Archive for January, 2015

Avoiding The Energy Crisis

January 27th, 2015


‘Your energy is a valuable resource, distribute it wisely’

– Jay Samit
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]None of us are surprised to hear that when your energy levels are low, your work suffers. In fact most things suffer. Motivation wanes, productivity falls and efficiencies slow. Equally, failing to channel your energies in the right direction can also be just as problematic – distractions and frustrations abound with lots of energy expended for very little result.

As a consequence we often find ourselves facing mounting pressures and increasing demands – to which we typically respond by simply working longer hours. If I just do more, work harder, things will improve and I will get ‘through it’. When we don’t just simply ‘get through it’ we start to question our capability, purpose and impact. And, so begins a vicious cycle that if we aren’t careful can have severe ramifications for our health, career and relationships.

The problem with simply working longer hours is that you can still run out of them, for there are only a fixed number in each day, week or year. Unlike time, energy though is a renewable resource that can be topped up when we know how. Knowing what depletes our energy and what refuels it is the key to developing healthy, sustainable work habits and supporting ongoing success.

As many of us embark upon a new year with focus and energy, courtesy of a summer break, I would encourage you to think about how you manage and distribute your energy reserves. In doing so, you will not only enhance your opportunity to engage in meaningful work, you will maximise your energy and productivity levels and increase your capacity to consider and undertake new challenges.[vc_single_image image=”433″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=””][vcex_spacing size=”20px”[vc_single_image image=”557″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]Take a moment to consider where you are on the energy and productivity graph.

Regardless of which quadrant you sit in, you need to understand why you are in that position.If you are fortunate enough to sit in the ‘Fulfilled’ quadrant, you need to be clear about why you feel that way, what has helped you get there and what you need in order to stay there.

If you find yourself in one of the other three quadrants you need to determine what is causing the lack of fulfillment and what actionable steps you can immediately take to help you maximise both energy and productivity. Taking the time to critically reflect on the position you find yourself in opens up the pathway to higher level learning, deeper engagement and provides the platform for informed and confident decision making. It is also a critical exercise if you are to create a career and business you love.[vcex_spacing size=”20px”]Start by asking yourself these five simple questions:

What do I do and why? Nothing is more empowering than feeling aligned to your core purpose, talents and capabilities. The reality is that when you are inspired by what you do you are more actively engaged in your work and your business and you produce better results. Your purpose becomes your generator.

What daily habits fuel my energy? Of equal importance, is the ability to recognise those everyday habits that generate or rob us of our energy. Am I looking after myself physically, mentally and emotionally? Have I created healthy sustainable habits that will last beyond January and support optimal health in all areas of my life?

Am I bored or stuck in a rut? There is no doubt that routine kills energy. We all have things that we need to do but understanding how we can shake things up is important. Pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone more often than not also brings new knowledge, new networks, new opportunities and lessons that light a spark and fuels a passion for what we do.

Do I understand how my role and my skills add value to the business? We all like to know that our contribution is valued and how it impacts the overall success of our team and business. Initiating a conversation to understand what your value is and ways to increase it demonstrates a strong sense of accountability and desire to play an active role in both your own direction and that of the business you work for.

What relationships do I need to invest in?  Too often one of our major blockers or causes of angst is between our key stakeholders and members of our team. Taking the time to understand individual work and communication styles is a critical part of not only developing our influencing and leadership skills but also to ensuring timely and effective outcomes.

As leaders, we face never ending pressures to do ‘more with less’ – less resources, less money and less people. Even with these ongoing pressures, most of us recognise the need to invest in our own and our employee’s knowledge and skillsets. However we also need to consider how we build and sustain capacity for ourselves and our people. Healthy behaviours and productive practices will start with us.

Where are you on the energy and productivity scale and do you know how to elevate your potential?

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 maximise your productivity and career fulfilment for you or 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=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”″]

The Value of Trust

January 20th, 2015

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“Position and authority will give you followers, but trust will make you a leader.” 

