Archive for August, 2018

Why Generating Hope Matters

August 29th, 2018

“A leader is a dealer in hope” – Napoleon

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.

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 the goal

4. No path is free of obstacles

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Reducing The Repatriate Career Lag

August 20th, 2018

“Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jnr

As the demand for globally experienced leadership continues to grow, many organisations recognise the importance of providing international opportunities to their employees. Not only is it a way of attracting, developing and retaining the most talented people in the market place but it can offer significant competitive advantage in how and where organisations do business.

However expatriate assignments don’t come cheap with average postings costing three to four times more than an employee’s salary back home. Given the scale of the investment, there is a critical need for organisations to not only carefully consider the initial opportunity, but also how they will leverage and integrate the experience of their repatriates upon their return. Failing to do so is both a missed opportunity for both individuals and organisations alike.

With industry statistics suggesting that up to 24% of returning employees leave their organisation within the first 12 months and up to 30% within the first 2 years of arriving home, is it any wonder that this loss of potential future leadership is of concern to many business leaders. Coupled with the fact that many who do remain often struggle to re-engage and meaningfully apply – let alone leverage – their experience, the impact can be even more costly.

With most repatriates citing loss of meaningful career opportunity as the number one reason for their departure, it is apparent that there is a misalignment between individual expectations and the organisational reality. Whilst it would be unrealistic to expect organisations to guarantee a certain type of role for expats upon their return, the value of transparent career discussions throughout each stage of the assignment can go along way to help with the transition ‘home’.

Whilst it is clear that there is a very real need for a more robust talent management process for managing expatriate careers, the recent 2016 Brookfield Global Mobility Trends Survey found that only 10% of organisations surveyed reported an alignment of the Global Mobility function with the wider talent agenda and actively engaged in workforce planning and people effectiveness. Furthermore only 23% of organisations had a specific process for engaging in career planning after an assignment had been accepted; and most were only re-engaging with an employee three to six months prior to their return.

As CEO’s and business leaders work to build greater alignment between their mobility practice and talent agendas, there is a strong need for pragmatic, forward thinking conversations that allow for both repatriates and organisations to translate their global experience with local relevance.

What follows are my three tips for managing repatriate careers:

1. Establish Career Partnerships: As with any successful partnership, a clear understanding of common goals, responsibilities and ownership are clearly communicated and established early. It is only when individuals and organisations truly understand each other’s objectives and ambitions that meaningful and purposeful plans can be enacted.

2. Formalise Career Development Plans: Not only does a formal development plan demonstrate commitment and value in the employee it also helps drive career ownership, motivation and engagement. It also affords both parties with the opportunity to remain informed, relevant and proactive in identifying mutually beneficial opportunities.

3. Build A Repatriate Induction Program: With most organisations, business units and teams undergoing regular change, it is dangerous to assume that a repatriate can simply ‘slot back in’ to the way things operate. Not only are there often significant ‘people changes’ to be navigated but also potential operational, regulatory and industry changes to be considered. Repatriates are returning to a different business and bringing with them newly acquired knowledge, skills and networks, all of which need to be recognised.

Repatriation has long been considered the problematic component of the expatriate lifecycle. However when organisations and individuals engage in meaningful career and leadership discussions from the outset, both parties stand to reap the benefits of international experience and global thinking long after the assignment has finished.

If you are interested in knowing more about my Building Globally Resilient Careers program or the Inysnc Network Group please don’t hesitate to get in touch below, or enter your details here.

If you are navigating an international move, or are part of an organisation that provides international opportunities to employees, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Opening The Doors Of Possibility

August 1st, 2018

“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 1900s 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.

No doubt we’ve all been in situations where we have been encouraged by someone who has enthusiastically seen the opportunity to do something differently rather than presenting explanations 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 committed to creating 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.

Leadership expert John Maxwell 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 your role today and how it 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 different allows you to not only see it as an option but believe 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 realize 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 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?

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