Dig your well before you’re thirsty
Harvey Mackay

Archive for August, 2016

What Are You Pinning Your Career To?

August 30th, 2016

Most of us will recall many a childhood party that involved a game of ‘pin the tail on the donkey’. Blindfolded and invariably spun around numerous times to disorient, we walked aimlessly towards a board with a picture of a donkey, firmly holding the missing tail and hoping to get lucky as we aimed to pin it to the right end of said animal. Many of us considered ourselves lucky if we even managed to connect the tail to any part of the donkey let alone the right end! Generally speaking there was lots of ensuing laughter at how ridiculously misplaced our judgement actually was.

Interestingly I meet many people who seem to have adopted a ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ approach to their career. Progressing through their careers blindfolded, directionless and hoping that their knowledge and skills are ‘pinned’ to the right job or manager inside their organization. Often they too find themselves disoriented and making poor decisions due to a lack of career planning or clarity about what they want.

Whilst we all know that rich and rewarding careers don’t just happen, too often career planning is something that is relegated to the ‘too hard’, ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I don’t know what to do’ baskets. Why? Because it is hard; and it does require time and action to figure out what you do want. It requires us to reflect, get curious about what is possible and challenge ourselves on what actions and directions to take. The risk though of not planning is finding yourself stuck or overlooked for new opportunities when they do arise. With no plan, how can we be ready to position ourselves for the right opportunities when they are presented?

Creating lasting relevant careers that offer genuine challenge and fulfillment requires you to ‘dig your well’ long before you are thirsty. As leadership expert John Maxwell explains, ‘if you are preparing today, chances are you will not be repairing tomorrow’. Preparation as he notes, doesn’t just begin with what you do, it begins with what you believe. If you believe that your success tomorrow depends on what you do today, then you will treat today differently.

As leaders we need to do this not only for ourselves but also with the people that we lead. Failing to understand what our people want, can and will do sees us risking retention of key performers, engagement and ultimately productivity. How can we ensure that we have the right people, in the right place at the right time if individuals don’t know what they want and leaders don’t know how to help them work it out?

Creating career choice and confidence requires us to build knowledge in three key areas: Clarity, Demand and Transferability. These three elements should form the basis of your career plan and be underpinned by strong networks that allow you to understand how you are regarded and to position yourself effectively.

  1. Build clarity: Around what you can do (Skills, Knowledge, Experience); what you want to do (Values, Career Anchors) and where you think you best fit (Personality, People, Culture).
  1. Build demand: Become the expert in what it is that you do and the way in which you do it. Learn how to position yourself as the expert and give people and organisations a reason to want to engage with you.
  1. Build Transferability: Identify where your skills and capabilities also apply. Remain relevant to the future of your business, your industry, and your networks and become nimble enough to adapt and leverage with the inevitable changes ahead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


Are You Leading With An Abundance Or Scarcity Mindset?

August 22nd, 2016


“Abundance is not something we acquire,
it is something we tune into”
– Wayne Dyer
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”][vcex_spacing size=”20px”]It is all too easy to get caught up in the world of ‘not enoughness’. In an age where we are constantly being told that we need more, should aim for more, deliver more, earn more and want more is it any wonder that not having enough, doing enough or being enough is one of our greatest social cripplers and fears.

The real danger of this scarcity mindset is the paralyzing effect it has on us. Not only can you find yourself living in the interim moment – I am here, but when I am there everything will be bigger, brighter and better – but you can also easily fall into the trap that there won’t be enough to go round unless I fight for it. And herein lies a major issue for the way we manage our careers, our teams and our businesses.

Viewing our life and career through a scarcity lens can sabotage both your success and your progress. Scarcity people believe that there may not be enough pie to go round or that their share will be smaller than everyone else’s. Abundance people simply believe that you can make more pie.

People with a scarcity mentality tend to see the world (including the workplace) in terms of win-lose. Whilst it often is not about being malicious it manifests in negative workplace cultures and individual outlooks. People with this mindset typically hold onto knowledge, resources, people and staff with a tight reign. They find it difficult to share recognition, power or profit. They keep things close and small because they can control or influence situations with ease.

