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Does Your Knowing Show?

Monica Wofford is a leadership development specialist, professional speaker, and owner of a leadership training company. To find out more, go to

With all information, it’s one thing to know what to do and quite another to actively practice using it to build skills and then doing something with them.

In recent weeks, the team of Contagious Companies has had so much fun working with a multitude of leadership clients. And interestingly, whether providing coaching, training, or online leadership learning, emotional intelligence has been the predominant theme of most conversations. Why, you might ask? Simply stated, emotional intelligence impacts all facets of leadership. It has the potential to change communication, improve engagement, alter methods for motivation, and pretty remarkably increase the value of a leader’s coaching efforts. However, what is so often the case and the focus of much of our training, is not just the knowledge of EQ, but how to actually use this information. Leaders’ must ensure their knowing is showing for that new knowledge to make any difference. Does yours? Here are three ways to ensure it does.

Get Clear

It may first have value to clarify exactly what’s being talked about when the words Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is used. Defined on the great Google, EQ is “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Yet, as many a leader may attest, having the capacity to understand such control and expression is far different than actually using the skill. As a leader, your knowing shows if you are actively seeking to understand what other’s need and the way in which they hear or interpret things. Your knowing is showing if you are practicing in interactions that require the greatest amount of awareness, empathy, and understanding. Where it pays to get most clear is in believing and embracing the idea that the concept of emotional intelligence and having a clear understanding of what it is, is an intellectual exercise. Using the concepts in action is an emotional exercise. One might argue that in order for your knowing in this area to continue showing, one might have to actually care about how they come across and how they connect with others.

Apply it Personally

One of the more fun ways to share with a leader the key attributes of their personality is by applying it personally. Who wouldn’t pay much closer attention when one talks through how this knowledge and action could affect one’s home life, children or family. Anecdotally, there are some fun statistics that say a very high percentage of the time, a family of four will occupy one of each naturally in a standard four quadrant model for personalities. Would you find it more relevant, more compelling to practice if you knew the application (or showing your knowing) of emotional intelligence skills and understanding could finally assuage parental guilt and clarify why you get along great with one child and are convinced the other one is adopted? Impacting one’s personal life can create powerful motivation to them then using the knowledge, capacity, awareness, and understanding to then practice with their work team and in the workplace.

Maintain Grace and Graciousness

The subject line of this Monday Moment, “Does Your Knowing Show”, might lead one to believe the focus is on how to avoid being cocky or arrogant. There is an element of that to be considered. Many of our clients have admitted to knowing people who think they act one way and actually behave in quite another. Connect the two together and you could easily work with someone who is unaware, even in light of your own clarity around their behavior, and it seems not matter what is done, getting through is not an option. Maintain your position of grace and graciousness. In other words, keep your flippin’ composure. People come to this knowledge at a time in their lives when it’s most needed usually and it could be that right now is the time in which you need the most practice in this area. It doesn’t mean the other is lacking, it simply means they’re not at the same place in this particular area of awareness and understanding. Not only does the definition of emotional intelligence mention empathy, the application of these concepts in ways that cause your knowing to show most effectively, requires it.

Emotional intelligence impacts all facets of leadership. It can serve as a foundation for all that is and all that it means to be a better leader. If you’ve not read up on this material since 1985 when it became main stream and most popular, perhaps it’s time to reexamine just how much of your knowing is used and shows.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

Is Leadership Enough?

Monica Wofford is a leadership development expert who speaks, trains, coaches, and consults. For more information about her or her company, go to or

A brilliant mind few followed until much later in life and after death, Einstein might have agreed that having complex processes others did not understand and being somewhat of a maverick with few followers early on, was not what enabled him to lead others to adopt his way of thinking. And while he was accepting of others, he was not often met with that reciprocally, What might he have contributed BEYOND his current legacy if HE had been able to master these three things?

Is it enough to have great leadership skills and great leaders in your organization? Is it enough to have strong leaders in a crisis? Is it all you need to teach leadership to those with potential in your workplace?  The answers depend on your goal. Every organization is in need of leaders and future leaders who will take the business into the future. Every organization is also in need of doers, connectors, and those with acceptance to do just the job needed when others are busy leading. So, is leadership all that’s needed? Is leadership enough to drive the performance of the rest of the organization? No, and here’s why and what else you’ll need.

