by Laurie Sudbrink on July 18th, 2017

One morning, I was trudging into work in the rain when the wind whipped my umbrella inside out and I dropped all of my important work papers in a puddle. Ugh!

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience? That morning, as I trudged into the office, a colleague (known for her positivity) asked me how I was and I told her I was having a bad day! She replied “oh wow, and it’s only 7 a.m.!” I was about to carry the frustration of that 30-minute event dropping my papers in the rain into my entire day...

Then, I had my AHA moment.

Before we get to that, let me tell you a little about how my career started that led me to do the work that I do today.

My first taste of so-called leadership was not so great. The first manager I had was a hard-driving supervisor in a manufacturing company. I was 17 years old working 9 hour days in a summer job inspecting undergarments. If that wasn’t bad enough, my supervisor didn’t allow talking, frowned on us listening to our headsets, and constantly paced in back of us like a drill sergeant! She never seemed satisfied with our output.

The second manager I had was in a restaurant environment. I was 18 and in college. I was in the position for 30 days when he promoted me to assistant manager - I was so excited! He taught me to do everything he did, increased my pay by 25 cents an hour and then pretty much disappeared, for hours and sometimes days at a time. It wasn’t long that I discovered he threw people under the bus, took credit for their ideas and hard work, and constantly misrepresented himself to upper management (um yes, that’s the nice way of saying he lied!).
My next job was in a corporate environment and lasted almost 15 years. I held many positions as I advanced, and I had a number of managers.,Some were ok, most not so good, and one or two were pretty decent. Those are not very good odds!

I remember thinking, it doesn’t have to be this way! What was going on inside of these managers that made them treat people this way? And even when they were “ok managers”, why couldn’t they be great?

Early on when I landed the position of trainer, I started to see that you could help people change their thoughts and beliefs about things, and this, more than anything else, shaped their behavior. I first saw this in myself. I noticed my negative thinking and dwelling, and I asked myself, “what good is this doing?”

Rewind back to my day with the inside-out umbrella and wet papers and I had this epiphany moment of life-changing awareness and inspiration. I remember being aware of the negative feeling and realizing I was creating it, and I could create something different!

I knew I wanted to continue to work on myself, and to also help people free themselves to be who they really long to be. Too many of us feel trapped in our jobs, rather than inspired by them. It doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve seen people turn it around countless times now over my years of work.

That is what inspires me to do the work that I do. I absolutely love helping people find those AHA moments that make a difference in the rest of their lives!
​Coming from environments where I felt stuck and helpless, I get it. Because leadership positions are the most influential positions, this is where I find the most opportunity to help others.

Developing intentional leaders is my life’s work, because it frees people to live authentically, and to truly be happy and successful, at work and beyond! It’s all about changing lives through leadership!

Most of the managers I’ve worked with over the past 20 years have said one of their biggest struggles is with changing people’s behaviors. While we all know we can’t change another person, we do have the responsibility in leadership to get results through people. Creating that change in people requires changes in behaviors. How we go about changing behavior is crucial.

​​Leadership is a position of influence. And it is certainly not simple. It is complex. But Leadership can be simplified - with the right tools.
Most people who are promoted into leadership positions are not given the tools they need to be successful. Very few people naturally get it all on their own and become excellent leaders.

But just like any tool you use, you need the best tool if you want the best results. I’ve attended too many training classes to count and most were mediocre at best. They always focused on the behaviors that needed to change, providing you scripts and specific steps to take. Yet it rarely if ever worked.

Because focusing on the behaviors is not going to make a lasting impact on people.

​Until people shift their thoughts and beliefs, they will not change their behavior, or if they do, it won’t last long!
​We’ve all seen it in the countless people we’ve sent to training classes and they come back starting strong but soon back to their old habits. We see it in ourselves when we start diets and exercise programs (New Year’s resolutions ring a bell?). It doesn’t last!

​I’ve been studying people and behaviors for over 20 years and the one and only thing that will inspire lasting behavioral change is when people change inside.
Whether you own the business, you’re in the C-suite, you’re a mid-manager or front line supervisor, who you are inside has the greatest influence over who are to other people. When you shift inside, you can then lead intentionally. That’s when you get real results.

That is why I wrote the book Leading With GRIT, and it is why I’m so passionate about developing leaders.

​I believe in the potential of human beings.

​Perhaps you’d like to start feeling differently about your job, your career, your life? Imagine feeling like you have enough time to do the things you WANT to do, you’re not stressed out, you feel confident, positive and courageous! You’re getting so much accomplished through your team, and you have mutual appreciation and respect. Imagine not feeling trapped and constantly out of time.

You can stop imagining those feelings and make them a reality. Join me for this unique leadership experience, Lead With GRIT! Immerse for 3 days with a focus on developing yourself so you can lead intentionally. Your transformation begins immediately.

Will you join me?


by Laurie Sudbrink on July 13th, 2017

Nothing wastes time or frustrates people more than someone hijacking a conversation, whether it’s at work during meetings, or in our personal lives.

It happens too often. You know how it goes. Your friend wants to get together to share all about her recent vacation. A few friends decide to meet for dinner and drinks so you can all enjoy your friend’s pics together. As your friend begins to share a photo, she mentions a really cool gift that she found for her son while she was there. Another friend jumps in with, "Oh how is Harrison, is he doing ok after the separation?" and bam, just like that, the conversation is about her son, the kids, the custody battle, which leads to a discussion of the unfairness of custody laws, and another friend’s story of her marital issues and before long it's time to go home and you have only seen 2 photos of your friend's trip to Italy.

This kind of sidetracking happens often in conversations. We joke about ourselves or others who have a tendency to do this, “oh look - squirrel!” Although the intent isn't bad, for most of us who experience this, it usually isn’t a funny matter. In all seriousness, at some level, it doesn't feel like our friend really cares about our vacation. Just think of how often this happens, whether with friends, with your children, your spouse, or your siblings, or at work.

People easily get distracted and forget the purpose of the conversation. A simple question leads the speaker away from where they were going, to where we want to go. Even if the listener is genuinely interested, they can still end up taking the entire conversation off course. The speaker might even feel the departure, but they usually still follow because it feels too awkward or difficult to stop it. Feelings get hurt, people get frustrated, and time gets wasted.

Just consider the impact conversation hijacking has on workplace productivity. A room full of people spend an hour in a meeting. If we tracked the cost every time the conversation went astray we would pay much more attention to this costly sidetracking. Many of us have probably been the culprit at one time or another. So what can we do?

As soon as you notice you've taken the discussion off-course, just bring it back, with a simple statement like "It was good to catch up on Harrison, and I didn’t mean to take us off-course, so tell me more about Italy! I want to see those pics and hear all about it!"

Or as soon as you notice someone else has taken the conversation astray, you could say “Harrison’s fine, and I’d love to tell you all about him but I really want to share these awesome vacation memories with you tonight!”

