Are You Struggling to Accomplish a Key Goal?

  • Blocking time on your calendar to plan and be more strategic
  • Being bold in meetings
  • Spending more time developing your team

What gets in the way of you making the change you said you wanted to make?  Here is a 4-Step Process for helping you get unstuck and achieving permanent change.

Step 1: State the Goal you are struggling with.   (I’ve provided an example of a real leader I worked with.) 

What’s My Goal?  
Example: Developing my team.  

Step 2: Ask yourself, “What behaviors do I exhibit that work against my goal?”  Now most leaders are aware of what behaviors are obstructing them, but have a hard time acknowledging them.  This is an important step, so go ahead and state them. 

What’s My Goal? What Behaviors Do I Exhibit That Are Working Against My goal?
Developing my team. I hold onto projects, particularly the ones that I think matter most to my boss. 

These first two steps are pretty easy to address, but they don’t answer the question of what is stalling out your efforts.  You need to go further to understand why you act in a way that is counter to your goal.  When you find that your behaviors are misaligned with your intentions, there is likely a hidden competing commitment.  It’s hidden because you are likely not aware of it yet.  It’s competing because it’s working against your intentions.

PAUSE! – At this point you may be thinking in this example that all this leader needs to do is the opposite of what she was doing and that is to hand off some projects to her team.  This approach may work for some, but for many leaders even if they pass the next two projects off, their behavior inevitably reverts back to acting the way they did before, particularly when they are under stress.  No permanent change has occurred. 

It takes a conscious (i.e., aware) and courageous leader to address steps 3 and 4. 

Step 3: This next move entails looking at your hidden competing commitments by asking, “What am I afraid of will happen if I do the opposite of what I am doing?”  Conscious leaders recognize they have fears and concerns and are willing to look at them.

What’s My Goal? What Behaviors Do I Exhibit That Work Against My Goal? What Am I Afraid Of?
Developing my team. I hold onto projects, particularly the ones that I think matter most to my boss.    I fear I may not be contributing as much. I worry I may not be seen as valuable to my boss. 

Conscious leaders will also go a little deeper and ask themselves, “What will be compromised, i.e., my hidden competing commitment, if I do the opposite of what I am currently doing?

What’s My Goal? What Behaviors Do I Exhibit That Work Against My Goal? What Am I Afraid Of?
Developing my team. I hold onto projects, particularly the ones that I think matter most to my boss.    I fear I may not be seen contributing as much. I worry I may not be seen as valuable to my boss.    What Will Be Compromised if I do the Opposite? I may lose the status that I have established with my boss.

Once your fears and competing commitments are identified, there is one final step to making permanent change. 

Step 4: Challenge your Big Assumption.   Figure out what belief or attitude is at the heart of your competing commitment by developing “if_______, then _______ statements.  List these assumptions in the last column. 

What’s My Goal? What Behaviors Do I Exhibit That Work Against My Goal? What Am I Afraid Of? What Is My Big Assumption?
Developing my team’s capabilities I hold onto projects, particularly the ones that I think matter most to my boss.    I fear I may not be seen contributing as much.  I worry I may not be seen as valuable to my boss.   What Is My Hidden Competing Commitment? I may lose the status that I have established with my boss. If I hand off projects to my team, then my boss may think I’m not adding as much value and I could be overlooked for a promotion.    

That big assumption gets to the heart of why this leader was not making the change she said she wanted to make.  Failure to recognize our intentions has nothing to do with personal weakness.  Studying our perceived obstacles and shifting our perspective slightly will help you find your way to meaningful change. 

In this example, the leader experimented with her big assumption in a small, controlled way.  She handed off part of a project to one of her team members and let that person present to her boss.  After the presentation, her boss told her how glad he was to see her delegating, because he had been thinking of giving her a special assignment but didn’t know if she had the bandwidth to take it on.  The leader realized that she wasn’t seen as less valuable. By taking a small step, you can test your assumption and move closer to your goal of making lasting change. 

This approach to achieving transformational change is based on the work of Harvard Graduate School of Education professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. 

Please feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to connect about how to apply these ideas, help members on your team, or discuss other challenges you are facing today.

(This post by Marcel Henderson first appeared on LinkedIn)

How to Transition in a Virtual World


Since March of 2020, several of my clients have transitioned into new roles. Exciting yes, and somewhat daunting is what I hear from them as they consider the challenge of building critical business relationships while almost everyone is working remotely. As such, my clients and I have identified some practices that are helping them navigate this unknown territory and setting a new precedent for leading in a virtual world.

One-on-One Virtual Meetings

A critical first step is preparing for the conversation with a C-suite executive or critical stakeholder who you are just getting to know. Remember, this leader is likely jumping from one virtual meeting to the next. You want to ensure your interaction with him/her is memorable.

First, consider when is a good time to meet with this person. Many people have already started doing this, but it’s worth mentioning. Schedule an early morning coffee or after-hours happy hour. They will appreciate your flexibility to meet earlier or later. They may also be more at ease before or after the workday and willing to talk about their favorite sports team or what they plan to do this weekend, which is a way for you to get-to-know them.

Communicate what you want to achieve during the call. When you request time to meet with him/her, be clear to communicate your objective for the meeting. For example: “I’d like to schedule a brief call with you to introduce myself and understand your strategic priorities. I’m also interested in knowing what you need from me in my first ninety days.” Stating your purpose this way conveys your interest in what matters to them.

Before you end the meeting, ask, “What was useful about our meeting today?”so that you understand how you added value to their day. Then ask for a follow-up call. You can say something like,

“I would like to schedule a follow-up call to continue understanding your view on ‘x’ and the intersection of our work. Can we meet again in two weeks?” Or,

“I would like to spend time understanding what you see as the priorities of my role and if there are any issues that need to be immediately addressed. When is a good time to meet again?”

Another way to prepare for a virtual introduction is to visualize yourself being in the room with this person. Picture yourself and this individual as-if you are meeting physically together. By taking a minute or two before your call to do this, you will feel more energized. Your energy is important in making that first impression.

Virtual Team or Group Meetings

Meeting virtually with teams or groups has been one of the bigger challenges leaders have faced during the pandemic. Here are suggestions many of my clients have implemented to overcome this hurdle.

Increase Interaction.

For meetings that you lead, make time for members to connect and ‘catch-up’. One leader said to me, “When we were meeting in-person, I would sit down a minute or so before a meeting was to start and have a quick ‘catch-up’ conversation with the people around me. This was a way for me to build relationships, but I don’t have that anymore.”

One of the psychological needs we have as humans is the need for connection which is a way for us build and maintain trust. An effective way to do this virtually is at the beginning of the meeting, send two to five people into break-out groups for five or so minutes. There is no agenda or action to come out of this time together, other than to connect with colleagues. Many leaders have told me that these break-out sessions are often the most important part of the meeting.

Create Opportunities for People to Mentally Engage.

Leaders are spending up to eight or more hours a day in virtual back-to-back meetings, often only getting a minute or two break in-between. Most of us thought that we would only be working this way for a short time, but are finding that this isn’t a sustainable way to be meeting. In this virtual world, we aren’t leaving one meeting and walking to the next, giving our minds time to transition from one topic to the next. Leaders are learning to build in time for this at the beginning of their meetings by incorporating a sixty second pause. This pause is a way for leaders to disconnect from the prior meeting and prepare for what is about to happen.

Start your next meeting by asking everyone to step away from whatever their mind has been focused on and bring their attention to what’s happening right now. Then breathe. By taking some deep breaths, it becomes much easier for our thoughts to get quiet so that we can ask important questions such as; “What is essential right now?” “What is my role in this meeting?” “How can I help move the team or work forward?” Leaders who have implemented the sixty second pause are hearing from meeting participants that those few seconds are helping them to clear their minds and refocus.

Precision Matters.

I’m sure you’ve logged into a meeting where there is silence when you first join. Eventually, someone says, “Hey, is anyone there?” Then an awkward pause follows and someone says, “I’m here” then silence again. Many leaders tell me when that happens it’s hard to focus when the meeting actually begins because of the tone that was set at the beginning. They don’t feel energized or engaged.

The way you initiate meetings as a new leader is a way to differentiate yourself. Take care to start on time by welcoming people to the call as they join. Be fully engaged in what is happening right now. Eliminate any idle time anywhere in the agenda. That doesn’t mean you don’t allow for a pause for individuals to reflect or think, but name what is going on so no one is left confused about wondering what’s happening or if their internet froze.

