Dec 16

Working Mom Interview – Tara Cox

Working Mom Tara Cox is a mother of two and an associate professor of marine sciences.  She is married to Mark Grant, a civil engineer, and they live in Bloomingdale, Georgia.

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Tara Cox

1. Do you stay at home, work at home, or work-outside the home?

I work outside the home – I am an Associate Professor of Marine Sciences at Savannah State University in Savannah, GA.

2. How many kids do you have? 

2: Alden (AJ) – 9 year old in 3rd grade and Maggie – 7 year old in 2nd grade

3. What’s your go-to dinner during the week? Do you care to share a recipe?

Hmmmmm.  All things crockpot.  I also make a Baked Ziti – saute Italian sausage in a skillet.  Combine with a jar of pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, red wine, and Italian seasonings. Split in half and combine each half with cooked pasta (usually ziti). In a pot that can go in the oven, start layering: one layer of the pasta mixture then cheese (either provolone or mozzarella), then pasta mixture, then cheese.  Put in oven at ~350 for ~20 minutes until the cheese is melted.

4. What are your best tips for staying sane?

Sanity….sanity…. sanity…?  Not sure what that word means. Honestly, I don’t know that I am sane.  I let the house go (cleaning-wise) a bit too much.  Then, it drives me to the brink, and I clean just enough to not be so angry.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  I think I am like most moms/parents – I muddle through and hope and pray that a) love will be enough and b) I am not doing too much long-term harm to my kids.  I am sure this question was geared towards more practical hints (e.g., crockpot, cleaning house, etc.), but my life is so chaotic, that I have none of those!

5. What are your favorite tools for time/household management?

See #4 above.  I don’t manage the household very well.  My husband is working really hard on getting the kids involved more in chores – AJ has to take the trash out at least twice a week now.  If I were a better mother, I would have had both kids involved more and earlier.

My favorite tool for meals is the crockpot.  The only challenge is cleaning it…

6. Do you have pets?  If so, what kind?

No.  Sadly, our chaos is not conducive to pets.  I grew up with dogs, and always assumed we would have them.  But, Mark and I are not home enough to have a pet.  We do have an outdoor, stray cat that has adopted us.  But, I am deathly allergic to cats, so the kids feed her.

7. What are your hobbies? 

I used to run, but ever since a half marathon 2 years ago, my feet and legs have been destroyed.  I would LOVE to get back into triathlons (which I did in my grad school days), but there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

I love to read, and now that the kids are older and can read more on their own, I look forward to getting even more into reading.

All things sports – watching them, but now, watching my kids in them.  I used to coach them, but they are now beyond my coaching abilities, so now, just watching them.

8. What’s on your bucket list?

Going to the Serengeti for the great migration.

9. If you work, what do you do?  How did you decide?

I am a professor and a marine biologist. I was good at science and thought I was going to go to med school.  During my junior year of college, I wanted to study abroad, but I also needed a lot of Biology credits.  So, I did the School for Field Studies in Baja, Mexico. Absolutely changed my life.  Besides being with the most amazing group of people who really helped me to embrace who I really am, I also found out I could be good at science and spend my days on the water.  I have always felt a little guilty, because I was not the person who said I wanted to be a marine biologist all my life; I kind of just fell into it.

10. If you work, what’s the most rewarding part about it?

So many parts – 1) being on the water, 2) discovering new things; asking (and trying to answer) questions; and 3) seeing a student’s face change when they “get it”.

11. If you could choose any career, what would it be?

NICU nurse.  Before I wanted to be a marine biologist, I wanted to be a neonatologist.  Now that I have the perspective of many years, I realize that my true passion could have been nursing.

12. If you could tell your younger self something, what would it be?

Ask more questions. I realized I could have caused a whole lot of people (including myself) a lot less work if I had just spoken up earlier and asked those critical questions earlier. 

And the corollary, don’t hide from ugliness or scariness. Meet it head-on. It will only get uglier/scarier the longer you bury it.

Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/working-mom-interview-tara-cox/

Dec 10

Painful Lessons in Entrepreneurship

 

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Painful Lessons in Entrepreneurship

I’ve been in business long enough to have made some pretty spectacular mistakes.
And I’ve also gotten some things very right.

