Archive for June, 2015

Are You Fighting Career Gridlock?

June 30th, 2015

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If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it’
– Michael Jordan
You’re smart, savvy, well credentialed and your list of accomplishments is extensive. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and achieved great success to date so how have you wound up feeling so stuck?

Sound familiar? Many of the professionals that I work with are highly regarded performers both by their peers and the organisations that they work for, yet for one reason or another they seem to have hit a plateau and been unable to break through to new opportunities at the next level. They’ve spent lots of time trying to figure it out. They’ve made changes, engaged in 360˚ feedback, undertaken further study and yet somehow the breakthrough has eluded them.

There’s no question that they love what they do, are confident and comfortable in the choices they’ve made about the industries and organisations they are in. Yet for many, the inability to break through to the next level has left them riddled with self-doubt, frustration and lots of questions.

Identifying ways to manage these frustrations and overcome the hurdles is not only imperative to moving forward but also for protecting our brand and reputation for where we currently are. Failing to do so can see us not just plateau but stagnate and regress. It also limits our ability to recognise the right opportunities when they do come along.

Apart from simply not knowing what the next step is, often one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is a misalignment between your values and ambitions; and the values and demonstrated behaviours of your (potential) organisation. Failing to recognise this not only results in frustration but wasted effort and energy. Recognising it will allow you to position yourself for success by leveraging strengths and styles and a mutual exchange of value between you and your employer.

Take a moment to consider what the common skills and attributes are of the leadership team within your organisation? Typically companies that value high growth and innovation will promote or appoint individuals who demonstrate courage, energy, risk taking and nimbleness and highly collaborative communication. Conservative companies will typically be characterised by analytical thinkers, structure, considered decision-making and risk avoidance.

Ask yourself the following questions: What are the values of your organisation? What behaviours does your company value and reward? What type of person is promoted?

Once you have identified what they are, you need to understand how they align to your values, strengths, style and ambitions. Remember these may change throughout your career so it is important to know what they are today. Determining this allows you to either plan how to proactively engage in conversations and projects that showcase your skills and ambitions or examine alternative opportunities that are more complimentary to you and your skillset.

Once you have determined alignment you may wish to also consider the 6 steps below to help you look beyond the barriers:

  1. Determine why you want the path you are chasing: Ask yourself why you want to take on the next level of role. Is it simply because it’s the next step in the structure and it is what is on offer? There is great danger in relinquishing control of your career and allowing the organisation to simply dictate your career direction. Danger because there is no real exchange of value and you risk true fulfilment, engagement and growth.
  2. Examine your communication style: Our ability to grow as individuals and build purposeful and productive relationships is underpinned by how we communicate with those around us. How we listen, receive and provide feedback, manage frustrations, follow through on stated intentions and engage in day to day conversations is one of the biggest demonstrations of today’s leadership requirements: emotional intelligence.
  3. Engage in career conversations: Gone are the days where businesses and employees can check in with each other once a year for the obligatory performance review process. Not only do you risk complete misalignment, but also being overlooked for what it is that you really want to do. If the organisation doesn’t know where your interests and ambitions lie and you don’t know what the upcoming direction and opportunities are for the business you can easily find yourself missing out.
  4. Invest in your reputation: You need to position yourself for recognition. This is not about endless self-promotion. Rather it is about building up your portfolio of accomplishments and positioning yourself for more opportunities and achievements. Develop your skills and networks that highlight your potential. To do this successfully you need to seek feedback and input from your leaders, team and mentors both from within and outside your organization.
  5. Seek out a mentor in the senior leadership team: Having a mentor within the organisation is a powerful way to help you navigate the practices, biases and nuances that may exist within the organisation. Not only are they a great source of ideas and information, they can also help facilitate ways to connect with the right people and information sources to move forward.
  6. Be open: Don’t allow previous experiences or disappointments to ‘close you down’. Often when we have not achieved what we have wanted we ‘self protect’ or become cynical and jaded about how to identify or approach new opportunities. When we stay open we create openings for new opportunities.

