challenges and opportunities we will face in our post-coronavirus future.

As stated by Marina Khidekel at Thrive Global, “Amidst all the disruption that we’ve experienced from the COVID-19 pandemic, this time has offered us small silver linings and insights and habits that we’ll carry with us into the future.” 

What do we want to bring forward? What do we want to leave behind? And what do we want to reclaim from our life pre-COVID?

Many people adopted new hobbies and rituals into their routines during the pandemic, some of which will continue as we begin to transition into a post-COVID world. What are some things that you began doing during COVID that you hope to continue post-pandemic? Below are some meaningful rituals to consider bringing forward.

Staying connected and maintaining relationships.

We have all found new ways to stay socially-connected to one another, even when physically distanced. This pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of maintaining relationships, even when miles apart. 

Incorporating “me” time into my daily routine.

For many, the line between work/life balance has become blurred due to remote working. With constant pressure to feel like you need to be “on the clock”, it’s important to schedule “me” time in the day to focus on yourself and your wellbeing. Literally, schedule “me time” on your calendar!

Daily mindfulness practice.

The last year has been anything but normal, which can feel overwhelming at times. Incorporating daily mindfulness practice into your routine can help to clear your mind and prevent feelings of stress and uncertainty. This can be as simple as three deep breaths several times a day or writing down three items you have gratitude for daily.

What rituals are you bringing forward? And what do you want to leave behind?

It is Never Too Early to Develop Your Leadership Skills

There is so much literature about leadership development in the professional space, whether it is the corporate or social sector. However, leadership development begins as soon as children have the capability to experience self-awareness.  Children begin their leadership journey when they learn how to share, to communicate appreciation, and to talk about their dreams.  These experiences … Continue reading “It is Never Too Early to Develop Your Leadership Skills”

There is so much literature about leadership development in the professional space, whether it is the corporate or social sector. However, leadership development begins as soon as children have the capability to experience self-awareness.  Children begin their leadership journey when they learn how to share, to communicate appreciation, and to talk about their dreams.  These experiences are all building blocks of leadership.

One of my current clients, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) believes at its core that it is never too early to develop leadership skills.  The mission of NSBE is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.  NSBE is a student-governed national organization committed to youth leadership development for more than 40 years.

Vista Global has been working with NSBE to design and implement a comprehensive leadership development curriculum that builds students’ competencies.  Several of those competencies focus on defining and understanding yourself as a leader. The first phase of any leadership program is examining your own leadership talents and skills. You have to know yourself before you can bring out the best in others.

Vista Global relies on the field’s best methodologies and tools to help clients strengthen their leadership skills, including the framework of The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.  This framework is effective because it was developed by conducting thousands of interviews of ordinary managers talking about a personal best experience when they had extraordinary results. Through these interviews and surveys, the researchers arrived at Five Practices that were universally demonstrated by these leaders. The Five Practices include:

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

This framework is one of the few resources that has a customized design for student leaders, including a 360 Student Leadership Practice Inventory  (SLPI) assessment tool.  It evaluates 30 specific behaviors (6 for each practice).  It is a clear and concise way to determine how well a leader demonstrates a Practice.  The 360 degree aspect of the assessment includes observers that have seen the leader in action and can offer their perspective on the frequency of demonstration of behaviors.

This last weekend, I met with 80 members of the NSBE Collegiate leadership to review their individual results from the SLPI and start the process of developing a leadership action plan.  Each student determined one specific behavior to work on over the next month and identified an accountability partner to provide support and encouragement.

Leadership development is a lifelong journey and the NSBE leaders have a jump start on many leaders in the work force! If you are interested in learning more about The Leadership Challenge or 360 assessments, contact Mary today.

Creating the Environment: Moving from Distrust to Trust

This is the third in a blog series about the course on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser. The third module called, “Aspiring Conversations” explores the neurochemistry of aspirations and how different conversations activate chemicals that either open or close the space for aspirations to grow. A recent Harvard Business Review article by Paul Zak, “The … Continue reading “Creating the Environment: Moving from Distrust to Trust”

This is the third in a blog series about the course on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser.

