Who’s responsibility is it anyway? 

Have you ever read an article or watched a video that prompted you to speak up? I experienced this recently when watching the attached video of Simon Sinek from Delta Protective Services. It’s a very informative video about millennials, the impact technology has had on an entire generation, the need for instant gratification, the lack of patience and how it’s now playing out in our workplaces and in society. It’s worth the investment of time to watch through to the end.  

There are many very good points being raised in the video, however, as a leadership and personal development coach, I do not agree with the commentator’s view point that it’s the “corporations” responsibility to fix the problem.  Mr. Sinek is of the opinion that as a result of poor parenting, a dependence on immediacy created by technology, and addictions to social media, millennials have been dealt a bad hand.  He goes on to say employers need to demonstrate good leadership to help this generation in the workplace. Admittedly, these circumstances may have impacted millennials in varying degrees, including developing a dependency on social media, an inability to manage stress, the lack of particular skill sets needed to build meaningful relationships, and in some cases lack of self confidence and the feeling of worth and fulfilment as they move through life.  

Click here to view the video: Millennials

As a leader and coach I’m of the view that responsibility rests with the individual. If I have a problem or see the need to change an aspect of my life which isn’t working for me, then it’s my responsibility to address it. If for example I am addicted to alcohol, have messed up relationships and a lack of self worth as a result of a dysfunctional upbringing, it’s not my employer’s responsibility to fix it. It’s my responsibility. The employer may provide me with an opportunity to go to treatment where I can address the problem, but then recovery is up to me. I think the same applies here. 

Whether you are a millennial or part of another generation, each of us needs to take personal responsibility for addressing whatever challenge we are coming up against. We can blame our parents, technology, society, or some other set of circumstances but when the rubber hits the road, it’s up to the individual to take responsibility for the changes needed to make the best of any given situation.  

Awareness is critical.  I agree employers have a responsibility to demonstrate good leadership by providing meaningful feedback and to support individuals in the workplace.  From there, it’s the individual’s responsibility to take the steps needed to address whatever problem they may be experiencing. That’s how it worked for me. My life has not always been smooth sailing and there have been many instances where I’ve had to take the initiative to overcome personal challenges along the way. That’s how it’s been for most of us.  
The lesson I’ve learned along the way is responsibility for initiating change is an inside job.  

As a leadership and personal development coach I offer services to help individuals and employers develop plans and take concrete steps to overcome obstacles and introduce meaningful change. If you are trudging through life, if your career feels unsatisfying or perhaps you are aware of a skill set needed to help you advance or to turn yourself around, then working with a personal development coach may be right for you. 

St Julien Performance Group provides a free complimentary session to ensure there is a right fit between you and your coach. During the complimentary session I will work with you to identify your individual personal development needs and recommend a course of action. Contact us today!

Are you looking for ways to dramatically improve your success as a leader?

Being an effective leader means making a personal commitment to continual learning in an effort to keep your skills honed. One of the ways I do this is by following blogs, tweets and checking out websites of some of the great leaders whom I admire and respect.  When an article catches my eye, often times it’s because of an experience I’ve had during my career, whether as a team leader, manager, or as an executive and generally there was a lesson I learned along with it.

Success is often driven by first steps.  When you take on a new leadership role, getting off to a good start is critical.  I came across an article on the Entrepreneur site that outlines an effective approach on how to do this.  Clicking on the link below will open a new browser page.

Your First 5 Days as a New Manager

From a leadership perspective, I think what you do next is equally important.

Leaders create and build trust by applying a consistent approach.  An experience that comes to mind which demonstrates this perfectly goes back a few years when I was first starting out as a manager.  I adopted an approach from Ken Blanchard’s book The One Minute Manager.  Each morning I would make my rounds to touch base with each of my employees and perform an adaptation of the 12 Minute Meeting with them.  This provided my employees with some daily one-on-one time with me to discuss their current projects, any challenges they might be encountering or simply an opportunity to say good morning.

The practice from a management perspective really paid off for me.  It was an excellent way to stay abreast of what was going on at the working level within my team.  What I hadn’t realized was how much my staff valued the approach.  At least not until the day when I missed making my rounds.  An urgency kept me in my office that morning.  What followed was very interesting.  Over the course of the morning each of my employees made their way to my office door to check in with me. They wanted to know if everything was alright.

The experience demonstrated three things.  First, my employees valued our time together and looked forward to the opportunity to meet with me as their manager.  Secondly, although this example is small scale, time was spent by each of my staff wondering about what had gone wrong that morning.  On a larger scale this could result in significant downtime and lost productivity within an organization.  Lastly, it was evident that consistency is important. Unpredictability creates uncertainty and given the ever changing world that we work in, employees value having a sense of what to expect from their manager.

