Duty. Are you Mister or Mrs Responsibility?

Duty. Are you Mister or Mrs Responsibility?

Last week my six-year-old son received the ‘Responsibility’ spotlight award. Apparently, it is a big thing when you are a first grader at his elementary school.  I was proud but also a little bit worried. Perhaps it is too soon to be responsible. The word that I heard many times as a child was: ‘Duty’. Duty was a trendy word in 1986 in Eastern Europe, but now it is completely out of fashion. It is responsibility the word that a first grader in the US is taught.

So where are you, my dear reader when it comes to Duty and Responsibility? Do you like it, do you hate it, does it drive you?

When it’s 6. 15 0 am and the alarm goes off, do you jump out of the bed? Why do you do that? There is one answer to it: Duty.

As many parents and working people do, I also get out of bed at 6.15. When I enter the room of my 6-year old (Mrs. Responsibility) there is yawning, screaming, sleep- walking towards the washroom and sometimes rejection of every T-shirt. There is complaining about my taste in socks, but after 15 minutes we manage to get to the kitchen for breakfast.

I don’t like my mornings and I even wonder whether raising kids with a strong sense of discipline and duty from such a young age is a good think. We are no different than the communists who were preparing the five-year old children like me to become pioneers. But what else can we do?

The society rules are clear – the school is offered but the discipline comes with it. I hate to say it, but in the morning, I am not the patient leadership coach who gives clients the time to think. In the morning with the kids, I am a tough soccer coach with a whistle and a timer in my hand. I am cheering them up and ushering them towards the front door to catch the school bus.

In leadership training, one of the most often question we pose when it comes to the life’s purpose is: What gets you up in the morning? I always struggled to come up with an intelligent answer to that one – the truth is there are only 2 things for me: the alarm clock or one of my kids showing up next to my bed.

In fact, what lies behind the alarm clock is the word Duty. …the duty towards the employer who pays you salary or the client you serve, but ultimately it is the duty towards your family or even the future family if you are planning for one at some point.

In this new world of purpose driven mission statements, duty is a world we don’t like. To me it felt old-fashion, it reminding me of the communist propaganda from the first 10 years of my life in Romania. To a lot of my friends from The Netherlands, duty sounds like attending the extended family birthday parties or even worse like the catholic church.. Here in America duty is associated with army and patriotism.

But, still if we were to give ‘Duty’ the credit it deserves in the world, we would soon realize that Duty is what makes the world move.

It did so ever since humans started to organize themselves in social units called families.  As the social forms got sophisticated Duty became the driving force behind churches, armies and countries, it is what makes the 7. bil people on this planet subdued, obedient and compliant to the order of things. Duty is often hidden in words such as Love, Dedication, Loyalty and Patriotism.   Still, Love without duty is simply a fleeing affair, loyalty without duty is an empty word and Patriotism without duty is hypocrisy. 

Despite our reluctance to admit it, for generations and generations the primary duty of any girl was to become a woman and bear children. It will take years of feminist movements to remove that predefined norm in so many of our societies. As early as the age of 3 we start observing our mothers who dutifully attend to our feeding and nurturing needs and without realizing we learn why is it important. Later, in school we learn to practice duty in small steps, by learning to obey rules and doing our homework.

There is still a short period of our life, when we are ultimately free of that clenching gasp of Duty – the teenager rebel time. We think that we escaped it  but when we are not paying attention, a new duty might come into play and that is the Duty to our GANG of friends.

Later, as a young adult you go to work in an organization and you learn duty to your boss and to your team, in order to get the monthly salary to feed your family. The Circle is complete and the next 30 to 40 years until your retirement, you are driven by this invisible force that makes you do things you don’t want. While Responsibility and Duty for the others is important, where is the DUTY to ourselves? What kind of responsibility do we have to keep our health and mind sane until the end? What kind of responsibility do we have towards our childhood dreams.

How can we keep our eyes open to see duty for what it is. When we turn 80 or even older and we look back on our life – what will we think it’s important and  what will be our regrets?

👍Steliana van de Rijt-Economu, the author ‘Mothers as leaders‘ is a leadership and positive intelligence coach.

