Posts Tagged ‘Career ownership; leadership; choice; action; confidence; purpose; resilience; vision; awareness; network; goals; challenge; bravery; clarity’

Mastering the Art of Reconnection

May 10th, 2020

“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.” – Joseph Parry

Last week I was delighted to receive the following note from a former client who I hadn’t heard from in years.

Hello Margot, hope you’re well. I’m doing that reaching out to my network thing to check-in during this time. Genuinely hope though that you’re putting up a good fight. All good here, very thankful to be in the role and industry at this time – long may it continue. It’s been too long, even before all this, we should catch up soon.

It was simple and sincere in nature, and it made me stop for a moment and think just how easy it is to reconnect with those in our network – past and present. What made this even more interesting is that in the preceding days I had had conversations with several clients about re-engaging with ‘old’ networks. Despite the current COVID-19 landscape that has seen many of us actively seek out new ways to connect with colleagues, family and friends there was still a reluctance to engage with former networks.

For many there was a view that too much time had passed between the proverbial drinks or it was simply ‘too hard’. At the heart of it was a fear of being perceived as disingenuous or as a ‘taker’ only reappearing because of an ulterior need or agenda. This is just as real when we are embarking upon a career or role transition (which is ironic given the risk of transition many of us face in the current climate). However, the need for exploring new ways of working and collaborating has never been more pronounced, and dismissing the value of our past networks can be a massively 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 than 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 of operating so they can potentially open up whole new worlds you didn’t know existed. Reaching out to dormant ties rather than weak ones is generally more comfortable because of the shared experience and common history even if there has been a lot of water that has passed under the proverbial bridge.

So how do we re-engage with our past networks genuinely and with purpose? I would encourage you to consider the seven 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.

2. 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?

3. Embrace the awkwardness: It will feel a bit awkward and will require you to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’ Authenticity is key. Pretending that you are the best of friends can actually be more harmful than helpful, so embracing the initial contact, as well as being considerate of your message is important.

4. Acknowledge the lapse in time: Be upfront 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 and authentic.

5. Explain ‘Why Now?’ Draw a link between what has prompted you to get in touch and why eg: I am currently working on a project with XX challenges and see that you have also done this. As such, I was keen to hear how you had managed this and what your learning’s were.

6. Ask how they are: Seek to understand your connection’s story. 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.

7. 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.

Reaching out to reconnect is often not easy – it requires an element of vulnerability and bravery to pick up the phone or push send on that email. Invariably though you will find that the person you are reconnecting with is delighted to learn that their background and experience is valued.

When was the last time you reconnected with an old colleague or professional acquaintance?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Keys Of Consistency

February 5th, 2020

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently” – Tony Robbins

We all know that true success does not occur overnight. Behind it sits volumes of effort, belief and action demonstrated consistently over time. Underpinning much of our success has been the small daily or weekly decisions and actions and how they have added up over the years.

With a new year well underway, we need to ask ourselves how our actions are stacking up against the intentions, resolutions and goals we have set for ourselves.

Whether it has been a commitment to read recent industry publications to help us remain relevant; invested time in creating purposeful professional relationships and broad networks; or made a conscious effort to expand and diversify our skill sets, the consistency of our actions (or lack thereof) has played a major role in where we find ourselves today.

When advising business leaders, I often think of a Harvard Business Review study that coined the term, the ‘Progress Principle’. It reminds us: “Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work,”

Building awareness around what needs to be done is only the first step. We must execute our ideas and ambitions – which is often easier said than done.

However, at time where our ability to navigate change and demonstrate true career resiliency, never have these ‘little things’ counted for so much. These small actions over time compound positively or negatively much like they do in a bank account. Lots of small proactive decisions add up in a positive way like regular savings into a bank account; whereas complacency and bad decisions are like small debits eating away at your value over time.

A tool I frequently draw on in my training programs is my career currency model, which prompts us to regularly ask ourselves the following:

  • Where are you at and why?
  • What are your most pressing considerations?
  • What can be done to enact immediate action?
  • How do you maximise existing career options?
  • What are the longer-term implications or possible outcomes?

Ultimately, these questions will help you to determine what actions you are taking to grow the value of your career currency today.

