Posts Tagged ‘leadership success’

The Bounce Back Factor

February 19th, 2019

Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.’ – Lyndon B. Johnson

We’ve all experienced times where we feel we’ve blown it. It might be choosing the wrong hire or job, a failure to act, a slip of the tongue, an emotional outburst, or just a dumb decision when you think you should have known better. The reality is we all make mistakes, but they don’t have to signal irreversible damage or the end of our career. It is how we react and what we choose to do after that sickening moment we realise our error that determines just how big it turns out to be.

Understanding how we view these mistakes and failures is critical to if and how high we bounce back.  When societies, businesses and individuals choose to view failure as experience rather than losing they are setting themselves on a course that is rich in new learning, networks and opportunities. They provide themselves and others with the confidence, clarity and energy to move forward and not remain stuck where they are.

Still the memory of our mistakes can sting for a while and recovering from them is neither inconsequential nor unimportant. If it was we would continue to make them with little regard for the consequences they held in both our immediate and long-term futures.

The reality is over the course of our lives and careers we will make mistakes. If we don’t, we are either playing it way too safe or not playing at all. Our bosses, peers and team members will also make mistakes. Again, how we choose to react will play a part in how big they become. As Alexander Pope wrote nearly three centuries ago ‘To err is human, to forgive divine’. Whether it be forgiving ourselves or those around us, we need to ensure that we are focused on the future and not in the messiness of the mistake.

Developing an inner strength and resiliency to move forward is critical. Without it we further compromise our position and opportunity for future success for those associated with our actions and ourselves. Martin Seligman, an American Psychologist who is well regarded for his work on positive psychology and resilience found that people who recover from setbacks and failure often view it as a temporary, localised and changeable event. Conversely those who struggle to move beyond their mistakes and failure learn to accept their scenarios as something they have no control over and consequently develop a ‘learned helplessness’.

Resiliency brings security. In a world that is characterised by constant change and uncertainty our ability to feel comfortable and move with the changing times, recover from setbacks and navigate the unknown is a critical skill for both personal and professional success. Our lives and careers today require us to be nimble, responsive and adaptable in both the good and not so good times. Anticipating risk, limiting fallout and the ability to ‘bounce back’ are essential skills for today’s leaders. Without it we not only risk our own career but also the performance and abilities of our teams by failing to see the opportunities that lie in front of us.

So how do we learn to think and act constructively rather than react in an emotionally destructive manner following a period of failure?

  1. Own It: To move beyond our mistakes we firstly need to own them by admitting to ourselves that it is our error. Denying responsibility holds us back, creates defensiveness and tends to protract the pain and period of time needed to resolve the issue. It also helps us avoid the blame trap.
  2. Acknowledge It: Whilst our first reaction is to want to hide away there will no doubt be some people who will need to know and who are impacted by your mistakes. Acknowledging our mistakes with honesty, integrity and transparency is also a powerful leadership example to set for those around us.
  3. Manage Your Emotions: Don’t sit on them or in them! Supressing them or dwelling on them prohibits any positive forward thinking or movement. Not only does it hold you back, it also drags you back.
  4. Mitigate The Risk: Invariably there are three immediate courses of action to choose from: Undo, Redo or Make Do. Understanding what your options are will help you to focus on what the next best course of action is to take.
  5. Understand Why: To learn from our mistakes we need to understand how and why they have occurred. It will help us to spot the early signs of reoccurrence, what actions we can take to avoid it and if possible what can be done to eliminate it.
  6. Repair It: Where possible we need to take the necessary actions to repair the damage that has arisen from our mistakes – with projects, with brands and with relationships.
  7. Forgive Yourself: More often than not we are our own harshest critics as our failings leave us feeling overwhelmingly disappointed, vulnerable and ashamed. We need to remind ourselves that ‘we did wrong, not we are wrong’. Continuing to berate ourselves keeps us reliving the moment and stops us from moving forward and learning from our mistakes.
  8. Fail Forward: Learning how to acknowledge, recover and learn from them allows us to grow as individuals and leaders. It helps us build and maintain the skills and relevance required for all that we do in life and in our careers.

