A Better Way to Lead

A Better Way to Lead

“Are you staying ahead of the curve in most aspects of your business?” You may have cringed in hearing this question, thinking…Annie, who has time for that?

If you are not able to stay ahead, it may be a relief for you to know that the majority of entrepreneurs answer the same.

Does this sound familiar? At first light, you wake up feeling the pressure of demands facing your day. Just like the last, nothing slows down. You have a vision for your business, and even now in the midst of this pandemic crisis, you aspire to grow your business and serve your clients even moreyet you can’t catch up, much less stay ahead. You are piled high and weighted down. You realize you don’t know how to repair the bottleneckbecause you don’t know what it ismost likely it is you!

This is the wake-up call for entrepreneurs: the reality that you don’t have to do it all yourself.  Your leadership makes all the difference.  Forgetting this fact cripples team performance and business growth.  

Can you relate? Generally speaking, are you feeling overwhelmed and on the edge of burnout?  At times of high stress moments, do you fall into emotionally reactive behaviors toward your team? These are natural defensive human reactions in times of change and intense,  complex situations.

When you think about it, you might notice that your actions impede timely decisions and stall team productivity. Why? Because all the decision-making is up to you. Business goals are unclear. The team is not aligned. Self-protective behaviors hinder effective teamwork… I could go on, but you get the idea, right?

For too long you’ve bought into the old business myth—and that is—it’s up to the owner, the CEO, to pull all the weight—to decide, create, communicate, train, problem-solve, take action, achieve results… 

If you take one thing away from this blog today, let it be this: That type of authoritarian leadership cannot sustain business growth and functions in today’s rapid, ever-changing global business world. It’s a false, outdated notion.

It takes a team! Remember, you don’t have to do it all yourself. You can’t! To achieve your desired business outcomes, it takes a multi-talented team. One that works together using their collective abilities and talents. This includes you, the entrepreneur, inspiring, supporting and working in conscious agreement with your team.

In today’s rapidly changing, competitive environment, it is the strength of the team that can carry the company through the unexpected, and through the times that require fast pivots and critically thought-out restructure to move ahead.

Of course you want to stay ahead of the curve in your business! I know you don’t want to push from behind and work in crisis mode.  This starts with you and your team getting your processes in sync. It often requires mindset shifts, revised roles and responsibilities, and changes in your leadership habits and behaviors.

I learned early on in my career, company success is all about people and their behaviors. As my team and I work with companies, we teach a better way, and it’s not saying to your team, “just do as I say, leave the thinking to me.” You still may be surprised to hear that success comes from doing quite the opposite.

For the CEO or owner, it starts with your willingness to increase awareness about  the essential “business part,” and the development of a united team, the “people part.” This prevents burnout and assures long term success when put into consistent action. 

This proven leadership style begins when you choose to learn new behaviors that encourage all your people to grow into Self-Leaders in their roles, right alongside you. This specifically gives team members the authority to think on their own and function in their highest capacity. 

We are here if you need us.  

Remember, human leadership behaviors and business processes are learned. Our “CcORE Empowerment Process” is our method for transforming challenge and stress into effective action so that you can achieve strong business outcomes.

Today, this brief glimpse into leadership style might be a pivotal moment for you. Often, shining light on something you hadn’t thought of before leaves you with more questions about what to do next. If this is you, take us up on an initial free coaching session with one of our executive coaches. Bring us what you feel is your biggest issue/problem right now. One call can help. 

 Contact us anytime, when you feel the need for further information and guidance. 

Ahead of the Curve Self-Leadership journal

Also, our Ahead of the Curve journal is an excellent resource, now available. Use it independently, or when you call on me or members of my team for coaching. 

This gives you an option for a personal introduction to our coaching and methods; it helps you prioritize and track your leadership progress, so go ahead and check out our 30-Day Self-Leadership Journal on Amazon.com.  



This is leadership!

