Shanna Hocking is a leadership consultant, philanthropic advisor, and keynote speaker with 20 years of fundraising and leadership experience. She has led large teams for universities, national nonprofit organizations, global businesses, and family foundations. Her writing on the subject of leadership has been published in Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Motherly, and Forbes.
Below, Shanna shares 5 key insights from her new book, One Bold Move a Day: Meaningful Actions Women Can Take to Fulfill Their Leadership and Career Potential. Listen to the audio version—read by Shanna herself—in the Next Big Idea App.
1. Bold moves are meaningful actions that help you move forward, learn, and grow.
What’s a bold move? It’s one that challenges you to grow. It’s taking a new job, asking for a promotion, and moving across the country. Bold moves are also speaking up in meetings, connecting with a mentor, and nurturing your personal relationships. Sometimes it’s about capitalizing on an opportunity, and sometimes it’s about creating that opportunity for yourself. Making a bold move requires intentionality, courage, and follow-through. Most importantly, you define for yourself what a bold move is each day.
Making your bold moves is a lifelong process and what a bold move looks like will evolve over time. In January 2022, upon leaving a career I loved to start my own consulting firm, I let go of what I thought I was supposed to do in order to grow and learn. Through this bold move, I got closer to who I was meant to become.
2. Celebrate progress to build your motivation and confidence.
When you’re focused on your next accomplishment, you forget how hard you worked to get where you are. Before you move on to the next thing, first recognize your preparation and learning. The journey matters, and it’s more meaningful when you recognize the steps you took. It’s about believing in your own abilities, knowing you have the capacity to improve, and honoring what you did to get to this point. You can choose to see every day as an opportunity to appreciate how far you have come. Who doesn’t love a good celebration?
“On the days you make a mistake or get rejected, it’s easy to forget the many things you have accomplished and how you have helped others.”
Here’s one of my favorite ways to put this into action. As a development intern in college, a mentor brought me a plain manila folder that she called an “AttaGirl” folder. She said it was for keeping track of the notes and accolades I received, and to look back through the folder on tough days. Though unsure why this would be important, I trusted her wisdom and dutifully took the folder. This practice has become incredibly important to me as I’ve progressed throughout my career.
Over time, I’ve created email and paper versions of this folder. They are filled with my formal offer letter for my first job in fundraising, the envelope from the first seven-figure charitable gift I closed, notes from bosses recognizing my efforts, and cards from colleagues cheering me on, among other things. On the days you make a mistake or get rejected, it’s easy to forget the many things you have accomplished and how you have helped others. The simple act of reviewing the folder and rereading the notes provide reinforcement to keep you going, try again, learn from the experience, and focus on the big picture.
3. Build trust with your team by helping them understand who you are and valuing who they are.
While transitioning into a leadership role, I read about and reflected on the kind of leader and colleague I wanted to be. This happened to be at the same time I read about the concept of a Leader’s User Manual. A leader’s user manual helps your team understand who you are and how you approach your work, so you can learn how to best work together and build trust faster. I spent time writing my own thoughts about my leadership style and values, and I sought input from others on what they wished they had known about me earlier on.
From there, I developed what I call an “About Me” document, which I shared with my new team in a group meeting in my first week on the job. Creating your own About Me document can build trust and clarity with a new team. It can also help a team you’ve worked with for a long time, particularly as a reset in the remote/hybrid world. Don’t take for granted that you know each other at work. Ask people to tell their own story. Here are six parts to the About Me document and prompts that will help you create your own.
- My Leadership Approach
- My Leadership Philosophy
- You Get the Best of Me When
- How Best to Communicate with Me
- How to Help Me
- What People Misunderstand About Me
Don’t be afraid to show your personality when you write this document! This is your opportunity to help your team thrive under your leadership by understanding who you are and how to work with you. Of course, the most successful working relationships are built on mutual respect and understanding, so also ask your team members to write an About Me document.
4. Make wins part of your everyday work culture.
Building culture is an important, ongoing process for every leader and organization. Culture comes from connections, and it can be built into your everyday work environment. One of the most attainable (and joyful) ways to create genuine connections and recognize progress in the office is to celebrate wins together. Research shows this boosts happiness, collaboration, and productivity.
“Be sure when choosing a WOTD that you acknowledge progress, not just outcomes.”
The concept of sharing a Win of the Day (WOTD) is to encourage my team to share wins with each other. Here’s how to put this into action with your team: When you experience a win, you send an email, text, or Slack message to your team with WOTD as the headline. The win is defined by you: it could be that you received a response to a cold call, moved a project forward, or received a note of recognition. Once one person shares what they accomplished, their colleagues cheer them on, and this can build confidence and culture. You can also have team members or colleagues share a Win of the Day (or Week) at the beginning of a team meeting or write their win on a post it note and add them to a collective board or wall in your office. Two really important things to know: Be sure when choosing a WOTD that you acknowledge progress, not just outcomes. The whole point of WOTD is to celebrate and remind each other that we’re in this together. You don’t have to be a team leader to start this practice; you can build culture and connections from any place in the organization.
5. Your journey will be more successful—and more joyful—with the right people alongside you.
Your Bold Move community is made up of people you invest in and who invest in you. Research shows that your social connections are one of the greatest predictors of your success and happiness. Your community includes your support networks, family, friends, partner/spouse, and the next generation. What your community looks like will be deeply personal to you. You may not bring all of these groups with you at the same time. In some cases, you may not bring a particular group with you at all on your journey. Here are some ways to build relationships with your Bold Move community:
- Your Support Networks: Women need their own types of networks to be successful. Research shows women-specific communities offer distinct benefits, including helping women feel supported and confident.
- Your Partner or Spouse: To create a model that works for both of you, you’ll need to have open conversations about your expectations for what you envision your life to be like and how you’ll make it work.
- The Next Generation: Talk about your Bold Moves with your own children or children you care about. Even before they can fully understand fears, barriers, and the effort involved in making Bold Moves, they’ll begin to create their own understanding of the roadmap through your storytelling.
Nurturing relationships with people within your community is a Bold Move. It takes effort, intention, and care—and it’s worth it. Remember you are role modeling for others what is possible for them, too.
To listen to the audio version read by author Shanna Hocking, download the Next Big Idea App today: