The Future of Work: The Art of Collaborative Leadership

The way we work is shifting. We see that in subtle ways and other times in not so subtle ways. Even traditional companies like Deloitte are investing in people development, realizing that it is the best resource they have to stay ahead of the curve. Those with a real competitive advantage intuitively understand innovation and creativity as essential to meeting market demands and crucial in facing our collective sustainability challenges. The future of work as we know it is shifting from an outdated directive approach toward collaborative frameworks that inspire us to engage in new and different ways with our work and with each other.

Read the rest of the article on the Huffington Post here.

Women in Leadership with Angela Mezzetti

I had the honor of being a featured guest on the Women in Leadership podcast with Angela Mezzetti. We had an in-depth discussion on how women can lean into their natural strengths, like using vulnerability as a strength, and how when we let go of the need to micro-manage and trust our team, how that can inspire creativity and innovation, some of the key ingredients to success in today’s competitive market. We also talk about the Queen Bee syndrome and how women have to do better at supporting one another and helping each other up the ladder.

Listen to the full interview here: http://womeninleadership.ie/2016/07/monique-svazlian-tallon-leading-gracefully/

How to Set Your Business and Life Up for Success

Running a business is an exciting adventure. There is something powerful, yet humbling about creating a product or service that helps change lives. It truly makes you feel as if you are living in your purpose. Yet, how do you bask in this amazing feeling while managing the other responsibilities and personal goals in your life? More specifically, how can a woman successfully manage her business while being present for her family, taking care of her body, and completing the endless to do list?

Have a vision.

It is quite difficult to achieve anything in life if you do not know what you want. This is especially true when it comes to balancing your family, your business, and anything else that is important to you. What kind of life do you envision for yourself?

If this question overwhelms you, you can begin by simply writing down a list of things that are important to you. Write down how you want to feel everyday, as well as the people you want to have in your life. Really dig deep and be as honest as possible. If you are more of a kinesthetic learner, you can create a vision board to display the kind of lifestyle you would like to have. Images are very powerful and can help you visualize the life you want.

Create a realistic plan.

Once you know the kind of life you envision for yourself, create a plan to achieve it. Just make sure your plan is realistic. It is perfectly okay to want to run your business, take your children to soccer practices, go on date nights with your spouse, exercise three times per week, travel internationally, write your next book, and more. Yet, if you overplan your days, you may feel defeated when you’re not able to keep up. Find balance by only planning things you can accomplish. Don’t feel the need to do it all. Instead, delegate responsibilities that can alleviate stress and free up more of your time. This may mean asking your family to contribute more or hiring someone to clean your home, do laundry, or cook.

Set boundaries.

It can be difficult to leave life at the office some days, but it is necessary. Although there will be times when work and home life overlap, you must be cognizant of your boundaries. Know when to switch on the “off” button. While it certainly is not easy to successfully achieve balance between your business and other responsibilities, it is doable.

The Male Perspective on Women’s Leadership

I recently had the pleasure of being featured on the Dose of Leadership podcast with Richard Reirson, who I can only describe as one of the men who “gets it.” He understands the need for more women in leadership because of the unique perspective they bring to the table, along with the great range of leadership skills that he thinks is much needed in the corporate world. I must admit it was refreshing to speak to someone who supports not only having more women at the top but an attitude that men can also learn a lot from women, especially about how to bring more heart into business.

Listen to our full interview here: http://www.doseofleadership.com/monique-tallon/

 

 

Transforming A Dinosaur: How the Legal Field Is Embracing the Diversity Challenge

When one thinks of the legal industry, diversity isn’t a word that usually comes to mind. And perhaps rightfully so, as the legal profession is one of the few remaining industries to yet undergo a diversity revolution. According to the National Association of Women Lawyers annual survey, women make up about 18% of equity partners, an increase of 2% since 2006. Not great news for female lawyers who can expect to achieve gender parity by the year 2176 at the current rate of progress.

One might attribute this slow uptick due to a pipeline issue, which in fact might be a contributing factor, as only 37% of graduating lawyers were women in 2004, compared to 62% of men. And even if a woman does become an equity partner, she is still only going to make 80% of what a male lawyer makes, a figure that has decreased from 84% a decade ago. Lawyers of color make only 8% of partners and the LGBT community is represented at only 2%. Needless to say, there is a diversity crisis in the legal profession, but luckily one that is not going unnoticed by forward-thinking firms.

Read the rest of the article on Huffington Post.

