in Times of Change
Effective Leadership Under Stress?
Perform at peak capacity during times of change by cultivating greater resilience, inner calm and a growth mindset
A busy executive in a corporate environment that always seems to be changing,
An HR manager seeking quality support for your executive suite?
Leading a team who struggle to stay productive and communicate effectively when “nothing ever seems to be the same two days in a row?”
Wondering how to improve your communication skills in the heat of the moment?
Frustrated when "urgent everything” impedes sound decision-making?
Wishing you could turn those personality and aptitude test results from your management training results into actionable, on-the-job excellence?
I get it. I really do
Constantly-changing corporate environments where performance expectations shift almost daily, I know how challenging it can be to respond—rather than react—when everything at work is coming at you.
And the situation for most of us is only getting worse. Leaders face constant uncertainty in the workplace today. Though management training is an invaluable tool for cultivating the critical skills it takes to “lead under fire,” traditional trainings often do not address the real sources of stress on the job.
In fact, stress is now the leading cause of illness in America, costing U.S. employers $300 billion per year in absenteeism, lost productivity and medical costs.
Leadership methods taught in workplace trainings may provide an excellent foundation, but what happens when you as a leader get back onto the floor—and into the middle of the next big issue?
The only way to reduce the amount of stress-induced illness in our work environments is to change our relationship to stress.
Do you know how to beat your natural “fight or flight” response, analyze situations from a calm frame of mind and make the best decision under pressure?
The answer to that last question can always be “yes,” but only if you listen closely to your mind AND your body.
As employees, leaders and teams, we all need coping and resiliency tools to help us perform at our peak in this challenging new landscape.
Traditional leadership training is invaluable—but the stressors of the moment, each day on the job, are where the real test of our skills comes in. When we are stressed or worrying we are not able to accomplish what we intend to at work.
According to the science of somatic intelligence, at any given moment, our bodies give us all the data we need to identify those mounting stress reactions and choose better responses.
This means our physical and psychological reactions TO stress at work tell us something important about our wellness at any given moment in time.
This also means that we can gather data about our own stress reactions and actually improve our performance as leaders by stopping to listen to what is going on in our bodies and our minds.
The truth is: what’s going inside us will make—or break—our performance as leaders in the workplace. Our bodies are the very best “barometer” of how we are really doing with that stress. Yet most management training focuses on self-assessments and external coping skills, often with little attention given to the inner self-awareness that can soothe our stress reactions under pressure.
We all have minds, bodies and emotions, but we rarely get an in-depth education in how they function together to aid or impede our performance in the workplace.
That’s where mindfulness and Somatic Intelligence comes in.
The neuroscientifically-supported, research based practices of mindfulness will help you identify your own stress response and replace it with calmer, more resilient responses through techniques like meditation, breath work and attentive listening.
Through the power of research-based mindfulness, you CAN tap your own physiological data and shift your thinking, so that you can make smarter decisions and lead your team more effectively in your changing workplace.
Plus, these practices can be implemented in as little as five minutes per day—making them an ideal tool for busy executives.
Numerous studies have shown that mindful practices empower workplace leaders and teams to cultivate a growth mindset, significantly greater resilience to change and attentive communication in evolving workplaces.
And the benefits aren't just being seen in research. Similar mindfulness programs are currently being taught at KPMG, Boeing, Google, SAP, General Mills, Aetna, and Intel.
So why are the giants of industry and information technology so eager to teach their top executives these techniques?
80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/87-111.html)
Mindfulness helps you calm the stress responses in your brain when the workplace becomes frenzied, and help you develop greater stress resiliency in light of changing conditions at work.
Participants in numerous research reports on mindfulness in the workplace show improvement in their ability to regulate their emotions in stressful circumstances, take perspectives from the rest of their team, reduce stress and increase confidence in the face of difficult workplace decisions. They also enjoy:
I can attest to these powerful results first-hand, because this is also my personal story.
As a seasoned corporate leader, I spent almost three decades managing teams in the auto finance industry and auditing financial services. I also completed my MBA. Though I loved my work and treated leadership as a high calling, I became “stuck in my head” along the way as a Type A analytical thinker.
When the pressure of constant change at work continued to mount, and my stress levels soared, I began practicing body-based mindfulness and relaxation exercises such as interoceptive yoga, purely for exercise and stress relief. I noticed almost immediate benefits to my calmness on the job, my ability to handle the stress of constant change, and make and effectively communicate decisions. The practice quickly cultivated in me a curiosity about why, exactly, it was working to bring me back into my body, emotions and equilibrium the way nothing else had.
