Ana Dutra: How To Detox The Workplace From Its LeadershiT, Episode 16

Every person pursuing a career has run into a work environment that was less than ideal, you might even say they were toxic. Ana Dutra Has put together her observations about toxic workplaces in her new book, Lessons in LeadershiT – no, that’s not a typo. the lessons she has learned and her incredible ability to communicate them provide tremendous insight to those of us who are looking to create healthier environments for ourselves in the teams we lead. I invite you to listen to this conversation I was able to have with her about her book and the many the lessons it contains. You won’t regret making the time to listen.

Every workplace has its archetypical team members. In view of the archetypes, what can be done to make a toxic workplace more healthy? Ana Dutra explains

One of the things I love about Ana’s new book, Lessons in LeadershiT: Detoxing the Workplace is that she describes a series of archetypes that represent the various types of team members that typically exist in any organization. The way she uses language to express the variety of difficulties every team of professionals experiences it’s helpful in pulling back the curtain on our own tendencies so that we can take a long hard look at what is beneath the surface and make the adjustments needed to contribute to a healthier work environment. You will enjoy hearing her descriptions of those archetypes as well as the opportunity to consider which one might represent you. Please take the time to listen to this great episode.

Being a leader is about knowing how to deal with the LeadershiT that happens in a toxic workplace

There is always going to be toxicity and problems in any environment where people are working together. It is the leader’s job to address those issues effectively so that the environment can become healthy and the team can work together successfully. Ana Dutra points out that being a leader is about knowing how to deal with those kinds of situations, not run away from them. She gives some great advice on how leaders can do that as wellas gives tips about the kinds of things they need to be aware of as they address the contributors to a toxic work environment. It’s all on this episode.

Ana Dutra’s perspective on why 2017 was a year full of LeadershiT issues, and what she thinks is coming in 2018

It seems that 2017 was a year filled with scandals surrounding leadership both in politics and in companies across the globe. I was curious how Ana Dutra perceives what happened in 2017 and how she thinks leadership is changing in light of those things. Her honest answer was surprising; she doesn’t think the things that happened in 2017 are anything new, the only thing that was new was that they were dragged out into the light and people were able to stand up and say “no more.” You can hear the advice Ana provides regarding how to undo the damage of poor leadership and steer a work team in a different direction, on this episode.

Ana Dutra gives advice on how leaders can reduce their LeadershiT behaviors and become truly empowering leaders

Leaders need to understand that their approach to ridding their team culture of toxic elements begins with them. They first need to look inside and be sure to put themselves under the magnifying glass to make improvements where they are needed. But they also need to demonstrate a willingness to be in uncomfortable places for the sake of their personal growth. Toxic workplaces don’t improve accidentally, leaders have to pave the way, partly by their own example. Ana Dutra explains how to take steps in that direction, on this episode of the podcast.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:47] Ana’s thoughts about what it means to be a leader
  • [3:00] The reason Ana wrote her book and why she gave it such a provocative title
  • [12:06] The LeadershiT of 2017 – is it new or the same old thing?
  • [14:21] How Leadership has changed in view of technology
  • [16:58] Ana’s tips for reducing our potential LeadershiT behaviors

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Webinar – 4 Ways to Unleash Connectional Intelligence to Achieve Business Breakthroughs

Connectional IntelligenceWe're not tapping into the cognitive surplus of our interconnected age. Everyone has the capacity to link up with people, power, ideas, information and resources, and on an operatic scale. Humans have always been connected, but until now we've never had the capability or the tools to connect to one another on this scale, and no one has cracked the code as to how we can take all our passions, interests, initiatives, innovations and outrages, and go big with them. That's where Connectional Intelligence comes in. In partnership with Saj-Nicole Joni, I have developed a proprietary process, Connectional Intelligence, that helps leaders and organizations consistently deliver transformative results by discovering and leveraging the value of relationships and networks.

