Make a Measurable Change in 2018

give gift coachingWith the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays fast approaching, the new year will soon be knocking at our doorsteps.  What I love about a New Year’s Eve Toast is that it represents a new beginning—a fresh start to new possibilities.  Whether a formal declaration is made in the form of a New Year’s resolution or not, I believe the ball drop in New York Times Square causes each of us to reflect on some change we want to make in the coming year that would improve our lives.

Other pressing priorities, diminished willpower, and “good” excuses typically result in us not following through with our good intentions.  The lack of a detailed plan, poor definition of measurable milestones, and no accountability partner reduce the chance that you will meet your stated goals.  Most people benefit from a coach—a partner—someone who helps you develop a plan and set milestone targets, who challenges you, and who holds you accountable. Coaches also help you strategize on ways to overcome obstacles that are standing in the way of achieving your goal.

You may be suffering in your job, struggling to have influence at work and in personal relationships, or needing an overhaul with your personal finances.  Making measurable changes in behavior is a doable yet difficult task.  You may be successful in making these changes through your own education and determination; however, I’d suggest you might improve your success by choosing to engage a coach as your partner.

Is 2018 the year you’ll commit to make a positive permanent change in your life? If so, I’d like to suggest you consider hiring a coach. If you’d like to give the gift of coaching to yourself or a friend, you can take me up on a special offer I would love to discuss with you.  Reach out for a conversation so we can understand what you want to achieve. You have nothing to lose.  The conversation is free!

You can reach me at 281.793.3741 or

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and personal growth.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

The Immeasurable Gift of a Simple Thank-You Letter

As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, people start to rack their brains, scour the web, and sometimes agonize over what gifts, no matter how large or small, to give their family, friends, colleagues, and business associates.  Although I would wager that no one will completely eliminate this annual tradition of pre-holiday preparation, I can suggest a new tradition that might make it easier to “buy” for at least three people on your list.pen and paper 2

How many descriptively, meaningful hand-written thank you notes have you received? Usually the answers range from never to less than a handful. This year I hope to change that by suggesting a tradition that I started in 2011.  On a Thanksgiving road trip with my then boyfriend, now husband, I suggested we start an annual tradition of sending handwritten thank-you notes to a few people who had the greatest impact on our lives that year.  These less than a handful of friends, family, associates, authors, or public figures could have performed a service, shifted a paradigm in thinking, changed our life path, showed a kindness, or did something worthy of thoughtful recognition.

During a time when electronics rule, cursive is becoming hieroglyphics, and the depth of relationships is being sacrificed for width, the arrival of a handwritten thank-you note that describes the impact someone has made is guaranteed to be one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive.  Why not start the tradition to make someone feel appreciated?

If this concept sounds intriguing, I would suggest this perfect gift is no further than the pen and paper sitting in your desk drawer.   Spend some time reviewing the conversations and interactions you’ve had this year and select 2-3 people that are worthy of a shout out of praise in how they’ve impacted your life.  Get into the details as you write those letters.  Surprisingly, you may find that as you think of those people of influence, the gift you receive in return is one of gratitude.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

How to Successfully Transition from Field Sales to Sales Manager

sales manager 2Most sales manager positions are filled through the field sales pipeline.  Although sales person and sales manager both share the word “sales” in their titles, their roles, responsibilities, skills, and schedules are different unless the sales manager has the dual role of sales.  In fact, some highly successful sales people do not enjoy or make the best sales managers. However, if your expertise is sales, and you are now responsible for managing a sales team versus only yourself, below are some strategies that might set yourself up for success in your new role.

Organize Your Time

As a sales person you likely had one primary goal—meet your sales target.  As a sales manager, you will be managing multiple people, programs, and priorities. Multi-tasking will be required, because you will likely be pulled in several directions on a daily basis. Although everything will seem urgent, one of your most important assignments will be to manage and lead your sales team.

Leveraging a 2-month rolling schedule, you should block out time to travel with your sales people as they visit customers.  Treat this time as untouchable.  You will use this valuable time for those one-on-one conversations to strategize, coach, and invest in your sales people so they feel part of the team.  While spending time with them, keep the phone turned off to minimize distractions.  Spending time in the field will also allow you to get a pulse on the market, gather first-hand information on your customers, and strengthen your relationship with your sales team.

Manage Your Boss

If you were a sales person meeting your sales targets, you likely did not have to manage your boss. Your focus was managing your customers.  By default the numbers managed your boss.  Your boss likely left you to your own devices as he focused on more pressing internal demands.