I soon found myself devouring everything I could about the neuroscience behind the mind-body connection, also known as “somatic intelligence” or “mindfulness.”
Along the way, I learned how to recognize when my own stress response was rising at work and impeding good decision-making. I learned to sort through the firestorm in my own mind and select the most powerful, actionable thought to focus on for any given task, and how better “read” others’ communication styles, as well as recognize objectively how my communication patterns were being received by my team.
The practice of mindfulness empowered me as a leader to shift my self-awareness from abstract “personality test” results to practical leadership effectiveness.
That passion led me to the neuroscience of somatic intelligence, particularly the way that mindfulness, meditation and breath work between our minds and our bodies to provide data for decision making. I started cutting back the hours worked in my corporate career and I spent a decade teaching yoga and meditation—as well as studying with some of the top mindfulness and somatic awareness instructors.
Now, I am a passionate educator and inspirational speaker who continues to study the evidence based benefits of the various practices folding into my teachings. I teach mindful leadership and emotional intelligence skills to corporate executives via both 1:1 and group workshops. I am passionate that these practices can help us assimilate and thrive in times of change.
My 8-week program, Under Stress, Do You React or Respond? empowers busy executives in rapidly-evolving workplaces to increase their effectiveness, efficiency and resilience by developing the emotional awareness and resilient thinking patterns that come from an intimate knowledge of how our minds and bodies function together to process stress.
When you or your team finish my eight-week training, you will:
Understand and experience first-hand why emotional intelligence benefits yourself and your team in the workplace
Cultivate your own emotional intelligence through a series of trainable skills
Learn resilience practices that increase your inner capacity to deal with difficult situations and readily bounce back from the stresses of work
Experience mindfulness meditation and mindfulness practices you can quickly incorporate into your daily routine
Cultivate mindful listening skills that can help you support others and build healthy relationships, at work
Experience focused attention practices and implement them to make better decisions
Understand how focused attention practice supports self-awareness
Communicate more effectively with your team on a daily basis
To achieve these results, we will dive into thorough explanations from the fields of neuroscience and emotional intelligence, and emphasize learning about the mind in a “first-person” way through mindful practices that are specifically tailored for effectiveness in a busy corporate environment. Offering corporate Mindfulness in Wisconsin including greater Milwaukee and Waukesha
Through the practice of mindfulness, you will develop skills that will increase your personal resilience, inner-capacity to deal with our challenging business environment and ability to solve problems creatively and collaboratively.
And here’s the thing: this doesn’t have to take forever.
You are a busy. You don’t have time to add a long routine to your schedule. But the techniques I will teach you can be started in as few as five minutes per day.
Implementing short practices to: increase your resilience, respond powerfully to shifting dynamics and circumstances in the workplace, communicate more effectively with your team and succeed at your job.
In the training, I teach you how to incorporate all this into your natural daily routine, so that reducing stress and clearing your mind for better decision-making becomes as innate as breathing.
Here is exactly what you will get in Under Stress, Do You React or Respond?:
8 one-hour weekly sessions (each week builds upon the previous session)
Intensive instruction in the neuroscience foundation of mindfulness at each session.
Customized meditation and breathwork experiences at each session.
Unlimited email follow-up.
Robust resource packet with a collection of top articles and step-by-step mindfulness activities you can do in under five minutes a day at your desk
Interactive and experiential: focused on building skills you can use
Sessions will cover a variety of topics including, mindful communication, empathy, resilience, self-awareness and emotional regulation
Participants will explore these areas and develop the knowledge and tools to bring the benefits of mindfulness and emotional intelligence into daily life
These sessions are highly customized to you and your team. Space is limited, and the number of engagements per year are also limited – so please reach out to me directly to schedule a consultation or site visit to discuss your training.
THE UNDER STRESS, DO YOU REACT OR RESPOND CLASS IS LED BY:
Somatic intelligence expert, mindful leadership coach and change management facilitator Connie Cudnohowski has been practicing mindfulness for many years. She has been studying and teaching the neuroscience of body-based mindfulness for the past nine years. Connie holds degrees in Communications, Political Science and an MBA.
She can relate to real world business problems as she has experienced the stressful dynamic of being an auditor in the banking and finance industries, starting her own business, and integrating process improvement as a manager at General Motors. She has been interested in the intersection of neuroscience, leadership and areas of personal growth for many years.
