Lessons Learned from Those Who Serve


By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

There are bosses, and then there are leaders. Which one do you want to be? A boss is focused on gaining personal power and wealth. A leader puts the interest of the entire team first. Through the growth and development of the entire team, you as the leader gain more experience, knowledge, and recognition. People who focus on leading and supporting their team are seen to have more humanity and maintain better long term workplace relationships. This is a positive influence on your entire career.

What Is a Servant Leader?
The concept of being a servant leader arose in the 1970s. The idea is to make those under you more important than your own personal aspirations or the shareholder’s desire for wealth. Through positive support and growth, everyone benefits because the focus is on the betterment of everyone and not on just one person or a small group of people.

Focus on developing humility by being generous and humble. Don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses. No one is perfect, and just because you’re the leader, doesn’t mean you never make mistakes or have any weaknesses. By admitting fault and weaknesses, you show those under you that it’s ok to make mistakes and makes you relatable.
Focus on giving credit where its due. Give your team credit for their ideas and effort. This will encourage them to speak up and work in the future. People want to be recognized for their efforts.

Everyone has a backstory. Approach everyone with humanity, empathy, and compassion. Understand that everyone has a background that shapes their point of view and perspective. By taking the time to understand someone, you can better identify their needs.
Understanding and getting to know each member of your team will help you to manage them better. It will also help you to find common ground and resolve conflicts.

Too often, corporate leadership thinks communication is relaying information to those they manage. But this is only half of the communication puzzle. As a servant leader, you should do more than effectively communicate at your team.
Develop your listening skills by focusing on your team. Give them 100% of your attention when they’re speaking. This lets them know you value their time, ideas, and employment.
Another important skill is to develop your persuasive speaking skills. This means focusing on speaking in a way that focuses on providing supportive facts and figures rather than commanding action. When your team understands why they’re doing something they’re going to work harder than just being commanded to do something.

Don’t be afraid to look at your own skills objectively. Identify what your strengths and weaknesses are. By knowing where you excel and where you don’t, you can effectively distribute the workload so that everyone’s tasks can get utilized in the best way.
Keep in touch with your emotions and understand what causes you to react emotionally. This will help you identify your emotions and prevent you from reacting with them. As an effective leader, you should make decisions based on logic and reason and not on your emotions. Practice self-discipline and set boundaries for yourself. This will ensure you take care of yourself so you can better take care of the people around you.

Develop Your Servant Leadership Skills
One of the best ways to develop your servant leadership skills is to communicate with fellow career-minded individuals. This will give you the opportunity to practice your persuasive speaking and listening skills. Focus on what others are saying and learning about who they are and their background. You can then apply these skills to your role as a leader.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at  lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Stay Motivated and Focused With These 5 Tips

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

Only 8% of people successfully achieve the goals they set for themselves. Don’t let this discourage you, though. Most people fail because they don’t have the right plan, tools, or skills needed to succeed. Are you ready to set yourself up for success? Then it’s time to learn and apply these five tips.

1. Clearly Define Your Goal
The first thing you need to do is define your goal. How can you stay motivated and focused if you don’t have a clear picture of what you’re working for? Write down a definable goal and the steps you need to take to reach that goal.
Let’s say you want to retire early. This isn’t a clear goal. Saying that you want to retire by 50 is. From there, you can create stepping stone goals of targeted saving, income level increases, promotions, and investment growth.
You now have a clear roadmap for you to follow to reach your end goal.

2. Break It Into Chunks
The human brain likes to find groupings. This is why it’s easier to remember a phone as three groups of numbers instead of one long string of ten. The grouping strategy is effective beyond memory tasks.
If you look at the entirety of your goal, the sheer magnitude of it will become overwhelming. This will drive you to avoid working towards it. Instead, break it up into manageable chunks that your brain can focus on.
Jump-start your progress by making the beginning chunks smaller and have them get progressively bigger. This will give you several “wins” early on. Your motivation will exponentially build so that you can better tackle the larger chunks.

3. Give Yourself Positive Reinforcement
As a manager, you should be familiar with positive reinforcement. Rewarding desired behavior yield better results than punishing undesired behavior. You achieve better results, and morale remains high.
Use this tactic on yourself. Find a small reward that makes you happy. Every time you perform a task towards your goal, let yourself enjoy your reward.

