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Keep Your Finger On the Pulse of Progress

Keep Your Finger On the Pulse of Progress

Time gets away from us. The calendar is overflowing with meetings. How can we find time for others when we struggle to find a moment for ourselves? We fear that if we get connected, we will get pulled into too many issues.

We convince ourselves that the townhalls, meetings, and email blasts are enough to convey our messages. But we’re not sure that the messages are appropriately cascaded, and that people are actively executing on the key initiatives.

When leaders are not available, it is easy to become isolated and distanced from the real issues. Without those valuable conversations, we do not have the data to make accurate decisions and without out input, people are left to figure it out for themselves. Often this is where project implementation goes off track. 

Here are ways to get connected using what I call the Visibility Matrix:

Free Up Time – Make effective use of your time by finding five, ten or even 15-minutes in your day. Shorten appointments, focus conversations to one topic, arrive at meetings early and end meetings early with the focus on using these precious minutes to increase your face time with others.

If you are like me and tend to sit at my desk all day, ask a colleague to take a 10-minute walking break which is a terrific way to stretch your legs and walk and talk with a colleague.

Instead of bolting out the door at the end of the day with cellphone plugged into your ear, bock the last 10-15 minutes of the day as personal wrap-up time. Reflect on the day and lay out the next. Then make a smooth transition from the workday into your evening activities.

Pay attention to the transitions in your day – It’s easy to blow by the transitions from meeting to meeting, and one activity to another until it all feels like the day is one big blur. Use the time between activities to regroup, and reconnect. Stop by a colleague’s desk on the way to or from the restroom, or getting a glass of water.

You can access more tips and ideas in the attached YouTube segment.

By being visible and connected with others, you get a two-way dialogue going. You find out what’s going on. You can ask questions, make comments, remove obstacles, provide insights and coaching, and give feedback to others. Through your visibility you show the work is valued, it’s important, and you can be involved in the right way to help. 

Hilary Potts is a leadership strategist who advises senior leaders to navigate today’s intensively competitive business world with success. She is the author of leadership books; The Executive Transition Playbook and The Truth About Change, available on Additional leadership tips, tools, blogs, podcasts, and videos are available on

9 Ways to Stay Energized in Life and Work

9 Ways to Stay Energized in Life and Work

As the year wears on, my clients and colleagues tell me how busy and consumed they are with work. Healthy New Year’s Resolutions were abandoned ages ago, replaced with a pile of work and no end in sight.

Healthy habits, what healthy habits? It’s survival mode. The days are long. Lunch is at the desk or gobbled down during one of the endless meetings. Before they know it, the day is gone.

Here’s a hint: if we don’t make time to take care of ourselves, no one else will. It doesn’t need to take hours, just a few minutes throughout the day. The key is to replenish, refresh, and reinvigorate the body, mind, and spirit to show up as our best selves.  

Here are practices to help us stay physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for whatever comes our way.

Stay Active through Exercise and Movement – Long hours of sitting can take its toll on our body. Taking frequent stretch breaks brings the body back into balance and alignment. Use the stairs whenever possible. Find a colleague and take a fifteen-minute walk break at lunchtime to jumpstart the afternoon. Ready for a change? Consider trying yoga or qi gong class.

Get an Early Start to the Day – Spend the first hour of the day on you. Robin Sharma, a personal leadership expert, calls it his 5 A.M. Club. Use the early morning hour for reflection, learning, exercise and planning. Using the beginning of the day on ourselves can prepare us for the events ahead. Can’t find the full hour? Start with fifteen minutes and begin to see a difference.

Eat Healthy Foods – We are what we eat. Skip the temptations of the bagel or danish and opt for a yogurt or piece of fruit. Carry healthy snacks, such as unsalted nuts or an apple to refuel. And, find the time to focus on eating versus multitasking over lunch.

Stay Hydrated –When our body is dehydrated it works less efficiently. Staying hydrated allows the body to flush out toxins. Drinking plenty of water replenishes our body for better movement, and improved thinking.

Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep – The body needs sleep to digest the food and thoughts that we ingest during the day. During times of change, there is a lot on our minds which can inhibit a good night’s sleep. Make a conscious effort to start to wind down an hour before bed and turn off electronic devices. Consider journaling, reading something inspirational, or meditating to prepare for a restful sleep.

Balance Through Breathing – There is much buzz about acting mindfully. It starts with our personal awareness. Noticing how we breathe is a simple place to start. How we breathe is an indicator of our emotions, energy level, and attitude. Under stress, our breathing patterns can become shallow and tight. Slow, deep abdominal breathing can sooth and calm the nervous system. When we lengthen the inhalation and exhalation, we can start to relax and release the tension that builds up under stress. Many find meditation and other mindfulness techniques helpful to stay focused and balanced. Create short breathing breaks throughout the day to stay focused and clear.

Find Happiness and Gratitude – We’re programmed to seek out what’s wrong and find solutions. Consider focusing on the positives and building onto what’s already working. Instead of gossiping or complaining find a reason to be grateful and let others know what they are doing right.