Your leadership approach is one of the things within your control.  Putting one small positive change into place today and staying with it can result in significant returns in the longer term.  It will increase your credibility and the level of trust with your employees, create stability within your organization and provide an environment that supports increased productivity.

Make that positive change today and put your leadership to work for you!

If you want to increase your leadership muscle by working with a coach give me a call.  I’m here to help!

Body Language and What it Might be Saying

Don’t get derailed because of your body language.  Here’s a great article on body language and how it might be limiting you. Check it out and be clear about the messages you’re sending. 

Body language and what it might be saying

International Women’s Day

As I reflect on the significance of this day I am reminded of all the wonderful women who have influenced, encouraged and inspired me over the years, and there have been many.

Thank you for helping me up when I stumbled, for being the beacon of light that showed me the way and for reflecting back to me all that I could possibly be!

Who are the women making a difference in your life?

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” — Eleanor Roosevelt












Leading by Example – Here is an example of how I stepped out of my comfort zone in a practical way

Life begins1

If you read my last blog you know it was about “stepping outside of your comfort zone”.  When we refer to taking that “big step” we conjure up the idea of it being something significant – like a career change or leaving our employment to further our education.  It also applies to our day-to-day activities and so I’d like to share with you one of my recent experiences as a way of affirming the message in my previous blog.

You may already know that I am a motorcyclist and have been for the past five years.  With each passing year it plays a bigger part of my life and translates into miles and miles of enjoyment.  Last year I treated myself to a pre-retirement gift and purchased a new Harley Davidson Electra Glide Classic.  I had intended on buying it after I retire from my role as an Executive Director in government, which is still about a year away, but a colleague when hearing about my plans asked a valid question.   “Why wait for retirement?”  She suggested I should be asking “why not now?”  She was right.  My new motorcycle has heightened my riding experience and I have no regrets in having made the investment earlier.

Of course, with it comes the responsibility of regular maintenance which is essential to its continued performance and for retaining its value.  If you are familiar with the Harley Davidson motorcycle there are three oils that need to be changed.  Yes, three of them!  And with my increased mileage the oils need to be changed frequently.  I wondered to myself what it might take for me to be able to do this on my own.  After all, I did work in a service station when I was a teenager.  Admittedly, that was a very long time ago and if I’m honest, the thought made my heart pound!  This was clearly outside of my comfort zone.  It’s an expensive machine and if I was going to do it, I had to get it right.

I thought about my recent blog and the question of all questions came to mind:  Who was I to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone if I wasn’t prepared to do the same?

As I mentioned, I certainly felt like this was out of my comfort zone.  In fact, it was way outside of it.  So, I did what any sensible person would do…I Googled it – an initial step in my research.  I started by watching a few YouTube videos and came across one that was clear and easy to follow.  It was detailed and covered the entire process step-by-step.  As well, I asked questions of folks who serviced their own motorcycles.  In other words, I spoke with people who were experienced.  As well, I sent the video to a friend whose opinion I value a great deal.  He agreed, the video was good and in his estimation this was something I was capable of doing.

From there, I did a cost/benefit analysis and itemized what I would need to do the job.  Besides the oil and filter, there were things like an oil filter wrench, a torque wrench for the derby cover to prevent stripping the bolts, a pan to catch the used oil and a funnel for adding the new.  The initial outlay was about the same as I would pay for an oil change at the dealer.  When I started to look around I found a torque wrench on sale.  It was a big ticket item and as a result increasing my return on investment.  In the mid to long-term, there were definite savings to be realized by me servicing my own motorcycle.

Before attempting this undertaking (yes my heart was still pounding), I arranged to have one of my trusted motorcycle friends come over and coach me through the processes.  I wanted to make sure that if I had questions there would be someone experienced on hand.  That morning I also watched the video again to make sure I had a clear picture of what I was going to be doing, minimizing the risk.  I went through the entire process methodically, arranging the tools, keeping my work space organized, and double checking each step thoroughly.

I’ve pleased to say that it went very well and it felt great!  I was proud of myself for having taken it on and for completing it successfully.  By stepping outside of my comfort zone in a small but meaningful way I accomplished something that was of value to me; and by sharing it here with you and on Facebook with other riders, especially women riders who might want to do the same, my experience may be benefiting others on a number of different fronts.

