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March/April 2020 PowerPoints

Many leaders truly want strong, productive teams. At times though, it seems the harder the leader tries, the less effective team interactions become. What to do? Here are 3 specific actions leaders can take right away that can turn around an effective or dysfunctional team….

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Free Resource During Pandemic

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Marjorie presents Communicate to Collaborate.

May 14, 2020

Downingtown/Thorndale Chamber of Commerce. 

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POSTPONED UNTIL NOVEMBER: Marjorie presents Come to The Quiet: Manage Stress With Mindfulness Meditation at Girls Spark WCU.

Girls are speaking out! A young women’s movement called “Girls Spark” has ignited and we are spreading the word about Girls Spark 2020. 

We all know the social issues and pressures of being a teen girl has been amplified by technology and are very different today than ever before!

Girls Spark is lighting the way with a fresh approach created by and for teen girls.

The 2nd annual one-day retreat for girls ages 13-19 will be Postponed until November at West Chester University to help teen girls better navigate these social challenges.

Last year the inaugural Girls Spark retreat was held at Delaware County Community College. It was a huge success! 

153 teen girls from 54 schools attended.  The girls left feeling connected, supported and empowered!

According to the retreat survey, 80% said they would return and bring a friend next time! 

Breakout sessions 2020 include:

Mental Health |  Mindfulness | Live Safe & Confident | Street Smarts/Defend Yourself | Sexual Health

Sexual Harassment |Yoga De-stress | Unconscious Biased | Compassionate Action (Bullying) | G.I.R.L Power

Emotional Intelligence |  Nutrition & Body Image

Seize the Awkward (How to talk Peer to Peer presented by the AFSP – American Federation of Suicide  Prevention)

Breakout Session leaders are various coaches, trainers, therapist and inspiring women leaders in the community !

We strive to deliver messages that will help teen girls better navigate the challenging social issues they face in today’s world!

To attend sign up at  OR

Cost is $20.00 to attend and  $1.00 for every ticket sold will be donated to the AFSP Philadelphia Chapter.

Each girl will leave with a Girls Spark swag bag full of goodies and a Girls Spark T-Shirt

Along with a chance to win over 30 door prizes; College swag, Spa, Tech, Food, Gift Cards, Movie tickets, Make Up etc..

just to name a few

Treat the teen in your life to a great day in her life!     

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3 Keys to Building Stronger Teams

Many leaders truly want strong, productive teams.  At times though, it seems the harder the leader tries, the less effective team interactions become.  What to do? Here are 3 specific actions leaders can take right way that can turn around an effective or dysfunctional team.


1. Delegate more.

When leaders try to do it all themselves “so it’s done right”, or “because it takes too much time to teach staff,” they undermine employee confidence, growth and engagement. Often the leader does not have a clear sense of the employees’ abilities and desire for development.   The best delegation is based on knowing each employees’ strengths, weaknesses and appetite for challenge and assigning tasks based on those factors.   Delegation is not complete until the tasks, timelines, outcomes and stakeholders are clearly discussed with the employee.


2. Listen and promote mindful, reflective listening among team members.

 Good leaders know the necessity of sending clear messages to their teams about expectations. But, if a leader is not approachable, not trusted or “has no time to listen,” then that top- down, one -way communication stops team members from taking the risk to ask a question.  Thriving companies know that communication must be 2- way; across levels and roles so collaboration, and mentoring can occur. 

Deep listening takes precious time so it can seem like a luxury, but skilled leaders listen actively using reflective listening and asking stimulating questions that help the employee generate learning, reduce mistakes and innovative solutions.

This type of listening creates a culture in which employees are actively engaged with envisioning the goals of the organization so they are more satisfied with their work and the company which increases productivity.


3. Welcome problems and “bad news” and conflict!

The best teams face barriers, make mistakes, miss benchmarks due to unforeseen challenges, and disagree!  We human beings can’t avoid these problems.  Often, a leader “doesn’t want to hear it” or they want people “to work it out themselves.”   While many situations can be resolved by the team without involving the leaders, sometimes the perspective of the leader from 40,000 feet can stimulate new data points and possible solutions from the team. 

In the case of conflict, when open, respectful conversation between the two parties is encouraged, diverse viewpoints become part of the norm and collaboration improves. The leader can encourage dialogue so underlying issues, facts and potential solutions can be generated.  Lastly when its safe to tell the boss about mistakes and missed benchmarks then the leader and team members can course- correct more quickly.

Leading a team takes knowledge, skill and experience: leading a collaborative, team where trust and connection is the norm, requires the leader to actively develop Emotional Intelligence so they can foster a culture of open communication and more productivity. 


Shifting the mindset from Manager to Leader – a composite case study- names and identifying details changed

John was a key contributor at the Director level in his large organization. He was recommended for coaching as part of his company’s initiative to improve the culture and build more connections up, down and across teams, departments and locations.   As we processed how to implement suggestions from his 360 assessment, it became apparent that John had a hard time differentiating between managing and leading.  He was a well-respected manager: his direct reports gave him high marks for being constructive, for listening to and empowering them and for being respectful.  John’s challenge (which is a common one for great managers) was how he could “lead” those he had no direct responsibility for!