Leading Gracefully Toward Global Change – Women Like Us

The Women Like Us Foundation supports women’s leadership for Gender Equality and Social Justice in the areas of Sex Trafficking, Homelessness and Social Justice. I was honored to be interviewed for their blog by my good friend Molly Lyda, where we spoke about how I stepped into my own leadership, the lessons I learned and how I help to empower other women to their own authentic, feminine leadership, and how I believe that we can create global change when more women embrace their strengths and own their voice.

Read the entire blog piece here.

Got Vision? Three Tips to Effectively Communicate Your Ideas and Inspire Your Followers

We all know that vision is one of the cornerstones to effective leadership. Yet despite this well known fact, I’ve worked with many leaders who struggle to effectively communicate their vision, and I am always surprised at how often many leaders overlook this important step. After much analysis, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of thinkers: Big Sky Thinkers and Detailed Thinkers, and depending on where you fall on that spectrum, it could determine how well you communicate and execute your vision.

In my new book, Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic and Effective Leadership, I offer a short quiz to my readers so they can quickly assess which category the fall into. Lucky for you, you can find that quiz in my free workbook, 15 Exercises to Feminine Leadership Mastery, that you can download from my website. Once you’ve taken the quiz, you’ll have a better idea of whether you’re someone with great vision but lack in execution, or someone who gets so focused on execution, that you forget to take a step back and get people on board with your vision first. Both steps are crucial to leading well-performing, collaborative teams that produce great results.

Here are 3 tips that I offer in my book, Leading Gracefully that both men and women can practice to ensure they don’t fall into the trap many good intentioned leaders fall into.

1) Decide on Your Goal: Is your goal to motivate and inspire your team to follow your vision? Or is it to execute flawlessly on a strategic plan? You can’t have one without the other; as a leader your job is to inspire your people into action and be clear in your expectations, delegate effectively, create accountability, and deliver results. But depending on whether you are a big-picture thinker or a detailed thinker, this may not come as easily or naturally as one would think. Make sure you do both and preferably do the first before the latter. Each requires a different strategy and approach.

2) Be Assertive: If you’re a Detailed Thinker, make sure you’re taking the step back to assertively communicate your vision before forging ahead with the to-do’s. Many women in particular get stuck here because they tend to get wrapped up in the “proving my value” mentality, taking on tasks and going into execution mode to show they are capable of producing results. Those who are promoted to a higher level of leadership (usually Director level or above), also might struggle with letting go of the “doing” and embrace the “being” required of leadership, which starts with assertively and passionately communicating your vision and getting buy-in from key stakeholders before moving into action-planning.

3) Learn to Delegate: If you are a big-picture thinker, once you’ve communicated your grand vision it’s important to follow through with clearly set expectations, roles, responsibilities, direction, and delegation. Execution does not mean taking everything on yourself. Perfectionists (and many women, again for reasons stated above) have a difficult time with this. The fix: stop micro-managing and start empowering your team to take ownership of their areas of responsibility. You’ll be surprised at the results you get.

To learn more about how to effectively communicate your vision and other tips to be a great leader, check out Leading Gracefully, available on Amazon.

Watch my interview about Women in Tech on the GALS show!

I was super excited to be invited to speak about women in tech on the Channel 9 shows GALS! Check out this video where we talk about my journey as a manager in Silicon Valley, and my tips on how women can lead more effectively in the male-dominated world of technology!

 

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Three Things Hillary Clinton Can Do to Appeal to More Voters

In December of 2015, Hillary Clinton had a 31-point advantage nationally to Bernie Sanders in our current primary election. In less than six months, she has gone from being pretty much guaranteed to be the Democratic nominee to barely squeaking by with her tight wins over Bernie in Iowa and Nevada. How did this happen? How could she have gone from being the favorite to now having to fight tooth and nail to stay ahead in the race? I’m sure her campaign is asking themselves the same questions. Nobody, and I mean nobody (including the Sanders campaign I’m sure) expected this to happen. Nobody expected TRUMP to be doing so well either. This has been, thus far, one of the most surprising (not to mention entertaining, thanks to CNN and Fox News) primary campaigns ever run in the United States.

I myself am a Bernie supporter for all the reasons we love Bernie — his authenticity, his passion, and the fact that he is calling for a political revolution in this country, which I think we really, really need. But I’m a woman, and I should vote for Hillary. The thing is, I want to vote for Hillary. She has more experience than God; her diplomatic resume is second to none. But like most people who have decided to go the Bernie route, we sense there is something that’s just not quite authentic about Hillary. There’s a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that’s hard to pinpoint, besides the fact that majority of her funding comes from Wall Street and she voted in favor of the Iraq war.