Jazz great Miles Davis once said ‘When you hit the wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad’. When we as individuals and leaders know how to play those next notes and manage our responses to mistakes and failure, we can in turn support the mistakes and failures of those we lead. When we do this we are building and empowering a strong, bright and resilient future for both ourselves and the teams and businesses we lead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Leveraging Your Career Story

September 12th, 2018

“People without leverage work for those with leverage” – Robert Kiyosaki

In talking with many professionals about their career, I often hear them reflecting and saying ‘I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time’. For many, this right time and right place afforded them rapid career progression, opened the door to key networks and positioned them for next steps in their career journey. Invariably they were exciting and challenging times that were rich in reward and stimulation. Confidence, clarity and choice seemed to abound.

What happens though when it’s time to consider your next career step and this ‘luck’ doesn’t seem to be quite so apparent? Or when you face the need to relocate as part of your role to a new part of the business or in a different location and you are required to effectively start anew? How do you take proactive action to leverage your career background, knowledge, skills and networks to support ongoing career success and fulfillment?

Too often these career scenarios can leave individuals feeling irrelevant, trapped and without choice or control. If we aren’t careful these feelings can all too easily lead to moments of apathy where because we don’t know what to do, we do nothing; or they can sabotage prospective opportunities because we fail to understand what they truly are. Learning how to not only identify the right opportunities but also translate what you have in your own toolkit to match the business or market requirements is critical.

As George Bradt notes in his Forbes article Creating Leverage When None Seems To Exist we all run into roadblocks however it is our ability to adapt, adjust and create leverage in times when there doesn’t appear to be any. The key word here is ‘create’ and not just merely identify. As he notes this comes down to attitude about roadblocks and the need to ask am I simply accepting them as the status quo or am I looking for ways around them?

Like many things, creating leverage in our career requires planning and time. One of the most dangerous things we can do is to not take consistent action whilst we are in a role and business that we enjoy. Leaving it until we want to embark upon change or worse still when it is forced upon sees us trying to create leverage in a time that is often highly emotive, stressful and time pressured.

As part of creating leverage in your own career, I would encourage you to take action with the following 6 factors in mind:

1. Identify what you stand for: Today we are increasingly being asked to know what it is that we stand for in our careers. It is essentially your over arching career mission – what do you hope to impact, who and how. Is it tied to an industry, a key challenge, leading through core business cycles; innovation, empowerment or other?

2. Define your core expertise: Clarity on exactly what your core strengths, knowledge and leadership styles are, is essential in identifying and attracting the next opportunity.

3. Understand how you are regarded: Knowing how others perceive and regard you and your expertise is essential if you are to know what you can leverage or conversely need to overcome.

4. Educate yourself on the market: In order to understand what is transferable you need to know how what the market /business wants and needs. Failing to do so limits your opportunities to tailor your story and create interest and demand in your background.

5. Hone your positioning: All too often people fail to succinctly articulate their knowledge, capabilities and ambitions are. It is essential to gain clarity on each of these areas if you are to engage in meaningful conversations and explorations of an opportunity.

6. Connect & reconnect: As noted by Adam Grant, Wharton Business leader and author of Give and Take 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. To support our success we need to understand who and how to connect and reconnect with if we are to gain an accurate insight into what opportunities exist and how we can align ourselves to them.

Creating leverage requires a whole lot more than ‘luck’. As the Roman philosopher Seneca notes ‘luck is the moment when preparation meets opportunity’. With this in mind the big question to ask yourself is what are you doing to prepare for that next meaningful opportunity?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Value Of Great Decision Making

June 13th, 2018

‘Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision’ – Peter Drucker

Great leaders make great decisions – both for themselves and the businesses they lead.

When the founder of Walmart – Sam Walton – was asked ‘How did you become so successful?’ he replied ‘I’ve made a lot of good decisions’. When asked how he learned to make good decisions, he replied ‘by making lots of bad ones’.

Learning to make good decisions takes practice. Just as we build up our strength and agility with a fitness regime we build our ability to recognise and make good decisions confidently through increased understanding and practice coupled with real clarity about what we want.

We all know that great decisions energize, enable and move us forward. They provide us not only with the fuel to go further but to do so with greater nimbleness, agility and purpose. They don’t always guarantee great outcomes but they do create opportunity and progress. Conversely we know that poor decisions inhibit, stifle and slow us down. They take simple things and make them complex, distract us, and limit our influence, capability and capacity.

In a recent talk, Marcia Blenko, head of Bain’s global organizational practice and co-author of the book Decide & Deliver highlighted 4 critical components to decision-making effectiveness: Quality, Speed, Yield and Effort. Whilst she was discussing these from an organizational perspective there is great applicability to how we build and manage our own leadership and career pathways. Take a moment to consider:

  • Quality: Have I made high quality, effective decisions that provided value
  • Speed: How timely am I in making decisions that provide my team and me personally with a competitive advantage
  • Yield: To what extent do I actually execute decisions as intended?
  • Effort: Have I applied the right amount of effort with not too much or too little angst, energy or cost?

To truly maximise performance and opportunity we need to ensure that we are operating with all four elements in our decision making process. Making poor quality but quick, well-executed decisions is not going to position us for success. However making high quality decisions in a slow, high cost manner is also going to ultimately limit our impact, success and future growth.

So how do we make our decisions count – for both the people we lead and ourselves as leaders? I would encourage you to consider the following 5 questions:

  • What do I want to achieve? Get clear about what you want both long term and short term. What do you personally want from your current role and career – all too often as leaders we spend 98% of our time designing and executing business and growth plans for others but not for ourselves.
  • Why? Understand why you want this and remember your ‘why’ is unique to you. Is it setting you up for what you really want or is it what you have been told you should do, could be good at or what is typically the next step? Aligning your purpose with what you do is critical to building long-term momentum and impact.
  • What do I need to focus on today? Is it about delivering on your current opportunity? Growing the capability and potential of your team? Or is it about investing in new learning or networks to educate you on your market, challenge thinking or heighten awareness of what is possible?
  • Who can help me get there? Identify and build your circle of influence. Conduct an audit on your network – have I got the right people to support me with where I want to go. Do I have a good mix between internal champions and external networks?
  • What are the critical milestones and timelines: All significant decisions need key measures and timelines to build momentum, energy and enthusiasm. It helps us not only stay the course but also test the decision itself and overcome roadblocks along the way.

Failing to make a decision is still a decision. AND it is one that is almost guaranteed to hurt us if not in the short term then most definitely in the long term. Why not take a moment to reflect on how your decisions have shaped your path today and what you need to prioritise for your future growth and success.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Decision Time

November 29th, 2017

‘Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision’

– Peter Drucker

Great leaders make great decisions – both for themselves and the businesses they lead.

When the founder of Walmart – Sam Walton – was asked ‘How did you become so successful?’ he replied ‘I’ve made a lot of good decisions’. When asked how he learned to make good decisions, he replied ‘by making lots of bad ones’.

Whilst this doesn’t sound all too encouraging, the reality is we will never make the right decision at the right time 100% of the time. The key is in understanding that learning to make good decisions takes practice. Just as we build up our strength and agility with a fitness regime we build our ability to recognise and make good decisions confidently through increased understanding and practice.

We all know that great decisions energize, enable and move us forward. They provide us not only with the fuel to go further but to do so with greater nimbleness, purpose and momentum.  They don’t always guarantee great outcomes but they do create opportunity and progress.  Conversely we know that poor decisions inhibit, stifle and slow us down. They take simple things and make them complex, distract us, and limit our influence, capability and capacity.

In a recent talk, Marcia Blenko, head of Bain’s global organizational practice and co-author of the book Decide & Deliver highlighted 4 critical components to decision-making effectiveness: Quality, Speed, Yield and Effort. Whilst she was discussing these from an organizational perspective there is great applicability to how we build and manage our own leadership and career pathways. Take a moment to consider:

Quality: Have I made high quality, effective decisions that provided value?

Speed: How timely am I in making decisions that provide my team and me personally with a competitive advantage?

Yield: To what extent do I actually execute decisions as intended?

Effort: Have I applied the right amount of effort with not too much or too little angst, energy or cost?

To truly maximise our performance and opportunity we need to ensure that we are operating with all four elements in our decision making process. Making poor quality but quick, well-executed decisions is not going to position us for success. However making high quality decisions in a slow, high cost manner is also going to ultimately limit our impact, success and future growth.

So how do we as individuals make these decisions count – for both the people we lead and ourselves as leaders?

As we enter a time of the year where many of us will be making some decisions about what we want from the year ahead I would encourage you to think about the following:

What do I want to achieve? Get clear about what you want both long term and short term. What do you personally want from your role and career – all too often as leaders we spend 98% of our time designing and executing business and growth plans for others but not for ourselves. Take the time to get clear about how you are using your talents, knowledge and skills to build your own career.  When you do, not only will you achieve more but also operate with a higher degree of energy and fulfillment.

Why? Understand why you want this and remember your ‘why’ is unique to you. Is it setting you up for what you really want or is it what you have been told you should do, could be good at or what is typically the next step? Aligning your purpose with what you do is critical to building long-term momentum and impact.

Define the key actions: What decisions can I make today to help me move closer towards my goal or to clear the path so that it isn’t so difficult to move down in the future? Is it about delivering on the current opportunity; growing the capability and potential of your team; or investing in new learning or networks to educate you on your market, challenge thinking or heighten awareness of what is possible?

Who can help me get there? Identify and build your circle of influence. Conduct an audit on your network – have I got the right people to support me with where I want to go. Do I have a good mix between internal champions and external networks? Identify who you should be engaging with and what the mutual exchange of value would be and then make it a priority to engage.

Identify the critical milestones and timelines: All significant decisions need key measures and timelines to build momentum, energy and enthusiasm. It helps us not only stay the course but test the decision itself and overcome roadblocks along the way. Find an accountability partner who you can share your goals and ambitions with to further support your aspirations.

Failing to make a decision is still a decision. AND it is one that is almost guaranteed to hurt us if not in the short term then most definitely in the long term. Why not use this time of the year to stop and reflect on how your decisions have effected where you are today and what you can stop, start and continue to do in 2018 to grow your personal and leadership success.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot

 

Keeping It Real: Why Authenticity Is The Key

February 21st, 2017

Given that we spend up to 70% of our waking time engaged in work related activities – week after week and year after year – it makes sense that we strive to seek out environments that allow us to show up and put our best foot forward. By that I mean really show up … as ’us’ and in our true colours.

Ask anyone about their experience in a great workplace, they will invariably describe an environment where leaders and colleagues had a knack for ‘keeping it real’. They refer to and describe real conversations and real connection and as a result talk about being trusted to just get on with things and deliver in a way that allowed them to apply the very best of their knowledge and skills.

If you were to ask managers and leaders about what great work environments look like, they will talk about times where they and their teams were delivering to key objectives and achieving success; their team members worked strongly together and where each individual gave it their all.

This doesn’t for one minute imply that everything is or was always rosy or that they had the perfect systems and processes; or the most ideal customers or clients. Invariably many of these things are not obvious or in place. What it does imply though is that people were allowed to be themselves, navigate the landscape in a way that allowed them to apply new approaches, solutions and strategies; fail if necessary and get up dust themselves off and go again; contribute from their place of strength; work collaboratively and enjoy success. It allowed them to quite simply be themselves.