– Aubrey McGowan
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]No matter where we turn, trust seems to be on the decline. Barely a day goes by where we don’t hear of a broken promise, contract or principle. Trust, which is widely regarded as the glue to any relationship, appears to be at crisis levels for many individuals and organisations today. In fact recent statistics suggest that only 47% of employees trust senior management and only 32% believe CEO’s to be a credible source of information. (source: Centre for Organisational Excellence)

This lack of trust represents a leadership crisis of monumental proportions. When we don’t believe those around us it not only sets in motion a tidal wave of negative attitudes and emotions, it actually significantly impacts our ways of thinking and behaving. So much so that it can easily become the biggest blocker to us achieving our goals.

It does however provide you as a leader with a brilliant opportunity to stand out from the crowd by building solid foundations of trust with your teams, your clients and your networks in a landscape that clearly seems to be both lacking in it and craving more of it.

I love Stephen Covey’s analogy of trust as a tax or a dividend: When there is a lack of trust in a relationship or organization, it is like a hidden tax that is placed on every transaction, piece of communication, decision and strategy, which brings speed down and sends costs up. By contrast, individuals and companies that operate with high levels of trust reap the benefits of a dividend that enables them to succeed by multiplying performance, productivity and capability.

Lack of trust therefore has the capacity to literally double the cost of doing business and triple the delivery timeframes; where as high trust has the capacity to not only significantly save time, money and angst but also deepen relationships, build greater collaboration, career fulfilment and success for all involved.[vc_single_image image=”433″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=””][vcex_spacing size=”20px”]For leaders, trust is two fold. You need to be able to engender it and you need to be able to give it. Without both, true success cannot be achieved. The most successful leaders recognise this and focus on creating it as a core objective. They make it a priority to build confidence in their:

  1. Capability – to deliver and build a solid track record of results; and
  2. Character – by acting with authenticity, integrity and clear intent;

Employees, customers and clients are simply asking the question – Can I trust you to deliver what you set out to promise and in a way that is honest and ethical?

Successful leaders understand that to gain trust you must also give it. They recognise that there is always a risk when giving trust and don’t deny the past or ignore the possibility of future results. They weigh up the risks and benefits before giving it and when they do, they ensure that they have established the right environment and frameworks to support and manage successful outcomes. They know when to step in and when to step away – and most importantly how to do it.

So what do the most successful leaders do to build trust?

  1. Establish purpose and commitment: from individuals and between individuals
  2. Communicate honestly and transparently: by talking straight and keeping it real!
  3. Ensure their actions match their words: removing ambiguity and taking the guess work out of situations
  4. Deliver results: that offer lasting and meaningful value
  5. Listen and observe: Not just to those that shout the loudest but to all members of a team
  6. Demonstrate consistency: If you do what you say and say what you do, people will trust you
  7. Remove the ‘landmines’: the hidden agendas, the vagueness and doubt
  8. Clarify expectations, purpose and commitment: contributions, behaviours and attitudes
  9. Value accountability: both for themselves and the team’s that they lead
  10. Remain engaged: with individuals, objectives, processes and outcomes
  11. Acknowledge and give credit where credit is due: both individually and publicly
  12. They not only earn trust, they extend it to others.

Trust is not just a nice-to-have. It is a critical component of personal, team and organizational performance. It is a clear enabler of success and one that underpins your leadership skill set and true capability.

The logic is pretty simple: if people trust you and that trust is reciprocated, they will give you their all.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts below.

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 develop your leadership skills or those of your people, 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=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”″]

The Happiness Factor

January 13th, 2015

[vc_single_image image=”496″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]“Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change; it is the realisation that we can”                         

Shawn Achor
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Achieving true happiness and success in both our personal and professional lives requires us to see it firstly as a possibility. It is only when we believe that it can be a reality that we can set about the business of making it one.

One of the great things about holidays is the chance to relax and catch up on some of those good reads that we have earmarked and invariably put aside for ‘later’. For me, one of those reads was Shawn Achor’s book – The Happiness Advantage. In his book, Achor suggests that our most commonly held formula for success is broken: work hard and you will become successful and THEN you will become happy. How many of us have spent years chasing happiness as some sort of end goal only to be disappointed or left with a feeling of “is this it?’ Or how many of us have recently made New Years resolutions believing that it will bring the answer to our happiness? If I can just lose those 5kgs; find that great job; win that next promotion; save another $10k, then I will be happy.

Whilst I am not suggesting that some of these things are not great goals, I do believe that if we make them the central source of our happiness we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. The danger then is that when we don’t achieve them or when we do and they don’t satisfy us, we no longer believe that we are successful or that true happiness is possible. AND if we don’t believe it for ourselves, how can we believe it is possible for the teams and businesses that we lead?

Rather than viewing happiness and success as the outcome we need to harness it as the driver for engagement, motivation and productivity. By becoming more positive ‘during the journey’ and not just at the end, we train our brains to become more successful. As Achor suggests, we work faster, more productively and more intelligently. The statistics for harnessing this outlook are compelling. Below is a snapshot of the impact that employee happiness has on a typical business: (source: RED: Recognise Every Day)[vc_single_image image=”433″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=””][vcex_spacing size=”20px”]

  1. Low level employee engagement results in 33% decreased revenue and 11% decrease in earnings growth
  2. Companies with high employee engagement levels have 19% higher revenue and 28% increased in earnings growth
  3. Unhappy employees take 15 more sick days each year than their engaged colleagues
  4. $11B is lost each year due to employee turnover that comes from poor company culture
  5. Companies that regularly ask for employee feedback have turnover rates that are 15% lower
  6. Lack of productivity costs Australian businesses $42b p.a

There is no doubt that most of us are creatures of habit. We create basic routines, habits and mindsets that guide our day-to-day lives and levels of engagement and productivity. As leaders we need to ensure that these daily habits are setting us up for success – and the businesses we lead – rather than hijacking it.

So what are some of the key elements for creating success and happiness in our workplaces?

  1. Vision: An ability to not only articulate the overall vision but demonstrate the value of each individual’s contribution to it.
  2. Optimism: Encouraging a ‘what is possible’ outlook is essential to harnessing potential and creating the frameworks to successfully execute.
  3. Empowerment: Knowing how to listen, guide and motivate employees in their role rather than control will not only empower individuals to achieve higher levels of success but also adopt greater degrees of career ownership.
  4. Values: Living them not writing them! Building trust and integrity in what you do, how you do it and acknowledge success is a critical element in any happy workplace.
  5. Voice: Providing a safe, constructive and positive forum for employees to voice their observations, views and feedback will not only support further success but also drive innovation and problem solving strategy.
  6. Social Support: Learning how to invest in the talents, strengths and support of those around us not only promotes greater productivity and success but also increases individual capacity and strength.
  7. Challenge vs Threat: The ability to see stress and problems as challenges rather than threats not only creates a psychologically safer operating environment but encourages a more open, collaborative workplace.
  8. Resilience: Coping with and recovering from failure and ongoing challenges not only helps us to overcome, but also learn from situations.

Whilst we can’t make people happy we can create environments that support happy healthy mindsets, habits and ambitions. To harness individual and business potential we need to ensure that we have the right people in the right place at the right time and that those individuals want to be there! Combined with a stronger reality of what defines success and happiness we are well positioned for longer-term productivity and fulfilment.[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 harness the potential, success and happiness of 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=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”″]

A Blank Canvas

January 7th, 2015

[vc_single_image image=”510″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]“Too often, we decide to follow a path that is not really our own, one that others have set for us. We forget that whichever way we go, the price is the same: in both cases, we will pass through both difficult and happy moments. But when we are living our purpose, the difficulties we encounter make sense.”            – Paulo Coelho[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]“Too often we decide to follow a path that is not really our own”…. Oh my, how many of us have learnt that lesson the hard way!

We are all driven by the need to make a contribution and to know that contribution offers value and meaning to others. To do this in an ongoing capacity we need to ensure two things: we are aligned firstly with our own purpose and secondly, that of the environment we work in. If that alignment is not there we will simply reach a point where we run out of fuel.

We all know that brilliant feeling of operating in ‘our zone’ – we seem to be able to run faster, operate with more clarity and conviction, anticipate situations with ease, produce greater results and ultimately feel confident, prosperous and fulfilled in what we do. Bingo!

Conversely, when we aren’t operating in our zone, we feel ‘stuck’, unable to deliver the results we want to, uninspired, disempowered, drained of energy, lacking in confidence and left with more questions than answers: Is this it? Is it worth it? Where is this taking me? Can I really do this all over again for another year? Blah![vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Regardless of whether or not we are in the ‘Bingo’ camp or the ‘Blah’ camp, we need to take the time to ensure that we are well positioned in 2015 to maximize our capabilities and opportunities. The New Year brings us a fresh clean canvas and with it the opportunity to write, draw, build and create what we want.

So before the busy-ness of life, work and another year take hold, I encourage you to create the time to do the following five things:[vc_single_image image=”501″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]

Stop and Evaluate: It’s time to be honest and to own your own story. You are the painter, the writer and the candlestick maker! All too often I meet people who are unable to articulate what they are really interested in and want from their careers. It’s not enough to know what you don’t want. Career fulfillment is not something you discover, it is something you create. AND you can’t create it if you don’t know what it is.

Understanding what your values, strengths, talents and needs are, is a critical piece of the puzzle, but so to is knowing how to use them and where they are in demand.

Conducting an audit on yourself and the alignment you hold to your career and/or business is critical if you are to be clear about where you want to go.

Determine Your Direction: When we understand what we want and need, we are in a position to define our ‘big picture’ goal and explore the options available to us.

All too often we narrow our decisions to A or B? Right or Wrong? Should I stay or should I go? Every year I hear people tell me that their New Year’s resolution is to find a new opportunity without being able to articulate why.

Failing to consider the full range of options can see you running the risk of bouncing around – chasing new jobs, new markets, new clients when really you may be missing the opportunities that are right under your nose.

Develop Your Plan: For many of us writing a business plan is so much easier than writing our own career plan. Why? Because our career plan is so personal, it can require change and like most things, we don’t want to muck it up!

However to build a long-term career that is both resilient and successful we need to plan for it. Gone are the days of having a single job for life. Our plan needs to be a working document that is re-evaluated, updated and amended to ensure that our objectives remain relevant and in line with our desires and goals.

Remember success drives success, so your plan for 2015 needs to be both measurable and timely in order to generate further action, confidence and clarity. Without it we will find ourselves in March in exactly the same place as today – neither ahead nor behind but stationary which is dangerous.

Build Your Marketing Strategy: Everyone in today’s market place needs a way to showcase his or her brilliance. Whether we are aware of it or not we all have a personal brand, and we constantly have to position ourselves to engage in the type of work that inspires, motivates and fulfills us, be it as an employee or business owner.

It makes sense therefore to take control of your own brand. Ask yourself: What do I do best and what am I known for? What do I want to be known for? How relevant is it to my industry? Who are my networks and influencers?

Start: It’s time to say goodbye to your comfort zone and step out into the world of action. The great news is that when you do this with clarity of purpose, clear direction and a well-defined plan your ability to execute is so greatly enhanced.

Engaging with your network, your market place, your stakeholders and clients will bring further clarity and confidence in what you are doing. It will elevate your brand and attract new opportunities. It will highlight options and position you as being ready, willing and able.

Creating a fulfilling career and business isn’t a quick or easy journey. It takes time and effort. It takes continual re-evaluation and planning. You need to engage yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. You need to be active.[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”]

Have you considered working with a career coach to elevate your career and build clarity and focus for the year ahead?

Please contact Margot directly on or +61 400 336 318 if you would like to know more. 

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