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6 Subtle Signs That Indicate You're CEO Material

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Wednesday, February 7, 2018


6 Subtle Signs That Indicate Your CEO Material

Are you interested in becoming a CEO one day? The widely accepted path to CEO is to attend a prestigious business school and build a powerful network. I did none of that and still managed to assume the top leadership role at a national healthcare company. I learned business skills on the job such as P&L management, forecasting and budgeting. But what helped me the most besides my hard work and ambition were the softer skills that not only made it easier for people to like me and work with me, but allowed me to manage others successfully and navigate the complexities of the workplace. (Certainly, we’ve witnessed many bad CEO’s over the years who have great business experience but none of the people skills, and they have failed their company, employees, and shareholders.)

Becoming a CEO doesn’t happen by accident. It begins first with the intention and passion to lead a company that aligns with your values. It often involves creating a strategic career plan for yourself to gather the necessary experience and knowledge to assume the top spot.

With all that said, doing an internal audit of your skills is the best place to start.

Here are 6 signs that you are CEO material:

1. You get results. When given a project, you are focused and driven to achieve successful outcomes. You aren’t easily discouraged. You find solutions to reach objectives. You create and achieve realistic but challenging financial goals.

2. You inspire and motivate others. Beyond being a strong individual contributor, you achieve results by partnering and collaborating with others. People get excited about the work from your passion and dedication. It’s infectious. Your team is invested in the work which drives great results and keeps employees engaged and happy.

3. You’re curious. Great leaders are life-long learners. According to a PwC survey, curiosity is one of the most valuable skills a leader can have. Curious leaders don’t accept the status quo. They ask critical questions that stimulate new ideas and innovation. They are avid readers and are always looking to expand their knowledge base.

4. You’re confident but humble. You admit you don’t have all the answers and are open minded and driven to find the best answers even if they aren’t your own. You admit your mistakes and allow others to learn from their mistakes as well. People rise to the occasion and show up doing their best work as a result.

Angela Sebaly, co-founder and CEO of Personify Leadership and author of The Courageous Leader, adds that humble leaders are focused on the big picture of mission and team rather than themselves. According to Sebaly, ‘Leaders with humility engage us and give us a sense of identity and purpose.’

5. You demonstrate empathy. Empathy means having the ability to understand the needs and emotions of others. This allows you to connect and motivate others who relate to you as a human being rather than just a boss.

6. You communicate well. And you communicate well at all levels. You manage up, down and across and have the ability to clearly convey your message to stakeholders, colleagues, employees and customers.

If you want to be a CEO, my best advice is to learn to be CEO of yourself first. Own your ambition and talent. Build your portfolio of experience and develop your soft skills to achieve great results.


Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed, is an executive coach, author and keynote speaker focused on women's advancement in the workplace. A former corporate executive and CEO, Bonnie is the author of The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, and co-author of Lost Leaders in the Pipeline: Capitalizing on Women's Ambition to Offset the Future Leadership Shortage.

This blog piece was originally posted on who are partners of NAWMBA.

Tags:  Business  Career  leadership  management  MBA Women  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA 

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5 Tips for the Job Search (That Will Make All the Difference)

Posted By Nadia Alhashimi, Wednesday, January 31, 2018


                                                                                         5 Tips for the Job Search 
                                                                       by Coach Katie Bennett, Ama La Vida Coaching

I have worked with people finding, building and changing careers for many many years. I know there are thousands (if not millions) of resources and tips out there telling you what to do and what not to do. I’m not suggesting mine are any better than anyone else’s, but what I do know is that these ones actually work. These ones actually make all the difference. I know this, because I have seen it first hand. Of course, if you follow these five, you are not a shoe-in for your dream job (you also need to have a kick-ass resume, great interview skills, a stand-out online profile and polished professional etiquette) but I think you know that. These are the things that are less spoken about and, from my experience, less known. But once you know them, and once you do them, it really will make all of the difference.

Search from the inside out. Often when people are searching for a job, the first place they look is the job boards. This may sound like a logical approach, however without knowing exactly what you’re looking for, you risk landing a job that you later realize is completely misaligned with your passions and strengths. The key is to first understand who you are, where you can add value and what exactly you are looking for. It is crucial to identify your passions, your gifts, your core values and your purpose before starting the job search. This way, you will have a far clearer understanding of the types or roles and companies that will bring you fulfillment and success.