Psychological Safety and Secure Working Relationships

Psychological Safety and Secure Working Relationships

My advice? Don’t skip over this topic. Awareness and skills about secure relationships and psychological safety in your company are essential. These top the list for building and mobilizing a high-performing team. 

Within every company—whether you are the CEO, manager, department head or supervisor—all business leaders need to be clear about their part in establishing a psychologically safe workplace. Knowledge about this, and the skills to put it into action, assures both your business and your people—SOAR!  

Without feeling psychologically safe, people turn inward. Humans are threat detection machines—and all are hardwired to default to self-protection. That distracts from focusing on achieving the needed outcomes and building working relationships. 

Without psychological safety, it’s a downward spiral. 

Believe me, you will not hire and keep ‘A’ Players on your team if leadership behaviors cause people, or the team as a whole, to resort to obstructive habits of self-protection, due to not feeling secure to speak up or take independent action. They will go elsewhere. 

Does this “Relationship Cascade” ring true for you? Are these feelings and behaviors commonplace within your company? If so, this is a wake up call…     

Even though psychological safety and secure working relationships are crucial predictors of team performance, few CEOs or executive leaders consider whether those are present and active in their culture. Above all, they are focused on hard-driving to achieve company outcomes. 

About 70 percent of the time, high level leadership behavior counteracts psychological safety. Instead, company leaders are demanding, super-critical and hard-driving. Oftentimes, this is the same pressure they put on themselves, so it becomes a huge blindspot that this same energy and approach is damaging to the people on the team.

What’s needed, and what will automatically roll downhill, influencing everyone in the company, is leaders who empower people at all levels to feel safe to take risks, speak out, admit mistakes—and to feel free to ask for what they need to do a quality job on a project. Simply said, all people are safe to tell the truth, even when the truth might be risky or uncomfortable. 

You and most business leaders have heard or used the term “psychological safety.” Defined it means: The interpersonal state where one feels safe to drop their self-protections and freely express themselves without being blamed, judged, criticized, abandoned, or disrespected

Think about other words or phrases that further define it for you.
___________________________________ (We invite you to share it in the comment section below this blog.)    

We All Have Blindspots

Unfortunately, entrepreneurs, CEOs, executive leadership teams, only know what they know! The biggest factor is that they (most of us have been there at one time or another) don’t know when they are stifling and controlling, or unsafe to approach. Even when they do recognize it, they don’t know what to do about it. They honestly don’t know there is a better way. They figure, their thinking, their genius is what creates the outcomes. The opposite is in fact true; they are not empowering the team to use their skills, freely and unhindered—which is what effective teamwork and productivity is all about. 

The higher your position in the company, the greater responsibility you have to create and model an environment where team members/employees feel safe, heard and appreciated. Create space to discuss issues without blaming or criticizing. And heed what can feel even worse to team members, and that’s a leader’s silence. Being disrespected to the extent that team members are completely unseen, unheard and ignored, as if a fixture on the wall rather than a human being, is completely demoralizing.   

I work with many CEOs who are oblivious to their negative behaviors towards their team. But once they are aware, they can make better choices and are inspired to do so when they realize that to get good business results you need an empowered team — which requires psychological safety!

Trust and Respect

It doesn’t take “rocket science” or me telling you, to understand that people who feel they work in a trusting workplace perform better. 

Psychological safety isn’t necessarily about being overly nice; it’s more about modeling these behaviors:

  • Be respectful and appreciative
  • Have each other’s backs
  • Give timely and necessary information for tasks and projects
  • Offer honest feedback
  • Making effective, conscious agreements
  • Openly admit mistakes
  • Take responsibility and own your part in the problem
  • Appreciate that there’s always something more to learn. 