4. Create a Social Support System
People try to use social support to pull themselves along to their goals. This is not the right way to use this tactic. The biggest mistake you can make is to tell your support system your end goal and depend on that person to stop you from slipping up.
Instead, tell your support system the goal for the current chunk you’re working on. This will help you stay focused on the task at hand. Next, only use your support system to validate your wins, and not as a guilt-trip.
Let’s continue with the goal of retiring at 50. Don’t tell your support system this goal. Instead, tell them your goal is to attend two networking events a month. By doing this, you’ll expand your professional network, which helps you move up in your career, increase your salary, and eventually retire early.

5. Plan for the Bumps in the Road
Don’t plan to fail. But you’re human, slip-ups will happen. Create an action plan for when those bumps in the road occur. It should include things like these:
Avoid negative self-talk
Own the slip-up to your support system
Avoid over-analyzing
Recognize repeated slip-ups and do self-reflection to break the pattern
Take the First Step to Achieve Your Professional Goal

Do you have a career goal in mind or need help defining your goal? Contact us today and let an expert career coach help you define your goals. Our full suite of services can help you work towards your career goals. We also offer networking services to help you network and develop your support system.
Select your customized career package today, and let’s start working towards your goal!

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at  lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

5 Tips to be a Successful Networker

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

About 85% of open positions are filled through networking. This means that if you want to move forward with your career, you need to get talking. Networking with other professionals in your industry not only opens you up to new opportunities, but it allows you to become more connected with your current industry.
Being a successful networker isn’t about just knowing a lot of people. Follow these tips to make the most of your next cocktail hour.

Be True to You
Don’t try to portray a false image. People will figure out you’re not authentic, and this will tarnish their impression of you. You will also blend into the crowd of other professionals who display superficial behavior.
Compare this to the trend in marketing we see. Companies that focus on flashy marketing campaigns don’t perform as well as those that strive to be authentic. People want to form real relationships. You can do this in your networking by being a real human being and not a walking advertisement for yourself.

Be Honest and Direct
While you want to be impressive, you also want to be honest. While people may not catch your falsehoods at first, they will eventually. When this happens, your brand is tarnished forever. People will remember your dishonesty and translate that to your professional performance.
You also want to be direct in your networking. Respect people’s time, and they’ll respect yours. Getting to the point is appreciated by business professionals who have numerous demands on their time.

Bring Value
Now that you’ve ditched the cheesy personal sales pitch, it’s time to create a new strategy. Offer the person you’re networking with something of value. Remember, the people you’re networking with are looking to further their own careers.
You don’t have to offer anything significant. Sometimes all it takes is a small piece of advice or a kind gesture. The key to making an impact with your offered value is to not expect anything in return. This small gesture now can lead to exponential dividends over the long term.

Ask Specific Questions
One trick to making yourself memorable is to be engaged and interested in the person you’re speaking with. Show the other person you’re paying attention by asking specific questions. Listen to what they say and form a question directly related to what they’ve said.
Doing this can also help you with the previous tip. Asking specific questions can help you to better understand the other person’s wants and needs. This will help you narrow in on their needs to determine how you can offer value.

Follow Up
You’ve spent time and energy getting to know someone. Show that you care and build on that investment by following up with the people you network with. You don’t have to do anything extravagant; a simple follow up phone call or email will suffice.
When you follow up, express your appreciation for the conversation. Specifically, mention something they said or any value they gave you. It’s also helpful to ask a question. This encourages continued communication and helps develop the relationship.

Become a Successful Networker
The next time you attend a professional event, try putting these tips into practice. Try to be direct and true to yourself. Ask specific questions and learn about the person you’re networking with. Then offer them some value without the expectation of anything in return. The people you’re networking with will appreciate your authenticity and generosity. This will make an impression and make you memorable.

Sign up for one of our Senior Executive Round Table events and connect with other executives while practicing your networking skills.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Master Virtual Networking From Home

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By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

It took 24 days for the world total of confirmed Covid-19 cases to double. It took just four days for the total confirmed cases in the United States to double. These numbers drive home just how infectious this virus is and how fast the number of those infected can exponentially grow.
We all want to stay safe during this uncertain time, but we also need to address our responsibilities and care for our families. This means changing our habits and figuring out new ways of doing things. How do you maintain a successful career when you are working from home, and all networking functions have been canceled? We have a few ideas to help you maintain your network while also maintaining a safe distance.

