Archive for October, 2015

Opening The Doors Of Possibility

October 27th, 2015


‘If you want to go to places you’ve never been before, you have to think in ways you’ve never thought before’ 

– Ken Blanchard
In his book The Art Of Possibility, Benjamin Zander recounts the story of two travelling shoe salesmen who ventured to Africa from Manchester in the early 1900’s to discover whether or not they could sell shoes.

Both independently sent a telegram back to England to report on their observations and findings:

First Salesman: ‘Situation Horrible. They don’t wear shoes!’

Second Salesman: ‘Glorious Opportunity. They don’t have any shoes yet!’

Both were in exactly the same circumstance and had witnessed the same conditions, yet they seemed to be operating from parallel universes. One salesman saw nothing but roadblocks and hurdles, the other nothing but opportunity. Or as Zander suggests, one views possibility as luck whilst the other views it as the norm.

How often have we witnessed this happen amongst our own teams and businesses or even in our own careers? No doubt we’ve all breathed a sigh of relief when someone has come to us with excitement and energy about the opportunity to do something differently rather than an explanation of why it wont work. Or maybe we’ve recounted what we felt was a hopeless situation for ourselves to a friend only to have them look through a different lens and see a prime opportunity to change directions and explore a new path.

The reality is people who embrace the world of possibility are capable of accomplishing things that previously seemed impossible simply because they believed in solutions. It doesn’t mean that they don’t encounter hurdles, issues or even failure whilst exploring what could be. It also doesn’t guarantee a pain free or easy ride.  Invariably though people who are open to the world of possibility avoid the pits of complacency and mediocrity and instead find themselves in situations that embrace potential and purpose.

Leaders who are focused on a world rich in possibility send a very clear message to their businesses and teams that regardless of their current situation there is hope for something more in the future. They see the potential for greater success and fulfillment and are focused on effecting meaningful change and or outcomes for their people, their clients and their customers. They use a different language and even walk and talk in a different way. They see the positive in situations (even if is just learning) and in each other.

John Maxwell who is a well regarded leadership expert advocates seven reasons why we should all seek to adopt a possibility mindset. Not only are each of these beneficial for leading and growing high performing teams, they also significantly impact what we believe we are capable of with our careers. I would encourage you to think about how you they apply to the contribution you are making in your current role today and how that contribution can open the door to new possibilities in the future:

  1. Possibility thinking increases your possibilities: When you succeed at achieving something you didn’t think you or your team were previously capable of, new opportunities unfold. You feel more confident undertaking them and you actively go looking for them.
  2. Possibility thinking draws opportunities and people to you: Believing that something can be better than what it is and can deliver greater impact and/or results is attractive. People want to work and collaborate with others who are prepared to take the risk to achieve new levels of success.
  3. Possibility thinking increases others’ possibilities: It is quite literally, contagious. You can’t help but influence and impact those around you. Confidence, visionary thinking and positivity are easily recognisable and empowering to others.
  4. Possibility thinking allows you to dream big dreams: Regardless of what you do, what position you hold, industry or city you work in, the belief that you could do something more or different allows you to not only see it as an option but know that you are capable of it.
  5. Possibility thinking makes it possible to rise above the average: To rise above the average and move out of the rut of status quo, we need to embrace the possibility of what could be. Believing that things can be greater increases our drive, focus and commitment to achieving new levels of success.
  6. Possibility thinking gives you energy: The correlation between positive thinking and energy is widely documented. Not only is it known to provide greater energy, it also helps you channel your energies into things that are more productive.
  7. Possibility thinking keeps you from giving up: Possibility thinkers believe they can and will succeed. Their forward thinking focus and belief that they can achieve despite circumstances provides the fuel required to last the distance.

As leaders our challenge is to help our teams see and believe what is possible. Without it we will never realise our potential and we are likely to miss the ‘golden moments’ of thinking creatively, truly connecting and enjoying the feeling of breaking down the barriers of what we had previously believed to be so.

We and our teams need to understand that it isn’t t the circumstances around us that are crucial but rather what we tell ourselves, believe and say out loud about them is. As leaders we have a choice to open the door or slam it shut. What will yours be?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to explore ways to open up the world of possibility in your career or business please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

What Is Your Leadership Care Factor?

October 20th, 2015

1062″]“People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care”                 

-John C Maxwell

 When leaders don’t care they don’t lead. They don’t hold the interests of their team, their clients or their business. Essentially, they fail to hold anything more than a title.

Yet all too often when we talk about caring leadership it is associated with soft actions that lack strength, character and conviction. Interestingly enough though it is a lack of care that is so often the key source of frustration in the people that we work with, the business we work for or the quality of customer service we receive. How many times have we felt the slow rise of anger and disempowerment in having to deal with people who just simply don’t seem to care?

When people care about what they do, they care about the impact it has on their own lives and also on those around them. They believe that what they do matters and they operate from a strong sense of purpose. When they care about who they do this with, they are strongly invested in being a part of high performing team and demonstrate a higher degree of ownership. When you combine the two not only is it where the real sense of ‘magic’ exists but people are more productive and fulfilled.

So what are the attributes of caring leadership and how do we recognise it? I believe that there are six key things leaders care enough to do – consistently – that demonstrate their care factor:

  1. Care Enough To Engage: Engage with purpose, focus and intent. To do this we need to really ‘show up’ and be present. All too often leaders today find themselves caught rushing from meeting to meeting ticking off conversations as nothing more than agenda items. However to really impact individuals and outcomes we need to ensure that we are well prepared, ready to meaningfully engage and are free from distraction when the critical moments call for it.
  1. Care Enough To Provide Feedback: High performing individuals and teams thrive on feedback. Nobody likes to feel as though they are navigating things blindfolded and we all inherently like to know how our contribution is valued and having an impact. Leaders who master the art of giving (and receiving) constructive and on-purpose feedback demonstrate care and interest in both individuals and outcomes.
  1. Care Enough To Question and Confront: One of the most challenging aspects of a leaders role can be learning how to have the ‘hard conversations’. Many of us have borne witness to occasions where issues have been ignored or slow to be addressed with disastrous results. When we fail to understand and confront the issues at hand we not only compromise short and long term results but also relationships. Learning how to constructively question and confront behaviours and thinking is not just about resolving issues it is also about ensuring that standards, expectations and values are effectively communicated.
  1. Care Enough To Create and Protect: A key part of a leaders role is to enable success. This means creating and protecting environments and cultures that are rich in trust, engagement and capability. To do this we need to ensure that we have the right people in the right place at the right time. We need to know how to advocate for our people, clear the roadblocks and consciously protect the standards, reputations and relationships that we have.
  1. Care Enough To Navigate Change: We all know that change is a part of life and one that we can’t avoid. Learning how to navigate this confidently and embrace the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) that comes with change is not something that comes naturally. Effective leaders are able to not only navigate this pathway themselves but lead others through it so that they feel safe and considered.
  1. Care Enough To Take The Lead: At all times and in all circumstances: though the good and bad times. Leading isn’t always easy and often we find ourselves leading through circumstances that were not of our making or under our influence. A preparedness to step up, take action, make decisions, risk being wrong and influence outcomes are all traits of caring leadership that are in high demand in today’s business world.

Developing a strong care factor as a leader and in the individuals who work for us is imperative if we are to achieve true career success. For it is only when we care about what we do and who we do it with that we will enjoy a strong sense of purpose and fulfillment.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

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

Why You Need To Be A Questioning Leader

October 14th, 2015

1042″]“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions and as a result they get better answers. ”

– Tony RobbinsGreat leaders know the value of quality questions. They recognize the power of asking the right ones to unlock new ideas, build connection and shift perspective. Most of us are familiar with the saying ‘there is no such thing as a silly question’ but my question (excuse the pun!) to you is: Are we asking productive questions? Ones that lead to discovery, enact change, increase productivity and build relationships and collaboration?

All to often I meet with business leaders whose questions are firmly anchored in frustration, judgment and blame – either in themselves or their team members. Why is this happening to me? What’s wrong with me/them? When will my life or career improve? Why can’t they just get on with it? What on earth is the problem now?

When we ask negatively framed questions we yield negative responses. Answers such as: Life isn’t fair, I’m just not lucky enough, or I’m not good enough seem to abound. They keep us stuck and cause us to focus on the hurdles and ultimately disempower rather than empower. They have the potential to send us into a tailspin of self-doubt and self-sabotage. Whilst great care needs to be taken in how we ask questions we also need to consider how we pose them so as to ensure we are moving towards a solution, removing roadblocks and acting as catalysts for change – both for ourselves and the businesses we lead.

Rick Smith, founder of World 50 – a premier senior networking organization for global executives – believes that we live in a world where today’s leaders are addicted to answers. He advocates for the need for leaders to shift this addiction to asking the right questions. As he notes, in chaotic and ever changing competitive business landscapes, success requires focus, and knowing where to focus will be determined by the questions you are asking.

Not only does asking the right people the right questions drive great answers and outcomes for your business, it can also deliver great benefits to you as a leader. Innovation, confidence, capability, engagement and productivity levels all stand to be enhanced when the right questions are asked. Demonstrating a genuine interest and care of concern for the individuals and the outcomes fosters loyalty and commitment. Of course the key is to ask questions in a way that seeks to deliver insight, learning and support rather than acting as a trigger to defensiveness. To do this we need to not just ask the questions but also demonstrate the ability to listen to the answers provided and suspend judgment. It is about really listening to understand and discover the meaning behind what is being said.
I would encourage to you ask yourself the following questions about you as a leader, your team and your organization?

1. What Must I Do To Lead Myself Successfully? Great leaders take the time to ask themselves questions that raise their own self-awareness and examine ways that they can improve or adapt the way they do things.

a. What are my blind spots?

b. What daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly actions can I take to strengthen my knowledge, capability and insight as a leader?

c. Who can I collaborate with to compliment my strengths and gaps?

d. Who can I engage with to provide candid and constructive feedback?

2. What Does My Team Need To Achieve Success? Great leaders know how to probe the thought process of their team members to uncover how they are individually and collectively performing and what roadblocks need to be removed, gaps need to be addressed and relationships need support.

a. Do I have the right people in the right place at the right time to ensure success?

b. Are people clear on what they need to achieve and by when?

c. Who are they key influencers in my team?

d. Are there any individual coaching requirements needed to elevate performance and or new learning opportunities? Who is the best person to provide that?

e. What conversations are needed to ensure that performance and behaviors support success and am I prepared to have them?

f. Am I available enough / too much to support productive, timely outcomes?

3. How Can The Organisation Function More Successfully? Great leaders recognise their obligation to contribute not just on an individual level but also at a whole of business level. They examine the ways their organization functions to ensure cultural alignment, maximum efficiency and productivity. They ask questions about behaviours, practices, processes and structures.

a. Why do we do things this way?

b. Is there a better, more streamlined way?

c. What are the risks and benefits of changing the way we do this?

d. Who is impacted most by this change and what needs to be done to ensure a smooth transition?

Ultimately the reason we ask questions is to build meaning and to ‘connect the dots’. Learning to ask empowering questions will ultimately shape the meaning we create and the quality of our success. As leaders we need to be doing this at all three levels: self, team and business if we are to create a lasting impact at an individual and business level.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


Margot – The Career DiplomatIf you would like to explore ways to build confidence, clarity and choice in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Leading With Generosity

October 6th, 2015

1037″]“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”

– Winston Churchill

 All too often when we think of generosity we think of financial giving or involvement in charitable work. We don’t naturally think of it in terms of business dealings or in what we do in our day-to-day jobs. Typically it is equated with what we do outside of business hours rather than what we do in them. What charities, community projects or family & friend endeavours we choose to give to financially or with our time.