Here Are 3 of My Most Painful Lessons in Entrepreneurship:

 

  1. Not getting an office early.  We have a team that is all over the area.  Lesson Learned now:  Get the office early, and you can keep people accountable. Working from home sounds lovely. If you’re a boss, it’s not so great, because in practice, it gets abused.  I’ve seen plenty of evidence of people saying that they are being super productive, but when you look at what they actually accomplish, it is nowhere near what it should be.
  2. Failing to Get an Advisor. Lesson Learned: Get an advisor, and miss some pitfalls. Sure I have an MBA. And I have experience. A lot of experience. But an objective set of eyes is an amazing thing. I should have listened to my advisor on a few things much sooner than I did.
  3. Being too nice.  I’m not saying to be a real bitch. But sometimes people have taken advantage of the fact that I’m nice. Whether it’s taking time off from work, or not quite being as accountable as they should be, I’ve seen a few instances of this.  Lesson Learned: Draw the line, and call people on it when they cross it.

I’m also working through some other painful lessons, and the consequences right now. I’ll post those at a later date. But let’s just say, I should have known better, and I thought I could be nice and generous this time. It bit me in the ass, and continues to.

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/painful-lessons-entrepreneurship/

Dec 04

Self-Nourishment Lesson #1: Establish Routines

Fotolia 56616200 XS 300x236 Self Nourishment Lesson #1: Establish Routines

Do you feel you have more to do than you can possibly complete each day?

For most women, there’s so much to accomplish every day. As much as women do manage to squeeze into a 24-hour day, they could be considered Super Women. But even a “Super Woman” needs fuel, nourishment and care. Otherwise, “Super Woman” will run out of steam and become “Wiped-out Woman”.

Don’t let yourself get so run down that you’re in a perpetual state of exhaustion. Instead, set yourself up for success by taking care of yourself and getting the nourishment you need.

There are many ways in which women need to self-nourish. This is first in a series of posts in which I’ll focus on various lessons of self-nourishment you should be practicing on a daily basis.

Self-Nourishment Lesson #1: Establish Bedtime Routines

Take time to wind down, organize and settle yourself at the end of each day. As the family role model, this should encourage the rest of your family to follow your lead, with the added benefit of reinforcing your kids’ bedtime routine.

  1. Check your calendar for the next day. Plan for your appointments. Organize and prepare yourself.
  2. Tidy up the kitchen, plan your meals and set up breakfast .
  3. Set aside your outfit for the next day. You don’t want to be rushed the next morning trying to figure out what to wear. You may even want to do this on a weekly basis rather than daily.
  4. Shut off ALL electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime. That goes for everybody in the family. Devices should not be kept in the bedroom at night. If you generally have a hard time sleeping, your phone could be the culprit.
  5. Brush your teeth and use a tongue scraper. Tongue scraping is just as important as brushing your teeth.
  6. Fill out your daily Gratitude Journal. Keeping a Gratitude Journal will help you focus on the positive things in your life.
  7. Clear your mind from the day’s events, and read your favorite fiction as you settle in to bed.
  8. Set a regular time for retiring for the day. By keeping to a regular bed time, you are prioritizing sleep. And after a good night’s sleep, you should be refreshed and ready to conquer the day!

When you have more control of your schedule, you’ll find you have more time to complete your tasks. By nourishing yourself, you’ll feel better, sleep better and accomplish more. As you follow, and stick to, regular bedtime routines, you’ll set the tone for success the next day.

Every Super Woman needs nourishment.

Meet Coach Susan

Photo  Susan McGuire Self Nourishment Lesson #1: Establish Routines

Coach Susan

If you’re ready, willing and motivated to take charge of your health and transform your life, then contact Coach Susan for a Complimentary Breakthrough Session.

As a Holistic Health Coach and Lifestyle Guide, Susan takes a practical, comprehensive and personalized approach as she supports and empowers her clients to achieve their health and lifestyles goals. Coach Susan meets her clients where they are, and works with them to find the right combination of positive lifestyle and behavioral changes that they can implement with lasting results.

To take the next step towards achieving your health goals, schedule your complimentary Breakthrough Session with Coach Susan:

Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/self-nourishment-lesson-1-establish-routines/

Dec 03

Levity in the Workplace: Relief or Source of Stress?

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Is Levity in the workplace a source of relief or a source of stress?

The answer depends on the intent and appropriateness of the humor being displayed.

Work can be terribly stressful. With the long hours, constant demands, task juggling, endless meetings, ever-decreasing raises, difficult co-workers, unfulfilling or unappreciated work, physical strains, and low morale in the office, it’s no wonder stress abounds. Some people are fortunate enough to be able to leave for something more fulfilling. Others are not. So what to do?

One simple but extremely effective tack for stress relief is laughter and humor. Who doesn’t like to laugh?