As a new leader, don’t allow technology to be a barrier to your success. Leverage it to your advantage and show that you are bringing in fresh ideas for leading in a virtual world.


(This post by Marcel Henderson first appeared on LinkedIn)

Feedback that works

Offering feedback when the news isn’t so positive can be difficult. We can reduce the stress by implementing a few critical steps.

The first three steps I introduced in my video “Feedback that works”.

Critical steps for feedback that works

  1. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET – Instead of telling yourself this is going to be a difficult conversation, replace that thought with the idea that you are helping someone improve their performance versus holding them back.
  2. REMEMBER YOUR ROLE AS A LEADER – Is to improve company performance and that comes through delivering coaching and feedback.
  3. BALANCE YOUR FEEDBACK – People are much more inclined to hear difficult news and take action when it is not the only message they hear. They need to know from you what is going well.
  4. PREPARE FOR THE CONVERSATION – Never go into a feedback conversation without having thought through what you are going to say, what reaction you expect to get, and how you will respond. I suggest rehearsing the conversation ahead of time.
  5. SPEAK OBJECTIVELY – If for any reason you are feeling angry, hurt, or emotionally upset, wait until these emotions cease before having the conversation.
    a. The SITUATION – about which you are offering feedback. For example. “In our project meeting last Thursday”, or “In the e-mail response to the CIO on March 22nd”.
    b. The BEHAVIOR – what the person did. For example, “You interrupted Robert and Elizabeth several times and dismissed their suggestions” or “You didn’t answer the CIO’s questions in your e-mail”. Be sure to be ready to share specific examples that will help the other person understand what they ‘did’. Also, try to avoid including your perception. Perceptions come through our life experiences and can be interpreted differently so you don’t want to debate over the way you viewed something versus someone else. Stick to the facts and focus on the behavior.
    c. The IMPACT – Explain the impact that the other person’s behavior had on you, another person, or the group, etc. For example, “Robert came to me after the meeting and said he was not willing to partner with you until some things changed”, or “By not answering the CIO’s questions in your e-mail, I received a call from her and she stated she was upset that she didn’t get a clear response in time for her meeting with the CEO”, or “The way you are treating people are impacting the way they are working with our group. I’d like to see how you can improve your interactions with others”.
  7. BUILD TRUSTING RELATIONSHIPS – Along your career so that when you do need to offer feedback you have that relationship to fall back on. This doesn’t happen in one meeting or brief interaction at the water-cooler. It entails engaging in conversations that include talking about the overall needs of the business, their needs and your needs.

Giving effective feedback is both a science and an art. Successfully leaders have both. If you would like assistance in developing your leadership skills, please contact The C3 Group at

How Do I Know if a Mid-Life Career Change is Right for Me?

If you want to make your dreams come true,

the first thing you have to do is wake up.

~J.M. Power

Find yourself frequently bored at your job?  Caught yourself daydreaming about doing something different? It’s not uncommon for professionals to find themselves at the mid-point in their career imagining doing something else even if they are highly successful and proficient in their occupation.  Sometimes the boredom is a brief encounter and when the next big project or challenging assignment comes along, the leader is re-engaged.  For others though the lingering continues, leaving the leader feeling perplexed.

What causes some leaders to feel a void in their careers when

they still have many years of work ahead of them?

We assume that once we get the right job, find the right partner, and have children, all is steady and on a path of happiness.  But the truth is life just doesn’t work that way and it is usually at the mid-point of our lives that we begin to feel stuck and start asking questions like,

“Why hasn’t life turned out the way I thought it would?” 

“Why am I unhappy even though I have a great career and family?”  

“Why do I feel like I am missing out on something bigger?”

As an Executive Coach and Psychotherapist, I have learned that the bigger questions about life that surface should not be rejected.  These queries are coming from a deeper place, sometimes unknown to our conscious selves.  These urges usually surface subtly and can be quickly overlooked or denied.  This is where curiosity as a leader can be extremely useful.  Instead of dismissing these thoughts or feelings, explore them.  Anyone who quickly rejects them is missing out on an opportunity to grow.  Even if you stay in your current career, you still have an opportunity to learn something new.

According to James Hollis, PH.D. and author of Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life,

“… In most cases we come to this point in our life serving a diminished view of ourselves.” This is because we repeat the script and expectations of the first half of life. Some of these scripts  come to us through our family, schools and community and sound like;

You should follow in your father’s footsteps and be a lawyer.