Especially in workplace conversations, whether you're the listener who took it off-track, or the speaker who is being led off track, it's important to course-correct as soon as possible. "OK, that's a good topic we need to discuss. Let's table it until we get through our agenda, and then we’ll come back to it, or schedule time for it later." In team meetings, use “The Parking Lot.” When a topic comes up, write it in the parking lot. At the end of the meeting see what’s on the list and then either schedule another meeting or task things out. Build in time on your agenda for managing the Parking Lot.

Think of ways you can build in awareness of conversation hijacking. Giving people our full attention and staying on course during conversations is not just a nicety in our personal relationships. If we care about the relationship, we need to take care of it. In our workplace, it’s a cost of doing business and needs managing if we want to improve productivity.

Have you been in this situation before? Do you think these tactics will be helpful to redirect conversations in the future? Let us know in the comments!


by Laurie Sudbrink on July 5th, 2017

​We are free, right?

We are all free to think, feel and do what we like, when we like. But there are always consequences. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, as Newton’s Third Law of Motion taught us in elementary school.  Most of us learned this, but how many of us apply it to our own lives?

Freedom isn’t about skirting our responsibilities. It’s not solely about what I want in this moment without regard to the future, other people, or the environment. There are other people whom our actions affect. And what we do today will have an impact on our tomorrow.

GRIT paves the way to freedom. Generosity, Respect, Integrity and Truth. To genuinely be free, it starts with our own Truth. Freedom starts with self-awareness.

So often, people feel trapped. They can’t say what they want to say, or be who they want to be. They stuff down their emotions and hide their true thoughts. They gossip about others to avoid a confrontation. They rant about the President, the millennials, their partner, or any other thing they can find as an excuse. They feel stuck in the town they’re in, the relationship they chose, the job they have. I wonder if they know how close they are to being happy, to being free from all the negativity.

Freedom is about choice. It’s about what we set in motion, and how we react - even to the things that we didn’t set in motion but still affect us today. When I started to understand this, although it was tough at first, I really began to enjoy catching myself in the negativity, because I knew how close I was to stopping the madness!

But we can’t even choose if we’re not self-aware and self-accepting.

The only way to true freedom is to take ownership of what we’ve set in motion, and how we’re reacting.

We can start with looking at our own Truth; by noticing if we are:
  • Taking things personally
  • Complaining
  • Blaming
  • Numbing out with drugs, television, or any other escape
Then we can use GRIT to pave the way to Freedom:

  • Practice self-awareness: How are you feeling? What are you thinking? Is it true? Are you complaining or blaming? Are you taking it personally?
  • Use your emotions to help you be aware of your thoughts and feelings.
  • Accept where you are right now.

  • Choose what you want to think, feel and do.
  • Take ownership of what you think, feel and do and how it impacts yourself and others, now and in the future.
  • Choose your actions. Align your behaviors to what you want.

  • Respect yourself by getting the sleep you need, practicing self-reflection, eating the food that makes you healthy, moving your body, nourishing your spirit and your soul.
  • Respect others. Don’t assume you know what someone else is thinking, feeling, believing, and even doing. My grandmother used to say, believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see. That includes your own thoughts!

  • Be generous to yourself. Don’t just give, give, give and then feel resentful.
  • Allow the flow. Receive from others.
  • Have gratitude. Give from your heart, not for ulterior motives.
  • You decide where and when you want to give. When it’s genuine generosity, the reward is far greater.

Freedom is living the life you want, not the life you think others want you to live. It’s taking full responsibility for your choices and your reactions. It’s enjoying your journey, and accepting the full spectrum of being human.

While we’re celebrating our freedom in early July, let’s be mindful of the freedom and happiness we can create for ourselves and for those around us.

by Laurie Sudbrink on June 28th, 2017

People often ask me, doesn’t travel get old? For the most part, no. I love it. Travel for me is like opening the floodgates of creativity! Some of my best ideas and productivity came during or immediately after my travels.

Where I travel doesn’t always have to be to somewhere glamorous, but it does help. I’ve had many business trips that weren’t to any special exotic place and still had very creative and inspired moments. However, one of the things I focus on is where I want to be, when I work and when I play. My environment is very important to me. A killer view is more valuable to me than the inside of my house!

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

When I was lucky enough to go to New Zealand on a business trip (by the way, my definition of luck is when preparedness meets opportunity), I tacked on 10 extra days to explore this magnificent country. Hiking a mile up a remote ravine that hardly anyone knew about to get about 6 feet from little baby seals playing beneath a pool with a waterfall backdrop was one of the all-time highlights of all my journeys.  Talk about recharging my battery! To this day when I think of the trip it makes me happy and inspired.

One of my goals is to visit at least one new place every year. Usually it’s a lot more than that! I highly recommend exploring and experiencing new places. If you have a team retreat, consider going somewhere new, somewhere beautiful. It may be tough to measure, but there’s no doubt your team will get more inspired and creative.

I just got back from Cleveland, and I hadn’t been there in 20 years. Wow, what a cool place. On my drive back, listening to Tony Robbins and some other podcasts, I was so inspired by the time I got home I could hardly wait to get writing and strategizing!

Next month I’ll be going on a family vacation to Newfoundland where I go every year. I usually explore a new place each time - the island is massive with beauty everywhere. I’ll also be visiting Costa Rica for the first time in July. This is my kind of business trip! I’ll be collaborating with a resort owner and expert physical trainer to design and schedule our first retreat together.

And sure, do I run into snafus when I’m traveling? Of course I do. But we can remember this:

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck

Whatever happens, it’s more about how you react to it. We can’t change a lot of things - - weather, what other people do, certain situations… the only thing we can change is the way we think about things. Because it’s the thinking that creates the stress and the undesirable behaviors.

Stress is resistance to something. When something happens in your travels (or in your life!), it’s much better for you to go with it, rather than resist it. I’m not saying you should ‘put up with crap.’

​You can be persistent without being pushy!

^ tweet that and tag @lauriesudbrink!
So wherever your travels -  remember, this is a great opportunity for yourself and your team to be creatively inspired and more productive!

I’d love to know where and how you like to get creative and inspired! Leave me a comment!


by Laurie Sudbrink on June 20th, 2017

​Your Employee Engagement Roadmap - Part 3
Last week in part two of Your Employee Engagement Roadmap, we looked at the reasons for disengagement and the common connection. Remember Tom and how his employees felt he just wasn’t approachable, and he compounded that issue by reacting poorly? He fell into the common pitfall of getting frustrated and barking orders (Part 1).  We concluded that many managers are not connecting with their people enough.  

If we’re looking to build a truly engaged team, it cannot be done without genuinely connecting with people.

To feel that we are part of a community is a basic human need. We want to feel cared about. We want to be able to trust in leadership. When people feel this way, they’ll do just about anything for you. (Well, within reason!) Just turn it around and think about someone that you feel connected with, who genuinely cares about you, a person you can really trust. Would you be more or less motivated when working for that person?