Valued Followers

If leaders aren’t enough and developing leadership skills isn’t the entire equation for success, then what is often missing are those willing to follow. But, not only does an organization need willing followers, it needs those followers to feel needed. People want to feel needed. People who follow are needed  for the tasks that developing leaders delegate and don’t have time to complete themselves, nor should, based on their full leadership and management plate. How do you show value to those with no ambition to be in a leadership role, but who show up to work daily, complete the assignments they’ve been given, and do so with a pleasant demeanor? The focus is so often on leaders and future leaders, but what about those who keep the organization running and follow the direction of those who believe they are running it?

Clear Processes

One of the key challenges many developing leaders face is clarifying procedures and processes that were never made clear in the first place. One leader I spoke with this week needed to know the attendance policy and reached out to HR, via their web portal, in a large organization in which the human resource function has been centralized. The answer received was “we have no real attendance policy”. The organization has over ten thousand employees and yet has no clear attendance policy guiding leaders on how to manage tardies, unexcused absences, and what determines the time frames or behaviors that fit into either category. That lack of clarity is causing hours of work for this leader in deciding appropriate boundaries and consequence delivery. Is your workforce guided by unwritten rules or is it time to review, clarify and communicate clear processes that will make everyone, leaders included, life and work easier?

Widespread Acceptance

This one might well be prefaced by saying I live in Orlando. Rarely in a Monday Moment will I use first person. In this case, it is relevant as we‘ve experienced firsthand the tragedy that can result from an abundance of the lack of acceptance. In your workplace, perhaps acceptance and authenticity are talked about widely. Perhaps there is the use of profiles or tools that reveal personality. Even so, it is paramount to internalize and know that the concept of people being different is an INTELLECTUAL exercise. Leaders, managers, and those who aspire to both already know people are different. Acceptance of those differences is an EMOTIONAL exercise that can take practice, effort, and conscious awareness to demonstrate this is part of one’s belief system. How are you showing that acceptance of ALL differences, in your organization, is not only rampant, but encouraged, and that all differences are valued?

It is possible to argue that each of these attributes and categories of behaviors is part of a leader’s repertoire. It’s even possible to say, but this is how our leaders are! They value those who follow, adhere to clear processes, and certainly hire with acceptance and a focus on inclusion and diversity. Reread that statement. If the leadership of your organization is all you’re currently thinking about, ask yourself if the workforce would be able to agree with their perceptions of those very same statements.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

Why Assumptions Make More than You Think

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There could have been a donkey pictured here, but the reality is even worse when we operate from a basis of assuming things that may or may not be true and then act on them without verifying this truth.

In the course of numerous conversations and coachings this week, a number of assumptions made by those in a leadership capacity have revealed how long term inaccuracies negatively influence leadership. This is an issue that is relatively easy to fix, once, of course, one is aware of doing it. Certainly, you’re no stranger to the statement of “When one assumes, it makes an ass out of you and me”. The challenge is that making assumptions makes many more problems than you might think. What have you assumed lately and would it surprise you to know that it’s having this kind of impact?

Poor Choices

When a leader assumes that everything stated in an interview is true, it can create a poor choice in hiring. When a leader assumes the hearsay that has gotten back to them is true, they make poor choices in how to respond to information not yet proven to resemble the truth. When a leader assumes “no news is good news” is a powerful employee development strategy, he or she makes the choice to spend time with only those performing poorly and then is  surprised when top performers quit unexpectedly.  Assumptions, while a way to save time and execute on something rapidly, leave a leader in the dark on making decisions based on accurate data. While no need exists for a leader to analyze the living dickens out of everything they’re told or see, or perceive, a question or two that digs deeper and validate or discount initial insights, has great value.

Disengaged Employees

You’ve not been working long if you’ve not run across the most prevalent organizational focus and concept called employee engagement. Yet, what is this really? Employee engagement is nothing more than creating a workforce who believes someone in that company gives a darn about them and they in turn show that they give a darn about the company. While it could be send in perhaps a more delicate manner, that’s at the heart of it, and so are the hearts of those leaders and employees, as a matter of fact. If a leader assumes they know what motivates or entices each team member, they’ll get it wrong and disengage throngs of team members. If a leader assumes that being paid is enough to engage someone, they’ll create a revolving door of employee turnover. Assumptions are not the only cause of such catastrophic occurrences, but they are what starts many a poor choice, inappropriate reaction, and ineffective program or engagement campaign implementation. Much as the sales and marketing funnel has been flipped upside down to begin with a more customized approach versus one global message to anyone who will listen, the same is true for employee engagement. Find out what they want, like and need, instead of assuming.