Try a non-traditional approach. When you apply for a job through the standard process, you are up again hundreds, if not thousands of other applicants. Often the company even ends up hiring internally and you never hear back which can be bother draining and defeating. I encourage people to reflect on which companies they most want to work for and to write a list of their top 10 to 20. Then, find the relevant contact at that organization and send a thoughtful letter including who you are, why you want to work for them and how you believe you could add value. This shows initiative, intention and will help you stand out against the crowd. Even if you don’t land a job, perhaps you’ll make a valuable contact. And after all, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Network network network. It’s no secret that most people build their career through their network not through standard job sites. It’s never too soon to start networking. Remember that networking doesn’t need to happen at traditional networking events. Networking can happen in a coffee shop or on the bus – you never know where you are going to meet people that could become incredibly valuable contacts. Also remember that those people don’t need to be directly related to your field. They may know just the right person to put you in touch with. Treat every person as if they are just the person you need to know in that moment and watch you network grow and expand in powerful ways.

Make time for self-care. The job application process can be incredibly draining and defeating. Make sure to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and physically. This is not only important for your well-being, but it is also important for you to perform at your best in applications and interview. Identify what you need to do and schedule time in your calendar to make time for it. Perhaps it’s a 20 minute run each day or 30 minutes to watch an inspiration TED talk. There is no wrong or right as long as you make time to recharge.

Shift your mindset – it’s a marathon not a sprint. Remember that you may not get the first job you apply for (or the second or the third or the eighth) and that is ok. You career is going to be long. Very long. Think carefully about your vision for your career and what you want it to look like in five years or ten years time. As long as you are meeting the right people and moving in the right direction, it doesn’t matter if one specific job fell through. Just keep your eye on the longer vision and take proactive steps to achieve it.


This blog is from our partners at Ama La Vida Coaching. For your own personalized e-coaching as a NAWMBA member, check out our partner page. 


Tags:  Jobs  NAWMBA  WomeninBusiness  womenMBA 

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Bossing the Boss! – (Managing Up for Better Relationships at All Levels)

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Thursday, January 25, 2018

Bossing the Boss! – (Managing Up for Better Relationships at All Levels)

by Margaret Johnson

Most of us, no matter what environment we work in, have some type of boss. If you are a supervisor you may tend to focus on the people that work for you and managing the process. If you aren't a supervisor/manager, you might focus on your work and keeping the boss informed. But do you consider the part of your job called managing up? 

It is consciously working with your boss to create the best results for you, your boss and the organization. If we don't manage the boss or if we do manage the boss - we are taking a risk. 

Managing up entails really understanding yourself and your boss as far as strengths, weaknesses, work styles, expectations and needs and developing a healthy relationship that effectively works with this information.

How can you do this? I suggest you start by having a conversation with your boss and discuss their goals, problems, pressures, strengths and weaknesses and needs. It’s never too late to start if you aren’t having them already. Test out your assumptions by observation and asking. Pay attention to clues you get from the boss' behavior on what is right and wrong and make adjustments. And don't just have one conversation - occasionally reconnect to reconfirm. 

Easier said than done? Yes. Depending on your boss, it can be stressful to even think about having a conversation around this. But consider what will happen if you don't and how much better work would be if you had this understanding of your immediate supervisor or others above him or her.

When you are ready, make sure you discuss these things - 

  • clarify expectations

  • identify personality and work styles 

  • how and what information needs to be shared

  • what your strengths are and how can you use each other’s in the best way

Work with it - don't fight it!

Be brave. Take the risk and get to know your boss and their expectations. It will make your work life so much easier.

But wait! What if your boss is less than ideal? 

  • Understand the incompetence and ask others for advice on handling him or her.

  • Focus on how you can fill their gaps.

  • Be very careful about ratting anyone out to higher-ups - consider office politics as you handle the situation

  • Remember to take care of yourself and your health.  Indulge in self-care to reduce stress and focus on what you need. 

  • Try a little empathy, set boundaries and focus on the broader good. 

Need help managing relationships with higher-ups? Join me, Margaret A Johnson, at my Managing Up lunchtime keynote session for assumption busting around managing up and tips to make the best of these relationships. You can register here to join me in Louisville, KY on February 22nd!