It can be challenging to show your sense of humor in a stressful environment, but it can be done. As much as we might want to joke around or tease one another, work has to get done. And we still need to act in a professional manner.

The key is to exhibit an appropriate combination of professionalism and humor. But what is an appropriate amount of humor? When? Where? How?

It’s interesting how certain people who come in and out of our lives can make such an indelible impression. One such person I first met almost 30 years ago. Her name was Karen. It was early in my career, and I was one of the youngest in our office. Karen was only about 5 years older, if I remember correctly, but she was much more polished in the work place. She was probably one of the most professional people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. I even followed her to her next place of employment. Actually, it was her highly respected recommendation that got me the interview. BUT… she also had a great sense of humor. And she knew how to use that humor to lighten the mood, make her co-workers feel at ease, diffuse tense situations, and to just have a good time while still getting her work completed. It struck me then just how important this fine balance was.

On the other hand, I’ve had the displeasure of working with certain individuals who, though they considered themselves to be the next great comedian, just didn’t know when to exhibit levity or how to do so in an appropriate manner.

These are just a few of the ‘Bad Humor Types’ I’ve encountered
  • The Incessant Teaser – This is the guy who teases you and never lets up. To keep the peace, you laugh it off and hope to move on. But this guy just persists in carrying the “joke” way too far.
  • The Inappropriate Jokester - This guy tells dirty jokes, makes narrow-minded or bigoted comments, or makes fun of your co-workers in a mean-spirited way. He always thinks he’s funny, and doesn’t understand why you don’t.
  • The Repetitive, Redundant, Not-So-Clever Wisecracker — Some of his clever one-liners:
    • “Glad you got to see me” (This guy thought he was debonair and clever)
    • “It’s nice to meet me” (A politician, in my case. Wonder if that was a Freudian slip)
    • “Are you leaving work early again today?” (After putting in 9+ hours)
    • “Are you working hard or hardly working?” (This gets old real quick)
    • “Pull my finger” (Seriously?)

Have you ever encountered not-so-funny Jokesters like these? I’ve found the best way of dealing with these types is to acknowledge their attempt at humor… and move on as quickly as possible.

Some people either don’t have a sense of humor, or don’t know how to share it appropriately. However, it isn’t necessary to be the witty person at work. Just appreciate your co-workers attempt to lighten the mood. And laugh!

Laughter really is the best medicine. Don’t take yourself, or life, so seriously. Lighten up. Find the humor in everyday life. Have fun!

 

Photo  Susan McGuire Levity in the Workplace: Relief or Source of Stress?

Coach Susan

Meet Coach Susan

If you’re ready, willing and motivated to take charge of your health and transform your life, then contact Coach Susan for a Complimentary Breakthrough Session. 

As a Holistic Health Coach and Lifestyle Guide, Susan takes a practical, comprehensive and personalized approach as she supports and empowers her clients to achieve their health and lifestyles goals. Coach Susan meets her clients where they are, and works with them to find the right combination of positive lifestyle and behavioral changes that they can implement with lasting results.

To take the next step towards achieving your health goals, schedule your complimentary Breakthrough Session with Coach Susan:

 

Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/levity-workplace-relief-source-stress/

Nov 26

Are You a Believer?

Fotolia 51893139 XS 300x200 Are You a Believer?

Do you believe in what you’re doing?  Do you believe in your career?  In your business?  If the answer is “yes”, then great!  If the answer is “no”, then we need to have a serious heart to heart.  Seriously, talk to yourself.  In a quiet room, think about what you’re doing, and ask yourself if you believe in it.  Do you do it well?  Is it something you are passionate about?  Let’s be honest.  Working a job that you aren’t passionate about is just a job.  If you dislike it, then it can be a soul-sucking, joy-robbing pain.  Is that how you want to live your life?

Doing something that you believe in, and that fulfills you is important, because it makes it so much easier to get out of bed in the morning.  It is also much more likely that you’ll put a lot more effort into the job, and focus on doing that job well.  That in turn translates to improved performance, and better results at the end of the day.  I’ve felt that lift in my soul when I like what I’m doing, and also that darkness each day, as my soul dies a bit, when I haven’t liked my job nearly as much.

What if you’re only “so-so” about the job?  Well, that means that you’re less likely to go that extra mile on it.  You’re also not going to get as much about it, and focus on being your best at the job.  You’re not going to be able to problem solve, and generally function nearly as well if you’re working in a job that is a poor fit.  I’ve lived it, and been in those jobs where I suffered from analysis paralysis.  “Am I going to get in trouble for this?  Or this?” Worse yet, is that feeling of losing your soul to something that you don’t really believe in, and really don’t even enjoy doing.

Why would you spend your life doing something you don’t particularly care for or believe in, if you have a choice?  Believe it or not, we all have choices.  Make the choice to step away, and find something else that is a better fit.  What I found when I switched jobs was that I suddenly was much more able to spend endless hours devoted to my job.  I lay my head down at night, content with what I’ve done that day.

Can you say the same for your job/career?  Why don’t you try changing it?  What’s stopping you from making a change, and becoming a believer in what you do?

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/believer/

Nov 07

Leading Yourself

IMG 4655 300x300 Leading YourselfIt’s always easier to tell someone else to change than to take an uncomfortable moment to look at your own actions. Real leaders embrace those uncomfortable moments as opportunities to get to know themselves better.

A core element of leadership is to be self-aware – that is to know your strengths, weaknesses, blind spots and areas that you’d like to continue to develop. An effective leader knows she can’t do it all and has the confidence to delegate and ask for support. She also builds a team that compliments her weaknesses and is empowered to tell it to her straight when they think she is leading them down the wrong path.

 

Here are some questions that will help you get to know yourself better:

  • What would you be doing if no one was looking?
  • What do you not enjoy doing and have to do? Is this a work flow issue that can be delegated to someone more suited to the task?
  • Ask others what they think your strengths and weaknesses are and compare their answers with your answers. Do an honest assessment
  • Participate in activities you normally wouldn’t do to test your limits
  • Set yourself some stretch goals – these are goals that go slightly above your current skill level and see what kind of insights and experiences you gain from them
  • Take time for yourself to be with yourself. Drink a tea alone in a shop. Sit in a quiet place to contemplate. Keep a journal. Learn to keep yourself company

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/leading/

Nov 06

Women Face Unique Business Challenges

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The reality of being a woman in an entrepreneurial role is that women face unique business challenges.  Recent statistics show that women are CEOs of only 5% of Fortune 500 companies.  We make up only 5% of entrepreneurs, yet we make up just over 50% of the population.  I think that we could talk about why those statistics exist until the cows come home.  I’m more interested in helping women become entrepreneurs, and overcome the challenges that they face.

Many of the challenges that women face have very little to do with business itself, but rather more to do with things like having small children, a husband who may not be understanding, housekeeping duties, expectations of society and extended family, and more.  Business is the least of the problems.  In an era where women are into parenting as a sport, and competitions over who keeps the neatest house, it can be daunting to break the mould and be different.

Know that it can be done, and it has been done.  But you have to overcome many challenges, starting with those at home.  There are so many resources out there for women who want to be entrepreneurs.  There are even special financial opportunities for women who are getting into business, just to encourage us to pursue those opportunities.

So, what does that mean for you, and your situation?  There is help at hand.  Starting a business isn’t all about risk tolerance.  Rather, it’s about controlling your life, and your future.  You can control your actions, and with a bit of support, and some education, you should be able to manage your future.  You even get to improve your work-life balance, because it’s all you, all the time, and focusing on how to spend your energy can be incredibly liberating.  You may need to be present when the kids get off the bus in the afternoon, or to taxi kids around.  If you choose among your options carefully, then you can ensure that you will be present when your kids need you.  How cool is that?

Most people I know who own their own businesses will tell you that it really is a lot of work, but at the same time, it is liberating in other ways as well.  Do you have a business you’re interested in starting?

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Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/women-face-unique-business-challenges/

Nov 05

Entrepreneur Interview- Candi King

IMG 5827 1024x768 Entrepreneur Interview  Candi KingCandi King is a mom of four children, ranging in age from 9 to 14. She has worked with wood extensively, and makes a variety of different wood items, including puzzles, doll houses, and barns. She also sews, and makes reusable cloth gift bags.