Check out  Mothers as Leaders for our coaching and training offer for parents, leaders and organizations

Don’t ask what your team can do for you. You are the team

Don’t ask what your team can do for you. You are the team

Today was a great day for the Houstonians. The Houston Astros baseball team won over the Texas Rangers with 5-4. In the league championship, Houston leads 3-2.

I personally discovered the magic of baseball, back in 2021 after relocating to Texas. It’s fascinating how it quickly became my son’s favorite sport, finding its place in our daily dinner conversations. For me baseball is about the essence of teamwork. The rules, the focus, the positions and the whole etiquette around it forms the team identity.

Tomorrow, for instance, I’m responsible for snacks for my son’s baseball team. I can hardly contain my excitement about standing behind the dugout, witnessing 11 kids manifest the spirit of unity and passion. And oh! My favorite dugout chant? “Hit the ball, hit the ball, all the way to Arkansas!” – the sheer unpredictability of it makes it so funny.

However, it’s not just about sports. From our ancestors collaborating in hunts to modern-day office dynamics, teams working toward a shared goal have always been a key element of human society.

Today, while our admiration mostly favors sports teams and their breathtaking performances, we often overlook the importance of teamwork in our daily professional lives.

Last week I had to deliver a virtual TedX talk from my Houston office all the way to the Romanian city of Constanta. I was alone on the stage and the camera mainly captured me and my décor but my performance on stage depended on so many people. The voice, the body language, the content of the speech, my hair, my outfit and even the lighting in my room was the result of a focused effort of a small group of people: the Ted oach, the technical support team, my assistant, my hairdresser and even my children who joined rehearsals.

Great things are achieved when we manage to channel talent towards a common purpose.

Now, here’s a thought – What if we brought the passion of these sports teams into our professional settings? What if our workplaces became happy baseball dugouts where we cheer for each other rather than elbowing each other.

Years ago, while traveling to London for business, I came across the framework of Systemic Team Coaching. I decided to enroll for the first certificate module.

What struck me was its emphasis on the real work of the team happening outside the coaching room. It wasn’t were the generic ‘fun team building exercises.’ Instead, the true teamwork was collaborating towards a mutual objective for the betterment of clients and stakeholders.

Having seen its impact first in my job as Organization Development Advisor at Shell, I became a believer and decided to a do the master diploma course. Now, 7 years later I’m thrilled to introduce Systemic Team Coaching to my fellow Houstonian.

🌟 Come 22-24 January 2024, I will be collaborating with Prof Peter Hawkins to bring the Systemic Team Coaching Certificate course right here The Woodlands! This face-to-face session is a unique opportunity for those based in North America.

In baseball, football or any other team sports the key principle is that the team is more important than the individual, no matter his or her skill. Do you hold the same belief at work? Or even in your family?

Steliana Economu is the author of Mothers as Leaders and a leadership coach specialised in emotional and positive intelligence. If you liked this article and want to enjoy more of this type of resources do follow us on mothersasleaders.com

Fear is what keeps us stuck. Fortune favors the bold

Fear is what keeps us stuck. Fortune favors the bold

Fear often holds us back in various aspects of life, from our professions and all the way to our family, romantic and friendship relationships. Yet, as the saying goes, “fortune favors the bold.”

I’ve always had a fear of heights, and it took me years to accept and face this fear.

Just three days ago, I encountered it once more. My family invited me to join them at Seattle’s Space Needle. Inspired by my daughter, who also struggles with acrophobia, I braved my fear. As my 8-year-old son suggested, I just had to refraine from looking down.

I managed to capture a family picture against the glass wall. The moment gave me a potent reminder : bravery isn’t the absence of fear, but our capability to confront it and take action.

We humans are born with only two inherent fears: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. These instinctive fears trigger a natural reaction, often manifested in crying in babies when they hear unexpected, loud sounds.

As we grow, however, we start developing irrational fears, or phobias, targeted towards specific objects, situations, or activities. Be it arachnophobia (fear of spiders), acrophobia (fear of heights), ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), or glossophobia (fear of public speaking), these irrational fears can impede our personal and professional development.

Dr. Albert Ellis, the progenitor of Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT), expanded upon these emotional fear responses by identifying 12 irrational beliefs in the early 1950s.