Your checklist for generating psychological safety and promoting secure working relationships:

  • Set clear, reasonably achievable expectations
  • Check that each member has what they need to achieve results
  • Make mutual agreements, including making requests without pressuring
  • Talk tentatively—ask open-ended questions
  • Listen actively—respect their point-of-view
  • Acknowledge facts, challenges and uncertainties
  • Meet feelings with empathy and compassion
  • Reverse shoes—walk in theirs for awhile
  • Express positive belief in them
  • Get curious, be interested about their well-being
  • Repair situations ASAP
  • Take responsibility for you and your part in any issue

Go down the list; the more safety you provide, the more you can request people to perform outside of their comfort zones. It requires courage for your people to step up and take more ownership for delivering outcomes. That’s why you must create psychological safety! 

It takes two! Take note that creating psychological safety is a two-way responsibility—you can provide someone a psychologically safe environment (to the best of your ability), but you can’t make someone feel psychologically safe if they aren’t able to regulate their own emotions. 

Building psychological safety and secure relationships begins with your ability to show up in your secure self, (and for others to do the same), which is why the CcORE Empowerment Process is so integral to everything we teach and coach.  

Contact us for further information and guidance.

Ahead of the Curve Self-Leadership journal

Also, our Ahead of the Curve journal is an excellent resource, now available. Use it independently, or when you call on me or members of my team for coaching. 

This gives you an option for a personal introduction to our coaching and methods; it helps you prioritize and track your leadership progress, so go ahead and check out our 30-Day Self-Leadership Journal on Amazon.com.





This is leadership!
Annie and The Leading Edge Team

When the Apology is Worse than the Offense

When the Apology is Worse than the Offense

I recently received a really bad apology by email, and it inspired me to record this short VLOG.

Most of us know, to apologize is vital for creating and maintaining strong, trusting relationships, but when the first line of the apology comes out as blame, “You took it wrong,” that is a turn off, and not productive. In my case, I didn’t feel any better at all after being told I took it wrong; hence, my fault. My self-protection immediately rose up. My colleague’s apology backfired and left more damage in its wake. It didn’t feel good.

Take a moment to take in the teachable moment I share about in this video. It will be well worth your time. 

As you listen, consider when you have been on the receiving end of a “bad apology,” and when you have given a  “bad apology.” We’ve all done it.

Watch the video below, to hear my: “3-Step Simple Formula for a Great Apology”

  1. “I’m sorry, I…” (take ownership, acknowledge your misstep)
  2. “I know I impacted you by…” (put yourself in their shoes…
    an apology is not about you—it’s about the other person!)
  3. “Next time, I will…” (state what you would do differently next time)

Effective apologies will transform your relationships for the better. When you learn to use apology as a tool for relationship repair, both business and personal, your connection to others will be completely up-leveled.

Remember, an apology is not an admission of guilt! It’s a form of repair.


The Tension and the Squeeze

The Tension and the Squeeze

by Barbara Schindler, COO & Executive Coach

Apparently a quick fix to the fallout from the COVID-19 health crisis is only in our dreams. The impact it’s having on our lives and the economy is bigger than we first imagined. We need lots of things right now, at work and at home, but the short list is: emotional and physical endurance, check-in and connection, compassion, clarity, sound strategies. And we need each other, because the new normal on the horizon remains uncertain. 

Some quick strategies for your game plan…

Endurance: “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” ―William Barclay 

Facing this crisis is tough, because you, nor anyone else has ever experienced it before. Your “thinking brain” can’t anticipate how things will work out. 

You need endurance for the long haul, because, one thing is certain, all human beings, collectively, feel the tension  and the squeeze. Needless to say, it’s super uncomfortable. At the same time, the tenacity of the human spirit rallies.   

To help you endure, I hope you choose to make time for self-care (however that looks for you). 

Ask yourself, “What self-care am I currently doing?” Is it physical, mental, emotional, spiritual? What do I need more of? 

Do it this week. Do it for you! 

You might choose to practice mindfulness when you wake. This kick starts your day as you set positive intentions. It helps you to be present to experience now, rather than being distracted from yesterday, or being fearful of tomorrow. Being available to those whom you are working with and ‘sheltering in’ with, makes everything flow smoother!       

