Posts Tagged ‘resilience’

Building Career Resilience

March 23rd, 2020

“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it.”  – Sheryl Sandberg

Most of us have encountered significant moments in both our personal and professional lives that have stopped us in our tracks or, to put it bluntly, sent us into a complete tailspin.

I remember that sinking feeling very clearly. In 2007 I stepped off a plane travelling interstate with some 20 missed calls from my family, who delivered news that my sister had been hit by a car to get to the hospital immediately, as she was being wheeling into surgery.

I remember sitting on a Greek island (stay with me!) with a mate, with a year of travel already planned and booked in, when they decided at the three-month mark, to return to Australia. At the time, I had been talked into going overseas in the first place, and I was suddenly faced with nine-months of travelling alone (or forfeit everything I’d booked!).

I remember when two key clients – representing nearly 80% of my business –both called within 24 hours to say that they were cancelling their 12 month leadership programs as they were announcing M&A activity (interesting that they decided to pull the programs at a time when their leaders probably needed it most, but that’s a whole other story!).

I wouldn’t invite or wish these challenges upon anyone, but when I reflect on these moments, I am encouraged by the fact that not only did I ‘survive’ them (and so did my sister!); new opportunities and relationships came from them all. Ones that would possibly never have been considered or embarked upon without the jolt those moments of crisis invariably bring.

At the time of my sister’s accident, I had just returned from living overseas and we had both moved to Melbourne. It was the first time that we had lived in the same place since I was 11 years old, courtesy of boarding school and life moves. My sister’s subsequent year of recovery saw the foundations of a sister bond form that could survive an apocalypse.

With my mate flying back to Australia, I flew to London and found a whole new world and life open up. I stayed another seven years, travelled more than I could have ever imagined, changed careers and met people who are now not just life-long friends but who continue to impact and shape much of who I am and how I live my life.

Losing two key clients forced me to draw on my professional resilience and diversify my business that today has provided greater security, nimbleness and fulfilment.

It’s not only been my personal experiences that have seen opportunities arise in moments of what feels like overwhelming challenge.

History has shown us time and time again that new opportunities can be born out of a crisis. The key is being ready to respond – both personally and professionally.

In my world of career management and leadership, our abilities in moments of crisis to replace nervousness with confidence, confusion with clarity and a sense of powerlessness with control is a superpower – not just for ourselves but also our teams.

Whether we are looking at our own personal careers or how we lead our team through periods of uncertainty and vulnerability there a number of key questions we need to be able to ask ourselves, some of which include:


What can I / we do and how is that regarded?

What do I / we need to develop to meet current need?


Where is the most immediate demand for my / our expertise?

How easily am I / we found?


How do I / we demonstrate transferability of knowledge, skills and relationships quickly and easily?

What do I / we personally need to pivot with ease?

At this particular moment in time, we all have an incredible opportunity in these times to do and become something different… something better. It will require us to take a different course of action, be open to new ideas and ways of working and to step out into a world of uncertainty and no guarantees.

If you or your team require advice to explore or manage this, you may be interested in the first of a series of webinars I am hosting, commencing this Friday with “Building Career Resilience.” (Details below)

With many of us are feeling more vulnerable and anxious than ever before – especially when it comes to job security and career stability – anticipating risk, limiting fallout and developing our ‘bounce back’ ability is essential for career resilience.

In my world of career management and leadership, our abilities in moments of crisis to replace nervousness with confidence, confusion with clarity and a sense of powerlessness with control is a superpower – not just for ourselves but also our teams.

Join me for a free webinar where we will explore the key elements of managing your career during periods of high change and uncertainty.

Designed to help you identify your career priorities and what immediate action is required to pivot, transition and move forward, this highly practical webinar will provide you with the next steps and simple tips to immediately adopt for your career today.

Date: Friday 23 March, 2020
Time: 10:30am

Book your free ticket here, and you will receive a confirmation email with the dial-in details and Zoom link.

In the meantime, please stay safe and well, and know that we are most certainly stronger together.


A snapshot of some the ways that I can help you navigate this current environment:


  • Workforce contingency planning
  • Leadership change communications
  • Role Redefinition
  • Transition Strategies

Virtual Training and Workshops:

  • Leading and Connecting Remotely
  • Leading Through Change
  • Career Planning and Management
  • Building Influence and Impact


  • Preparing for Career Conversations
  • Leading and Connecting Remotely
  • Building Engagement, Influence and Impact
  • Maximising my Leadership / Career Opportunity

To learn more, contact me directly here.

The Value of Trust

January 22nd, 2019

“Position and authority will give you followers, but trust will make you a leader.” – Aubrey McGowan

No matter where we turn, trust seems to be on the decline. Barely a day goes by where we don’t hear of a broken promise, contract or principle. Trust, which is widely regarded as the glue to any relationship, appears to be at crisis levels for many individuals and organisations today. In fact, recent statistics suggest that only 47% of employees trust senior management and only 32% believe CEO’s to be a credible source of information, according to the Centre for Organisational Excellence.

This lack of trust represents a leadership crisis of monumental proportions. When we don’t believe those around us it not only sets in motion a tidal wave of negative attitudes and emotions, it actually significantly impacts our ways of thinking and behaving. So much so that it can easily become the biggest blocker to us achieving our goals.

On a more positive note, it provides you as a leader with a brilliant opportunity to stand out by building solid foundations of trust with your teams, your clients and your networks in a landscape that clearly seems to be both lacking in it and craving more of it.

Stephen Covey’s analogy of trust as a tax or a dividend is a highly powerful one: When there is a lack of trust in a relationship or organization, it is like a hidden tax that is placed on every transaction, piece of communication, decision and strategy, which brings speed down and sends costs up. By contrast, individuals and companies that operate with high levels of trust reap the benefits of a dividend that enables them to succeed by multiplying performance, productivity and capability.

Lack of trust therefore has the capacity to literally double the cost of doing business and triple the delivery timeframes; where as high trust has the capacity to not only significantly save time, money and angst but also deepen relationships, build greater collaboration, career fulfillment and success for all involved.

For leaders, trust is two fold. You need to be able to engender it and you need to be able to give it. Without both, true success cannot be achieved. The most successful leaders recognise this and focus on creating it as a core objective. They make it a priority to build confidence in their:

  1. Capability – to deliver and build a solid track record of results; and
  2. Character – by acting with authenticity, integrity and clear intent;

Employees, customers and clients are simply asking the question – Can I trust you to deliver what you set out to promise and in a way that is honest and ethical?

Successful leaders understand that to gain trust you must also give it. They recognise that there is always a risk when giving trust and don’t deny the past or ignore the possibility of future results. They weigh up the risks and benefits before giving it and when they do, they ensure that they have established the right environment and frameworks to support and manage successful outcomes. They know when to step in and when to step away – and most importantly how to do it.

So how do the most successful leaders build trust?

  1. Establish purpose and commitment: from individuals and between individuals
  2. Communicate honestly and transparently: by talking straight and keeping it real!
  3. Ensure actions match words: remove ambiguity and take the guess work out of situations
  4. Deliver results: that offer lasting and meaningful value
  5. Listen and observe: Not just to those that shout the loudest but to all members of a team
  6. Demonstrate consistency: If you do what you say and say what you do, people will trust you
  7. Remove the ‘landmines’: the hidden agendas, the vagueness and doubt
  8. Clarify expectations, purpose and commitment: contributions, behaviours and attitudes
  9. Value accountability: both for themselves and the team’s that they lead
  10. Remain engaged: with individuals, objectives, processes and outcomes
  11. Acknowledge and give credit where credit is due: both individually and publicly
  12. They not only earn trust, they extend it to others.

Trust is not just a nice-to-have. It is a critical component of personal, team and organizational performance. It is a clear enabler of success and one that underpins your leadership skill set and true capability.

The logic is pretty simple: if people trust you and that trust is reciprocated, they will give you their all.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Navigating The Six Zones Of Repatriation

September 19th, 2018

For those who have navigated the return journey of living and working overseas, you will know that sometimes it can feel just plain tough. Whilst the experience of returning ‘home’ is often not all bad, most of us are caught by surprise at just how many ‘little’ things can actually unnerve us or catch us unaware. The idea of navigating any form of lag time outside of jetlag just didn’t seem to occur to us and yet it is something that catches both individuals and the organisations that they work for by surprise.

As the demand for leaders with a global mindset continues to grow, the prospect of living and working abroad continues to remain a valuable opportunity for businesses and individuals alike. However all too often the benefits fail to fully materialise for both parties due to the difficulties experienced in navigating the return journey ‘home’.

For organisations these difficulties often result in the departure of key talent, which represents an enormous loss in ROI with knowledge, experience and relationships walking out the door. For individuals the lack of opportunity to reconnect purposefully on both a professional and personal front often translates to disengagement and frustration.

Positioning repatriation at the front of the global talent mobility cycle is critical if we are to ensure employees and their families return confidently. The Brookfield 2016 Global Mobility Trends Survey recently found that only 10% of organisations surveyed reported that the role of the global mobility function was aligned with the wider talent agenda and actively engaged in workforce planning and people effectiveness.

There is no doubt that this disconnection is hurting both businesses and individuals. As organisations recognise and actively work to build a pipeline of future leaders with global experience, how they support and integrate the personal and professional needs of an individual during the return phase will ultimately determine how strong their pipeline remains.

Successful expats grow not only their core business knowledge and skillset whilst away but also their personal perspectives. More often than not they return with different attitudes and views looking at the world through a different lens. Ultimately they return different people. To assume that they can and will simply ‘slot back in’ is dangerous and often costly.

Just as the physical journey home invariably requires individuals to cross often multiple time zones, so too does the repatriation journey. To reduce the lag time associated with these zones, organisations need to ensure that their repatriation planning pays attention to each area that individuals find themselves having to navigate.

The six zones of repatriation:

Physical: Regarded as the base line of support, most organisations are well equipped to manage this ‘zone’ effectively through partnerships with outsourced mobility partners and interim accommodation providers. Ensuring that this component is not just part of the initial assignment phase but also the homeward bound journey though is essential.

Financial: Given that most people don’t move in tandem with the financial or tax year, offering tailored financial guidance is critical to helping individuals and their families’ kick start their lives back ‘home’. Foreign bank accounts; managing off-shore investments; navigating compliance formalities and simply shifting finances home all require timely advice.

Business: With significant business changes – be it in structure or people – often occurring whilst the expat has been off shore, a ‘re-boarding’ process is strongly advised. These programs need to reflect any key market, political or relationship changes that may impact the way in which the employee may carry out their role.

Career: For repatriates the number one frustration with their return is the lack of meaningful opportunity to leverage recently acquired knowledge, skills and experience. Whilst robust career planning should occur prior to the assignment commencing so that realistic expectations are established, it is vital that career planning is made an integral part of the returning phase.

Social: It is not uncommon for individuals to experience and enjoy the connection of a tight knit expat community whilst off shore. For many, returning ‘home’ is an intensely isolating experience that can significantly impact the level of fulfillment and engagement in the workplace. Welcome home events, internal mentor programs and repatriate networks that include spouses and children are proven strategies to help support social reintegration.

Emotional: Whilst stress and anxiety are a well-known side effect of any move, it is often most underestimated on the journey ‘home’. When the so-called familiar no longer feels that way the emotional impact can be overwhelming. Understanding some of the key triggers and the subsequent support offerings should be a critical part of any employee well being program.

Have you returned home after living abroad, or are planning to in the near future? I invite you to comment and share your experiences below.

Why Generating Hope Matters

March 14th, 2016


“A leader is a dealer in hope”
Recently I was listening to a radio broadcast about the struggles many of our teachers and educators are currently facing. I was particularly interested in one head teacher’s story where she spoke about the challenges that she was navigating with her staff. As a newly appointed leader and working in what was regarded as an extremely impoverished and challenging school, the issues she was encountering bore a common thread: a distinct loss of hope that had permeated not only the children’s worlds but also that of their teachers.

As she noted, her challenge was to not only generate hope in her students but also in those who were responsible for their educational journey. She was acutely aware that if she didn’t start to make some significant changes in her staff’s attitudes and beliefs she would have very limited impact on the children in her school.

Unfortunately her story all too often reflects the challenges that many of our business leaders encounter today, particularly in the current climate where organisations face high levels of uncertainty and ever increasing demands to innovate and constantly do more with less. How do we generate hope in our business leaders and managers for the future? Failing to generate hope – or more bluntly abandoning hope – has dire consequences including at the very least a loss of morale, engagement and productivity.

Dr Lopez, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Business defines hope as the energy and ideas that drive people to change their circumstances. Hope therefore has the power to make bad times temporary. Without hope there is no belief, no direction, no goals, no motivation and no opportunity to create a better situation.  As Dr Lopez highlights, hope keeps us in the game. It keeps us interacting, focused and moving in a direction that makes sense for our own welfare, the welfare of others and the welfare of an organisation. His research suggests that employees with high levels of hope not only show up for work more but are 14% more productive. They are more creative at problem solving and more flexible, adaptable and resilient. They score higher in satisfaction, self-esteem and happiness.

Without hope we simply give up and ‘check out’ which is dangerous for us as leaders and the businesses we lead. It is important to note that hope is more than merely ‘wishing’ for a better situation. As leaders it requires us to inspire belief in others and to actively engage them in the future success of our organisations. In his book The Psychology of Hope: How You Can Get From Here To There, Rick Snyder suggests a practical framework that focuses on goal directed thinking and developing confidence and capacity to find pathways to achieve them. It is a discipline approach and one that can be learned. I would encourage you to consider some of the following strategies suggested to increase our abilities to be more hopeful:

  1. Set meaningful and realistic goals: To avoid generating ‘false hope’ we need to make sure that the goals we set hold real value and are clearly aligned / visible to the outcomes we are trying to achieve.
  2. Set goals that excite & energize: Understand that goals built on intrinsic drivers are far more rewarding rather than ones ‘imposed’. By tapping into the motivators and drivers of our people we are more likely to generate an energy and momentum to drive outcomes.
  3. Develop a ‘pathways thinking’ mindset: Understanding that there are several paths that can lead to success is important to prevent us becoming focused on the blockages that will invariably arise. Recognize if new learning is required or who else can help with moving forward. Learning how to pivot and identify alternative options is cortical to building hope.
  4. Surround yourself with hopeful people: Hope is just as contagious as negativity. Check who (and what) you are listening to including what we are watching and reading.
  5. Practice ‘nexting’: This term created by Lopez describes the practice of discussing the NEXT thing you are looking forward to. By surrounding ourselves with other hopeful people and sharing our stories and why we are excited about it and how we are going to do it or overcome the challenges we continue to make deposits into our hope bank account.
  6. Be careful of the stories you tell yourself: As with so many things we try to do, all too often we are own worst enemy. Watch your self-talk to make sure that it is positive and reflects a succeeding mindset.

Inspiring hope in others is critical for ALL leaders. Not only does it serve a fundamental business purpose it also significantly impacts us personally by supporting growth and success regardless of our situation today.

As leaders today consider how you are helping your people to believe:

  1. The future will be better than the present
  2. I have the power to make it happen
  3. There is more than one path to achieving my goal
  4. No path is free of obstacles

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to know more about building hope in your career and for your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Going Slow To Go Fast

March 8th, 2016


“Go fast enough to get there but slow enough to see”.

– Jimmy Buffet
Earlier this week I attended a workshop that saw a group of business leaders spending the afternoon playing with Lego. Whilst this may all sound like an incredible luxury of time or a rather whimsical activity to engage in, the ensuing conversations, depth of engagement and ideas borne were both insightful and high impact. The Lego Serious Play program is a very ‘serious’ tool used to help enhance innovation and business performance. It is also one that requires us to come to the table with an open mind; a willingness to play and explore possibility; and time – time to slow down and actively engage.

Interestingly at various points of the afternoon and in between the ‘play’ the facilitator made the comment that sometimes we just need to slow down to go faster. In a world that seems to be shouting at us to move faster, quicker and higher – all the time – this concept can sound almost counter intuitive. However if we are to build greater speed, agility and nimbleness in our own careers and businesses, is it possible we may just need to ask ourselves: Do we need to slow down to become faster?  Not stop, but slow down.

In their article ‘Need Speed? Slow Down’ Jocelyn Davis and Tom Atkinson conducted a study on high performing organisations and found that they thought differently about what ‘faster’ and ‘slower’ actually meant.  As they noted, many companies confused operational speed (moving quickly) with strategic speed (reducing the time it takes to deliver value). So much so that those who chose to ‘go, go, go’ were outperformed by those that ‘slowed down to speed up’ by 40% in sales and 52% in operating profits.

Higher performing companies with strategic speed made alignment their key priority. They became more open to ideas and discussion. They actively encouraged innovative thinking and they allowed time to reflect and learn. By contrast those that moved fast all the time and weren’t overly concerned by alignment saw performance suffer. They focused too much time on maximizing efficiency, stuck to tried and true methods and didn’t foster innovation or collaboration.

How often have we or our teams felt caught up in what feels like a snowstorm of ever increasing demands, change processes and scatter gun approaches that we don’t understand the purpose of? Not only do we feel like we are doing circle work but we lose clarity, momentum and belief in what we are doing – both in our own careers and in our business mandates. Learning to slow down with the intent of building clarity, agility and speed is critical if we are to successfully navigate today’s business landscape.