Ineffective Leadership

As if making poor choices and having a disengaged workforce weren’t enough to thwart one’s leadership efforts, making assumptions creates missed development opportunities for employees, poor communication to employees, misaligned roles and responsibilities, and a team that is generally unhappy. Truthfully, there are both positive and negative assumptions that can create this reality, so as a leader, a worthy goal might be to “trust, then verify” when the assumptions lead toward the positive and then ask more questions when they might create an action that is more damaging. Leaders listen, observe, ask, and test before they allow assumptions to be the basis for their leadership.  What theories or beliefs have you used as a basis for your actions, that might well be theories, beliefs, or assumptions that deserve to be questioned? Is your unapproachable Accounts Payable person really hard to get along with or simply doesn’t know how to connect? Is your completely disorganized new salesperson really going to be a pain the neck or a great way to test out your communication and sales skills in selling HR on finding them a detailed support person to handle the incoming sales workload?

Yes, it’s true, we make assumptions every day on myriad things and in many cases they quite simply keep us safe from having to take the time to gather more data. Yet, when in the role of leader, unless you want to put yourself in a position of having to spend more time and effort in damage control, hiring, recruiting, and removing your proverbial tail from your hind quarters, lessen the assumptions at work, quickly.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

5 Ways to Fix a Leadership Fit

Monica Wofford is a leadership development specialist who keynotes, trains, and coaches leaders. For more information go to

Not all will fit the slipper, but all can learn to be a better leader, if they want to. Wouldn’t it be good to determine if they do and if they’re leadership is actually right for you?

Leadership is not a glass slipper, but you still have to make sure it fits! It’s a fun keynote topic I deliver,  but also a cautionary tale about the value of leadership fit and how often organizations miss it. One cannot promote people who are not prepared and expect them to excel just because they’ve been given a new title. Organizations cause significant damage when they promote folks beyond their competence, as we’ve known for years, and far more damage is done still when leaders spend less time determining if a promotable candidate fits than they do on the calculations for next year’s budget. Leadership fit is a critical attribute of a leaders’ success and yet, in light of what happens more often than not, perhaps we should talk about when there’s NOT a fit and how to fix it.


If it’s true that most leaders spend more time planning lunch dates than job fits, consider what that prioritization does for a minute. Stop doing that! J Think and observe and examine for a minute all the factors that must be considered when promoting a new person into a position of leadership in which they will influence and guide the actions, outcomes, and results of many more team members. Weigh the options. Create a plan. Document areas in which training or development could be a solution if simply skills are deficient. What does that person need to be a fit? Is the replacement of the entire existing team? Then you don’t have a fit to begin with. Consider your current position. Did you really want to be a leader in the first place? Did you want this promotion or do you want what the new salary is supposed to provide? If you’re a leader will your wife finally approve of who you are as a man? If you’re a leader will you finally be free of depending on any man? These are merely two of the bigger issues that deserve your attention before you can say a role is a fit. Stop and think for a minute about why you want to be a leader, lead other people, or take on that privilege and responsibility in the first place.


If you were to ever literally force a square peg in a round hole, you’d see it break the wood around the opening. Rarely would we consider doing something so silly for real, but it happens daily in companies around the world. If the work to put a new leader in place gets complicated, complex, or convoluted before or immediately following their answer of yes, this is a sign you’ve not made a good fit. Other circumstances could be at play and perhaps there is a need for this kind of forced change, but by and large, forcing things is not a recipe for success. Taking on challenges, stretching yourself, stepping out of one’s comfort zone, yes, but forcing a shoe to fit isn’t it. One of the more morbid versions told of the Cinderella slipper analogy is that the evil step sisters attempted to cut off some of their toes for the slipper, and thus marriage to the Prince, to fit. If you feel like you’re having to go to that much effort, stop for a moment and reexamine the common sense of what you’re doing.


“It” could refer to leadership as a concept or it could be an acronym for Intellectual and Technical Skills. Both are applicable when it comes to a leadership fit and a person fitting into it. If there is a poor fit one is trying to fix, the easiest areas to look for solutions first are technical skills and intellectual aptitude. Do they have the functional capabilities to perform the job? Do they have the capacity to learn how to do the job? If both questions are answered in the affirmative, the question remains, then what IS it that creates the poor fit? Namely, the belief that technical skills and intellectual abilities are all there is to leadership. Make sure those are up to speed or getting the support they need, yes, but then recognize that these skills are only half, to two thirds, of what create and maintains successful leadership.