Check-in/Connection: It’s not business as usual, so people need to know you care. This has a multitude of benefits, so don’t diminish the importance of planned check-ins with your team (and family and friends) that increase communication and connection. The added benefit is that connecting with those in your world feeds into your own self-care and wellness. 

I suggest two things for regular check-ins about well-being—whether team members or family and friends: 1. Give room for them to voice their current needs/stress. 2. Give room for them to share what is working for them.

Compassion: We are all surviving the same storm, but we’re not paddling the same boat. 

There’s comfort in knowing, as humans, that “the tension and squeeze” is universal. 

You are not the only one trying to get to the shore and get grounded, but your particular stressors are specific to you—and they’re different from mine—at work or at home. 

Your situation, and your response to it, is different from others on your business team, your partner or child, your neighbor, your doctor or store clerk. Your stressors are dependent on the many factors that make up your life—no one else lives your life.  

Like me, I’m sure you’re thankful that your engine is running, yet the degree of barricades and detours in the road remind you that you must stay alert and keep your foot on the brake, hoping tomorrow you can go full throttle, step on the gas and drive forward. But no one can say for sure when that will be.Business as usual” has taken on new meaning, but it’s good that along with challenge and change, there’s growth and learning. 

New normal? What’s that? We really don’t know what it will look like. 

The “tension and squeeze” is obvious to all as new normals at work and at home are searched for in this uncertain time. Full clarity is not possible.

However, as you walk through twists and turns, doing your thing, it’s vital to raise your human awareness of how others do their thing, remembering, “I haven’t walked in your shoes.” The discord on social media seems to be heightened, and disagreements experienced among team members, and friends and family are frequent, because situations, understanding, and perspective are unique to each individual. 

What do I suggest to help you feel aligned with others and bring greater peace to yourself during this odd time in our history? 

Resist judgement: For the most part, especially when you recognize that you are reacting in stress-filled “fight or flight,” the human tendency can be to judge someone else’s choices or opinions. Choose to pause at such times. Try to accept what is and let it go—and choose kindness, patience and compassion to those around you.    

Seek clarity on the facts: Strive to be an objective observer, versus making firm judgements. Reacting emotionally to the different perspectives that swirl around you, will toss your emotions every-which-way, keeping you in a state of distress. 

Another reason to resist judging others, it reminds you to resist judging yourself. Choosing to be more objective and less judgemental, as you accept “what is” around you, brings peace to your world. This is a discipline that models compassion and kindness in action—and it’s incredibly powerful.    

Habit for Self-Leaders: Observe your innermost thoughts and feelings. This helps your Leadership growth, and also belongs on your self-care list. No one is immune—everyone feels it! So, go ahead and let yourself feel it (whatever “it” is), without judgement, until you reach the place of compassion and comfort with your secure self. 

And as you walk forward in this new normal, as a leader, generously influence those around you, by extending them compassion—in your sameness and in your differences.    

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

– Barbara

Watch for my next blog. “The Tension and the Squeeze” Blog #2
Q & A “What’s keeping you awake at night?”  

You’re not alone!

We invite you to join Annie’s new Facebook group that’s sole purpose is to offer connection, support, and information.

Join our A+ Leadership Community

See: video on Team Tip – FB Private Group 5/5



Leadership in Times of Uncertainty: Decision Making

Leadership in Times of Uncertainty: Decision Making

This current world-wide reality is like nothing else we’ve experienced in modern life. Besides connecting and doing critical thinking together, I appreciate that we have many leaders in history to help inspire our own commitment to our vision and our business, as well as inspire our ability to make decisions during this difficult time. 

It’s an understatement to say there is a great deal of uncertainty in our country and the world. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on the facts, you wake up, turn on the news, and everything has changed. One thing is clear: how to make the right decisions can keep most anyone awake at night. 

