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Learn how to engage with other leaders and your team in virtual communities of practice

How Virtual Communities of Practice Engage Leaders to Work Together

A year ago, could you have imagined that you’d be doing so much business virtually? Even very camera shy women are learning how to use online platforms for communicating with clients, business associates, friends and family. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. After all, if you’ve been reluctant to use video in your business, the pandemic is forcing you out of your comfort zone.

During your virtual meetings do you notice others getting distracted, or worse, disappearing into the background? How can you keep Zoom meetings on point instead of drifting aimlessly? How do you keep your team motivated virtually? That’s where bringing virtual Communities of Practice can enhance engagement and thereby your possibilities for success! 

What are Virtual Communities of Practice?

Here at Newave Leaders, we are on a mission to build a better life, business and world through community. Did you realize there’s actually a term that embodies the ability to lead a committed group toward a common goal, by fully utilizing the inherent talents, skills and strengths of each individual member of the team? It’s known as building a Community of Practice (CoP).

Louise in particular has experience with various Communities of Practice, and she’s seen how they can tap into the tremendous energy, the synergy, where the sum of the group accomplishes more together than one person alone could ever do. The good news is CoPs aren’t limited to in-person interactions. The principles of Communities of Practice are proving to be very useful in the virtual space to help all attendees learn the most, be stretched the most and become the best versions of themselves.  

7 Reasons Why Virtual Communities of Practice Work So Well.

When you’re in a Community of Practice…

  • You’re with a group of like-minded individuals who are committed to learning to grow as leaders. This fosters trust in each other and space to hold each other accountable. 
  • Your group works together to co-construct a beneficial set of norms for the Community of Practice. By keeping a continual dialogue going about these norms, you ensure each voice is heard in the shared behaviors for the group.
  • You’re reminded that you need each other in order to grow, develop, achieve, and solve the complex problems you’re facing.
  • It erases fear and the need to “pretend.” Vulnerability is welcomed and honored. Honest and open communication within your community greatly increases your ability to accomplish what you set out to accomplish. 
  • It sparks greater creativity. People are not constrained by defined roles or titles; they can freely explore ideas to generate the best possible solutions and innovations. Conversations tend to be nonlinear, as you give each other permission to explore out-of-the-box solutions.
  • You’re helped to grow as an embodied leader. You can safely observe, without judgment, your context to make sense of your story — understanding where you come from, what you believe, and how your emotions are showing up in your body
  • The environment enables you to “be” together, not just “do” together. In an increasingly disconnected world, you’ll explore thoroughly what it means to be connected and interdependent.

To help your virtual Communities of Practice succeed, here are 3 principles to keep in mind… 

1. Engage the emotions. Curb wandering attention and distractions by helping everyone “feel” the problem or opportunity. Personalize it with statistics, anecdotes, or analogies that illustrate the situation.

2. Engender responsibility. Counter passively hiding in the background with breakout groups and assignments with deadlines. Then regroup for further discussion based on the progress made.

3. Involve everyone. Make sure everyone knows the agenda and how to prepare to make meaningful contributions in each discussion. Lead by giving everyone ample opportunities to speak — perhaps switching out speakers every 5 minutes or so.

We find that we’re more genuine, more passionate, and more understanding of the viewpoints of others’ when we’re part of a Community of Practice. If you would like to get a feel of how this works and learn skills you can bring to your virtual communities, we invite you to join our community of like-minded women who are determined to be the best and lead the best, through these chaotic times. The Great Circle Community is held regularly and we’re enjoying a deep discussion of what’s holding us back and discovering powerful solutions to move us forward. 

Please join us for our next call. Together we can do more.

Do you feel stuck? What’s stopping you? Identifying your roadblocks will put you back on the road, getting around or working through them, and moving forward

What’s Stopping You? How to Get Past 12 Common Roadblocks to Success

“Your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” ~ Michelle Obama

All day long, we face roadblocks that stop us, and we automatically refocus and figure out the next step. We’re not even aware that we’re doing it. For example, someone interrupts us, there’s a traffic jam, or a client calls with an unexpected question. We handle it and move on.

