Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

The Power Of Momentum

November 13th, 2017

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

– Seth Godin

Momentum is a funny thing. When you’ve got it you feel as though anything is possible and you can confidently take on new challenges. Other times it can seem elusive and a struggle to develop. A lack of it can leave you feeling uninspired, sluggish and if we are not careful, ‘stuck’. 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 feeling of procrastination, avoidance or just dread at starting something some new. How many of us though have embarked upon a new project or business strategy only to find that once we actually started, it really wasn’t that hard or tedious. Why? Because it was actually the thought of having to start that was the hard bit. Once we got the proverbial ball rolling, the ideas came; we found our flow and discovered that it was significantly easier and often more rewarding than anticipated.

Understanding that it is far easier to create momentum when things are already 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 keeping 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
  1. Momentum dilutes obstacles and issues
  1. Momentum creates energy
  1. Momentum opens us up to possibility and makes change easier

 

To create career and leadership 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 BLACK Signature

Spotting Leadership Potential

October 31st, 2017

‘When opportunity knocks, will you answer the door….AND hold it open for others?
John C Maxwell

‘Who me?’… ‘Are you sure?’…. ‘Gosh I hadn’t really considered it’

Thinking back over your career were you always aware of your leadership potential?

Or did someone see the possibility for you long before you did?

For many of us, we were fortunate enough to have someone – be it a former boss, colleague or mentor – who played an instrumental role in guiding and encouraging us along the path long before we believed it was possible for ourselves.

They were the leaders who pushed us to develop new skills, provided fresh opportunities that challenged us to think and act in different ways. They helped us raise not only the belief that we had in ourselves but what others had in us. They coached and advocated for us with the purpose of seeing us step up and into our potential.

In an era where we have heard much about the ‘war for talent’, spotting potential has become a critical factor in business success. Unfortunately though spotting potential is far harder than simply measuring competence. It makes sense then that those leaders, who can not only identify potential but also foster and develop it, will achieve more success both for themselves and the people they lead.

With statistics suggesting that as much as 70% of on the job learning occurs informally, it is imperative that leaders learn how to harness this potential through their own actions and the role that they play.  But how do you help someone embrace their potential when they can’t see it for themselves?  Below are five practical ways you can help people see what is possible and to share what you see in them.

  1. Tell Them! All too often we don’t create the time to have the conversation in a meaningful way. Set the meeting up with the sole purpose of telling them what you see in them, exploring how they feel about it and what they need to grow their own confidence and belief.
  2. Validate Your Case: Be prepared to tell them why you believe in their potential. Offer specific examples of what you have seen or heard and how that skill, attitude or attribute is a much-admired trait of successful leaders.
  3. Provide Challenge: Emerging leaders need to be developed. They need opportunities to expand their knowledge and skillsets, work with stakeholders at varying levels and operate at higher levels of responsibility. When individuals achieve things they didn’t previously think possible it expands their thinking and confidence to embrace further opportunities.
  4. Check in! Offer feedback and encouragement and don’t hesitate to offer constructive criticism as they take on new challenges. It is also important to make sure that what we see as their potential is aligned with what they want and they are experiencing not only higher levels of accomplishment but also fulfillment.
  5. Open Doors: True leaders open the doors of opportunity for others. Not just any door but ones that lead to growth, align skills and leverage strengths and ultimately build ownership.

Cultivating potential and opening doors for others is a win-win. Leaders who believe in and sponsor others help create success and momentum not only for the individual but also for themselves and the business they lead.

Not everyone will understand your belief in their potential or want to take up the opportunity, however if you are willing to call it many will respond with enthusiasm and gratitude.

So who can you encourage into leadership today?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

The Abundance Mindset

October 16th, 2017

“Abundance is not something we acquire, it is something we tune into”
Wayne Dyer

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.

The real danger of this scarcity mindset is the paralyzing effect it has on us. Not only can you find yourself living in the interim moment – I am here, but when I am there everything will be bigger, brighter and better – but you can also easily fall into the trap that there won’t be enough to go round unless I fight for it. And herein lies a major issue for the way we manage our careers, our teams and our businesses.

Viewing our life and career through a scarcity lens can sabotage both your success and your progress. Scarcity people believe that there may not be enough pie to go round or that their share will be smaller than everyone else’s. Abundance people simply believe that you can make more pie.

