Posts Tagged ‘engagement’

Unlocking Potential

December 6th, 2017

There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he things he can do

– Henry Ford

Barely a day seems to go by where we don’t hear about the volatility and uncertainty of the business landscape, the economy and the employment market.

Businesses say they are struggling to find the right people to help them navigate this ever changing landscape; whilst individuals say they are struggling to find the right roles and/or organisations that allow them to showcase their talents and have real influence and impact.

PWC’s recent global survey found that 63% or CEO’s and business leaders don’t believe they have the talent needed to support their future growth. Further studies indicate that almost the same percentage of employees don’t believe that their managers and leaders understand their real capability or future career ambitions.

There is no doubt that this misalignment is hurting individual careers and impeding business growth. In a landscape characterized by what is now being commonly referred to as VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity – we all need to rethink how we develop both our own careers and those of the people that we lead. If we don’t we will find ourselves unable to navigate what is currently in play or what lies ahead.

The bottom line is individual’s need to get better at showcasing their potential; and organisations need to get better at identifying it.

With research suggesting that the top 10% of employees are more than 2.5 times productive and efficient than their counterparts, there is no doubt that showcasing and spotting real potential is critical to future proofing our success.

So how do we spot it and what are it’s key indicators? I particularly like Claudio Fernandez-Araoz’s (from global search firm Egon Zender) identification of the following 5 key elements.

As you read through them I would encourage you to take a moment to think about how you showcase each element. For those of you who are responsible for growing business capability and talent pipelines consider them as a guide to spotting potential in your team and organisation.

  1. Motivation: Inpossession of a fierce commitment to excel in the pursuit of unselfish goals. Individuals with high potential are ambitious big picture thinkers who are driven to leave their mark by continually improving on what and how they deliver. They are not driven by selfish motives but rather are keen to contribute for the greater good of their team and organisation.
  2. Curiosity: A thirst for exploring ‘the new’; for learning and discovery; for the possibility of what could be and not merely what is. Individuals are motivated by the desire to improve and better their own lives, careers and the organisations that they lead. They are not satisfied with merely maintaining the status quo.
  3. Insight: The ability to collect, interpret and apply new information that invariably brings with it new possibilities. People with high potential know how to navigate change and make sense of emerging trends, technologies and practices.
  4. Engagement: A nack for using emotion and logic to communicate a persuasive vision and connect with people. Individuals possess the capability to harness capability, motivations to drive collective outcomes and results.
  5. Determination: A dogged persistence and wherewithal to pursue difficult goals despite the challenges and roadblocks that may lie ahead. People with high determination also know how to ‘bounce back’ and recover from frustration, disappointment, failure and adversity.

It is worth noting that there is a significant difference between high potential and high performance. Mistaking the difference can be costly for all involved. No doubt we have all worked with or heard of the top sales rep or technical lead who is promoted to manager and in the process struggles to transition from being the best in their field to helping others become their best. The results are often sliding performance and heightened frustrations for all involved, which ultimately hurt morale and drive turnover.

Converting high potential to high performance is always going to be the key to maximizing growth and opportunity – be it business or personal. To do this we need to start considering and offering development opportunities that push us out of our comfort zones. For it is when we operate outside of our comfort zone and stretch ourselves that the five elements of potential can be adopted and showcased…. And where the real magic happens.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


Leading With Generosity

August 21st, 2017

All too often when we think of generosity we think of financial giving or involvement in charitable work. We don’t naturally think of it in terms of business dealings or in what we do in our day-to-day jobs. Typically it is equated with what we do outside of business hours rather than what we do in them. What charities, community projects or family & friend endeavours we choose to give to financially or with our time.

Make no mistake these endeavours are all noble and worthy acts of generosity and ones that we should seek out. However overlooking the ways we can give generously through what we do and how we lead is not only a missed opportunity to leave our world in a better place but can be self limiting to our own levels of fulfilment and future growth as well as to those in our teams.

Whilst true generosity is ultimately an altruistic act we more often than not receive things in return – and often abundantly. As leaders this could transpire in the form of increased cooperation and collaboration, enjoyment in what we do, sheer goodwill and/or the fulfilment of seeing others succeed. Not to mention increased productivity and profitability.

If you were to take a moment to reflect on the colleagues and leaders who have left a positive mark on you and your career there would invariably be a common trait: Generosity of spirit. They are the people who gave freely of their time, knowledge and trust and who helped facilitate opportunities for you.

Adam Grant, author of the best selling book Give and Take looks at how and why our success today is increasingly dependent on the interactions we have with others. In essence he flips the notion that it is successful people that tend to give generously, to the idea that it is those with a generous spirit who become successful. He believes that in a work environment there are three ways people generally operate: taking, matching or giving. Whilst takers seek to get as much as possible form others and matchers focus on trading evenly, givers are those rare people who genuinely contribute without expectation of receiving anything in return. His research shows that whilst some givers do occasionally burn out they are the group that are most likely to achieve extraordinary results regardless of what field they operate in.

Successful leaders are generous: they give freely and unreservedly and often. In reflecting upon some of the amazing leaders that I have either worked for or with there are some other common acts of generosity. They all:

1. Give Opportunity: Opportunities to engage in meaningful challenging work and not just a list of tasks. Opportunities that extend and open up new thinking & learning, new networks and offer lasting impact.

2. Give A Strong Sense of Belonging: They create environments that are safe and supportive, allowing us to bring our whole sense of self to the office and not just our work mask. They help you see the value in what you do and feel an intrinsic part of the team and organisation’s success.

3. Give Guidance: Generous leaders seek to guide and not control. They offer constructive feedback rather than criticism and empower you to make decisions with strong frameworks of support.

4. Give Space: Space to explore, create, grow, fail and make mistakes and most importantly to get back up confidently and go again.

5. Give Information, Knowledge & Experience: Not only do generous leaders offer their insights they encourage others to do so as well. They understand that increased leverage and success comes with purposeful collaboration and open, willing minds not but holding tightly onto things. 

6. Give Credit: By recognising and appreciating the efforts of others the generous leader helps to create as sense of shared success. They understand the power of ‘We’ is much more powerful than ‘I’.

7. Give Encouragement: Generous leaders encourage you to step out and try different things, take risks and push the boundaries of what you think you are capable of. They offer faith in you and push you to be the best you can be.

8. Give Trust: Generous leaders understand that high performing cultures are rich in trust. Trust amongst each other, in each other’s talents, capabilities and values.

9. Give Time and Energy: Generous leaders understand the importance of really listening and engaging. They offer their time, their total attention and interest in you, what you are doing and the outcomes you seek.

10. Give Time Back To Themselves: The generous leader works hard to ensure that their batteries remain charged so as to enable them to give on an ongoing basis. They invest in time and energy in what reinvigorates them in mind, body and spirit.

Giving generously tends to inspire others to do the same. It also helps us create a lasting legacy for what we do, the people we work with and the businesses we have or work for. I would encourage you to explore how you can give generously through your leadership and inspire others to continue to ‘pay it forward’.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot Andersen

Keeping It Real: Why Authenticity Is The Key

February 21st, 2017

Given that we spend up to 70% of our waking time engaged in work related activities – week after week and year after year – it makes sense that we strive to seek out environments that allow us to show up and put our best foot forward. By that I mean really show up … as ’us’ and in our true colours.

Ask anyone about their experience in a great workplace, they will invariably describe an environment where leaders and colleagues had a knack for ‘keeping it real’. They refer to and describe real conversations and real connection and as a result talk about being trusted to just get on with things and deliver in a way that allowed them to apply the very best of their knowledge and skills.

If you were to ask managers and leaders about what great work environments look like, they will talk about times where they and their teams were delivering to key objectives and achieving success; their team members worked strongly together and where each individual gave it their all.

This doesn’t for one minute imply that everything is or was always rosy or that they had the perfect systems and processes; or the most ideal customers or clients. Invariably many of these things are not obvious or in place. What it does imply though is that people were allowed to be themselves, navigate the landscape in a way that allowed them to apply new approaches, solutions and strategies; fail if necessary and get up dust themselves off and go again; contribute from their place of strength; work collaboratively and enjoy success. It allowed them to quite simply be themselves.

We have all been caught in cycles where we are simply going through the motions. Occasions such as where we attend training simply because we should; attend sales meetings or networking events where conversations are held but no connection is formed; undertaken performance reviews that never address future career growth or opportunities and really are nothing more than a tick and flick exercise to satisfy a compliance measure. In many of these scenarios we show up in body but not spirit. And for that, businesses and individuals are all poorer for it.

So what is it about some workplaces that allow or in fact demand the ‘real you’ to show up, engage and operate? Allow your team to really banter, disagree, strategize, fail and succeed?

In a word it is Freedom: Freedom to think; freedom to do and freedom to speak.

Whilst it is important to note that with freedom comes responsibility, it is also worth noting that 99% of people when they see it in genuine action would rather rise to the standard than fall underneath it.

For many employees though, finding themselves in environments where this trust is genuinely given is new territory. This is largely due to the way our workplaces have evolved. Whilst pursuing greater productivity, efficiency and compliance we have faced the movement of standardization. We have sought to remove any variations in processes and behaviours and in doing so have lost the value that individual contribution can bring.

As a result, many people now don a work persona and a life persona and never the twain shall meet. Asking people to suddenly show up as themselves requires vulnerability, trust and courage. It also requires respect, encouragement and patience.  It may also mean that when these honest, transparent and bold conversations are had, there will be a period of discovery for many individuals and businesses where it will become apparent that there is a misalignment between employee and employer. Most individuals and organisations will however recognise the importance of coming to this realization in an open manner where transitions – be it internal or external – can be managed with dignity and respect.

To build authenticity in the workplace we need to build awareness of the value it brings and capability for individuals to own it. Below are 7 tips that you may wish to consider in creating authentic environments:

  • Align Values: To embrace individual contribution and styles we need to be anchored in our values. Failing to ‘get the fit right’ is costly on all levels and for all involved.
  • Be the role model: Live it, walk it, breathe it – seek feedback; tell the truth; share knowledge and skills. In doing so, you will provide the platform and expectation for others to follow.
  • Protect the space: Guard honesty and transparency with your life – encourage freedom to think, do and speak
  • Embrace difference: Difference in styles, outlooks, and skills and create opportunities to showcase their need and value.
  • Throw away the cookie cutter: In the words of Tony Robbins ‘If you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to get what you have always had’. For growth, innovation and competitive advantage to occur we need to continually seek out new ways of doing things whilst remaining relevant to our cause.
  • Don’t indulge or promote the game players: When we continue to give airtime to the, the ‘game-players’ and ‘self-players’ we chip away at the good work done by the greater team and devalue authenticity.
  • Get ready to learn: According to the saying it is pretty hard to ‘teach an old dog new tricks’ but what happens when the old tricks no longer apply? Learning how to manage and lead in a period of rapid change and innovation requires new thinking, conversations and approaches.

When we create truly authentic environments we all reap the rewards. Businesses and individuals achieve greater success, higher levels of collaboration and invariably discover new opportunities that continue the cycle of engagement, purpose and growth.

Each of us deserves to work in environments where individual style, strengths and skills are valued, sort after and encouraged. Where when ‘the rubber hits the road’, the environment demands that we step up and play our roles authentically and values and rewards us for doing so.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


If you would like to discuss ways to identify and harness your potential, please call Margot on 0400 336 318.

Why Great Leaders Are Generous Leaders

October 31st, 2016

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.

One of the biggest issues of this feeling of ‘not-enoughness’ is how it can impact the way in which you view your capacity to give and contribute. When you focus on what you don’t have it can have a paralyzing effect. Not only can you find yourself living in the interim moment – I am here, but when I am there I will be in a far better position to give more and do more – but you can also easily fall into the trap that there won’t be enough to go round so I best hold on tightly to what I do have.

So why is it that so often it is those that seem to have so little that seem to give so much? Recent studies by post doctorate students at UC Berkeley suggest that those who give more are not focused on what they can give ie/ sum or amount but on the connection that can be established through the act of giving. The researchers found that those who had less but gave more recognized the sense of community that was built through their contribution and the subsequent feeling of shared strength and empowerment that came from the act of giving. Essentially the focus was not on what was being given away but on what was being generated and gained through acts of generosity.

As leaders and managers of our own careers, teams and businesses we all face the issue of having to do more with less. There never seems to be enough time, resources or skillsets to deliver what is needed. However if you aren’t careful your can very easily find yourself operating through a scarcity lens which can sabotage both your success and your progress.

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.

