Change Is Female — Portrait N°5 Angela Wiggins

Reaching for top positions in the companies and choosing leadership path might be life changing, regardless of whether you’re a woman or not. 
The role of a leader requires deep understanding of the business and processes, but that’s not even half of its definition. Leadership comes with empathy and constant work — mainly on our communication skills — to build trust and authentic relationship with our team and with ourselves.

Today I invited Angela Wiggins — a leadership coach based in the United States, whose knowledge and recommendations supported by expertise 
in working with female leaders are — I believe — something that everyone of us should implement in both our professional and private lives.

This series has started on Women’s Day and is dedicated to women who make an impact on the world of business and new technologies. 
The whole #ChangeIsFemale project consists of ten short interviews with ten women. Each interview has ten questions and a portrait drawn by me.

Hope you enjoy the read.

1/ What’s your definition of success?

Over the course of our lifetime, we can have many large and small successes to celebrate. Success is a stepping stone to learning and growing into who we are.

When we set out to achieve a goal, we learn a tremendous amount about ourselves along the way. The target may change. We may change. When we reach success, we celebrate the struggle and learnings, then take those with us to our next goal.

For me, being successful is to have fun in my daily life, to have stability in my relationships and finances and to consistently achieve a flow state in my work where I am focused and balanced between my skill level and the challenge presented.

2/ How do you set up your own business/professional goals?

I have many ideas! Sometimes the hardest part is to extract a goal from an idea.
To get started, I ask myself questions like:
What is the need?
With whom do I want to work? 
What is the benefit to the people I want to serve, to me and my business?
What do I want to learn? 
What do I need to learn to accomplish this?
What resources do I need?
How do my strengths align with this idea?
What kind of energy do I need to achieve this?
What kind of support will I need?
What are the investments in time and expense?
How will I generate revenue by doing this?
Why do I want to do it?
What will it give me or allow me to do?

This process allows me to reflect on the idea before I spend time, energy and money on it. If I’m satisfied with the answers here and they align with my values and mission, then I can move into planning for the goal. I start with the date I want to accomplish the goal and work backward to define each step on a timeline. When I overlay time on the goal, I may need to shift my target date or shift my steps accordingly, always allowing as much buffer time for the unexpected.

3/ What advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?

Keep going. Trust yourself. Prioritise time to have conversations with the people you love. Take care of yourself.

4/ What are your self-care routines?

I am a person that lives mostly in my head, so connecting to my body is essential. I do that through movement in pilates, yoga and dance 3–4 times a week and walking our dog every day. I also love a long bathtub soak and getting quality alone time to reflect. I have a game night every month with a group of friends. Catching up with old friends and family makes me happy too.

Planning with a weekly structure helps manage time and energy plus ensures I get self-care on the schedule.

On Sundays, I take a look at the next few weeks and every night, take a moment to look at the next day. Planning takes a lot of brain power, so I also need a break. My husband and I mark one weekend day as a “no plan zone” so we can make it up as we go. We go on a big vacation once a year with very loose plans.

5/ What — in your opinion — is the movie everyone in business should watch?

When I was 10 or 11 years old, the 1987 movie Baby Boom with Diane Keaton made a significant impression on me. The movie is about a high powered management consultant in Manhattan nicknamed “Tiger Lady” who inherits a baby from a distant cousin who passed away. She faces sexism and stress at work, then ends up starting her own booming business and living the life she wants. I hope there are more modern movies available to young girls that show strong females in leadership positions.

6/ What are the apps you use? What are your communication channels?
Google calendar. Google Drive. Google Forms. Boomerang for Gmail lets me schedule emails and prompts me to follow up with someone if they haven’t responded. Hubspot for contact management. Calendly for scheduling. Square for payments. Squarespace for website management. I’m setting up Dubsado now for customer experience management. Grammarly is a must have all around!

For communication, I stay pretty old school for business. I prefer to have a conversation via phone and in person. I use email to share information, to check in or schedule a meeting. I’m on a few Slack channels for networking groups. I text friends and family to keep in touch between calls. Instagram direct messages for fun stuff.

7/ How do you support women leaders?

As a leadership coach, I am committed to helping women lead with courage and influence change. I believe women are the change makers in our world. 
I support women entrepreneurs who are starting or growing their business, leaders developing their high-performance team, emerging leaders learning to manage people and processes and women exploring career change 
or transitioning to a new role.

I work with women who want to set better boundaries, negotiate and communicate with power and grace, unhook from praise and criticism, overcome fears or take a big leap!

8/ What is the most common challenge you see people in business experience?

Most people have challenges with communication skills

-When and how to communicate. 
-Giving and receiving feedback. 
-Asking for feedback. 
-Handling conflict.
-How to negotiate and collaborate. 
-Managing up. 
-Recognising emotions when communicating. 
-Preparing for efficient and productive meetings.

9/ What are your clients’ favourite tricks/tools you show them?

When it comes to communication, learning how to truly listen, staying curious about the other person’s point of view and asking open-ended questions will get you pretty far.

If you are sending an email that is stirring your emotions or you are 
re-reading and re-wording more than a few times, that is not a message to communicate via email. That is a phone call or in-person meeting with a two-way negotiation that needs preparation.

Keep your feedback objective and actionable. There is no room for subjective feedback. For example, if you say “Elizabeth sucks at giving presentations,” 
it means nothing. This statement is an opinion that attacks the person and not the problem. If you say “Elizabeth can improve her presentations by looking at the audience in the eye and preparing with someone ahead of time.” That is actionable feedback where Elizabeth can improve.

10/ How do you set up measurable goals when someone wants to be a good leader?

Being a good leader often means learning a skill or becoming more self-aware. When I set goals with clients, I ask them to identify the evidence that will show they are moving in the right direction and how they will know they’ve achieved their goal.

Many times, confidence in mastering a skill is the measurement. The goal may be to have a confidence level of 9 on a scale of 1–10 in 6-months. For example, when we start our work together, someone may give themselves a confidence rating of 2 for giving objective feedback. In a few months, after learning and practicing, the score will get higher and more systems will be in place to make it easier.

If the goal is to be less reactive, the measurement may be the frequency that they recognise their emotion before they react and if they can put space between the emotion and the reaction. The ultimate goal may be to respond instead of reacting to a situation.

Another measure is how well their employees are doing and how clear the communication is now versus when we started working together. 
The employees can complete a simple assessment of the leader when we begin coaching, then again in 6 months to see how the leader improved.

Angela Wiggins is a leadership coach and founder of Earnest Journey
a practice committed to helping women lead with courage and influence change. Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, Angela was surrounded 
by women leaders creatively solving problems. This influence, along with 
a robust support system, was integral in her career path from designer 
to entrepreneur to leader to coach. Having collaboratively designed ways 
to challenge thinking for strategic, operational and systematic problems 
and opportunities for a variety of nonprofits and Fortune 500 businesses, 
her primary focus these days is helping women set better boundaries 
and recognise their value, enabling them to be more confident, take decisive actions, and expand their influence.