Archive for November, 2014

It’s Time To Own It!

November 25th, 2014

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‘I must do something’ always solves more problems than ‘Something must be done’
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Accountability is a funny thing. Some people crave it, some avoid it and some simply have no idea what to do with it.

Yet personal accountability is such an enormously powerful trait that can really distinguish you from your peers and the crowd you run with. The days of having a job for life are now long gone. Maintaining relevance to your employer, your network and you industry is now a critical key to future-proofing your career; and the fastest way to remain relevant is to be accountable for what it is that you do. Accountable for the tasks you are required to do and accountable for the way in which you do it.

Todd Herman offers a great definition of personal accountability that expands on the traditional one of simply being responsible, to include: ‘the preparedness to answer…. for the outcomes resulting from your choices, behaviours and actions”.

Making a commitment to own your performance, your decisions, behaviours, successes and mistakes not only sets you apart but it elevates your career currency to new levels. Your performance improves, your relationships are strengthened, your reputation is elevated and you attract new opportunities. It’s a massive WIN!

When you made the decision to work for your employer, you invariably signed a formal contract that outlined all the responsibilities and tasks you committed to and what you would receive in return. You also though in effect agreed to an unwritten contract where you agreed to take personal responsibility for delivering work to the highest standard and best of your ability – and not just enough to scrape by. Turning in the bare minimum translates to mediocrity, average and non-descript. It also says to those around you that you don’t value what you do so why should they.

As individuals when you turn up to work and focus on delivering excellence to the organisation you work for; your clients and customers; your colleagues; you make yourself indispensable. When you show up and expect everyone else to prop you up; blame others when things go wrong; and act entitled; you run the enormous risk of becoming redundant. It is worth remembering that it is the company that owns the job, you own your career.

As leaders our challenge is to create cultures where people want and choose to be accountable. Where they don’t need to be held accountable by others because they already hold themselves to their responsibilities and behaviours. Where they crave accountability because it’s where the good stuff happens – for both them personally and the organisation at large.[vcex_spacing size=”20px”]So what are the key elements of accountability?

  1. Transparency: Be as open as possible about your choices, motivations, actions and outcomes. Nothing engenders more trust and collaboration than open, honest communication.
  1. Participation: Actively engaging with those that are impacted by your choices and decisions is not only a part of being accountable but it is also a powerful demonstration of what and why you value what you do.
  1. Reflection & Deliberation: Once you have actively engaged with those who are key stakeholders, we are able to validate the pathway that we are heading in. Opening up the channels of communication to listen, reflect and re-evaluate will ensure that the choices and actions you take are relevant and impactful.
  1. Response: Rarely do we sail in a straight line. The ability to adapt how and what we do to meet the demands and requirements of our role requires is critical if we are to deliver lasting outcomes.

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The Accountability Cycle by Joshua Kahn Russell  
[vcex_spacing size=”20px”]Taking personal accountability for your career isn’t just about ensuring you have a paycheck at the end of the month or a bonus at the end of the quarter. It is about creating lasting value for both yourself and your business. It is about creating choices and pathways for transition.

When you take personal accountability for your career, you are the Captain of your ship and you can choose to confidently sail in whichever direction you decide.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot – The Career Diplomat[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to discuss ways to build accountability within your own career or with your team, please contact Margot directly on or +61 3 9866 3842.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” link=”″]

Does Curiosity Really Kill The Cat?

November 19th, 2014

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Curiosity is the engine of acheivement

– Ken Robinson
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”20px”]This age old adage seems to suggest that curiosity is a dangerous thing – that it leads us down a path of danger, that it is fraught with hurdles and is an unnecessary use of time.

Have you ever noticed though that the truly great leaders are curious leaders?

They seem to be in possession of an extraordinary curiosity for exploring ‘the new’; for learning and discovery; for the possibility of what could be and not merely what is. They are motivated by the desire to improve and better their own lives, careers and the organisations that they lead. They are not satisfied with maintaining the status quo.

Being curious does not mean being distracted. In our hyper-connected world it is indeed a challenge not to become overwhelmed and distracted with the never-ending amount of information that is available at your fingertips. The ability however to effectively channel your curiosity to the things that matter is what defines a ‘healthy curiosity’ and sets those that are truly successful apart.

So why is curiosity important?

  • Curiosity showcases your personal brilliance

Asking why or how helps us clarify situations and issues. It encourages us to adopt a proactive solution oriented style of thinking rather than a reactive problematic view of the world.

Who doesn’t want to surround themselves with people who adopt this positive view of their situation and environment?[vcex_spacing size=”20px”]

  • Curiosity underpins the cycle of learning

Your own curiosity helps you become better at what you do. It encourages critical thinking, mastery of skill, development of new skills and confidence. The cycle of learning is underpinned and ultimately perpetuated by curiosity as this table so aptly demonstrates.

  • Curiosity acts as a great source of influence, inspiration and motivation

Not only is this true for our own individual careers, but as leaders your ability to spark an interest and make your team more curious will increase everybody’s chances of success.

As individuals and teams learn, grow and actively seek out the best way forward, the operating environment becomes more engaging and attractive to those around you.

  • Curiosity leads to agility, innovation and creativity

The ability to think creatively, take on new knowledge and readily adapt requires a high degree of mental fitness. Just as physical exercise is required to keep our body in shape, curiosity is required to keep our mind in shape.

Individuals and organisations that are stronger, more agile, have the ability to think laterally and who more connected to their markets achieve far higher results and levels of satisfaction than their counterparts. It provides the additional competitive advantage that sets them apart in the market place.[vc_single_image image=”354″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vcex_spacing size=”20px”]

  • Curiosity helps us maintain relevance and purpose in what we do

To maintain relevance and purpose in this rapidly changing world we need to adopt a curious mindset. Without it we lose our place and our perspective – be it in the workplace or our community. Curiosity opens us up to a world of possibilities and brings new levels of excitement and engagement to what we do.

How do we build curiosity and embrace it in our own lives?      

  • Commit to an open mind

Not only do we need to commit to learning and embracing the new, but also to unlearning and relearning. Our ability to change our view on the way that things have always been done and embrace new ways can be a continual challenge, however a curious mindset will actively support the embracing not only of new ideas but also new ways to approach things.

  • Ask questions – lots of them

Your outcomes and direction are greatly determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself and those around you. Seeking understanding and not merely responses will help create and open up new opportunities, solutions and pathways.

  • Don’t accept the status quo

Challenge the norm – ask why? How many times have we heard the response ‘because that ‘s the way we’ve always done it’ or ‘that’s just the way we do things around here’ only to discover that the blind acceptance of the status quo is what is holding us back from achieving great things.

Creating a safe environment that encourages exploration of the ‘why’ is a key part of developing critical thinking and action oriented outcomes.

  • Adopt a healthy regard for learning

Successful individuals and great leaders are never satisfied with what they know. They advocate the need for life long learning and recognise that learning does not stop with the acquisition of a certain role or title. Seeing learning as fun and a source of motivation and knowledge will make you naturally want to dig deeper.

  • Collaborate

None of us have all the answers. Seeking out new relationships and engaging with those around you will ensure that the ‘ideas bank’ remains a rich resource to tap into. Not only does it make what we do more rewarding, but it also provides you with fresh thinking and different perspectives.

We all need to encourage and celebrate curiosity. We need it for both our own careers and the businesses that we lead. We need to see our organisations filled with people who know how to ask questions and who are experienced in finding answers and creating solutions; people who aren’t’ afraid to fall or fail for they know that they have the ability and confidence to stand and continue seeking out the best possible path forward. People who don’t want to settle for ‘what is’ but want to explore the ‘what if’ moments both for themselves and the organisations they work for.

I would love to hear your thoughts on ways you build curiosity into your own career and the businesses that you lead.

Margot – The Career Diplomat[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to discuss ways to build curiosity into your own career or develop it with your team, please contact Margot directly on or +61 3 9866 3842.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” link=”″]

Stand In Your Spotlight

November 5th, 2014

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Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage

– Anais Nin
Last week I had the good fortune to attend a truly inspiring business forum about unleashing your potential. It was one of those forums that left you not only feeling encouraged and challenged but more importantly better equipped to face the leadership landscape in both our personal careers and our businesses.

In amongst all of the learning there was one theme that seemed to underpin many of the speaker’s presentations – courage. Courage to not only step up to the challenge or think more creatively, but more critically to step out of the way of ourselves.[vcex_spacing size=”20px”][vc_row bg_style=”stretch” parallax_style=”fixed-repeat” parallax_direction=”up” parallax_speed=”0.5″ video_bg_overlay=”none”]When facing big decisions, new challenges or a changed environment, the saying ‘we are our own worst enemies’ often rings true for many of us. At the heart of it is fear – fear of failure, fear of what others think, fear of not being good enough. The expectations, limitations and fears that circle in our minds so often stop us maximising not only our current opportunity but also our true capability.

Changing career paths, taking on a bigger or more diverse role, proposing new ways of doing business, voicing an opinion that is not shared by the consensus or standing up publicly to share your views all requires a high degree of internal strength, conviction and courage. For many of us it means shaking off the age-old thinking that the best way to succeed is to keep your head down, fly under the radar, play it safe and don’t make too much noise.

How ironic is it that what we want from our leaders is almost the exact opposite. We want and expect our leaders to stand up and voice opinions, propose new ideas, create new environments and generate high levels of engagement. We want them to stand behind what we believe to be the right decision and tell us why. Courage is an inherent trait amongst great leaders and it is why we admire them so much.

The good news is that courage isn’t just available for a select few but for all of us. It isn’t so much a skill but a decision. It is the decision and ability to move ahead in the presence of fear and not as many say in the absence of fear. It’s a mindset and it can be learnt.

So how do we overcome our fears and learn to live and lead with greater courage? In between many useful reminders, tips and strategies last week, there were a few that stood out that I believe we should strive to embrace:

  • Create an environment that supports courage and learning

Creating a safe and supportive environment is critical to developing courage.

Sacha Coburn who presented at the forum about being ‘Fearless and Free’ shared a great analogy about a child learning to walk. Picture the environment in which a child learns to do this –  they are invariably surrounded by people that are all enthusiastically cheering every effort made to stand up and walk. Real dangers are removed and risks to ‘step out’ are actively encouraged. Wild cheering and delight is taken with every step – not every time they fall over. The observers aren’t saying ‘well you’ve fallen over three times now, we better seek some professional help’; instead they are saying ‘up you get, have another go, you’ll be okay’!

Surround yourself with other courageous thinkers, doers and advocates.

  • Note who you are listening too 

So often when we are driving significant change or introducing new concepts and ideas, the critics appear to come from nowhere and have the loudest voices. Knowing who your key influencers and advocates are is critical to building effective frameworks of support. Your trusted advisors will be able to offer insight, constructive feedback and advice to help you not only maintain courage but also influence.

  • Gain some perspective

Ask yourself ‘what is the worst thing that can happen?’ If it turns out that all it is that  your idea / comment / view is rejected  you will invariably be remembered as someone who was at least prepared to offer a contribution.

It is part of human nature to want to fit in, to be accepted and liked. Let’s face it no one goes out of his or her way to not fit in. However when we risk our own contribution for fear of not fitting in, it is often the disappointment in ourselves that remains long after the situation has ended.

  • Lose the perfectionist tag

Perfectionism is the equivalent of paralysis. It creates unwarranted stress, crushes creativity, prevents productivity and ultimately limits profitability.

It often also prevents true connections with others around us being formed. Openness and honesty about our own journey and lessons learned allows for a greater level of authenticity and engagement with those around us.

  • Be assured that the fire will come – Be ready for it

You can be guaranteed that when you attempt something new, there will be challenges and hurdles to overcome. They may come in the form of time, expense or people – regardless or their form they will exist.

When we know that they are part of the experience, they lose their power to hurt us personally, but instead become merely a part of the problem solving process.

  • Connect

Confidence is infectious. When you surround yourself with other like-minded and courageous individuals it not only helps you overcome your doubts and lingering fears but also helps you impart confidence to those that you are looking to influence.

It takes courage to challenge the norm, to make a tough decision, to answer the critics, to stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves, to not allow failures and disappointments deter you from your course, to be vulnerable and allow others the space to also be vulnerable. It takes courage to lead both your teams and businesses through periods of great uncertainty and change and remain true to your path.

Leaders who consistently demonstrate courage will stand apart from the masses and earn the trust and respect of those that they lead. Courage is what we will all be remembered for – the decisions we make or don’t make.

What will be your decision today?

Margot – The Career Diplomat [vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”126″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If you would like to discuss ways to maximise your personal or business potential, please contact Margot directly on or +61 3 9866 3842.[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”88″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” link=”″]

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