Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Avoiding the Energy Crisis

November 21st, 2018

“Your energy is a valuable resource, distribute it wisely.” – Jay Samit

None of us are surprised to hear that when your energy levels are low, your work suffers. In fact most things suffer. Motivation wanes, productivity falls and efficiencies slow. Equally, failing to channel your energies in the right direction can also be just as problematic – distractions and frustrations abound with lots of energy expended for very little result.

As a consequence we often find ourselves facing mounting pressures and increasing demands – to which many of us typically respond by simply working longer hours. If I just do more, work harder, things will improve and I will get ‘through it’. When we don’t just simply ‘get through it’ we start to question our capability, purpose and impact. And, so begins a vicious cycle that if we aren’t careful can have severe ramifications for our health, career and relationships.

The problem with simply working longer hours is that you can still run out of them because there are only a fixed number in each day, week or year. Unlike time, energy though is a renewable resource that can be topped up when we know how. Knowing what depletes our energy and what refuels it is the key to developing healthy, sustainable work habits and supporting ongoing success.

As we race towards the end of the year, I would encourage you to think about how you manage and distribute your energy reserves. In doing so, you will not only enhance your opportunity to engage in meaningful work, you will maximise your efficiency.

Take a moment to consider where you sit on the above graph. Regardless of which quadrant you sit in, you need to understand why you are in that position.

If you are fortunate enough to sit in the ‘Fulfilled’ quadrant, you need to be clear about why you feel that way, what has helped you get there and what you need in order to stay there.

Conversely if you find yourself in one of the other three quadrants you need to determine why and what actionable steps you can immediately take to help you maximise both energy and productivity. Taking the time to critically reflect on the position you find yourself in opens up the pathway to higher level learning, deeper engagement and provides the platform for informed and confident decision making. It is also a critical exercise if you are to create a career and business you love.

Start by asking yourself these five simple questions:

What do I do and why? Nothing is more empowering than feeling aligned to your core purpose, talents and capabilities. The reality is that when you are inspired by what you do you are more actively engaged in your work and your business and you produce better results. Your purpose becomes your generator.

What daily habits fuel my energy? Of equal importance, is the ability to recognise those everyday habits that generate or rob us of our energy. Am I looking after myself physically, mentally and emotionally? Have I created healthy sustainable habits that will last beyond January and support optimal health in all areas of my life?

Am I bored or stuck in a rut? There is no doubt that routine kills energy. We all have things that we need to do but understanding how we can shake things up is important. Pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone more often than not also brings new knowledge, new networks, new opportunities and lessons that light a spark and fuels a passion for what we do.

Do I understand how my role and my skills add value to the business? We all like to know that our contribution is valued and how it impacts the overall success of our team and business. Initiating a conversation to understand what your value is or ways to increase it demonstrates a strong sense of accountability and desire to play an active role in both your own direction and that of the business you work for.

What relationships do I need to dedicate time and energy to? Too often one of our major blockers or causes of angst is between our key stakeholders and / or team members. Taking the time to understand individual work and communication styles is a critical part of not only developing our influencing and leadership skills but also to ensuring timely and effective outcomes.

As leaders, we face never ending pressures to do ‘more with less’ – less resources, less money and less people. Even with these ongoing pressures, most of us recognise the need to invest in our own and our employee’s knowledge and skillsets. However we also need to consider how we build and sustain capacity for ourselves and our people. Healthy behaviours and productive practices start with us.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Building An Innovation Mindset

May 28th, 2018

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have…. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led and how much you get it” – Steve Jobs

Whilst most business leaders openly acknowledge that innovation is a critical driver of growth and the demand for it has never been so high, so constant and so ‘now’, many are still challenged by how to best lead and manage it. Coupled with the fact that many people don’t actually believe they are capable of it, leaders can face a big challenge in building innovation mindsets in their people and businesses. As a result all too often the innovation process has been relegated to business units such as marketing and research development – where all those ‘creative types’ hang out!

With studies suggesting that over 65% of today’s business leaders still lack the confidence and know how to stimulate innovative thinking in their teams and organisations we are limiting both our immediate results and our future potential. It is clear that a failure to deliver on innovation has the potential to not only hurt our business success but also our own individual career success and that of the people we lead. So how do we approach the building of innovation mindsets?

Innovation so very rarely happens as a result of one or two genius’s that work away on a spark of an idea and reappear with a roadmap for a new direction, approach or way forward. In the Wall Street Journal article, titled Together We Innovate, the authors emphasise the importance of employee collaboration in an effort to generate new ideas and ways of operating. As they state, ‘most innovations are created through networks – groups of people working in concert’.

There is no doubt that workplace culture is the linchpin. Whilst structures and processes are important they are not the key. People and culture are by far the most important drivers of innovation and therefore need to be our focus. By creating the right conditions we not only make better use of our often-untapped talent, we can also allow for dynamic innovation networks to emerge and flourish.