In your new role as sales manager, you may need to manage your boss to minimize your daily distractions.  Using your calendar, establish a reoccurring weekly meeting with your boss—preferably on the same day and time of the week.  Agree to save items to discuss during this uninterrupted time. This ritual should help to minimize daily distractions that break your concentration.  Prior to your regular meeting, send an email listing the topics you agreed to discuss.  If you overlooked any or your boss has additional items, you can add them to the list and still have time to prepare.  One hour should be sufficient.  If you find yourself routinely short of time, agree to schedule separate meetings to discuss those weightier topics.

Exercise Your “No” Muscle

You were your customers’ advocate for price, quantity, quality, and service.   You were chartered and commissioned to sell.  Because you were conditioned to say “yes” to the customer, telling the customer “no” was likely a word that made you feel at least slightly uncomfortable.

A sales manager has a responsibility to weigh all the benefits and costs from the customers’ requests and make a decision that is aligned with the overall interest of the company.  Successful sales managers typically find they say “no” more frequently than they did as a sales person. Get comfortable saying “no,” yet be open to negotiation and compromise.

Build Alliances with Internal Stakeholders

As a sales person, you were by design externally focused on winning your customers’ business.  You likely spent little of your valuable time developing strong relationships with the internal stakeholders beside Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service.  The reality—no one in the office was buying the products you were selling.

The sales manager position is part of the company’s leadership team, and in order to lead well, you will need strong relationships with other members in Finance, HR, and Operations.  These relationships with other department leaders will make it easier to negotiate requests for deadlines and streamline work.  You are now an advocate for the sales staff, clearing the path for your sales team so they can meet their sales goals.

Putting It All to Work

Although these four guiding principles are not all-inclusive or a one-size fits all, incorporating some or all of these strategies will likely help you successfully transition from sales person to sales manager.  If you have any other suggestions that worked for you, I welcome your comments and stories.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at


Average life expectancy continues to climb with Americans in good health easily reaching their 80’s.  Age and financial necessity are influencing how long people are working and in what capacity.  Many seasoned professionals are trying to redesign their work/life balance and are surprised in how challenging the process has been to secure that desired lower responsibility job.

As a coach, I see many clients in their late 40’s and 50’s who have had a long and expansive career and are eager to either transfer their skills to another industry or gain back more work/life balance by applying for jobs in whichadding value they are knowingly over-qualified. These career or job changers initially assumed it would be easy to step down into a position of less responsibility.  On the contrary, they were surprised at the inherent prejudice in the hiring process when they routinely encountered managers who were not interested in interviewing an over-qualified applicant.

I can only assume that these employers are fearful of over-qualified candidates that will leave as soon as a better job comes along or that the supervisor feels threatened by the candidate’s experience in a direct report role.  For these reasons, many over-qualified candidates appear to be intentionally passed over.  I propose 5 reasons why hiring an over-qualified person may be the best hiring decision a company could make this year.

  1. Value, Value, Value: Over-qualified candidates understand a company pays for the roles and responsibilities of the position and not the qualifications of the person. If this candidate is willing to accept a competitive salary, a company is certainly getting more value for its money. What a great return on investment to report to the stockholders.
  2. Faster Growth: Having already seen and done that, over-qualified candidates may be able to get the team where they want to go faster.  Prior experience and learning can be helpful in developing a more effective strategy and in executing plans well.  Experience is a great asset!
  3. Mentorship: People who intentionally accept lower responsibility jobs usually enjoy mentoring less experienced colleagues. These over-qualified candidates are both knowledgeable and capable of becoming trainers and mentors to other employees without a great investment of other resources.
  4. Performance: Not only do these candidates bring a wealth of information, they are typically happier with their work/life balance. They bring an energy to work that can be contagious.  They perform well in their jobs and set an example for others.
  5. Leadership: Companies need leaders throughout the organization.  Leaders are the ones that companies rely on to rally the organization and get the job done.  Over-qualified employees inspire and support others to perform well and are usually the best cheerleaders on the team!

Not all over-qualified candidates will necessarily be a good fit.  I acknowledge some candidates apply for jobs they are over-qualified for based on financial necessity and continue to look for an upgrade.  There are, however, many overqualified candidates who are intentional in finding an environment where they can contribute despite a salary below their historical pay grade.  Identifying these over-qualified candidates, who bring uber-value, is best handled through a conversation versus making assumptions on why they applied for the position.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

Behaviors That Make You a Better Leader

lead learnWhen you recall those times you were led well, what were some of the affirming behaviors that stood out to you in those leaders?  Because leadership is about influence, we are all affected by leadership acting within our lives.  We learn about leadership by reflecting and putting into practice those behaviors that we feel were constructive in our success.  I share a few traits that I believe great leaders embrace based on my role models.  Better leaders do the following:

  1. Create a productive work environment by reducing bureaucracy and minimizing roadblocks. Although they don’t do the work, they create an atmosphere where the team and its individuals can get their jobs done.
  2. Acknowledge and give credit to those who do the work. Credit can be recognized for effort, creativity, and results.
  3. Encourage and praise. Leaders are intentional in identifying and calling out specific things that warrant recognition.  They don’t simply use flowery language such as “great job” but provide concrete examples that demonstrate that they recognize the value of the contribution.
  4. Never micro-manage but are liberal in their coaching. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team, brainstorm with its members, challenge with powerful questions, and ensure the team has the resources to tackle the job.
  5. Create a safe environment where people don’t feel threatened to take reasonable risks. They don’t focus on punishment and expect people to learn from their mistakes.
  6. Provide clear vision and objectives, set priorities, describe desired outcomes, and define appropriate boundaries. They understand the importance of helping the team to focus.
  7. Genuinely care about their teams. Leaders respectfully learn about the non-work lives of the people they support and have insight in how other life areas may influence job performance.

What leadership characteristics are you strongest?  What weaknesses could you improve upon to grow your leadership?  If you’ve identified another leadership trait that impressed you, tell me about it by leaving a comment.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

Self-Leadership: Behaviors That Make a Difference

SELF-LEADERSHIP-THROUGH-CHANGEAre you completely satisfied with the condition or performance of your job, marriage, relationships, or personal finances?  If you are like most people, you might agree that one of these areas or another could use more focus or strengthening. Once someone has decided to move down the path of change, the next step may leave a big question mark on how to start.

I propose that sustainable change is rooted in adopting new behaviors, that if practiced long enough, will typically turn into new lifelong habits.  Covey (2004) has studied human behavior and identified seven key habits that differentiate those who are holistically more effective in accomplishing what others do not.   When these habits are applied to various life areas, they can result in impactful change.  In action, Covey (2004) describes these behaviors as:

  1. Takes initiative: decides to be proactive versus reactive
  2. Sets vision: begins with the end in mind
  3. Prioritizes: puts first things first and second things second
  4. Thinks positively: looks for the win-win and not the win-lose
  5. Listens more than speaks: hears versus tells
  6. Solves problems: looks for synergy and compromise
  7. Invests in self-improvement: understands the importance of learning and growing

Each of these seven core behaviors can make a difference in how you perform and how others perceive you.  Should you decide to challenge yourself to improve at one of these habits, I would suggest first rating yourself on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 highest) on how well you embrace that personal habit.  Next, determine one or two that would be most meaningful to improve.  Then, think of one or two behaviors you could adopt that would increase your self-rating in that area.  Think of it as a SMART challenge, with SMART defined as (S) specific, (M) measurable, (A) achievable, (R) relevant and realistic, and (T) time sensitive.

When I review the list, habit #5 stands out for me.  I am highly extroverted, which means I tend to talk more than others.  My SMART challenge is to ensure that there is a pause (silence) in the conversation before I share my next thought.  This will force me to talk less, not interrupt, and listen more. I encourage you to think about your personal habits, determine which one you want to improve upon for greater effectiveness, and create a SMART challenge by which you could measure your progress.


Covey, S.R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

Will You Live Your Legend?

liveyourlegendAs Hurricane Harvey cleanup continues, Houstonians are left with the task of restoring their lives.  Many survivors are asking themselves, “What does my life look like post-Harvey?”  With a potential paradigm shift, I hope people are asking the important question: “What is the purpose of my life?” Is the answer pre-hurricane status or something different?

Harvey challenged people to exercise their survival muscle and care for the needs of their friends and community.  Whether or not directly impacted by rising floodwaters, I bet most would agree Harvey had a blessing—a catalyst for change to strengthen spiritually, build greater confidence, and live out purpose as well as to restore community during times when the country has been in civil and political divide.  During Harvey’s punch, people were blinded to any labels of religion, race, and politics as people helped people.  Harvey enabled everyone to focus on what was important—people.

The aftermath of Harvey can also provide the opportunity for a new life versus one of the past—perhaps a life richer in purpose, work, community, and relationships.  Some may question how can they rebuild a life without following the old blueprint.  I would start by exploring and identifying the core values which reflect the essence of oneself.  Values reflect what one is willing to struggle for and the pain one is willing to endure to achieve an outcome.  A reconstructed life may also reflect answers to the following questions:

  1. What do I want more of in my life?
  2. What do I want less of in my life?
  3. What will I regret if I don’t try or do it?
  4. What one thing can I change that would have a positive impact my life?

Everyone is the author of his/her life.  What will you choose to do with your one life?  If you are a parent, are you allowing your children to live in their purpose, or are your fears and desires manifesting themselves in how you design their lives?

When you find your purpose, your energy will continue to feed that passion.  Be encouraged through adversity, because anything worth achieving requires struggle.  Do not give up hope, but be hopeful.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey some people are finally questioning their purpose and taking steps that will allow them to Live Their Legend.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

The Gift of Personal Coaching

believeI hold a strong belief that there is always a blessing within a tragedy.  At times one needs to look hard and beyond the grief.  By all standards, Hurricane Harvey has been an unprecedented tragedy for those living near the Texas Gulf Coast.  Despite the loss, I have seen the blessing of people helping people and have heard the personal testimonies of those who’ve had a paradigm shift in their thinking and an awakening of purpose.

I am excited for those who want to explore new goals or make changes in certain areas of their lives.  Encouraged and passionate to partner with people to make their personal dreams come to fruition, I am offering a special life and leadership coaching package.  I have a desire for people to take advantage of their new found thinking, as they work through this tragedy, to create a vision/mission or make a commitment to improve some aspect of their lives.  While my time allows, I am offering new clients 4 coaching sessions for a deeply discounted rate of $250 with 20% of the proceeds donated to local charities. If you or someone you know would like to learn more, I welcome the opportunity to discuss whether coaching would be of benefit and how I might help. You can email me at, call me at 281.793.374, or visit my website at

You Know Your Purpose, But Do You Have the Discipline?

Self_Discipline1Someone says, “I know my purpose,“ and then follows it with the question, “What steps can I take to ensure I live out that purpose?”  Good question!  People often question how they will keep going when the road is long.  Passion is a key ingredient, but it may not be enough to get to the finish.  What else can help?  Certain tools and disciplines can set one up for success which include:

  1. Flexing the “no” muscle. Many people are either excited to be involved in everything or feel guilty in saying no when asked to help.  Great leaders are comfortable saying no, because saying yes would dilute their valuable resources of time and money.  They honor themselves by saying no to anything that distracts them from achieving their purpose.  Take inventory and decide whether there are any “yes” items that need to move to the “no” list.
  2. Creating the space for re-energizing activities. When thinking about a schedule, one should plan for recreational activities.  Leaders need time to relax to recharge their batteries.  Some need a big dose of quiet time with a good read, others need time to socialize with friends, and still others need gym time.
  3. Planning and practicing time management. Once the “yes” list is honed and prioritized, one should create a calendar with sufficient time mapped for those activities that re-energize and achieve purpose.  If a schedule cannot accommodate all “yes” activities, the forced rank list should help one decide which items need to move to the “no” list.  This iterative calendar exercise provides objective clarity so one does not over-schedule and dilute focus.
  4. Surrounding oneself with positive influences. Attitudes and words are powerful in how they can either uplift or drain energy.  Driving on purpose requires high levels of sustained energy; therefore, leaders invite positive and encouraging people into their circle of influence.
  5. Choosing a coaching partner. Professional coaches help clients stay accountable to their goals.  When life continues to put pressure to say “yes,” when calendars get too full, when recreational activities are squeezed, and when one needs encouragement, a coach is there for support.

Anything worth doing has never been easy.  Easy comes through self-discipline and leaning on external resources that align with purpose.  Self-discipline is a muscle to be flexed, and it strengthens through continued exercise. 

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

The Best of Global Leadership Summit

GLS-BannerFor those who were not able to soak in the messages of the 13 outstanding speakers presenting at Global Leadership Summit (GLS), I share a few key messages from each leader. My hope is that one or more of these points spark an idea, ignite an interest, or passionately resonate with you and that you will pause long enough to explore how to expand on its impact in both your personal and professional life.

Bill Hybels

  • Humility allows leaders the ability to continue learning.
  • Leaders set the tone by showing everyone respect even in the midst of any lack of civility.
  • Leaders get behind a grander vision above delivering on the bottom line. How else can you make an impact?
  • Leaders plant leadership seeds in young people where they see leadership potential.
  • Ask yourself whether you are leading as well on the home front as in the workplace.

Sheryl Sandberg

  • Resiliency is learned through failure and a muscle you can build. Instead of thinking of failure as post traumatic disorder, think of it as post traumatic growth.
  • Hire people with bigger skills: (1) people you need for the future, and (2) people who will get you were you want to go. Employers make the mistake of hiring for what they need now and not for what they need to grow.
  • How come there is not a reference section in the bookstore called HELPING OTHERS? We need to show up for each other more.

Mark Lemonis

  • Business grows through connection which is built by understanding people’s backstory (personal history)?
  • Creating a connection is accomplished through vulnerability and transparency because they unlock the heart to trust.
  • People love it when you walk a day in their shoes even though you will never be in their shoes.

Fredrick Haren

  • 98% of polled workers state it is important to be creative in their jobs; 45% say they are creative, and only 2% say their company is helping them be creative.
  • An idea is just knowledge and information combined in a new way.
  • People need to make the time to allow themselves to be creative.

Bryan Stevenson

  • Effective leaders need to get close to what they need to achieve because answers come in proximity.
  • Leaders need to do uncomfortable things.
  • A change in narrative can liberate fear.

Andy Stanley

  • If you choose to study failure, you may never understand success. You need to perform an autopsy on success to understand success.  Ask, “What did your organization do to grow so fast?”
  • Business growth usually comes from having a “uniquely better” product. Uniquely better is on the frontier of your ignorance.
  • Uniquely better is rarely created within a company, but leaders need to develop a culture where it can be recognized versus resisted. Many top tier companies have taken a financial hit, because they failed to acknowledge “uniquely better” offered by their competition.
  • Be a student, not a critic; when you criticize you stop learning. Replace HOW questions (implied idea killers) with WOW: TELL ME MORE statements (implied idea developers).

Laslo Bock

  • In work, match joy with duty. Pursue passion and purpose.
  • Ask people what is motivating them.
  • Make work better for everyone: (1) give work meaning, (2) have and communicate a goal, (3) trust your people with information and the freedom to achieve the goal, and (4) hire people who are better than you in some way.

Juliet Funt

  • When people don’t have the time to think, business suffers.
  • The pause, otherwise known as “whitespace”, is where innovation and creativity grow, and yet, it is being squeezed out of our schedules.
  • When busyness overtakes whitespace, drive turns to overdrive, excellence turns to perfection, information turns to overload, and activity turns to frenzy.
  • Create whitespace by acting on your answers to the following questions: (1) What can I let go of? (2) When is enough good enough? (3) What do I truly need to know? and (4) What deserves my attention?

Marcus Buckingham

  • The opposite of failure is not success; it is non-failure. If you want to be successful, study success.  Leaders figure out what is happening on the best teams, so they can build on it.
  • The two most important questions a leader ensures his team affirms are: (1) At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me, and (2) I have a chance to use my strengths every day.
  • Leaders should be asking their team, “What are your priorities, and how can I help?”
  • No one really likes unsolicited feedback, but everyone wants coaching attention.

Sam Adeyemi

  • In leadership, you don’t attract what you want but rather who you are.
  • Leaders help people change how they see themselves, helping to break self-limiting beliefs.
  • Transformation starts in the heart. Leaders help people see and hear messages differently  on a consistent basis, so new beliefs can take root in the heart.

Immaculee Ilibagiza

  • Fear is your worst enemy.

Angela Duckworth

  • Grit = Passion + Perseverance over the long-term
  • People can increase their grit through deliberate practice.
  • Talent x Effort = Skill; Skill x Effort = Achievement; notice how effort counts twice
  • Don’t quit on a bad day. If you want to quit, quit on a good day.

Greg Haugen

  • Leadership begins with a dream, and fear is the ultimate dream destroyer.
  • Keep dreams alive by relentlessly and rigorously inventorying your fears.
  • Lead without fear; switch from playing defensive to offensive.

GLS provided meaningful leadership messages for the current times.  Reflecting on my two days invested in GLS, I propose we need to overcome our fears that tells us we “can’t” or “shouldn’t”.  We need to create whitespace to be creative and bring our dreams to life.  As leaders, we need to build teams with clear purpose and allow people to drive on their strengths. We need to trust our teams with information, so they can solve problems, do the right thing, and create value.  Sound simple enough?  Simple is not necessarily easy.  Leading others well can be frustrating and difficult, because at times it requires us to change our engrained attitudes, beliefs, and views as well as to release the fears that have us playing defensive and not offensive.

What message resonated with me the most?  None of the speakers did a deep dive into the impact of fear and leadership, yet the concept was weaved through some of the presentations.  In my opinion, fear is a powerful motivator in people’s decision-making. Fear paralyzes purpose, passion, and perseverance.  Fear undermines people from choosing to do the right thing.  Fear undermines great leadership. I believe leaders need to take an honest inventory of fears that are holding them back in growing in their leadership capacity and develop constructive mitigation strategies to overcome them.

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at