In our webinar, I’m going to go into detail on how you can use Connectional Intelligence to:

I’ll tell you:

  • Why organizations that value growth, innovation and excellence must include connectional intelligence as part of the role of every leader
  • How to use tools to harness Connectional Intelligence without causing resistance and how to leverage the connective capacity of every employee
  • How to strengthen teams by transforming disconnects into trust points
  • How to innovate and implement best practices that maximize each person's contributions

Get ready, I'm going to drop some serious knowledge.

When is the Webinar?

Presenter: Me! Erica Dhawan

Format: A complete breakdown of the 4 Ways to Unleash Connectional Intelligence

Day: Wed, October 30 2013

Time: 2 PM EST – 11 AM PST (US and Canada)

To reserve your spot in the webinar (spaces are limited), click HERE.

Join the Facebook Event here and Get the Connectional Intelligence White Paper here.

7 Ways on How to Use a Mentor and Sponsor

Calvin4021 | Dreamstime Stock Photos | Stock Free Images

Calvin4021 | Dreamstime Stock Photos | Stock Free Images

A few years ago, I met my first sponsor.  I’d had many mentors in my life, but I had always heard it was a sponsor who could ultimately change your life and career.

While a mentor is someone whose highest value is when you are in room with them, providing you advice and skills to grow your career, a “sponsor” is someone whose highest value is when you are not in the room with them — such as advocating for your next promotion and making connections to senior leaders both inside and outside of your company.

My sponsor and I weren’t just the typical advisor-advisee relationship; we became what I call “sparring partners.” Every time we met, we had really important conversations that shifted the direction of my thinking through deep questioning. I asked her for help getting promotions, debated big decisions with her, and began to gain new opportunities just by the conversations she had with others when I wasn’t in the room. Looking back, making the most of my first sponsor relationship changed my life.

Now I take a very different approach. Everyone can have their own sponsors, but they need to learn how to make it worthwhile for both parties.

Want to make the most of the sponsors in your life? Here are seven ways to shore up your relationship:

  1. When looking for sponsors, reach out to them first with what you want to achieve. They are there to help you create your future reality, but you need to define what your future reality is for them first.
  2. Be clear on what a sponsor can do, and what makes sense to ask him or her. Don’t ask for too much at the beginning. Nurture the relationship and show that you’re worth it based on your skills, expertise and potential.
  3. Ask your sponsor for help. It can make all the difference in your career, from raises to promotions. In fact, according to research in The Sponsor Effect, without a sponsor behind them, “The majority of unsponsored men (67%) and women (70%) resist confronting their boss about a raise; with a sponsor in their corner, nearly half of men and 38% of women summon the courage to negotiate. A sponsor confers a statistical career benefit of anything from 22 to 30%, depending on what’s being requested (assignment or pay raise) and who’s asking (men or women).” (More on the findings here.)
  4. Recognize your value to the sponsor. Sponsors want to hear your perspective, understand your challenges and help you grow. Find ways to support them and ask them about their challenges — you’ll be surprised how much value you can add back!
  5. Reach out to sponsors who are different from you. The days when sponsors tended to choose protégés who looked like them (and everyone else in the senior group) are disappearing. And that’s leading to a culture shift. You never know what you can learn. Male sponsors and sponsors from different sectors and cultures can be great advocates for young women. Get out of your comfort zone and build your own personal sponsors.
  6. Learn how to use offline and online sponsors. In-person meetings with sponsors are much more helpful than emails or phone calls. Be prepared to know and ask for what you need when you are in proximity to them. Don’t expect email responses all the time. Give them a call, or plan time to meet them. Share with them that they are on your personal board.
  7. Be careful if you work for a sponsor. Sponsors who work with you will have a set of loyalties to others; thus, you must be careful in managing this sponsor relationship. A sponsor should be someone who can go to bat to support you — even if you’d like to leave the company.

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5 Ways of Letting Go of Behaviors Holding You Back

Want to let go of what's holding you back? There are plenty of ways to make it happen. Here are the 5 behaviors that may be holding you back and how to let go of them in order to do the work that matters most. 