Increased mindfulness reduces the tendency to allow unrecoverable prior costs to influence current decisions thereby improving decision making. When you are not focused on lost sunk costs, the ability to consider more creative big picture perspectives become viable.
Professionals trained in mindfulness were able to:
stay on task longer and
remember what they'd done better
(Levy etal, 2012)
When leading in complex conditions, leaders found improvements in their ability to remain calm under pressure and experienced improved decision making ability due to increased adaptability and agility.
(Reitz etal, 2016)
Training improves the connection between the brain’s “thinking” and “feeling” areas allowing for better emotional relationships
creating more trusting teamwork environments.
(Farb etal, 2007).
Inspired Teamwork with:
Disrupt HR (SHRM)
Pro Health Westwood
Santosha Yoga & Ayurveda
Call Connie today to see if we are a match ~
Speaking and Coaching
I am grateful for all the individual clients I have worked with one on one over the years. It is a process where we both learn and grow as we integrate the learning modality that meets the development opportunity in the present moment.
Studying (and playing :)) with Olympic Sports Psychologist Cecilia Morini in Boston while finishing Bo Forbes Embodied Awareness Training.
Hello, I'm Connie - Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have about how the practices of mindfulness and somatic intelligence can benefit you and your organization.
With Chade Meng Tan, Google's "Jolly Good Fellow" and creator of Search Inside Yourself Mindfulness Training. Meng suggests you cannot be strong unless you are facing resistance. Learning tools to embrace new situations even when they are uncomfortable is imperative for our growth. He shares how to find find joy even amongst difficulties.
When the Winds of Change Arrive ~ Smooth Sailing is One Breath Away
Somatic Mindfulness Coaching
What is somatic intelligence?
It is creating awareness of physical responses and emotions that impact our actions and mind and using that knowledge to cultivate a more informed response in any given situation.
Many times, we either are unaware of the physical tension rising in our body or we try to ignore the sensations (overriding our intuition) because we need to ’get the job done’.
Think about a time when you ‘bit’ someone’s head off in a conversation and immediately wondered what that was about? Likely you were having some physiological activation (possibly an unconscious memory of a past situation) in your body that activated the Amygdala, causing you to jump in and react rather than respond.
As a Somatic Coach, I help individuals:
· cultivate awareness of the physical sensations that impact their decision-making ability.
· learn their stress responses and teach tools to alleviate those responses before chronic pain sets in.
· Increase awareness of consciousness to facilitate the ability to move forward in life.
This training is not for everyone. I work with people who are truly ready for transformation . If you are still in the exploratory stages ~ Good for you! I encourage you to keep exploring. When I was in that stage of my transformation , I did a lot of yoga, meditation and Hannah Somatic work. The Hannah Somatic work seemed to me to be advanced yoga and truly changed my awareness. If you feel ready for a bigger change, please call me for a brief consultation to see if this type of coaching is right for you.
Uncertainty in the workplace that leads to anxiety, stress and reactionary decision-making and the constant stress of shifting expectations wreaks havoc on the human body. In today’s volatile workplace, leaders and
their teams live with almost constant “fight or flight” stress reactions that circumvent mental agility and creative problem-solving. Many leaders want to cultivate a “growth mindset” in themselves and their people so they can flow with changes rather than resist them. Yet this is easier said than done. How does one cultivate this mindset to embrace change? This question is at the core of my work.
Setup an appointment for your first coaching session to learn how to reduce your stress response and live life with a greater sense of ease and relaxation. Responding to all life has to offer from your best self, rather than reacting.
My method involves cultivating the self-awareness leaders need to assess and respond to their own physiological responses in the “heat” of the moment, as well as assess and respond to those of their team.
I use somatically-based tools like mindfulness, meditation and breath work to help individuals understand how they are reacting to change and shift those reactions. This allows them to reduce stress, listen more effectively, communicate in ways that resonate with their colleagues and overall improve their effectiveness. There is no “perfect” question or solution in a quickly shifting environment. Tuning in to somatic intelligence—a powerful form of data for decision-making that comes from our bodies and minds—helps increase this discernment.
As a former auditor, I use my assessment skills to help individuals “audit” their own response to change. I then teach evidence based techniques that draw on mindfulness, meditation and breathwork, as well as classic coaching practices, to help individuals cultivate mental agility.
We work on:
· Mental resilience to absorb and “bounce back” quickly from workplace and market shifts.
· Stress awareness and reduction techniques that help leaders stay in a calm, centered frame of mind that reduces reactionary decision-making.
· Communication & listening skills that truly perform under pressure, so that the practitioner can work with the anxiety inherent in “tough conversations” and connect genuinely with team members in front of them ultimately cultivating greater team trust and cohesion.
· Creative thinking - ability to think beyond the ‘textbook’ scenario and integrate concepts from various realms to find the solution needed in the moment.
· Flexibility in learning style.
· Work-life balance
· Actionable leadership strategies executives can use right now to respond to real-time team situations.
Hello, and thanks for stopping by my site.
My name is Connie Cudnohowski, but please don’t bother trying to pronounce my last name. Just call me “Connie C.” All my clients do!
In my workshops, I like to introduce myself by saying that there are eleven letters in my last name, just as there are eleven streams of thought in my mind right now, but only one of them deserves my attention.
This principle is the essence of the leadership practices I teach: that of the 70,000 thoughts that pass through our minds each day, we leaders must know which thoughts to focus on, and which ones to let go.
In fact, I like to say that great leadership as a whole is all about knowing when to let go.
Releasing those ten extraneous thoughts each moment, and focusing on the one most actionable idea, is a foundational practice that
transformed me personally during my 25+ years working and leading in a changing corporate environment.
Learning to enact this principle changed my relationship with my career as a leader, with on-the-job stress, and the almost-constant level of change in every workplace I entered.
I am a seasoned corporate leader in the auto finance industry who also spent more than two decades auditing the financial services industry. (I’ve worked in roles as diverse as leading a team through a corporate downsizing and relocation, investigating fraud, repossessing cars and starting my own business). So when it comes to workplace stress--there’s nothing I haven’t experienced myself in some form over the years!) I am a systems thinker who holds degrees in Communication, Political Science and an MBA.
At the same time, I am also a passionate educator who has spent years studying the neuroscientific benefits of mindfulness with some of the world’s top instructors.
Through my study I learned that, in any situation, no matter how stressful, science has proven that we have access to all the data we need within our own minds and bodies to assess our stress reactions and create a more healthy, proactive response. This “somatic intelligence”—body smarts, if you will—is a key leadership competency many management training and continuing education programs do not yet address.
Because I lived myself as a corporate leader for many years, I understand the unique challenges of this work environment, and the unique stressors leaders face. I have lived each of the techniques I teach and witnessed its transformative power in my own life.
As a somatic intelligence expert, change management facilitator and leadership coach, I help busy executives navigate the turbulent waters of workplace change with neuroscientifically-supported, physiologically-based tools that aid stress reduction, effective communication and decision-making under pressure.
I believe that there is no “perfect” question or solution for every decision in a shifting environment. Tuning in to our somatic intelligence helps increase our discernment. Literally, we can identify those 11 thought streams running through our heads at any given moment, and eliminate the ten that really don’t matter.
When we cultivate this kind of awareness, we truly can become the leaders we desire to be, and that our teams and employers need us to be.
This is the foundation of my 8-week signature mindfulness program for leaders and teams.
So how did I find my way into this unique, exciting niche of leadership development?
Like most of us, it took me quite a while to arrive at my calling. After I graduated from college, I began working for General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) and was selected for management training. I was given a promotion to a salaried employee in training (SEIT) where I was rotated through each department in the organization to learn the fundamentals. I was flown back and forth to Detroit to complete leadership development training, of which one segment was jokingly referred to as ‘charm school.’
The training included typical 360 degree reviews, Myers Briggs, embracing change etc. At the end of the training I was placed as the manager of a collections group.
During this phase of my career, I first began observing the way the training was structured. I noticed that while the program provide excellent external information that started the process of self-awareness, it stopped short of teaching me how to cultivate and grow my own internal self-awareness.
This led to challenges back on the management floor, where I was bombarded with situations daily that needed to be addressed. As a young manager I truly desired to become more aware of myself, my own and others’ stress triggers and reactions, so that I could make more aware, informed decisions in the moment.
The day came for me to give one of the collectors on our team her performance review. She was twice my age and had considerable experience. However, upon completing her review, she provided me feedback that stopped me in my tracks. She shared that I was a ‘know it all’ who came off as arrogant. I was flabbergasted, as I had thought I was just doing my job. My matter of fact presentation skills, while clearly the style that I preferred, were not working for everybody.
Despite all my management-level communication training and knowledge of how to use language for her personality style, “Charm School” did not teach me the full lesson.
Once again, I longed for a deeper approach to self-leadership that could help me as a corporate leader cultivate my awareness of these patterns before the feedback earlier in the process.
I am very grateful to have received that lesson early in my career, as it helped me realize quickly that communication is done in relationship, and how you cultivate that relationship is vital to an effective teamwork environment.
GMAC ended up relocating and I chose not to join them. I then took a position as an auditor in the financial services industry.
Once again, difficult conversations were a regular part of my position. I was charged with identifying if a process was incomplete or being done incorrectly. I then got to relay that information to the auditee and their senior leadership and they weren’t always receptive to the information so my role became one of trying to get their buy-in on the issues as well as offer solutions for process improvement.
What ties these stories together?
Good executives and good auditors don’t stick to the script.
They run off the script, knowing to ask the extra question and question inconsistencies lead often to the real potential issues. I take this approach as an educator, look at things from a holistic perspective and asking the “curious questions” to help executives become more aware of their own reactions.
My trainings focus on how processes, shifts and individual stressful situations fit into the organization as a whole. When an individual needs help investigating a stress reaction to a particular situation, we work together to get curious about what that is trying to tell them.
I think everyone has a desire to know why they are here. How the moments in their life connect, especially when in the moment they can feel a bit disconnected and possibly directed by the wind or whims of someone else.
I spent decades in a corporate environment and underwent top leadership training in evolving companies, so I know exactly what it feels like to lead in that dynamic space where nothing is ever the same two days in a row.
But this lifestyle of constant change also came with a cost. Over the years I became “stuck in my head” as a Type A analytical thinker. That is, until I started practicing the body-based mindfulness and relaxation exercises through a form of yoga called “interoceptive yoga.”
I started practicing yoga while I was still with GM purely as a means of exercise and stress relief. But the practice quickly cultivated in me a curiosity about why, exactly, it was working to bring me back into my body, emotions and equilibrium the way nothing else had. I soon found myself devouring everything I could about the neuroscience behind mindfulness and yoga.
That passion led me to the neuroscience of somatic intelligence, particularly the way that mindfulness, meditation and breath work between our minds and our bodies to provide data for decision making.
I spent a decade teaching yoga and meditation—as well as studying at some of the top mindfulness and somatic awareness institutes on the cutting edge of how mindfulness, in particular, can help us assimilate and thrive in times of change.
The practice of mindfulness has helped me create self-awareness from the inside out. All of the reactions I identify through mindfulness tell me something important in my state of being at any given moment in time.
Mindfulness helps you identify early on in the process that the body is stressed, that the mind is anxious and those indicators result in reactivity if ignored or responsiveness if attended to. Mindful listening also allows me to take in the subtle clues provided by the person I am interacting with and respond to them in a more thoughtful manner. (Had I had this training back in the GMAC days, I would have picked up on that employee’s frustration with my communication style earlier.)
The past 10 years I have worked part-time and also taught yoga and mindfulness skills under my own business, Sense of Wonder LLC . I absolutely love seeing people start to align and act from their own truth. My business has evolved as my knowledge has grown. I'm passionate about teaching others how to cultivate the process of keeping a Sense of Wonder about their internal world to enhance their ability to know what is needed to make the best decision in the moment and let go of the data that may not be needed.
Over the last few years, I have traveled the U.S. and India studying the neuroscience of mindfulness and the somatic (mind-body) connection with some of the top instructors in the field.
I am now a sought-after expert helping executives tap their own physiological data and rewrite their mental narratives so they can make smarter decisions and lead their teams more effectively in a changing workplace.
When I began teaching undergraduate business courses of ‘Behavior in Organizations’ and ‘Management’, I started integrating the concept of flow, which is presence and awareness of the present moment, rather than just fight or flight. These concepts grew into the workshops and 1:1 trainings I offer to organizations today.
As a former auditor, I now use my assessment skills to help individuals “audit” their own response to change. I teach neuro-scientifically-supported techniques that draw on body-based mindfulness research, as well as classic coaching practices, to help individuals cultivate mental agility, shift their reaction to change and develop greater mental health and team performance in the middle of a changing environment.
Now, I am passionate about connecting my neuroscientific background and the power of somatic response tools with the corporate workspaces I once inhabited. Why? Because I believe helping individuals to cultivate self-discovery of their holistic self (body/mind) allows them to align action with their highest values and reduce overwhelming stress.
Many leaders have not yet thought about corporate leadership training as outside in, whereas mindfulness is inside out awareness. Finding your own understanding versus having some agency send you a printout based on your personality type is the most liberating feeling in the world--and the one that will propel you to greatest effectiveness as a manager.
I look forward to working with you and your team!