Blog (filtered)

Being a leader takes practice. We’re excited to share our latest experiments and lessons learned.

Tonia Duncan-Rivers
Friday, December 8, 2017

Last week’s blog, The Year in Review, reminded me of an article that might be helpful to you especially since we often make new goals and resolutions for the New Year.

The article, “Conducting a Personal SWOT Analysis for Your Career” by Marci Martin, is about applying the SWOT Analysis to your career. A SWOT Analysis helps organizations identify their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Conducting the analysis reveals what organizations are doing well, what they should work on and where opportunities and threats lie. Martin’s article highlights that a personal SWOT Analysis can do the same for our careers. We can identify our strengths and weaknesses while also identifying external factors that may affect your career.

The article lists several questions for each category to help you get started but you can add specific questions to fit your situation, if necessary. Here’s how a personal SWOT Analysis works.

The first step is to identify your Strengths and ask yourself questions, such as, what are you good at naturally and what are your talents? Remember it is important to be completely honest and not limit your strengths to your existing job. List all of your strengths even if you are not using them in your current role.

Next, you will address your Weaknesses. What are some areas that you can improve? What are your negative work habits and traits? When identifying your Opportunities, you will want to identify factors that will help you pursue a promotion, find a new job or perform better in your current role. An example might be registering for additional training since you are taking on new responsibilities. Your next step is identifying Threats to your career growth. Are there external factors that could hurt your chances of obtaining your goals? Are there any new professional requirements you cannot meet?

The final step is to match or convert the categories to build your strategy. In other words, matching strengths to opportunities will show you where to take action, and matching weaknesses to threats will expose areas for you to work on. When converting, you convert negatives into positives and weaknesses into strengths or threats into opportunities.

January is approaching quickly so SWOT your career and strategize your game plan for 2018! 

Tonia Duncan-Rivers
Friday, September 22, 2017

Occasionally, I’ll review TED Talks in hopes of finding something interesting or useful. The other day I stumbled across the talk, ‘How to Gain Control of Your Free Time’ by Laura Vanderkam. I was intrigued! I mean, who doesn’t want to gain control of their free time? I was lamenting to a friend last week about how quickly time is passing. Seriously, it’s fall already! Where did summer go?

I was especially interested in this topic because I teach time management. In full disclosure, I have my own time management issues. Remember my blog about procrastination from March 24?

Anyway, I was curious if I would hear something different from what I say in class or better yet, learn a new strategy or two. I always begin my class by saying that we have 24 hours per day, 168 hours per week and that time management is managing our lives; it’s managing the expectations that we place on ourselves and that others place on us.

Well, Laura Vandekam mentions how we have 24 hours per day and 168 hours per week too, only she takes it a step further. She says the numbers are empowering and she breaks it down. I’ll stop here because I don’t want to give too much away.

Take a few minutes to watch How to Gain Control of Your Free Time. I believe you will find that it is well worth 11:54 of your day.

Tonia Duncan-Rivers
Friday, June 30, 2017

Have you ever been told that you’re too quiet or that perhaps you should consider speaking up more? Well, it has happened to me more times than I care to admit. Most times I take it in stride, but every now and then it bothers me. I have explained many times that I am a thinker and I prefer to process things. Believe me; those who know me well know there are times when I have a lot to say and I say it!

Actor Emma Watson (a.k.a. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter) once said, “If you’re anything other than an extrovert you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you.” That may sound a bit dramatic, but sometimes people do that or they make comments such as, “You’re so quiet; are you sure you’re okay?”

Recently I was reminded of Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” I had heard about it years ago but never read it. Well, I’m reading it now and I invite you (introverts and extroverts) to read it too. You may learn a thing or two about yourself or others.

 The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

You may also want to check out Cain’s TED Talk, The Power of Introverts. In this TED Talk, Cain distinguishes the difference between shyness and introversion. She says shyness is about fear of social judgement, while introversion is more about how you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. According to Cain, extroverts crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel most alive in a quieter, more low-key environment. She also says that our schools and workplaces are designed mostly for extroverts and their need for lots of stimulation - - think open floor plans where there is constant noise and everyone is in plain view because there are no or very low walls. Cain also noted that introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions; however, research shows that extroverts and introverts are equally successful in leadership roles overall, and that introverts, in certain situations, actually make better managers.