  1. IMG 5812 150x150 Entrepreneur Interview  Candi KingWhat is your business/Business Name?  What does your business do?   I am co-owner of an ETSY shop called Wooden Ya Play. My mom and I make wooden toys and other crafts as well as eco-friendly reusable fabric gift bags.
  2. Why did you get into this field?  What opportunities did you see? My parents started a home business around 1990 when Dad retired and they moved to Oregon. The original business was called Wooden Ya Know. They made wooden toys, crafts and furniture and sold out of their home and at local craft shows. Now the business is called Wooden Ya Play and I thought ETSY would be a great way to sell the puzzles and other small toys Mom makes. I wanted her to be able to continue doing the woodworking she loves even when going to craft shows gets to be too much for her. I also want to be able to make and sell crafts from North Carolina.
  3. What have been your biggest challenges?  My biggest challenge is technology. Mom is great with the woodworking, but not so great with pictures or the computer. I knew I would be doing the online part, but I’ve been out of the computer field for so long now that I’m finding that I am also technologically challenged.
  4. What has been your greatest reward? I just started the business a couple of months ago, so I’m just proud that I was actually able to get products into my shop on ETSY.
  5. If you could change something, what would it be? If I could change something, it would be to increase (magically of course) my ability to promote Wooden Ya Play online.
  6. If you could give a new entrepreneur advice, what would it be? Don’t procrastinate, I’ve been thinking about doing this for about 2 years. I really could have done it much sooner, but I just didn’t get around to it until this fall.
  7. Social Media.  Yay or Nay? This is my weakest link. I need to use Social Media to let people know about Wooden Ya Play on ETSY, but I only know how to facebook and even that I mostly just read friends posts. I don’t want to spend time on Social Media as it takes time away from the many things I should be doing, but I need to learn more about it to promote my shop.
  8. How do you market your products? I have learned how to create a shop in ETSY and to add items. My next step is to learn to market my products. I hope to learn from friends who do use social media how to promote WoodenYaPlay, without overwhelming anyone with unwanted emails or endless pictures.
  9. Is your business a service or a product?  If you are a product, how do you handle production?   Mom and I produce wooden toys and crafts and I make fabric gift bags. We handle production in our shops in Oregon and North Carolina. That is one of the things I love about ETSY, you sell what you make, no need to make dozens of an item. Mass production takes the creative fun out of making wooden crafts and makes sewing backbreaking.
  10. What is unique about your business? Wooden Ya Play makes toys and crafts that are unique. Every puzzle, Welcome sign and bag are cut, sanded, painted or sewn by Mom and I. There are not too many 80 + year old women still out in a woodworking shop every day creating toys. Mom is really a fantastic role model for me and for my girls.
  11. IMG 5597 150x150 Entrepreneur Interview  Candi KingSell me your product/service. Wooden Ya Play can help you give fun, unique and creative gifts to many of the people on your list. We make toys, like fun or educational wooden puzzles or small wooden farm or zoo animals for children. “Welcome” signs with seasonal decorations that hang from them would be fun to give as gifts or to decorate for holidays and seasons throughout the year. Wrap them all up in my eco-friendly reusable fabric gift bags. New items are added frequently, so check back often to WoodenYaPlay on ETSY.
  12. How can people get in touch with you?  What’s your website/Contact information? Currently I can be contacted through my ETSY shop WoodenYaPlay. A website is in our future plans. I can also be contacted at WoodenYaPlay@gmail.com

Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/entrepreneur-interview-candi-king/

Nov 03

Working Mom Interviews- Miriam Savage

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Miriam Savage is another of my amazing working mom friends.  Read her story below.

