Archive for February, 2015

Why It’s Time To Get Personal About Disruption

February 24th, 2015

605″][vcex_spacing size=”80px”]‘Those who can successfully navigate, even harness the successive cycles of learning and maxing out… will thrive in this era of personal disruption.’

– Whitney Johnson ‘ Throw Your Life A Curve’
 More and more leaders are talking openly about disruption. Not only it’s impact on the market place but on their organisations and their people. No longer is the term disruption simply reserved for the world of start-ups or the technology landscape in that far, far away land called Silicon Valley. It is very much a part of the here and now for all leaders and it is personal! The simple truth is that if we aren’t disrupting we are reacting to it

This reality brings with it a host of challenges, least of all how to effectively navigate and lead in environments where many of the traditional mindsets and behaviours no longer apply – and where uncertainty prevails. How do I motivate, encourage and reward my team when there is no footprint for what we are trying to do? How do I manage my own career in this landscape?

Our ability as leaders to make good decisions and choices is instrumental to our business and personal success. Ironically though for many organisations the tendency to rely on what was once a good decision and the subsequent failure to recognise that changing times require new decisions is ultimately their downfall. This failure to do so sees them being swallowed up by competitors whose innovation and responsiveness sees them grab both market share and talent.

Current statistics suggest that we will change careers on average seven times in our lifetime – not change jobs but change careers! We are educating our children for careers that currently do not exist; and if they do will be delivered in ways that are not yet currently seen. We are witnessing the demand for jobs that require repetitive process and clerical and support skill sets massively decline. Replacing them is a demand for ever-evolving digital skill sets, creative thinking and many of the previously considered ‘soft’ skills of influencing, negotiation and collaboration. For those of us whose careers are underpinned by university degrees, the recent discussions suggesting that the life span of this knowledge and skill set is as short as three years is both confronting and challenging.

To create a sustainable career, we will need to face up to a world of disruption, master the art of career and leadership reinvention and continually focus on adding new skills and capabilities to our existing repertoire. Personal reinvention is hard. But so to is living with the risk of becoming irrelevant.

In their book, The Innovator’s DNA, Jeffrey Dyer and Clayton Christensen identify five behaviours that characterise innovative leaders: Associating (the ability to make connections across unrelated ideas or problems), Questioning, Observing, Networking and Experimenting. These leadership behaviours not only support the generation of new ideas but the timely planning and execution of them into the market place so as to ensure an organisation achieves significant competitive advantage.

In addition to developing these behaviours for ourselves, we as leaders need to ensure that we are creating environments where they are allowed to flourish for the people we lead. Given that these environments are rich in ambiguity and uncertainty, encouraging people to step outside of their comfort zone and embrace the unknown is a challenge for all leaders today.[vcex_spacing size=”10px”]To do this I believe that the following additional behaviours are key to ensuring personal success in the disruptive landscape:

  • Start being comfortable being uncomfortable:  Navigating the unknown with out the comfort of a detailed roadmap and/or pre determined destination is all part of the disruptive journey. The ability to cope with the element of surprise – and not eliminate it as so many traditional leaders do – is also critical.
  • Adopt a ‘Leapfrog Mindset’: This term is borrowed from Soren Kaplan who states that leading disruption requires a mindset focused on ‘leapfrogging’ – creating or doing something radically different to produce a significant leap forward. In doing so, leaders provide both their businesses and themselves with a significant point of difference by ensuring they add a completely new level of value to the market.
  • Trust your gut: Often when making ‘big’ decisions we as leaders like to gather all the data we can, spend time analyzing it and debating it. The reality is that when you are leading through disruption this data (or level of data) rarely exists. You need to gather information from a variety of sources – often by using the 5 behaviours identified by Dyer and Christensen referenced above – weigh it up and then trust your gut and intuition for the rest.
  • Invest in your health: Navigating the disruptive landscape requires a high degree of mental and physical resilience. You will need bucket loads of energy to not only generate new ideas, but to quickly change direction, adapt plans, problem solve and engage with others to execute outcomes.
  • Commit to being a life long learner: Where we start is not where we finish. Our ability to continuously add new skills and knowledge to our repertoire is critical for our growth and development. However so to is the ability to give up the skills that no longer apply or what once may have made your successful. Ongoing learning and curiosity is crucial for both our own careers and the businesses that we lead.
  • Invest in your networks: Understanding the power of your network and actively collaborating and engaging with them has enormous potential to achieve unprecedented results, provide completive advantage and differentiate you and your business in the market place.
  • Redefine what success looks like: When we are actively pursuing different ways of doing things, entering into unknown markets or exploring new careers for ourselves we need to redefine what success looks like. The tools and frameworks that we have typically used before need to be adapted. Not every pathway that we explore will result in the breakthroughs or desired outcomes but if it brings us closer to our goal, hones our strategy, eliminates what doesn’t work, or isn’t right for us then we are moving forward.
  • Go after the disruptive path: In his book The Innovators Dilemma, Clayton Christensen found that companies pursuing growth in new markets were 6 times more likely to succeed than companies seeking growth in existing markets. Going after the unexplored or the unknown sees the odds of success go up. The same can be said for us as leaders and individuals.

