If nothing ever changed there’d be no butterflies

Archive for January, 2017

Career Mobility: Why You Need It!

January 30th, 2017

Careers are a funny thing. Invariably where and what we start out doing is a lo’ooong way from where we finish. Often there have not just been role and company changes but state and national transfers; international assignments and major career pivots. When I ask executives to tell me their story or pose the question ‘How did you end up here?’ there is a long pause, followed by a wry chuckle and comments such as ‘I really don’t know… it’s certainly not what I originally planned’ or ‘It’s a long story as it’s quite different to what I studied or commenced my career in’. Invariably though many will highlight a particular opportunity where they feel they ‘got lucky’ by being in the right place at the right time, or working for a fabulous boss or with a great team.

For many though there is a feeling that as they have progressed through their career the ‘lucky’ moments have either disappeared or become very rare. This is no truer than when significant location changes are added into the mix. Not only has that sense of being in the right place, at the right time gone but so too has their ability to identify what that looks like in today’s marketplace. And to some degree they are right, with less opportunities existing in the senior end of the market; and the hidden nature of these roles requiring well crafted networks in order to identify them. However for many, it’s not so much a case of fewer opportunities but rather a reluctance to learn how to embrace the changing nature of work and marketplace demands.

With many roles and job titles today in danger of disappearing altogether and those of tomorrow yet to be defined, there is also a new challenge we all face in how to best manage our own careers. How do you plan out future career paths when the very nature of what we do, how we do it and where we do it is rapidly changing around us? Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha, authors of The Start Up Of You note that building long term career success requires individuals to consider themselves as entrepreneurs and their careers as a start up business. In qualifying this they say that ‘ the skills that start-ups require are the very skills that professionals need in order to advance their careers: nimbleness, personal investment, strong networks and intelligent risk taking”.

To do this we need to embrace and develop the skills of agility and mobility. It is widely recognised that agility enhances performance in activities that require a quick change in direction whilst maintaining the core elements of balance, speed, strength and control. It leads to faster response and can easily provide significant competitor advantage. Mobility is the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. Regardless of whether we are responding to the need for movement (eg Internal requirements) or executing a move of our own accord it will be our ability to do it ‘freely and easily’ that will determine our success. Not only does agility and mobility help improve current performance but it also helps ensure that any sudden change in direction – such as redundancy, promotion or career shifts – are navigated with relative ease and strength.

Given that agility and mobility are built on strength and co-ordination it is imperative that we gain clarity on what our core strengths are: what knowledge, skills and styles do we have to leverage. We then need to understand where we best fit: where we can co-ordinate our skills and knowledge with those of others. I would also encourage you to consider the following five actions for creating career agility:

  • ‘Think global, act local’: We are working in an increasingly globalised world that is responding to change, disruption and connection at every level. Our role is to be aware of it so we can leverage and apply it with relevance and confidence to our own careers and positions.
  • Remain informed: Navigating any form of change requires us to be informed of what it is. Too often we look ‘across and down rather than up and out’ and as a result our awareness outside of our immediate world is diminished and therefore limiting. It is important to be informed of relevant industry trends; interesting collaborations and market announcements.
  • Take considered risks: Low risk is often associated with stability. However it has been suggested that in the long term, continually opting for the low risk options leads to increased vulnerability as it reduces our resilience to deal with sudden and high level change. ‘Playing it safe’ with your career can in fact create higher risk through an inability to cope with the volatility and rate of change which is all to common in the market place today.
  • Invest in learning: With the constant change happening in our workplaces and industries you can never assume that you know all there is to know about managing your career. Invest time to acquire the right intelligence and know-how that will accelerate your career. Consider what projects, opportunities and courses will build, stretch, leverage and maximise your knowledge, skills and style.
  • Create diverse networks: Invest in the right relationships and dedicate time and energy to them. Identify your key influencers and thought leaders, and identify a meaningful pathway of how to approach and engage with them. Build a networking plan that fosters authentic professional relationships where you can also offer valuable contributions.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


If you would like to discuss ways to build career mobility, please call Margot on 0400 336 318.

The Power of Reconnection

January 24th, 2017

Last week a card arrived in the post from a long lost uni friend which both caught me by surprise and delighted me in equal portions. I was also particularly touched with the obvious time, thought and effort that had been taken to reach out and reconnect. It was clear that the card had already been returned to sender once, with the second effort made to track me down through an old family address, which in turn somehow made it to a more current address before making it’s way onto me.

With both of us leading lives that had seen us relocate around the country and globe we lost touch several years into our careers for no other reason than the busy-ness of life. Spurred on by some recent significant events my friend explained how they had given her cause to think of me and wonder what I was up to.

Not only did her letter really make me smile, it also made me realize just how much power there is in the act of reconnecting. Firstly it really made me stop in my tracks and consider just how grateful I was that she had made the effort; then it made me want to take action to respond; and finally it made me really consider who I would like to reconnect with and why. The simple act of reconnecting had almost acted as a charger providing increased energy, capacity and productivity.

In working with many senior executives who are working or who have recently worked abroad, reconnection is a hot topic. Often there have been years between the proverbial drinks and there is huge reluctance to re-engage for fear of being perceived as disingenuous or feeling awkward. However when we do learn how to genuinely re-engage the benefits are enormous. In fact it is in failing to reconnect that can all too easily be the real missed opportunity.

Adam Grant, Wharton Business Leader and author of Give and Take explores how our 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. In analyzing our networks he classifies them into three groups: strong, weak and dormant ties. It is this third group – defined as people you used to know but don’t keep in touch with – that he believes is the most easily dismissed and undervalued.