The message I want to reiterate here is that if you get clear on what it is that you want to do, regardless of its size or scope – providing it’s within your control – by taking a few simple steps to research it thoroughly, speak with those who have experience or knowledge in the field, undertake a cost/benefit analysis while managing the risks, along with being supported by a trustworthy mentor and coach, the probability of a successful outcome is high!  What’s also of importance is getting out there and leading by example.  It takes courage and builds healthy leadership muscle – perhaps the subject of another blog 🙂

I encourage you to give it a try and put the process to the test – take on something that moves you beyond your comfort zone even if it’s in a small way.  I heard it said that’s where life beings – feel the fear and do it anyway!

I’m interested in hearing back from you – post a comment to let me know how it goes.

Have you Stepped Out of Your Comfort Zone and want to turn back? Here are four effective ways to help you stay the course.

Comfort Zone8Recently I attended a workshop on “Authentic Leadership” that was led by Trillium Teams.  It was a day and a half dedicated to increased self-awareness, behaviour styles, and self-management of personal behaviour and how it relates to your leadership and communication style.  The bottom line, if I was to summarize what I took away from the workshop is “how to continually adapt my communication style to support those I lead.”    What was also of great value was getting to know other leaders at the workshop.  Networking is an incredibly powerful and beneficial way to learn from the experiences of others.

After the workshop wrapped up, I had the privilege of spending time with a young manager who attended the event.  As it turned out, after the event both of us took advantage of the location and spent a couple of hours at a nearby spa that has a number of pools and saunas in a natural outdoor setting – an excellent way to wrap up a busy week!

Over the course of the afternoon we had the opportunity to chat.  I learned that she was new to the role of manager.  She shared how she felt challenged by it and wondered if she had made the right career choice by accepting the new role.  She indicated that she knew the work and was very good at it.  What she was calling into question was her ability to lead.  She was questioning herself as to if she was cut out to be a leader.  As we chatted she went on to say how she discussed it with her mentor and was reassured that she was heading in the right direction to support her career path.  What she may not have realized is that she was not only demonstrating one of the key competencies of an effective leader – self-awareness – she was also self-managing by reaching out to her emotional support team.   She had stepped outside her comfort zone to follow her dream and was gaining valuable experience and emotional intelligence by doing it.

As I listened, I recalled a similar experience.  It was a number of years ago when I had stepped outside of my comfort zone and I too called into question my capacity and ability to be an effective leader.  It was in the mid 90’s and I was living and working on Vancouver Island.  Similar to today, the Federal Government was going through a round of workforce adjustments and the office where I worked was being “right sized”, along with my position.  Through a series of events, I relocated to another location and went from managing a dozen employees to more than double.  I knew the work but the scope changed significantly.  I felt overwhelmed – and very much like this young lady I was calling into question my competence as a leader.  I wondered if I was cut out for the job!

Coincidentally, my boss invited me for coffee and asked how it was going.  She was checking in with me.  Just as this new manager had done with her mentor, I took the risk and conveyed how I was feeling and the challenges I was experiencing.  I remember to this day, decades later, how she reassured me by sharing her experience and leadership wisdom.  She reminded me that it takes time to transition into a new role, regardless of how well I knew the business, not to mention a new community.  She told me that if after four months I felt the same way then we should meet to talk about it again.  We didn’t need to have the next conversation, or at least not about that.

Over the years I’ve called on that experience to carry me through a number of life’s challenges, along with sharing it with others I’ve met along the way.  If you have taken on a new role, are transitioning into a new environment, or even getting on a new motorcycle this season, regardless of your knowledge or experience, here are four key things to keep in mind:

  1. As was shared with me, you need to be patient with yourself and recognize that there’s an adjustment period.  During this time, despite feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt about your capacity, do what it takes to stick with it.  The transition time will vary depending on the scope of the change and its complexity.
  1. Seek feedback from someone you trust about how you’re doing.  What’s important to remember is that what you’re feeling on the inside is not necessarily how you are preforming on the outside or how others may be viewing your performance.  Self-perception can be deceiving.  I heard it said “feedback is the breakfast of champions”.
  1. Ensure that you have an emotional support team in place that you call on for encouragement and a safe place to share how you are feeling as you move through the transition and your confidence returns.  This may be a friend, a mentor or a coach to help you work through the challenge.  A coach can assist you develop strategies and a personal action plan while helping you maintain momentum to successfully move through the change and beyond.
  1. Finally, don’t give up!  You never know how close you are to a breakthrough unless you see it through.


Do you have a dream and don’t know how to make it happen? Here is a simple SMART way to make it happen!