So how do we slow down to build speed? I would encourage you to consider how you could create a moment to consider the following 5 tips:

  1. Get clear on the ‘Why’: Getting clear on our why and aligning it to what we do needs to be more than an after thought. We can have the greatest strategic or career plan but if it is not truly aligned to why we want it we are most likely going to end up of course and in positions we don’t want to be in.
  2. Share it: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Taking time to meaningfully engage about what and why we do things, to share ideas, explore and to reflect and learn means we need to create a safe space for everyone to have a voice. It means creating time to communicate through a range of mediums and in an ongoing and purposeful manner.
  3. Prioritise time AND schedule it: To slow down we actively need to change our operating rhythm. It means we need to make it a priority and carve out time in our diaries in order to give it the space it needs.
  4. Reflect & evaluate: Creating time to reflect and evaluate is critical if we are to stay on course and build momentum. Doing this ‘on route’ and not just merely on final outcomes is what will help us operate with greater clarity, confidence and speed.
  5. Learn to pivot: Real nimbleness and agility often comes through our ability to pivot rather and not always in changing directions. All too often we become distracted by the ‘bright shiny stuff’ that sees us on different paths when the most effective thing to building speed is in the small adjustments and ways we problem solve on route.

To build strategic speed we need to invest in taking the time to get it right. Not perfect but right. Leaders and teams who build in time to slow down and avoid the temptation to dive in or operate at full bore are not only more successful in achieving greater speed but also in achieving their business and career objectives.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to know more about building strategic speed in your career or for your team, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

Reigniting Your Leadership Mojo

February 23rd, 2016


“Renew your inspiration to run.
Try a new route, find a fresh path and re-energise your reason to run.”

For many of us the last few years have been BIG: Big personally and professionally; big politically, big economically, and big organizationally. Not only has it been characterized by high levels of volatility and uncertainty but also by the rapid pace at which we have had to navigate the path and the ever growing need to do more with less…. A LOT more with a LOT less.

For some it has provided incredible opportunities and seen new levels of success attained, but for others the huge momentum of these times has simply created nothing more than an overwhelming feeling of motion sickness. Whilst it hasn’t been all negative or detrimental, it has seen many leaders left with nothing more than a feeling of scraping through on empty fuel tanks and a lack of energy and enthusiasm to continue moving forward.

All too often as way of keeping up with the pace and developments of these times many have found themselves switching to autopilot mode. Whilst this 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 leave us feeling disempowered and lacking control.

One of the key dangers of the business and leadership autopilot mode is assuming that the past will ensure the future. The reality is the knowledge and skills 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 we can’t do this without finding our leadership mojo.

So how do we blow out the cobwebs, switch out of autopilot mode and re-ignite our leadership mojo?

Greg Mckeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less looks at why highly successful capable people fail to breakthrough to the next level. His findings indicate that our success can all too often be the catalyst for failure. He suggests that in learning to apply more selective criteria to what we do and pursue we will regain control of our own choices, which in turn allows us to channel our time, energy and effort into making the highest possible contribution towards what really matters to us.

As way of helping you regain your career and leadership mojo I would encourage you to think about the 6 tips below and how you can best apply them:

  1. Disconnect to reconnect: In order to have focus we need to create space to focus. Taking time out to consider and evaluate what is truly important to us as leaders, the people who work for us and organizations is critical if we are to build both alignment, clarity and a sustainable forward momentum.
  2. Look up and out: All too often we are so busy with our task list we find ourselves always looking down and/or becoming buried in the detail. We miss the opportunities to observe, learn and be inspired by new thinking, new developments and new connections.
  3. Define what’s essential AND what is not: Understand what is absolutely essential and eliminate what is not. In doing so you will create time and space to invest in you, your people and your business.
  4. Set yourself a personal learning challenge: There is nothing like setting yourself a new challenge that opens up new understandings and new options. Achieving it also provides you with renewed energy, focus and momentum to move forward.
  5. Evaluate your network: Conduct an audit on your network: have you got the right people to support where you want to go or are you surrounded by people who are detracting you away from your path?
  6. Engage with purpose: All too often we engage in meetings, conversations and presentations as way of completing a task list rather than with open eyes, ears and minds. Learning to identify and engage in the right opportunities should be serving as an enabler that allows you to keep moving with energy, pace and determination.

No leader navigates their career and leadership pathway without conscious reflection and tweaking. To build and maintain your leadership mojo you need to invest in it. Invest in building it and protecting it. When you do, you will not only be rewarded with greater energy and enthusiasm but so too will your teams and the businesses that you lead.

Ask yourself: Is it time to flick the autopilot switch to off?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot Andersen

If you would like to know more about rebuilding your leadership mojo, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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