Life is a balancing act, especially with the lines between home and work life blurred by the pandemic. Jennifer Bezoza, founder of Leading For Good, Executive Coach for Chief, and mother, has mastered the balance.
Jennifer talks community, parenting, leadership, and the joys of problem solving! Read on to know more about where Jennifer finds community, and how leadership building has affected her parenting.
Your work is about building leadership skills among executives and professionals — What do you love most about that work?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing.
I love helping clients get clear on what goals or vision would be truly inspiring for them to achieve. Often, I find people don’t allow themselves to dream big, so the coaching process pushes them to open up their minds to new and bigger possibilities. Helping my clients shift their mindsets and break down a vision into achievable steps is a rewarding and fascinating process for me, and while it has a clear methodology, it is a unique journey with each person with whom I work. I particularly enjoy helping clients dig deeper than they could and would on their own. I feel most satisfied when I see clients able to make big and positive changes for themselves and their organizations incrementally over a period of several months or even a year of working together.
I also love the creativity of customizing a client session—whether a team building retreat, a group coaching session or meeting, or an emotional intelligence workshop— to a particular audience’s goals and culture. I like to play with possibilities and select the “right” combination of content, exercises, assessments, timing and visuals to meet the desired objectives. While it’s challenging, I find it extremely rewarding to help groups and teams emerge with new self-awareness, clarity and commitments to apply in their work and life. Because of the wide range of client organizations and topics that we cover, I feel like I am always learning and growing myself.
Work can be challenging for so many reasons—whether it be the work itself, the amount and pace of work, the organizational politics and challenging relationships, or in this particular year, balancing working from home with fewer supports and boundaries—so I think about our work as helping individuals and organizations rediscover the zone of inspiration, learning, flow and team so that people can feel included and valued and engaged to bring their best at work each day.
Creating empowering community among women at Mother Oxford is core to our values. How do you find your work creates community for women? And how have you found community in your business and work as well?
I do a good deal of work for Chief, a membership-based organization designed to connect and support women leaders in advancing and staying in executive leadership through curated coaching groups and workshops and networking spaces. It’s an honor to facilitate incredible groups of female leaders on a journey of self-discovery through group coaching exercises and facilitated discussions. They value the safe space to bring their challenges and fears to a supportive group of peer leaders across different industries and functions. Members appreciate the different perspectives and also receiving validation and encouragement as well.
Running a small business can be isolating at times, so I have worked hard to build and maintain my community over the last decade since going out on my own. I have a few different peer advisory groups that are my “go to” network on different challenges and topics that come up. One of my greatest referral sources has been from other small business owners in my and related fields and also my former colleagues in my former HR and organizational development roles.
How has the work you do changed since the pandemic hit? How has it moved online, if it has?
Prior to the pandemic, my physical location would involve a hybrid of being in clients’ offices, working at Luminary – a women’s co-working space-and also working from home as well. Since the pandemic lockdown began in mid-March, my work moved entirely online and with a 12 year old daughter and 10 year old son, I quickly also became a short order cook, editor, tech and printing support, and fitness instructor, to boot. As has been written about extensively, the line between work and personal has blurred. I think the pandemic has given us all much greater empathy for one another as we see and hear one another’s realities more deeply from our respective homes, and in the field of leadership, we talk a lot about the value of compassionate, human centered leadership at this time.
Compared to many service businesses, coaching and training has migrated fairly well to the remote setting. However, zoom fatigue is real. I hear a lot of exasperation about working from home day in and day out, it’s been important to be sensitive to the duration and format for different sessions for clients. For the most part, however, I am seeing that individual and group coaching are needed more than ever to help people pull up from the monotony and focus on the bigger picture of why and what people are committed to creating.
We saw a dip in the spring during the immediate shock of the crisis and organizations needing to focus on urgent business decisions and pivots; once we hit the fall, however, I have seen a lot of organizations that have weathered the last several months successfully wanting to support their employees emotionally and intellectually with professional development.
My clients miss meeting face to face but like us all, but have been resilient with what is safe and possible. I don’t see my work going back to in person until the third quarter of 2021 or whenever the vaccine has been successfully distributed on a huge scale.
In what ways, if it has, has being a leadership coach influenced your parenting to Brooke and Eli?
While it is very different being a parent to my own children than a leadership coach working with adults, there are certainly concepts that carry over. For example, I try to always be open to feedback on how I can be a better parent. And my kids are not shy in giving me constant feedback on everything, from my cooking to my tone of voice in requests or my presence when on my phone. While I don’t always agree, I aim to always acknowledge and thank them for the perspective.
My husband and I both emphasize the importance of making and keeping our commitments, regardless of our feelings and wants at a particular moment in time. We also emphasize taking responsibility for our actions and standing up for what’s right and kind, which is the work of leaders. And since my job is in part about helping people have their best performance, we often discuss regular practices and routines that help us be at our best, from getting enough sleep, eating good food for energy and growth, and managing our screen time.
Where else do you find community?
I find community in many places, including my book club of five years, which has smoothly transitioned to an online format. My daughter is in middle school now, but the moms from her kindergarten class are still close and regularly stay in touch via chats, zoom and fun outings as well. Particularly in this last year, we have supported each other through discouraging headlines, death and birthdays and milestones. My family and I spend a lot of time in upstate New York, and my kids are ski racers, so we have also found a warm community of parents crazy enough to spend all their winter weekends on the slopes. Recently, I took up meditation practice with a group of people on Sunday mornings, and I feel a sense of community here too.
I feel a sense of community with others whenever there is authenticity and openness and genuine curiosity in a conversation. Being a proud California transplant to NY, I feel community whenever I step outside my door.
Interested in executive coaching, teambuilding and leadership development for your profit or not for profit organization? Connect with Leading for Good to help unlock your leadership potential.