The advantage of building innovation networks is in the shift in emphasis from individual creativity or intelligence to the leveraging of connections and collected experience and knowledge. Networked employees typically innovate at a different level and have an ability to make their ideas ‘catch on’ more quickly. Given that new ideas spur more new ideas, networks then have the capacity to generate a cycle of innovation. They key is to ensure that there is enough diversity of thinking, knowledge and experience to ensure the cross fertilisation of ideas. When they do, leaders are then able to capture more value from their existing resources without embarking on major change initiatives.

As leaders I would encourage you to consider the following six tips that you can do to foster an environment of innovation:

  • Create a culture of trust: Innovation requires us to step outside of the ‘everyday way’, to break down the old rules of thought and adopt new ones. It requires new levels of transparency and vulnerability and our people will only engage when they feel safe to do so.
  • Create opportunities for everyone to contribute: Innovation requires diversity of thought. Successful leaders know that in order to obtain that diversity we need input from a variety of sources – internally and externally. It is in this diversity of contribution that new ideas and pathways are explored and at a level that could not have been found if we were to attempt it alone.
  • Create belief in our abilities to innovate: Innovation requires curiosity of thought. It is through this exploration and the sharing of our thoughts in a safe environment that allows us to recognise how our contribution is valued.
  • Make innovation easy to ‘do’: Consider your physical environment, how you interact, what tools you need, what supporting frameworks you need and the space that brings people together. Innovation is also a discipline so it requires us to invest in prioritising time for it.
  • Link the process with the outcome: Innovation is not a popularity contest. It is not just a matter of the ‘winning’ idea getting up. To arrive at the ‘winning’ ideas invariably we have had to iterate many times and revisit, review, throw out or tweak and evolve many different thoughts. Individual contributions are all part of the road to the final outcome.

As leaders how we foster innovation matters. Moving it out of the domains of the one or two ‘creative types’ and into the domain of the broader business is critical. In doing so we not only unlock new opportunities for the organisation but also ourselves and the people we lead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Building An Innovation Mindset

May 24th, 2016

Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have…. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led and how much you get it”

– Steve Jobs
Whilst most business leaders openly acknowledge that innovation is a critical driver of growth and the demand for it has never been so high, so constant and so ‘now’, many are still challenged by how to best lead and manage it. Coupled with the fact that many people don’t actually believe they are capable of it, leaders can face a big challenge in building innovation mindsets in their people and businesses. As a result all too often the innovation process has been relegated to business units such as marketing and research development – where all those ‘creative types’ hang out!

With studies suggesting that over 65% of today’s business leaders still lack the confidence and know how to stimulate innovative thinking in their teams and organisations we are limiting both our immediate results and our future potential. It is clear that a failure to deliver on innovation has the potential to not only hurt our business success but also our own individual career success and that of the people we lead. So how do we approach the building of innovation mindsets?

Innovation so very rarely happens as a result of one or two genius’s that work away on a spark of an idea and reappear with a roadmap for a new direction, approach or way forward. In the Wall Street Journal article, titled Together We Innovate, the authors emphasise the importance of employee collaboration in an effort to generate new ideas and ways of operating. As they state, ‘most innovations are created through networks – groups of people working in concert’.

There is no doubt that workplace culture is the linchpin. Whilst structures and processes are important they are not the key. People and culture are by far the most important drivers of innovation and therefore need to be our focus. By creating the right conditions we not only make better use of our often-untapped talent, we can also allow for dynamic innovation networks to emerge and flourish.

The advantage of building innovation networks is in the shift in emphasis from individual creativity or intelligence to the leveraging of connections and collected experience and knowledge. Networked employees typically innovate at a different level and have an ability to make their ideas ‘catch on’ more quickly. Given that new ideas spur more new ideas, networks then have the capacity to generate a cycle of innovation. They key is to ensure that there is enough diversity of thinking, knowledge and experience to ensure the cross fertilisation of ideas. When they do, leaders are then able to capture more value from their existing resources without embarking on major change initiatives.

As leaders I would encourage you to consider the following six tips that you can do to foster an environment of innovation:

  1. Create a culture of trust: Innovation requires us to step outside of the ‘everyday way’, to break down the old rules of thought and adopt new ones. It requires new levels of transparency and vulnerability and our people will only engage when they feel safe to do so.
  2. Create opportunities for everyone to contribute: Innovation requires diversity of thought. Successful leaders know that in order to obtain that diversity we need input from a variety of sources – internally and externally. It is in this diversity of contribution that new ideas and pathways are explored and at a level that could not have been found if we were to attempt it alone.
  3. Create belief in our abilities to innovate: Innovation requires curiosity of thought. It is through this exploration and the sharing of our thoughts in a safe environment that allows us to recognise how our contribution is valued.
  4. Make innovation easy to ‘do’: Consider your physical environment, how you interact, what tools you need, what supporting frameworks you need and the space that brings people together. Innovation is also a discipline so it requires us to invest in prioritising time for it.
  5. Link the process with the outcome: Innovation is not a popularity contest. It is not just a matter of the ‘winning’ idea getting up. To arrive at the ‘winning’ ideas invariably we have had to iterate many times and revisit, review, throw out or tweak and evolve many different thoughts. Individual contributions are all part of the road to the final outcome.

As leaders how we foster innovation matters. Moving it out of the domains of the one or two ‘creative types’ and into the domain of the broader business is critical. In doing so we not only unlock new opportunities for the organisation but also ourselves and the people we lead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

The Power Of Momentum

November 10th, 2015

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‘It is significantly easier to cross a gap when you have direction and momentum’

– Seth Godin

[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Momentum is a funny thing. When you’ve got it you feel as though anything is possible and you can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Other times it can seem elusive and a struggle to develop. A lack of it can leave you feeling uninspired and lacking in enthusiasm and drive. It’s often hard to describe and yet it is nearly always our secret magic weapon to achieving success.

Momentum can’t be faked… you’ve either got it or you haven’t. Most of us have experienced that awful dread of having to write a report, prepare a presentation or stand up and deliver an address only to find that once we actually started, it really wasn’t that hard or awful or scary. Why? Because it was actually the thought of having to start that was the hard bit. Once we were moving, the ideas came; we found our flow and discovered that it was significantly easier and more rewarding than we had ever anticipated.

Understanding that it is far easier to create momentum when things are in motion is critical if we are to successfully manage both our careers and the teams and businesses we lead. It is also a great motivator for seeking to keep the momentum alive. Creating momentum will not only help us overcome the challenges that invariably come up but it will help us remain focused, clear minded and forward thinking rather than stagnating. It doesn’t mean that we will always have a straight and easy path to navigate but rather our ability to nimbly move, adjust and grow along the path will be greatly enhanced.

It only takes a loss of momentum for us to realize just how critical it is. Without it we are far more likely to find ourselves distracted and doubting our ability to actually achieve what we set out to do. As Jocelyn Glei so aptly points out in her article The Art Of Momentum: Why your Ideas Need Speed: “Our inner critic awakens and we start second guessing ourselves. Other people’s demands creep in, vying for our attention and focus. We start to generate shiny, new ideas that seem even more worthy of execution, tempting us to move onto the next big thing without ever finishing”.

And herein lies the danger – we can’t actually create momentum if we aren’t ever really finishing anything. It is in the success of delivery, implementation and review that we find new ways to grow and improve and innovate on what we do.

In understanding how momentum drives this cycle of success we need to understand the benefits it delivers:

  1. Momentum creates success by enhancing performance
  2. Momentum dilutes obstacles and issues
  3. Momentum creates energy
  4. Momentum opens us up to possibility and makes change easier

To create career momentum we need to actively engage and invest in ourselves. We need to reflect, assess, re-assess and plan with consistency. Failing to do so can be costly as we can all too easily find ourselves ‘stuck’ in roles or organisations that no longer provide us with the challenge or fulfillment we once craved. It is then that the thought of having to change can seem overwhelming and all too difficult.

So what can we do to ensure we ‘keep the ball rolling’ and create momentum? I would encourage you to consider the following seven areas:

Take Action: Do something. Define what you want or need to do; make decisions (indecision is dangerous and paralysing); focus on creating solutions rather than the problem itself. Sometimes it is in making the wrong decisions help us to understand what will work and determine the right course of action.

Build Consistency: Consistency builds belief, ensures relevance and creates accountability and stability. It is essential that we build consistency in our actions that drive performance, engagement and learning – both internally and externally.

Focus on Your Strengths: When we focus on and leverage our strengths we operate with a higher degree of productivity and efficiency. We make decisions faster, reach out and ask for help earlier and attract opportunities that capatilise on our talents and skillsets.

Embrace Learning: Learning doesn’t finish when you graduate or when you pass the probation period of a new job. It is an ongoing, life-long process that needs to be planned for, invested in and created. By being proactive in educating yourself, you are much more strongly positioned to act and react with greater speed, clarity and confidence.

Identify The Building Blocks: All too often we focus on the final destination as our first and only measure of success. As a result when we fail to recognise and celebrate our achievements incrementally we find ourselves discouraged and tempted to quit the whole game. It’s important to set realistic yet challenging milestones that help us build both momentum and confidence.

Collaborate: The quickest way to slow or kill momentum is to insist on going it alone. Learning how to leverage the knowledge, talents and time of others is critical to producing a productive and efficient outcome.

Connect: Invest in the right relationships – both internally and externally – 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.

Building career and leadership momentum takes time. It is not a tap that you can just turn on when you decide that you need to make a change or commence a new project. It is however something that you can choose to invest in building today – is now the time to get the ball rolling?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to explore ways to build momentum in your career or business please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Opening The Doors Of Possibility

October 27th, 2015

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‘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 1900’s 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.

How often have we witnessed this happen amongst our own teams and businesses or even in our own careers? No doubt we’ve all breathed a sigh of relief when someone has come to us with excitement and energy about the opportunity to do something differently rather than an explanation 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 focused on effecting 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. They see the positive in situations (even if is just learning) and in each other.

John Maxwell who is a well regarded leadership expert 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 the contribution you are making in your current role today and how that contribution 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 more or different allows you to not only see it as an option but know that 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 realise 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 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?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to explore ways to open up the world of possibility in your career or business please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Why You Need To Be A Questioning Leader

October 14th, 2015

1042″]“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions and as a result they get better answers. ”

– Tony RobbinsGreat leaders know the value of quality questions. They recognize the power of asking the right ones to unlock new ideas, build connection and shift perspective. Most of us are familiar with the saying ‘there is no such thing as a silly question’ but my question (excuse the pun!) to you is: Are we asking productive questions? Ones that lead to discovery, enact change, increase productivity and build relationships and collaboration?

All to often I meet with business leaders whose questions are firmly anchored in frustration, judgment and blame – either in themselves or their team members. Why is this happening to me? What’s wrong with me/them? When will my life or career improve? Why can’t they just get on with it? What on earth is the problem now?

When we ask negatively framed questions we yield negative responses. Answers such as: Life isn’t fair, I’m just not lucky enough, or I’m not good enough seem to abound. They keep us stuck and cause us to focus on the hurdles and ultimately disempower rather than empower. They have the potential to send us into a tailspin of self-doubt and self-sabotage. Whilst great care needs to be taken in how we ask questions we also need to consider how we pose them so as to ensure we are moving towards a solution, removing roadblocks and acting as catalysts for change – both for ourselves and the businesses we lead.

Rick Smith, founder of World 50 – a premier senior networking organization for global executives – believes that we live in a world where today’s leaders are addicted to answers. He advocates for the need for leaders to shift this addiction to asking the right questions. As he notes, in chaotic and ever changing competitive business landscapes, success requires focus, and knowing where to focus will be determined by the questions you are asking.

Not only does asking the right people the right questions drive great answers and outcomes for your business, it can also deliver great benefits to you as a leader. Innovation, confidence, capability, engagement and productivity levels all stand to be enhanced when the right questions are asked. Demonstrating a genuine interest and care of concern for the individuals and the outcomes fosters loyalty and commitment. Of course the key is to ask questions in a way that seeks to deliver insight, learning and support rather than acting as a trigger to defensiveness. To do this we need to not just ask the questions but also demonstrate the ability to listen to the answers provided and suspend judgment. It is about really listening to understand and discover the meaning behind what is being said.
I would encourage to you ask yourself the following questions about you as a leader, your team and your organization?

1. What Must I Do To Lead Myself Successfully? Great leaders take the time to ask themselves questions that raise their own self-awareness and examine ways that they can improve or adapt the way they do things.

a. What are my blind spots?

b. What daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly actions can I take to strengthen my knowledge, capability and insight as a leader?

c. Who can I collaborate with to compliment my strengths and gaps?

d. Who can I engage with to provide candid and constructive feedback?

2. What Does My Team Need To Achieve Success? Great leaders know how to probe the thought process of their team members to uncover how they are individually and collectively performing and what roadblocks need to be removed, gaps need to be addressed and relationships need support.

a. Do I have the right people in the right place at the right time to ensure success?

b. Are people clear on what they need to achieve and by when?

c. Who are they key influencers in my team?

d. Are there any individual coaching requirements needed to elevate performance and or new learning opportunities? Who is the best person to provide that?

e. What conversations are needed to ensure that performance and behaviors support success and am I prepared to have them?

f. Am I available enough / too much to support productive, timely outcomes?

3. How Can The Organisation Function More Successfully? Great leaders recognise their obligation to contribute not just on an individual level but also at a whole of business level. They examine the ways their organization functions to ensure cultural alignment, maximum efficiency and productivity. They ask questions about behaviours, practices, processes and structures.

a. Why do we do things this way?

b. Is there a better, more streamlined way?

c. What are the risks and benefits of changing the way we do this?

d. Who is impacted most by this change and what needs to be done to ensure a smooth transition?

Ultimately the reason we ask questions is to build meaning and to ‘connect the dots’. Learning to ask empowering questions will ultimately shape the meaning we create and the quality of our success. As leaders we need to be doing this at all three levels: self, team and business if we are to create a lasting impact at an individual and business level.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

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Margot – The Career DiplomatIf you would like to explore ways to build confidence, clarity and choice in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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