1.Feeling Guilty: You know when your are feeling guilty? Its awful right? You have a sense that you can't connect and that you need to do more. You have this bad feeling about a relationship or a commitment and cant do anything about it. Instead: Reframe guilt. It is just a signal that you need to reinvest in how you are managing your role relationships, as a employee, wife, daughter, friend, colleague, or whatever may be. Instead of just 'feeling guilty', remember that you are in the process of renegotiating loyalties and defining the type of leader you want to be. Guilt can feel like a signal of disloyalty, when in fact it is a process of renegotiating loyalty.

2. People Pleasing. It is natural to want to fit in with what others say or want. However, people pleasing is a selfish act because it is all about making ourselves "feel better." Instead remember that people pleasing is fed by the ego and it wastes our time and energy from doing really important work in the world. The world needs your best, not your people pleasing. 

3. Choosing to be liked instead of respected. Choosing to be liked is easy, choosing to be respected can change everything. While sometimes respect and like ability are correlated, they aren't always. When you step into your power, while some people will stop 'liking you' when you value yourself differently, the same amount of people will come up and thank you for being bold, or doing something that others don’t like but you believe in. Being respected is a more empowering feeling than anything else, we all deserve it, we just need to create it for ourselves. 

4. Excessive Complaining: Yes, you know what I'm talking about. We all have times where we are upset and want to complain, vent, or just be angry. And it's healthy and normal, until it gets excessive. Complaining only keeps us in a negative cycle or pattern so we need to move resentment or frustration into a place of acceptance to do work that matters.  

5. Listening to advice from everyone. How many of you have friends and family that are FULL of advice…that makes NO sense? Your parents will tell you to stay in the same job forever or your friend tells you you're not cut out for something. Well, advice is only as relative as it is to the person. We have to choose what advice we listen to so we don't hold back from doing what we really want in the world and unleash our potential. 


Are there other ways you let go of behaviors holding you back? 

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12 Things Great Leaders Always Do

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

We all know them. That one person who is not just a great leader, but who also makes a lasting impact. We remember them, follow them, and reference their thinking long after our connection with them is over. 

What is it that makes such a great leader? What do they have that others don't? I've been lucky to meet many great leaders and discovered they all share these twelve characteristics. 

So, here are 12 things YOU can do to become a great leader:

1. Pick your fights. Don’t waste your resources. Its important to stand up for your ideals, but don’t keep fighting when its draining you and it doesn't really matter. 

2. Work with exceptional people. Everything is about benchmarking. If you bring a great group of people together, they will even become better by the benchmark they have within the group.

3. Don't let the world beat you down. The best characteristics of a leader are being optimistic and naive.

4. Decide quickly. A bad decision is better than no decision. We learn by doing, instead of inaction. 

5. When asked for advice, sometimes the best advice is to not to give any advice. Usually when others ask for your advice, they already know the solution, but they just need a bit of confidence or some coaching to get there.

6. Focus on the things you can control. Those who focus on the things they cannot control become cynical. Choose what you focus on by what you can control. 

7. Be vulnerable. In a recent TED Talk, shame researcher Brene Brown shares that vulnerability is our ability to tell our true story and not to fear rejection. Moreover, it’s the understanding of ourselves as imperfect that makes us brave. Vulnerability enables connection more than anything else. 

8. Choose curiosity over confidence anyday. Live with a questioning mind and you'll never believe where you go. 

9. Accept that you can do everything perfect and fail and you can everything wrong and succeed. Life isn't fair, it's the plain truth, some get lucky and some don't. It's up to us to let the journey guide us..and learn from it.

10. When looking for great people, choose hunger and excitement over experience. Never choose people who think they are 'doing you a favor.' Find people who are excited to work with you. 

11. Don't wait to ask, to test and incubate new ideas. Read Why Asking is your #1 Strategy for Success for more. 

12. Don’t Ask for a No. When you think something is the right thing to do, just do it. You don't need approval from anybody, just you.