Interestingly, despite these inborn fears, babies exhibit remarkable bravery. They explore their new, noisy world and learn to walk and talk within their first three years. This thought sparked a self-reflection: What daunting new skill have I learned in the past three years? Sure, I started piano lessons, but the stern teacher was quite intimidating. It seems children truly outshine us in courage.

As we grow older, we cultivate three fundamental fears: Fear of Death, Fear of Abandonment, and Fear of Failure. While fear of death can be valid when facing immediate danger, it’s primarily the fear of abandonment and failure that immobilizes us. These fears create a paralysis analysis, where we overthink our decisions instead of taking action.

During our 20s and 30s, driven by peer pressure and youthful adrenaline, we tend to take more risks. However, as we reach our 40s and 50s, the fear factor intensifies, largely because we have more at stake. Familial obligations and professional commitments can make us risk-averse, hindering our growth and evolution.

In our ever-volatile, uncertain, ambiguous, and rapidly changing world, resilience is critical. And we build this resilience by confronting our fears head-on, not evading them. As my fencing instructor in London once advised, “There is no defense without attack.”

So, how can we maintain resilience and a ‘fighting spirit’ until retirement, despite worries about our family?

The answer lies in reframing our mindset and altering limiting beliefs regarding familial vulnerabilities.

Consider your family as your ‘sword’ of protection when things get tough, rather than a hindrance. Difficult times often bring families closer together, promoting honesty and building resilience. Similarly, obstacles and limitations in a team can stimulate innovation and resourcefulness, provided the leaders acknowledge the challenges and trust the team’s capabilities.

Contrary to popular belief, healthy families and successful teams are not always cozy and warm. Instead, they offer support when confronting our deepest fears, encouraging us to step out of our comfort zone and fostering personal growth.

In my coaching practice, I’ve noticed that breakthroughs often occur when a coachee is ready to explore areas in their life and career that they’ve previously avoided due to fear. Acknowledging and naming these fears help make them manageable.

Ask yourself, are there areas in your life that you’re hesitant to explore due to fear of the unknown?

If you aim to lead a fulfilling life without regrets, consider the following tips:

  1. Intercept your fear instead of facing it head-on.
  2. Tame your fear using compassion and humor.
  3. Cultivate confidence by assisting others with their fears.
  4. Surround yourself with people who care about you but aren’t overly protective.
  5. Incubate your ideas and share them with people you trust.

The path to a life of fulfilment often lies on the other side of fear. So, dare to be bold, for fortune indeed favors the bold.

‘Dare to dream and make it happen.’ – Steliana van de Rijt-Economu

Steliana Economu is the author of Mothers as Leaders and a leadership coach specialised in emotional and positive intelligence. If you liked this article and want to enjoy more of this type of resources do follow us on  mothersasleaders.com  

Beyond servant leadership: Blossom, embrace leadership

Beyond servant leadership: Blossom, embrace leadership

True leaders, like mothers, must give more than they receive.

If I think about my own family when I was growing up, my mother always ate last and I don’t really remember her ever sitting for long at the table. Compare this with the world of business, filled as it is with dominant egos and cut-throat politics, where genuinely giving for the sake of helping others and with no personal motive is rare. Never mind eating last, most of us are pushing ourselves in front of the dinner queue with the excuse of seeing others fill their plates as high as they can!

What makes someone a leader?

Some people say that leaders are born, others say they are
made. I think we are all born with the possibility of being leaders but we are also all born with the desire to follow because the
desire to belong to social structures has existed in humans since
the ‘hunter and gatherers’ time.

We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves: an idea, a dream, a purpose. there is a moment in life when you hear a beautiful story, a story that resonates and brings out something that was there, inside of you, all this time.

You feel that a man or woman really understands you and has a vision that you believe in. You are inspired; you follow and, suddenly you see other people following as well. It was all of you together, that have created … the Leader. Without you, she was just a woman or a man with a dream. For women and mothers, servant leadership is not about showing humility and care, it is about having the courage to blossom as a leader and not being afraid to share to let your enthusiasm and energy shine, It is not about arrogance, it is about serving a higher purpose.

Being a leader requires stamina, tenacity, patience and compassion for others. Yet, as a mother, you have these skills embedded in your DNA.

My children motivate me to show the best version of me –  I can’t be a just ‘resource’ to them I need to be able to inspire them and to offer them a good environment for growth.

