Archive for November, 2015

The Squeeze Of Time!

November 24th, 2015

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“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

– Albert Einstein
[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]As we start the mad dash towards the end of the year it is all too easy to be overwhelmed with what we have to do before it’s over. Invariably there are not only critical projects to complete but also end of quarter reports, networking events to attend, end of year functions to be held and numerous deadlines to manage to. Overlay that with busy social and family commitments and it is all too easy to feel that we are fighting the clock on every remaining day on the calendar.

Here in Australia the end of the year means not only breaking for Christmas but also our summer holidays. It means school is out, the beach is calling and for many businesses it is two weeks or more of mandatory shutdown. Whilst most of us all look forward to the break, getting there without feeling broken often feels like an achievement in itself.

Staying firmly focussed on what we can influence and need to influence is key. As the demands increase and the deadlines tighten it is all too easy to allow stress to either paralyse us or place us into a tailspin, both of which are counterproductive. Whilst most of us recognise that it is our ability to manage our emotions and remain calm under pressure that will determine successful outcomes it is those who know how to prepare for the ‘final sprint’ that really excel. Not only does it all too often determine how we finish but how we start afresh in the New Year.

Travis Bradbury who is a widely acclaimed author in the field of emotional intelligence believes that it is this understanding that is what helps leaders not only effectively manage themselves but also significantly impact both their people and business outcomes. Whilst recognising that stress can wreak havoc on our physical and mental health he also suggests that we actually need a little bit of it to actually feel the impetus to take action. As the model below suggests though it is not only the degree of stress but also the duration that is key. Too much and the consequences are downright dangerous, not enough sees us risk boredom and apathy.[vcex_spacing size=”20px”]Optimal PerformanceEffective leaders know that there are critical times of the year and/or projects that will test us all. They recognise it, plan for it and prepare for it. They understand where that fine line is between what healthy and unhealthy levels of stress are and know what they need to do maintain a sense of calm for themselves and their teams.

So what do successful people do to maintain calm and keep stress under control – especially at times such as the end of the year? Examples below:

  • Determine what’s critical: Whilst it may sound obvious, sometimes we need to be reminded to simply stop, reassess and determine what our key priorities are. Listing our priorities and then learning to put some boundaries around them is key if we are to move forward with greater clarity, determination and speed.
  • Delegate: Great delegation not only saves time, money and frustration, it also provides you with an opportunity to build capability and capacity in your people. Whilst we do need to consider how and to whom we delegate, failing to do so not only impedes our own growth but that of our people.
  • Collaborate: The quickest way to slow or kill outcomes 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.
  • Note who you are listening too: All too often when we are working to critical deadlines, the critics and the naysayers appear to have the loudest voices. Recognising who your key influencers and enablers are is critical to building effective frameworks of support.
  • Communicate: When we are under pressure to deliver, many of us go deep into the doing. Whilst it is often necessary to do this, keeping the channels of communication open is imperative if we are to ensure opportunities, relationships and outcomes are maximised.
  • Keep Moving: Even small steps are better than no steps. Make decisions (indecision is dangerous and paralysing), start moving and tweak on route if need be.
  • Take 5: Breathe!! Effective leaders know how to disconnect. They understand the need to ensure that their batteries remain charged, their focus is honed and their mind is given a break. Failing to do so sees us risking increased stress levels and moving to the dangerous end of the graph above.

 As the end of 2015 approaches I would encourage you to take some time to consider what your ‘critical must do’s’ are and what steps you can take to ensure you and your team finish the year on a high.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to build an intentional career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Are You Leading With Intent?

November 17th, 2015

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‘What I really love about Intentional Living is that it causes you to start. It doesn’t allow good intentions to stay as merely intentions. It says you’ve got to turn those into good actions.’

– John C Maxwell  

[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”]Most of us have been guilty of allowing ourselves to think dreamily about the future – moments spent fantasizing or talking about ‘the day’ when we buy the dream house; take that overseas holiday; finally get to work on something that we love or be in a position to really influence and add value to others. Or maybe we’ve heard it uttered in the corridors by others ‘Some day I will earn enough to do X’ or ‘Some day I will step out and do X’. The reality is ‘some day’ never comes unless we focus on making it happen.

Things don’t just happen just because you think it. You don’t magically find yourself standing at the departure lounge waiting to board the flight for that once in a lifetime family holiday or find yourself working on exciting, innovative projects just because you turned up at the office. Success comes to those who are intentional. Regardless of whether you are starting your ideal role, changing career direction or simply buying your dream car, it has come about because there has been a purposeful decision made coupled with action (often lots of it) taken to see it become a reality.

As leaders, it is imperative that we are leading intentionally and not just talking about what we intend to do. That means leading firstly ourselves with purpose, clarity and confidence and then leading our people – and not just the outcomes. Failing to do so not only sees us risking disengagement, misalignment, conflict and productivity but also sees our own leadership credibility called into question. Nobody wants to work with or for somebody who is only full of great intentions, instead they want to work with and for people who know how to turn intent into action and in a way that has meaning to them.

Creating value and impact for individuals is a key ingredient of intentional leadership. To do this we need to engage meaningfully, create opportunity, support learning and growth and reward and acknowledge individual contributions. We need to also do this in amongst the myriad of our other core responsibilities. However unless we carve out dedicated time to do this our role as a leader will remain nothing more than a great intention. AND people can and will see through it!

As the well renowned leadership expert John Maxwell notes, you know when you are leading intentionally and on the road to success because it’s all uphill. That doesn’t mean the road is always fraught with obstacles or difficulties but rather it is one that requires consistent, deliberate and disciplined behaviours and choices. There’s no coasting to success. You can’t just hang around at the office for days or weeks on end and think ‘something good might happen to me today on this road to success’. If you wait around you coast and when you coast you go down hill never up.

So what are the habits and traits of leading with intent? I would encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the following 6 characteristics and how you might seek to embody them in your role as a leader

Intentional Leaders:

  1. Assume responsibility for who they are and where they are: Ultimately we are all responsible for the path we are on and where we are along that path. Leaders who assume personal accountability are much more likely to achieve success, unite teams or enact change if required.
  2. Are clear about their leadership purpose: They recognise what their core value is and know that it is more than a checklist of tasks to do today, next week or this financial year.
  3. Care about their people: They know what high impact looks and sounds like for the individuals on their team. They care enough to offer challenge, opportunity, growth and recognition; and will challenge behaviours and values that compromise the integrity of their team and what they are aiming to achieve.
  4. Challenge the status quo: Chase what could be and not merely what is. Fresh opportunity, increased productivity, relevance and fulfillment do not come from simply standing still or doing what we have always done but rather from seeking new and improved ways of doing things.
  5. Build trust: For leaders, trust is two fold. You need to be able to engender it and you need to be able to give it. Without both, success is almost always compromised.
  6. Celebrate the milestone achievements: Whilst leading with intention requires us to look over the horizon, it also means recognizing success along the way. Recognising that success is a series of building blocks is critical if we are to maintain purpose and momentum for what we do.

Living and leading intentionally doesn’t mean that we always have to be pushing, striving or seeking out the next big thing. Let’s face it; we would be exhausted if we did those things 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Sometimes taking time out to re-energise and re-engage needs to be an intentional act. What i we do need to do is get crystal clear on what we want and why and to then start closing the gap between intent and action. It means being realistic about how we do it and what offers the most impact. To do this we need to know that our actions (and reactions) not only matter but also are what will be remembered.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to explore ways to build an intentional career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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.

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