Virtual Cocktail or Coffee Hour
Create a virtual event where you invite other professionals to have a cocktail or coffee with you. Use a group video chat app that allows multiple people to see and talk to each other simultaneously such as:

  • Google Hangouts
  • WhatsApp
  • Join.me
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Zoom

Create a theme for your video call that can provide some value to the attendees. It could be a chat to help those working from home for the first time. Or it could be a chat to address how you’ll address a loss in company productivity, financial strains, or employee illness.

Phone and Email
This is the perfect time to follow up on past networking contacts you’ve made. Life and work can get busy, and even with the best of intentions, you may not have followed up with everyone you’ve connected with. Use this time to create a list of people you haven’t connected with recently.
Once you have your list, decide the best way to reach out to each person. Some people may prefer an email, while others may appreciate a quick phone call. Keep the conversation short and express genuine concern for the other person. Don’t forget to offer assistance or aid.

Build Your Online Reputation
Try taking this time to build your reputation online. You could publish articles or answer forum questions. By doing this, you’ll build your reputation within the industry beyond those in your immediate network circle.
Try community websites like Reddit, Quora, or an industry-specific website. Engage in online conversations and develop your thoughts on relevant topics. There are 330 million users on Reddit that are active in over 138,000 communities, so you’re sure to find people to network with. Quora is a question and answer website with 80 million active users who ask and answer 3,000 to 5,000 questions every day.
Write an article or blog post for an industry website. Pick a topic that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. Make sure that it’s published under your name.

Get Social
Log into your LinkedIn account and start virtual networking with industry professionals. This is another way you can connect with people you have networked with. Consider it a step in building your relationship with important connections.
You’ll also be able to see your second and third level connections. Look through your suggested connections and reach out to people that you may not have had a chance to meet in person.

Virtual Conference
With large gatherings getting canceled, people are getting creative in how they can get a similar experience. This has led to big-name musicians like Coldplay, Keith Urban, and John Legend hosting virtual concerts. Don’t be surprised if others start to follow suit with virtual conferences and other events.
Reach out to the host of an event you were planning to attend. Ask if they will still host the event, but virtually. You could attend a video presentation and then participate by submitting questions or comments through a chat system.

Continue to Network From home
Humans are social creatures, so staying away from each other and isolating ourselves is a challenge. Not only will these virtual networking tips assist you with your career, but they’ll also help you stay positive during this uncertain time.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

A Message from Linda

COVID-19, virtual meeting, networking

To our clients and friends,
With all of today’s health concerns due to COVID-19, we wanted to let you know that our primary concern is the health and safety of our clients, networkers, and colleagues. I am always available remotely for meetings, sessions, and inquiries. Our March and April networking meetings will be held virtually in response to needed safety concerns and I am more than happy to change any in-person meetings to video conferences or telephone calls.
Businesses will push ahead and this health pandemic will pass. I have included a free document for you to download in the hope that it will help shift your mindset in these uncertain times. Virtual interviewing is soon to become the norm and this document will help you with your preparation and presentation for your career campaign. Scroll down to find the free download.

Stay healthy and safe,




If you are ready to sign up for our virtual SERT Meeting, register like you normally do. Linda will send the virtual meeting link to all attendees via email ahead of time. Once you are registered, download this form, fill it out entirely, and send back as a Word Doc to Linda the day before your meeting.


See why Fairfield and Westchester County Senior Executive Networkers say:

  • My Executive Career Coach offers a professional way of engaging with high level professionals.” Chris P.
  • “The best of my networking groups.”  Lee N.
  • “I love the high quality of talent & energy in the room… and so well run.” John R.
  • “An excellent venue for sharing ideas and best practices networking.” Michael M.

Who Attends?

Senior Executive Round Table meetings are for CEO. COO, all C-Suite Executives and other top level executives at compensation levels of $200,000 and above. It has been designed to provide a unique forum for top corporate professionals, like yourself, to network, build quality relationships, exchange leads, experiences, ideas and peer feedback specifically for your career development. Click here for complete details..

What is in it for you?

This senior level group will provide a controlled, discreet, confidential environment where you can make important contacts and share information with others from different industries and functions. Whether you are currently in transition, confidentially investigating, or a career smart professional that knows that constant networking is critical to your career, this group can become an invaluable resource to you and you to it.

The First Time Leader’s Guide To Success

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

You’ve worked hard for years, arriving early, staying late, and volunteering for projects. Your hard work has been recognized, and you’ve accepted a promotion offer. In your new position, you have the opportunity to manage people for the first time in your career.
This new position of leadership presents new challenges and requires skills that you may not have developed yet. Set yourself up for success by keeping this guide in mind as you prepare for your new position.