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. As a result teams fracture, silos form and careers are damaged.

Conversely people with an abundance mentality see the world in terms of win-win. They are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements, recognition and good fortune of other people. They go out of their way to help others and contribute to their success because in doing so they believe they can all – both individually and collectively – achieve more. People with an abundance mentality operate from a strong sense of worth and security. They typically adopt a bigger outlook on life and the world and consequently generate new opportunities and possibilities.

Stephen Covey is credited with coining the term ‘Abundance Mentality’ in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. He notes that scarcity people are always comparing and competing and believes it s a sure fire recipe for unhappiness. Abundant thinkers feel rich before they become rich – and not just monetarily but in all things of value – time, relationships, attention, experience and happiness.

Take a moment to think about some of the attitudes and behaviours around you today:

Scarcity vs Abundance (1) copy

If we want to expand our possibilities and grow our careers (and those of our people) we need to shift our thinking away from scarcity to abundance. In doing so we maximise our potential for success and fulfillment.

I believe that there are two critical strategies for developing an Abundant mindset:

  • Know your own strengths and play to them: Your talents and strengths are unique to you and nobody can take them off you or away from you. The more clarity that you have around what they are and how to best apply them, the more you can rely on them to power your career.
  • Position yourself for recognition: This is not about endless self-promotion. Rather it is about building up your portfolio of accomplishments and positioning yourself for more opportunities and achievements. To do this successfully you need to seek feedback and input from your leaders, team and mentors both from within and outside your organization.

Scarcity separates and Abundance unites. We all want to be part of a winning game where opportunities abound, successes are shared and achievements are celebrated. Cultivating the right mindset and environment for both our teams and ourselves is what will position us all for success.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot BLACK Signature

Is Your Career On Autopilot?

September 25th, 2017

‘Your life is your story. Write well, edit often’

– Susan Statham


How often have we travelled home at the end of the day, only to arrive with no real sense of time or conscious thought to the direction we were taking? We simply found ourselves there before we knew it because it was something that we had done a million times before. We didn’t have to put any real effort into the directions or paths we needed to take. We could quite simply step out and zone out.

Whilst most of us can travel on all to familiar paths in autopilot, we can’t afford to run our careers or businesses in this mode no matter how familiar or well worn the path before us has been. Yet all too often it is not until a jolt out of the blue occurs – a business restructure, the resignation of a key team member or the loss of a major client – that we seem to click back into an acute awareness of the landscape around us. All too often when this jolt happens we find that we have assumed way too much and responded way too little to the everyday events and things surrounding us.

Recently I have found myself working with several organisations navigating significant business change. For many individuals this has meant substantial changes to roles and the way they do business or at the other end of the spectrum, redundancy. What has been interesting is the varying way in which these individuals have responded to their situations. Whilst nearly all have found it initially difficult and confronting, some are navigating the changes with a strong sense of awareness about what the opportunity means for them and a feeling of control and ownership.  For others however the options are met with nothing short of significant loss and fear for the future.

Whilst the autopilot mode of going through the motions may yield results in the short term it can have a significant impact in the long term on how we think, assess, make decisions and move forward with our roles as leaders and in our careers. It can all too easily leave us feeling disempowered and lacking control. A key danger of the business and leadership autopilot mode is assuming that the past will ensure the future. The reality is the knowledge, skills and relationships that have got us to where we are today are not necessarily going to take us to where we want to go tomorrow.  What will is our ability to embrace new understandings, new solutions and new mastery. AND you can’t do this without being acutely aware of what is happening around you, how you respond and acknowledging that it is you who is sitting in the driver’s seat of your career. As is so often said, businesses own the roles whilst you own your career.

So before you find yourself in situations that see you sending out a mayday call or reaching for the emergency flares, I would encourage you to consider the following 6 steps that you can take to flick off the autopilot switch and regain a sense of career control:

Mix up your routine: Undertaking the same routine day in and day out often heightens the sense of ‘status quo’. It dulls our senses and ability to spot the opportunities and obstacles that lay before us.

