Later this year, Sylvia will release a new book currently titled: “Two Minutes to Executive Excellence.” We’re following Sylvia through this journey with a series of blog posts. This post is the third in the series. To read past blogs, click here.
In our last interview, you revealed some of the content including professional image, talent retention, time management, stress, conflict, and workplace culture. In your years of coaching, do you find one of these topics often stand out more than others?
Throughout my five years of coaching clients in executive and manager positions, I’ve not been surprised that time management is a big challenge for most of them. What has surprised me, however, is the hidden, often subtle manifestations of low self-confidence. Thus, I have devoted a chapter in the book to this topic: factors that contribute to it, beliefs that perpetuate it, and a variety of strategies for boosting it. Confidence—or lack of it—influences just about everything else in a person’s immediate world. When an executive or manager lacks confidence even in one area, this can be a problem not only for the individual but also for the entire organization. For example, if someone constantly justifies the status quo and resists change because he doubts his ability to deal with new situations, he stunts his own growth, blocks the growth of his employees, and limits the growth of his business. There is huge price to pay for that. When you think about it, lack of confidence implies a lack of trust in oneself. I’m talking about a lack of trust in one’s ability to do certain things…to actually deliver. While this has negative ramifications for anybody, it especially impacts folks who hold leadership and management positions because what they do and don’t do impacts so many people and circumstances.
What kinds of challenges are unique to executives (as opposed to managers or others in a leadership role) and how will your book address these challenges in a way that will resonate with the reader?
When you boil it all down, I think the biggest difference between executives and managers lies in the area of vision. Executives must have a vision and communicate it effectively to everyone else; managers must support that vision and carry it out on a daily basis. With that said, I don’t discuss vision specifically in the book, but I do discuss leadership language rather comprehensively. Quite frankly, the language executives choose to use determines their success or failure in most if not all situations. Hour by hour language sets the tone for what happens next with individuals, a team, a department, and the entire organization. In addition I want to say that my book can benefit managers too, because each of the topics without exception is relevant to them. The bottom line is this: anybody in a leadership/management position needs my book! They will gain insights and pick up strategies that can impact relationships, plans, processes, and results in huge ways!
Will your book be useful to nonprofit executives as well as corporate executives and small business owners? If so, how?
The longer I work with nonprofit and corporate executives and managers, the more I realize that—in general—they have the same kinds of needs, frustrations and challenges. It doesn’t matter if the person is leading a company of two thousand employees or a community nonprofit organization of thirty. The issues for the most part are the same. Both of these people must juggle busy schedules, create a viable professional image, develop and retain key talent, inspire staff representing multiple generations, build a healthy workplace culture, cope with conflict, and manage stress. While one focuses on producing profits, the other focuses on stretching grant dollars and private donations to continue providing the services that the Board of Directors expects them to provide. But, in general, there is not a big difference in their lists of priorities and concerns. At least not in my experience….Although corporate and nonprofit environments are different, the issues people deal with in those environments are amazingly similar.