Caring for my children helped me to become more patient, and someone better able to step back and see the big picture. I am now officially okay with chaos, uncertainty and volatility.

This is exactly the the world we are living in these days, so to that extent having kids helps us to keep up with the pace of it all.

  • Which leadership skills have you developed since you became a parent?
  • What have you learned from the examples of mothers around you?

Steliana Economu is the author of Mothers as Leaders and a leadership coach specialised in emotional and positive intelligence(PQ and EQ). If you liked this article and want to enjoy more of this type of resources do follow us on  mothersasleaders.com  

The Powerful Connection Between Sleep and Leadership

The Powerful Connection Between Sleep and Leadership

As a working parent, you may feel like you have to always choose between spending time for  your work or spending time for your family. That might lead to an inner chatter that might tell you that you have to choose between being a good leader at work and being a good parent at home.

What if I told you that getting enough sleep could help you excel in both areas?

If you are like me and you still want to pursue your own dreams and hobbies next to the job and kids, you could end-up working late and getting shorter nights. Five years ago when I was writing my first book I told to myself that I don’t need a 7-hr sleep, 5-6 are sufficient for me. I was fine, on the surface, but in reaulity, I couldn’t reach full mental rest.

The truth is, there is a powerful connection between sleep and leadership capabilities, and working parents who prioritize sleep are better equipped to lead their teams and their families. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind this connection and provide tips on how you can improve your sleep to become a better leader.

It’s no secret that sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being, but it also plays a significant role in leadership capabilities. Here’s why:

  1. Enhanced decision-making: When we sleep, our brains consolidate memories and process information. This leads to enhanced cognitive function and better decision-making abilities. As a leader, making good decisions is essential, and getting enough sleep can help you do just that.
  2. Improved creativity: Sleep also plays a crucial role in creative thinking. Studies have shown that sleep helps us make new connections between ideas and enhances our ability to solve problems. As a leader, creativity is essential for coming up with new ideas and solutions, and getting enough sleep can help you tap into your creative potential.
  3. Better emotional regulation: Sleep deprivation can impair our emotional regulation, making it more challenging to manage stress and communicate effectively. As a leader, emotional regulation is crucial for maintaining a positive work environment and managing conflicts. Getting enough sleep can help you stay calm and level-headed in stressful situations.
  4. Enhanced productivity: When we’re sleep-deprived, our productivity and performance suffer. Studies have shown that getting enough sleep leads to better concentration, attention, and productivity. As a leader, being productive and efficient is crucial for managing your workload and achieving your goals.

You may be wondering how you can improve your sleep to become a better leader. Here are some tips:

  1. Make sleep a priority: The first step to improving your sleep is to make it a priority. Recognize the importance of sleep for your overall well-being and commit to getting enough sleep each night.
  2. Establish a bedtime routine: Creating a relaxing bedtime routine can help signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. This may include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing.
  3. Create a sleep-conducive environment: Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable and relaxing space. This may include using blackout curtains, keeping the room cool, and minimizing noise and light.
  4. Limit screen time before bed: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with sleep. Try to limit your exposure to screens in the hours leading up to bedtime.
  5. Practice good sleep hygiene: Good sleep hygiene includes habits such as going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and exercising regularly.

As working parents, we have a lot on our plate, but let’s not let sleep fall by the wayside.Prioritizing sleep can have a powerful impact on your leadership capabilities both at work and at home.

By making sleep a priority, establishing a bedtime routine, creating a sleep-conducive environment, limiting screen time, and practicing good sleep hygiene, you can improve your sleep and become a better leader.

The next time you’re debating between pulling an all-nighter or getting some shut-eye, remember that a good night’s sleep could be the key to unlocking your full leadership potential. Not to mention that the benefits of a good-night sleep for avoiding costy human-errors.

‘Tired people, make stupid mistakes.’ (the true words  of Safety worker)


P.S: If you want to find out more ways how to set Sleep as a priority in your life, join our Linkedin Live on May 12, 2023, 8.00 CST. Press attend and you will get a calendar reminder.

Steliana Economu is the author of Mothers as Leaders and a leadership coach specialised in emotional and positive intelligence(PQ and EQ). If you liked this article and want to enjoy more of this type of resources do follow us on  mothersasleaders.com  

What can leadership teams learn from real-families?