But when you’re taking a huge step, one that requires faith in yourself and the stakes are high, a small roadblock may seem insurmountable. It’s natural to get stuck when you have a big dream or something new you want to do. It’s easy to feel something pull you back. It’s predictable that at a certain point, something stops you, mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Take notice of the discomfort you feel and let that be a signal that there is something you need to work out there..

Now you have two choices.

  1. Back down and live with regrets, wondering, “If I had only…”
  2. Grab the opportunity, take the leap, and feel free, exhilarated and proud of yourself.

So the question is — which way do you want to feel?

What’s stopping you?

When you think about what you want to do at home, at work, in the world, in your community, what’s stopping you? Where are you feeling stuck?

Please take the time to honestly write a physical list of your internal and/or external roadblock(s). To get you started, here are some common roadblocks you might be experiencing: not enough self-confidence, not slender/pretty enough, not fluent enough, not skilled enough, not enough support from spouse/friends/community, not enough funds, not enough time, and not enough knowledge.

Being able to identify your roadblock(s) will put you back on the road to getting around them, working through them, and moving forward.

How to get past what’s stopping you

Please remember that grand gestures aren’t sustainable. Little things every day, your daily rituals, build up and gradually condition your body and mind to make things happen. Your life is a result of your rituals. Ask yourself: How are my rituals for sleeping, eating, exercising, working, cleaning, organizing, shopping, spending, measuring & tracking, and so forth, affecting my ability to achieve my big dream?

Look out for these roadblock rituals that will keep you stuck!

Wishing without acting. Wishing by itself goes nowhere. Be intentional and focus on one small change today. This approach will ease you out of your present habits, as you slowly build sustainable, life-long, supportive rituals.

Procrastination. There will never be the perfect time to get started. Acknowledge your feelings of uncertainty and plunge in!

Disorganization. Time management and clutter control takes work and self-discipline. Try this: At night, write a short list of exactly what you want to do the next day and the steps that will get it done. Review the list when you wake up. At a set time, begin doing them. If you find yourself lured away by something else, bring yourself back and focus. In your journal, note your feelings at the end of the day. Rinse and repeat.

Self-dismissive thinking. All too often we let past rejections dictate our present choices. Letting the opinions of others define you, rather than being true to who you’re capable of being, leaves your power in their hands. Take back your power! Take the next baby step toward the best version of yourself.

Denying responsibility. Everything in your life is NOT your fault, but it is your responsibility. You get to choose how you react to and act upon each event. In the most positive light, assess how you can make the most of the present. (If you’re in a dangerous circumstance, this may mean fleeing.)

Perfectionism. Perfect is not possible. The only “perfect” action is the next one you take. Where it takes you is where you need to be, to learn lessons you need to learn.

Faking it. To be at peace, you must show up as wholly, authentically YOU. Trying to pretend to be someone you’re not, living someone else’s life won’t work. That doesn’t mean settling for where you’re at or not pushing past your discomfort; it means having enough self-knowledge to see your potential and living up to it fully.

Losing your childlike curiosity. Over time, we can get really good at editing and discarding what’s hurtful or not useful. If we’re not careful, our open-mindedness and sense of wonder can go out the window, too. Always being right isn’t the goal in life. Let go of the assumption that you have all the answers. Invite diversity back into your life by listening to and learning from others.

Unrealistic expectations. If you expect life to be easy or that everyone will like and agree with you, you will be disappointed. Struggle brings growth. It’s empowering to find your inner source of strength and rise above. Those wins fuel you for life!

Avoiding all risks.  You can’t control everything and you don’t need to. Learn to embrace feelings of uncertainty as your personal challenge. Will you make mistakes? Yes! There’s nothing wrong with that! How will you feel if you don’t take a risk? That could be your biggest mistake of all.

It’s all about you. Humanity is an interdependent network. To be totally self-centered is to tear a hole in that net. You are part of someone else’s safety net, just as someone is part of yours. Keep your connection with others strong. Be there to help someone past their roadblocks, and there will be someone there to help you past yours. 