In talking with business leaders, I often hear that it is not the big things that keep them awake at night but the little things. Why? Because they know that over time these little ‘things’ have the power to become the big things and significantly impact efficiencies, outcomes and relationships. It is exactly the same with our careers – if we aren’t careful, failure to action the ‘little’ things will prevent us from reaching our potential and desired levels of success.

As leaders, our ability to demonstrate and build consistency in performance, behaviour and service is imperative. Nothing is more frustrating than inconsistency in one or more of these three elements. No doubt many of us are able to recall colleagues who have severely limited their opportunities due to an inability to consistently perform or behave. Where one week they seem to be producing record results only to not contribute for the following three. Or where they are technically brilliant at what they do but cause so much disruption amongst their team that the overall results are compromised because no one wants to work with them or you going forward.

There is no doubt that one of the biggest causes of failure today is inconsistency. Whilst the idea of consistency is fairly simple the ability to execute it is often not. More often than not it is due to one of the following three things:

  1. Impatience: We want the results immediately. Think of all those diet and exercise regimes that we have all invariably embarked upon!
  2. Belief: If we don’t believe in what we are doing the only thing that we are most likely to be consistent in is avoidance.
  3. Value: Failure to see the benefits of the amount of effort invested.

Consistency is definitely achievable for us all but it does take practice. Understanding what it is that you do and why is critical but so too is understanding how consistency creates high value and longevity in your career. I would encourage you to take a moment to consider the following career benefits:

  • Consistency establishes belief: The thoughts and actions that we take on a daily and/or regular basis do shape our own self-belief and the belief that others have in us. Not only is it a powerful force for motivating and building trust in others but it also serves as a powerful model for the standards we and others rise and fall to.
  • Consistency creates relevance: Your customers, clients, organisations and team members are all looking to you as a reliable and informed source of information. To remain informed we need to be relevant. What are the latest developments in your industries, your areas of expertise or your regions? Is your level of knowledge and it’s applicability empowering or depowering you and what you do?
  • Consistency allows for measurement: To build meaningful and successful steps of progression we need to understand what it is that is actually working – or not working. What are the results of your consistent efforts, actions and strategies – good or bad? Our ability to measure, assess and realign are crucial skills in our ever-changing world.
  • Consistency creates accountability: Accountability is a critical requirement in high performance and values aligned cultures. Owning what you do, the ‘why’ and the way you do it can’t help but create accountability for both yourself and those around you. Being consistently accountable – in the good and the bad times – is what will set you apart as the consummate professional.
  • Consistency builds stability: Not only does it build stability but it also builds sustainability. When people know what you stand for and where they stand with you, it provides the framework for them to perform at their optimal level. By removing the game playing, the contradictions and the inconsistencies, individuals have a clear runway to success that engenders both confidence and loyalty.
  • Consistency establishes your reputation: Your track record is your reputation. Building that track record on one that is defined by consistent performance, respectful behaviours and high value relationships is fundamental to both your current and future success. Remember your track record follows you no matter where you go.

The future is all yours for the taking. What it is that you do consistency in your daily, weekly, monthly routine and ask yourself if it is building or limiting your career future?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Value of Global Experience

October 7th, 2019

“Success is when I add value to myself. Significance is when I add value to others” – John Maxwell

A new report was recently released in Australia about the struggle that expats have in both navigating the employment market and in leveraging their knowledge and skill set upon their return.

Through my work in career management, and in particular global careers, there have many been calls, coffees and emails – which are growing in number since the release of this report – where people have shared their experiences of frustration, pain and exhaustion in navigating their re-entry into the local job market. Australian expats are struggling to understand how to cut through the dire statistics, that clearly shows international experience is undervalued by recruiters in Australia.

The report found that 85% of returning Australians struggle to find work and 83% of recruiters are cautious about hiring returned expats. Additionally, “A third (34%) of returned expats aren’t even landing an interview for a potential role where their skills precisely match the job requirements. A quarter of returned expats (24%) are landing multiple interviews for various roles, and yet miss out on being offered the job,” the report adds.

There is no doubt that the Australian market is tough to navigate – and in particular for those who have been out of it for some time.

It’s comparatively small, is often regarded as lagging in up to date innovative thinking and diversity and can feel very narrow and at times apathetic in it’s operating practice. Recruiters and corporate Australia appear more often that not, closed to anything that looks or sounds different to the ‘average Joe’.

Overlay the fact that the market is highly networked and our culture is underpinned by the good old tall poppy syndrome, it comes as no surprise that many people are simply overwhelmed and highly frustrated by the challenges faced.

Given that we are all essentially hardwired to want to show up and make a valued contribution, not being able to see how or where to do this – or worse still feeling rejected or undervalued – is both infuriating and demoralizing.

However, global experience is a highly valuable commodity in the Australian market, even though it is difficult for recruiters to understand, and for repatriates to articulate.

The report revealed a positive sentiment among recruiters, where more than half (57%) agree that recruiting returned Australians has a longer-term strategic benefit. The report also went further to suggest that “expats returning home are key to unlocking corporate Australia’s competitive edge.” A recent story that appeared in the Australian Financial Review also highlighted that 80% of CEOs in the country have worked overseas at some stage during their career.

Creating value – and demand for that value – in what we do is challenging when we have been living and working outside of that market for an extended period of time. Just like a financial plan our career plan requires an investment strategy – and ideally one with compounding interest. Additionally,  it also requires a marketing plan if we are to overcome or mitigate the risk of feeling ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

The need for strategic career planning has never been more essential in the returning expat’s toolkit. However, many will only address this in a reactionary manner, starting the planning process only when the need arises.

Three widely known key attributes of wealth are utility, scarcity and marketability. In thinking about our careers, these attributes are similar. Clarity, demand and transferability are three career attributes that will build value and drive your career forward.

How can we use these three attributes to demonstrate genuine career value?

  1. Build Clarity: In what you can do – your core skills, knowledge and experience; what you want to do (motivations and values) and where you think you best fit (culture and environment). Remember, if you can’t clearly articulate it, others can’t see it or refer to it with any real confidence.
  2. Build Demand: If you can’t demonstrate relevance to the current market others won’t buy it – regardless of how much you think your expertise sets you apart from others. Creating demand for what you do and how you do it requires you to nail your value proposition in a manner that engenders confidence and makes you relevant for both today and tomorrow’s market in a cost effective and competitive manner. Engaging others to help you research, understand and link your expertise to current challenges and/or opportunities will help you build your positioning with influence and give people a reason to want to engage with you.
  3. Build Transferability: Re-entering a market where you have little to no local validation can be difficult. People often like to play it safe and make decisions or appoint through trusted advisors and/or when they can see that you have a support system that will support your transition. To demonstrate your nimbleness and resilience invest in your network, your learning and the industry you are a part of or are seeking to be a part of.

Navigating international transitions are difficult, but with the right road map, support and networks around you, the path can be made easier.

Whether you’re looking for counsel on your career plan and how to translate your international skills into the local market, or connect with other globally minded individuals, I offer programs and connections designed to make your return journey an enjoyable and successful one. I also offer this as a service for organisations designed to enhance the retention, engagement and productivity of international workforces.

As always, I would love to hear from you.

The Power of Knowledge and Action

September 4th, 2019

“Knowledge is not power … it is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organised into definite plans of action and directed to a definite end.”  (Napoleon Hill) 

When we have momentum, we feel as though anything is possible and we can confidently take on new challenges. Other times, momentum can seem elusive and a struggle to develop.

It’s often hard to describe and yet it is nearly always our secret magic weapon to achieving success. At its best, momentum helps us remain focused, clear minded and forward thinking rather than stagnating.

One of the key roadblocks to momentum, for leaders in particular, often manifests in being caught up with the tactical execution of work, rather than focusing on the strategic and organisational management work that is needed to drive growth and leverage opportunities as and when they arise.

Businesses and their leaders know what they need to do but find themselves unable to do it because they don’t have people in the right place, or people with the right capabilities, which results in stalled momentum time and again.

The key to breaking out of this cycle is turning this knowledge – of what needs to be done – into action, which is often easier said than done.

The reality is knowledge is only useful if we do something with it. Whilst it is very important to develop a strategy, build intellectual capital and remain up to date and aware of new developments, we need to actually do something.

Whether it’s about implementing a new way of working, recruiting new skills for our team, getting fitter, saving more money or simply slowing down, too many businesses and individuals are finding themselves caught in the gap between knowing what they should do and doing what is actually required.

So how can we build a culture of action within our businesses?

Commit to taking action: Many of us have fallen into the pattern of researching, planning and refining our strategy as a way of telling ourselves we are busy ‘doing’ when really we are just playing safe. Essentially all we are doing is walking on a treadmill – yes we are moving but it is not actually taking us anywhere.

