Archive for May, 2015

Listen Up!

May 25, 2015
Listen, Hear and Understand words on a three arrow cycle or system for comprehension or learning new skills, information and knowledge

Listen, Hear and Understand

What sets leaders apart is not so much their role or authority, their gender, size or affiliation, but rather it’s how they make others feel and what kind of measurable results are produced. And listening is key to ensuring that the other party feels good and that the intended results are delivered. It therefore follows that being a better listener will make you a more effective leader, no matter what your role is and where you intend to go. Below are some strategies to help you listen better, deeper and more effectively.

  1. Be more interested in what they are saying than what you’d like to communicate.
  2. Consider how the background and motivations of others impact what is said.
  3. Ponder not just what is said, but what is meant.
  4. When in doubt, ask if you are reading the communication and the intention accurately.
  5. Factor in how tone of voice and body language impact the message conveyed.
  6. Encourage others to continue the conversation, going deeper and broader into a wider range of topics. The deeper you listen, the deeper the relationship can become.
  7. Listening is even more critical when emotions run high. Listen closely for the direct and implied communication if emotions do run high.
  8. Making the other person feel heard helps keep heated conversations manageable.
  9. Assume positive intent in any communication, unless you know otherwise.
  10. Commit to being present in every interaction, being engaged in every relationship.

You will find that you already do some of the above, and also that you have other suggestions for becoming a better listener. But I think that you commit to listening better, you will also be better heard. Enjoy the journey.


Linda Holroyd is an executive coach, a tech adviser, CEO of FountainBlue and organizer of its monthly When She Speaks, women in leadership series.,


Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors

May 11, 2015

May8PanelFountainBlue’s May 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panel was varied in terms of backgrounds and experience yet they consistently: 1) clearly communicated the value of mentorship, 2) candidly shared their experience and knowledge in ways that were inspiring as well as practical, 3) showed their openness, persistence and passion around both people and leadership, 4) consistently chose to embrace the serendipitously opportunities which arose and 5) modeled the way for fearlessly and courageously and continually raising the bar for themselves and those with whom they connect.

Below is advice they have regarding how to leverage mentorship to support your career and life goals.

  1. Know what you want and why you want it and then decide with whom you should connect. Being specific about what you need to optimize work, behavior and communication etc., while keeping an eye on your overarching goal might help you with both your short-term and your long-term goals.
    1. Know your blind-spots and areas of weakness/less preference and complement yourself with people who can help you fill the gaps.
  2. Be authentic and genuine in your communications. Focus on building relationships based on trust to a wide variety of people.
  3. Accept all stretch goals within reason, and if you have a purpose for it. It will help you see yourself and your world in a different way.
  4. In the same token, embrace diversity – people and things around you who are not-like-you. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it can have the up-side of being another kind of stretch goal for yourself.
    1. For example, every company has a different DNA, so if you move companies, embrace the opportunity to meet peers and others who can help you get integrated with the-way-things are done.
    2. Another example is that Millennials have so much to teach us in their team orientation, in their perspective about the leaders-in-charge, in their sometimes forward, unapologetic approach to solving problems. There are learnings there, especially if their mindset makes you feel uncomfortable.
  5. Be ever open, ever persistent, ever out-wardly focused, ever focused on paying it forward.
    1. Take the perspective that you can learn something from everyone.
  6. Be ever influencing who is in your sphere and how you are influencing others in your sphere, while expanding your reach selectively.
  7. Find and speak your voice, for the purpose of growing and sharing your knowledge, wisdom, brand and network.
  8. Look for different kinds of mentors, sponsors, coaches and allies, and leverage them for different reasons, while always keeping an eye out on ‘what’s in it for them’.
  9. Always look for and create win-win experiences for all. This is much more important than whether it’s a structured or unstructured mentoring relationship.
  10. Change is hard and inevitable. Having the right people with you and for you – those who help you embrace who you are *and* who you’d like to become – supports the journey for all.

In the end, YOU are the person who owns your career path and your success. So shape your experiences, plans and outcomes and take responsibility for it.


FountainBlue’s May 8 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors, and featured:

Facilitator Jacqueline Wales, Advisor, Author, Speaker, INNERFLUENCE and The Fearless Factor

Panelist Shaya Fathali, Sr. Manager, Technical Communications, Altera

Panelist Tonie Hansen, Senior Director, Corporate Responsibility, NVIDIA

Panelist Yasmeen Jafari, HR Business Partner, Intuitive Surgical

Panelist Leila Pourhashemi, Head of Product Operations, eBay Marketplaces

Panelist Ching Valdezco, Director, Strategy and Planning, HP Enterprise Services

Panelist Shobhana Viswanathan, Director of Product Marketing, Neustar, Inc.

Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at eBay.