Despite the ease of discussing and developing technical acumen and a bank of intellectual knowledge when compared to the art and science of understanding people, many leaders continue to believe leadership fit is about skills and competence. You don’t have to be brilliant to lead. Abundant examples exist to support that statement. In fact, a lack of humility will distance you from the very population you’re leading. You don’t have to be the brightest bulb in the fixture to lead; nor do you have to be the best performer on the team. Leadership is also about how you fit with those you lead, those who lead you, and the desired outcomes that will determine for you, whether or not you succeed. Read that again. Fit is not about just you, just your skills, or just them. It’s about bringing intellectual, technical, plans, preparation, and people skills together in a way that achieves the results, outcomes and goals. In other words, a brilliant mathematician with limited or little people skills may be better suited to lead themselves instead of other people.

And… Act on It

Once you’ve stopped for a moment to examine your path and desired plan, once you’ve ceased forcing things into place, once you’ve identified your ITS and brought each of those elements together…there is a vast difference between identifying a lack of fit and fixing it. The latter takes action and the best leaders act on this difference early. If you’re not happy in leadership or feel like you’re not doing what is needed as a leader for this group of people, chances are you’re smack in the middle of a lack of fit. Take steps now to correct it, change a few things, and align what you’re doing with what you believe you, or they, would be best at.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

Leading Through a Yes Mess

Monica Wofford is a leadership development expert who develops leaders. For more information, go to or

If you say yes to too much, you close the window of time to say yes to the things, dreams, and actions in line with your own dreams and business goals.

If you take on too much, say yes to more than you should, or lead overwhelmed employees whose task lists are more than full, you have a yes mess.  Yet, the intellectual realization that one says yes to too much is much different than knowing how to fix the issue.  The observation of employees who are stressing out over pressure to do too much is valuable. Knowing how to coach them through that will make you a better leader. Both in leading yourself and in leading others, the common theme and question is how does one stop this pattern of behavior. This is the focus of today’s Monday Moment.

The Ask

Many leaders say yes to whatever is asked of them. The category on a job description of “other duties as assigned” does exist for a reason, but it creates the belief and temptation that in order to be seen as doing a good job at leading, we must say yes to myriad and unlimited requests. The real key is what are you asking back when asked to take on a task. Do you clarify the scope? How big a project is this? Do you ask if there is support available? Do you assume you are the only one who must be involved and act as if that’s the case because that’s your comfort zone or do you ask others for help? A request for you to be involved does not require a simple one word answer in response. Ask more questions when asked the question of “can you do something else?” The act of asking for clarity before you just say yes to everything, will give you time to think. It’s an information gathering method and a stalling technique. Effective, particularly if your knee jerk reaction is to just say yes and figure out what later might be a mess.

The Urge

It’s possible you and those you lead are saying yes to too many things because there exists a desire to please. Perhaps it’s a desire to be all things to all people. Maybe it’s an urge to be seen favorably, amiably, and easy to work with. There are other ways to achieve each of these things besides overloading your plate, trading it in for a platter, and dealing with your stressed out reactions when you’ve taken on too many things. In fact, there are far less painful ways to satisfy these urges and achieve these feelings. Examine these things. As a leader, are you saying yes to impress your boss? As employees, are they saying yes because they’ve never been taught to say “not now’ or “no, thank you.” Is yes being perceived as your answer because you said nothing in response and someone took silence to imply agreement? What are you really after and is the work you need to do more about becoming self-aware of what is really important to you?

The Habit

Leading your own behavior effectively and becoming a better leader of others includes paying attention to your habit patterns. Saying yes to everyone and everything or even just the bright and shiny looking opportunities could be nothing more than a habit of which you’re unaware. What are your concerns that crop up when someone asks you to do something ? What are the fears presented in your head or actions you dread if you didn’t say yes? What do you imagine that other person or committee will think if you dare not take on another project and say yes before they blink? Habits are exceedingly powerful behavior motivators and once a habit develops we rarely realize we’re committing the same repeated actions over and over. Look at what comes up automatically. Use the questions as a response to give yourself a few extra seconds. This is usually all it takes for the urge to recommit that habit to dissipate.