Doing nothing is safer. Lack of motivation, laziness, having no direction, fear of failure, biting off more than you can chew, all these things will keep you in the eddies of life. Build a bridge to the life you want, by mindfully assessing where you are and where you want to be. Then make one baby step at a time.

Here’s an exercise to help you free up your energy and move forward.

  • Feel where you feel stuck — where does that stuck place manifest in your body?
  • Place your hands on that area and pull the stuck energy away from you, as though it were a physical thing attached to you.
  • Shake that stuck energy off of your hands. Like a sticky substance that won’t let go, stuck or negative energy can cling to us. The motion of physically sweeping it away helps us to acknowledge it and then shift it. This clears the way for new, renewed, and invigorated energy to settle in its place.

We’re inviting women from around the globe to explore big ideas and out-of-the-box creative solutions. If that appeals to you, please join The Great Circle Community. There is no cost to participate and this article is a sample of the things we’re discussing. We’ll be looking for you inside!

During these very complex times we see the need for a more sophisticated vision and an ability to move forward skillfully. This means to move forward, not only with purpose and drive, but with awareness, especially self-awareness and a big amount of compassion.

Modern Leadership is Like Driving — Constant Scanning is Required

Developing as a leader in this complex time is a complicated adventure!  The old style of leadership was more one dimensional. Today’s modern leadership style demands a more feminine approach that springs from a place of greater self-awareness and being attuned to how your personal actions and reactions affect your community

There’s a better way to drive as a leader…by holding five views.

Think of it like driving an actual car. Doesn’t it make you nervous when you’re in the car with a driver who never scans the road? When driving a car, you look ahead through the window, while keeping an eye on the rear and side-view mirrors. Leaders today need to constantly be scanning as they lead. If not, they’re missing out on vital information that could drastically influence their direction.

In fact, many leaders need to add a new view to an already full field of vision — the ability to look at yourself in the mirror and know how you’re manifesting your presence, seeing yourself as other people see you.  Yes, to grow as a leader and as an individual, is like trying to keep your eyes in all these directions, at the same time!

How many times have you been driving and you arrive at your destination and you can’t remember anything you’ve seen, because you’ve been so preoccupied? Try creating greater self-awareness, while you drive. This skill is easy and will spill over into other areas of life.

  • Intentionally shift the focus onto your body while you’re driving.
  • Feel your sits bone connecting to the seat.
  • Notice the way you’re holding yourself and how you’re gripping on the steering wheel.
  • Keep focused on the road but develop a “dual attention” in order to have a sense of self and the road ahead simultaneously.

How will this exercise benefit your leadership? Try something similar while leading via a Zoom call or having a conversation at home. (When we can once again assemble in groups you can practice this while leading in person):

  • Focus on your breath. Is it full or is it shallow; are you breathing deeply into your gut?
  • Focus on your body. Are your feet firmly planted, helping you feel grounded? Are your shoulders tense or loose? Is your face welcoming and curious or is it pushing people away?
  • Notice how others as individuals are responding to you. Is it with openness or with tension?
  • Notice how the collective team is responding to your presence within the group.

How you hold yourself in your body translates in the experience others have. You can create safety and encourage risk-taking, or you can keep the group from moving forward. Your dual attention, while leading, is critical to the success of the group.

Leading others requires a deep look at oneself. In order to transform our teams, our families, our communities, we must be ready to transform ourselves as well. When something changes, it has a ripple effect, changing everything it touches, whether we like it or not. We need the ability to pivot and change course in order to move through and forward in a healthy and resourceful way. 

So, take a look in the mirror. What do you see? What are your strengths? How do you share those with those around you? Where can you expand your strengths, where can you elevate your voice? How does your reflection change the view ahead, behind, or around you?

All of us create a greater sense of self in relation to other people. We get instant feedback from how people react — do they like or not like what we say, how we say it, how we act, how we are, and so forth. During this time of social isolation, we can lose some of that perspective. Which is why women are joining our Great Circle Community.

These are the kinds of discussions we’re having.  Why not join us! We’re inviting women from around the globe to explore big ideas and out-of-the-box creative solutions. Let’s get inspired and nourished as we feed our leader within. There is no cost to participate and we hold it twice a month. We’ll look for you there!

These forward-thinking women who exemplify leadership during the pandemic provide an example and proof that if they can be effective leaders now, so can you!

12 Forward-Thinking Women Who Are Leading the Way!

“Finally I was able to see that if I had a contribution I wanted to make, I must do it, despite what others said. That I was OK the way I was. That it was all right to be strong.” ~ Wangari Maathai

We wish to say a huge and heartfelt “Thank You!” to the selfless women tirelessly working to help others during the coranvirus pandemic. World leaders, healthcare workers, and grocery clerks alike are putting themselves out there to be of service to their communities. What is happening today is in preparation for how our future will become.

It wasn’t that long ago women were expected to stay home and be protected by their man. They weren’t allowed to take an active role outside the home. This is no longer the case, and we are so grateful for that!

There’s no reason why a woman shouldn’t step into the role of leadership when she has developed the necessary skills and resources. And many women are accepting this challenge and excelling at it. Because women still feel they have to prove themselves, they often hold themselves to an even higher standard and this is resulting in exceptional work.

During this pandemic, women are leading the way, as they prove to be reliable and a great asset to our world. They are not equivocating, but are telling the truth about the virus. And they are responding decisively and with compassion. Look at the following examples of some women who are leading the way. (Statistics taken on May 11, 2020)

  • Tsai Ing-Wen, first female president of Taiwan, close to China, spearheaded a swift and successful defense to the pandemic, containing the virus to 440 confirmed cases and 7 deaths.
  • New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, acted decisively and with compassion.  The country still has only one Covid-19 death so far. Of course, being an island state is a distinct advantage, but effective leadership has played a strong role.
  • Germany, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, (doctorate in quantum chemistry) has been hit hard by coronavirus, but it has an exceptionally low mortality rate of around 1.6%.
  • Denmark gives high marks to prime minister Mette Frederiksen for the way she has handled the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, is using television to talk directly to her country’s children, and she also held a dedicated press conference where no adults were allowed. She responded to kids’ questions from across the country, taking time to explain why it was OK to feel scared.
  • Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, is making sure ALL citizens have access to free coronavirus testing and has instituted a thorough tracking system so there’s been no shutting down of their schools.
  • Rep. Nita Lowey led the passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, for $5.2 million in federal funding to expand paid sick leave for some employees.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar led the introduction of the Keeping Critical Connections Act. To provide broadband internet access for rural families and students. 
  • Reps. Susan W. Brooks and Anna G. Eshoo authored the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPA) which was signed into law June 24, 2019, long before this pandemic. Truly forward-thinking women!  
  • Sens. Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrant urged 36 large corporations to provide paid leave protections for all of their workers during the pandemic.

 Are these women born to be exceptional? Only in the sense that they have developed great self-knowledge and confidence, and they have the courage to step forward. Yes it takes courage to be vulnerable enough to put yourself in the limelight for all to see your successes and missteps. We agree with Brené Brown who says,

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

We are not saying that being a woman automatically makes these leaders better at handling a global pandemic. What we are saying is that women are using their power differently and effectively. They are examples we can all draw strength from, as we imitate their courage. They are proof that you can be a powerful leader, too.

Keep in mind what Margaret Wheatley said, “Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes.” Are you ready to step through the door to greater leadership responsibilities?

If you have self-talk telling you that “someone else can do it better” or “let someone else take the risks”, we challenge you. You can step up; you can make a difference. Join The Great Circle Community, we’re hosting. We’re inviting women from around the globe to explore big ideas and out-of-the-box creative solutions. Let’s get inspired and nourished as we feed our leader within! There is no cost to participate, please join us for our next call.

Our teams, organizations, and clients are looking to us for guidance, so it’s imperative to be grounded leaders who know how to remain calm under adversity.

How To Be A Grounded Leader During Confusing, Complex Times

Life can be uncertain, confusing and complex at the best of times. Now, with COVID-19, ever more so! There’s no way of predicting what tomorrow will bring. It’s not easy remaining calm, centered and balanced.

Do powerful leaders of nations and corporations feel fear, panic, or indecision, like we do? Of course! What sets them apart is that they’ve discovered tools that help them remain grounded under adversity. (Stay tuned – we’re making available to you one of these powerful tools, at the end of this article.)

As leaders, we know that our teams, organizations, and clients are relying on us to stay grounded, and this helps us rise to each new challenge. We know they’re looking to us for clues on when to press forward and when to hold back. And that’s not always easy under pressure, because pressure immediately impacts our personal focus, and if not controlled, will disorient our business focus.

As in all emergency situations, we must help ourselves first. We can’t help ground someone else, until we’re grounded ourselves. Losing our grounding usually manifests itself in one of two ways: 1) we don’t stand up for ourselves when we should or 2) we try to control others. Let’s examine how being a grounded leader can help you avoid either extreme.

1. Strengthen these areas to stand up for yourself

  • Keep your vision clear. If you see a tendency within yourself to let others take over, then it’s time to shore up your vision.
    • How this contributes toward being a grounded leader: By breaking down your vision into goals, and then into mini tasks, you’ll be able to see and clearly articulate the purpose behind each task. This certain knowledge gives you conviction. You’re ready if someone tries to sidetrack you.
  • Communicate what you want and expect. Mindfulness helps you be aware of what’s happening in the Now and how you’re responding to it. For example, automatically saying “Yes” to avoid stress will cause more stress in the long term.
    • How this contributes toward being a grounded leader: Mindfully review your recent decisions and commitments. Were they aligned with your purpose? Where, why, and to whom, did you give in? When was it easiest to hold your ground? Take note of where you want to respond differently and train your brain to respond more intentionally in the future.
  • Maintain flexibility. Strive to bend without breaking, while at the same time, holding your ground over things you really believe in.
    • How this contributes toward being a grounded leader: As you begin each day, review your to-do list and mindfully identify what you’re willing to compromise and what’s a deal breaker. Listen to your gut, but question it thoroughly. Your gut can be overly protective. Remove attachment to specific outcomes. Allow your ideas room to grow, so you can pivot when needed.

2. Strengthen these areas to support others:

  • View others as collaborators. Sometimes, we confuse leadership with control. The only person you control is YOU.
    • How this contributes toward being a grounded leader: Comparisons between people are seldom helpful. Maintain a realistic view of yourself…you can’t go it alone and you’re not better than others. Get to know your team as individuals; learn their strengths and weaknesses. Then assign them work that allows them to showcase their expertise. This engenders respect, trust and sparks creativity. All of this reflects well on your leadership and will increase your bottom line.
  • Deepen your awareness of how others feel. Whether you call it empathy or compassion, this goes a long way in building strong relationships and alliances.
    • How this contributes toward being a grounded leader: There’s no place in business today for, “It’s my way or the highway!” On some days people need to be pushed to do their best work; other days they need to be nurtured and allowed to rest. And the only way you’re going to know what kind of day today is, is if you connect with others daily and empathically. Ask for honest feedback and accept it with gratitude, not judgment. People need to be heard and you need to hear what they’re saying. An unbreakable loyalty will result and they won’t try to undermine your leadership.
  • Nurture curiosity in yourself and others. Curiosity involves actively opening your eyes to see, your ears to listen, and your mind to comprehend.
    • How this contributes toward being a grounded leader: Being an active learner keeps you from becoming defensive, because you’re open to new ideas, new ways of doing things, new perspectives. You have nothing to prove and everything to learn. Everyone stays inspired and it leads to more understanding and tolerance.

We are constantly buffeted by winds of change. As Newave Leaders, we work to maintain our strength, while staying flexible enough to bend. What helps us stay grounded? It’s a 3-Part Daily Visualization Process. It gets each day off to a good start and assists you to make necessary course corrections through the day. We invite you to add these amazing free tools to your “toolbox” of leadership skills.

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