What can leadership teams learn from real-families?

There is no real-family without some healthy argument taking place at some point. I grew-up in a family where being vocal was considered a virtue.

Few days ago I had to review all the team coaching engagements I completed in the last fiveyears. I had to describe them briefly for the ICF team coaching accreditation. One insight emerged: most senior leadership teams I  worked with struggled with fostering constructive conflict. The team dialogue was too polite  and nice and without discussed disagreements  the innovation suffered.

According to Patrick Lencioni, the lack of conflict is one of the five dysfunctions of the team and most of the time is linked to trust and pshycological safety. Which teams score high on trust and pshycological safety: real-families.Perhaps families like mine or yours.

What can leadership teams learn from real-families? 

Executive leadership teams play a crucial role in the success of any organization. As a leader, you have the power to shape the culture, values, and behavior of your organization, and to create a work environment that promotes growth, collaboration, and innovation. Most importantly you can have a real impact on people’s lives. Incorporating real-family values into the way you develop your executive leadership team can have a profound impact not only on  their effectiveness and performance but also on their well-being and their family well-being.

Real-family values  promote the well-being and happiness of the family through values such as trust, respect, empathy, communication, fun, personal-growth and collaboration.

These values are not only essential for building strong and healthy families, but they are also critical for developing high-performing and sustainable executive leadership teams.

Here is why I believe so:

Real-family values promote trust and psychological safety

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, whether it’s within a family or an executive team. When team members feel safe and trusted, they are more likely to be open, honest, and vulnerable with each other. This, in turn, creates a culture of psychological safety, where team members feel comfortable taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from each other.

Real-family values foster empathy and understanding

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and it’s a critical skill for effective leadership. When leaders and team members can empathize with each other, they can better understand each other’s perspectives, needs, and motivations. This can lead to better communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution.

Real-family values encourage communication and feedback

Communication is the lifeblood of any successful team, and it’s essential for building trust, resolving conflicts, and achieving shared goals. When team members communicate openly and honestly with each other, they can provide feedback, share ideas, and make decisions collaboratively. This can lead to better alignment, accountability, and performance.

When I say ‘real-families’ I don’t mean perfect families. Families are made of humans and not  compliant employees or polite direct-reports. In good days you might love your family and, in bad days you might complain about communication, listening and empathy. Still, you keep trusting them.

You know a value is real when you see people giving each-other feedback on it, just as it happens in real-families,  not when you see it framed on the company corridors.

There are  three things  you could do to increase the level of trust and psychological safety in your leadership team.

  1. Build trust early  – Share where were you born? How many siblings you had? Which one was you? How was a usual day in your family?)
  2. Share personal fears, aspirations and values – The most senior leader could start
  3. Normalise giving feedback –  You get feedback often from parents or siblings for the smallest things. Start small, do it often and it will become a team norm

‘Leadership is about making other better as a result of your presence, and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.’ (S. Sandberg)

Steliana Economu is the author of Mothers as Leaders and a leadership coach specialised in emotional and positive intelligence(PQ and EQ). If you liked this article and want to enjoy more of this type of resources do follow us mothersasleaders.com

End-Year habits – winding down with purpose

End-Year habits – winding down with purpose

There are only 10 days left in the year! As scary as it might seem it is time to close down your to-do-list and to start thinking about the year that past and the one ahead. Christmas shopping is waiting.You might even consider home-friendly activities, like cooking or baking. 

I don’t know about you, but for me winding down ahead of Christmas is not easy.The most sensible thing  would be to block my last week to reflect on: How did my year go?  What was I hoping for and what happened? Did I achieve any of my objectives? What did the past year teach me that I can take forward in 2023?

In this piece I would like to demystify the idealistic vision of the End-of- year reflections. Working-mothers do not have time to reflect ahead of the Christmas break, there is a frenzy of requests coming from all sides. It is the busiest period of the year and…to be fair, all I want for Christmas is…SLEEP.

What can you do to allow your Brain and Body to Wind down and not wind-up before Christmas?

First of all, have a plan with what is mandatory to be completed by the end-of- the-year and what can be picked up later? Make that list really short, to avoid going to the end-year holiday exhausted.

