Author: Susanne Dalton Dupes

August 12, 2019

2020 Women’s Leadership Summit Leadership Change

Wendy Barrett, Summit Chair


Samira Abdalla, Summit Co-Chair

The partners at Ignite Succeed are pleased to announce that there will be two new faces leading the team responsible for the 2020 Women’s Leadership Summit. Wendy Barrett and Samira Abdalla will serve as chair and co-chair respectively of the June 12th event at The Venue in Lenoir City.
Barrett credits her decision to chair the Summit because of her passion for helping others pursue excellence and maximize their potential.

“The vision and mission statement of the Summit strongly coincide with my life philosophy … that we receive by giving, and helping women reach their full potential is one of the most rewarding challenges to experience,” Barrett explained. She added, “My biggest accomplishments came as a result of coaching and developing others, because their success is my success.”

Abdalla brings her perspective as a young professional to the Summit planning. She has a strong understanding of business administration, leadership, divergent thinking and is committed to the Summit’s vision and mission.

“I believe that mentorship is an important component of success. The best way to grow is by giving, which can be both mutually beneficial and also life altering,” Abdalla shared.

The Summit is an annual event. The event runs from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Registration will open early fall. To get updated information on the 2020 Summit program and events, visit the Summit page or email (The 2019 event was cancelled due to extenuating personal circumstances.)

January 4, 2019

Are your employees allergic to change?

How allergic are your employees to making change? General wisdom says that one in five people have no allergic reaction because they like change, one in five are violently allergic or resistant, and the remaining three in five have only moderate allergies and can be persuaded if given a good reason and time to adjust.

I think of myself as being in that first group who likes to change, especially when in relates to my work. My husband, on the other hand, has a pretty strong allergy, even though he can be persuaded in a lot of things.

For managers, knowing just how allergic you and your employees are to change is important. It impacts how you lead your employees when there are changes to the team, in processes, or in the work environment.

Like allergies, change is usually disruptive. When you have an allergic reaction, you must take steps that are out of your routine and your comfort zone. We are living in a time of nearly constant change, which is difficult for even the one in five who like change. The remaining four in five are reacting to this change culture increasing levels of unhealthy stress.

Addressing Change

As a manager, communication is key to successful change management. There are three communication points that will help your employees manage stress. (1) Talk about the positive benefits the change will bring. (2) Tell them that change is coming as soon as you can so that they will have adequate time to adjust. (3) Work to remove the fear of the unknown by giving as much information as you can about how the change will occur.Be sure that you aren’t asking employees to make change simply for the sake of change. Make change only if it will improve productivity, culture, or team cohesion. Don’t “shake things up” just because it is the new year or because, perhaps, you as the manager like change.

If change is forced on you and your team from above, it is important for you to come to terms with the change in a positive way so that you can then communicate to your employees. If employees sense that you don’t agree with the change, it will make it even harder to get them on board.

Change is a challenge every manager has to be ready to deal with. That’s why we work with managers understand how to get the best possible result when change happens.

January 2, 2019

January Women’s Leadership Salon salutes “The Women Who Speak Up”

Two recipients of the Lizzie Crozier French Women’s Leadership Award share leadership stories and challenges

Knoxville, TN – A recent article in Diversity Woman noted that women tend to “minimize the importance of what they say when they do speak up — even female executives in meetings with their peers.” A Harvard Business Review found that “despite the incredible value that women have, [they] too often second guess that value and hold back from saying the very things that most need to be heard.” These studies and other research show that women need get stronger in their ability to speak up.

The January 10th Women’s Leadership Salon presents local women leaders Karen Carson and Phyllis Nichols who have learned to speak up for themselves and their constituencies. Both women are recipients of the Lizzie Crozier French Women’s Leadership Award, which recognizes bold, persistent, and forward-thinking women leaders.

Karen Carson is a former Chair of the Knox County School Board. She served on the Board for 12 years, from 2004 to 2016 and was Chair for three terms. A registered nurse at East TN Children’s Hospital, Karen received The Lizzie in 2017.

Phyllis Nichols is President and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League and a Senior Fellow of the National Urban League. She is the Immediate past Chair and founding Trustee of the Great Schools Partnership. Phyllis was the 2016 recipient of The Lizzie.

The bimonthly Salon is an opportunity for East Tennessee women to network and develop leadership skills. The Salon meets on Thursday, January 10, 2019, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Rothchild Catering and Conference Center, 8807 Kingston Pike in West Knoxville. Check-in and networking begin at 11:30. Tickets are $30, which includes lunch.

Register by 12:00 noon on Tuesday, January 7, 2019 at Email for more information about Salons and other women’s leadership programs.

December 2, 2018

Are you appreciating enough?

Thank you noteWe teach our children to say “please”, “thank you” and “you are welcome.” We teach these things to instill a lifetime practice of showing appreciation and respect.