Don’t Underestimate Your Transition
Getting promoted to a management position is a career milestone and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is a new phase in your career, and you need to prepare for it with the same vigor that you did for the last phase.
Many companies lack the necessary support for their first time leaders. If you are in this position, look for development and learning programs that can help you develop the skills you need to succeed in your new role. The skills you mastered to be a top-performing employee are not always helpful as a leader.

Improve Your Listening Skills
When you can communicate effectively, you can keep your team engaged and inspired. The quality of your interactions will affect how your employees feel about their performance, your leadership, and the overall company.
When you actively listen to others, you develop trust and improve your team’s perception of you as a leader. This can generate more creativity and boost job satisfaction.

Actively Seek New Challenges and Experiences
It’s been long touted that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a new craft. While recent scientists have debunked this exact number, there’s an important message to this saying. You’re new to leadership, which means you haven’t mastered this new role yet.
All too often, new leaders fall into the trap of working harder and longer because that’s what worked in their old role. But you’re a leader now, so this approach isn’t the most effective. Instead, seek out situations where you can develop and learn new leadership skills.

You Work for Your Employees
You may be the leader, but it’s your team that will make you a success. Their performance is the barometer of your effectiveness as a leader. Learn how to identify their needs and how you can adapt to provide for them.
Learn how to identify what motivates your team. For each person, it will be different; money, status, or recognition. By learning this, you can tailor how you manage and reward that person to effectively motivate and boost morale.

Be Kind
You may have feelings of insecurity and nervousness as a first time leader, but don’t let this manifest when you interact with others. Give the impression of confidence and security in your new role by building up those around you. Be kind and compassionate to your team members, and you will garner their trust and respect.

Learn to Trust
Have you ever worked for a manager that didn’t trust their team? They place tight restrictions on all areas of the job, they micromanage, and there’s an overall oppressive feeling to the workplace. Don’t be this manager.
It can be tempting to lock down control as a way of dealing with your insecurity in your new role. Ultimately this does you and your team a disservice. Instead, offer your team open trust as the foundation of your relationship. Then slowly take that trust away if your team does something to lose it.
By developing this open and trusting relationship, you will become the leader that everyone wants to work with.

Seek Professional Guidance
One great quality all leaders have is the ability to identify when you need assistance. As a first time leader, you can seek out guidance by networking with great leaders. Learn from their experience and guidance to develop your leadership style.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Grow in Your Career Through Self Reflection

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

With 2020 in full swing, now is the perfect time for self-evaluation and reflection. This is different from the standard employee evaluation that your boss probably gave you at the end of 2019. Think of this as your opportunity to think about your career development.

Two common pitfalls that everyone falls into is complacency and overinflating one’s skills. As humans, we seek out comfort and positive affirmation. This can be detrimental to your career. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to do a self-assessment and shake things up. This will help expose you to new challenges and opportunities for your career in the coming year.

Have the Right Attitude
This project isn’t about self-reassurance or ego inflation. You need to have the right attitude and be honest with yourself throughout your entire self-assessment. People tend to overestimate their skills, so keep this in mind when looking at your strengths and weaknesses.

Start With Quantifiable Data
Gather any hard data that can help you evaluate your work performance. This data doesn’t lie and can help you pinpoint weak areas. Think about your performance and look at your track record. This could be anything from getting to work on time, meeting sales goals, or meeting project deadlines.
Your employer will look at this data to evaluate your performance and potential for career growth, so you need to know this information. It can also help you create a more robust resume by showing potential employers actual performance metrics and not just fluffy positive-sounding language.

What Do You Enjoy?
People tend to put more effort into the things they enjoy. You’ll find that these are the areas you perform best in. Identify the areas of your job that you love the most and the skills required for those tasks. Ask yourself a few questions to get started:

1. What have others complimented me on?
2. What am I good at?
3. What are my hobbies, and why do I like them?
4. What have I spent hours on and not gotten tired?

Once you have a list of these skills, look at ways you can build on and improve them. Building on these skills will ensure you don’t become complacent in your comfort zone. You’ll also learn how to apply these strengths to other areas and expand your skillset.

What Do You Dread?
Why do you not enjoy specific tasks? Is it because you aren’t mentally engaged or because you lack the skills to make these tasks easier. Look for weak points in your performance based on the feedback you receive. Then figure out ways you can address these weaknesses. Ask yourself these questions:

1. What projects drain my energy?
2. What have others complained about?
3. What have others had to help me with?
4. Are there things I continually forget or get wrong?