Whether you struggle with you inability to turn down a request or you are watching employees deal with the impending stress of being overloaded, these three areas of action will help you lead more effectively and with less stress. Teach them to those you lead and those you see struggling. After all, it’s no fun to continue to complain about one of our behaviors if we’re not willing to look at, try out, and employ even simple solutions.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

The Power and Perils of Pressure

Monica Wofford is a leadership development expert who provides keynote presentations, coaching, training and consulting for leaders who've been promoted, but not prepared. For more information, go to

Are you displaying the traits you want them to learn or paving the way for them to follow the beat of your pressure filled drum?

Leaders with the longest list of accomplishments are familiar with the concept of pressure. Whether they place it on themselves, provide it to others, or exert it in a last ditch effort to meet a deadline they’ve put off for the very sake of creating such pressure, all have their own stories to tell about how they are motivated by, or loathe, pressure. But why? Why do we feel so strongly about pressure?  Is the pressure, a cousin to accountability, we put on ourselves to achieve, do, become, lead, move faster, or be better, may be helpful or harmful.  Do we thrive in it or cave under it? Are we setting up future leaders with this same mentality, for success or failure? Let’s take a look in today’s Monday Moment.


Some leaders believe that pushing others will help them succeed. There is validity in this belief when pushing someone to reach their own potential, or pushing to do just a smidge more is the goal. When the full court press becomes a way of insisting that someone not well suited for a role, put forth absurd amounts of effort to act like something they’re not, pretend they have the talents of someone else and figuratively kill themselves for little or no reward and lesser results, that is a problem. Undue pressure of pushing someone into positions in which they don’t fit is actually more than a problem, it’s a deal breaker for long term profit and employment. Push those who smile when you do it. Ease up on those who wince when they see you coming.


The power of leadership is in developing a loyal rapport and respect in those you have the privilege of leading. That power doesn’t last long when a leader gives it away and starts to beg employees to stay or overlooking reasons they really should go away. The leader’s power doesn’t stick around when they are cajoling, begging, persuading, or pleading with employees to please perform according to minimal guidelines or please still do your job even though I gave you a three. Leaders are subject to pressure from multiple directions and if they’re not careful it can negatively influence their decisions on how they lead. If you have to pull others by the hand to get them to follow you, it’s time to reexamine your actions and what you’re doing to compel them to go in a different direction.


Many leaders I’ve known are gifted at saying one thing and doing that same thing quite differently. One such CEO shared with me that he’d like one of his Directors to work less and not drive so hard. As soon as he said it, he then said, “but I’m certainly not the one to model that behavior.” He feared she would burn out and I shared with him that my larger fear was this: when you provide enormous pressure on yourself to perform, to be all things to all people, to say yes all the time, and to work as if your phone and laptop are physically attached to your behind, you pave the way in which future leaders will be expected to behave. You pave the way for expectations that will now be formed about how you’ll behave consistently. You trap yourself in a paved path of your own making to consistently be pressured to do more, faster, and better until you will run out, literally, of energy. Be mindful of the path you are paving for those you lead, the future of leaders in your company, and those you may also lead personally. If the song “Cat in the Cradle” gives you goosebumps, pay attention.


One beloved client told me last week she was prepping to leave for vacation, her FIRST vacation, in her five years of employment tenure. Yes, the company in which she works allows for vacation. Yes, the culture of the company is fairly hard driving and results oriented and they provide a bit of pressure for employees to accomplish super human amounts of work, but I also know the CEO is not one who would say you can’t take a vacation five years in a row. The pressure she’s put on herself to work instead of take a break, is not uncommon, and your leaders are guilty, too. Long hours, late nights, early mornings, berserk work travel schedules, cramming more into 24 hours times 7 than most feel good about doing in a month, are all ways in which we pay the price of feeling pressure to perform. Beyond the issue of health and weight gain when you grab and go, leading one’s life in this way creates the very need for courses on balance and amps the stress level to astronomical (read: difficult people abound!) levels.  There’s no question that for some the pressure to perform and work all hours is motivating and rewarding. There’s also no question that the number of people who end a career and then decide to finally do what they’ve always wanted, be who they naturally are, and lead their own lives in a more fulfilling direction is alarming.