Tags:  Business  Career  Kentucky  leadership  Louisville  management  MBA Women  NAWMBA  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA 

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Inside out Leadership: Getting People From Where They Are To Where They Want To Be

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Inside out Leadership: Getting People From Where They Are To Where They Want To Be

Rocío Pérez, Inventiva Consulting

The million-dollar question leaders ask is “why individuals accept mediocre results?”  When they encounter a large number of team members that are stuck with mediocre results.  It’s important for leaders to be able to identify individual mental blocks in order to be able to help them become unblocked.  Often times leaders are frustrated because they don’t know what to do with under performing teams and will fire under performers without understanding the core issue.  This leads to increased costs in the form of time, energy and money.  From Inventiva’s perspective and proven 7-step process, the reality is that people can go from under performing to outstanding results in minimal time.  Everyone has the ability to change.  Leaders and their team members just need the proper tools in order to stay motivated.  Team members are going through the same human dilemmas that many of us go through.  They get stuck and don’t know how to move forward.  

Leaders worry that they will not reach their goals and feel overwhelmed with the reality that their employees simply don’t get it.  Statistics show that approximately 70% of people in the US dislike their jobs while approximately 30% are engaged or inspired by their work duties.  So, the dilemma becomes understanding how a group of people who dislike their jobs can collaborate with their team members, take care of customers, be inspired to deliver outstanding results and be loyal to a brand.  The answer is “it’s impossible.”  Our view of the world creates our results.  The cost to companies becomes more than they can withstand.  Loss of sales, opportunities, productivity, key employees, time, energy, money and personal time are only the beginning of a bottomless abyss.  Companies don’t simply go under.  They go under because the people who drive them have a limited view of what’s possible and may not be aware that they and/or their team are the roadblock.  When leaders realize this, they can go from leading an under performing company to reaping the benefits of what committed, passionate and loyal employees can do to grow the brand, create raving customers, and increase revenues.  These are just a few of the many benefits.

How do individuals bridge the gap from where people are to where they need to be?  Team members must be driven and excited by the vision and look forward to going to work everyday in order to have a strong sense of mutual collaboration and achievement.  A leader’s job is to understand what drives and limits the team as individuals and how to first and foremost transform themselves and then help others do the same.  It’s a shift from reacting to what’s happening to consciously leading teams to transform themselves.  And it requires analyzing and tweaking their approach until they get the desired result.  

A leader’s job is to always be leading and understand that people may see things differently.  Each and everyone of us has a different learning style, personality, set of beliefs and emotional intelligence.  The reality is that we view the world through our own life experiences.  What we say, believe and live are our truths.  We want to be understood even when we may be wrong.  The key is to meet another person where they are, understand and acknowledge them, their resentments, motivations, fears, truths, desires, strengths and weaknesses in order to guide them to where they want to be.  People cannot control what they are not aware of.  Every minute 400 billion bits of information are in our environment; we are conscious of 2,000 bits of that and can focus 7-8 bits of information at one time.  We have 50,000 - 70,000 thoughts per day, 2,000-3,000 thoughts per hour, which translates to 35-48 thoughts per minute.  Ninety-eight percent of thoughts are the same as yesterday.  Could it be possible we are not aware of a few vital pieces of information?  The answer is yes.  We delete, distort and generalize every experience based on our prior experiences.  We are always relating our experiences to what we know.  

Getting from where you are to where you want to go as a business takes investing in people.  The first step is for leaders to conduct an organizational assessment and to gain more in-depth knowledge of available resources.  The second step is connecting and reconnecting employees to the mission, vision, core values and strategies of the organization.  The third step is to set their GPS for success by investing in Inside Out Leadership.  This process accelerates leadership skills, builds stronger teams, leads to a well-balanced life, and a better relationship with self, family and co-workers. It is results oriented and uses a common language. The process focuses visionary leaders on collaboration vs. competition as they lead their teams to become solution seekers and implementers.  The organization will experience an even better organizational culture and effective interdepartmental communication and collaboration with greater performance results. The process transforms knowledge to understanding to wisdom, and inspires leaders to create even greater results as they move from “just management” to true leadership.  


The above results in people delivering their very best.   When people become aware that they create their own reality, have the tools and know how to use them, they will.

Tags:  Business  Career  leadership  management  MBA Women  NAWMBA  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA 

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Get What You Want: 5 Expert Negotiating Tips

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Get What You Want: 5 Expert Negotiating Tips

Professor Malia Mason studies and teaches negotiation tactics at Columbia Business School. Here, she shares a few tips for getting what you want at the negotiating table.