In a recent Inc. article he explained why he believes that dormant ties can be better for networking weak (people we’ve met but don’t really know) or even strong ties. All too often our strong ties give us redundant knowledge – they are likely to know the same people, operate in similar environments and do similar things. Dormant ties however tend to give us better information because they have a much more diverse network with different thinking and experience. Invariably they have been meeting new people, learning different things and ways operating so they can potentially open up whole new worlds you didn’t know existed

So how do we reconnect with our past networks genuinely and with purpose? I would encourage you to consider the 7 tips below:

  1. Plan to reconnect: Get clear on who you want to reconnect with and why – the initial contact will always be made easier with a clear sense of purpose.
  1. Identify the best way to connect: Determine what is the most appropriate way to connect – do you pick up the phone, send an email or initially engage on social platforms such as LinkedIn?
  1. Embrace the awkwardness: It will feel a bit awkward and will require you to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’ Pretending that you are the best of friends and it is only natural that you would be making contact is inauthentic and can actually be more harmful than helpful.
  1. Acknowledge the lapse in time: As with all communication, honesty is imperative. Be up front about the lapse of time and provide some sort of context for that time period – studying, working abroad, family commitments, new roles etc. When you admit it’s been a while and you want to catch up, it ‘s more genuine.
  1. Explain ‘Why Now?’ Understand why you want to connect and be transparent about it. Draw a link between what has prompted you to get in touch and why eg: I have recently made the decision to relocate back to Australia and I know that you have successfully made that transition so was keen to hear what your tips and insights were.
  1. Ask how they are: Seeking to understand your connection’s story is critical. They will no doubt also have been developing new skills, knowledge and connections so it is important to build awareness on what they have been doing. It also makes it easier to create genuine dialogue and opens the door for you to reciprocate in kind.
  1. Offer to reciprocate: None of us like to feel as though we are doing all the asking or taking so it is important to offer your knowledge, skills and experience in return. You are also much more likely to want to engage when you work to establish a two-way benefit.

Why not set yourself a challenge to re-engage with 3-5 people who you believe can add value to what you do today!

As always I would love to hear your thoughts

If you would like to explore ways to build your network and enhance the quality of your connections please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Success To Significance

January 17th, 2017

What we do matters. For most of us building a purposeful and successful career is something that we all aspire to do. After all no one really aspires to be unsuccessful or to have a meaningless career. The reality is we invest way too much time and blood, sweat and tears for it to not provide some degree of reward, enjoyment and fulfillment. But are we missing out on true reward and fulfillment by focusing all of our efforts on being successful rather than creating significance?

With the recent end of one year and the start of another – and especially for those of us in the southern hemisphere who have enjoyed a recent summer break – many have spent some time reflecting on the year that was and setting goals and plans for 2017. It is often in these reflective times that we tend to mull over the ‘big’ questions – Can I see myself doing this for the next 5/ 10/ 15 years? What do I actually want to do with the rest of my career? Am I still in the right role or company? How do I create greater purpose and impact? These big questions are hard questions to answer and as a result are often relegated to the too hard basket or for ‘later in the year’. After all nothing is actually broken, so for many there is no urgency to change or we tell ourselves that ‘we should just be grateful for our lot’. The danger is ‘later in the year’ can all too easily become next year or the year after.

In working with many senior executives, it is not uncommon to hear of highly successful career stories that have offered wonderful foundations – stability, security, challenge and reward. However at some point these pillars no longer seem to be the ultimate driver and questions start to be asked about creating greater value. Often our motivations change with career experience and what was once really important has changed. This is not to say that success is not important – it is and it is a vital component of creating significance. Too often thought when these questions arise there is a temptation to think I just need a new job, try a new company or perhaps try a new career. Fundamentally though what you need to ask yourself is ‘Do I want to switch jobs or companies; or do I want to switch to a life that matters through what I do?’

John C Maxwell, author of Intentional Living talks about the trap that many of us fall into when we focus on success: ‘If I do enough and have enough I will be fulfilled’. The challenge with this mindset is when we aren’t fulfilled we tend to question our capabilities, our value and ultimately ourselves. As Maxwell notes, success is great but significance is lasting. The added bonus is It also generates higher levels of energy, purpose and opportunity.

Creating lives and careers of significance require us to fundamentally switch our focus from what can do for ourselves to what can we do for others. This does not mean that we live a life denying what we want for the sake of pleasing others. Rather it is about drawing upon our innate knowledge, skills, strengths and motivations to contribute to the success of others.

Creating significant lives and careers takes times. It is a journey and much like climbing a ladder requires us step up the rungs to reach the top. The problem is too many of us stop before we reach the top rung. Maxwell talks about moving through the ladder of significance: survival (focus being on stability) to success (focus on ourselves) to significance (focus on others).

So how do we build career significance? I would encourage you to consider the following 4 tips:

  1. Know Your Strengths: and stay with them: It is much easier to create a career of significance when we know what our strengths are. We are in a position to give freely and generously and operate with greater intuitiveness, insight and impact.
  2. Identify Demand: Know where your strengths are valued and required and place yourself in a position to generate demand for them.
  3. Establish Your Plan: Be intentional about what you do, where you do it and with you do it.
  4. Communicate: Let people know what your intentions are and most importantly why. When others can see the genuine motivation you have they are more inclined to support and contribute to your path.

As we start 2017, why not take the time to plan your pathway to career significance. If you or your team would benefit from a planning session, please don’t hesitate to contact me today.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you would like to explore ways to build greater career significance please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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