We have all been caught in cycles where we are simply going through the motions. Occasions such as where we attend training simply because we should; attend sales meetings or networking events where conversations are held but no connection is formed; undertaken performance reviews that never address future career growth or opportunities and really are nothing more than a tick and flick exercise to satisfy a compliance measure. In many of these scenarios we show up in body but not spirit. And for that, businesses and individuals are all poorer for it.

So what is it about some workplaces that allow or in fact demand the ‘real you’ to show up, engage and operate? Allow your team to really banter, disagree, strategize, fail and succeed?

In a word it is Freedom: Freedom to think; freedom to do and freedom to speak.

Whilst it is important to note that with freedom comes responsibility, it is also worth noting that 99% of people when they see it in genuine action would rather rise to the standard than fall underneath it.

For many employees though, finding themselves in environments where this trust is genuinely given is new territory. This is largely due to the way our workplaces have evolved. Whilst pursuing greater productivity, efficiency and compliance we have faced the movement of standardization. We have sought to remove any variations in processes and behaviours and in doing so have lost the value that individual contribution can bring.

As a result, many people now don a work persona and a life persona and never the twain shall meet. Asking people to suddenly show up as themselves requires vulnerability, trust and courage. It also requires respect, encouragement and patience.  It may also mean that when these honest, transparent and bold conversations are had, there will be a period of discovery for many individuals and businesses where it will become apparent that there is a misalignment between employee and employer. Most individuals and organisations will however recognise the importance of coming to this realization in an open manner where transitions – be it internal or external – can be managed with dignity and respect.

To build authenticity in the workplace we need to build awareness of the value it brings and capability for individuals to own it. Below are 7 tips that you may wish to consider in creating authentic environments:

  • Align Values: To embrace individual contribution and styles we need to be anchored in our values. Failing to ‘get the fit right’ is costly on all levels and for all involved.
  • Be the role model: Live it, walk it, breathe it – seek feedback; tell the truth; share knowledge and skills. In doing so, you will provide the platform and expectation for others to follow.
  • Protect the space: Guard honesty and transparency with your life – encourage freedom to think, do and speak
  • Embrace difference: Difference in styles, outlooks, and skills and create opportunities to showcase their need and value.
  • Throw away the cookie cutter: In the words of Tony Robbins ‘If you continue to do what you have always done, you will continue to get what you have always had’. For growth, innovation and competitive advantage to occur we need to continually seek out new ways of doing things whilst remaining relevant to our cause.
  • Don’t indulge or promote the game players: When we continue to give airtime to the, the ‘game-players’ and ‘self-players’ we chip away at the good work done by the greater team and devalue authenticity.
  • Get ready to learn: According to the saying it is pretty hard to ‘teach an old dog new tricks’ but what happens when the old tricks no longer apply? Learning how to manage and lead in a period of rapid change and innovation requires new thinking, conversations and approaches.

When we create truly authentic environments we all reap the rewards. Businesses and individuals achieve greater success, higher levels of collaboration and invariably discover new opportunities that continue the cycle of engagement, purpose and growth.

Each of us deserves to work in environments where individual style, strengths and skills are valued, sort after and encouraged. Where when ‘the rubber hits the road’, the environment demands that we step up and play our roles authentically and values and rewards us for doing so.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Margot


If you would like to discuss ways to identify and harness your potential, please call Margot on 0400 336 318.

The Trap Of Copycat Leadership

December 1st, 2015

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‘Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You’ 

– Dr Seuss
In a recent prank filmed for the BBC, the singer Adele donned a disguise and pretended to impersonate herself in front of a group of other Adele impersonators. As ‘Jenny’ she wore a prosthetic nose and chin, gloves to cover up her distinctive tattoos, applied some make up magic and changed the way she spoke.

She then spent time pre audition interacting with the other impersonators where no one suspected who she really was. Until that is, it was her moment to sing. As one of the impersonators later commented: “As soon as she opened her mouth you could just tell…. You can’t mimic like that”. Her unique voice, range and style simply shone through. There was no mistaking that it was the ‘real’ Adele on stage despite the lengths she had gone to to hide her outward appearance. Whilst the other impersonators clearly all had talent they didn’t come close to owning the stage in the same way Adele did.

Recently I have been working with a number of newly appointed leaders, all who have a long list of signature achievements behind them and who are keen to make their mark in their new role. Interestingly many of them are spending considerable time looking at other people within their business or network to model their style, behaviour and approach on. Whilst there is certainly nothing wrong with recognising the great style and achievements in others, we do need to exercise some caution to not simply become a mimic or copycat. For when we do, we somehow seem to lack the soul, conviction and substance to lead effectively.

Effective leadership requires more than simply tracing the steps of those role models we regard as successful. If you were to think about the great leaders you have worked for in the past invariably they were leading businesses to new levels of growth, breaking into new markets or holding market share during times when everyone else was going backwards. They were bringing people and talents together to reach new levels of performance and they weren’t doing this by simply copying what everyone else around them was doing.

In their highly successful book ‘The Leadership Challenge’ Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner very aptly note: ‘ If you can’t find your own voice, you’ll end up with a vocabulary that belongs to someone else, mouthing words that were written by some speechwriter or mimicking the language of some other leader who’s nothing like you at all.

If the words you speak are not your words but someone else’s, you will not in the long term be able to be consistent in word and deed. You will not have the integrity to lead.’

Copycat behaviour is ultimately both self limiting and unsustainable. Whilst we can definitely learn from those around us, we ultimately need to make it relevant to our own teams and business agendas. Failing to find our own voice and style risks us as being kept small and perceived as disingenuous or lacking in confidence and/or capability to do what we were appointed to do.

Truly successful leaders have achieved their success by distilling their own core values, experiences and learnings and matching it with environments that embrace these attributes. Combined with a very strong and clear understanding about what it is they need to do and deliver to be successful they have learnt to master the art of really ‘showing up’ with authenticity and purpose.

I would encourage you to also think about the following 6 behaviours that highly successful leaders use to ensure they are leading from their own sense of strength and purpose:

  1. Align Your Values With Your Organisation’s: Aligning your values with those of the business and the people you work with and for is what will allow your own strengths and style to be at the forefront.
  2. Embrace Vulnerability: To confidently embrace our own leadership style – to really show up and be seen – requires vulnerability. It means leaving your ego at the door, being comfortable with not having all the answers and being ready to embrace different opinions, perspectives and ways of doing things when there are no guarantees.
  3. Hire Complimentary Skillsets: Our strength lies in our differences and not in our similarities. One of the greatest mistakes leaders make is employing like for like when what we really need is diversity of styles, skills, knowledge and insights.
  4. Avoid The Comparison Game: Comparison is the thief of joy. Not only is it damaging to your self-confidence but all too often what you are comparing yourself against is does nothing to support you discover your own style.
  5. Be Curious: Ask questions and lots of them. Seeking to broaden your understanding and knowledge of people and your market will open up new opportunities and insights and move you out of the status quo mindset.
  6. Throw Away The Cookie Cutter: For growth, innovation and competitive advantage to occur we need to invest in discovering our own strengths as individuals and continually seek out new ways of doing things whilst remaining relevant to our cause.

Learning how to own your ‘own stage’ and discover what your unmistakable style is that sets you apart is in many ways a journey of discovery. As long as we continue to operate in a business climate of volatility, uncertainty, change and uncertainty the need for unique leadership will not cease.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

PS: For those of you who are interested in checking out Adele’s unmistakable style you can click here

If you would like to explore ways to build confidence and clarity in your own leadership style please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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