Collect Your Thoughts – Many US Presidents were prolific writers, capturing their ideas and thoughts in journals. Use a journal to capture ideas, quotes, accomplishments, plans, and dreams. Journals can be a good place to dump worries and develop solutions. Start writing about what’s on your mind and don’t worry if it’s not Pulitzer Prize worthy.

Take an Electronic Break. – Find time to unplug all electronic devices and take a digital detox. Consider unplugging for one day on the weekends.

While these practices are pretty obvious, unless we make a concerted effort to schedule time in our busy day before we know it, we’re tired and out of gas.

Incorporate a few of these practices into your daily routine and start to notice the difference.

What healthy practices help you to be at your best?


Build Confidence on the Fly

Build Confidence on the Fly

We’ve all had those situations that take us out of our comfort zone. Our heart starts to beat a bit faster. Our breathing gets shallow, and we may even begin to sweat.

Those circumstances where deep inside something is telling us to be alert.  We sense we aren’t confident.

Gaining confidence is something that can be learned and cultivated. Confidence comes from a feeling of well-being and an acceptance of who we are and in our ability right now. As we continue to develop and grow, it’s natural for our confidence to ebb and flow.

Here are practical ways to build confidence:

See Challenges as Opportunities It’s normal to be apprehensive in new situations. When the glass seems half full, solutions are limited. Acknowledge the change. Try to reframe the situation as an opportunity to learn and contribute differently.

Create a Sense of Purpose – Identify the reason for taking on the challenge in the first place. Knowing what we want to accomplish and why it’s important can inspire us to move forward.

Gain Knowledge and Understanding – Take an inventory of the facts to gain knowledge of the circumstance. What’s known and what’s unclear? Identify personal strengths and potential areas of vulnerabilities. Knowing our capabilities helps determine the resources and support needed to bring our best.

Plan and Prepare –One of my favorite quotes is “If you fail to plan, you plan for failure.” A plan provides an anchor and blueprint from which to pivot. As new information presents itself, we can make mid-course corrections.

Think and Act Positively – When we question our abilities there is an inclination for negative thoughts. Shifting the internal talk can be hard for many people.

When presented with challenges, a confident leader coaches themselves and provides balanced feedback. From positive thoughts come positive actions.  How we breathe and carry ourselves can shift our emotions, our internal talk, and our actions.

Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy has shown posture has a direct correlation with building confidence. Amy’s research suggests assuming a power pose and “faking it until you become it” to get started. Thinking, acting and dressing the part can have a positive effect in building confidence.

Take Action – Often I see people paralyzed, waiting to take big steps when a few smaller steps could lead to more actions. Smaller actions are easy to get started and give an early indication that we are on or off track.

As a child, my mom would say, “if at first, you don’t succeed, try again.” It means shedding the need for perfection and doing something. Expect to make a few mistakes. The actions will provide feedback and insights from which to make an adjustment.

Don’t let the fear of failure paralyze or step in the way. Get prepared to “Fall down seven times, and get up eight.”

Seek input and feedback – Chances are others have tread this path before. Seek insights from others. People will be flattered to be asked. Listen to all the ideas to make an informed decision.

Celebrate Early and Often – Whenever, I suggest people celebrate early successes, I hear all kinds of reasons why to wait. Build confidence by celebrating the small actions along the way. With each success come others. Want to build confidence? Stop waiting for the end result and start celebrating smaller milestones.

The next time you start to doubt your abilities, use these points as a guide to step into the role with confidence.



Are you entering a new role and want to boost your confidence?

Lead the change into a new assignment using tips and tools from The Executive Transition Playbook: Strategies for Starting Strong. Staying Focused, and Succeeding in Your New Leadership Role. Available on Amazon.

As a leadership strategist, I help senior leaders navigate today’s intensively competitive business world with success. Learn more about me at

Leaving a Legacy Through Daily Actions

Leaving a Legacy Through Daily Actions

When people inspire us, we learn and grow. It could be someone we know or someone we admire from afar. They make it look easy and seem to thrive in what’s chaos for most of us. Their actions leave an impression and a legacy for us to follow.

I know, Legacy sounds like a heavy word, especially when we are just trying to make it through the day. But stay with me.

From time to time it’s helpful to ask, “Am I proud of my actions? Is what I am doing today fit within my life purpose?” With each work assignment and interaction, we lay the foundation for our legacy.

Legacies are about learning and living. We build legacies over a lifetime through personal values and daily actions. Creating a legacy gives us meaning and purpose. It’s a way to share insights and experiences, with those around us.

The recent passing of Garry Marshall, the creator of iconic shows such as; Happy Days and Pretty Women left an impression on me even though I didn’t know him.