I remember dreaming about riding a motorcycle across the country and admiring others who were out there doing it.  I got lucky and was inspired by a friend.  He rode up on a “new to him” 750cc Honda Shadow.  I was impressed and in complete awe.  At that point this story could have gone either way.  I could have dismissed it.  After all he was a guy and that’s what guys do.  Then again if he could do it why couldn’t I?  Yes, admittedly, I am a woman.  Luckily, that didn’t enter into the picture. 

When I started asking him questions I became interested in his strategy.  He had bought a used scooter and rode it for a month before buying the motorcycle.  I liked the idea of starting small.  As it turned out, he lent me his scooter.  I took a ministry approved riding course and after riding the scooter for two months I purchased my first motorcycle – a 250cc Honda Rebel that topped out at 80km.  Regardless, I felt like Janice Joplin!  I’ve upgraded three times since then and four years later I purchased a new Harley Davidson cruiser.  Last year I rode some of the most challenging roads in North America, including Deals Gap, also known as Tail of the Dragon – google it.

The message here is that if you have a dream follow your heart.  You can make it happen – incrementally.  Here are a few simple steps to realize your goals in a way that’s SMART:

  1. First you need to get clear and be Specific about what it is you want.    Step into your desire and imagine it.  Yes, feel it.
  2. Develop a plan that has concrete Measurable steps that leads you towards your desired outcome.
  3. Remember that each step needs to be Achievable.  They don’t need to big but you need to be able to make them happen!  They need to be within your control.
  4. Your plan, along with the outcome needs to be Realistic.  No, I couldn’t have ridden the Harley Davidson five years ago, or at least not without hurting myself!
  5. A plan that is Timely is critical to success.  Depending on what’s going on, other factors will need to be considered.  Timing is an important consideration.  I retire next year so a motorcycle trip across the country fits perfectly into my plans!

On reflections, I can see that most dreams are not realized overnight – not even with motorcycling.  There were days when I lacked confidence and needed coaching and support from more experienced riders.  I’m sure you’ve hear it before “If your dream doesn’t scare you it’s not big enough!”

Next year I’m riding south across the US, into Colorado and Utah where the roads are out of this world, up the west coast, into northern BC – yes the Alaska Highway is part of my route – and back home to Ottawa through Montana, South Dakota and the mid-west.  It’s an estimated 26,000 km.  It’s a big dream and I intend on making it happen, one route at a time!

And what about you – Isn’t it time to make your dream a reality?  

Situational Leadership – Choosing your style!

Situational Leadership – Choosing your style!

 Most leaders prefer to use a supportive leadership style that encourages direct reports to seek their own solutions in accomplishing their work tasks.  This style is appropriate when the direct report has a reasonably high level of competence and needs encouragement rather than direction. What is overlooked at times is when people are new to a task, disillusioned, or looking for new challenges.  In these situations employees need direction.  In fact, just being supportive often delays or frustrates performance.

The best leaders learn how to tailor their management style to the needs of their employees.  For example, if an employee is new to a task, a successful manager will use a highly directive style—clearly setting goals and timelines.  If an employee is struggling with a specific task, the manager will provided direction and support.  If the employee is an expert at a task, a manager will use a delegating style on the current assignment and focus on coming up with new challenges and opportunities for future development.

How flexible is your leadership approach?

Research shows that leadership flexibility is a rare skill.  In looking at leaders who successfully use a Directing, Coaching, Supporting, or Delegating style as needed, studies show that more than half of leaders typically use only one leadership style, about one in four use two leadership styles, one in five use three leadership styles, and only 1 percent use all four leadership styles – a rare breed indeed!

Ways to get started:

For leaders looking to add flexibility into the way they lead and increase the overall success of their organization, here are four ways to get started:

  1. Create a written list of the tasks and desired outcomes for each of your direct reports.
  2. Schedule an initial one-on-one meeting to identify current development levels for each task.  What is the employee’s current level of competence and commitment?  Are other tools and / or resources needed to deliver on the task?
  3. Come to agreement on the leadership approach needed in this situation.  Does the employee need direction, support, or a combination of the two?
  4. Establish regular bilateral meetings (i.e.: bi-weekly or monthly as a minimum) to check back see how things are going and if any changes are needed.

Effectively leadership requires adjusting your style to meet the needs of those you lead.  Learning to be flexible can be challenging in the beginning especially if you have become accustomed to using a “one size fits all” approach.   With practice you can learn how to adjust your leadership style to align with the needs of the people who report to you.   And even while you are learning your people will notice a difference.  So take a step in the right direction and get started today!

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