May 19, 2020

The Exercise Every Business Leader Needs to Do

executive leadership
Business leaders
business coaching
business voice
Bizclik Editor
4 min
The Exercise Every Business Leader Needs to Do

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Most business writing I read is awful&mdash;boring, verbose&mdash;and ignores the audience in any way other than to demonstrate how smart the author thinks he or she is. Many business leaders use their leadership voices in the same way&mdash;without authenticity, stilted, dull. This forced voice dramatically hinders the influence a leader has over his or her followers.&nbsp;</p>
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There are exceptions, of course: those whose voice, personality and humanity jump out at you when you read. You feel like you know the person, have a sense of their style, personality and principles. If what they say resonates, you might even imagine yourself aligning or following, adapting or adopting ideas, methodologies or traits.&nbsp; The more you integrate yourself into your leadership, the greater your influence will be on your followers.&nbsp;</p>
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When I went to writing school, we learned about voice. What does this mean? How or why people may believe you, be moved by you, and <em>especially moved to act</em>, is important. What does your voice sound like? Not necessarily its auditory characteristics, but the way people perceive what you are saying with language and without. How do you know if you&rsquo;ve found your authentic voice and whether it will influence anyone or impact business results?</p>
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I realized, after my consulting business had become successful, that I was doing what I&rsquo;d always done&mdash;helping people find their voices. Voice is the manifestation of Genuineness. Those behaviors and actions and idiosyncrasies that make you <em>you</em> and allow you to lead from a place of confidence, assurance and passion. Voice is weaving your stories and experience and view of the world into how you lead and how others perceive you.</p>
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I still help people find their voices: I help my clients identify what they want, why they want it, how to say or ask for it, how to clearly articulate, how to listen and respond, how to make their own decisions&mdash;all of these things help someone stand firmly&nbsp; and speak with confidence. Where do you want to take your company or team? What do you want them to do, or stop doing? Your ability to articulate, to use language that rings true to you and that influences others, is using your voice well.</p>
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<strong>Steps to Refining Your Voice</strong></p>
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<strong>Step </strong><span data-scayt_word="1.Get" data-scaytid="1"><strong>1.</strong>Get</span> a journal, thought book or someplace to write and record your thinking.<br />
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I realize that paper is so <em>old school</em> and we&rsquo;re on the verge of <span data-scayt_word=""kindleing"" data-scaytid="3">&ldquo;kindleing&rdquo;</span> becoming a verb, but it makes a difference. I can type really fast, but I write differently long-hand. It&rsquo;s kinetic in a different way. Just do it.</p>
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<strong>Step 2.</strong>&nbsp; Use the following questions to prompt your writing and thinking. Just write, without stopping, editing or censoring. If you struggle with writing or this whole idea sounds torturous, make it as easy as you can on yourself. I use a digital kitchen timer sometimes to help me stay focused for a period of time. If you get stuck, just write &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t think of anything . . . or &ldquo;blah blah blah&rdquo; until you get unstuck.</p>
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WHAT DO YOU WANT? How do you envision your best version of yourself as a leader? Where would you work? With whom? In what industry or circumstances? Or perhaps, what do you want in a particular situation or scenario? In your current role?</li>
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WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? What is your personal mission or purpose? What gets you excited and completely enthusiastic? Where do you feel &ldquo;whole-hearted?&rdquo;</li>
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WHAT EXPERIENCES OR INCIDENTS HAVE SHAPED YOU? What are some of the best lessons you&rsquo;ve learned? How do you know? What would you do again, no matter what?</li>
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HOW DO YOU MAKE THINGS BETTER? What is your ultimate value and contribution?</li>
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WHAT NEXT? What&rsquo;s your next step, decisive action or grand adventure?</li>
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Set your timer (or watch the clock) and write for at least 10 minutes on each topic without stopping. Don&rsquo;t be surprised if you want to write more&mdash;indeed, these are things that are important to you and you may have a lot to say!</p>
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<strong>Step 3:</strong>Put your writing/thinking work away for at least a day. Give yourself some distance from the idea generating and brainstorming.</p>
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<strong>Step 4: </strong>Set aside an hour or 90 minutes to review and reflect. Ask yourself the following:</p>
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What themes do I see that seem important?</li>
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What is surprising or intriguing about what I wrote? Was anything missing that I thought would show up, but didn&rsquo;t?</li>
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<strong>Step 5: </strong>Then, complete the following:</p>
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After my review, I have identified three intentions for my own leadership development:</p>
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This exercise helps you clarify about what&rsquo;s important to you and for you. Reflecting and reviewing allows you to identify the next, most pertinent intentions to have for yourself. This is the road to congruence.</p>
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<strong>Libby Wagner,</strong>Libby Wagner &amp; Associates, is one of only a handful of published poets regularly welcomed into the boardroom. Author of the new book The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business (Global Professional Publishing), she has been labeled The Influencing Coach&trade; by her clients. Her expertise in leadership, strategy, management, and executive team development helps organizations create environments where clarity and increased trust lead to unrivaled results, shaping such Fortune 500 cultures as Boeing, Nike, Philips and Costco.&nbsp; For more info, visit <a href="http://www.influencingoptions.com/"><span data-scayt_word="//www.influencingoptions.com&quot; data-scaytid="2">www.influencingoptions.com</span></a></p&gt;
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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

CMO
Kyndryl
IBM
Leadership
Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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