Secondly, make a mental commitment to set time aside to review the previous year and strategize over the new year. You might need as little as an hour and as much as a day if you lead a bigger team and organizations.

Thirdly, you got to actually use that time to review & strategizing time purposely, by splitting your time in 3 huge buckets:

1. Start by giving yourself credit for past achievements in the last year.

  • What new practices did you implement?
  • What positive feedback did you receive?
  • What did your team do well and how did you add value?
  • What about family achievements? Start by giving yourself credit for past achievements in the last year.

2. Be honest

  • What were some of the disappointments?
  • What were the tough moments?
  • What feedback did you receive that you need to improve on?
  • What about family …?

3. Dream big

  • If you had a magic wand and you could only choose one Goal: what would you like to get from the new year?
  • What would need to happen for you to feel fully fulfilled at the end of the next year?
  • What skills would you like to learn?
  • What passions would you like to pursue?
  • What difference would you like to make to your clients, team, family, community?

And, to conclude your personal strategizing session, write up a Vision statement for the next year related to your Dream big, magic wand goal. That vision can be a statement or simply one word. What would be one word that you want to guide your 2023 actions. My 2022 word was Beauty.

We recently used this 3-steps approach in our last Mothers as Leaders, Leader Lab group coaching session and after about 90 minutes, all of us came out with a hopeful personal outlook towards 2023 and… some meaty goals.



Steliana Economu is the author of Mothers as Leaders and a leadership coach specialised in emotional and positive intelligence( PQ and EQ). If you liked this article and want to enjoy more of this type of resources do follow mothersasleaders.com

Executive Presence…also for Women

Executive Presence…also for Women

As we are approaching the last quarter, the minds of corporate managers and executives start leaning in, with a mix of anticipation and dread, towards the end-of-year feedback. ‘What should be my next year’s development focus?’ some wonder.

Developing ‘Executive Presence’ shows up on many feedback cards. It was a term I heard often during the appraisal review panels I used to facilitate as HR manager. For some reason, executive presence was mentioned more often about high-achieving/high-potential women than men.

In this piece I would like to demystify the importance of Executive Presence for Women, or at least redefine it through the lens of feminine leadership.

Quentin Tarantino said: Bill, Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent.

Before having Executive Presence, you need to show others that you have presence, real presence. The English dictionary defines presence as the state of being present or a personal appearance or bearing, esp. of a dignified nature or an imposing or dignified personality.

If you throw the world ‘executive’ in the mix you could easily see how this concept becomes scary for women who were taught that feminine means gentle and caring. What if we replace the world ‘executive’ with dignifying, what happens than? I could easily name Queen Elisabeth II and Mother Theresa as two women leaders with a dignifying leadership presence but with a calm under toned energy instead of the confident executive presence.

The Leadership presence is like old wine, you can only enjoy it when you have truly understood, accepted and loved who you really are, your core personality, with both strengths and shadows.

But how about this famous Latin saying:

‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ says a Latin Quote.

When operating in a certain corporate culture, the so called ‘executive presence’ of an individual has less to do with the individual and more to do with the organizational culture biases towards a certain type of leader. In companies with charismatic CEO founders, there is a tendency to develop a ‘ mini Me’ type of leader.

The Benchmark for the executive presence is a masculine type of presence, which means that some young women wearing feminine dresses might still need to display a masculine body language and a masculine type of self-confidence in order to be accepted at the next level. Is it worthy it? Well, each woman will have a different answer to that question. Even I have days when I wear suit-pants, as you can see in the picture.

Beyond individual choices, what I do know is that:

Truly inclusive organizational cultures create a safe space for everyone to be themselves, this includes a space for feminine executive presence and, yes LGBT executive presence as well.

For many women, the feeling of “belonging in the room” requires overcoming personal insecurities and recognizing that they deserve to be there. Both women and men can have the ‘imposter syndrome’, but women suffer from it a bit more.
If Leadership Presence and inclusive cultures are more important than one’s Executive Presence, when does executive presence become crucial for professional business women?

The true value of Executive presence shows up during job interviews. Recruiters will judge your executive presence based on how you shook their hand, looked in the camera during the zoom call or giggled at their side comments. They will feel if you followed the mood or inspired it.

According to Gerry Valentine , “In its simplest terms, Executive presence is the ability to inspire confidence… it’s something you can cultivate and build.”

