Monday, March 18, 2013

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Heather Broeder

“It is more important to be right with others, than to be right.” 
- Heather Broeder.

Name: Heather Broeder
Company: Wood Group Mustang
Current title: 
Global Engineering – Initiatives Manager
Favorite quote: God created the world out of nothing; so as long as we are nothing, he can make something out of us. (Martin Luther)

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?
It is more important to be right with others, than to be right. I work in a technical organization with extremely smart people. Unfortunately, many meetings result in frustration because too many people are determined to be right. There are multiple “right answers”; what’s best? How can we collaborate? If we demand to be right, we can harm a relationship or slow down the process of building trust. Be willing to lay aside your “rightness” for the sake of developing a relationship. Note – do not compromise safety or ethics – these areas are exceptions!

“There is little reward in a completed to-do list or plan if you didn’t influence people along the way, leaving a positive mark and giving others a chance to grow.”

What is your leadership style? 
Servant leadership is essential for finding satisfaction and fulfillment in your career. Servant leadership is leading by serving; it means putting the success of the team ahead of personal success and using your gifts to support and empower others in their endeavors.

Looking back over my 16 years with Wood Group Mustang, I have had many good examples of servant leadership to emulate. I would not have been given the opportunities and challenging assignments if I hadn’t embraced this leadership philosophy. It’s very easy to create a to-do list or a plan and then maniacally try to race through each task ; however, there is little reward in a completed to-do list or plan if you didn’t influence people along the way, leaving a positive mark and giving others a chance to grow.

What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?

I do enjoy (and rely on) reading leadership books by authors like John C. Maxwell, Kouzes and Posner, etc.
Also, I consider my informal mentors at work a strong resource for growth and development. These are people who will constructively point out better ways to communicate or collaborate and also supply enthusiasm and encouragement in the midst of challenges.

“Volunteer for everything that interests you.”

What are some top tips you can recommend to other women who want to be recognized as a high potential emerging leader?
Volunteer for everything that interests you. If you have passion around a topic, step up, raise your hand, and get involved. 

You can demonstrate so many essential skills (organization, communication, negotiation, planning, writing, etc.) by way of this type of extracurricular involvement. Don’t wait for someone to ask you to do something; start meeting needs that you see in your organization. Should someone organize a new hire orientation? Is there a need for a mentoring program? Are you bothered that there’s no recycling program in place? Take the initiative; communicate; involve others; give credit; accept responsibility; celebrate success.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dealing with Difficult Conversations at Work: The Dos and Don'ts

Did you notice? The title of this article is not “Dealing with difficult people”. 

Betty Chan-Bauza explains: “Sometimes, the hardest conversations aren't with people we would consider ‘difficult.’ They're with people who like you and respect you, who mean a lot to you”.

Chan-Bauza, who was speaking as a panelist on our webinar regarding difficult conversations, started out her career as an industrial engineering major. Somewhere along the path to becoming a VP of Product Management she discovered that transparent communication could be a powerful productivity tool. Now she helps organizations move beyond the stalemates and silos that stifle productivity by fearlessly stepping into coaching the teams and individuals she works with.

Chan-Bauza admits that dealing with difficult conversations can be scary, and that for many people, the prospect of having to have one of these conversations can trigger a fight-or-flight response. “Predominantly, people will take the flight method,” she observed. “But this skill is second only to public speaking as a critical workplace skill, especially for managers.”

Does conflict have to push people apart?
Our other panelist, Erin Chapple, is a Group Program Manager with Microsoft, where she and her team deliver cloud infrastructure based on Windows Server. According to Chapple, “Dealing with difficult conversations is not something to be feared but something to have in your tool belt.” Chapple, whose bachelors degree is in electrical engineering, developed an advanced set of organizational coaching and consulting tools through her MA in Applied Behavior Science.

“In the workplace, relationships are key to getting things done,” she asserted. “We often think conflict and differences push people apart, but in reality these conversations can do a lot to strengthen relationships. When I look back on my career and I think about what has helped me be successful, a lot of times, it's the relationships that I have and the people that I know.”

Chapple has observed colleagues becoming very intimidated by difficult conversations. “They think it's going to hurt the relationships they're trying to build or put distance between them and someone else,” she empathized. “But I've found that having the difficult conversation can be one of the greatest ways to bond with someone and get closer because you are listening to them and understanding them.”

Chan-Bauza agreed, adding “Through having these conversations, you actually gain cooperation, strengthen the relationship with the individual, and assist the company in achieving its goals.”

Work at it. It's a skill.

Chapple noted that people underestimate their ability to acquire this skill. “Oftentimes,” she said, “people say, ‘I'm not good at conflict’ or ‘I'd like to avoid conflict. I'd like to challenge both to say, ‘You know what, actually, we're all capable human beings. We can work at it.’ It's a skill.”

During the webinar, the speakers shared numerous personal anecdotes, covering scenarios that included difficult conversations with subordinates, peers, teams, leaders, a customer user group and even a boss’ boss’ boss. Here are the lessons they learned.

  • Disarm them with sincerity 
  • Build mutual respect by listening and learning 
  • It’s OK to take a break then re-engage 
  • Decide if it is more important to be respected than liked 
  • Take personal accountability to defuse a situation 
  • Be true to your beliefs, stating them sincerely and non-judgmentally 
  • Put yourself in others’ shoes and respond from that position 
  • Ensure people feel heard before moving forward

  • Don’t leave a difficult situation unaddressed 
  • Don’t expect instant gratification 
  • Don’t react, take time to think/plan your response 
  • Don’t assume they have ill intentions

Use conflict as an opportunity
As a closing thought, Erin Chapple encouraged her audience to appreciate what can be gained when they stop avoiding difficult conversations. “Don't walk away from it; lean in. Use conflict as an opportunity to practice your skills. I guarantee that if you can get good at this, the relationships that you'll build and the impact you can have will improve.”

Or as Betty Chan-Bauza succinctly put it, “Practice makes perfect!” 

Jo Miller interviewed Betty Chan Bauza and Erin Chapple in Dealing with Difficult Conversations, part of the Emerging Women Leaders Webinar Series.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

From the Article Archive: How to Hone the Skill of Promoting Accomplishments

Question: Men appear to be better at promoting their accomplishments in the corporate world. How do women effectively hone this skill?
Michelle Johnston Holthaus, General Manager of Channel Platforms and Strategy with Intel in Portland, Oregon, has spent countless hours mentoring women employees at Intel and supporting their career development.

One of her favorite topics to address (both in mentoring conversations and as a keynote speaker) is how to advance your career while remaining true to yourself. “I will grow in my career, but not at the expense of who I am. Johnston Holthaus told participants when she appeared as guest speaker in our Emerging Leader Webinar Series in February 2011.

During the webinar, one participant offered her observation that men seem to be better at promoting their accomplishments, and asked, “How do women effectively hone this skill?”

Johnston Holthaus responded, “There are varying ways to go about this,” pointing out that the approach should vary depending on a person’s work environment and their personal comfort level. She went on to list four approaches to consider:

1)     Start with baby steps.
Relate accomplishments to the context of a project and/or business goal.

2)     Write regular status reports on your accomplishments.
This could be a first step in telling your manager what you are doing well. Consider creating a weekly top two list, which can be personal or team oriented.

3)     Be vocal about your team’s accomplishments.
You are then talking about a group versus yourself. This is a good way to hone your delivery, style, and approach.

4)     Practice with your mentor.
Do some role modeling of scenarios and if possible have them observe your delivery. I would recommend against asking peers or people in the meeting for feedback (unless they are your mentor) because this will be perceived as a lack of confidence and questioning yourself.

Above all, Johnston Holthaus’ top tip for a successful career is “Be yourself. If you don’t bring ‘you’ to the workplace, there is less likelihood that you’re going to be passionate, successful, driven, and motivated.”

Michelle Johnston Holthaus  was a guest speaker in the webinar, Advancing Authentically, part of the Emerging Women Leaders Webinar Series.
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