Pressure is a force that drives us. Sometimes it drives us to do stupid things, like peer pressure. Sometimes it drives us to wait until we have enough of it, like in the case of procrastination. Sometimes it drives us to force others to buy in faster, destroying employee engagement. And sometimes it is an often inaccurate combination of negative forces in our head that causes people to say “be less hard on yourself”. To become a more effective leader, learn to discern when times are good to pour on the pressure, when to go with the flow a bit more and when to let those you lead let off some pressure. Use pressure poorly and you may find you regret it sorely. Use pressure wisely and it has the potential to be inspiring.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

7 Strategies for Getting Permission

Monica Wofford is a leadership development specialist with 25 years of teaching leaders how to be themselves, lead themselves, and then lead others. For more information on Monica or her training firm, go to

What are you waiting for exactly to do, say, and be the leader they need? Are you looking for someone to say go? Are you looking for permission and your boss to say so? Or are you in your own way behind an invisible wall at the starting line?

New leaders often feel their momentum is stalled because they need permission to take action from their boss. Even leaders with tenure in their management role, can be found to find comfort in holding back until someone says go. What if, no matter the length of time you’ve held a leadership position, no matter your role, you had clear cut ways to get permission? Permission to move ahead. Permission to make progress. Permission to take a risk and permission, ultimately to be yourself? This Monday Moment will give you seven such strategies to have that permission granted and become the better leader they’ve always wanted.

Get Clear

Studies of buying behavior and selling strategies tell us that the easiest answer for a potential customer to give is “no”. It is given more readily when the choices are not clear or there is inherent confusion in what’s being asked. When seeking permission to go forward on a project, purchase, or acquisition of a much needed team resource, (all forms of selling, of course!) focus in on a succinct description of exactly what you want and be able to convey that description in three short bullet points.


While this step seems so simplistic, waiting for permission is the more often used strategy. If you want permission to move forward, make your case and clearly ask the question. Stop being so subtle your boss doesn’t get it. Avoid the temptation to believe that your leaders will eventually notice why you’re stuck and willingly admit it’s a problem of their own making. (Translation: your boss is not likely going to see, or often believe, he is the one is the way of you moving forward)

Determine Authority

In sales, this strategy is usually described as getting to the decision maker. Many salespeople will tell you that they’ve learned the hard way when leading a sales process, to avoid telling all the information and making a big presentation to someone who can’t place the order in the first place. Does the leader, manager, boss or person, from whom you’re asking permission, have the ability to give you permission the first place? Look closely as authority, and the perception that people have it, can be deceiving.

Use Confidence

A request from someone made with conviction, whose confidence and belief in the value of their request is obvious, is compelling. Multi-level marketers know this. Great sales people know this. The best leaders know this. In fact, the very concept is likely the originating idea behind sayings like “fake it til you make it” and “never let them see you sweat”. Your leaders and those granting you permission to do what you ask, want to have confidence in their own response to your request. Confidence being contagious…show them confidence and you’re far more likely to receive  favorable confidence filled answer…or in this case permission granted.

Ask Again

Not any one strategy works 100% of the time and multiple factors must be in alignment for permission to execute a complex project to be granted. Sometimes the timing isn’t right. Other times the people are not all in place. Other times, there are reasons to which you may not be privy that prevent the answer you want from being easy. In this case, persistence pays in getting permission. As the old saying goes “Ask, ask, ask, and ask again. That is, if you really want that order.” Note, asking again is not the same as “be obnoxious”, so exercise equally persistent professionalism in all cases.

Respect Timing

Look at the big picture. What else is on your leaders’ plate? What are the factors that could weigh heavily or influence the answer you seek? Is the timing right for you to get permission to do what you’re wanting to implement or execute? Respecting the timing of your question and your choices is a sign of good leadership, including the effort of giving yourself permission to be the authentic you. Are there times when that’s appropriate and times when it’s best to use a well-developed learned behavior, even if it’s not natural?

Give it to Yourself

For many leaders, the biggest barrier to being themselves, leading themselves well, and leading a team effectively is, in fact, themselves. We are often the greatest guilty party for getting in our own way. To get permission to be yourself, give yourself permission to do so. To get permission to be happy with the team you have, the position you hold, or the salary you’re paid to do a job, give yourself permission to do so. Sometimes getting permission is more of an inside job and simpler than most realize. Are you holding you back from the permission you seek? If so, this is the primary reason others aren’t seeing your confident belief and are thus, supporting the effort of holding you back.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

How to Be a Liberated Leader


What first comes to mind, might be QUIT! Or maybe one thinks of a communist

Monica Wofford is a leadership development specialist who delights audiences large and small with her leadership keynotes and training classes.