Over his lifetime, Garry built his legacy through love, kindness, and laughter. He taught many life lessons through his personal interactions and the many shows he produced. Friends and colleagues remember him as “an inspiring leader who set high standards…

keep it simple,
arrive early and ready to work,
listen to others,
be empathetic,
celebrate people and don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Garry is a reminder not to wait until the end of our career or the end of life to start building a legacy. He built his legacy one interaction at a time. We don’t need to be famous to leave a legacy. It just takes living with purpose today.

With each assignment and role, we leave a legacy with those who interact with us. At work and in life, we face tough decisions. How we handle those challenging situations makes a difference in our life and others.

We all strive to contribute something to the world. Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Reflect on what’s important to you and what brings you joy.
  • Make time for the people and causes that are important to you.
  • Pay attention to how you interact with others and be a positive influence.
  • Coach, inspire and mentor others to bring their best.
  • Bring positive energy and passion to all you do.
  • Be grateful and find ways to work with whatever life brings your way.

To create your legacy, what enhancement can you make to bring your best self?

The Untapped Frontiers of a New Assignment

The Untapped Frontiers of a New Assignment

Every time I read one of John O’Donohue’s poems, I get inspired. His words of wisdom energize and urge me on to bring more of myself to the many roles in my life.

It’s too easy to jump in and charge ahead and forget to stop and smell the roses. This may sound so trite. Yet, a slight pause and quiet space can provide time for reflection to kindle the energy to move ahead.

So find a quiet moment between celebrating a new position and getting started anew. Honor the transition and determine the best path forward. Use this time as an opportunity to determine how you bring your best self to this role. I find John O’Donohue’s words of wisdom to be useful whether this is a new job, a different assignment or a change in role. It’s a chance to take a fresh approach.

May this poem give you the pause, reflection and inspiration to be open to the possibilities.

May your new work excite your heart,
Kindle in your mind a creativity
To journey beyond the old limits
Of all that has become wearisome.

 May this work challenge you toward
New frontiers that will emerge
As you begin to approach them,
Calling forth from you the full force
And depth of your undiscovered gifts.

 May the work fit the rhythms of your soul,
Enabling you to draw from the invisible.
New ideas and a vision that will inspire.

Remember to be kind
To those who work for you,
Endeavor to remain aware
Of the quiet world
That lives behind each face.

 Be fair in your expectations,
Compassionate in your criticism.
May you have the grace of encouragement
To awaken the gift in the other’s heart,
Building in them the confidence
To follow the call of the gift.

May you come to know that work
Which emerges from the mind of love
Will you have beauty and form.

May this new work be worthy
Of the energy of your heart
And the light of your thought.

 May your work assume
A proper space in your life;
Instead of owning or using you.
May it challenge and refine you,
Bringing you every day further
Into the wonder of your heart.

Poem from “To Bless the Space Between Us”

Want Results? Slow Down

Want Results? Slow Down

The adrenaline rush and sense of urgency of a new role can be intoxicating. Others are counting on you to deliver results. It feels like the clock is ticking and you must do something fast.

If you’re not careful, that same passion can blur your vision of what’s really needed to achieve results. The need for speed can drive leaders to make unwise decisions. Without full knowledge of the business or alignment from colleagues, initiatives will surely stall.

The problem is, most incoming leaders aren’t fully prepared, thus the reason for an onboarding period. In fact, Carucci & Hansen’s research of incoming leaders found that nearly two-thirds of leaders admitted that they lacked sufficient understanding of what was required of them and they weren’t fully prepared for what they faced in a new role.

So why is it that new leaders jump so quickly to make decisions without fully assessing the situation? The very onboarding strategies and due diligence that could help a leader are abandoned for action.

The drive for performance and need for speed sometimes lures leaders in the wrong direction. It’s easy to convince yourself that the solution you implemented in your prior role will work just fine in this new situation.

Now hold on for just a minute.

Too many initiatives fail to meet their intended outcomes. Could it be that you are moving too quickly? Is there agreement and alignment to move things forward?

Instead of abandoning your onboarding due diligence, use it to your advantage.

  • Get others engaged with you in gathering the facts, and assessing the situation.
  • Find the time to get to know the business, people, customers, and culture.
  • Build the credibility, trust, and respect of your colleagues.
  • Let go of your paradigms and preconceived notions.
  • Assess the overall situation to determine what’s the best solution for the business.
  • Develop clear plans that help people ‘want’ to make the change versus resist the change.
  • Get everyone committed and engaged in implementing the solution.
  • Take time out to celebrate your successes and learn from your failures.

Sometimes to go fast requires slowing down just a bit to make sure you are heading in the right direction. When we go slow, others are able to get on board and help with the solution. All of this could actually save a ton of time and aggravation on the back-end.

In a new role, making changes too quickly is just one of the mistakes incoming leaders make. In a recent ExecuNet Masterclass, How to Bring Your Best to a New Role, I shared the 10 common mistakes executives make entering new roles. You can access William Flamme’s article and the video excerpt of our discussion about making changes too quickly.

Are you interested in learning about the other ten mistakes?

You can receive the 10 Mistakes Executives Make Entering a New Role here