What the Industry Requires
If you want to move up within your industry, what will it take? Compare your current skillset and performance to the position you want to move into. Addressing and improving on your skillset will show your employer you’re committed to growth. If your employer isn’t committed to your growth too, then you’re better prepared to find career growth elsewhere.

Set Achievable Goals
Now that you know what you need to work on, you need to set measurable and achievable goals. Create a timeline wherein the next month; you’ll research ways to build on your skills. You’ll then set a deadline for signing up for a course, conference, or anything else that will help you improve. Create a mid-year check-in where you hold yourself accountable for progress.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Should You Take the Promotion or the New Job?

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

You’ve worked hard at your current position. You’ve done everything you’re supposed to. You’ve put in the hours, volunteered for special projects, over-performed, and delivered above expectations.
Everything you’ve done has led to you receiving praise.. You’re long overdue for your company to offer you a promotion, but there’s no word on you moving up. So you start looking around and score an offer with a new title and a bigger salary at another company.
Now you’re ready to give your notice, and your current company wants to promote you. Do you accept the promotion, or do you take the new job offer? This fork in the road can completely change the course of your career, and the decision can be nerve-wracking.
To help you make the decision, ask yourself these questions.

Where Will I Feel Mentally Engaged and Challenged?
Take an assessment of how you feel about your current position. Decide whether or not you feel mentally engaged. Will you feel that way after your promotion? If you’re confident that you will, then it’s smart to stay put with your current company.
If you have any doubts or know that you won’t feel engaged, it’s time to move on. You should feel excited about going to work. No salary bump or new title will change how you feel about your new responsibilities.
You may feel good about more money temporarily, but that glow will wear off quickly. What you’ll be left with is a growing frustration for the things that drive you crazy. This will lead you to eventually finding a new position out of desperation. Address the problem now while you have an attractive offer.

Which Position Will Let Me Make a Difference?
Your career is a marathon, and you need to think about how your two opportunities will shape your career long term. The position that lets you make a difference will have more of a positive effect on your career. Not only will you feel more fulfilled, but you’ll also feel more motivated to take on new and bigger challenges.
The position that allows you to make more of a difference will give you a stronger resume. This will lead to bigger and better opportunities down the road.

Which Company Has the People That Will Inspire?
You spend 40 or more hours a week with your coworkers; you should enjoy your time with them. Work with people who help you to grow, learn, and be better. They should act with professionalism and respect.
Working in a diverse office fosters innovation and growth. You may feel comfortable and safe with your current coworkers, but a change is good for broadening your perspective and world view.

Which Company Aligns With My Values and Goals?
You could have the opportunity to work on cutting edge projects and work with some of the smartest people around, but if you don’t agree with the company’s values, you won’t be happy. It will be tough to work hard, furthering the goals of the company when you don’t agree with how the company contributes to society. No job is worth losing sleep at night because you don’t feel good about the overall cause you’re a part of.

Did Your Current Company Only Offer the Position Because You’re Leaving?
If your current company is only offering the promotion because you’ve given your notice, is it worth taking? You shouldn’t have to threaten to leave for your company to recognize and reward your hard work and accomplishments.
Asses whether or not the position allows for growth. A new vanity title won’t provide you with new opportunities or responsibilities.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Balancing Your Professional Reputation

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By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

Sometimes it feels like you’re getting pulled in a million different directions at work. Your boss is demanding you get projects done on tight deadlines. Your team is coming to you with several problems that threaten to delay project completion.
Who do you focus on pleasing first? Is your boss or your team more important? The reality is, both opinions are equally important. But the good news is that you can manage everyone’s opinion of you by doing a few simple things.

Always Strive to do the Right Thing
When it comes to managing other people, you’ll earn respect when you try to do the right thing. Be considerate of everyone and don’t try to “pull one over” on someone. Both your team and your boss will appreciate that you don’t shrink away from your responsibilities, no matter how tough they might be.
Your team will have trust in you to act with integrity. Your boss will trust you to get things done. Through your actions they’ll know they can depend on you.

Own and Apologize for Your Mistakes
You’re a human, not a robot. It’s ok that you made a mistake, and both your boss and your team will appreciate your integrity in owning it. It takes maturity and confidence to acknowledge your errors and focus on correcting the mistake.
When managing a team, you set a positive example by admitting your errors. It makes you a relatable leader instead of a distant manager.
For your boss, they’ll appreciate your ability to focus on the solution. This ability to problem solve is invaluable.