Here’s the thing about her: Hillary is unlikeable. I think it was a big problem for her in 2008, and it is still a problem. Unfortunately, Hillary is stuck in the double bind most women leaders find themselves in–if you talk too loud, you sound shrill and whiny. If you point your finger, you come off as too aggressive. Not to mention the fact that most people still equate the word leader with masculine traits. Our unconscious biases that get in the way don’t equate leadership to women–period. Now if that’s not a difficult wall to climb, I don’t know what is.

But she has climbed that wall and broken the glass ceiling. She’s running for President of the United States! That is a great achievement as is. But it’s not good enough. If she wants to get elected, she needs to be likeable. She needs to win the hearts of Americans young and old, black or white, gay or straight. And to do that, she needs to appeal to more voters in the way that Bernie appeals to young people. She needs to learn how to be a graceful leader (which is what I write about in my new book, Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic and Effective Leadership.)

Here are the top three things I think Hillary can do to gain back her lead in the polls:

1) Be Authentic:
Whenever Hillary speaks or smiles, it feels really…polished. Like she has rehearsed that smile a thousand times. We know she has rehearsed those lines a thousand times, because when she’s asked a random question, she sounds less rehearsed and more like a normal human being. You have a feeling that you don’t quite know who Hillary Clinton really is. She’s a fantastic debater, I’ll give you that, she is quick on her feet and she does great under fire. Which makes her a great states-woman. But the problem with all of that is that we don’t want our politicians to act like politicians anymore. We want them to be people, like you and me. We want to feel like they relate with our problems, our worries, our deep desires. We want them to be more authentic. Which requires you to drop the mask and allow people to see your weaknesses. In one word, it takes vulnerability. But that’s a really hard thing for someone like Hillary Clinton, or any woman leader or female CEO for that matter. It goes back to the gender bias that women have to deal with all the time (and for men who think that is just an excuse, you try being a woman in the business or political arena for one day and then get back to me). We already have all the cards stacked against us, so we feel like we have to be that much more prepared for whatever is headed our way. It’s a tricky line to walk, but if more women, including Hillary Clinton, would dare to let down their guard and be vulnerable, it would open up the opportunity for connection. It would allow people to relate and feel safe. This is something Bernie does flawlessly and why I think he is so appealing to voters, especially young voters.

2) Communicate With More Empathy: Hillary Clinton talks like she cares about income inequality, racism, Wall Street corruption, etc., but you also get a sense that she cares about those things because they are hot button issues in this election. And they would buy votes. When Bernie talks about those same issues, you know he really cares. And it’s not only because he shouts and seems angry about the whole situation. It’s because he TRULY cares. You can hear it in his voice, you can see it in his body language, and you can also see it in his track record. The man has been walking his talk for 30 years. And while Clinton has fought hard for a lot of the same issues, she’s also wavered in her loyalty. She’s taken money from the big banks, she doesn’t want to bring back safeguards like Glass-Steagall (which her husband repealed and is what eventually led us to the 2008 global financial crash), and yes, she voted for the Iraq war. You get a sense that she doesn’t have the same type of empathy for the working man or for the single mom who’s living on minimum wage. And if she does care about all these things, then she needs to show it. Which goes back to #1 – communicating with empathy takes vulnerability. It takes telling the other person how you really feel, no matter how weak it makes you look. And that’s something I don’t think Hillary Clinton is very comfortable with.

3) Talk about the We, not the Me:
If you listen to Hillary speak, it’s always about what “I” can do for you, what “I” will do when I’m president, what “I” believe we should do. When Bernie speaks, it is always about the WE. He has built his entire campaign on WE. He never talks about himself as being the Savior we are all waiting for. He talks about political revolution. Which refers to people working together to bring about change. His message and his vision are about bringing different people with diverse backgrounds together to work collaboratively. What Hillary represents is the old paradigm, a very top-down approach that everything from big companies to factories used to organize themselves. Well, maybe she didn’t get the memo, but in the 21st century and with the birth of the Internet, its all about collective movements of people working together toward a common cause. That’s what brought about the Arab Spring, or in this country Occupy Wall Street. It’s what people are craving for — they want their leaders to unite people around a common cause. In order to do that, you have to talk about the WE — the collective. We already elected our Savior…Barack Obama, and look how far that got us.