Deep down, that is what we all want from the people in our lives, including our co-workers. I was recently asked what tools I use to motivate people. I believe that the two most powerful tools are appreciation and gratitude. I know they are the best way to motivate me and I have seen how well they work to motivate others.

When to appreciate

It is very easy to get tied up in the everyday “must dos.” We work diligently, often feverishly, to manage our own “to dos.” When our team does big things, it is right in front of us to appreciate the accomplishment. For example, when a big obstacle has been overcome, or a high-pressure deadline has been successfully met, or when we have completed a project under budget, we know to say “well done” and “great job.” But there are ever present things that we can appreciate about our co-workers and team.

Think about Frank who gives you consistent, strong performance. Think about Juanita who is always ready to step in and fill the void when something needs done at the last minute, or when her co-worker gets overloaded. Think about Isaiah who always has an encouraging word for others. Think about the team that always comes through, always shores each other up. These kinds of things that really make a difference in the workplace can get taken for granted because they are ever present. As a leader, it is up to you to show continued appreciation for the big achievements as well as the ongoing acts of your employees.

How to appreciate

Appreciation has the most power when it is sincere. It goes a long way with a person when you thank them in a heartfelt way for what they do. Think about how you react when someone appreciates your expertise, your attitude, your willingness, your extra effort. It feels good. It is the same for everyone.

When you want to offer more than words, you can amplify your appreciation by individualizing it. That comes down to knowing your employees. What rings their bell? For some, it will be doing something that improves their work space, like giving them a plant or something fun to have around. For others, it will be public acknowledgement, so a nice certificate or token they can display. Some people feel most appreciated when you give them the opportunity to learn and grow (think seminar or workshop) or when you give them time off to do charitable work. And, while money isn’t the motivator for most people, it is for some, in which case, a small gift card works wonders.

Just the fact that you know the special thing that motivates each person is in itself a form of appreciation. Because then they know that you value them. And that brings us back to what we are taught as children, to appreciate and respect others.

Motivating employees is one aspect of leadership that we include in our training and coaching programs. Let us know how we can support your managers and teams.

November 12, 2018

Girl’s Inc. named the charitable partner of the Ignite Succeed Women’s Leadership Summit

Knoxville, TN – Ignite Succeed is proud to announce that Girls Inc. of TN Valley will be the charitable partner for the 2019 Ignite Women’s Leadership Summit, which will be held on Friday, June 14, 2019. In addition to showcasing Girls Inc. at the Summit, a portion of the event proceeds will go to support Girls Inc. programs.Summit logo

During the summer, the volunteer Women’s Leadership Council who organize the event decided that adding a charitable partner would greatly expand the impact and reach of the event. Girls Inc. was chosen because of the compatibility of the two organization’s mission statements.

Every year, the Ignite Women’s Leadership Council designs an interactive Summit program to educate, empower, and motivate women leaders so that they realize their full potential. Since 1976, Girls Inc. has been working to teach girls how to be strong, smart, and bold. The organization has programs in Anderson, Knox, and Blount counties that provide programming to teach girls how to “advocate for themselves and their communities while building self-confidence, expanding their horizons, and preparing girls of today to become women of tomorrow!”

Girls Inc. will be featured in all marketing materials leading up to the Summit. At the event, attendees will be exposed not only to Girls Inc.’s mission, but also to the results the organization is able to achieve. (Learn more about Girls Inc. at

Early bird registration is open now for the June 2019 Summit at For the first time, the 2019 Summit will be held at The Venue in Lenoir City. The Summit is a full day of speakers, networking, and fun, running from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Ignite Women’s Leadership Summit is an annual event held on the second Friday in June. The event is chaired by Ignite Succeed partner Deb Schmitz and organized by a committee of local women leaders. For more information, visit

November 2, 2018

Role Models: Who is looking up to you?

Do you have someone you look up to as a role model?  Did you, as you grew up? I know that I have had several.  There were teachers and professors, my grandfather, some colleagues and a boss or two over the years.  Role models play a big part in who we become as people and as of a penguin leading the flock

The dictionary defines “role model” as “a person who serves as an example of the values, attitudes, and behaviors associated with a role.”  That definition makes it clear that each of us lives as a role model every day.  People are always watching how we live our values. They notice how we step up to challenges or share glory and how we demonstrate gratitude.

Role models educate

NCAA Coach John Wooden said, “Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating.” Those are important words for leaders to take to heart. They apply to leaders in all walks, including both our professional and personal lives. Perhaps you are leading a company or a team or project for an organization. Maybe you are leading your family or you are a volunteer leader in your community. Or maybe you lead simply by showing up every day with a positive attitude,  doing your best, and encouraging those around you.

We are all role models

As leaders, we serve as role models for people who want to be like us, do like us, achieve like us. Actress Meryl Streep says that “being a role model is equal parts being who you actually are and what people hope you will be.”