Knowing that you have choices and that you can remain in or reclaim control by taking proactive steps is key. The reality is great leaders don’t get to the top because they are perfect and have not encountered hurdles along the way. They get to the top because they share a fierce determination to personally succeed, a passion for authentic communication and connection with people and a desire for life long learning.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to explore ways to build confidence, clarity and purpose in your career direction please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Step Up and Stand Out

June 23rd, 2015


“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” – Nelson Mandela
 They say that experience is your best teacher and with age, comes wisdom. Whilst I am certainly not confessing to being full of wisdom (or old!), it was with great delight that I was recently asked to take part in a breakfast mentoring session for a group of teen girls by sharing some of my own career journey.

Watching and listening to these girls share their stories, their hopes and ambitions, struggles and concerns for the future was both insightful and reassuring.

Insightful, because in many ways it was interesting to reflect on how my own career had unfolded which is so very different to what I thought I would originally do (and a hundred times better than I could have ever imagined); and reassuring least of all that our future is in very safe hands when we have young women who are prepared to be so open, curious and considered about what they want to achieve and contribute to the world around them. In short they were expressing a deep desire to step up and stand out by becoming the best possible versions of themselves.

As each of them shared their story about what they thought they would do, it was interesting to note what they felt they needed to overcome in order to achieve their ambitions:

  • Lack of confidence and self-belief to actually pursue what they wanted
  • Fear of making the wrong decisions that would hold them back or prevent them from achieving success (choosing the wrong subjects at school which could prevent them from going to university; choosing the wrong course etc)
  • Not finding their voice – being disempowered, ignored or shut down

For many of us these challenges have not been limited to just our teen years. Navigating today’s workforce and committing to ‘stepping up’ in our careers requires us to constantly make brave and courageous decisions in order to grow, remain relevant and achieve the fulfilment we all crave. It also requires us to find our voice and confidence in the way we use it.

Creating long-term career success and fulfilment requires resilience. Rarely is it a straight linear path. There are hard lessons learned and there are ‘lucky breaks’ along the way. In a world that is characterised by constant change and uncertainty, it will be our ability to feel comfortable and move with the changing times that will help us achieve personal and professional success.

As those of us who had come to share our stories spoke, it was interesting to note some of the similarities between us despite our different career paths:

  • We are all doing very different things today to what we trained for and/ or commenced our careers in
  • We are all working in a career and business that we loved
  • We have all grabbed onto opportunities in moments where we felt completely unprepared or ready for them – and seen them become a defining part of where we are today
  • We have all learnt to live with the decisions we’ve made – good, bad and indifferent – and used them to propel us forward and not stagnate

Our careers today require us to be nimble, responsive and adaptable. Anticipating opportunity and navigating change are all essential skills for developing the resilience required to build purpose, diversity and success. Without it we not only risk our own career but also the performance and abilities or our teams by failing to see the opportunities that lie in front of us.

So what were our key pieces of advice for encouraging these young girls to step up and stand out in their careers?

  1. Find a career that YOU love and not what others think you will be good at: Nothing is more empowering than feeling aligned to your core purpose, talents and capabilities. It literally becomes your energy source.
  2. Dream BIG: Set goals that challenge you, inspire you and frighten you just a little. Achieving them makes anything seem possible.
  3. Be constantly curious: Ask questions and lots of them. Seeking to broaden your understanding and knowledge of people, of roles and environments around you will open up new opportunities and insights.
  4. Get comfortable being uncomfortable: Pushing the boundaries of our circle of comfort more often than not brings new knowledge, new networks, new opportunities and lessons that stay with us long after the experience has ended.
  5. Prepare for Change: Understand that your career choices are likely to change. Rather than thinking that it is something that you get ‘right or wrong’ be prepared to navigate several careers in your lifetime and consider each one a building block for the next one.
  6. Invest in you: Find opportunities to build your confidence and self-belief in what it is that you do and why.
  7. Surround yourself with people who lift you higher: Stay away from the energy stealers and don’t be frightened to let people go. Surround yourself with people that champion your efforts, challenge your thinking, allow you to make mistakes free of judgement and help you to celebrate your milestones.
  8. Own your decisions every step of the way: Owning them will give you the confidence to run with them and change them along the way as and when required.

I would love to hear what other advice you believe is critical for building the confidence to step up and stand out in your career.

Margot Andersen[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 explore ways to build confidence, clarity and purpose in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.[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=”″]

When Opportunity Knocks

June 16th, 2015


“What I do know is that if one wants to get a boat ride, one must be near the river”

Anchee Min, Becoming Madame Mao

We all love that feeling of being ‘in the right place at the right time’, especially when it comes to career opportunities. Invariably though as we get older and assume more senior positions these so called lucky moments seem to become less frequent.

With recent economic and market challenges, it is no secret that many organisations have ‘bunkered down’ and adopted a more conservative approach to recruitment and internal hiring. Furthermore with only a few businesses being really adept at succession planning and career development our ability to spot the next move can also be less obvious. Overlay that with a loss of direction, passion or energy for what it is that we do and suddenly our ability to not only spot opportunities but also to execute them becomes significantly compromised.

But is it a matter of not being opportunity focussed that is underpinning where we are today? Have we forgotten what opportunity looks like or sounds like?

All too often when we think of opportunity we think of something BIG, shiny, new and exciting! But this is not always the case. Spotting opportunities requires us to see gaps and come up with solutions. They come in different shapes, forms, colours and sizes. Sometimes they are a bit insignificant and dirty. No doubt if we all took a moment to think of our current role or team there would be numerous gaps relating to efficiencies, capability, or experiences that whilst not big items in their own right, with the right solution could have big impacts. Of course you also need to be able to act on those solutions but you can’t do that if you haven’t spotted them in the first place.

Heidi Grant Halvorson and Tory Higgins, authors of the book Focus, suggest that we need to be promotion focused to get ahead. In doing so you view your career as being about the potential for advancement, achievement and rewards. Put simply you think about what you might gain if you are successful and you do everything possible to avoid missing out. Alternatively if you approach your career focused on minimising loss, avoiding too much risk or danger and keeping things moving along smoothly you have what they call a prevention focus. Typically you put your head down, keep quiet and keep yourself small.

Whilst being prevention focused can be good for some things it doesn’t naturally open the doors to growth, change and confidence to take chances the way promotion focus does. In short it doesn’t naturally enable you to identify opportunities, which is the doorway to our future success.

Spotting opportunities that position us for growth is no quick activity. It’s the result of considered effort to get clear about what we want and the potential it offers us and then doing everything possible to avoid being overlooked or missing out. AND it means finding the courage and confidence to pursue options that invariably require us opening up to new ways of thinking, doing and acting.

I would encourage you to consider the following seven tips to strengthen your focus for spotting opportunities and how they might be best applied to your career:

  • Get clear about what you want and why: What do you want in five, ten, fifteen years from here? What will it bring to your career and life? To do this you need to design a road map that reflects a full understanding of your own skills, behaviours, motivations and preferences.
  • Make it known: Start telling people. All too often our leaders and/ or networks want to help us achieve our goals but they can’t do this if they don’t know what they are. Learn how to position yourself with your leaders and key influencers in the business; and your personal and professional networks. Learning how to do this with confidence, clarity and conviction is essential if they are to help you spot the opportunities right for you.
  • Understand how you are regarded: An accurate assessment of how you are regarded in your current workplace or market can help you with the opportunity spotting process. It can also assist you understand what you need to do to leverage or overcome known perceptions.
  • Seek candid feedback: Ask others how they perceive your success, what areas they naturally see it aligned to, what markets, companies and roles. Often these fresh insights can spark a new idea or thought that you had not yet previously considered.
  • Build a network of trusted confidantes: Creating a circle of influence with people who can champion our efforts, offer business and market insights and who really know us can also help spot relevant and timely opportunities on our behalf.
  • Deliver on the one you’ve got! Maximising your current opportunity can have an enormous impact on new and or emerging options. People are attracted to success and if you have delivered on your role and opportunity, people talk, want to engage, want to refer and be associated with you and your efforts.

Success is no coincidence. It is a deliberate determination to step out of the ordinary and commit to growth. To do this we need to master the art of spotting the opportunities that are right for us.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

[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 explore ways to position you and your career, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

The Keys Of Consistency

June 9th, 2015


“Its not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently” – Tony Robbins
We all know that true success does not occur overnight. Behind it sits volumes of effort, belief and action demonstrated consistently over time. Underpinning much of our success has been the small daily or weekly decisions and actions and how they have added up over the years.

Whether it has been a commitment to read recent industry publications to help us remain relevant; invested time in creating purposeful professional relationships and broad networks; or made a conscious effort to expand and diversify our skill sets, the consistency of our actions (or lack there of) has played a major role in where we find ourselves today.

In a time where our ability to navigate change and demonstrate true career resiliency, never have these ‘little things’ counted for so much. These small actions over time compound positively or negatively much like they do in a bank account. Lots of small proactive decisions add up in a positive way like regular savings into a bank account; where as complacency and bad decisions are like small debits eating away at your value over time. The question is, what actions are your taking to grow the value of your career currency today?

In talking with business leaders I often hear that it is not the big things that keep them awake at night but the little things. Why? Because they know that over time these little ‘things’ have the power to become the big things and significantly impact efficiencies, outcomes and relationships. It is exactly the same with our careers – if we aren’t careful, failure to action the ‘little’ things will prevent us from reaching our potential and desired levels of success.

As leaders, our ability to demonstrate and build consistency in performance, behaviour and service is imperative. Nothing is more frustrating than inconsistency in one or more of these three elements. No doubt many of us are able to recall colleagues who have severely limited their opportunities due to an inability to consistently perform or behave. Where one week they seem to be producing record results only to not contribute for the following three. Or where they are technically brilliant at what they do but cause so much disruption amongst their team that the overall results are compromised because no one wants to work with them or you going forward.[vcex_spacing size=”20px”]There is no doubt that one of the biggest causes of failure today is inconsistency. Whilst the idea of consistency is fairly simple the ability to execute it is often not. More often than not it is due to one of the following three things:

  1. Impatience – We want the results NOW! (Think of all those diet and exercise regimes that we have all invariably embarked upon!)
  2. Belief – If we don’t believe in what we are doing the only thing that we are most likely to be consistent in is avoidance.
  3. Value – Failure to see the benefits of the amount of effort invested.

Consistency is definitely achievable for us all but it does take practice. Understanding what it is that you do and why is critical but so to is understanding how consistency creates high value and longevity in your career. I would encourage you to take a moment to consider the following career benefits:

  • Consistency establishes belief: The thoughts and actions that we take on a daily and/or regular basis do shape our own self-belief and the belief that others have in us. Not only is it a powerful force for motivating and building trust in others but it also serves as a powerful model for the standards we and others rise and fall to.
  • Consistency creates relevance: Your customers, clients, organisations and team members are all looking to you as a reliable and informed source of information. To remain informed we need to be relevant. What are the latest developments in your industries, your areas of expertise or your regions? Is your level of knowledge and it’s applicability empowering or de-powering you and what you do?

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  • Consistency allows for measurement: To build meaningful and successful steps of progression we need to understand what it is that is actually working – or not working. What are the results of your consistent efforts, actions and strategies – good or bad? Our ability to measure, assess and realign are crucial skills in our ever-changing world.
  • Consistency creates accountability: Accountability is a critical requirement in high performance and values aligned cultures. Owning what you do, the ‘why’ and the way you do it can’t help but create accountability for both yourself and those around you. Being consistently accountable – in the good and the bad times – is what will set you apart as the consummate professional.
  • Consistency builds stability: Not only does it build stability but it also builds sustainability. When people know what you stand for and where they stand with you, it provides the framework for them to perform at their optimal level. By removing the game playing, the contradictions and the inconsistencies, individuals have a clear runway to success that engenders both confidence and loyalty.
  • Consistency establishes your reputation: Your track record is your reputation. Building that track record on one that is defined by consistent performance, respectful behaviours and high value relationships is fundamental to both your current and future success. Remember your track record follows you no matter where you go.

The future is all yours for the taking. I would encourage you to stop and take a moment to reflect on what it is that you do consistency in your daily, weekly, monthly routine and ask yourself if it is building or limiting your career future?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot Andersen[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 career and performance consistency for you or your people, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.[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 Comparison Trap

June 2nd, 2015


“Let the refining of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to compare yourself to others” – Author Unknown  
Even though we all universally acknowledge the truth in the saying ‘ the grass is always greener from the other side’ all too often we still get caught up in the game. The one where we find ourselves falling into the ever tempting but highly dangerous trap of comparing ourselves to what others have or wishing that our own situation were more than it was or just different to what it was.

While there is no doubt that comparison can at times be a valuable source of inspiration, motivation and growth, it can also very easily be an exhausting, frustrating and painful tailspin into self-doubt and self-sabotage. The desire to achieve a personal best, acknowledge just how far we have come or simply use someone else’s learning to better our own situation are all healthy ways to use comparison.

However more so than ever before, I am meeting many professionals who are obsessed with comparing their own achievements against that of others around them – colleagues, old school mates, family members and sometimes people they don’t even know but have heard about like some mythical legend of times gone by. The problem is there is a lot of imperfect comparison going on – often against a tide of inaccurate information or with only half of the full picture revealed. AND the bottom line is they are unhappy…. desperately unhappy.

To a certain extent, ambitious, highly driven individuals are competitive by nature so have always had tendencies to compare and use the achievements of other’s as the measurement yardstick for their own. They also tend to be very specific in their categories of comparisons: salary, bonuses, job titles, perks, how many people they manage, employer prestige, speed of progression and publicity.

The real danger here is when success is defined only by external criteria rather than internal criteria because you run the risk of rapidly reducing your satisfaction and commitment. Consequently we face a huge risk of hurting ourselves and our careers and the people and businesses we lead.

Take a moment to consider the following scenarios: It may be that you or one of your team members will be more energised in a role that provides autonomy, creativity and the opportunity to take risks rather than one that offers six figures and loads of perks. Conversely you may care a lot more about working on a project that is rich in learning opportunities and provides intellectual challenge rather than securing the corner office or a people leadership role.

Failing to acknowledge our internal drivers – what we derive real satisfaction, challenge and motivation from is a career killer. Why? We run the risk of not performing at our potential and ultimately losing control of our career path through disinterest and apathy. We waste time and energy on the things that don’t matter rather than getting the job at hand done. We fail to recognise the opportunities that lie before us because we are so fearful of failure or falling behind others, we opt to ‘play it safe’ and not take the risks that would actually set us apart.

So how do we beat comparison at it’s own game? I would encourage you consider the following five tips and how you might apply them to your own career:

  • Discover the relevance in what you are doing: We all like to know how what we are doing contributes to the broader success of our team, business or market. Recognising that we all have our own individual role to play in this broader success highlights the uniqueness of our contributions and minimises the need for comparison.
  • Reconcile to your own internal drivers: Nothing is more empowering than feeling aligned to your core purpose, motivations and talents. 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.
  • Note your self-talk: Listen to what you are saying to yourself. Make a conscious effort to understand how much of the story is about what they appear to have achieved versus your own goals, needs and areas of satisfaction.
  • Look up and out: Take a moment to stop and consider that if you had everything the other person had (and understood what they had prioritised or sacrificed to achieve it) would you be truly satisfied and happy? Or would you be led down a new path of comparison?
  • Tap into a trusted advisor: Discuss how you are feeling with a trusted confidante who can offer constructive and impartial feedback and insights into why you may be feeling the way you do. One who understands the counterproductive effects of chronic comparison.

Never before has the demand for bold, courageous leadership been higher. Visionary leaders who are able to demonstrate an eagerness to learn when they don’t have the answers and to navigate the unknown, ambiguous and volatile nature of the markets we now operate in. To do this successfully we will need to stop the game of comparison and start focusing on being authentic by acknowledging our own internal drivers and ambitions. For when we do, we as individuals will be richer and happier for it and so to will our people and the businesses we lead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot Andersen[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 confidence and clarity in your own career and those of the people you lead, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.[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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