Make no mistake these endeavours are all noble and worthy acts of generosity and ones that we should seek out. However overlooking the ways we can give generously through what we do and how we lead is not only a missed opportunity to leave our world in a better place but can be self limiting to our own levels of fulfilment and future growth as well as to those in our teams.

Whilst true generosity is ultimately an altruistic act we more often than not receive things in return – and often abundantly. As leaders this could transpire in the form of increased cooperation and collaboration, enjoyment in what we do, sheer goodwill and/or the fulfilment of seeing others succeed. Not to mention increased productivity and profitability.

If you were to take a moment to reflect on the colleagues and leaders who have left a positive mark on you and your career there would invariably be a common trait: Generosity of spirit. They are the people who gave freely of their time, knowledge and trust and who helped facilitate opportunities for you.

Adam Grant, author of the best selling book Give and Take looks at how and why our success today is increasingly dependent on the interactions we have with others. In essence he flips the notion that it is successful people that tend to give generously, to the idea that it is those with a generous spirit who become successful. He believes that in a work environment there are three ways people generally operate: taking, matching or giving. Whilst takers seek to get as much as possible form others and matchers focus on trading evenly, givers are those rare people who genuinely contribute without expectation of receiving anything in return. His research shows that whilst some givers do occasionally burn out they are the group that are most likely to achieve extraordinary results regardless of what field they operate in.

Successful leaders are generous: they give freely and unreservedly and often. In reflecting upon some of the amazing leaders that I have either worked for or with there are some other common acts of generosity. They all:

  1. Give Opportunity: Opportunities to engage in meaningful challenging work and not just a list of tasks. Opportunities that extend and open up new thinking & learning, new networks and offer lasting impact.
  2. Give A Strong Sense of Belonging: They create environments that are safe and supportive, allowing us to bring our whole sense of self to the office and not just our work mask. They help you see the value in what you do and feel an intrinsic part of the team and organisation’s success.
  3. Give Guidance: Generous leaders seek to guide and not control. They offer constructive feedback rather than criticism and empower you to make decisions with strong frameworks of support.
  4. Give Space: Space to explore, create, grow, fail and make mistakes and most importantly to get back up confidently and go again.
  5. Give Information, Knowledge & Experience: Not only do generous leaders offer their insights they encourage others to do so as well. They understand that increased leverage and success comes with purposeful collaboration and open, willing minds not but holding tightly onto things.
  6. Give Credit: By recognising and appreciating the efforts of others the generous leader helps to create as sense of shared success. They understand the power of ‘We’ is much more powerful than ‘I’.
  7. Give Encouragement: Generous leaders encourage you to step out and try different things, take risks and push the boundaries of what you think you are capable of. They offer faith in you and push you to be the best you can be.
  8. Give Trust: Generous leaders understand that high performing cultures are rich in trust. Trust amongst each other, in each other’s talents, capabilities and values.
  9. Give Time and Energy: Generous leaders understand the importance of really listening and engaging. They offer their time, their total attention and interest in you, what you are doing and the outcomes you seek.
  10. Give Time Back To Themselves: The generous leader works hard to ensure that their batteries remain charged so as to enable them to give on an ongoing basis. They invest in time and energy in what reinvigorates them in mind, body and spirit.

Giving generously tends to inspire others to do the same. It also helps us create a lasting legacy for what we do, the people we work with and the businesses we have or work for. I would encourage you to explore how you can give generously through your leadership and inspire others to continue to ‘pay it forward’.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


Margot – The Career DiplomatIf you would like to explore ways to build confidence, clarity and choice in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.


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