Carl Jung, a psychologist who popularized the terms introvert and extrovert, said there is no such thing as a pure introvert or a pure extrovert. Some people fall in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum, and we call these people ambiverts because they have qualities of both. Sounds like the best of both worlds to me!

As you round out your summer reading list, be sure to add Cain’s book. You won’t be disappointed. You may also want to check out her website at Quiet Revolution. The CLE is looking out for you too! We’ll offer Professional Development for the Introvert later this year.

The main thing to remember is that it’s okay to be quiet! As stated in The Quiet Revolution Manifesto, “In the long run, staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work you love and work that matters.”

Samantha Campbell
Friday, April 7, 2017

Q: What song would you sing at karaoke night?
A:  That’s tough - - I like different kinds of music. I’d probably sing just about anything or at least try. I’ll admit that I like some of the same music that my son likes and I even sing along sometimes, that is, until I Google the lyrics!

Q: What does leadership mean to you? 
A:  Leadership is the ability to inspire others to share your vision and do their best work.

Q: Your favorite place to eat in Charlottesville?
A:  I don’t really have a favorite restaurant in Charlottesville but I love Mexican food!

Q: What is your proudest/greatest achievement outside of the professional realm?
A:  No question, it’s my son, Micah. I am so proud of the respectful young man that he has become. His former teachers always talked about how respectful he was, even in elementary school. I am so proud that he’s still that way today.

Q: What are three things you love about UVA?
A:  The Grounds, the prestige and my colleagues

Q: Do you collect anything?
A:  No, not really, but I guess you could say yes if you consider that I’ve kept every card that my husband and son have ever given me. I also still have many of my son’s baby clothes and he’s 22 now! It’s just hard to part with some things.

Q: Why did you choose your profession?  
A:  I sort of fell into my profession. I had planned to be a TV anchor but I started my first job at my alma mater as an admissions counselor/recruiter to be near my college sweetheart Lorenzo (whom I married later). It’s hard to believe that my entire career has been in higher education.

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?
A:  Every weekend I try to carve out time for myself and of course my family. I also do the usual weekend errands and I watch the HGTV channel every chance I get. I love the home repair shows! I’d love to have my own set of power tools!

Q: What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
A:  To ALWAYS be kind to EVERYONE!

Q: What about you would surprise us?
A:  I used to sing in a band when I was in high school! We performed at a few concerts for teens in our community and on a local radio show. I even won a couple pageants and sang as my talent.

Tonia Duncan-Rivers
Friday, March 24, 2017

Recently I was thinking about how quickly time is passing. It’s hard to believe that we’re already approaching the end of March. Lamenting over this made me think of all the things I would like to do but never get the chance to do. When I get in this mindset, all bets are off. I put off doing what I need to do and do what I want to do instead! Let’s just say I put the “Pro” in Procrastination! There, I said it! I know what some of you are thinking, especially those of you who have taken my Time Management class. In full disclosure, I always admit that I, too, have time management challenges!

You would probably agree that when we procrastinate, the pressure of completing our task mounts, and we often find ourselves stressed, feeling guilty and mad at ourselves for procrastinating in the first place. Procrastination is more than not doing something; it’s not doing something and feeling bad about it.

There are numerous reasons we procrastinate, but a few that come to mind are lack of interest or time, poor work habits, unclear guidelines, fear of the unknown, and the desire for perfection. If you have no interest in what you are doing, then it’s going to be hard to get started. As for lack of time, we often start a task and realize it’s going to take longer than expected, and then we procrastinate completing it. When it comes to poor work habits we must remove anything that distracts us. Unclear guidelines and not being certain of expectations can lead to procrastination too; always seek clarification so everyone is on the same page. Fear of the unknown is another reason we procrastinate. It causes avoidance. It can be scary to try something new, but if we try to think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow, it becomes a little easier. Finally, there is the desire for perfection. Sometimes we delay starting something because we want a perfect result. We may even find ourselves using “what if” scenarios. And of course, there are times when we just don’t want to do what we need to do. Guilty as charged!

According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 20% of the population suffers from chronic procrastination. While most of us are not chronic procrastinators, we pay a stiff price on occasion - - think late tax returns! So what can we do to squash procrastinating?