Which of these traits are most important to you? 

The Biggest Gen Y and Gender Myths and Why Your Company Should Care

I recently published my Harvard study in Harvard Business Review: Busting Gen Y & Gender Myths and Why Your Company Should Care unleashing new research on the work-life aspirations of elite Gen Y women and men. Surveying a group of Harvard and MIT MBAs, I found that they hold more traditional attitudes about gender roles in the workplace than the rest of the Gen Y cohort. What is more, the driver for these traditional attitudes about the work-life balance was not personal belief, but the career structure and expectations of the high-level organizations they enter.

As a followup to this piece, many corporate leaders have asked me:

What does this mean for companies hiring Elite Gen Yers? And what should my company do about all these Gen Y & Gender myths in the workplace?

As Gen Y rises in the workplace, Gen Y men and women still struggle to balance work and home. Gen Y men still feel the burden of being breadwinners and women feel more responsibility at home.

This is a conversation that few Gen Y men and women are having–in companies. They need safe spaces to hash out these challenges – together. And your company needn’t make it a work-life issue; it can be coached in terms of leadership, performance, and strategy

Here’s what I think your company should do about it:

●      Navigate the leadership conversation with language like strategy, and leadership, not work-family issues. This type of language makes it easier for organizations and Gen Y men and women to discuss why family issues play a role in career strategy.

●      Understand the link between the bottom line and employee engagement of Gen Y: According to Gallup, engaged employees are “more productive, profitable, safer, create stronger customer relationships, and stay longer with their company than less engaged employees.”

●      Know that the diversity of talent among Gen Y leads to better innovation. Dorothy Leonard’s concept of “creative abrasion” shows that innovative products and services derive from well-managed, diverse individuals across generations and genders.

●      Retain and engage Gen Y men and women – it leads to more effective innovations. Show your Gen Y workforce why this matters to their future.

For the full report and findings, sign up for my mailing listserve here and receive a free copy of the Busting Gen Y & Gender Myths report. For a deep dive at your company, check out Erica's talent development young professional program.

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Leadership breaks the software code

Image courtesy of digitalart /

Image courtesy of digitalart /

Thousands of problems are solved for us the body. The accumulated wisdom of thousands of generations of society make sure we don't have to worry about eating or digesting our food (in the Western world), walking or keeping our heart beating. Similarly there is a constant stream of social dynamics such as how to behave in social contexts, which we have accumulated as well.

We live in a world of software code and decision trees operated by our bodies. People pass on this code across generations. So much of what we form and how we lead is informed by the complex multi line software codes that we learn as children.

Most of the wisdom of our elders is worth holding onto as we grow older. Roughly 95 percent need to be cherished, yet 5 percent needs to be investigated and given the freedom to rearrange, renegotiate and sometimes discard. Some space must be generated to align to a new era of leadership in the crowded room of our minds.

This, at its truth, is innovation. The word innovation has the same root as the word native, to be reborn, and renaissance.

As leaders, we must take ongoing corrective action on our mental software. So, how will we break our software code as leaders? 

1) See yourself as a living case example of the software. It is always best to see yourself as part of a system and as an example of software. The only challenge or opportunity will be your learning. The major impediment will be your pride, shame, and embarrassment. Watch yourself fall back into the software, old paradigms and get back up again.

2) Don’t worry about not knowing and ask a lot of questions. The naive comments you make and questions you ask will be a source of innovation — ingenius, generative, and something new being born.

3) When someone tries to bring you down, don’t assume that (s)he knows what she did. The default setting is to take it personally. Yet we can only assume that the information is not just in him/her it's in the larger system. How are we as a social system generating a dynamic where one is creating certain cultures over others?

So, how will you break your own software code today and innovate?

This piece was inspired by Ronald Heifetz. For more leadership lessons, check out my free Tools and Dance Moves page here

Davos 2012 is in action

The conference has begun. Blackberries, black suits, and BMWs have taken over the streets of snowy Davos. 3,000 leaders have across the world have flooded the halls and sessions sharing their opinions on the debt crisis, emerging economies, health reform, technological innovations, diversity, and more.