So, just what does it take for leaders to make decisions in such a challenging time as this? Many words come to mind, but here are a few: courage, strength, values, confidence, commitment—and for those of you in our Leading Edge Teams programs, I would add, you can “trust the process”… 

For now, during this time of such uncertainty, as you make leadership decisions allow yourself to feel and experience the positive energy behind your words. It’s motivating! I’d love to hear the words that come to mind for you (comment below).  

In this case, you find direction and strength in living out such meaningful words in tangible actions. (The ones above, or those you thought of…) 

As you make decisions, be confident that they align with your vision of your business outcomes and the impact you want to have in the world. This is what leadership and decision-making is all about, professionally and personally.

One example, Theodore Roosevelt used his leadership impact to bring about major decisions that protect wildlife and public lands, forests, reserves, parks, monuments—all for our enjoyment and benefit over a century later. I wonder… what if he hadn’t made decisions based on what he valued? What if he hadn’t stayed committed? Our loss. 

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”  – Theodore Roosevelt

I ask you to heed this, because right now, during this world-wide crisis that has walked right in your door, at work and at home, doing nothing is simply not an option.  

And let me add, that the “right thing” is the best decision you are able to make at this very moment—based on all the facts you have currently. During this time of crisis, we know the facts keep changing every single day, so revisit your decisions frequently. 

Be aware of not making emotionally reactive decisions. To help assure you don’t, take time to hear your stakeholders/team members’ perspectives. Listen attentively without commitment. Take in all information.   

Try this process in your meetings.

  • Have a “discussion session.” Take time to receive new information and facts from all.
  • Revisit earlier decisions. 
  • Start with “what’s changed?” What is best to do now, based on the new information?
  • If necessary, pivot earlier decision(s).
  • Choose the best decision, now, out of the current alternatives. 
  • Repeat this process at each meeting. Followup.
  • Have a “recovery plan” when the best decision doesn’t work. Shift! 

For sure, decision making is especially hard right now. Being 100 percent sure is not available—at best you will feel 65 to 70 percent confident in your decision. 

As you move forward remember to factor in your long-term vision. It can be a challenge to do so but that is why you need to keep your team close and connect often.

SHORT TERM GOALS to keep in front of you as you make daily decisions:   

  • Ride out this uncertain time and position yourself to catch the new wave. It is important to remember there is a long term.
  • Stay transparent and closely connected to all of your people. Circle up frequently!
  • Take the time to be up-to-date on facts from all your team’s perspectives. 
  • Make decisions based on facts. Revisit decisions, pivot when necessary. 
  • Practice Self-Leadership. Influence through the mindset and language of your best self.  
  • Seize opportunity. Use downtime to be prepared and ready. 



  • Seize the opportunity that you prepared for yesterday. 
  • Keep adjusting “V” State, the big vision you are striving for; gain knowledge.
  • Utilize this time to build a community that trusts you.
  • Create free offers, support and service. Be part of the solution.
  • Remember that there is a “long term” with brand new days, new opportunities.
  • Prepare and adjust infrastructure of business and team (meetings, systems…)
  • Restructure functional organization.

Both short term and long term take emotional endurance and a commitment to self-care! Remember, you are a human being, not a robot. Eat. Sleep. Exercise. 

Another leadership tip: committing to a routine helps you keep up with the “out-of-routine” work and decision-making. Prioritize the needed hours for your personal life, self-care, and overall wellness. Strike a balance that works for you. 

Make good use of each of the suggestions I make in the bullets above. These will help you focus and take effective action today… and then do it again tomorrow! 

You have the ability to transform this current challenge and stress into effective action and thrive!

Remember, your Self-Leadership is a beacon of light for your team to follow. Walk forward. Make fact-based decisions, pivot when you need to, and seize opportunities when they rise up. And don’t do it alone! Use your team. There has never been a more pertinent time to gather varied perspectives and share good critical thinking.                          

Stay grounded and connected!  Let us know if my team and I can support you in any way.


P.S. We are happy to offer you a call with our lead executive coach. Schedule a call here.



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