Lose the perfectionist tag: Perfectionism is the equivalent of paralysis. Not only does it prohibit us from taking the first step towards action, it also creates unwarranted stress, crushes creativity, prevents productivity and ultimately limits profitability.

Simplify: Leaders and organisations that use simple straightforward language, concepts and structures are better at closing the knowing-doing gap. Simplicity removes ambiguity, blame and confusion. It increases productivity, efficiency and creativity. Quite simply it is the fast track to creating action.

Invest in learning: Closing the gap on knowing and doing requires an investment in training and learning be-it for our organisations or ourselves. Developing expert skill-sets, efficiency and confidence requires commercial tolerance, time and a learning based culture or outlook. Recognising that as learners we need space to explore new ideas, make mistakes and embed new knowledge is critical to maximising the ROI on the learning investment.

Face the fear: Fear is one of the greatest enemies of success and progress. To close the knowing-doing gap we need to face it – both at an individual and organisational level. To take action we need to know that there will be no punishment for taking risks, making mistakes and exploring new ideas without a guarantee of success. If we fear for our jobs, our future opportunities or even for our own self-worth we are less likely to move beyond the safe confines of what we know and have done before which ultimately prohibits any form of growth.
Measure the right things: To encourage action we need to ensure that we are measuring the right things. Pouring all of our energies and metrics into scrutinising hours worked rather than levels of customer satisfaction is not going to drive future results. We need to demonstrate and see the value in what we are measuring and how it relates to what we do our future direction and our success.

Do you feel your business is effectively turning knowledge into action? What opportunities would you be able to tap into, if less time was spent in execution?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Unlocking Organisational Productivity

August 5th, 2019

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focussed effort” – Paul J Meyer

Productivity is never an accident. As business leaders today, we are constantly challenged to increase both productivity and profitability whilst being asked to conserve resources and do ‘more with less’.

As the quote above suggests, to do this requires an unwavering commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and highly focused effort. There is however one additional area I believe we need to build an unwavering commitment to developing: Trust.

Trust, which is widely regarded as the glue to any healthy and productive relationship, appears to be on the rise in some sectors of work, placing a greater emphasis building trust between the employee-employer relationship than ever before.

According to The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust has changed profoundly in the past year. In 17 markets including Australia, the research revealed that “people have shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their employers.”

The research showed that 77% of respondents in Australia trust “my employer”, which was considerably more than NGOs (56%), business (52%) and government (52%).

The correlation between greater organisational productivity was also strong, where employers that work to build trust will be rewarded; Australian employees who have trust in their employer demonstrate greater advocacy (80%), loyalty (71%), engagement (69%) and commitment (87%).

It comes as no surprise, then, that a lack of trust can not only mean a leadership crisis, but also a productivity crisis. When we don’t believe or trust those around us it not only sets in motion a tidal wave of negative attitudes and emotions, it actually significantly impacts our ways of thinking and behaving. So much so that it can all too easily become the biggest blocker to personal, team and organisational productivity.

Patrick Lencioni who is widely regarded for his work in team development and organisational performance identifies trust as the most basic requirement to building high performance. His pyramid The Five Dysfunctions of A Team defines the core problems of unproductive teams and subsequently by default the requirements for a high functioning and productive team:

 

Patrick Lancioni: The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team

Failing to build trust can affect each level of the pyramid, crippling the potential of a productive team if not established on a strong, trust-based foundation. Only people with high trust between each other will take risks, engage in healthy robust debate, seek solutions, commit to a vision, hold each other accountable and focus on delivering measurable results.

Stephen Covey’s analogy of trust as a tax or a dividend is particularly apt: When there is a lack of trust in a relationship or organisation, it is like a hidden tax that is placed on every transaction, piece of communication, decision and strategy, which brings speed down and sends costs up. By contrast, individuals and companies that operate with high levels of trust reap the benefits of a dividend that enables them to succeed by multiplying performance, productivity and capability.

Lack of trust therefore has the capacity to dramatically increase the cost of doing business and triple the delivery timeframes; where as high trust has the capacity to not only significantly save time, money and angst but also deepen relationships, build greater collaboration, career fulfillment and success for all involved.

So how do the most successful leaders build trust?