Conversely people with an abundance mentality see the world in terms of win-win. They are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition and good fortune of other people. They go out of their way to help others and contribute to their success because in doing so they believe they can all – both individually and collectively – achieve more. People with an abundance mentality operate from a strong sense of worth and security. They typically adopt a bigger outlook on life and the world and consequently generate new opportunities and possibilities.

Stephen Covey is credited with coining the term ‘Abundance Mentality’ in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. He notes that scarcity people are always comparing and competing and believes it s a sure fire recipe for unhappiness. Abundant thinkers feel rich before they become rich – and not just monetarily but in all things of value – time, relationships, attention, experience and happiness.

Take a moment to think about some of the attitudes and behaviours around you today:

Are You Leading With An Abundance Or Scarcity Mindset?

If we want to expand our possibilities and grow our careers (and those of our people) we need to shift our thinking away from scarcity to abundance. In doing so we maximise our potential for success and fulfillment.

I believe that there are two critical strategies for developing an Abundant mindset:

  • Know your own strengths and play to them: Your talents and strengths are unique to you and nobody can take them off you or away from you. The more clarity that you have around what they are and how to best apply them, the more you can rely on them to power your career.
  • 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. To do this successfully you need to seek feedback and input from your leaders, team and mentors both from within and outside your organization.

Scarcity separates and abundance unites. We all want to be part of a winning game where opportunities abound, successes are shared and achievements are celebrated. Cultivating the right mindset and environment for both our teams and ourselves is what will position us all for success.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot Anderson

If you would like to discuss ways to help you or your team understand and embrace the abundance mindset, please call Margot on 0400 336 318.

Leveraging Your Career Story

August 16th, 2016


“People without leverage work for those with leverage”
– Robert Kiyosaki
 In talking with many professionals about their career, I often hear them reflecting and saying ‘I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time’. For many, this right time and right place afforded them rapid career progression, opened the door to key networks and positioned them for next steps in their career journey. Invariably they were exciting and challenging times that were rich in reward and stimulation. Confidence, clarity and choice seemed to abound.

What happens though when it’s time to consider your next career step and this ‘luck’ doesn’t seem to be quite so apparent? Or when you face the need to relocate as part of your role to a new part of the business or in a different location and you are required to effectively start anew? How do you take proactive action to leverage your career background, knowledge, skills and networks to support ongoing career success and fulfillment?

Too often these career scenarios can leave individuals feeling irrelevant, trapped and without choice or control. If we aren’t careful these feelings can all too easily lead to moments of apathy where because we don’t know what to do, we do nothing; or they can sabotage prospective opportunities because we fail to understand what they truly are. Learning how to not only identify the right opportunities but also translate what you have in your own toolkit to match the business or market requirements is critical.

As George Bradt notes in his Forbes article Creating Leverage When None Seems To Exist we all run into roadblocks however it is our ability to adapt, adjust and create leverage in times when there doesn’t appear to be any. The key word here is ‘create’ and not just merely identify. As he notes this comes down to attitude about roadblocks and the need to ask am I simply accepting them as the status quo or am I looking for ways around them?

Like many things, creating leverage in our career requires planning and time. One of the most dangerous things we can do is to not take consistent action whilst we are in a role and business that we enjoy. Leaving it until we want to embark upon change or worse still when it is forced upon sees us trying to create leverage in a time that is often highly emotive, stressful and time pressured.

As part of creating leverage in your own career, I would encourage you to take action with the following 6 factors in mind:

  1. Identify what you stand for: Today we are increasingly being asked to know what it is that we stand for in our careers. It is essentially your over arching career mission – what do you hope to impact, who and how. Is it tied to an industry, a key challenge, leading through core business cycles; innovation, empowerment or other?
  1. Define your core expertise: Clarity on exactly what your core strengths, knowledge and leadership styles are, is essential in identifying and attracting the next opportunity.
  1. Understand how you are regarded: Knowing how others perceive and regard you and your expertise is essential if you are to know what you can leverage or conversely need to overcome.
  1. Educate yourself on the market: In order to understand what is transferable you need to know how what the market /business wants and needs. Failing to do so limits your opportunities to tailor your story and create interest and demand in your background.
  1. Hone your positioning: All too often people fail to succinctly articulate their knowledge, capabilities and ambitions are. It is essential to gain clarity on each of these areas if you are to engage in meaningful conversations and explorations of an opportunity.
  1. Connect & reconnect: As noted by Adam Grant, Wharton Business leader and author of Give and Take success has become increasingly dependent on the interactions we have with others rather than on the individual drivers of success such as commitment, hard work and passion. To support our success we need to understand who and how to connect and reconnect with if we are to gain an accurate insight into what opportunities exist and how we can align ourselves to them.

Creating leverage requires a whole lot more than ‘luck’. As the Roman philosopher Seneca notes ‘luck is the moment when preparation meets opportunity’. With this in mind the big question to ask yourself is what are you doing to prepare for that next meaningful opportunity?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to leverage your career story, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Why We Need Inclusive Leaders

August 9th, 2016


“When everyone is included, everyone wins”
– Jesse Jackson
There is no doubt that the role of the leader is changing. With greater diversity than ever before in our workforces, in the markets we operate and in the way we work, you could be forgiven for feeling a little daunted by understanding what it will take in five, ten, fifteen years to successfully lead.

In a world that is often characterized by VUCA (high levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) how do you plan, make decisions and influence for the future? How do you help people feel comfortable, confident and purposeful in the unknown? The trick is in helping them see that they are not navigating it on their own – that they are a part of something greater than themselves and that their ideas and contributions are not just valid but expected and welcomed. This can sometimes seem easier said than done, especially when the traditional office way of working is being redefined; when changing demographics continue to reshape our workforce; and when we are witnessing new levels of innovation, connectivity and digital disruption.

The recent Deloitte report Fast Forward: Leading in a brave new world of diversity noted that there is an increasing need for leaders to be highly inclusive if they are to successfully lead and leverage the opportunities presented by a diverse workforce. When leaders do learn to become truly inclusive they capture a competitive advantage not just for themselves, but also for their teams and organisations. The reality is diversity itself is not enough – it’s how we capture the potential that is presented by it. If diversity is the glue, then inclusion is in knowing how to use the glue so that the right knowledge, skills, ideas and networks stick. Essentially we need to cultivate an inclusive culture and way of working in order to experience the benefits of diversity.

When we fail to act inclusively the result can be both polarizing and compromising. Failing to consult with a diverse representation of the business or with only a select few often sees the ‘exclusive’ and political mindset emerge. As a result people feel cut out of the loop and unable to see where their contribution is valued. Power plays start to emerge where people withhold information, ideas and networks and silo thinking becomes all too apparent. Disinterest and disengagement then become the real risk with highly talented people leaving and those that are unmotivated and resistant staying.

It is no secret that inclusive environments are strongly correlated with increased performance with a higher return on productivity and investment. If we feel a part of something that allows us to create and contribute meaning and value we are more actively engaged and motivated. We are also more likely to step out of our comfort zone and take on new challenges – to proactively face change rather than fear it. Inclusion is also associated with increased levels of well being and feelings of mutual respect and value. As a result consistency of performance and employee retention is maximised.

So what are the key traits of inclusive leadership? The research and subsequent report produced by Deloitte identified six signature traits of inclusive leaders in terms of what they think about and do. I would encourage you to consider how you can develop and include them in your own leadership toolkit:

  1. Commitment: Inclusion requires us to actively commit to being open to learning and embracing new ways of thinking, doing and behaving.
  2. Courage: To speak up, challenge and question the status quo of ourselves, others and the systems and processes we have within our businesses requires courage as it often means talking about imperfections.
  3. Cognisance: Inclusive leaders are very self-aware and act with this in mind. They acknowledge that despite the best intentions they and their organisations are at risk of unconscious bias and actively seek to put in place policies and frameworks to prevent them from acting on them.
  4. Curiosity: Highly inclusive leaders are constantly curious about different ideas and experiences that enable growth. They actively seek out new people, knowledge and ideas to propel themselves and their business forward.
  5. Cultural Intelligence: In recognizing that not everyone sees the world through the same cultural frame we need to understand how our own culture, assumptions and stereotypes influence others and their behaviours.
  6. Collaboration: No individual is greater than the team around them. Organisations that embrace and prioritise collaboration develop greater momentum and are twice as likely to outgrow their competitors.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to create a more inclusive style for you and your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