No leaders needs permission from others to be themselves, be authentic, and be real. The deal is this: new leaders think there is someone they must ask before they can do this.

regime, but how to be a liberated leader is a deeper thinking bit of guidance than both. Inspired by the words from a recent coaching client, feeling liberated is about “being free to be me” or acting authentically.  Instead of feeling free, most leaders w


e work with would answer the question of “Who are you authentically?” with another question: “At home or at work?” Wouldn’t it be energizing, uplifting, and even freeing if you could just be you, no matter where you might be? But, how do you liberate yourself from all the pressure to be someone you’re not, lead in a way you wouldn’t, or behave in ways others think you should? With these liberated leader Monday Moment methods.

First, Stop Shoulding

This phrase is frequently used and gets leaders laughing because it’s also frequently true. “Stop shoulding all over yourself!” The concept is simple. Stop compelling yourself to behave in unnatural ways or do things for years that don’t feel right, but that you are of the belief you should. The challenge with the belief and how it prevents leaders from behaving authentically, is most of the beliefs we hold true are not ones with which we argue. Rarely do we question things we believe and that have formed as “shoulds”, but maybe we should. Must you really be a CPA just because you have a finance degree? Should you always be strong and in charge if you’re a leader, husband, and daddy? Should you always be serious and all business when in a business meeting? Each leader’s answer may be different, but if your answer is limiting, it’s keeping you from feeling liberated and in any way energized about what you’re doing.

Second, Start Seeing

Wayne Dyer said “Believing is seeing”, but if you’re not a self help fan nor observant of how he reversed the typical order of that saying, then consider this: Seeing differences does not help you treat people differently. Believing people are different will help you see how to treat them differently. Then it is a matter of following what you believe. Much as shoulds stand in our way of giving ourselves permission to act freely, beliefs about what others intend, see, believe, mean to do to us, or need from us as leaders are also well engrained and something with which we don’t often argue. A leader who sees an employee as a difficult person will treat them accordingly. A leader who sees that same person as their opposite in need of radically different motivation and communication methods, will treat them perhaps in the ways that person needs. Which do you believe will free up more of your time spent in performance counseling conversations? What could you accomplish in your leadership role with that new found time and freedom?

Third, Start Being

I have worked with a number of leaders in the last ten years, from CEOs to front line supervisors, and many a manager and director in between.  When coaching, what comes up most notably for these leaders is the desire to get what they need. For some it’s a challenge and ambitious promotion. For others, it’s details and a linear structure. For still more, it’s the desire to get along and not be mired in conflict and for the rest, it’s about how to get appreciated for even their mere existence. In other words, they want the permission, the skills, the confidence, and the ability to be content in their own skin. They want to be confident about who they are and the value inherent in them. They want others to treat them in ways they like to be treated and they want, without perhaps always using this word… freedom…to be themselves.  However, no one needs to give you, or any other leader, permission to be yourself. The biggest barrier to feeling free to act authentically is that pesky, persistent, should filled, internal voice and system of beliefs. Perhaps the bigger question is when do you think it would be okay to share the authentic value of who you really are with the team you lead? When do you think it would be okay to speak up in the meeting instead of keeping quiet because it’s safer? When do you think it would be okay to ask the tough questions? When do you think it would be good to say no to the person  who is always taking advantage of you, once and for all? When do you take off the costume of who you should be and actually give yourself permission to act authentically? When you do, it will be truly liberating.

When a leader feels liberated, it’s much easier to see what they hadn’t seen or described before. Some call is suppression, or an oppressive environment of their own making. Some leaders tell me that freedom and authenticity quickly led to a promotion because people stopped having to question their motives or uncover where they were coming from. Being real is not confusing. It’s energizing, inspiring, a great feeling, and the place from which you’ll find you do your best work and accomplish the greatest things. And yes, it’s liberating!  .

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. And hey, if you’re struggling with this whole idea of having that liberating feeling or being authentic, it might be time we partner to help you with that. Call me when it’s convenient (or when you just get tired of having to constantly fake it!) and in the meantime, have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

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Meet Monica Wofford

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Monica Wofford

Named one of Meetings and Conventions Magazine’s FAVORITE SPEAKERS! She’s been seen on CNN and FOX and has spoken in 25 countries! Monica Wofford is an internationally acclaimed leadership development expert who engages audiences and teaches them how to become better leaders. Learn more about how to book Monica as your next keynote speaker.

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