He defines it through a combination of personality and character traits that make a dynamic executive. The executive presence character traits that make a good impression during an interview are: composure, confidence, credibility, character, command, consciousness(ability to manage time) and connection.

That being said, a woman will show command and connection differently than a men. Please don’t try to be someone else but do try to flex your style to fit the situation and the interviewees.

If you are not Superman or Wonder woman, and you still feel that you need to work on honing in your executive presence, here are my 3 tips:

  1. Know yourself (your strengths, vulnerabilities and biases), but be willing to get out of your comfort zone, to flex your style without forgetting your core essence
  2. Know that you are not the centre of the universe – focus your attention on others, on the big issues of these world and be willing to not take yourself too seriously. The less you talk about yourself, the more executive you sound.
  3. Give yourself the time to Pause, Listen, Reflect and then talk or act.

And a bonus tip for Executive Presence on email, do follow the New York Times rule – don’t put anything in an email today you wouldn’t want to read in the New York Times tomorrow.

Would your lawyer or your grand-mother be upset about it, than don’t send it. All emails are or can be read by others, they don’t belong to you.

As a last thought… have you made up your mind, wether you want to “dress like the Romans”, or not? Do you know how others might be perceiving your executive presence?

If you want to increase your executive presence while staying true to who we are, I might be able to help. Let’s get in touch.

Steliana Economu is the author of Mothers as Leaders and a leadership coach specialised in emotional and positive intelligence( PQ and EQ). If you liked this article and want to enjoy more of this type of resources do follow mothersasleaders.com

It’s ok to feel alone, even when you are not alone

When someone tells you, ‘I feel alone’ , your heart breaks and every human bone in you wants to save him. Still, is that the right thing to do?

Loneliness is one of the strongest emotions. It can be the cause of dangerous self-harm decisions or even depression but, when harvested properly, this strong emotion can lead to some of the most innovative pieces of art, music or creative writing. Did you know that during the isolation from the plague Shakespeare wrote ”King Lear’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’? Sir Isaac Newton was quarantined when he devised his Theory of Gravity and his law of motion, while Mary Shelley wrote ‘Frankenstein’ during a massive volcano eruption.

In a 7 billion people world that invests heavily in digital social platforms, hybrid communities, clubs, dating aps, festivals and overcrowded campuses there seems to be no space for feeling alone, just with your thoughts and feelings… for feeling the pain of loneliness, digesting it, without having to talk about it or needing reassurance. The more we postpone the need for ‘loneliness’ and the need for deep self-reflection, the more we deprive our inner artist and the Sage within us to create and to make sense of the world around us.
The pandemic and lock-downs made loneliness taboo.

If you are feeling alone there is no rational argument that is going to convince you otherwise. Loneliness is an emotion not a rational thought. Still, people around you will try to cheer you up. Family, friends, team-mates and even nice neighbours will jump in the saviour role when hearing the word: ‘alone’.

The only time when loneliness seems to be accepted in modern society is when people get older and they retire or loose their partner. Unfortunately that’s when they need other people most.There is an expectation that children, teenagers, young people and even middle-agers need to spend every minute of their life learning, having fun, socializing or being productive. There is no time for being lonely.

The best time to get comfortable with the emotion of loneliness is when you move from childhood to puberty and young adulthood

I grew up in a large family and we did a lot of fun stuff at the farm. I was always surrounded by people and animals but my most vivid memories, when my view of the worlds got shaped, were the lonely moments when I was hiding under the dinner table during the day while everyone else was outside. It was during those moments that I started to draw, write poems and dream about the world.

Because I learned not to be afraid to be alone, I took my time in choosing a partner. After being happily married for more than 10 years, my husband still jokes about my need for space and my right to be left alone.

As a parent I wonder how much time do I allow weekly for my children to be truly free to experience loneliness and the company of their own person.We tell our kids about unconditional love and self-acceptance, but how can you develop compassionate love for yourself, if you didn’t take the time to fully experience and enjoy loneliness.

There is a way to harvest loneliness. You can transform it from being the emotion that drags you down a hole of inertia into being the emotion that awakens your creative side of your brain.