To lead and succeed in a world of disruption we need to acknowledge that it is not easy or straightforward. It requires new mindsets, behaviours and skill sets. One person’s challenge though is another’s opportunity. It all depends on how we view it.[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 navigate your career and harness 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=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”″]

Letting Go to Grow….The Art of Delegation

February 10th, 2015


“The best leaders are the ones have enough sense to pick good men to do what they want done and self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” 

– Theodore Roosevelt
We all know in our hearts and in our heads that our success is greater than us as individuals. However when it comes to letting go, entrusting others and delegating it can be easier said than done. Building teams and surrounding ourselves with those who are not only willing and able, but who also value quality and pursue excellence is what we as leaders all aspire to do. But are we our greatest challenge? Are we limiting our success by not mastering the art of delegation?

Make no mistake, you can make or break your leadership success by the way you delegate… or in your failure to delegate. Great delegation not only saves time, money and frustration, it also provides you with an opportunity to build capability and capacity in your people. It is a balancing act that not only requires you to understand how to delegate but what level of delegation to adopt.

Recognising why you don’t delegate is quite possibly the key to working out how to do it properly. For most people, they simply don’t do it because it takes a lot of effort up-front. When you are capable of carrying out the task or project in your sleep and it is relatively straightforward for you to complete, it is very tempting to adopt the mindset of “It’s just quicker and easier if I do it myself’. The big question though is ‘Would it be a good use of my time?’ If you do this for all the little things that you are more than capable of, you will very quickly find yourself not only operating at a lower level but also missing opportunities for yourself and your team because you are too busy to see them.

The second reason that many people fail to delegate is that they find it difficult to relinquish control. How often have you felt the wave of disappointment with the results of what you have delegated? The results don’t match what you had expected or aren’t in line with the way in which you would have done it. Sometimes this is due to the person carrying out the task but sometimes it is also the fault of the person giving the task or project. Understanding what level of delegation is appropriate for the project and to what person is key.[vcex_spacing size=”20px”[vc_single_image image=”573″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]Source: Dr Jon Warner At the heart of effective delegation is communication and clarity. As leaders, you firstly need to be very clear about what you must do versus what you entrust to others. Gaining buy-in or desire from others to want to support and be involved is the next critical step to ensuring quality outcomes are achieved. People are much more engaged and committed to delivering on a responsibility when they have been bought through a process of agreeing to it. By investing in time to explain, discuss and agree the critical outcomes, responsibilities and timeframes you are creating robust frameworks for success.

Understanding who to delegate what to and the extent of freedom to deliver is possibly one of the hardest aspects to mastering the art of delegation. It is also a fundamental driver of organizational effectiveness and the growth of your people, as well as your own development and success.

To do this effectively you need to understand the capability of your people and what you require in order to remain ultimately accountable as the manager.[vcex_spacing size=”20px”]I would encourage you to think about the 6 levels of delegation below and where they may best apply to you, your current team and projects. Each level progressively offers more autonomy and ownership for the person(s) involved.

  1. Instruction: ‘I need you to do exactly this…A,B,C’
  2. Investigation: ‘Can you please gather me information on XYZ and come back to me for a decision’
  3. Investigation & Decision Making: ‘Once you have all of the information, let’s sit down together to discuss and decide next steps’. A higher level of this could include the additional step of being advised what help is required from you as a leader.
  4. Analysis & Recommendation: ‘What is your view of the situation and recommendation for proceeding?’
  5. Recommendation & Sign Off: ‘Let me know your decision and why before checking back in with me to proceed’
  6. Manage & Inform: ‘Happy for you to do what you think is best, just keep me in the loop or report back to me by X time’

Underpinning the success of all levels is the communication and support frameworks that surround them. Open, transparent and timely communication is critical if people are to feel empowered and supported in what they need to do. Opportunities to ask questions, collaborate and discuss outcomes at any point will not only empower individuals but also motivate and drive commitment to the project and the results. Without these frameworks in place you run the risk of ‘upward delegation’, which occurs when people run into trouble and they shift their responsibility back to you.

As leaders you have an obligation to not just deliver on your core responsibilities but to maximise results and opportunities for your business and your people. For those who learn to master the art of delegation, they do this not just for others but also for themselves.

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 your leadership capability or that 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=”″]

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