Archive for August, 2015

The Power of Thought Leadership

August 25th, 2015

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“Leadership is bringing people into new realms of excellence and challenging them to become distinguished in their chosen field ”

-Onyi Anyado
What we do matters. Not only have most of us spent considerable time, energy and investment honing our skillsets, mindsets, and careers, we have no doubt spent numerous hours deliberating, stressing over and/or celebrating many of our decisions, actions and achievements. Why? Quite simply it is because when we invest so heavily in what we do it becomes an extension of who we are and what we value.

So how is it that some people seem to become more highly regarded for this whilst others (who have the same knowledge, skillsets and drive) don’t? The answer lies in their positioning as Thought Leaders.

Thought Leaders are the ‘go-to’ people and informed opinion leaders in their industry or field of expertise. They are fast becoming the movers and shakers of today’s leadership world because they have ability to not only inspire people with innovative thinking but to equip them with the knowledge and tools to turn ideas into reality. They have the ability galvanize thoughts and actions and transform the way things are done. Furthermore they are achieving significant impact by harnessing the belief and engagement of others in what they do and stand for.

Positioning ourselves as thought leaders is one of the most effective ways to future proof our careers. Not only does it lead to exposure for our ideas it increases our ability to influence decisions and thinking at a much higher level, be it within an organisation, industry or community. Rather than us as individuals seeking out opportunities we find that opportunities seek us out. We become much more attractive and valuable in what we do and how.

Importantly, thought leadership is not merely about being known or famous. It is about being known for making a difference. For this reason, becoming a Thought Leader requires time and experience as well as courage to put ourselves into the spotlight. Leveraging our knowledge and backgrounds requires us to commit to showcasing our talents, achievements and successes and sharing a blue print for others to do the same. It is through this replication of success that our positioning as a Thought Leader is cemented.

So how do we position ourselves as thought leaders in our careers?

  1. Identify The Business Of You: To build your unique advantage and position you need to know your strengths, your blind spots and what it is exactly that you stand for. Understand how the ‘business of you’ i.e. your brand is positioned in the market place.
  2. Simplify Your Message & Platform: Effective leaders are able to simplify the ambiguous and the complex and make more sense out of the ordinary. They communicate it in a straightforward manner that helps enable others and turn ideas into a reality.
  3. Build A Strategic Network: Identify your own circle of influencers and align with the right partners, advocates and communities who will elevate you and your message.
  4. Create A Blueprint: Thought leaders not only create opportunities to see and experience a new way of thinking, they create a blueprint for others to follow. They provide frameworks, processes and guides to help others achieve success and in doing so create a community that align with what they do and stand for.
  5. Align Your Brand: To really elevate your professional positioning, your values, knowledge, achievements and behaviours need to align with your messaging. Your LinkedIn profiles, blogs, publications, and other online or print messaging needs to reinforce exactly who you are, what you do and what you stand for.
  6. Contribute & Engage: Identify ways to make meaningful and authentic contributions that consolidate your message, be it through speaking, writing, or your day-to-day engagement as a strategic leader.
  7. Position Yourself For Success: This is not about seeking out opportunities for endless self promotion but opportunities that will show case you and your message; raise your visibility; and allow you to influence and inspire others into new ways of thinking, new pathways and new opportunities.
  8. Scale & Replicate: Build a long term influencing strategy that positions you as the go to person for your industry, your business and your teams.

As leaders, most of us are driven to bring about lasting change that has a legacy long after we have left the building. Knowing that we have created new and sustainable opportunities, and transformed our teams and businesses not only positions us as Thought Leaders or experts in our filed it also raises the degree of personal fulfilment in what we do.

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

Bridging The Gap

August 19th, 2015

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“Our strength lies in our differences, not in our similarities”

-Stephen R. Covey
Next year marks the year that the iGeneration (the generation post ‘Gen-Y’ who were born 1997 and later) start university. Whilst for many of us our immediate question is where did the last 10 or even 20 years disappear to, it also highlights the reality that we are about to enter one of the most interesting times in our workforce history.

It will be the first time that will see five generations working side by side. Or to put it another way, it is the first time that we could see people working with those young enough to be their grandchildren or even great grandchildren. Coupled with the ever growing global nature of our markets and there is no doubt that diversity is not just our reality but also the hot leadership issue of the day. As well as seeing a more generationally diverse workforce we are about to see the greatest representation of this workforce sitting in the youngest two groups. The Harvard Business Review suggests that Gen Y and iGen will make up 46% of the entire workforce in the next two years and by 2025 they will represent 75%.

Bringing together such multi-generational diversity in a way that ensures happy and productive outcomes for individuals and organisations is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges our leaders are about to face. Whilst we all recognise that diversity can be an asset rather than a liability, it is up to us to make the most of this shift in demographics. If we don’t and instead merely opt for the ‘go with the flow’ approach we risk confusion, loss of relevance and contribution, which is dangerous for both our own careers and the businesses that we lead.

Nurturing multigenerational diversity is not just about merely accepting our differences it is about recognising the strength that lies in them. It is about ensuring our workplaces actively value and desire these differences and demonstrate this from the moment people join to when they leave.

We are all aware of the generational stereotypes that abound so the first thing we need to do is move beyond the labels and dispel them. Falling into the trap of judging what is good or not good about one generation or which one is better only serves to widen the gap rather than unite it. Instead, finding areas of commonality on which to build and strengthen relationships is key if we are to develop the capacity to embrace the differences.

Interestingly Jennifer Deal, author of Retiring the Generation Gap noted that each of the generations of working age valued the same things. “Everyone wants to be able to trust their boss, no one really likes change, we all like feedback and the number of hours you put in at work depends more on your level in the organisation than on your age”. Whilst people of different ages do see the world through a different lens based on their own experiences, it is not as Deal says the primary reason for conflict. Instead it is largely due to miscommunication and misunderstanding, ‘fuelled by common insecurities and the desire for clout’ – who has it and who wants it.

To break down this miscommunication and misunderstanding never has the need for cross-generational and collaborative work environments been so apparent. Getting to know people individually by understanding their core skills, knowledge bases and work style preferences will go a long way to helping remove stereotypes that exist. In doing so it also allows for the differences between how the generations view the world, to be explored with deeper understanding, respect and genuine interest.

At the heart of all diversity issues (be it gender, age, or culture) flexibility, openness and trust are key. In the case of creating a high performing multi-generational workforce this needs to be evident in every age group. I would encourage you to take a moment to consider the following tops for developing it:

  1. Be values led: Ensure your core values underpin all aspects of your business: how you recruit and attract your staff; how you measure performance and contribution; how manage people as they depart; and how you attract and engage with your customers. Shared values will help individuals navigate generational diversity with greater agility and success.
  2. Create opportunities for cross-generational learning and mentoring: It is widely recognised that colleagues learn more from each other than they do from formal workplace training. Creating opportunities for the sharing of knowledge and skills, whether it is technology, commercial knowledge or specific technical or people skills is imperative if we are to maximise capability and performance.
  3. Embrace flexibility: Flexibility is key to attracting and retaining top talent. Research suggests that this is a key driver for all generations – and the older we get the more we value it. Flexibility though not just in the hours we work or the way we work, but also in the way we learn and engage with those around us is of paramount importance.
  4. Foster curiosity and learning: Regardless of learning styles, it is imperative that we foster both a love of learning and an interest in learning. By bringing generations together we leverage the power of collective knowledge, talents, skill sets and relationships and create competitive advantage.
  5. Make it personal: Get to know your people and where they are at on their life path. To motivate, inspire and incentivise all employees you need to know what their individual needs are and what is important to them. For some this will be a new experience, whilst for others it will be learning, money or flexibility depending on where they are at in life.