The third module called, “Aspiring Conversations” explores the neurochemistry of aspirations and how different conversations activate chemicals that either open or close the space for aspirations to grow.

A recent Harvard Business Review article by Paul Zak, “The Neuroscience of Trust” states that employees in high-trust cultures have 100% more energy at work, 76% more engagement, and are 50% more productivity. Zak identifies eight management behaviors that foster trust. One of those behaviors is “intentionally building relationships.”

Meetings Designed to Build Trust

One way to intentionally build relationships is the design of meetings. You can shift the outcome of a meeting by starting with a trust-building activity. This will slow down the primitive (fear-based brain) and allow other parts of the brain to actively engage and shift toward a belief that this will be a good experience.

“Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” — Laozi

I have seen many meetings start with “ground rules”. The “do’s and don’ts” checklists do not activate the prefrontal cortex-heart brain connection where we have our whole mind, heart, and body invested in the outcome of the meeting.

The heart brain is the most basic of our hardwiring. It enables us to connect to others. We are either in sync or out of sync with others. If we are in sync, we move towards the person as friends. If we are out of sync, we feel hesitation and move away, feeling the person may be a foe.

The prefrontal cortex is the youngest bring, often called the “Executive Brain”. It provides us with the ability to see the future, create scenarios, and have empathy.

How do we engage the prefrontal cortex and heart brains?

Start meetings not with “Ground Rules” but “Group Agreements”. Rules close down the brain for some people. If they see “rules” as stifling, just using that word may have them begin the meeting already in a state of opposition. Agreements create a framework for a social contract, which brings people together.

Group Agreements Move toward Trust

To begin the exploration, ask everyone to identify one practice or behavior that would give this meeting the best outcome. What do we usually hear? “Respect other’s opinions.” “Be open to other ideas”.

Here is where this approach is different… when someone using one of those frequently offered words, as a facilitator, use a skill called “double-click”. Just like a computer folder, to open up to deeper meaning, you double-click. Saying something like, “When you say ‘respect’, what does that mean for you?” This helps get to the core essence of what is important for that person.

Make sure you hear from everyone in the room. If someone is quiet, reach out to them and ask, “What behaviors are important to you?” You want everyone’s voice and therefore brain activated, moving toward the prefrontal cortex-heart connection.

Here is another important distinction from ground rules. Once you have your list, ask people to identify how they can give feedback if a group member is not honoring the agreements. This helps give agency and ownership to the team to be transparent, and supportive to guide the behaviors, that they agreed will create the successful outcomes for the meeting.

When you create group agreements using double-clicking and establish collective ownership for monitoring the practice of those agreements, your meeting is primed with the level of trust in the environment that fosters a culture of aspiration. Anything is possible!

Stay tuned for more tips to have meaningful conversations that transform leaders and organizations.

This is the third in a blog series. Read the first blog at “Listening to Connect” and the second blog at “What We Can Learn from our Worst Conversations.”

 

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel via Shutterstock.

Academy Update: Upcoming Webcast and Live Chat

Vista Leadership Academy, a new Vista Global Coaching & Consulting program, invites you to join founder Mary Stelletello and Academy Class of 2016 Alum Cristina Manfre for a special webcast and live chat Tuesday, May 2, 2017 , from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT. Get your sneak peek into the Academy and learn how the … Continue reading “Academy Update: Upcoming Webcast and Live Chat”

Vista Leadership Academy, a new Vista Global Coaching & Consulting program, invites you to join founder Mary Stelletello and Academy Class of 2016 Alum Cristina Manfre for a special webcast and live chat Tuesday, May 2, 2017 , from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT.

Get your sneak peek into the Academy and learn how the program’s unique design can help you!

You’ll hear Alum Cristina share her transformative journey through the Academy’s online classes, individual coaching sessions, and immersive retreat in Oaxaca, Mexico.  Mary will describe the core values and career insights that led her to found the Academy.

Please note: Space is limited. The number of registrations will be kept small to help ensure everyone can participate in the live chat Q&A. Don’t miss your chance to ask Mary and Cristina if the Academy is right for you!

Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico

 

Are you ready to take the lead in your work and life? Applications for the Class of 2017 are being accepted through May 15, 2017. Learn more about our application requirements and register for the webcast.

What We Can Learn from Our Worst Conversations

Judith Glaser’s 7-month course on Conversational Intelligence offers new and improved methodologies for effective communication that you can apply to both work and life situations. “Conversations are the social rituals that hold us together, the fabric of culture and society.” — Judith E. Glaser The course section on “Humanizing Conversations” explores how to down-regulate the … Continue reading “What We Can Learn from Our Worst Conversations”

Judith Glaser’s 7-month course on Conversational Intelligence offers new and improved methodologies for effective communication that you can apply to both work and life situations.

“Conversations are the social rituals that hold us together, the fabric of culture and society.”
— Judith E. Glaser

The course section on “Humanizing Conversations” explores how to down-regulate the behaviors that create distrust and up-regulate behaviors that build trust. No matter what we do in our professional lives, trust is the most important element in achieving extraordinary results. Trust is something that I have explored over the last 15 years through leadership development work. I always believed that listening was the most powerful skill to build trust.

Humanizing Conversations
Conversational Intelligence takes the skill of listening, a step further by providing more texture to “listening.”  Glaser uses the concept, “deconstructing conversation” which looks back to look forward. Examine a conversation after the fact to garner new insights. In the first few moments of contact in a conversation, our brain will determine whether to trust the other person. If that impact “feels good,” we will move in the direction of opening up to more interactions. If that impact “feels bad,” we will close down and move into protective mode.

In the deconstruction process, here are a few questions for exploration and learning.

  • Was either person addicted to being right?
  • Did you experience the “Tell-Sell-Yell” syndrome? (Tell them once, try to sell them why you are right, then yell!)
  • Did you ask questions that you already knew the answers to?

If you said YES to any of these questions, you were operating from the primitive brain (amygdala) pumping cortisol, keeping you in a protected distrust state.

So how do you shift from this part of the brain that is being triggered by threatening behaviors? The very first step is to recognize the neurological response and find ways to head off the fears. Understand where the fears may be coming from, work backward to find a solution.

How do we sideline these signals from the amygdala?

  • Notice how we react to threats (fight, flight, freeze, appease)
  • Acknowledge this reaction
  • Notice if we always choose the same reaction and how much the threat impacts us
  • Choose an alternative way to react in the moment (mindfulness techniques: breath in, breath out, express how you are feeling)
  •  Become more aware of our responses and realize we can override our emotions and shift to other responses
  • Ultimately transform fear into trust

Stay tuned for more tips to have meaningful conversations that transform leaders and organizations!

This is the second in a blog series. Read the first blog at “Listening to Connect.”

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel via Shutterstock.

Listening to Connect: Neuroscience, Coaching, and Conversational Intelligence

As a credentialed coach, it’s important to stay educated on new and improved methodologies that resonate with clients. Recently, I began a 7-month course on Conversational Intelligence, (also known as C-IQ) facilitated by Judith E. Glaser. The curriculum explores how parts of the brain influence the outcome of conversations. Just two weeks in, I can … Continue reading “Listening to Connect: Neuroscience, Coaching, and Conversational Intelligence”

As a credentialed coach, it’s important to stay educated on new and improved methodologies that resonate with clients. Recently, I began a 7-month course on Conversational Intelligence, (also known as C-IQ) facilitated by Judith E. Glaser.

The curriculum explores how parts of the brain influence the outcome of conversations. Just two weeks in, I can already tell how valuable this will be for my clients.  As a coach, I recognize that if clients are in fight/flight mode, it is very difficult for them to find solutions to any problems. Now I have language and context for why.

Harnessing Your Executive Brain

When we are in flight/flight mode, we are operating from our primitive brain, generating cortisol that shuts down our ability to be creative, strategic and engaged. So where do we want to operate from and how do we get there?