  • Establish purpose and commitment: from individuals and between individuals
  • Communicate honestly and transparently: by talking straight and keeping it real!
  • Ensure actions match words: removing ambiguity and taking the guess work out of situations
  • Deliver results: that offer lasting and meaningful value
  • Listen and observe: Not just to those that shout the loudest but to all members of a team
  • Demonstrate consistency: If you do what you say and say what you do, people will trust you
  • Remove the ‘landmines’: the hidden agendas, the vagueness and doubt
  • Clarify expectations, purpose and commitment: contributions, behaviours and attitudes
  • Value accountability: both for themselves and the team’s that they lead
  • Remain engaged: with individuals, objectives, processes and outcomes
  • Acknowledge and give credit where credit is due: both individually and publicly

For leaders, trust is two fold. There is a very real need to engender it and you need to be able to give it. Without both, productivity is almost always compromised. The most successful leaders recognise this and focus on creating it as a core objective.

Trust is not just a nice-to-have. It is a critical component of personal, team and organizational performance. It is a clear enabler of productivity and one that underpins your leadership skill set and true capability.

The logic is simple: if people trust you and that trust is reciprocated, they will give you their all. If people give you their all they are more willing to go the extra mile, more likely to perform at remarkably high levels and apply extraordinarily levels of discretionary effort. Productivity therefore becomes the natural outcome.

Do you feel your organisation’s leadership engenders trust? Where could there be opportunities to build trust within your business? As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Why Great Leaders Are Amplifiers

May 8th, 2019

‘”Amplifiers are the rare and extraordinary leaders who amplify the best in themselves and others. They amplify the messages that matter, amplify the positive mood in a culture and amplify the results achieved.” – Matt Church

In a world that seems to feed off of negativity, drama and hype our ability to amplify the positive stories, opportunities and results around us has never been so important. Unfortunately for many, living and working in environments that predominately focus and feed on the failures and barriers that get in the way of success is all too familiar. The reality though is that there are many extraordinary events happening, results being produced and opportunities arising every day. We just need help in seeing and hearing about them – especially with the pace and diversity at which we have now become accustomed to operating in.

Great leaders know this. Not only do they recognize their occurrence but they proactively seek to highlight them and in doing so have a significant impact on those around them and their outcomes. Great leaders are like amplifiers who know how to effectively increase the volume and quality of sound whilst minimizing distortion and unwanted feedback.  They amplify the highest of qualities and eliminate the distractions and unwanted noise.

Building high performance is greatly enhanced when we focus on amplifying the individual strengths, extraordinary results and constructive behaviours that contribute to ongoing success. To do this we need to make sure we are attracting and employing the right people for our organisations and teams; that we are creating workplace cultures that recognise individual contributions and reward healthy positive behaviours (and importantly remove that are not); and that we give people the freedom to operate from a place of strength.

However as Jon Stewart so aptly notes ‘if we amplify everything, we hear nothing’. As such we need to learn to be discerning about what constitutes the ‘extraordinary and successful’. We also need to be brave enough to address the results and behaviours that detract us from achieving what we set out to do. Failing to do so results in a culture of ‘anything goes’ where the lines between success and status quo or healthy and unhealthy prevail.

As leaders I would encourage you to reflect on how you amplify the following 5 areas in order to build individual, team and organisational success:

  • Strengths: Tom Rath & Barrie Conchie, authors of Strength Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow – conducted studies that revealed engagement increased eightfold when leaders focused on their employee’s strengths as well as their own increasing from 9% to 73%.
  • Behaviours: How we act and behave in our workplace is fundamental to success our individual and overall success. Invariably they are the ‘linchpin’ not only in our abilities to deliver but in the timeliness and quality the results produced.
  • Results: Recognising and applauding results – both incrementally and at the point of final delivery – is important in helping to define what ‘great’ looks like. Amplifying great results also helps drive engagement, energy and productivity.
  • Contributions: Often success is the ‘sum or parts’ where a number of individuals have played a role in supporting the overall delivery. Learning to acknowledge the contributions of others is fundamental to elevating healthy workplace performance.
  • Learning: Not everything we undertake is considered a success. How we embrace failure, recognise it and learn from it is fundamentally important to creating healthy environments that encourage us to step out of our comfort zone. It also supports our efforts to create new ways of working, innovate and problem solve.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

                 

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