The qualities I listed above could be considered feminine traits, which I believe are the qualities people are looking for in their leaders today. And it’s something that more women leaders need to feel comfortable embracing in order to be likeable, authentic and effective, which will also eventually helps us close the gender gap. Emulating our male counterparts doesn’t have the same impact as leaning into our feminine strengths like vulnerability, empathy, care, intuition, and humility to name a few. I believe if Hillary Clinton develops the courage to embrace her feminine strengths, she could win the nomination by a landslide. Let’s see if she reads this article.

You can read this article on Huffington Post as well.

How I Faced My Biggest Fear and Won

Although I’m a woman’s leadership coach who helps women overcome barriers to self-confidence, there was once a time where I very much struggled with my own feelings of inadequacy and lack of confidence. My biggest fear: saying the wrong thing. I was afraid that I would speak my opinion or express myself in some way, and it would be the wrong thing to say, and people would laugh in my face at how stupid I was. As I write the last sentence, I’m struck at the absurdity of this fear. But let me assure you, at the time, it was a very real, visceral fear. Every time it came time for me to open my mouth, be it at a meeting, during a presentation or in any group situation, this fear would take over my entire body. It would paralyze me, literally leaving me speechless. And then, the internal berating would begin. “Why don’t you open your mouth and say something?” or “People will think you have nothing to say, say something!” and on and on. Needless to say, it was a real problem.

And it was a problem not only because it kept me from speaking up, but it also prohibited me from contributing my ideas and brilliance. Standing in front of a group of people scared the bejeezus out of me, and as I stepped into my leadership, having to give presentations or trainings would literally make me sick. The thought was so terrifying that I would come down with a horrible flu of some kind, forcing me to cancel the workshop or presentation. This went on for years until I was finally fed up and decided to face my fear and do it any way.

One day I had a pretty important training to run, and as usual I came down with a nasty cold a few days prior. I almost cancelled the session but this time I had too much at stake – my reputation was on the line. So instead of cancelling, I showed up, sick as a dog and delivered the session. At the end, after facing my biggest fear, I felt SUCH a sense of relief and accomplishment. Nothing terrible happened! Nobody laughed in my face! In actuality, the opposite happened. People gave me positive feedback, they enjoyed the training very much and I could see that I had made a real impact on them with my teachings. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway helped me beat the plaguing whisper in my head that was constantly telling me I wasn’t good enough. It was the first step in building up my confidence.

Today, about five years later, I am about to give one of my biggest presentations yet – in front of 300 people! Am I nervous? Of course I am, but I’m excited at the opportunity to face my fear and do it anyway. I know it will stretch me and help me grow in many ways. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes, or maybe say the wrong thing, but that doesn’t terrify me as much anymore. I know that as long as I am myself, my brilliance will shine through. Authenticity is a great foe to feelings of inadequacy. When we dare to be ourselves, we have nothing to lose! It’s only when we try to be someone we are not, that we are at risk of failing.

Here are my top three tips on how to conquer YOUR fears:

 

  • Feel the fear and do it anyway: The best way to conquer our fears is quickly and swiftly through the 1-2 punch of well, facing your fear and taking action. The longer we stay inactive towards our goals and dreams, the firmer the grip of our fears. They end up becoming the ‘norm’ and eventually we give up or settle for something less. Think about it this way – fear is a fixation of our imagination. It only exists if we give it attention. Once you take that first step towards your goal, the next steps after that become much easier.

 

  • Be authentic: The biggest enemy of our sabotaging thoughts is giving us the permission to just be ourselves. It’s about being OK with your uniqueness; no matter how quirky or odd you think it is. The best part is that there is no way you can fail at being you! That’s when our courage kicks in and we can begin to dare more greatly. One of my favorite quotes says, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Letting go of the need to be like the next person gives us the opportunity to bring our gifts to the table and let go of our inhibitions.

 

  • Tap into your Inner Mentor: The good news is although all of us have an Inner Critic (the voice that puts us down and keeps us stuck), we also have an Inner Mentor. Your Mentor is your inner cheerleader, that part of yourself who knows you’ve got this! The trick is to turn the volume up on your Inner mentor’s voice, and turn the volume WAY down on your Inner Critic. Write down positive statements your Inner Mentor would say to you in times of self-doubt or fear, and remind yourself of those words when you feel insecure. Doing this can be a great first step in turning up the volume on what gets you saying YES!

When have you ever felt moments of inadequacy or lack of self-confidence? What did you do to combat those fears? Share you experience below in the comments.