Leadership on Point

“Children And Stress”: A Guide To Helping Children Through Uncertain Times

December 14, 2012 Meghan Vincent

Eleven years ago, during the tragic events of September 11th, Dr. Richard Levin wrote a paper focusing on victims who struggled to understand and comprehend the horror that they had witnessed: the children.  The goal was to provide a resource for parents and caretakers who were tasked with helping these children through such an incredibly difficult time.

 

It is with extreme sadness that I re-introduce this document.  My hope is that the families and children affected by the horrific events that occurred today at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT can find the support they need to endure such a frightening experience.  The paper explores the possible reactions that children might demonstrate and how to help, focusing on five age groups (ranging from under three through adolescence).

 

I encourage parents and caretakers to download this paper (a downloadable version can be found here: Children and Stress or on our website, here: http://www.richardlevinassociates.com/publications.html) and use it as a guide when navigating such a horrendous situation.

 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Newtown, CT.

 

 

Written by RLA Associate Meghan Vincent. For more information, Meghan can be contacted at: mvincent@richardlevinassociates.com

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Since When Is Executive Coaching A Bad Thing?

November 14, 2012 Meghan Vincent

While reading Boston.com this past weekend, I came across the article, “New T Manager Underwent Professional Counseling in Atlanta” and was a bit surprised by the tone of both the article itself and – even more so – the reader-added comments that followed.  It seems to me that one of the larger issues (from my subjective perspective, at least) is the general lack of understanding of what executive coaching is – and what it can do for the leader of an organization.

Concern has been expressed over the fact that the newly selected director of the MBTA, Beverly Scott, received “individual coaching and consultation” while serving as the head of Atlanta’s transit system (MARTA). While we don’t personally know Scott or the consulting firm that was hired to work with her, we are familiar with some of the drivers behind the decision to hire a coach (information and quotes taken directly from the article):

  • Scott’s relationship with her board of directors in Atlanta had grown strained
  • “She has so much energy and that for some people can be complicated”
  • “She demands a lot of people.”
  • Scott was a “change agent, and that is often difficult and not always appreciated in an entrenched organization.”

 

Speaking from experience, none of these bullet points raise a red flag in my mind.  In fact, they are quite common.  The relationship between boards and senior management is often a harried one, many times requiring outside help to manage the conflict(s) that develop as a result.  Furthermore, leaders are frequently hired or promoted based on technical abilities and business acumen, with little regard for the “soft skills” that make a leader effective.

The job of an executive coach in this situation is to work with a leader to refine those aforementioned ‘soft skills’ (self-awareness, presentation skills, active listening, stress management, change management, communication skills and messaging, to name a few).  The end result is the development of a true leader – not in the sense of his or her title but rather in action, someone who can inspire and lead his or her organization towards growth and success.

The part of this article that I found most shocking was the quote provided by Mike Jacobs, a state representative in Georgia who heads the legislative committee that oversees MARTA.  He stated, “it’s cause for concern when a consultant is hired for this sort of purpose to address a major leadership position.”  I cannot possible emphasize how much I disagree with this statement.  A cause for concern would be someone who refused coaching and/or refused to acknowledge that he or she had any weaknesses that needed to be addressed.  No one is perfect – and no one should be faulted for trying to address those areas in which there is opportunity for growth and development.

I wonder what Mike Jacobs would think if he knew how many great leaders – in the corporate, government and non-profit sectors – have worked with an executive coach?

 

Written by RLA Associate Meghan Vincent. For follow up, Meghan can be contacted at: mvincent@richardlevinassociates.com

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Lessons Learned At the Beach

July 23, 2012 Meghan Vincent

Lessons Learned at the Beach + Richard Levin Associates + Leadership on Point + executive coaching + leadership development

As most New Englanders can be found doing during the summer months, I was enjoying some sun at the beach last weekend when I witnessed an event, courtesy of a 7 year-old, that even senior executives could learn from.

I watched as the aforementioned boy finished removing his brand new shovel from its packaging and began feverishly digging in the sand.  In one swift motion, a giant shovelful of dry sand went flying into the air and… all over a nearby sunbather.

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The World of Recruiting Is Changing… Are You?

April 19, 2012 Meghan Vincent

Richard Levin and Associates + The World of Recruiting has changed... Have you?

When most people think of social networking, they think of sites like Facebook and Twitter – and how those sites help them to connect with friends, family and perfect strangers alike.  Often left out of the conversation is LinkedIn, a social site that is most often thought of as an online rolodex and an electronic resume combined into one.  What most professionals don’t realize, however, is that LinkedIn is the fastest growing public provider of recruiting services in the corporate sector.

The site’s greatest benefit – to both organizations and potential job candidates – is that it allows for recruiters to search through an entire database of active AND passive job candidates.  This means that companies are no longer limited to sifting through the applications of those who found the job post enticing.  Instead, they can search the profile of every LinkedIn user (about 150 million) for the keywords and specific qualifications that they feel to be most important.

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But Who Will Make the Cookies?