Focus on honing your strengths: All too often we spend wasted energy and time on trying to ‘fix’ our weaknesses, when what we should be doing is focusing on how to hone and elevate our strengths. It is only when we do that we will be able to maximise our productivity, efficiency and levels of fulfilment in the tasks at hand.

Identify where they are most valued: To recognise where your knowledge and skills are best regarded – both immediately and in the long-term future – requires an investment of time, energy and planning.  Build a road map that identifies where they are currently being used, how and with whom you should be engaging with to ensure that you build future currency in your career.

Invest in your own learning: All too often we relegate our future learning and professional development opportunities to the organisation we work for. The danger is when business belts are tightened often the first thing that disappears is training. By taking proactive measures to invest in your own learning you will ensure that your skills, knowledge and networks remain up to date, fresh and relevant.

Build purposeful networks: Invest in purposeful networks – both internally and externally – and dedicate time and energy to them. If necessary conduct an audit to ensure that you have the right people to support where you want to go and you eliminate those that detract you from your path.

Switching out of auto pilot mode and back into ‘go-mode’ requires a shift in both mindset and habits. Whilst it does take an up front investment of both energy and time the benefits are enormous and long lasting: career confidence, clarity and purpose. What can you do today to flick off the autopilot switch?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot BLACK Signature

Maintaining Career Relevance

September 19th, 2017

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”
Mohammed Ali

Over the last decade we have seen an unprecedented number of businesses pay the price of failing to remain relevant. Industries have been shaken up by creative disruption like never before; there is an increasing global competition for talent; a move towards flatter structures and the traditional concept of job security has almost entirely disappeared.

Failing to adapt is costly. The stories behind organisations such as Kodak, Dell and Blockbuster should serve as a timely reminder on the importance of relevance. Just as these businesses paid the ultimate price of losing not only market position but also their place in it, we too can face the same situation with our own careers if we fail to remain relevant with our own knowledge and skills and our teams, organization and industry.

With the majority of professionals working harder and smarter, as well as being more broadly skilled than at any other point in their professions it would be fair to assume that we are more strongly positioned to manage our careers than ever before. However with ever-increasing volatility on nearly all fronts – politically economically and in business – and technology advances occurring almost daily, individuals can face enormous challenges to remain relevant to the world around them. But these challenges can also provide enormous opportunity if we learn how to navigate them.

In their book The Start Up of You, Hoffman & Casnocha suggest that if we are to build long-term career success, individuals need to consider themselves as entrepreneurs and their careers as a start up business. As they note, ‘the skills that start-ups require are the very skills that professionals need in order to advance their careers: nimbleness, personal investment, strong networks and intelligent risk taking.”

It takes effort and energy to be relevant. Effort to invest in and apply the knowledge and skills required to do the job; and energy to connect and engage with others – to ask the right questions to find out what their thinking, understand their needs and offer meaningful support. As leaders, not only do we need to ensure that we remain relevant with our own careers but we need to support others do so as well. We need to genuinely connect with the needs of our people and help them align their careers with the ambitions of the organisation and industry they operate in.

So how do we best equip ourselves for career success and build relevance in what we do today and for the future? I would encourage you to consider the following six points:

Be ready for change: Change is here to stay! According to the Future Works Skills 2020 Report nearly one third of the workforce will be employed on a casual basis. Global connectivity, ‘smart machines’ – which will see a higher degree of automation in some roles and the complete redundancy of others – and new media are just some of the drivers that are reshaping the way think about work, what constitutes it and the skills we will require to be productive contributors to the future.

Understand your value: Understand what you need to ensure that you can act and react with nimbleness and agility. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who uses my work and what they need most?
  • What business outcomes drive my work?
  • What is the cost of my work?
  • What impacts the way I do my work and how has that recently changed?
  • What are the opportunities to grow and scale what I do?
  • How can I better help others in their role?

Become the expert: Invest in honing your knowledge and skills. Investigate key industry trends and challenges; recent business success stories and know who the key influencers and thought leaders are and why. Individuals who manage their own learning and development in partnership with their organisation are much more attractive to future employers and strongly positioned to remain in control of their own career and future opportunities.

Build a strategic network: Evaluate the strength of your current network and understand what support they offer Have you got the right people to support where you want to go or are you surrounded by people who are distracting you from your path. Invest in strengthening your professional support through the building of relevant alliances and ensuring that there is a diverse mix.

Challenge yourself: For many of us some of our richest experiences and greatest achievements have come from stepping outside our comfort zone. Pushing the boundaries and taking ‘intelligent risks’ brings new knowledge, new networks, new opportunities and lessons that sustain us well after the experience has ended. It also invariably generates energy and engagement in what we do.

Engage: Clarity comes through engagement. We need to take action to drive our career forward and engage through those around us so that we understand what ideas, projects and businesses are being discussed, celebrated and challenged.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot BLACK Signature

Creating Career Choice

August 30th, 2017

“You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.” 

It is said that the average working person makes approximately 15 decisions before 9am. For some of us the first decision can be something as minor as how many times can I hit the snooze button before getting up! Every day though we face thousands of decisions. Some are relatively small such as what will I wear; whilst others are much more significant. Some have short-term effects and others more long term effects. However, regardless of what our decisions are – action or no action – there is no escaping the fact that we all live with the consequences of our choices.

Creating career choice is one of the greatest challenges we all face – especially as we progress through the ranks of experience and seniority. Given the fast moving and ever changing nature of the world today, we as individuals and leaders need to have a passion for personal growth and development. Having a solid road map for that growth and development is essential if we are to continually expand both our capabilities and our degree of choice.

No doubt each of us will have a friend or colleague who always seems to be surrounded by several career choices that are the perfect fit for them. What is it about those people that somehow catches the eye of others; or when they put their hand up for a change there seems to be not one but several choices for them to consider? I believe it is due to several factors:

  1. Clarity about what they want
  2. Confidence in pursuing their ambitions
  3. Relevance to their organisation and market place

As readers of this blog you will know that I believe that the three keys to creating career success are clarity, confidence and choice.

Omitting or disregarding the factor of choice is like electing to sit on a two-legged stool. Whilst you can balance for a while, in time it becomes unstable and down right dangerous. Unstable and dangerous because you are at risk of losing control over your own career pathway and your level of fulfillment.

Take a moment to reflect on a time in your career when you have felt as though you were left with no choice but to adopt a certain decision, accept a certain job or follow a certain path. Invariably you will have felt caged in, disempowered and frustrated. Conversely when you feel as though you have had a choice on how to act or where to invest time, money or effort, you will have felt empowered, confident and in control.

With stagnation – and not failure – being the real risk to our career, we need to ensure that we are investing our time and efforts in building personal capability and relevance to the organisations we work for and the markets we work in. Failing to do so will see our career choices dramatically diminished.

So what actions can you take to create career choice?

  1. Evaluate: Get clear about what you want! This requires you to fully understand your own skills, behaviours, motivations and preferences.

If you are to create genuine growth and or change in your career you also need to evaluate what steps are required to elevate your capability, career currency and relevance to either your current employer or the market place. What can you do to build and leverage your experience and showcase it?

Without this degree of clarity you risk not identifying the choices before you.

  1. Prepare: Once you have clarity about what you want, you can prepare a strategy or road map for getting there.

For some, understanding that the best thing they can do right now is excel in the opportunity they currently have will provide renewed focus and energy for their role at hand. Additionally it will allow them to implement a long-term strategy of career leverage with confidence and purpose.

For those who are actively exploring the market, preparing a personal business and marketing plan will be critical to their effectiveness in engaging with potential organisations and people of influence.

  1. Act: Engage: with your team, your business, your market and your network. Listen to what you hear from both sought and unsought sources. Validate what you hear. Does it apply and if so, how?

 Understanding that we need to continually act, adapt and in many cases unlearn and relearn is what will build and sustain relevance to our business and market.

Life is full of choices and there is a natural give and take in every resulting decision. Even choosing not to act is still a choice. To make wise, well-informed and educated choices you must weigh up the risks against the potential rewards.

When it comes to career decisions rarely will they ever be black and white, all good or all bad, completely right or completely wrong. They are multi dimensional and require you to look at the opportunity(s) with your own unique lens that is reflective of your own personal ambitions.

Understanding though that our long-term growth and success is the result of conscious choices and deliberate effort is critical if we are to create real momentum and fulfillment. Learning how to recognise and create choice is what will set us apart.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

 

Margot BLACK Signature

 

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