Archive for July, 2016

The Power Of Being A Connector

July 26th, 2016

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“Connect, create meaning, make a difference, matter, be missed”

– Seth Godin
There is something quite magical about meeting or knowing a ‘connector’. Those unique people who always seem to know how to help, or if they can’t, know someone who can and who quickly and freely put you in touch with them. More often than not they are the ones that make you feel at ease almost immediately, seem to understand situations even before you describe them and ooze warmth, energy and genuine interest in everything!

Somehow they seem to be able to make things happen quickly. Whilst they don’t profess to know everything, often they know how to make almost anything happen. They are able to tap into well-known networks to help expedite information flow, access to resources and the expansion of ideas and opportunities. Connectors build bridges between ideas and actions by knowing who to ask to help get things done.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and who coined the term ‘Connectors’ describes them as those handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. They are able to span many different worlds, subcultures and niches’. Traits common to connectors are energy, insatiable curiosity and a willingness to take chances – as well as an absolute insistence that connecting is not the same as networking. Where as networking is often viewed as a means to an end, connecting is driven by a genuine interest in people and purposeful engagement to better support and assist others.

As our world becomes more interconnected and our businesses move to flatter more matrixed structures our ability to not just connect but facilitate connection is critical to our success. Adam Grant, Wharton Business leader and author of Give and Take explores how our success has become increasingly dependent on the interactions we have with others rather than on the individual drivers of success such as commitment, hard work and passion. Rather it is our ability to actively and purposefully engage with new people or reconnect with what he terms ‘dormant ties’ that will most likely be the source of new ideas, ways of thinking and new networks that will contribute to our success. In essence the ROI on becoming a connector is much higher.

I would encourage you to consider the following 5 tips to help you become a connector:

  1. Quality Connections Not Quantity: Focus your energy and efforts on building a limited number of quality relationships rather than just a million social followers. To be able to purposefully connect with others in a way that offers real value, you need to engage: get to know them, what they do, how they like to operate and what their thoughts and ideas are
  2. Manage Your Time: Given that we all have only a limited amount of time we need to ensure that we are investing it in the right way. Spend time with your top relationships and stakeholders – maintaining and deepening them. Take off the transactional networker hat and put on your ‘connector’ hat.
  3. Get Curious: Ask lots of questions. Great connectors know the value of quality questions. They recognise the power of asking the right ones to unlock new ideas, build rapport, offer new perspectives and introduce new networks.
  4. Give First: As a connector you are often well positioned to give first, which removes what is so often a genuine fear with networking: appearing disingenuous or being considered a ‘taker’. As a connector, who has invested both time and efforts in building quality relationships, your ability to share knowledge, ideas and connections with genuine purpose and value is greatly enhanced. Subsequently so too is their own personal influence.
  5. Step Out: Connectors are willing to step out of their comfort zone and reach out to people they don’t know. All too often we miss opportunities because we go to the same type of events, sit with the same people at meetings and have the same old conversations. Or worse still we bury ourselves in our phones and laptops so as to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of having to step out and start a conversation with someone we don’t know. Stepping out brings ideas, opportunities and new networks.

We all know that people are the conduit to success – or failure. How we build and leverage our connections, ultimately determines our ability to influence successfully. Influence our careers, influence our teams and influence our results. What can you do today to build your power as a connector?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to increase your ‘connector ability’ or that of your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Why Great Leaders Are Amplifiers

July 19th, 2016

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“Amplifiers are the rare and extraordinary leaders who amplify the best in themselves and others. They amplify the messages that matter, amplify the positive mood in a culture and amplify the results achieved.” 
– Matt Church
In a world that seems to feed off of negativity, drama and hype our ability to amplify the ‘good news stories’ and positive opportunities around us has never been so important. Unfortunately for many, living and working in environments that predominately focus and feed on the failures, problems and barriers that get in the way of success is all too common. The reality though is that there are many extraordinary events happening, results being produced and acts of genuine kindness being delivered every day. We just need help in seeing and hearing about them – especially with the pace and diversity at which we have now become accustomed to operating at.

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

Leaders who can help others recognize this, be it for themselves, their teams or their customers and clients are invaluable. People feel more energized by their presence and more confident that success can be achieved with the right focus. They are driven to put their best foot forward and be a part of the ‘extraordinary’. Just as success creates success so to does the habit of belief that extraordinary results are possible.

Interestingly our minds seem to work a lot like amplifiers– whatever we choose to listen to and focus on, the more enlarged the sound and impact seems to become in our mind. This is why it is so important to ensure that we focus our energy on amplifying 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.

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

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

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

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

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to amplify your leadership capability or that of your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Why A Sense Of Belonging Matters

July 12th, 2016

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“Invisible threads are the strongest ties”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
We are all hard wired to want to connect and belong: To people, places, what we do and ways of life. Whilst there might be times that we don’t want to connect or belong to certain groups or people, none of us actively seek out disconnection or isolation as a way of living. Why? Because ultimately we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Something that allows us to create and contribute meaning, purpose, opportunity and value.

Not belonging or knowing where we belong is a terrible feeling. It feels awkward, it hurts and can be both alienating and self limiting. Yet invariably at some point in our lives and careers we will all be faced with a crossroads of having to identify where we best belong and naturally connect in a way that allows us to fully contribute our knowledge, skills and talents. Sometimes we outgrow people, places and situations and sometimes they outgrow us. This can be tricky and hard to navigate. In our careers this often presents when we have maximized our opportunity or through redundancies, restructures and relocations.

At a time when businesses and individuals are being challenged to operate in ever changing environments and to innovate and collaborate outside of known networks, this sense of belonging has never been more important. For it is when we feel as though we belong that we feel safe in stepping outside of our comfort zone and taking on new challenges.

There is a big difference though between belonging and fitting in. Brene Brown, author and researcher describes the difference between the two as freedom. ‘Fitting in’ she notes, is our ability to assess a situation and adapt who we are – personality and behaviours – in order to feel accepted. ‘Belonging’ is about freedom – freedom from having to change in order to be accepted and valued and respected for being who you are.

In her research she asked a group of students to describe the difference and their answers were insightful:

  • Belonging is being somewhere you want to be and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere you really want to be and they don’t care one way or another.
  • Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.
  • I get to be me if I belong. I have to be like you to fit in.

Great leaders know the difference. They also recognize the subsequent challenge. Whilst it’s much easier to tell people they need to adapt in order to fit in with an organizational culture, they look for ways to help people bring their individual strengths and styles and look for ways to contribute to creating a diverse culture. This is not to suggest that we should create a culture of ‘anything goes’ but rather one where people have the opportunity to truly shine by owning what they do. It is about making sure that when we look for people and skill sets we make sure that we give them the freedom to bring themselves and their talents to the ‘table’.

So how do effective leaders create a sense of belonging? I would encourage you to consider the following 6 actions and how you might include them in your leadership repertoire:

Give Trust: Successful leaders understand that to gain trust you must also give it. Without both, true success cannot be achieved. They are able to know who they can trust, with what and when.

Cultivate responsibility and ownership: We all feel a stronger sense of connection and belonging to something when we know what we own and are responsible for. When we feel as though we belong to a team and organization it becomes ‘our team and organization’.

Listen: We all like to be heard. Great leaders seek feedback, listen and are highly responsive to what is appropriate and needed. Individuals understand that what they say matters and take accountability for their opinions, words and actions.

Educate on ‘the why’: We all like to understand how our work contributes to the broader picture and why it is so important. Great leaders help their people understand why what they do holds such value and how it contributes to team and organisational success.

Encourage diversity: Leaders who know how to leverage the individual strengths and capabilities of their team not only create opportunities for their people but also contribute to their overall success. Encouraging individuals to leverage not only their strengths but also their differences helps people understand how what they do matters.

Foster growth: Whilst great leaders accept their people for who they are, they also see their potential and help them grow and learn to become the best version of themselves.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot AndersenIf you would like to explore ways to leverage your career and the capability of your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

The Power of Leverage

July 5th, 2016

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“Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand,
and I can move the Earth”

– Archimedes
Failing to leverage what we currently have is costly. All too often it costs us time, opportunity and ultimately our ability to maximize our own success and fulfillment. In a time, where we are constantly being asked to do more with less; respond nimbly and confidently to large scale change; and get ready for greater levels of disruption, knowing how to best leverage our knowledge, experience and networks is vital.

Essentially leverage allows us to take what we have and make it go much further. It is gained by knowing what levers we have to pull in order to elevate our current standing.  As leaders all have levers and ‘tools’ in our own career, business and network that we can pull on to help us gain ground. The key is working out exactly what they are and how to best pull on them and when.

Ritchie Norton, founder of Global Consulting Circle, a corporate growth consultancy says that ‘attempting to succeed without embracing the tools immediately available for your success is no less absurd than trying to row a boat using only your hands or trying to unscrew a screw using nothing more than your fingernail’.

Ultimately not embracing the tools at hand impedes our growth. As business leaders our most valuable ‘tool’ is our people. How we tap into the talents, motivations and capabilities of our people is our ultimate challenge. We need to ensure that we have the right people, in the right place at the right time if both organizational and individual growth is to be realized. As businesses continue to face the challenge of navigating increasing complexity, speed to market and global reach this is no easy feat and requires both alignment and connection to strategy and people.

As individuals we need to ensure that we have an accurate view of what our own knowledge and ‘tools’ are and what we need to invest in to ensure that we continue to remain relevant and aligned with the organisations that we work for. It is learning how to master the constant dance of ‘zig and zag’ as we too navigate rapidly changing workforces and markets.

So what can you use today as way of leverage in your career? I would encourage you to consider the following six points:

  1. The business of you: In order to effectively leverage your experience you need to be crystal clear on where your core skills, strengths, achievements lie and most importantly how they are regarded. Just as a business owner is responsible for the management of their business assets, you are responsible for the management of your career assets.
  2. Position: Know what your position affords you as way of influence and also how to best position yourself as way of building it to enhance your professional regard and that of your team, peers and networks.
  3. Strategic alliances and networks: Consider the knowledge and talents of those within your networks and also the opportunities and potential that could be afforded through collaborating with others.
  4. Current opportunity: All too often it is the ‘next big thing’ that distracts us when really what we need to do is focus on nailing the opportunity we currently have. The reality is it is what we do today really counts! It has the power to consolidate and propel us forward or backwards based on what and how we deliver.
  5. Digital footprint: Whilst our digital profiles are often used to validate who are and our previous history, there is an enormous opportunity to use it to position ourselves as industry experts and the businesses that we work for as market leaders. Offering enormous influence it is essential that we learn how to proactively create and use it so that we remain in control of how we are positioned and regarded.
  6. Investments: Time, money and effort are all resources that we need to ensure we are investing wisely in.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I making the most efficient use of my own time and that of others? Do I need to delegate/ assume ownership of certain areas?
  • Are there any educational qualifications, short courses, networks or coaching programs that I can invest in to help me operate more effectively?
  • Have I go the right structure in place to maximize the knowledge, talents and skills of my team or do I need to invest some time and effort to review?

The key to leverage is in knowing what we have in our own tool kit as way of supporting both our own opportunities and those around us. Our preparedness to reach out to others in a genuine and purposeful manner when we are in need and conversely to give to others when they also do so will allow us to truly leverage our capabilities and future successes as well as those of the people we lead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to leverage your career and the capability of your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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