December 16, 2011 Meghan Vincent

Richard Levin & Associates, Meghan Vincent, executive coaching, leadership, succession planning

Recently, a good friend of mine (Allison) and I were chatting about the upcoming holiday season.  Typical to these conversations, we were commenting on how hectic this time of year can be – an endless circle of shopping, cooking, decorating and attending social gatherings.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love all the “chaos” that comes with this time of year… we were just taking note of how exhausting it all can be.

Then Allison caught me off-guard with her comment about having to learn how to bake cookies.  You see, her grandmother (the matriarch of her Italian family) was responsible for making at least a half-dozen homemade cookies from recipes that had been in the family for generations.  But, as everyone does, she is getting older and does not want the Christmas cookie tradition to stop with her.  As the oldest female grandchild, Allison was selected to carry on the tradition when it becomes necessary.  This is very important to her grandmother… and to her.

It’s funny, in a way, that Christmas cookies would prompt such careful planning for the future – but one’s business, on the other hand, does not (enough).  Thinking about all the “what ifs” of succession planning can be an overwhelming and scary experience, but you have to ask yourself: what will happen to your business after you’re moved on to something else?

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Who Is Harold Leavitt … And Why Should You Care?

October 3, 2011 Meghan Vincent

Harold J. Leavitt's Diamond Model for Analyzing Management Change

The late Harold J. Leavitt was a pioneer in the development of the academic field of organizational behavior, a management expert with degrees from Harvard, Brown and MIT (undergrad, graduate, and doctorate, respectively) and a highly respected college professor (University of Chicago, Carnegie-Mellon University, and Stanford).  And, in 1965, he gave to the world his model for analyzing the impacts organizational change.

Through this model (known as Leavitt’s Diamond), Leavitt demonstrates that each element of an organization’s system – people, goals/tasks, structure and technology/processes – are interdependent.  In other words, changes made to any one of these four elements cannot and will not occur in isolation.  Rather, a change made in any one area of your organization will impact the entire system.

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So You Started A Blog … Now What?

July 18, 2011 Meghan Vincent

Storytelling is the key to social media and blogging success

I recently sat down with a client whose company had launched a social media campaign and, after just a few minutes into our conversation, two things became abundantly clear: he jumped on the social bandwagon because he believed that he had to and, secondly, he had no idea why he should have a social presence to begin with.

I am by no means singling him out, either.  This seems to be a trend among many of the business owners and CEOs that I have recently met with to discuss the importance of social media.  Each and every one of them knew that establishing a strong social presence was important, so they did what they thought they should do: set up Twitter account, made a Facebook page and (some) even created a blog.

Now what?

In my opinion, this is where the fun part begins.  Remember what it is that made you passionate about what you do – every vision has a story behind it and every company has a compelling journey that brought it to where it is today.  It is this storytelling that attracts people to your site (or to become a follower).  Sure, traditional advertising has its place but nothing can connect potential customers to your brand like a simple story that resonates with their particular need(s).

You (and your company) have always had a story – social media just gives you another vehicle for sharing it.  And therein lies the “why”.


Written by RLA Associate Meghan Vincent. For more information on social media, Meghan can be contacted at: mvincent@richardlevinassociates.com

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Professional Advancement in the Corporate World: The First Steps to Fostering Female Leadership

May 9, 2011 Meghan Vincent

Women Executives in Corporate America, Female Leadership

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Coaching Urged for Women: Inadequate Career Development Holds Back Female Executives, McKinsey Says”, addressed a significant yet often overlooked dilemma in today’s corporate world: how do corporations cultivate and sustain gender diversity among managers and eliminate barriers for female advancement in the workforce?

In order to exemplify a reputable and respectable manager, one must execute basic leadership functions. The three C’s – command, control, and coordinate – have become standard management oriented skills, and are often executed by the male-dominant corporate world.  How can women advance in the workforce if the three core managerial skills are man-made, developed by men decades ago?  These standards are ingrained in our minds; we assume that the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is authoritative and direct, and typically a male figure.  We presume that women do not have the time or energy to act as senior-level managers because of their role as mothers and caretakers.  The women who do, in fact, rise to the top and assume senior management positions often execute more behavioral/supportive leadership skills; we often describe these leaders as those who motivate, inspire, and articulate a vision.  Women who have taken on more senior and managerial roles often work in women-oriented careers such as health and education, rather than business and technology.

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Measurable Benefits of Social Media/Web 2.0 … They Do Exist!

February 2, 2011 Meghan Vincent

Executive Coaching, Richard Levin & Associates, Social Media, Web 2.0,

By now you have all heard of the importance of incorporating a social media strategy in to your organization’s overall strategy. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, RSS Feeds, YouTube, podcasts, etc … we all know we need them but do we really know why?

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The Death of Customer Service?

November 2, 2010 Meghan Vincent

Someone once told me, it’s not about not making mistakes … everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you respond to those mistakes that matter.

While this is true in all facets of life, it is especially relevant in business. It is unrealistic to assume that you will never make a mistake or be forced to face a disappointed consumer (or client). Something unexpected will happen – will go wrong – and it is up to you, as a business leader, to respond. If done quickly and appropriately, you can do more than simply salvage your company’s reputation. You could actually improve it immensely.

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