Interestingly though when you give generously of your own time, resources and skills you seem to gain more in return – the circle seems to complete itself with a greater sense of energy, capability and power. Firstly generosity seems to breed generosity. As many of us will have experienced, leaders and colleagues who have given generously and contributed to our own careers feel a greater sense of ‘pay it forward’ because we know the impact that it can have. When we have a team that recognizes this, not only are individual capabilities leveraged but also loyalty, engagement and productivity are greatly enhanced.

Generous leaders view the world through a lens of abundance where much is to be gained rather than lost. This does not mean that they are simply available 24/7 and act in a ‘fairy godmother’ manner granting wishes to all who ask. Rather they place great value in genuinely connecting with their team and understanding how best to maximise and align individual talents, knowledge and skillsets. They value fit and healthy workplace cultures that deliver exceptional results and work hard to build and protect them.

Generous leaders recognize the power of investing and do so through deliberate and purposeful action. They are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements and recognition of other people. They give of their own time, knowledge and networks to help others and contribute to their success because in doing so they believe they can all – both individually and collectively – achieve more. They are comfortable in letting go and are connected enough to their team to recognize who and how to let go to in order to achieve what is required.

In thinking about your own workplaces, businesses and teams I would encourage you to think about how you can lead from a spirit of generosity. As leaders and influencers in our communities and workplaces we all have the ability to act generously and inspire it in others… not only is it a mindset it is a choice and one that we can choose to act on daily.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Why Inspiration Matters

September 19th, 2016

In 2009 Simon Sinek gave a TED talk called How Great Leaders Inspire Action that has now been viewed more than 28 million times making it the third most popular TED talk ever.  The premise of his talk was based on the fact that inspired workers make for both stronger companies and stronger economies; and when people become more inspired at work it creates a positive ripple effect on those around them.  The sheer volume of unique viewers would suggest that his message clearly resonated and that many of us are looking for inspiration in what we do and who we work for.

In a culture that often seems obsessed with measuring things, the power of inspiration is often overlooked. Yet inspiration is not only one of the most powerful intrinsic motivators, it is also a springboard for creativity, innovation and growth. Despite it’s elusive nature its influence is far reaching for individuals, teams and organisations and results in very tangible outcomes.

There are many reasons why it could be overlooked: for some, ‘being inspired’ smacks of day dreamy, passive behaviour that requires an almost divine presence before work can be commenced; whilst for others it is often confused with positivity or charisma. Whilst inspiration can result in greater positive outcomes, mindsets and behaviours it is something that is deeply based in trust and requires action to create. Unfortunately for many though their examples of leadership be-it within their political, community or business circles fail to inspire them or others to think and act differently.

Author John Maxwell writes that too often the ranks of leadership are inhabited by a host of mirages: people who look impressive from a distance but up close end up being disappointments leaving those who work for them dry and thirsty for opportunity and development. After being fooled by a few mirages, followers all too often become mistrusting and jaded.

In a world that all too often looks and sounds ‘beige’, inspirational leadership has never been more wanted and craved. It does however require today’s leader to stand out, speak up and take action often in scenarios when many others remain quiet or committed to doing things in the same old familiar ways. However when employees are genuinely inspired, their trust and confidence is not only restored (or established) but they want to do more, contribute more and be more.

So how do great leaders inspire action? I would encourage you to consider the following 6 attributes and consider how evident they are in your own leadership style:

  • Communicate the ‘Why’: When people understand ‘why’ they do what they do they are more engaged, productive, influential and innovative. Inspiring leaders know this and work to ensure that individuals are committed to understanding their personal why and the ‘why’ behind what is required from them in their role and organisation.
  • Magnify 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%.
  • Pay Attention: To quote the old adage ‘people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care’. People who inspire know the ambitions, desires and motivations of those who work with them and how that impacts their engagement and productivity.
  • Be Available: Leaders who inspire, commit to investing time in those that they lead. This does not mean that they are available 24-7 but rather plan for ways to spend time that is purposeful, high impact and focused on developing individual contribution to support both personal and organizational success.
  • Empower Others: Inspirational leaders know who and how to trust others with what needs to be done. They provide opportunity; equip people with the right knowledge and tools; and work to remove the blockers that get in the way of success.
  • Challenge the Status Quo: Inspirational leaders are committed to creating excellence. They work hard to overcome apathy and look for new ways of thinking, doing and being that continually leverage opportunity, skillsets and mindsets.

Great leaders not only motivate, they inspire people to want to act. How are you inspiring action today?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


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.


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