The Danger Of Disconnection

August 2nd, 2016


“Conflict lives in people not knowing who they are – disconnected from their experience, living out of their heads, not their hearts”
– Julio De Laffitte
Recently I met a senior executive whose energy and enthusiasm for what he did seemed to seep from every pore of his being. Not in annoying ‘Pollyanna’ sort of way but in a truly genuine and understated manner that made it seem so ridiculous that we would settle for anything less. In reflecting upon his career it was apparent that he hadn’t simply skipped along a gold paved path of career dreams, but rather travelled along plenty of ‘bumpy dirt roads’ with lots of tough life lessons, disappointments and hard work. There had been redundancies, restructures, great bosses, not so great bosses and several overseas assignments that saw him encounter great highs and presented some of the greatest challenges least of all navigating the journey ‘home’ only to find people and places that didn’t always feel quite so familiar any more.

Yet it was quite obvious that he loved what he did, enjoyed the interactions that came from the people he worked with and was challenged by interesting work that offered him great learning and rewards stretching far beyond the monthly paycheck. As a highly regarded senior executive who is seen by many as being at the top of the game, I asked him what he attributed his success and sense of career fulfillment to. His answer was one word: Connection. Being connected to who he truly was, doing what he knew he was good at, in places that valued it and being connected personally and professionally with people that truly mattered to him.

Much is written about workplace disengagement and what it costs us in terms of lost productivity not to mention opportunity or fulfillment. Recent statistics suggest that as little as 20% of Australian employees are actively engaged. That leaves a whole lot of people who are either stuck in the ‘beige-ness’ of work or who actively dislike what they are doing. Whilst disengagement and disconnection are two different things they often go hand in hand and I would also argue that it is very hard to maximise engagement without a strong sense of personal connection.

When you disconnect you shut down, switch off and disengage. Disconnecting from ourselves – our ambitions, our talents, our preferred style of working and learning – and failing to acknowledge what makes us tick is both sad and dangerous. Sad because it means you fail to realize what you are truly capable of; and dangerous not only because it keeps you anchored in the past but because it is a breading ground of negative emotions such as fear, frustration and resentment.

Conversely when you are connected to what you do, you bring high degrees of determination, energy and dedication. You are able to leverage a strong sense of internal motivation, conviction and belief about the role you play and the value you deliver. When you combine this with an engaged workforce and environment around you the combination is powerful.

Whilst all managers and leaders play an integral role in building strong engaged teams, some of the responsibility also has to lie with us as individuals. I know that there are many times that I’ve worked in situations that were less than ideal, navigated challenging people and projects, but my sense of belief in what I was doing and care for how it was done, saw me remain connected and committed to delivering the outcomes agreed to. Whilst the environment and how we are led is extremely important so to is our personal connection to what we do.

In thinking about how you create a strong sense of career connection, I would encourage you to consider the following four tips:

Connection is personal: How and what you connect to in your career is highly personal. Understanding what it is that motivates, inspires and challenges you is unique to you. So to are your strengths, preferred ways of working and learning. Getting clear on the business of you is critical if you are to identify the right workplace culture you wish to connect to.

Connection is a choice: You ultimately have a choice to connect or disconnect from what it is that you do, where you do it and who you do it with. Every choice brings a series of consequences so getting clear on what they look like is important if you are to make informed decisions and manage the outcomes from a place of confidence and control.

Connection requires honesty: You can’t fake connection – you either have it or you don’t. Learning to recognize what it is that builds that strong sense of purpose and connectedness requires you to be  honest with yourself and those around you.

Connection is about accountability:  Building and maintaining connection requires you to take responsibility for it. Often it requires an investment of time, effort and money to grow your own personal development and the opportunities required to seek out the right people and environments for you.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to build a stronger connection in what you do for yourself or your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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