1. Grow and know your BATNA.

Power comes from your indifference towards the deal. If you approach the bargaining table with a willingness to walk away because you have an amazing alternative (known as a BATNA, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement), you automatically have leverage. But BATNAs don’t just magically appear in your lap—you have to create options for yourself, and good ones! The single best way to spend your time preparing for a negotiation is by locking down a BATNA. Be disciplined about it, and articulate to yourself exactly what it is and how much you value it. How can you possibly know whether to accept or walk away from an offer at the negotiating table if you don’t know the value of your alternative?


You want to sell your house for a certain amount. If a potential buyer isn’t willing to pay that much, your BATNA might be to rent it out until the market improves.

2. Know what success looks like.

What are you trying to accomplish here? Are you trying to get the best price? Are you looking to forge a new relationship? Maybe you’re just looking to school your counterpart. There are many ways to succeed (and fail) in negotiating, but it’s next to impossible to know how to proceed—what to offer, how much to push back, what to concede, and so forth—if you don’t know what you are trying to get. The dynamics you foster with your counterpart will depend on it. Orient yourself around the standards with which you will judge your performance afterwards.


Say you’re hiring a new employee. One of your goals is to bring her on at a salary that’s commensurate with her experience level. But, in this instance, you also care a great deal about her start date, because she’s taking the spot of another employee who’s leaving and you can’t afford to have the position unfilled for long. For you, success is a combination of making sure you don’t overpay and bringing her on staff quickly. Balancing those goals should guide the way you behave during the negotiation.

3. Have an offer strategy.

Will you make the initial offer? Or will you wait for the other person to go first? What will you say if he or she asks you to suggest a starting point for the deal? How extreme will your offer be? What form will it take? And what is your narrative around why your initial proposal is a legitimate one? Initial offers can have an anchoring effect on final settlements, so it’s worth giving this special consideration. What you do here should be conditioned on how you define success.


If your goal is to forge a strong relationship with a prospective long-term business partner, asking them to make the initial offer could be a smart opening gesture.

4. Have an information strategy.

First, before the negotiation, it’s worth giving some thought to what information you don’t know about your counterpart that would be useful. Obvious questions include: Why is this person buying or selling? What issue on the table is a top priority for your counterpart? Second, it’s worth thinking about how to respond to sensitive questions that might be asked of you, like, “What is your budget?” Or, “What are your alternatives?” You want to position your situation in the best light, and you certainly don’t want to lie about your circumstances, which people are more prone to do when they haven’t considered their answers beforehand.


If there’s a question you hope to avoid, plan in advance how to dodge it elegantly and move on. (“We aren’t quite ready to discuss our exact budget for this year, but I’d love to know how much you usually charge…” etc.) Meanwhile, if there’s a question you want to ask (“Have you taken on any other new clients recently?”), figure out how to word it and how the response will affect your strategy ahead of time. 

5. Assume you don’t know.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming your counterpart has diametrically opposed interests on each of the issues that are part of the negotiation. Getting this wrong can be incredibly costly, because it can set you up to be exploited by your counterpart if they gain an information advantage—they know far more about what you want than you know about what they want. With price, it’s fair to assume that the buyer wants a lower one and the seller wants a higher one, but don’t forget about other factors that are part of the negotiation (e.g., delivery date, number of units). Your counterpart doesn’t always want the exact opposite outcome, and he or she doesn’t always feel as strongly about the same issues that you do. Gather as much information as you can about your counterpart’s preferences before being too forthcoming about what you want.


You need a photographer two days from now. You approach the ideal person and explain your timing constraints. She frowns and explains that the project might be difficult on such short notice. She finally says that she will do it if you pay $500 more for the job. You agree, thinking that you got a good deal under the circumstances. But in reality, she’s had a last-minute cancellation and doesn’t currently have any work on the date you asked for. You assumed that it would be easier for her to take on your business at a later date, but in fact, it’s just as easy for her to take it on now. Not only did she get what she wants (business in two days), but she got you to pay more for this outcome.

This article is brought to you by MM.LaFleur, a vertically-integrated womenswear brand that provides a complete wardrobe and personal-styling services for the professional woman who has #BetterThingsToDo than shop. Read MM.LaFleur's digital magazine, the M Dash, online at

Tags:  Business  Career  leadership  NAWMBA  negotiation  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA 

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