Tip #1.   Just Do It! 
Easier said than done, I know. We all recognize the Nike catch phrase Just Do It! What’s interesting is the Nike symbol appeals to many generations; it speaks not only to our desire to succeed but also to our inclination to procrastinate. Try to pick one thing that you need to do and do it! Envision yourself as a strong, well-trained athlete if you have to. Be disciplined! Focused! Think Nike!  Just do it!

Tip #2.   Reframe the Task
Sometimes we have to get in the “right” frame of mind to tackle a task. Try reframing the situation - view it as a challenge, a chance to learn something new or a chance to do something different.

Tip #3.  Practice the Swiss Cheese Method
Whenever you have a project or many tasks to do - - think bite sized pieces! Break down larger tasks into smaller tasks, set deadlines, and reward yourself when tasks are completed. Remember, a bite or two a day equals several bites a week and eventually equals a completed project or task!

Tip #4.  The 10-Minute Rule
If you commit to working on something for just 10 minutes, you may find that the task is not that bad, and 10 minutes may lead to 20 minutes, then 30 and perhaps even finishing the task. The objective is to start and commit to 10 minutes - - The result may surprise you!

Tip #5.  Eat a Frog First Thing Every Morning!
If you eat a frog first thing every morning, then you’ll be more productive. Eating a frog refers to doing the worst thing first. Think about it, you do many smaller tasks first, but you have the dreaded huge task looming in the back of your mind. It can be exhausting just thinking about it. By the way, what happens when you’re facing two frogs first thing in the morning? You eat the ugliest one first! In other words, you do the most dreaded task of the two! For more ideas, you may want to read Brian Tracey’s book, Eat that Frog: 21 Great Ideas to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.

Tip #6.  Create an audience
Select an accountability partner to keep you on track; ask your partner to check in with you on your progress. If you want to make it fun, make a bet that you will complete your task or project by a certain date and time. Offer a free lunch if and only if he/she checks on your progress along the way.

Tip #7.  Good Enough is Good Enough
Do not try to do everything perfectly; aim for progress not perfection. It’s okay if you don’t have what you need from others to start a project - - work on your part now and add the other pieces later. It is so easy to think everything needs to be a certain way before starting, but that’s just not true.

Tip #8.  When all else fails . . .  Take a Deeper Dive
Sometimes there is an underlying root cause as to why we procrastinate. Ask yourself if you feel overwhelmed or afraid of something. Think carefully about your situation and be honest with yourself.

I don’t want to leave you thinking that procrastination is all bad. Did you know that you could procrastinate responsibly? Responsible procrastination is delaying the start of your task and returning to it later. Returning is the operative word here! I’ll be honest; it’s tough, especially if you’re having fun, so discipline is necessary. If you try this, you’ll likely find that you’re more productive and focused. Try it! You may be surprised!

Tonia Duncan-Rivers
Friday, November 18, 2016

Have you ever thought about how an action you take might impact your team and make a difference?

I had a conversation recently with someone who commented that her entire team could benefit from a training class offered by the Center for Leadership Excellence (CLE). Although not a manager, she mentioned wanting to address specific issues that were affecting her team. In her words, she wanted to “make things better.”

Well that’s all I needed to hear! I was eager to tell her about the CLE’s Organization Leadership Services and how we might help. She was quite surprised to learn all that we do (and you might be too!)

Did you know that we can design customized workshops to address your team’s specific goals and challenges? Whether it’s tweaking a current class to fit your department’s needs or creating a special session just for your team, we can do it! The best part? We come to you! We also do organization development to address strategic planning, team building, change management, and team effectiveness. We even offer coaching services to help you create goals or work through challenges. Our consultants also use a variety of assessments such as DiSC, Team Dimensions, and Peer & Partner for performance management and Benchmarks 360®. And finally, we do customized retreats! Imagine a fun-filled day of learning away from the office!

So what’s the important lesson here?

There is such a thing as The Power of One. The person who spoke with me after class shared our conversation with her manager, and I actually did a customized session for their team. Had she not stayed after class to talk to me and taken the information back to her manager . . .  well, you get the picture!

So you see, one person can make a difference, and you CAN too. I’m waiting for your call!

For more information about Organization Leadership Services and cost estimates for customized sessions, please contact Tonia Duncan-Rivers at 924-4320 or .