The prefrontal cortex (the area of the third eye) is called the executive brain. If an interaction feels safe, we produce oxytocin, which allows us to relax and create a state of trust. This gives us access to empathy, strategic thinking and innovation. When we are able to operate from this place in the brain, we begin to see opportunities for co-creating solutions together.

Listening to Connect

We move from protecting our own self-interest to creating a “WE-centric” way. The first step is: listen to connect. This is not a concept gaining traction just in the coaching field. There has been research published in Harvard Business Review on the power of connecting first.

In Judith’s words, “Everything happens through conversation. Coaches hold the key for transformation of humanity.”

Helping You Get to the Next Level

As we move through the modules, I will share some key “ah-has” and will incorporate these tools into my new coaching offerings that will roll out in Spring 2017. Stay tuned for more tips to have meaningful conversations that transform leaders and organizations.

Interested in coaching? Learn about the coaching process and more!

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel via Shutterstock.

Nonprofits on the Move with Mergers

Too often discussions around nonprofit partnerships and mergers focus on the financial drivers. For example, one nonprofit may be in crisis and rather than shutter operations, it seeks to form a new organizational structure with another, more financially robust organization. But there is another important reason nonprofit leaders should consider exploring partnerships: mission impact. This … Continue reading “Nonprofits on the Move with Mergers”

Too often discussions around nonprofit partnerships and mergers focus on the financial drivers. For example, one nonprofit may be in crisis and rather than shutter operations, it seeks to form a new organizational structure with another, more financially robust organization.

But there is another important reason nonprofit leaders should consider exploring partnerships: mission impact. This plays out in a variety of ways.  If you are successful in achieving your mission, then it stands to reason that over time, your mission may need to evolve. Or perhaps your client population has shifted dramatically with the region’s changing demographics? Or better still, what if the social problem your organization originally formed to address dramatically improved or changed?

Lessons from San Francisco and Beyond

Such pivots are currently apparent in the nonprofit subsector of HIV/AIDS-related services. Many nonprofits, founded 30 years ago, focused on an acute public health crisis impacting a smaller demographic segment of the population. But over the decades, as new drug treatment modalities became available and as the disease spread across other demographic segments, the service models and organizations had to adapt to the chronic, long-term needs associated with supporting HIV positive clients.

This summer, the San Francisco Chronicle and Nonprofit Quarterly reported how “Clients have gone from young men who were dying at 25 to older patients who, at 55, are still living. Currently, more than half of the people with HIV in San Francisco are 50 or older. Improved safer sex practices and advances in drug therapies and medical treatments have shrunk the client base dramatically; some agencies serve half the number they did in the mid-1990s.”

These trends have led some nonprofits to shift focus. For example, food services for clients have evolved to serve healthier food for those also living with diabetes and heart disease. Other nonprofits have merged together to provide a range of services around housing, mental health, or substance abuse prevention, in addition to HIV/AIDS-related support.

The need for HIV/AIDS nonprofits to refocus their operations has not been limited to the San Francisco Bay Area. New partnership models, collaborations, and mergers have taken place throughout the U.S. For example, Vista Global supported the cultural integration process for the merger of the AIDS Network and AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

Photo: AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW). Grand Opening of new Medical Home. June, 2016.
Photo: AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW). Grand Opening of new Medical Home. June, 2016.

Exploring the Implications for Other Sectors

The rapid changes in the HIV/AIDS-related space offer lessons that can be applied across sectors. For example, to survive the wake of the Great Recession, arts nonprofits explored a range of collaborations.  City government agencies are considering mergers as well, as highlighted by the recent merger of the offices of Homelessness and Welfare for New York City.

With the fallout from the U.S. housing crisis, social service nonprofits also have to pivot as the face of the homeless population changes. Currently, Vista Global is working with four nonprofits serving the homeless population to explore program collaboration and merger options.

Are the leaders of your nonprofit considering a program collaboration or merger? Share your story in the comments section below or contact Mary today to learn more.