Try these simple habits:

1. Allow your body to notice and fully experience the inner lonely emotion.

2. Stop judging and blaming yourself for feeling lonely – it’s ok, you are not alone in being alone.

3. Reframe loneliness into a positive outcome by asking yourself:

– What am I Iearning about myself and the world during these moments of loneliness?

– Which inner power am I developing as I am going through this?

– What do I feel inspired to initiate because of my pain and loneliness?

4. Start keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings during the moments of loneliness and during the moments of happiness – by reading its pages, in time, you will demystify the feeling of being alone and give it the right place.

A recent 2020 study shows that when you get lonely, that’s when you can become incredibly creative. The part in your brain involved in memory and social recognition goes through changes when you experience loneliness and the part of your brain involved in developing imagination expands.It’s almost as if you create space for innovation.

Next time when you feel lonely intercept the voice of your inner judge who might tell you that you are a victim of circumstances, or of the other people.

Instead, allow yourself the opportunity to grow the creative genius in you.

Steliana Economu is the author of Mothers as Leaders and a leadership coach specialised in positive intelligence and EQ. If you liked this article and want to enjoy more of this type of resources do follow mothersasleaders.com

The busy ‘hybrid’ life! What can you cut-back on?

The busy ‘hybrid’ life! What can you cut-back on?

Time management is the number one issue quoted in most of my coaching sessions. Moms are famous for ‘to do lists’  instead of ‘cut-back’ lists.  The best lessons in prioritization I took during our move from Europe exactly a year ago – we had 30 days to use that one-entry exception visa. When the Mission is clear and the boundaries specific, you find creative ways to cut-back on energy wasting activities.

What is your ‘crisis’? What will motivate you to cut-back on non-adding value activities in your job? 

In our enthusiasm of getting back to normal after 2 years of pandemic, we can open the gate to a new suite of activities that were not there before: networking events, face-to-face meetings, social engagements or obligations. These new agenda items get added to our previous virtual meetings at 6.30 am. Building social connections is important but how can you choose to what to say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to.

Instead of the traditional Importance/ Urgency time management matrix, trying using 2 other dimensions:

  • What gives me/drains my energy?
  • What adds value to my business  or my personal  goals…and what doesn’t?

How much family-chores do you do comparing with the rest of the family? Can you share more with your partner? Can you convince your kids to do more? What training and incentives do they need?

In today’s hybrid work of working 2-3 days in the office and 2 from home, we can find ourselves working all the time. Because when you finish the meetings and other networking events you still find yourself with all the follow-up emails and tasks that end-up being completed Friday night or even worse during the weekend.

At home you still have your family, partner, pets .. and there are still the little house chores. Even the most privileged among us that can afford a regular cleaner and fresh ready made-meals delivery end up with weekly chores.  That’s life when you have children… or pets, or other family members to care for.

My wake-up call came few weeks back when I had to quarantine from my family  – at the end of the 5-days there was a disaster zone. I realised that I never taught my children of 7 and 10 how to do the ‘basics’ when I am not there. Dirty dishes were left on the counter and socks on the floor. The crisis showed me that I need to train my kids to do house-chores and to execute their daily ‘beauty’ routine without me.

Together with my husband we made a Family Weekly activities list and ‘invited’ the kids to choose age appropriate task they can execute for an appropriate incentive. We had three-points tasks, like ‘preparing breakfast for the entire family’ and one-point tasks like unloading the dishwasher. I am not saying we are jedi-parents, we only completed week 1 successfully and we have some traction for week 2. The kids were happy to receive their incentive (weekly pocket-money) despite getting minus points for not making the bed, but I was even happier.  I found myself tracking the time I spent and  mentally giving myself: 3/2/1 point when I finished a task. It made me value my time and to see the small tasks not like a chore but a learning opportunity for a 7-year old boy to learn survival skills.

What will motivate you to share and delegate the family chores with the entire family? What incentives are you willing to put in place? How much time are you willing to invest in tracking and training? 

The secret to creating the family-team spirit when it comes to house-chores is to invest enough time at the beginning with your partner to frame  it as an opportunity not as a chore. Every family is different. I know my kids need to have an element of choice and incentive in everything they invest their energy in. They also appreciate fairness and honesty.


Steliana Economu is an executive leadership coach specialised in positive intelligence. If you like this  article and you want to enjoy more of this type of resources follow  mothersasleaders.com