Leaders and individuals seeking to embrace generational diversity and inclusion stand to reap enormous benefits for both their careers and businesses. Not only are they demonstrating inspirational and visionary leadership but they are also helping to create happy, sustainable and productive workplaces, which regardless of our age or generation we all want to be a part of.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to discuss ways to embrace generational diversity and inclusion please contact Margot directly on margot@talentinsight.com.au or +61 3 9866 3842.

What Are You Magnifying?

August 12th, 2015

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“Amplifying what is great within you will accelerate your life faster than tying to fix what you think ’limits’ you.”

– Brendan Burchard
Have you ever noticed how when you are in the market for something new, you can’t help but see that particular item everywhere? If it is a black Mercedes, all you see on the road are black Mercedes. If it is a new watch, you can’t help but note what watch everyone is wearing. If it is a new opportunity, it seems everyone around you is taking things up a notch or is on the move (be it internally or externally). It’s like the universe has taken a great big magnifying glass and waved it over our immediate world so that everywhere we look those items or situations are there – magnified and screaming out for us to take note.

Whilst magnifying glasses are often used to help people see things more clearly by enlarging the detail, the reality is they don’t actually change the size of anything at all; they simply change our perspective so that it appears larger.

Interestingly our minds seem to work a lot like a magnifying glass – whatever we choose to focus on, the more enlarged the detail and situation seems to become in our mind. Herein lies the lesson on why it is so important to ensure that we focus our energy on magnifying the right things. Dwelling on the wrong things can set our career (and life) on a very different path or trajectory to the one that is possible if we choose to focus on the right things.

As leaders of our own careers and those within our business or team, we need to ensure that we are focused on leveraging individual strengths to drive success. All too often we are consumed with trying to fix our weaknesses – or those of our team members – when really we should be acknowledging them and working hard to find opportunities to collaborate with others whose natural attributes, skills and knowledge close the gap on these areas and compliment our strengths.

Much has been written about how when we focus on leading with our strengths, employee engagement and trust soars which in turn sees sharp increases in both productivity and profitability. Tom Rath & Barry Conchie, authors of the number one best seller, Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and why People Follow, drew upon the extensive work of 50 years of Gallup Polls and studies of over one million work teams to try and understand why people follow the leaders they do. Fundamentally their findings revealed the following three habits of effective leaders:

  1. Effective Leaders continually invest in their strengths: Rath & Conchie’s studies revealed that engagement increased eightfold when leaders focused on their employee’s strengths as well as their own– increasing from 9% to 73%.
  2. Effective Leaders surround themselves with the right people and work to maximise their collective strengths: No business or team’s success can be attributed to one person or skillset. We all need visionaries, influencers and executors to produce exceptional results. Whilst the best leaders are not well rounded, the best teams are.
  3. Effective Leaders understand the individual needs of their team members: When asked why people follow the leaders they do, they answered with absolute clarity: trust, compassion, stability and hope. Establishing strong connections with your team members that are grounded in transparency and the four attributes mentioned above build loyalty, passion and confidence.

Take a moment to consider the success of Apple’s highly regarded co-founder Steve Jobs. Widely recognised for his incredible level of innovation, creativity and commitment to detail in delivering new levels of product excellence, he will always be remembered for his ability to leverage his strengths and not for trying to hide or cover his shortcomings (which were also well known). His ability to surround himself with others who complimented his capabilities ensured not only his personal success but also that of those who he worked with and the business he led. He was also able to take people on a journey and understood what he needed to give to ensure success.

In short our strengths will always eclipse our shortcomings if we choose to play to them. This does not for a moment mean that we provide ourselves with a way to excuse poor behaviour. Negative behaviours will always impede our ability to maximise success so we need to ensure that along the way we do our best to minimise or eliminate them.

So how strong are you at magnifying and leveraging your own skills and talents and those of your employees to create and produce extraordinary results? I would strongly encourage you to take the time to take an honest look at what your core strengths are and how you are using them. All too often I see people who are stuck in roles and responsibilities that are not playing to their core strengths because they have failed to identify what they are or be prepared to work with others who can help them achieve success. Consequently not only is productivity compromised so to is fulfilment. Learning to acknowledge what we are good at, to let go of what we are not and to collaborate with other highly skilled and like minded individuals is what will see us all achieve greater levels of excellence.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

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

Building Brave Careers

August 4th, 2015

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“I feel like my secret magic trick that separates me from a lot of my peers is the bravery to be vulnerable and truthful and honest”

– Katy Perry
All too often when we think of bravery we think of once off heroic acts…. Firefighters who run into burning buildings; the person who jumps into the rising flood waters to save a child in danger; or the whistleblower who takes a very public stance to report corruption in the workplace.

But the truth is there is no such thing as a small act of bravery. Responding to situations and making decisions – no matter how big or small – when there are no guaranteed results requires brave thinking and brave action.

We currently live and operate in times that crave a higher degree of bravery. Everywhere we turn there is a huge cry in our communities and businesses for a return to genuine authenticity, transparency and engagement. However the truth is, we can’t do any of these things without the bravery to be vulnerable, truthful and honest. To really show up, interact and give things our all.

As leaders (both or our own careers and the businesses we lead) we need to continually push things up a notch, question and challenge the ‘status quo’ and always strive to maintain and develop new standards of excellence. We need to feel comfortable with the fact that we won’t always have all of the answers and in stepping out of our comfort zone we will need to stop treading that same, familiar safe path. When we do we will drive both our careers and our businesses forward to new levels of success and create future opportunities.

When facing big decisions, new challenges or a changed environment, the saying ‘we are our own worst enemies’ often rings true for many of us. At the heart of it is fear – fear of failure, fear of what others think, fear of not being good enough. The expectations, limitations and fears that circle in our minds so often stop us maximizing not only our current opportunity but also our true capability.

Changing career paths, taking on a bigger or more diverse role, proposing new ways of doing business, voicing an opinion that is not shared by the consensus or standing up publicly to share your thoughts and views all requires a high degree of internal strength, conviction and bravery.

The reality is being brave can be hard. It is often much easier to sit back and do what we have always done and coast along than to do something different that might expose us to the world. Ironically though it is this very exposure that you need to progress and develop any real value in your career and business.

The good news is that bravery is something that we are all capable of. It has little to do with status, position, title or income. We can all choose to live bravely in what we do on a daily basis. Below are a couple of tips to help you do just that:

Know what you want and WHY: Get crystal clear on both what you want and why. It is so much easier to be brave when acting from a place of clarity, purpose and conviction. Knowing both will allow you to proactively pursue pathways with confidence, take risks when called for and stand up and voice opinions when everyone else is quiet.

Identify your strengths and your weaknesses: Understanding what both your strengths and weaknesses are will allow you to operate with a higher degree of productivity and efficiency and ultimately bravery. You will make decisions faster, reach out and ask for help earlier and encourage higher degrees of collaboration. When you are honest and transparent about what it is that you do well, you attract opportunities that capitalise on your talents and passions.

Embrace vulnerability: In the words of Brene Brown “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change”. Embracing vulnerability will allow us to navigate the ever-changing, ambiguous world that we live in with confidence. It does not mean that we will always get it right but it will teach us that we will be all right regardless of the outcome. It will allow us to live life more fully and to achieve a higher degree of satisfaction in what we do and why we do it.

Identify your trusted inner circle of influence: We all need people around us to support, challenge and champion what it is that we do. The people that allow us to discuss ideas, make mistakes and succeed without judgment or criticism. They support our actions of bravery regardless of the outcomes.

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as brave. I believe every brave thing we do in life counts. It’s time we stood tall and claimed our bold and audacious selves and used – as Katy Perry says in the quote above – our secret magic trick to set us apart. For it is only when we do that we will gain the confidence to continually live bravely.

Margot AndersenIf 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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