Posts Tagged ‘awareness’

Is Your Career On Autopilot?

January 19th, 2020

“Your life is your story. Write well, edit often” – Susan Statham

As we return to work at the beginning of a new year, it’s never too long before we switch back into our usual high output gear after the break. However, all too often, we accelerate into our usual workflows without taking the opportunity to think more consciously and carefully about how we want to architect our lives and careers for the year ahead and beyond. Our momentum is halted, and our career trajectories can easily stagnate.

Zoning out is easy to do when your career is on autopilot. 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.

While most of us can travel on 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 it is often 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. 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. While 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.

While 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 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 support our forward momentum, 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 while you own your career.

Before you find yourself in situations that see you calling out Mayday or sending off the emergency flares, I would encourage you to consider the following six actions 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 danger of ‘status quo’. It dulls our senses and ability to spot the opportunities and obstacles that lay before us. By changing up our everyday routine we are more likely to accurately recognise, assess and act on the current state of play in a more informed and timely manner.

Understand your strengths and weaknesses: Gaining an accurate view of what our strengths and weaknesses allow us to focus on what we do best, identify ways to collaborate with those whose knowledge and skills complement ours and stay out of what we don’t do well.

Focus on honing your strengths: 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 maximize our productivity, efficiency and levels of fulfillment 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: We also often 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, which in turn sees you well-positioned for your future preferred opportunities.

Build purposeful networks: Invest in the right 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.

As you develop your awareness and switch off from ‘auto pilot’ mode, an effective way to turn your attention inward to your career history, desired trajectory, is the document that articulates this; your resume.

As your resume tells your professional story and highlights both your capability and your potential, it is naturally imperative to constantly refine and update it. Revisiting it on a regular basis can also help you to identify gaps, strengths and weaknesses that may also give you an insight into your future ambitions and what needs to change in order to achieve them. You can do this by following my Resume Checklist, which I have developed to help guide you through this process.

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.

Is Your Career On Autopilot?

April 26th, 2016

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“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 calling out Mayday or sending off 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 danger of ‘status quo’. It dulls our senses and ability to spot the opportunities and obstacles that lay before us. By changing up our everyday routine we are more likely to accurately recognise, assess and act on the current state of play in a more informed and timely manner.
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses: Gaining an accurate view of what our strengths and weaknesses are allows us to focus on what we do best, identify ways to collaborate with those whose knowledge and skills compliment ours and stay out of what we don’t do well.
  • 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 maximize our productivity, efficiency and levels of fulfillment 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, which in turn sees you well positioned for your future preferred opportunities.
  • Build purposeful networks: Invest in the right 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 Andersen

If you would like to explore ways to reinvigorate your career with confidence, clarity and purpose, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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Spotting Leadership Potential

February 16th, 2016

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“When opportunity knocks, will you answer the door….AND hold it open for others?”

– John C Maxwell
‘Who me?’… ‘Are you sure?’…. ‘Gosh I don’t think I could ever do that?’

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 spotting potential is far harder than simply measuring competence. It makes sense then 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

If you would like to know more about spotting and building potential in your people, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

How Are Your Daily Habits Shaping Your Career?

July 7th, 2015

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“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken”

– Warren Buffett
I was recently reading an interview with Diane von Furstenberg (renowned fashion designer) and Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter) about their daily habits and routines. I was particularly taken with Diane’s response to the question of how she started her day: ‘I start by sending one email each day that does not benefit me at all’. She went on to explain that it could be an introduction, a note of congratulations or a simple compliment.

What an incredible, simple act of generosity and influence and one that has an enormous capacity to impact individuals, workplace culture and broader networks!

Whilst this daily habit does not immediately or directly benefit her day-to-day responsibilities, I do believe that over time it has the potential to greatly impact her business and career success. Her personal and professional reputation, the quality of her networks, the engagement of her staff, the potential for new opportunities and least of all the shaping of a positive and grateful mindset are but a few of the long term benefits to be had from this simple action.

We all know that success can be made or broken by the habits we form. They either become the major obstacles or the greatest foundations to all that we do. In short the actions (big and small) we take or don’t take today, do shape our tomorrow.

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, a highly regarded New York Times business journalist explores why some people and companies struggle with change while others seem to effortlessly reinvent themselves overnight.

The answer he says is in our ability to understand how habits work and to focus on the daily patterns that shape our lives. Knowing what triggers our routines and what rewards we are really seeking is critical to changing or motivating our future actions.

Habit LoopIn his book, he uses the example of how every day at 3pm he would stop what he was doing, head for the office cafeteria, grab a biscuit and chat with colleagues before returning to his desk twenty or so minutes later.Whilst he knew that he was putting on weight, he just couldn’t seem to break the habit.

When examining his habit he established that the time of day was his ‘cue’, the trip to the cafeteria was his ‘routine’ and the cookie was his so called ‘reward’. However when he really looked at it further, it wasn’t the cookie that was his reward it was the opportunity to engage with his colleagues. When he realised this, he was able to create new practices or habits that gave him the same reward. In doing so, he also saved both time and money whilst also greatly increasing productivity.  In essence we need to identify habits that serve our purpose.

To eliminate or change those that are not we need to develop the ability to diagnose why we continue to do what we do. When we can effectively diagnose them, we can influence them. With this in mind, it is worth asking what patterns am I focusing on to shape my current and future career success?

What daily habits am I taking (or not taking) to support how I effectively deliver on my role, grow my capability and brand, and to develop my team and myself?

I would encourage you to think about some of the daily actions below that are widely regarded as the key habits of successful leaders and ask yourself how they could reward you and your career:

  1. Start your day early: Creating space for both ourselves and to think about the day ahead provides a buffer to its demands. It helps us position ourselves strategically, positively and with a sense of control about what we are doing.
  2. Commit to adding value: There is no way to get ahead without committing to add value. Everyone you engage with needs to see, hear and feel value in the interactions they have with you. When they do they will invariably talk about it and seek to replicate it with what they do.
  3. Read something related to your industry: To remain informed and in-demand, you need to know what’s being demanded. What are the current trends, practices and opportunities for your industry? With sources such as LinkedIn and online industry free publications that can be delivered straight to your inbox it is all too easy to source the information.
  4. Focus on your network: Daily actions taken to invest in the growth and relevance of your network will help future-proof your success.
  5. Learn how to ‘fold time’: Learning how to maximise ‘incidental time’ not only improves your productivity but also helps us create time. Time spent commuting can be converted to daily exercise routines, your personal development time or engaging with networks. Rather than having to find extra time, we can simply maximise the use of the time we already have.
  6. Acknowledge your wins and achievements: This does not mean shouting from the corner office or endless self-promotion. Recognising how and where your capabilities, knowledge and skillsets have added value will help you determine new and relevant opportunities.
  7. Reflect: All to often we race through our day ticking things off our to-do lists or filing things away with little consideration to how they add value or ways we could further enhance it. Taking a moment at the end of each day to reflect allows you align your daily tasks with the bigger picture and ensures that you remain focused on the immediate requirements at hand.

So maybe tomorrow before you open up your to-do list, tackle your inbox, or dive head first into your day, take a moment to consider how your daily patterns and habits are setting you and your team up for career success.

For me, I am going to try and adopt Diane von Furstenberg’s daily practice of sending an email that doesn’t (immediately or directly) benefit me at all.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen[vcex_divider style=”solid” icon_color=”#000000″ icon_size=”14px” margin_top=”20px” margin_bottom=”20px”][vc_single_image image=”853″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”]If 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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