As his coach, I asked him to think about those who had influenced him in his career thus far: who in the past had he viewed as a leader regardless of their title?  We explored together the facets of executive presence: how to use body language, tone and presentation skills to increase his confidence and the impact he had on others.  As a result of our coaching, John began to explore getting and giving feedback across roles and levels within the organization.  He experimented with making himself available to peers in different departments and offices to be a thought partner and collaborator.  John began to network within the organization not “to get ahead” but to genuinely contribute to and develop the collaborative culture that Sr. Leadership was seeking.  He started acknowledging other’s contributions in meetings regardless of who they reported to.  As he took an active role across silos, his newfound influence generated greater positivity in potentially contentious meetings.   Gradually peers and upline leaders sought John’s input on company- wide projects.

At the end of our 8- month engagement, the feedback John received was that he was increasingly regarded as a leader in his company.  


If you would benefit support and strategies to shift your mindset, presence and reputation from Manger to Leader, contact me or ask your HR Executive for an opportunity for coaching.

November/December Power Points

The more you do, the more you accomplish. What if we were able to do less and accomplish the same? My November/December Power Points discuss the Possibility of Doing Less, as well as the benefits of and how to schedule an Executive Retreat from your work team.

November/December 2019 Power Points

The Possibility of Doing Less

Sue was the vice president of a subsidiary of an international parent company. She had responsibilities for five direct reports and indirectly, of another 30 employees. She served on the executive leadership team of her company and several committees. Additionally, her role required that she served on a key committee for the parent company. This required frequent travel to Germany. Sue was dedicated, determined and of high integrity yet she often worried that she was leaving something undone or not done well.

In her Personal life, she was the single mother of two elementary school children and the sole caretaker for elderly parents who lived 30 minutes away. Sue reached out to me at Ascend Consulting for coaching, because the holidays were coming up and the added stress made her realize something had to change! It is often said, “if you want something done, ask a busy woman.” While this may be true, as my grandmother used to say, “there is a limit to all things!”

Sue and I began our coaching conversation with assessment. We explored her current vision of leadership, when & how she delegated to direct reports and the amount and nature of feedback she gave them. We also got clear about her definition of what it meant to be a “good mom.” Sue realized that more often than not, she didn’t ask for help, she didn’t delegate enough, and she held herself to unrealistic standards without checking out her expectations with her boss, her parents, or her children.

Through coaching, I shared with her the concept of creating a “we” mindset rather than an “I” mentality. This meant having open fact-finding and brainstorming conversations with her team and her kids about what really needed to happen and how. She stopped making assumptions about what her performance should be. Rather, she learned to check out with her boss what his top priorities actually were and what the definition of done “well enough” really was in each case.

As a result, Sue began to see many opportunities to do things with a little less angst and with a lot more empowerment of others. Most of all, she began to enjoy what she was doing and to allow others to create an atmosphere of ownership and collaboration. The result was greater enjoyment of everyone’s accomplishments- both at work and at home.

As Sue did less & was choosy about her definition of achievement, she had more time to listen to colleagues and spend quality time with her children. Turned out when they talked about what mattered most to them, her children chose playing board games with Sue rather spending her weekends on creating a perfectly decorated home.

So, as each of you go into the holiday season this might be a great time to reconsider some of you own definitions of leadership delegation, achievement, and perfection. It may just turn out that less really is more!

Mindfulness Meditation Group Starting in October

September/October 2019 Power Points

As Fall arrives- seemingly overnight, many of us are back to early mornings, school and work routines, volunteer positions, homework and busier days!! In this Newsletter I’ll share strategies on goal setting and planning, staying present and mindfulness to help your reentry go a bit more smoothly.

September/October 2019 Power Points

Best Planning Strategies for Short and Long-Term Goals!

I’ve got a 2 -year goal to achieve my next position,” said a client recently.  She explained that she has a time-consuming, multi- stage project she needs to accomplish first, however, which if she completes early, will make it possible to leave before 2 years.  We often have long term goals that depend on tasks and projects that precede them.  This makes planning and organization of time, materials and actions more challenging.

When we’re faced with a looming end goal complicated by an important, shorter term project, we can get overwhelmed hyper focusing on one to the exclusion of the other or go back and forth chaotically between the two projects.   Here are some strategies that can help us work steadily towards a long- term goal while making progress on sorter term but essential projects:

  • Map out in big strokes initially the tasks necessary to achieve the long- term goal. A two- year goal might be broken down into stages with benchmarks to achieve every month or quarter.
  • On the same large spreadsheet or flipchart, in a different color enter the near- term project with its high-level sub goals and associated benchmarks.
  • Identify the priorities for each benchmark according to the ABC rule:
  • time sensitive or urgent and important, B- important, or C- not urgent and not important in the near term.
  • Plan out the first month of tasks for each week with a high- level look at the 2 yr. goals and a more detailed eye to the near term one.
  • “Chunk” tasks for both goals- break the work into 15 min- to- several hours each week to chip away at the projects. Careful! Be realistic about the time you honestly have available to put towards both goals.
  • Review your progress each week and, if tasks are planned daily, each day. Did you put the time in you planned or did life get in the way?  Adjust your plan each day, each week, and each month to hit your benchmarks.
  • Assign a specific time on your schedule in writing to work on a specific task.  If we say, “I’ll do it tonight,” that is not specific enough…suddenly it is 10 pm and we’re fatigued- after 3-4 nights like that we can find ourselves behind schedule and discouraged!
  • Ask for help!! Family, Teammates, colleagues across disciplines can offer information or take on parts of one or both goals.
  • Reassess the end dates for each project. Is the 2 -year goal for the new position a want or a need?
  • If you are getting behind, hard on the facts but be soft on the person. Self-talk can demotivate us if we are overly critical when our plan goes awry.
  • Finally: Celebrate! Celebrate both the benchmarks you achieve along the way as well as the completion of each goal!