A key conversation has been on the role of business in society. CEOs have been challenged to break the view that there is no ‘them’, there is only ‘us.’ We live in an increasingly interconnected world and many of the conversations have questioned the decision-making practices of CEOs. Business leaders have been called to personalize their role in society, openly share their tax payments and how they make an impact in their community. Matt Bishop from The Economist spoke of the failure of shareholders to focus on long-term sustainability, called for ethical capitalism, and advocated that atleast 1 person under the age of 30 to be on each company board.

My most inspiring moment of the day was the opening plenary with Desmond Tutu, former archbishop of Cape Town, who said “we need a revolution led by women. I think women ought to be saying to us men: You have made a mess, just get out and let us in…let us re-align forces, let us ensure that women have a significant part in the decision-making process.” His speech came shortly after German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the world’s most powerful woman, gave the keynote address at Davos.

The push to promote women and youth at these forums has been exciting and inspiring to me, yet there is much more work to do in this domain. The Global Shapers delegation is an incredible set of 70 leaders, yet it isn’t entirely representative of all young people today. However, for me, truly being of service is about stepping up to the opportunities here and engaging with people who are very different from me. We need more Gen Y leaders to step up (in December, I called for more Gen Y women to take the stage). This is an evolution that will be happening for the next century.

More to come! Follow @davos @wef and #4mygen for leaders from our generation.

ForbesWoman: How Women Executives Who Leave Their Roles Affect The Next Generation of Women Leaders

It’s been over three years since the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and the downfall of CFO Erin Callan. Yet the underlying unfair media portrayal facing women executives who leave their roles continues in cases like Carol Barsh and Sallie Krawcheck this year. What I care about most is how the media’s disservice to women executives given the portrayal of them when they leave powerful positions affects future generations of women leaders.

Check out my most recent piece in ForbesWoman entitled How Women Executives Who Leave Their Roles Affect the Next Generation of Women Leaders. I hope you can share your perspective and thoughts as well.

Highlights from TEDxWomen

This post was cross-published at Levo League.

TEDxWomen was an inspiring day packed with female change agents and innovators. More than 100 TEDxWomen gatherings convened all over world, including the first ever TEDx event in Libya. The themes of the day were Resilience, Relationships, ReImagine, and Rebirth. My favorite speakers were many of the Gen Y women who took the stage: Claire Sannini, a 8th grade girl who spoke about her experience with girl bullying alongside Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out, and Busisiwe Mkhumbuzi, an amazing 17 year old girl from Johannesburg and V-Girls action team leader.
Here are some of my most memorable quotes from the amazing group of speakers:

  • Gayle Lemmon, writer and journalist: “If you see the word micro finance most people think women. If you think entrepreneur most people think men. We must move beyond micro hopes and micro ambitions for women…Women can no longer be both 50 percent of the population and a special interest group.”
  • Jennifer Newsom, producer of Miss Representation: “The media is killing our daughters’ ambition and destroying empathy and emotion in our sons..3 percent of decision makers of media are women, 97 percent of decisions are made by men. For the 97 percent, I challenge you to mentor women up the ladder and help promote them. Let’s demand a media culture that uplifts us all, inspires our daughters to be president, our sons to be empathic partners.”
  • Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out: “In a 2006 study, 74 percent of girls were under pressure to please everyone. If we want girls to be resilient, we have to give them the skills to navigate.”
  • Shahira Amin, Egyptian journalist: “Women are the future of the new Egypt; they will lead, and men will follow.”
  • Gloria Steinem, author and feminist activist: “My generation thought life was over at 30 and your generation feels like you have to be successful before 30.”

This is just a small dose of an incredible set of women and men that came together to hear groundbreaking ideas to advance women and girls. Stay tuned as TEDxWomen will publish the various talks online in the coming days!

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