We are living in a time that calls for strong, positive role models. We have to remember that people are watching us as we go about our lives. They see us on social media or watch us as we interact in the workplace. They notice when we speak up and when we stay silent.

November is National Inspirational Role Models Month. It is a good time to reflect on who we want to be and who we want the people we lead to see us being.

If we can help you or someone on your team become a stronger leader, manager,  or influential role model, contact us.

October 29, 2018

November Women’s Leadership Salon salutes “The Women Who Have Served”

Local Air Force veteran and Army reservist share leadership experiences and challenges

Knoxville, TN – According to 2017 numbers, there are 1.3 million Americans serving in active-duty status, with another 800,000 reservists. There are more women in the military today than ever before. Women make up 16% of the enlisted personnel and 18% of the officer corps.Photos of Rita Thomas and Angela Sanders

With Veteran’s Day approaching, the November Ignite Women’s Leadership Salon will explore women and military service. The topic for the November 8 luncheon will be “The Women Who Have Served.” On the panel are Angela Sanders, a U.S. Army reservist, and Rita Thomas, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who will share their experiences in the military, including challenges and leadership lessons.

Angela Sanders, a healthcare services manager with Brookdale Healthcare Services, serves in the U.S. Army Reserves with the 2-398th Cavalry Regiment in Madisonville, Kentucky. As a reservist, she serves as a Company Commander and Officer-In-Charge of the Battalion S1 staff section.

Rita Thomas, an engagement liaison with Functional Pathways and a freelance photographer, is an Air Force veteran. She served nine years as a cryptologic linguist and Czechoslovak language specialist, earning Commander and Inspector General awards during her tenure.

The bimonthly Salon is an opportunity for East Tennessee women to network and develop leadership skills. The Salon meets from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Rothchild Catering and Conference Center, 8807 Kingston Pike in West Knoxville. Check-in and networking begin at 11:30. Tickets are $30, which includes lunch.

Register by Monday, November 5, 2018 at Email for more information about Salons and other women’s leadership programs.

September 25, 2018

Are you really coaching your employees?

Famed NFL coach Tom Landry said, “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be.”

coaching word cloudLandry’s words apply in every coaching situation, from coaching football players, rising executives, or the employee on the front line. It’s all about how the coach approaches the coachee.

In his book, Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman identifies six leadership styles that he categorizes as resonant and dissonant styles. In other words, six styles that either “prime good feelings in those we lead” or they don’t.  One of the four resonant leadership styles is coaching.

We use coaching in the workplace to develop employees as well as to address performance problems. When we coach, we

  • help employees identify strengths and weaknesses to determine what to develop.
  • encourage them to work towards long term self-development goals
  • provide assignments that stretch their abilities.

I have been fortunate in my career to have had a couple of managers (Deborah and Hunter) who did a great job at coaching me to stretch myself, to do more, to be more. When I think back on what made them so good at coaching, three things come to mind right away.

Coaching tip: Build Trust

First, I trusted them.  Both earned my trust by showing me that they cared about me both professionally and personally.  I could talk with them about anything and know that they would hold what I shared with them in absolute confidence.

Coaching tip: Ask Questions

One mistake that managers make when they think they are coaching is that they simply tell the employee what to do. Real coaches ask questions.  The two managers who effectively coached me did so by asking me questions, such as:

  • “What did I think about XXXXX.”
  • “How did I think I could best achieve YYYYY.”
  • “What roadblocks do you see?”

Coaching tip: Provide Feedback

Lastly, Deborah and Hunter provided ongoing feedback. With these two, performance review time never held any surprises. If there were issues, they gave me feedback at the time the issue arose.  If there were opportunities for growth or improvement, they were giving me that feedback in the moment.  And their feedback was always specific, always included examples, and always helped me grow.

Coaching is a powerful tool for performance development. Every manager needs to have this skill as a tool in their toolkit.  That’s why we coach managers individually and also train managers and leaders on how to use this tool more effectively.  If we can help you or someone on your team, contact us.

September 7, 2018

Do you still ask questions?

Most parents will be able to relate to this story.  When our daughter, Rynn, was young, it felt like her favorite thing to do was to ask us questions.  At the top of her questions list (the ones that would sometimes push us to our limits) were “Why?” and “What is your favorite….?”.

It sometimes felt like she was working hard to try my patience. In reality, what Rynn was doing was using questions to sort and test all of the information that was coming at her. I am sad to say that there were days when I squashed her questioning. I limited her right to ask me my favorite anything for the rest of the day. Or I told her she had used up her quotient of “why” questions.  By and large, I think we attempted to answer most of her questions, even if it was only to say, “I don’t know” (a perfectly acceptable answer, by the way).

Comedian George Carlin said, “Don’t just teach your children to read; teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”

We stop asking questions

Somewhere along the line, we stop asking questions. We become hesitant because we are afraid we will “look stupid.” How often have you sat in a conference or a team meeting and didn’t ask the question that was floating around in your mind?  Sometimes you got lucky. A brave soul asked your burning question for you. But sometimes, no one did. When that happened, you walked away without the clarification or information you wanted.

Questions are critical thinking

Questioning is the heart of critical thinking. Through questioning, we explore issues. We evaluate alternatives and possible solutions. It is by questioning that we find new solutions to old problems.

At the beginning of our training sessions, we encourage questions. We repeat the cliché, “The only stupid question is the one that doesn’t get asked.”  And we really mean that. We want people to clarify and even challenge the material we are offering so that it becomes truly useful to them.

In our workshop on critical thinking, we teach that curiosity is the first of four skills fundamental to critical thinking, along with flexibility, awareness, and common sense. To underscore the importance of questions, we give participants a topic and ask them to create a list of questions about it. As they complete the task, we see heads nodding and eyes lighting up over the long list of questions they create.

Albert Einsten said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning.” To encourage critical thinking on your team, you have to encourage curiosity, and that means creating a safe space for questioning.

Critical thinking is one of the skills we teach to build strong managers and teams.  Let us know how we can help you.

August 6, 2018

Do you know your leadership style?

When you search the phrase “leadership styles” on the Internet, you get a lot of hits.  There is a lot of information on what that means, how many there are, and which are the best.  There are suggestions on how to determine your style.  But do you really have a leadership style? Do you really only lead one way?

How we lead is one of the topics we cover in our Rising Stars Women’s Leadership Boot Camp.  Too often, in thinking what it means to be a leader, we look at leaders we admire and try to emulate them. At Ignite Succeed, we don’t really buy into that.  Let me explain why.

Emulating leadership styles

Let’s say that in choosing who I want to lead like, I look to the past and choose Abraham Lincoln or Queen Victoria.  Or I choose someone more current day, like Angela Merkel or Colin Powell. Each of these leaders (and many others I could have chosen) have individual strengths and skills that make them strong leaders. But the thing is, those were their strengths and skills, developed in their culture through their experiences. The strengths and skills work for each of them based on their individual personalities, beliefs, and values.

I didn’t grow up during the American Civil War or in 19th century England.  I didn’t grow up as a German woman or as a black man. My life experiences and opportunities, my culture and challenges, are vastly different from those leaders, just as your experiences, opportunities, challenges, and culture are different from mine. Does that mean that we can’t learn from history? We absolutely can.  But we must  always put things in a personal context. We need to look at how we lead based on our individual strengths, skills, experiences, values, goals, and intentions.

Leadership and emotional intelligence

To individualize leadership styles, we use the framework that emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman has outlined in his book Primal Leadership. Goleman defines six styles of leadership based on 25 emotional intelligence characteristics.  These six styles create a leadership toolkit from which leaders choose depending on what they are trying to achieve.  For example, if a leader needs to rally a team to make a big change, the leader needs to inspire the team to follow, to achieve, to rally round.  Goleman identifies that as a Visionary leadership style.  He outlines five specific emotional intelligence skills required to use that style effectively: inspiration, self-awareness, self-confidence, empathy, and transparency.

Goleman’s six leadership styles — visionary, democratic, coaching, affiliative, pace-setting, and commanding — are divided into resonant and dissonant styles.  The four resonant styles (visionary, democratic, coaching, affiliative) are ones that employees feel positive about, they resonant with them.  The two dissonant styles (pace setting and commanding) can have a negative impact on employees, that is, cause dissonance, if they are used improperly. Pace setting, for example, is used to drive a well-developed team toward a short-term goal. It should only be used for short durations or you risk burning employees out.

How leadership styles can fail

I remember working for a pace-setting boss.  It was the go-to style in his limited toolkit. There were never any down times. Everything required working at a frenetic pace, and everyone stayed at a virtual point of exhaustion.  I didn’t stay in that job too long because I didn’t want to live my life at that pace. That leader was missing some of the key characteristics of the pace-setting style: empathy, collaboration, and communication. Don’t get me wrong. I am goal driven, an achiever, and like to excel.  But I also want the opportunity to learn new things, stretch my skills, and have new experiences.  It’s hard for those things to happen under a pace-setting leader.

Understanding when to use each of these leadership styles, and even more, knowing which of them come naturally to you and which don’t, is a great way to strengthen yourself as a leader. For the styles that don’t come naturally to you, you can work to develop the underlying emotional intelligence competencies that will enable you to use that style effectively.

This is an important piece of our boot camp and of our manager training workshops. We love watching the lights go on in people’s eyes as they begin to understand where they are and where they want to go as leaders. Reach out to us if type of information would make you or your employees stronger.  We have a boot camp in September, or we can bring this training to you.

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