Trust is an important part of those basic human connections, and connecting with people really doesn’t take that much time. It really doesn’t take that much skill either! But it does take self-awareness, genuine interest in your people and self-discipline to stay consistent with these activities and build trust. These are the three main pillars of building an engaged team.

Master these three pillars, and just like everything else you do to engage employees, like giving those expensive perks, creating a fun place to work with slides, and even giving recognition - it will all be meaningful and impactful. And even if you don’t spend a lot on perks, just by genuinely connecting with your employees, you will immediately boost employee engagement.

The First Pillar - It starts with Self Awareness. How engaged are YOU? What are you doing (or not doing) to show your engagement level? What are you doing to engage with your people?

The Second Pillar - Take a genuine interest in your people. A lot of us are conditioned to think that work is only about work and we should leave personal things at home.
But people can’t leave it at the door – they are still bringing the energy, low self-esteem, sadness, and/or anger with them from the things happening in all aspects of their lives. And as leaders, we are too!
While this is not about becoming an armchair psychologist, it is about connecting in a meaningful and authentic way so people feel that you care about them.

The Third Pillar - It takes self-discipline to stay consistent with these activities. When we start something and we don’t follow through, people stop trusting in us. If we say we’re going to have regular one-on-one meetings, and we keep changing the date or cancelling the meeting, what message do you think that sends to your employee? I can tell you what I’ve heard from people on the receiving end – they think they are not a priority, not really cared about, and not respected.
Let’s take a look back at Tom’s situation. Tom really wasn’t doing much to engage with his employees (and it came out in coaching he had his own engagement issues). His employees didn’t feel like he cared about them - it seemed that he only cared about the work. Tom would have a moment or two when he connected, but he didn’t do anything to make this a part of his leadership routine.

Once Tom started working in the three pillars, that’s when things began to really change.

These three pillars immediately boost employee engagement. But we’ve only just scratched the surface of the topic of employee engagement in this series of blog posts. We’ll dive much deeper into how you can master these three pillars in toomorrow’s LIVE webinar at 2:00 p.m. EST!

You will get clear action steps you can take to create a plan for turning your team from disengaged employees to dedicated team members. Attendees can ask anonymous questions about your own challenges in leadership and get advice from me to help you overcome them.

There’s still time to sign up to join us to Boost Employee Engagement Immediately - Without Spending a Dime! Sign up to join us here!
I hope to see you at the webinar tomorrow!



by Laurie Sudbrink on June 13th, 2017

Your Employee Engagement Roadmap - Part 2
Remember Tom (from last week), and the common pitfall he fell into while attempting to improve engagement on his team?

Counterintuitive to Tom, and many leaders facing any one of the common pitfalls is before jumping to action or assuming there’s nothing you can do, just stop and reflect.

That’s right - the single most important step to increasing employee engagement is to stop and reflect for a moment.  

Ask yourself why. Why do you think people are disengaged? What might be causing it?

Refrain from blaming the millennial generation, or whatever else it might be easy to default to. If the majority of people are disengaged at some level, then we have to look at the bigger cause. (When it’s one or two people, then we deal directly with those individuals.)

By reflecting, we’ll get to the root of it, instead of reacting poorly and causing more disengagement!

In my work over the years, I’ve heard these reasons for disengagement (in no particular order):
  • My manager is too busy to listen or follow through
  • People don’t feel connected to the vision/mission; they don’t have their own “why” or purpose.
  • Lack of trust in their leader and/or the organization’s leadership
  • They feel that they are treated condescendingly; too much negative attention on mistakes
  • People don’t feel like their managers care about them
  • Their manager is self-absorbed and not developing them
  • There is no team reward - only individual goals
  • Other team members get away with poor performance
  • Everyone gets treated the same, or some of us are rewarded with more work
  • There is a lack of meaningful communication
  • My manager throws people under the bus or takes credit when she shouldn’t

Can you see the common connection in these things? Yes, the person’s manager is the link to all of these. In the majority, there is a lack of effective interpersonal connection.

When asking Tom’s direct reports what they perceived, they summed it up as Tom was just not approachable. He compounded that issue by reacting with barking orders.

Many leaders are seen by their employees as being unapproachable.

Just take a look at research from Gallup which you can see in this chart:
While there could be some systemic problems, most of the time most of us are not connecting with our people enough. And no I don’t mean micromanaging and interfering. I mean connecting on an interpersonal level.

If you are connecting with your people, then they will begin to feel that you are open and approachable.

In next week’s blog post, the last part of this series on your employee engagement roadmap, we’ll share what it takes to connect with your employees and explain why that’s so important for building a truly engaged team.

We’ll dive even deeper into your employee engagement roadmap in my upcoming FREE webinar on Wednesday, June 21 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  

In this LIVE webinar, Boost Employee Engagement Immediately - Without Spending a Dime, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about how to be a truly engaging leader within your organization (and in your life!). You can also ask anonymous questions during the webinar specific to the challenges you’re facing with your employees.

Sign up to join us!


by Laurie Sudbrink on June 7th, 2017

Your Employee Engagement Roadmap - Part 1
​2016 engagement statistics released by Gallup revealed that we’re at 69% either not engaged, or actively disengaged(1). That means 2 out of 3 of your team members might be doing just the minimum to get by, or worse yet, showing up and actively working on other things, or even working against you!

Of course, statistics vary by company size. In most cases, the larger the company, the higher the percentage of disengagement. The smaller the company, the lower the disengagement percentage.  Regardless - most of us do have employees who are not highly engaged. They are showing up to work, but they’re not really putting themselves into the work.

So what do we do when we realize there are disengaged employees in our department, or on our team, or in our company?

Many leaders fall into one or more of these classic pitfalls:
  • Get irritated, start pointing the finger and blaming something or someone.
  • Get really frustrated and start barking more orders.
  • Resign to the fact and not even do anything.

About 10 years ago I was working with a professional services organization that had what they diagnosed as “minor employee engagement issues.”  After some discussions and questions with a few employees, it was clear what was causing employees to disengage. You probably already guessed that it was a person. Yes, it was their direct manager, Tom.

Tom fell into the classic pitfall of frustration and barking orders.

You see, Tom was told by his Sr. Leader that people were not as engaged as they could be, and he needed to do something about that.

So he did what he thought was the best thing to do.

He did what he had learned was effective - and maybe it’s what you’re doing too...

Tom started barking more orders.

And the situation got worse.

Counterintuitive to Tom (and many leaders in this situation), was a very simple but critical step he was missing. In fact, this step is necessary to avoid any of the classic pitfalls!

We’ll cover this simple and very important step next week in Part 2 of Your Employee Engagement Roadmap - The Single Most Important Step to Improve Employee Engagement.
And, we’ll go much more in-depth in a FREE webinar on Wednesday, June 21 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  
​In this LIVE webinar, Boost Employee Engagement Immediately - Without Spending a Dime you'll learn the secrets to becoming a truly engaging leader within your organization (and in your life!). You can also ask anonymous questions during the webinar specific to the challenges you’re facing with your employees. Sign up to join us here!

Seating is limited so register today!

​(1) 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace Report

by Laurie Sudbrink on May 31st, 2017

Picture this - you've just finished up a huge project at work or at home and you're looking forward to spending some time kicking back to relax and take some time for yourself. 

Then, WHAM - you get sick. 

I remember having this pattern in my life, and admittedly it took me quite a while to figure out that I was the common denominator!

Often, we’re causing our own illnesses, and stress is the culprit.

If you break down the word disease to dis – ease you can see where the problem is!  While stress isn’t always a bad thing, if it is not managed correctly it can be detrimental to our health, and cause us unhappiness.

Recognizing the signs early, and taking proactive measures is the best way to prevent damage from stress. So how can we recognize stress before it causes the damage? Try these tips:
  1. Pay attention to your thoughts. Are you being kind with your words to yourself, or are you beating yourself up about things? As Don Miguel Ruiz shares in The Four Agreements, “don’t go against yourself with your word.”
  2. Know yourself and pay attention to your physical body. We all hold stress in different ways. When you pay attention regularly, you’ll catch yourself grinding your teeth, scrunching up your shoulders, or tensing your muscles. Listen to what your body is telling you and try to make an effort to release that tension.
  3. Think about situations that could cause stress. Set yourself up to flow through that stress rather than resist it. Resistance is what makes negative stress. Having unrealistic expectations can set us up for stressful situations. Create a plan for yourself for what will happen when you get to the other side of your stress and envision yourself there to help you get through the stressful moment.
  4. Be mindful of your emotions. Your emotions are great triggers! Most of us simply react when we feel frustrated, disappointed, or angry, rather than using it as a way to look inside and see what’s going on.

Realize that stress is bound to happen – the important thing is how you react.

Take ownership of your tension and stress before the collateral damage takes its toll. Proactively take care of yourself so you’re better equipped to deal with it. Eat healthily, get sleep, exercise your body and your mind. While there’s no way to guarantee that you'll prevent every illness or negative situation, you’ll undoubtedly decrease a lot of unnecessary illness, and you’ll absolutely enjoy life more! 

Do you have any tips for managing stress in your life? Share them in the comments so others can benefit from your suggestions!


by Laurie Sudbrink on May 23rd, 2017

Words can trap us or empower us. And it’s the words we are telling ourselves that are the most influential.

Consider this.

I am going to try to write a book.
I am writing a book.  (Hint - even if you haven’t put pen to paper; you are incubating it in your mind. These words will propel you to action. The former will hold you back.)

Which feels more empowering to you?

I am trying to change.  
I am changing.

I am trying to lose weight.
I am losing weight.

I am trying to be a better listener.
I am listening more fully.

Often we don’t notice the language we’re using and how it is controlling us. Our words are simply a reflection of what is going on inside of us.

Reflecting back on when I wanted to write my book, I held myself back by saying “I’m trying to write a book.” I was trapped for years by this one little word! Once I shifted this, I remember feeling it was happening. I am writing a book!

Try allows us to hesitate, to not take ownership of it.

It can be difficult to recognize when our language is constricting us rather than enlarging us. A trusted friend can help you be more mindful of this. Just by sharing this with someone, you will become more aware and start doing rather than trying.

Our bodies can help us if we pay attention. How do you feel when you say that? Do you feel constricted and smaller, or do you feel open and more liberated?

Sometimes just the awareness of how we’re feeling will be enough to release us from the stranglehold of our words. Other times we may need more. If you are still feeling hesitation once you change those words, it’s a great opportunity to dig deeper. Why am I hesitating? What is holding me back? (Pay attention to your energy and emotions and you’ll know if you can work on this on your own, or if you need help going deeper. Many of us use professional coaches or even our therapists to help us go deeper. Contact me if you need help finding a resource.)

Trying keeps us from taking ownership and taking action. What are you trying to do?  How can you make a change to empower yourself? Share your feedback in the comments so others can benefit from learning what works for you!

by Laurie Sudbrink on May 17th, 2017

Being present in the moment doesn’t come naturally to all of us. In fact, with our busy lives and so many distractions available, it’s tough for most of us to stay present! We get hooked by something that pops up on our screen, or a text that comes in, or a car that cuts us off, or a thought of something that we had forgotten to do! We soon learn the habit of becoming reactive, rather than present and mindful - a place where we can make better choices that align to what we really want.

If it’s not a physical distraction, it’s typically our own thoughts that get in our way. Our minds are usually in one of two places. We’re either in the future, worried about everything we need to get done; or we’re in the past, fretting or regretting what we didn’t get done.

Of course, we have to spend some time in the future - planning, dreaming, visualizing what we want. And it’s good to reflect on the past to learn and grow. But we need to just take quick trips to the future and the past, and then spend most of our time being mindful in the present moment.

In addition to helping us make better choices, being present brings many other benefits:
  • We listen more fully, which builds trust and much better connections with people.
  • We have a calmness that spreads positive energy.
  • We are more productive and effective with our choices and solutions.
  • We are more creative.
  • Our memories improve.
  • We are happier.
  • We are less stressed - take a look at just one of many articles on the benefits on  

The good news is we can all improve and be more present in the moment. It just takes practice.

And it really is pretty simple because you can practice being present in the moment on any daily activity, so you don’t even have to build in extra time for this. The hardest part will be to remember to do it. So you may need to set yourself some reminders.

Here are my favorite 3 simple ways to practice being present:
  • When you’re brushing your teeth, do your best to just be mindful of the act of brushing your teeth. This one can be particularly challenging because most of us have learned to brush our teeth really well and we don’t need to think about it. That’s why it’s a great one to practice with. Every time your mind wanders, just catch it and bring it back. In the 2 minutes you spend brushing, see how long you can stay completely present on brushing. I ground my feet first, and this helps me remember to stay in the moment.
  • When you’re driving, do your best to stay completely present and mindful. How many of us get to our location and then think “wow, how did I get here?!” We were so deep in thought. This is another good practice opportunity because we’ve learned to drive well and think at the same time. You might also get angry at someone in traffic and create a lot of stress for yourself. Emotions are a great awareness opportunity. When you feel yourself getting angry, frustrated, irritated - turn your thoughts inward and see what’s happening with you, rather than focusing outside on what someone just did. Choose how you want to be.  
  • Find a plant, look at the sky, a pond or a stream - anything in nature. Take a full minute to just be with it - no other thoughts. Every time your mind wanders, just bring it back. If you can’t have the real thing, get a great picture that makes you feel like you’re with nature.
These are just three simple practice suggestions. I’m not saying you need to do this to have better teeth or drive better (although you might!). But if you practice this, you will start to notice yourself being more mindful and present in other areas of your life, without even trying. And just like any exercise, it will get easier and feel more natural.

I’d love to hear other ways that you practice being present in the moment! Please share your best tips in the comments!


by Laurie Sudbrink on May 10th, 2017

​Do you ever feel frustrated because you want to tell your manager something but you just don’t know how to go about it?

This came up recently in a leadership class I was facilitating. Donna was expressing her frustration with her boss for not giving team members the opportunity to weigh in on things in the meeting. What Donna noticed was a lot of venting and complaining after meetings because people don’t feel heard.

Most often what happens in this situation is instead of going to our manager we get irritated and start to vent to other people. Or we get a sarcastic or edgy tone when we are speaking about the situation. Sometimes we actually speak that way to our manager. We feel powerless, discouraged and even resentful.

Guess what? This behavior never helps the situation, it makes you look like the problem, and it almost always makes things worse.

How can you become the solution, rather than the problem? How can you influence, and manage UP?

It all starts with one little shift. You might have guessed it - it’s in the way you’re thinking about it. (Remember, in this article from a couple of months ago, I wrote about how thoughts and beliefs drive our actions).

What do you imagine your conscious or even subconscious thoughts might be around this situation?
  • “I can’t tell my boss what to do.”
  • “It’s not my role. She ought to know this in her position.”
  • “I’ll be seen as negative and even disrespectful.”
  • “My boss will hold it against me.”

It’s true, these thoughts may have stemmed from past experiences. However, let’s be really objective for a moment. We probably played a role in those past experiences, perhaps with an edginess to our tone of voice, or just not being direct enough. And even if we didn’t play a role, realizing that everyone has their own issues and not taking it so personally will help us to not let that deter us from doing the right thing.

Changing our thoughts and beliefs will allow us to be open and helpful:
  • “I can help my manager see things from a different perspective.”
  • “One of my roles on this team is to contribute with feedback and helpful solutions - up, down, and across!”
  • “I’ll be seen as helpful.”
  • “I won’t take my manager’s behavior personally. I’ll continue to help with potential solutions.”

When we think positively about helping our manager to realize something, sharing this information will come across much better.

“Hey John, I noticed something the other day I think might really help the team. I’m not sure if you noticed it too - it seemed that people needed a little more time to respond in the meeting?” [pause, and give time for your manager to reflect and respond].  

If he’s open and agrees, you might offer a solution:  “Maybe we could have them jot their ideas down, then take a few minutes to hear them. I think we might be missing some good input.”
If he’s not in agreement or not interested, you might back it up with why it’s important to him. “I’m telling you this because we might be missing some good input, and it might save us time later because people leave the meeting and talk about everything they would have said - and then it turns into excuses and complaining.”

If we truly believe our role on the team is to help, our intent stays in a positive place. Most managers appreciate your input when you show them how it helps. If your manager does not appear to be open to input, you may decide to help that person see that and the impact it has. In private, you could say something like “Julie, I felt like you didn’t want to hear what I was bringing up about the team meeting. I know it’s tough to get through everything in that meeting, and the impact of not getting people’s input is hard to see because they’re careful to keep it concealed. I just felt you deserved to know this and I’m willing to help with it if you like?”

Our role on a team is to contribute and help.

Whether we’re a mid-manager and report to a senior leader, or we’re a supervisor reporting to a manager, or we’re a customer rep, in sales, a project manager or any position at all - we can influence others and manage up to help make a positive impact. It all starts with believing our role is to help the team.

What other ways can you help inspire growth with your team? I’d love it if you shared your ideas in the comments!


by Laurie Sudbrink on May 3rd, 2017

So often I’m asked in my leadership classes about what books I recommend. I love reading books in the leadership field, but I also enjoy reading books that are a little more in the self-help realm. To be successful in leadership, we need to be healthy and whole ourselves first. So the books I’m recommending are a combination of topics, from leadership to spiritual to fiction and even eating healthy– all of which impact your leadership!

Since there are so many books I’ve loved, I decided to list the ones that just popped into my mind right now, some that I’ve read many years ago and probably picked up and read many times since. Some that I just recently read and really enjoyed. So yes, there are some really great ones that are not on this list, but these are my favorites today!
  1. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
    This book might be my top favorite of all time, so far. For me, it shifted my thoughts and beliefs and changed my life. It played a big role in improving my relationship with my late father. I read this book back in 2000, and have since gone on multiple retreats and apprenticed with Don Miguel Ruiz. He is a dear friend and a beautiful soul, and continues to inspire me.
  2. The Only Little Prayer You Need: The Shortest Route to a Life of Joy, Abundance, and Peace of Mind by Debrah L Englert
    This is my favorite recent spiritual/self-help book. I read it last year. I almost didn’t read it because of the title, because I didn’t think it was going to be practical. It is amazing, and simple, and fun to read! It shifted my thoughts and beliefs even further.
  3. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Really Are by Brené Brown
    This book delves into shame and the impact it has on us, and how sharing vulnerabilities not only benefits ourselves, but helps those with whom we interact. Another great book that spoke to me at my core. I also highly recommend her TED Talks.
  4. The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity by William P. Young
    I read this book back in 2010. It was recommended to me by Ken Blanchard. Ken said it was his favorite spiritual book. Of course this intrigued me so I had to read it. Wow. I think I gave that book to more people than any other (besides The Four Agreements). I haven’t seen the newly released movie yet. I hope they did it justice!
  5. Wired to Resist: The Brain Science of Why Change Fails and a New Model for Driving Success by Britt Andreatta
    I just read this book. Ms. Andreatta spoke at a conference I attended. The book really delves into the process of change in a way I hadn’t quite articulated! Everything she said resonated with me. I really appreciate her approach. Anyone in leadership should read this book!
  6. Transformational Speaking: If You Want to Change the World, Tell a Better Story by Gail Larson
    I’ve been reading this book in preparation for a speaking retreat I am participating in. We will be immersed for four days to learn how to deliver a transformational message. I love the book. Ms. Larson’s philosophy on speaking definitely aligns with mine. I knew she was the teacher I needed for the next step in my journey.
  7. Whale Done!: The Power of Positive Relationships by Ken Blanchard
    It’s been so long since I first read this book I can’t tell you the year (maybe 18 years ago). Ken Blanchard’s books are great. Always a story you can relate to, leaving you truly inspired to take action.
  8. Harvests of Joy: How the Good Life Became Great Business by Robert Mondavi
    My first trip to Napa about 6 years ago took me to the Mondavi winery and I had a wonderful tour with Inger. Inger’s story of Mondavi and his vision for Napa with all the trials and tribulations was a perfect example of what I taught in my leadership classes.  When I read the copy of Harvests of Joy that Inger gave me, I was blown away at how the story almost exactly mirrored the flow of the class: getting a group of people to a desired outcome, starting with a compelling vision, then aligning the team, and championing execution!
  9. The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
    I only recommend this book to those who are open to going much deeper on a spiritual level. I read this book in 2000 and it opened my eyes to possibilities I hadn’t ever considered. It has inspired me to live happily and give generously.
  10. Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It! by Kris Carr
    I participated in Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy You Cleanse 21-day online class in September 2016. She is simply amazing. There are so many people who have influenced me with healthy eating but something in her message really connected with me. When my father was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, I, along with a few of my siblings, looked frantically for something to help him heal. It didn’t work out for my dad; we couldn’t find a good solution for him at the time. But he’s inspired me to keep pursuing a healthy diet and healthy life. When I eat clean, my mind is better, my body is better, and I really think my spirit is better!

I hope you enjoy this list and find it useful for your leadership! I’d be happy to recommend others for anyone who’s looking for something that might help you overcome a specific obstacle. Have you read any of these books? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments! Please also feel free to offer other suggestions!


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by Laurie Sudbrink on April 26th, 2017

Individuals can only handle so much change, and we usually don’t even realize that too much change is what is causing some of the problems we’re experiencing.

Until people reach their breaking points.

Last month I received one of those calls. The CEO of a fast-growing IT company called at 7 am. “You got a minute?” he tentatively asked. I could tell by the tone of his voice it was important. After a quick glance at the clock and my task list, I decided I did have a few minutes.

“What’s up?” I asked him (we’ll call him Pete). Pete went on to explain that a third employee gave his notice yesterday. Better opportunity. Three really good people in six months. Pete rattled off all the benefits he was providing, the new and exciting projects, and he mentioned that the salaries were above average for the positions.

After a little probing, it was starting to look like there was just too much change at once, and people were starting to check out. All the classic signs were there:
  • Multiple changes in management in a very short time
  • New products and processes, and new people
  • Increased interpersonal conflict on teams
  • It appeared there were some who were emotionally checked out (just putting their time in)
  • More complaining and blaming
  • Sick time and tardiness had also escalated
  • Lack of clarity and accountability

But Pete and his leadership team were focused on fixing each issue, rather than looking at what might be causing these issues.

Pete and I scheduled a time to meet to start looking at what was happening, and what could be done - quickly. He knew if this was a lack of engagement issue, it would take time and effort to turn it around.

Pete didn’t realize how critical it was for his Sr. Leadership Team to be managing change, which would prevent many issues. Not only is everyone different when it comes to how and when they embrace change, but the amount of simultaneous change also impacts a person’s threshold for change. Combined with the fact that we all have personal change scenarios to manage as well, it gets even messier.

Since most of us are hard-wired to resist change, and resistance causes stress, it’s no wonder we’re seeing the fallout.

To prevent the fallout from people resisting change, we need to carve out time and attention so the change process can be respected. A few tips to get started:
  • Take a good look at all the major change that is happening in your organization.  How many new projects or products, IT system changes, reorganizations, new employees, etc.
  • Have a clear vision for each major change initiative, and help people believe in it.
  • Provide as much information as early as possible.
  • Respect the change process. People progress from the current state to the future state differently
  • Understand DiSC styles and how they impact change.
  • Knowing and caring about each person will help you be aware if they have a lot of personal change happening that might also be impacting them. Divorces, marriages, moves, babies, breakups, family member issues all add to the change threshold.
  • Be realistic about the time it will take to go from the current to the future state.
  • Be mindful of your desired culture and don’t sacrifice it for short term gains.
  • Measure people’s engagement levels. The method you use will depend on your company size.
  • Provide training and development in change management, leadership, emotional intelligence, and effective teams.

The only thing that’s constant is change.

And the amount of change seems to be compounding. The only way to sustain the change we’re trying to make, and to save time and money in the long run, is to intentionally lead people through that change.

I can recommend a few good books to help you with change management:
I’d love to hear your change management stories!  Feel free to leave those stories in the comments along with ideas or questions about managing change.


by Laurie Sudbrink on April 18th, 2017

Managing multiple generations in the workplace doesn’t have to be as complicated as we’re making it out to be!

These different generations working together has been a topic for over a decade now. It’s obvious that every generation has it’s strengths, and it’s limitations!

While there are certainly differences worth noting, we need to be careful not to get caught up in stereotyping, ostracizing and creating bigger issues.

While these generational differences can be real, they do not apply to every single person that was born within that generation’s time frame. You may have experienced this yourself. Someone starts describing the Millennials and you just don’t see yourself fitting in there.

There are so many other things that also shape a person’s behaviors - your socioeconomic status, the region you grew up in, your birth order, your gender… I think you get the picture!

What research has found is that across all generations, there are three things we all want:
  • Respect
  • Recognition
  • Rewards
Where it can get a little tricky, is knowing how to give respect, recognition and rewards to people in each of the generations. Understanding some of the differences between the generations is a great starting point. But the variation within each of these generations is greater than the variation between the generations.

In other words, we must customize our approach for each individual. If we spend a little time getting to know our people, rather than making assumptions about them, we’ll be able to connect in a meaningful way. And we’ll avoid a lot of misunderstanding.

One of the easiest ways to begin connecting with your people is to start meeting with them both formally, on a regular basis, and informally throughout the week. Think of questions to engage them. Be fully present and genuinely listen to them. Allow no distractions. Make it a point to circle back with them, checking in on the things that are most important to them.

Making this small time commitment might prove to be your best leadership move yet!

One of my favorite tools to help us begin to learn about these differences within the generations and across the generations is DiSC. For example, depending on your DiSC style, you may prefer to be recognized in public, or only in private. What you want to be recognized for will vary, as well as the amount of recognition you prefer.

DiSC provides a safe and fun way to open up the dialogue about the preferences and tendencies we have. I’ve seen teams really come together after having this dialogue, and managers start to understand why there were so many miscommunications!

I’d love to help you start bridging the great generational divide in your team. Send me an email and let’s get to work!

by Laurie Sudbrink on April 11th, 2017

​Have you ever found yourself in a highly emotional state, and you’re aware - but you’re just not quite able to control your reactions?
You know you should react a certain way, but as you watch yourself yelling at your child, or snapping at a coworker, or being sarcastic to a direct report - you just can’t seem to stop yourself!  And then you judge yourself, because you know better!
Keep in mind that just by being aware you have dissipated it a bit. Bringing light to a situation allows you the opportunity to choose. What we do with it next is super important!

What we tend to do is resist. Carl Jung said “what we resist persists.” 
Accept it. Accept that you are human and you will have these reactions from time to time. It doesn’t have to define you. You can choose differently, and believing that you can choose differently is key!
If you’re like me, you don’t want to allow someone else to control you. So it helps me to think that when I react to someone emotionally (in a way I would prefer not to react), I’m allowing that person to control me. When we do this, we usually end up blaming them, and becoming mad or resentful.
Take ownership. You control yourself. You really do get to choose!
Take a moment to visualize what it would look like if you reacted differently next time. How might it affect the other person. What would it feel like? Rather than yelling at your 5 year old, talk calmly in a way you want him to talk. The more consistent you are, the more he will mirror your behavior.
Visualizing helps train your brain. It’s almost as good as practicing the action itself! Feeling the emotion along with the visualization is like taking steroids to change your behavior (without any adverse effects!). We remember emotions more strongly than actions. So it definitely makes the action feel more natural the next time you need to use it.
Instead of being upset with yourself that you behaved this way, use it as an opportunity to train yourself to act the way you want to next time. Visualize how you want to behave and imagine the emotion you and others will feel. If you have the opportunity - do a “rewind”! You might say to your 5 year old, or your boss, or your coworker, “Hold on. I need to rewind and try that again… “ And model the way you should have spoken.
Learning to choose our emotions and our reactions will serve us well in any area of our lives! 
​Get a more in-depth understanding of this topic - stream the podcast that inspired this blog post on my Leading with GRIT podcast: How to Control Your Emotions


by Laurie Sudbrink on April 5th, 2017

You don’t need a big budget to show your team appreciation.
In fact, throwing money at recognition and appreciation isn’t the most effective way to show your gratitude at all. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing to have monetary rewards within your recognition system. That’s great to do - as long as you aren’t ignoring something that’s much more important to do.
Many managers find it much easier and/or more comfortable to give gift cards, money, and other rewards that have a monetary value. They feel worthy for doing it.  They believe employees will appreciate this most of all. And they believe this is the best way to get them motivated.
Most of us have read the numerous studies that show money as fourth or fifth on the list of motivators. The top of the list always includes connecting with your people, doing things like communicating better, being an example, exhibiting strong leadership, empowering them, and giving them opportunities to grow and advance.
A Forbes article cites a study by Accenture that shares the following reasons people are looking to quit - with lack of recognition being the reason for 43% of folks!
  1. They don’t like their boss (31%)
  2. A lack of empowerment (31%)
  3. Internal politics (35%) and
  4. Lack of recognition (43%)
While it’s important to know your team and what might be motivating for each person, there is something all of us can do to show appreciation to every member of our team. Since acronyms helps us remember, let’s call this one LAF with your team!

  1. Listen. Solicit ideas, and listen to people. Ask questions and then listen to the answers. Ask how someone is doing, and then really listen to how they are, and what’s happening in their life. Listen to the words, to the non verbals, and to the emotions.
  2. Acknowledge. Show them you heard them. Reiterate what you think you heard for clarification. When appropriate, check in with what emotion you think they were expressing, to show you get it. Use non verbals like nodding your head while raising your eyebrows to show you’re open. Change your tone of voice to show you can relate to what they are saying. Be 100% present. Do not allow your phone or anything else to be a distraction. Show gratitude for people who are speaking up and filling you in on something that might be a negative. Even if you can’t make the change that they are suggesting, being listened to and acknowledged is what most people are seeking.
  3. Follow Through and Follow Up.  Walk the talk - do what you say you’re going to do. Circle back and let them know, even if you don’t know anything yet. Be honest and candid. This shows you respect them, and builds trust.
When you LAF with your staff, you’re not only connecting with them and building trust, but you’re showing them that you respect and appreciate them.
So keep giving the gift certificates and the other monetary rewards. Just make sure you LAF, and hey, do it consistently and you’ll be guaranteed to watch the trust grow on your team!
Are you wondering how you’re perceived when it comes to recognizing and appreciating the people on your team? Wiley’s 363® provides a safe and productive way for leaders to get 360-degree feedback. Wiley’s 363® format really takes the sting out of the comments you get back from your team, and makes it easier for raters to complete. Contact Laurie to get started



by Laurie Sudbrink on March 28th, 2017

​Sometimes we all need to work on being positive and motivated.
We rarely see the “behind the scenes” of all these happy motivated people. Do they just miraculously bounce out of bed this way? Do you either “have it” or you don’t?
Just like anything else - losing weight, staying healthy, accomplishing any goal - it’s easier for some people and it takes more effort for others. For most of us at least some of the time, we need to work on being positive and motivated. I can attest, I don’t always jump out of bed feeling fabulous.
What can we do when we’re just not naturally feeling motivated and positive?
  1. Know yourself and what motivates you. I have a couple of pandora stations that get me going almost instantly! Crank up your tunes while you get ready for work.Even when I don’t initially feel like listening to music, I pop on that station and it kicks me into high gear! A walk in the morning to get the blood flowing and the mind working is also something that helps get me motivated.
  2. Take care of yourself. If you know that staying up late on a Netflix binge makes you feel lousy, stop doing it! Maybe you need to stop after that first or second glass of wine? Simply drinking plenty of water will affect how motivated you feel the next morning. Sometimes it takes a little discipline today to make sure you’ll feel good tomorrow.
  3. Stay focused on what’s important to you in life. Vision boards can be a great way to do this. Put together what it is you want for your future. Make sure you include how you want to feel. Place it somewhere that you’ll see it daily. I put mine on the back of my bedroom door so I see it every morning and every night. Pause for a moment and feel what it’s going to be like to reach your goals. Smile and get going toward making the life you want to live!
What do you do to get yourself motivated and feeling positive? Leave your tips in the comments!


by Laurie Sudbrink on March 21st, 2017

​Getting rid of clutter and never accumulating it again might be easier than you think!
I was talking with someone this morning about getting rid of the clutter that had built up over time. It brought me back to about 15 years ago when I had complained about clutter to a friend. I had declined going out for some fun on a Sunday because I had to spend the day trying to dig out of the clutter mountain I had created in my office.
This friend was no ordinary friend. He has proven to be one of my favorite mentors. He has shared little tips and snippets of wisdom over the years that have not only helped my skills, but have motivated me as well! So I first want to thank my friend Ray Justice for his generosity. Ray is the perfect example of the “pay it forward” generosity that keeps us all giving!
OK back to that clutter! It hit me that I have not had a clutter pile since that lesson Ray taught me so many years ago. I guess it worked! ;)
Here’s the trick...
Don’t tackle it all in one day.  (And no, that wasn’t an excuse to get out of cleaning my office that day!)
When we tackle it all in one day, it doesn’t create a habit for us. What do we do? We quickly build that clutter right back up again.
Now of course there could be some psychological reasons for your clutter. So you might want to first consider your thoughts about the stuff you are piling up. Why are you keeping it? If it’s something you must keep, why do you need it in piles rather than organizing it? Check out a great article and book for more on this topic.
But don’t let that stop you from this exercise. Because for most of us, once we get started, we build momentum and habits and soon, we start to believe in not having clutter. Taking the action, building the habit, and feeling the benefit shifts our way of thinking!
Here’s what you do.
  1. Assess your clutter and your time. Take 15 minutes at most to do this. For example, I had most of my clutter in one room. It was primarily paper clutter.
  2. Commit to removing a minimum number of items from your clutter everyday. Equally important, commit to not adding anything to the clutter. I decided I would remove a minimum of 3 things every day, without adding anything to my clutter mountain. Some days I’d remove up to 10 things (and would have to actually step away so I wouldn’t remove it all).
  3. Decide on a time of day that you can do this. Yes, you have to make it a priority or it is in danger of slipping off your daily tasks. If you travel like I do, of course your commitment to this is while you are home (or at the office if that’s where your clutter is).
  4. Get organized. You can do this after you get started removing clutter. I began removing things that were easy to toss out. I used the do it, dump it, delegate it, defer it technique to not add to the pile. The defer it part was what I had to be careful with. At first I deferred too much. But that decreased as I progressed with this.
  5. Be patient and persevere. My biggest problem was I wanted all the clutter gone instantly. I wanted to crash through it and make it disappear! I learned that going through it patiently helped me build a lasting habit.
I found this created a real desire to be clutter free. And it began to pour into other areas. I remember the first time I hoed out my closet, it was scary. But it felt wonderful! The daily struggle of trying to find something to wear disappeared. Not buying anything unless I absolutely loved it helped not add to the clothing clutter!
Five years ago I moved out of a large five bedroom house. I had accumulated a little too much stuff (but not nearly as much since I had learned that clutter trick from Ray). It was so much easier to move, and since I embraced the philosophy of letting go, I sold or gave away 80% of things I really didn’t need! It felt so liberating.
There’s not just physical clutter we’re dealing with. We have a lot of mental clutter as well. Think of how much better you’d feel without all those useless thoughts crowding your mind! Think of all the great ideas that will have the space to emerge!
This technique can help you build a habit, and it will be so much easier when you decide you need to remove clutter from any area of your life.
What clutter do you need to get rid of? Why not try Ray’s lesson out for yourself? Please share your progress (pay it forward!) or comment below with any questions you have about getting rid of clutter for good. 


by Laurie Sudbrink on March 17th, 2017

Laurie Sudbrink, author of Leading with GRIT® and founder of Unlimited Coaching Solutions, has been accepted into the Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches.

Laurie joins other Forbes Coaches Council members, who are hand-selected, to become part of a curated network of successful peers and get access to a variety of exclusive benefits and resources, including the opportunity to submit thought leadership articles and short tips on industry-related topics for publishing on

Forbes Councils combines an innovative, high-touch approach to community management perfected by the team behind Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) with the extensive resources and global reach of Forbes. As a result, Forbes Council members get access to the people, benefits and expertise they need to grow their businesses — and a dedicated member concierge who acts as an extension of their own team, providing personalized one-on-one support.

“I’m so excited and very honored to be a member of the Forbes Coaches Council. Working with business leaders to create better workplaces is my passion! Whether it’s through leadership training, coaching, consulting, retreats, motivational speaking, or my book, Leading with GRIT® - I’ve got some proven tools and techniques that are sure to inspire teams to take action. I’m looking forward to connecting with the Forbes community to offer insight into how to lead with GRIT®!”

Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, says, “We are honored to welcome Laurie into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world.”

For more information about Forbes Coaches Council, visit To learn more about Forbes Councils, visit

by Laurie Sudbrink on March 14th, 2017

I don’t mean in the romantic sense, riding in on your Harley (or any other modern day horse) to save the damsel in distress.
Are you a White Knight In the workplace? (The syndrome is similar!)
You know, the person that constantly stays late to make sure everything gets done. Or the person that gets put up on a pedestal because they are working so hard (and never have any personal time)? Or the person that single handedly figures out all the problems in the office!
It can be difficult to recognize when we’re being a white knight because it's disguised so well. Most often, we don’t even know we’re doing it! We believe we are giving so much of ourselves and doing the right thing! We swoop in to save the day, or the person - because we have this unfulfilled need. Is it a need for recognition? Is it our over-inflated ego that is driving this? Is it a lack of confidence?
A few months ago I was asked to coach a manager on her interpersonal communication skills. She was a real go-getter and had high potential to move onto the executive team. After doing a Leadership 360 feedback assessment, it was a bit surprising to her manager that some of her ratings from direct reports and peers were so low. They all seemed to be around interpersonal skills.
After Susan and I had a good talk, it was obvious it was a case of White Knight syndrome. (Of course I knew this from both personal and professional experience! You can read my personal story in chapter 5 of Leading With GRIT.)
Susan’s intentions seemed to be in the right place. She wanted everything to get done perfectly and quickly, and she worked extremely hard herself. The problem was she didn’t realize how she was coming across to others (except her boss - he had her up on that pedestal, reinforcing the behavior!). Her direct reports and her peers saw her as someone who wanted to be recognized and applauded for all her hard work, not giving them an opportunity to contribute, collaborate, learn and grow.
The deeper problem was, Susan really didn’t realize what she was doing and what was driving her actions.
Susan had a pretty big awareness right away. All that hard work, staying late, taking work home, stressing out, not getting enough sleep and even the impact it had on her family - she was creating it all herself.
But why?
After some more self reflection and conversation, Susan discovered that her ego needed it - it made her feel worthy. Specifically she said “I think it makes me feel special, needed, maybe, um, connected?”
So how can we tell when it's the unhealthy White Knight syndrome versus a healthy generosity and hard work ethic?
Being aware of our intent can cut right to it.
What am I feeling? Emotions can be a great way to identify our real intent.  If I'm feeling like a victim in any way, or I'm feeling a need for people to know what I've done, or I’m feeling resentful - those are all good warning signs.
Sometimes we have to dig a little deeper than the surface, because it can be easy to use those emotions to hold us back, rather than move us forward.
Ask yourself “what is making me feel this way?” “Why am I doing this?” Remember, our thoughts and beliefs drive our actions. If I’m thinking I need more recognition or acknowledgment, or I believe that I’m not good enough, or I need to prove my value, it could be a confidence issue, for example.
Giving of ourselves can be very healthy and beneficial, but giving too much for the wrong reasons will only cause problems for ourselves and our teams. Take some time to reflect on this. See if you can find what might be driving your actions.
For us White Knights, sometimes it’s better to just get off the horse. Walk around and talk to people. Listen and be sensitive to how they might be feeling. Put yourself right into it, with your direct reports and your peers. Empathize.
People don’t want a White Knight to come in and save them. They want to learn and grow and be empowered. This, my friend, is how you will be valued and feel connected!
I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions on the white knight syndrome, or any workplace topic. In almost all cases, other people benefit so much from your questions too! 


Lead with Intention Workshop
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Forbes Coaches Council Member
Forbes Coaches Council Member