Go Above and Beyond
Lead by example and make a habit of going above and beyond. This extra effort shows that you care about your job and your team. Those below you will follow your example, which will make your team perform better.
Your boss will appreciate the extra effort you and your team put in. This higher level of performance will translate to a positive reputation for your team, you, and your boss.

Avoid Complaining
No one wants to listen to someone who continually complains about situations that make them unhappy. Your boss and your team will eventually tune you out. It also gives you the reputation of focusing on the problems and not on the solutions.
Instead of complaining to your boss, bring them solutions to the problems. Your boss will begin to turn to you when they have issues they need resolving.
Complaining to your team creates a toxic environment. This will paint you as a negative manager. Instead, empower your team to come up with their solutions. Your team will appreciate the sense of responsibility you’re entrusting them with.

Have Patience
It takes time to build a positive reputation. You need to have a pattern of behavior that your team and boss can depend on. It can easily take months to show people who you are and what you stand for.
You also need to have patience in your day to day dealings. This could be having patience with your team. You may have one team member that’s struggling to understand a concept or complete a project.
They will appreciate you taking a pause and helping them rather than getting frustrated.
When it comes to your boss, sometimes the things we want take more time than we would like. Your boss will appreciate your understanding of this. Remember, they are in the same position as you with their own boss and team balance to contend with.

Manage Your Professional Reputation
Instead of focusing on who to please first, focus on being the best employee you can be. Always strive to do the right thing, go above and beyond, and focus on the solution instead of the problem. By embodying these qualities you will garner a positive reputation from everyone you work with.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Climb the Corporate Ladder by Debunking Myths

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By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC


You work hard. You show up to work on time. You volunteer for special projects. You offer assistance to others on your team. You do all of these things and yet you still get passed over for the promotion.
Despite being qualified for the leadership position, you may be allowing common myths to stagnate your climb up the corporate ladder. If this has happened to you, then it’s time to face the myths head-on.
Tackle these common myths and open the door to the future of your career as a leader.
Myth: You Can’t be Vulnerable
All too often, those in leadership positions think that they must stand firm and hold their ground. If they change direction, accept fault, or follow the ideas of others, then they are showing weakness.
The true sign of an effective leader is someone who can acknowledge that they don’t have all of the answers. They’re receptive to their team and have confidence that they have a group of capable people around them.
By showing that you can recognize good ideas and work well with others, you’ll prove that you’re ready to move up the corporate ladder. Being a leader isn’t about having all of the answers. It’s about recognizing them in others and implementing them.
Myth: Leaders Need to be Fierce, Distant, and Omnipotent
Think about your previous leaders and management. Have you enjoyed working with a leader who was distant and cold?
When someone becomes a leader, they feel the need to separate themselves from those they manage. If they aren’t careful, they distance themselves too far and become distant and unapproachable.
If you want to climb the corporate ladder you need to show that you’re productive and that people want to work with you. Do this by remaining approachable and friendly. You don’t need to go for drinks at happy hour, but you can take a moment to show interest in your team’s lives.
Myth: You Need to Be an Extrovert
Most of us think of extroverts as someone confident and social. Introverts are thought of as shy and less willing to talk with others. This isn’t quite correct, despite how common this way of thinking is.
In reality, extroverted leaders reach out and communicate with others when it comes to working through ideas. Introverts tend to be more introspective and work through problems and ideas on their own. You can be a good leader either way, even though most assume that extroverts will perform better.
If you consider yourself an introvert, you can overcome this myth by using an extrovert’s tactics. Once you do your independent thinking, reach out to your fellow team members to discuss and collaborate. This will encourage others to think of you as an extrovert.
Myth: Great Leaders are Born, Not Made
This myth is just plain wrong. No one is born with the skills necessary to effectively lead a team.
You can overcome this myth by focusing on the qualities that make someone a great leader. Put in the hard work that’s required to develop the skills needed. Then showcase these skills in your current position.
People will assume you’ve always had leadership qualities. You don’t need to correct them in their assumption.
Myth: There Is Only One Leadership Style
Early on in your career, you probably learned a few managerial techniques that worked. They’ve stuck with you through the years, and you’ve always depended on them. The problem is those few techniques won’t work in all situations.
Find a management style that works for your personality, blends well with your team, and creates a culture of positivity and productivity. Keep in mind that the leadership style you use for a group of 10 may not be the style you can use for a team of 100.

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If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com