Archive for March, 2016

The Importance of TODAY

March 29th, 2016


“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.”
– Napoleon Hill
How often are we torn between the memories of yesterday and the unknown of tomorrow? Whilst our abilities to look up and out, forward and back are vitally important to our success, there is a real danger in not focusing our efforts and energies on where we are at TODAY. Not only does it see us risking future opportunities but it can also leave us feeling very impatient and dissatisfied with where we are at in our careers and what knowledge, experience and expertise we currently have.

As John C Maxwell notes, most of us look at our days in the wrong way: we exaggerate yesterday, we overestimate tomorrow and we underestimate today! The reality is it is what we do today that really counts! It has the power to consolidate, repair and move forward on our previous day’s works whilst also setting up our next steps and future directions. It also enables us to feel a sense of control, purpose and satisfaction in what we do and the building blocks we are creating.

In working with many senior business leaders there is an ever-emerging struggle that many face in balancing future focused, visionary thinking – in a market that feels like it is changing faster than the speed of light – with the reality of where we are at today. We all need goals and we all need a vision for where we are heading that we believe in. BUT, failing to recognise the opportunity and associated responsibilities we have right now – this minute – is self limiting, career damaging and risky business practice.

As leaders our role is to help our people navigate the journey from today to future ‘what is possible’ states of play.  We can’t effectively do that without getting clear on where we are currently at and what knowledge, skills and relationships we need to focus on to prepare us to move forward. Forming an accurate view of where our skills and value lies allows us to make decisions about what we can immediately do, calmly and on purpose. It helps take the emotions out of the process and avoids the risk of impulsive shortsighted decisions.

In what I have often referred to as Career Currency, I believe that there are four key areas that each of us should individually assess. In doing so it will help us make practical informed career decisions about the actions we can take today to invest and improve the value of our currency. I would encourage you to think about the value of your currency in light of the following areas:

  • Performance: How is my performance regarded, evidenced and valued in my current role? Consider elements such as: ability, output, motivation, consistency, ambition and attitude.
  • Potential: How am I demonstrating and communicating my potential? Consider elements such as: past and future learning, growth, ambition and desire.
  • Relationships: What is the strength and health of my professional relationships? Consider both internal and external relationships and elements such as effort, influence and collaboration.
  • Personality: How is my personality contributing to or hindering my success? Consider elements such as communication, EQ, resilience, intent and behaviour.

Your ability to accurately assess the strength of these four currency attributes not only provides you with an insight into what your career value is but most importantly it can help you determine what actions you can take today to invest in your future opportunities -either internally or externally. Furthermore the clarity you gain about yourself will help you identify the right opportunities that recognise your value and compliment your style.

Loss of direction, purpose and motivation all dramatically affect the value of your career currency and present some of the greatest career dangers. At a time when businesses are more focused than ever on efficiency and cost management, establishing a firm appreciation of where you are at today and what you can do today to maximise your opportunities has never been more important. Not only does it help you build a strong sense of ownership and empowerment but also clarity and confidence about your career direction.

As leaders we need to not only ensure that we are taking daily action to maximise our current opportunities but also helping the people that we lead to do the same. For it is when we do that, we as individuals and the businesses we lead will achieve new levels of success.

So what actions are you taking TODAY to move you and your team forward?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to know more about building your currency in your career TODAY, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Why Generating Hope Matters

March 14th, 2016


“A leader is a dealer in hope”
Recently I was listening to a radio broadcast about the struggles many of our teachers and educators are currently facing. I was particularly interested in one head teacher’s story where she spoke about the challenges that she was navigating with her staff. As a newly appointed leader and working in what was regarded as an extremely impoverished and challenging school, the issues she was encountering bore a common thread: a distinct loss of hope that had permeated not only the children’s worlds but also that of their teachers.

As she noted, her challenge was to not only generate hope in her students but also in those who were responsible for their educational journey. She was acutely aware that if she didn’t start to make some significant changes in her staff’s attitudes and beliefs she would have very limited impact on the children in her school.

Unfortunately her story all too often reflects the challenges that many of our business leaders encounter today, particularly in the current climate where organisations face high levels of uncertainty and ever increasing demands to innovate and constantly do more with less. How do we generate hope in our business leaders and managers for the future? Failing to generate hope – or more bluntly abandoning hope – has dire consequences including at the very least a loss of morale, engagement and productivity.

Dr Lopez, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Business defines hope as the energy and ideas that drive people to change their circumstances. Hope therefore has the power to make bad times temporary. Without hope there is no belief, no direction, no goals, no motivation and no opportunity to create a better situation.  As Dr Lopez highlights, hope keeps us in the game. It keeps us interacting, focused and moving in a direction that makes sense for our own welfare, the welfare of others and the welfare of an organisation. His research suggests that employees with high levels of hope not only show up for work more but are 14% more productive. They are more creative at problem solving and more flexible, adaptable and resilient. They score higher in satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness.

Without hope we simply give up and ‘check out’ which is dangerous for us as leaders and the businesses we lead. It is important to note that hope is more than merely ‘wishing’ for a better situation. As leaders it requires us to inspire belief in others and to actively engage them in the future success of our organisations. In his book The Psychology of Hope: How You Can Get From Here To There, Rick Snyder suggests a practical framework that focuses on goal directed thinking and developing confidence and capacity to find pathways to achieve them. It is a discipline approach and one that can be learned. I would encourage you to consider some of the following strategies suggested to increase our abilities to be more hopeful:

  1. Set meaningful and realistic goals: To avoid generating ‘false hope’ we need to make sure that the goals we set hold real value and are clearly aligned / visible to the outcomes we are trying to achieve.
  2. Set goals that excite & energize: Understand that goals built on intrinsic drivers are far more rewarding rather than ones ‘imposed’. By tapping into the motivators and drivers of our people we are more likely to generate an energy and momentum to drive outcomes.
  3. Develop a ‘pathways thinking’ mindset: Understanding that there are several paths that can lead to success is important to prevent us becoming focused on the blockages that will invariably arise. Recognize if new learning is required or who else can help with moving forward. Learning how to pivot and identify alternative options is cortical to building hope.
  4. Surround yourself with hopeful people: Hope is just as contagious as negativity. Check who (and what) you are listening to including what we are watching and reading.
  5. Practice ‘nexting’: This term created by Lopez describes the practice of discussing the NEXT thing you are looking forward to. By surrounding ourselves with other hopeful people and sharing our stories and why we are excited about it and how we are going to do it or overcome the challenges we continue to make deposits into our hope bank account.
  6. Be careful of the stories you tell yourself: As with so many things we try to do, all too often we are own worst enemy. Watch your self-talk to make sure that it is positive and reflects a succeeding mindset.

Inspiring hope in others is critical for ALL leaders. Not only does it serve a fundamental business purpose it also significantly impacts us personally by supporting growth and success regardless of our situation today.

As leaders today consider how you are helping your people to believe:

  1. The future will be better than the present
  2. I have the power to make it happen
  3. There is more than one path to achieving my goal
  4. No path is free of obstacles

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to know more about building hope in your career and for your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Going Slow To Go Fast

March 8th, 2016


“Go fast enough to get there but slow enough to see”.

– Jimmy Buffet
Earlier this week I attended a workshop that saw a group of business leaders spending the afternoon playing with Lego. Whilst this may all sound like an incredible luxury of time or a rather whimsical activity to engage in, the ensuing conversations, depth of engagement and ideas borne were both insightful and high impact. The Lego Serious Play program is a very ‘serious’ tool used to help enhance innovation and business performance. It is also one that requires us to come to the table with an open mind; a willingness to play and explore possibility; and time – time to slow down and actively engage.

Interestingly at various points of the afternoon and in between the ‘play’ the facilitator made the comment that sometimes we just need to slow down to go faster. In a world that seems to be shouting at us to move faster, quicker and higher – all the time – this concept can sound almost counter intuitive. However if we are to build greater speed, agility and nimbleness in our own careers and businesses, is it possible we may just need to ask ourselves: Do we need to slow down to become faster?  Not stop, but slow down.

In their article ‘Need Speed? Slow Down’ Jocelyn Davis and Tom Atkinson conducted a study on high performing organisations and found that they thought differently about what ‘faster’ and ‘slower’ actually meant.  As they noted, many companies confused operational speed (moving quickly) with strategic speed (reducing the time it takes to deliver value). So much so that those who chose to ‘go, go, go’ were outperformed by those that ‘slowed down to speed up’ by 40% in sales and 52% in operating profits.

Higher performing companies with strategic speed made alignment their key priority. They became more open to ideas and discussion. They actively encouraged innovative thinking and they allowed time to reflect and learn. By contrast those that moved fast all the time and weren’t overly concerned by alignment saw performance suffer. They focused too much time on maximizing efficiency, stuck to tried and true methods and didn’t foster innovation or collaboration.

How often have we or our teams felt caught up in what feels like a snowstorm of ever increasing demands, change processes and scatter gun approaches that we don’t understand the purpose of? Not only do we feel like we are doing circle work but we lose clarity, momentum and belief in what we are doing – both in our own careers and in our business mandates. Learning to slow down with the intent of building clarity, agility and speed is critical if we are to successfully navigate today’s business landscape.

So how do we slow down to build speed? I would encourage you to consider how you could create a moment to consider the following 5 tips:

  1. Get clear on the ‘Why’: Getting clear on our why and aligning it to what we do needs to be more than an after thought. We can have the greatest strategic or career plan but if it is not truly aligned to why we want it we are most likely going to end up of course and in positions we don’t want to be in.
  2. Share it: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Taking time to meaningfully engage about what and why we do things, to share ideas, explore and to reflect and learn means we need to create a safe space for everyone to have a voice. It means creating time to communicate through a range of mediums and in an ongoing and purposeful manner.
  3. Prioritise time AND schedule it: To slow down we actively need to change our operating rhythm. It means we need to make it a priority and carve out time in our diaries in order to give it the space it needs.
  4. Reflect & evaluate: Creating time to reflect and evaluate is critical if we are to stay on course and build momentum. Doing this ‘on route’ and not just merely on final outcomes is what will help us operate with greater clarity, confidence and speed.
  5. Learn to pivot: Real nimbleness and agility often comes through our ability to pivot rather and not always in changing directions. All too often we become distracted by the ‘bright shiny stuff’ that sees us on different paths when the most effective thing to building speed is in the small adjustments and ways we problem solve on route.

To build strategic speed we need to invest in taking the time to get it right. Not perfect but right. Leaders and teams who build in time to slow down and avoid the temptation to dive in or operate at full bore are not only more successful in achieving greater speed but also in achieving their business and career objectives.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to know more about building strategic speed in your career or for your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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