  1. Do you stay at home, work at home, or work-outside the home?
    Work outside of the home – but I work FROM home a lot too.
  2. How many kids do you have?
    4 – 2 girls and 2 boys
  3. What’s your go-to dinner during the week? Do you care to share a recipe?
    I have come to love crock pot soup! I dislike cream of anything and regular meat in the crock pot is not a win for my family. But crock pot soup seems to go over pretty well (which makes sense – since much of soup cooking is throwing stuff in a pot and boiling it…). My kids favorite is here:
    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-chicken-taco-soup/detail.aspx
    I use a homemade taco seasoning recipe (found here: http://iowagirleats.com/2012/03/06/low-carb-taco-boats) and skip the red pepper flakes because my kids aren’t big on spice.
  4. What are your best tips for staying sane?
    I think I’d argue I’m not really successful in this area. J However, I focus on what is important in the moment and not everything. For example, if my house is messy but my heart desires to go do something fun with my kids – I do that. If my house is making feel stressed out – then we stay home and clean. You can’t have it all (unless you can afford house cleaning – which we choose not too at this time). So what is important today?
  5. What are your favorite tools for time/household management?
    I have a google calendar and a paper calendar. I use the google calendar for things like school being out….reminders I may need when I’m out and about. I use the paper planner for the overall family scheduling. It is just easier to write it down. I’ve tried all digital and it doesn’t work for us.I also have an entire counter dedicated to holding kid junk. I’ve tried nice neat folders, but it just explodes too quickly. Anything of importance is on this counter and I typically clean it weekly. (It gets ugly when I don’t…ugly as in missed activities/signed papers or other important parental duties overlooked!)Another of my favorite tools is the “Our Groceries” app. I can make a list (usually groceries, but not always) and share it with my husband. In our house, I do the list making and he goes shopping for it. (Sometimes I even add stuff WHILE he is shopping. He always loves that!)
  6. Do you have pets? If so, what kind?
    1 Dog – Sam. 8 fish. I know fish aren’t usually all that interesting, but I’ve ended up with some weird fish that come and “say hi” when you hang out by the tank. I’ve never had fish with so much “personality”.
  7. What are your hobbies?
    Picking up after my kids.
    Oh wait…that is what THEY think… icon biggrin Working Mom Interviews  Miriam Savage
    I enjoy running (but haven’t in a long time), reading fiction (I really try non-fiction because it makes you smarter…but I prefer fiction), playing video and board games, watching tv. Yes – these are all solitary activities… J
  8. What’s on your bucket list?
    My instinct was to run and look at everyone else’s. I didn’t.
    – I’d really like to go check out some other countries sometime. One would even be fine.
    – Learn to fly a plane.
    – Run a 2nd half-marathon and complete it in a time I wouldn’t be embarrassed to share. (This may be 2 items… J )
  9. If you work, what do you do? How did you decide?
    I’m a software engineer. I sort of lucked into this position, but have stayed because I really like it. I enjoy figuring out how to make things not work – and that is exactly what I do.
  10. If you work, what’s the most rewarding part about it?
    Making developers cry.
    Just kidding.
    I work with really great people. The work itself is just that…work. But my coworkers make it awesome to be here.
  11. If you could choose any career, what would it be?
    A writer. I haven’t ruled this out yet. But sitting in a quiet cabin in the middle of nowhere writing all day sounds very appealing. (Although – it probably wouldn’t be very good for me.)
  12. If you could tell your younger self something, what would it be?
    My younger self is entirely too stubborn to listen to anyone older and wiser…even if it were me.
    But seriously – I’d tell myself that we are all talented. All. And there is a place for those talents somewhere.

Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/working-mom-interviews-miriam-savage/

Nov 02

How Do You Deal With Tragedy?

Fotolia 63770100 XS How Do You Deal With Tragedy?

It was a tough week to be a Canadian last week. On Monday, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was struck by a hit and run driver in a targeted attack. On Wednesday, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was gunned down in cold blood as he stood guard at the National War Memorial at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Canadians watched and listened in horror as gun shots were heard inside the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings, the heart of our government. We watched amazing video of bystanders rushing in, not thinking of their own safety, to help and comfort Corporal Cirillo as he lay dying.

In the days that followed, we heard stories of various reactions – people who were upset and targeting “them”, you know, anyone not like “us”; people who talked about how the so-called person who targeted the Parliament Buildings was upset at the system and suffered for years with mental illness; how the driver of the vehicle that struck Warrant Officer Vincent has terrorist ties and how could “we” have not known this?

It is very interesting to see how people react to these types of tragedies. I’ve seen people that I’ve expect to be strong, break down in tears and I’ve seen strength in amazing places.

How do you deal with tragedy as a leader in the workplace? You may not be directly affected by these tragedies but events like this do affect your employees. Do you talk openly about the incidents and encourage your employees to do the same, knowing that it will take away from their productivity or do you advise your employees to keep working and discuss the events on their own time? Or somewhere in between the two?

Times like this are emotional and trying.  Some find comfort and healing in sharing and talking through the events with others, while other people prefer not to talk about it at all. As a leader, I think encouraging your employees to discuss things if they choose to and offering to be there if they have concerns they are not comfortable discussing in public, is the best way to handle incidents like this. In addition to showing openness in the workplace, I think it also shows understanding and allows leaders to stay connected to their employees. Closing the door and telling your employees not to discuss tragedies only adds to an “us vs. them” mentality and leads to employees seeing a company as cold and unfeeling.

I am sure there are some people who feel that an employer has no obligation to its employees in these types of incidents but I disagree. As an employer and a leader, it does no good to ignore your employees’ well being. Employees who feel valued will be more valuable to their employer.

I am an optimist and hope that we will not see any more of the tragedies of last week, that those who are suffering from mental illness get the help they need and that the world can learn more tolerance but if it does happen again, please remember that your employees will be looking to you for guidance and how you react will have an impact on their lives.

Permanent link to this article: http://leadershipgirl.com/deal-tragedy/

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