Careers in the health and financial industry are the most dependable.

You should be more like your brother and get a PH.D.

All of these statements could have a bit of truth in them, and were probably delivered with positive intent. However, it is only in the second half of life that we have the opportunity to rewrite the script that fits our true selves. The second half of life provides a shot at getting ourselves back again by engaging a larger world, one more complex, less safe, and more challenging.  

Ways to Explore Whether a Mid-Life Career Change is Right for You

  • Begin jotting down your thoughts, ideas and emotions. This step honors the part of yourself that is sometimes outside the range of consciousness, but knows what is right for us and is reporting to us via our bodies, emotions, and dreams.
  • Share your ideas with a close friend who will allow you to think out loud without a lot of advice and will keep your conversation confidential.
  • Consider working with a Coach who is trained in self-examination and self-reflection. If you are just exploring the possibility of making a change, you need someone who can help you identify what these thoughts and feelings really mean, not build your resume.
  • Engage in this process sooner than later. If your wiser self knows that a change is needed, you don’t want to wait until a crisis occurs in your career. Start the process now even if you don’t make a change for three or five years. You will feel more confident and prepared to make the transition once you are ready.



Overcoming the Age of Reactive Busyness

The era we are in where exertion has replaced thought and the trance of busyness has overcome millions will eventually be a thing of the past.  We are already starting to see the shift happen as we see masses of people flock to mindfulness training, yoga workshops and other centering activities as they come to realize this pace is no longer sustainable.


So, how do we overcome the age of overload at work where acting busy and over stimulation is worn as a badge of honor?  Start by incorporating white space into your day.

What is White Space?

White space is a pause taken between activities.  It brings you back to the present, giving your brain a chance to reboot before rushing on to the next activity. It takes a matter of seconds or a minute or two at most.  I call it a ‘micro move’ like an adjustment a golfer makes to a putting stroke.  The alteration can be minor, but the effects quite significant.

A few years ago, I was leading an enterprise-wide leadership development program where we incorporated white space at the beginning of the training.  At first, I was a bit nervous at what leaders might think, but they were appreciative of the intermission between events.  It was like watching thirty leaders come up for air after holding their breath under water for a long time.  I could see a physical shift in their bodies and expression of relief.  Following the two-and-half day training, per the leader’s request, we continued to incorporate white space into their group coaching sessions, calling it, “The 60 second pause”.

How does White Space Work?

White space is the experience we create for ourselves between events to recuperate before moving on to the next event. It’s no different than if you open thirty documents on your laptop and expect it to run just as fast as if you only have one document open.  The brain needs time to become ‘conscious’ of the things that zap its productivity such as being overly driven,   perfectionistic, or drawn into continuous activity.  We can become servants to these forces without realizing it, so we need questions that will challenge the status quo.  Questions are powerful antidotes for helping us break the trance of reactive busyness.   Here are a few examples:


“What can I hand off?”

“Does this require 80% or 100%?  If only 80%, am I there and can I move on?”

“What is most important now?”

“What is the most important information I need to know?”


So, once you take that pause, ask a provoking question to challenge if what you are doing is most important.  Don’t succumb to what you always did or you’ll get what you always got.

Why Practice White Space?

  • Increased focus and attention
  • Break-through thinking; “aha moments”
  • Greater focus on more important activities
  • Greater attunement/engagement with others


Mastery of the human element of busyness is probably the biggest difference between a smart guy and a leader.

~ SVP- Fortune 500 Company


Is White Space the Same as Mindfulness?

White space” and mindfulness have similar effects on our overall well-being, and practiced together they can be powerful because they build our brain’s capacity to be more present, but they are different practices.

White space is a brief second or moment pause between events used to recuperate, decompress and refocus, or process new information before rushing on to the next event. It requires challenging old beliefs about what it means to be productive.

Mindfulness, according to Ellen Langer, Harvard Psychologist, “Is the state of mind in which we are actively engaged in the present noticing new things and sensitive to the context.”  Being engaged in the present moment cultivates our ability to see a situation differently or consider a different perspective and be more accepting.

Due to our continuous partial attention on our work and spending over half our days on average consuming media, staying fully present takes practice, so most people seek out white space and mindfulness training to gain greater proficiency.  If you would like more information please contact me at: