Is This The End? By Dr. Dawn Graham

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Fewer of us are staying at our jobs for decades like our parents. People are less likely to tolerate toxic work cultures, no advancement, poor leadership, and want more out of life than just work. Are you ready for a change? Pick up Dr. Dawn Graham's book Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers - and Seize Success. Here is some advice or perhaps the kick in the behind that you may have been needing to make changes in your own career. 

While it’s not unusual to have bad days at work (and some that even lead to dreams of quitting and retiring to a sunny island), deciding to actually resign is a big deal. How can you tell if you’re just going through a tough phase in your job or if it’s time to explore new opportunities? Consider these:

1.    Identify the root of the problem: Is the boss hindering your professional growth or maybe the culture isn’t a great match? Is your work environment toxic or maybe your daily commute or travel schedule is slowly killing you? Some things can be changed. Other problems will follow you. Either way, when you can pinpoint the major hurdle, you’ll be more equipped to overcome it.

2.    Craft an experiment: If the company is interested in retaining you and the root of your problem is boredom, they may be open to you taking on special projects or transitioning to a different department to learn a new function. Think about your longer-term career goals and identify skill gaps you’d like to close. Even if you plan to leave the company down the road, you can use your remaining time wisely by building up your resume and relationships.

3.    Know where you’re going:  You’ll always be more successful when you run TOWARD an exciting opportunity versus running AWAY from a bad situation. Once you identify the problem (see #1), next map out what your ideal situation looks like so that you can aim for that target. Even the least skilled interviewers can recognize the difference between motivation and desperation, so clarify your goal and communicate why you’re excited about it.

4.    Evaluate the landscape: If it’s been a while since you’ve changed roles, the market and skill sets may have shifted. Take time to understand your current value in the industry you’re targeting and be able to relay how the problems you solve contribute positively to a company’s bottom line. Reconnect with your network and get feedback on your candidacy. Also, get up to speed on the latest hiring trends. You don’t want to be blindsided by a request for a one-way video interview or miss a job opening because you’re not on social media.

5.    Look before you leap:  Unemployment bias is real, therefore, it’s easier to land a new role while still employed since you’ll seem more attractive as a candidate. Sometimes a workplace is so toxic that it’s not possible to stay a moment longer, but if that’s not the case, continue to deliver your best work while engaging in a stealth job search after hours.

6.    Get creative: If you’re not able to change jobs now or the job search is taking longer than anticipated, keep your energy and motivation high by finding career fulfillment in other ways. Join a nonprofit board, take on a mentee, or enroll in continuing education courses. A positive attitude will be your best friend in an interview, so avoid feeling “stuck” by taking action. Bonus: These actions are great for networking, which may ultimately lead to your next opportunity!

7.    Don’t look back. Trust your gut to tell you when it’s time to move on. Most jobs have difficult periods, but if you constantly feel stressed, are getting physically ill (e.g., headaches, etc.), or if your relationships are suffering, it’s time to go.

Happy hunting!

Dr. Dawn Graham, PhD is one of the nation's leading career coaches. She is the Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio's popular weekly call-in show Career Talk and is a regular contributor to Forbes.

Her latest book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers - and Seize Success is written specifically for people thinking about changing career paths. Packed with psychological insights, practical exercises, and inspiring success stories, Switchers helps these individuals leap over obstacles and into a whole new field.


 

Where Has Professionalism Gone?

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Some friends and I chatted over dinner about a month ago and concluded that either we are getting old or the world is upside down. I prefer the latter view. After college graduation, I jumped into the world of banking. Back then we all wore suits, wearing pants was a crime if you were female, and pantyhose with no toes showing were the norm. Times have changed, and I admit that I enjoy seeing casual bankers not all suited up for battle.

Back then the internet was in its infancy and guess what? We completed our work and surpassed goals without it. We communicated just fine, and the world didn’t crash around us. At dinner we were nostalgic about the old days and wondered where has professionalism gone?

•    The internet has turned us into slaves. Most of us are tethered to our electronic devices and obsessed with checking them – myself included. Managers, co-workers, and customers contact us at all hours and expect a response. Despite calls for a “work-life balance” it seems to be getting worse. Some countries are recognizing the toll that this takes on employees and have implemented laws against contacting employees during specific times.

•    Texting has made our lives easier and can be efficient. Don’t assume that everyone wants to communicate via text. It can be cold and often your message comes across as terse or demanding. Please, don’t text after business hours.

•    We use receiving “too many emails” as an excuse to not respond within 24 hours. The message that teams and customers receive is that they aren’t valued enough for a response. Also, is it really necessary to copy half the company in emails? It blocks effective communication and inhibits action. Moreover, some people feel like they are being “tattled” on.

•    Dress professional. The workplace is not the beach so leave the tanks tops and flip flops at home. No matter what industry you work in or your role, show respect and dress professional. It shows customers respect and you are the face of your company.

•    We have so little time for face to face communication. When you are in meetings, keep the phone away and the laptop shut. A few years ago, I worked for a company where everyone brought a laptop to meetings. People were so busy taking notes or shopping online that they didn’t pay attention.

•    Be respectful of others space and time. Some days I miss closed offices. Recent research shows that open office plans inhibit productivity, people are interrupted too often, none of us want to be rude and tell people to leave us alone. It just plain stresses us out.

•    Technology has enabled us to reach our customers where they are and at any time of the day. Unfortunately, we often assume that clients want to be contacted solely online or by email. What happened to writing customers personal cards of thanks, letters inviting them to meet with us, or personal phone calls to engage?

•    Be spontaneous with your teams or customers. Get out of your office and communicate face to face. Bring them coffee or a company token of thanks. See their offices and find out their pain points. Be unique and do what your competitors aren’t.

•    Treat everyone that you meet as if you are meeting with your grandparents. Be respectful, embrace their opinions, remain professional, keep the technology off, and treat them like they are the most important person in the world.

It’s time to bring professionalism back. As leaders, we may need to mentor our young team members on what professionalism is, the message that it sends to others, and how to be a professional. I would love to hear what your biggest pet peeve regarding professionalism is!

 

 

 

Differentiation Increases Complexity By Sunnie Giles

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I'm honored to share a guest post from Sunnie Giles author of the new book The New Science of Radical Innovation - The Six Competencies Leaders Need to Win in a Complex World. Her insights and big-picture thinking focusing on the complexity around us is fascinating. 

According to complex systems theory, differentiation increases positive (internal) complexity. By allowing more variation, each differentiated agent in a system can make different connections with other agents and systems, which adds more variety and strength to the quality of connection. This additional connection increases the probability of natural selection and evolution because the organism’s variations (i.e., mutations) facilitate better adaptation to the environment. Complexity increases when differentiated parts are connected. This increased internal complexity, in turn, enables an organism to respond even more effectively to unexpected challenges from the environment and increases its chances of survival.

My church choir provides a simple example of how differentiation increases complexity. When we learn a new song, the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices practice their parts by themselves. When each part is sung in unison, the resulting music doesn’t sound very rich or complex. When the four parts are finally combined, they produce a rich tapestry of beautiful, complex music.

Let’s take another example. Fruit flies and humans share 60 percent of their DNA—a surprisingly high number. One would be right to question how the remaining 40 percent could account for the much higher complexity of humans. The key is in the number of interactions in many-to-many networks among the genes. Humans have about twenty-five thousand unique genes; fruit flies, about fourteen thousand. The number of protein interactions among the genes in humans is about 650,000—ten times as many as that of fruit flies. Each additional differentiated gene produces exponential growth in the number of genetic interactions. The network effect, which we discussed in chapter 2, resulting from the interaction among genes explains how a small difference in the number of genes can create an enormous difference in the complexity level between humans and fruit flies. The same pattern of exponential growth we see in the relationship between the number of genes and the gene interactions.

The highest level of internal complexity can be achieved by developing optimal differentiation, connecting the differentiated parts, and replicating that connection on multiple levels. If you have just undifferentiated parts, there is nothing to integrate, which results in suboptimal complexity. Once the foundation of safety is in place, Quantum Leaders facilitate differentiation in each of their team members, as well as the whole team as a unit, maximizing each member’s unique talents, skills, and perspectives.

Differentiation is so important to the optimal functioning of the human race that a differentiation mechanism is inherently built into the human development phase—it’s called pruning, and it takes place in the teenage brain. At birth, neuronal synapses in a child’s brain are more numerous than in an adult’s. Synapses multiply rapidly during childhood, soaking up knowledge like a sponge. This is why it’s much easier for children to learn foreign languages, musical instruments, and sports. As a child matures into a teenager, the brain prunes away underutilized synapses, so the synapses used most often can work more efficiently. The long body of the retained neurons get myelinated in a myelin sheath, which accelerates the conduction speed of the ions between neurons a hundredfold. This increased speed is made possible through the process of saltatory conduction, in which ions jump between nodes instead of steadily traveling along the axonal length of the neuron. In addition, myelination accelerates the resting period between neuronal firings—the refractory period—thirtyfold. The combination of these functions makes pruned synapses three thousand times more efficient than unpruned ones.

The pruning process produces unique patterns of neuronal synapses manifested into unique strengths and talents. This evolutionary mechanism highlights the importance of differentiating individuation before integrating with another differentiated person (e.g., a spouse or a team). Once parts are fully differentiated, connecting differentiated parts and replicating these connections to the next level (in this case, raising the next generation of children or leaders) increases internal complexity. All complex systems strive to increase internal complexity by nature because higher complexity means better chances of natural selection.

About Dr. Sunnie Giles:

Dr. Sunnie Giles is a new generation expert who catalyzes organizations to produce radical innovation by harnessing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA).

Her research reveals that applying concepts from neuroscience, complex systems approach, and quantum mechanics can produce radical innovation consistently. Her expertise is based on years as an executive with Accenture, IBM and Samsung. Her profound, science-backed insight is encapsulated in her leadership development program, Quantum Leadership.

An advisor to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, she also is a sought-after speaker and expert source, having been quoted in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, and Inc.

Dr. Giles’ latest book, The New Science of Radical Innovation, provides a clear process for radical innovation that produces 10x improvements and has been endorsed prominent industry leaders such as Jonathan Rosenberg, Daniel Pink, Marshall Goldsmith and Sean Covey.

 

Guest Post from Otto Scharmer's new book The Essentials of Theory U

Here is a guest post from Otto Scharmer's new book The Essentials of Theory U. This book should be at the top of your reading list and this post will give you a taste of the great nuggest in his book.

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Principles

By Otto Scharmer

The method of the U is summarized in 24 principles that are presented in five groups along the moments of the U from co-initiating to co-shaping. I will number them throughout the movements to indicate that the 24 principles work as a whole. Here are the first five:

1.    Listen to What Life Calls You to Do

The essence of the U process is to strengthen our ability to be present and consciously co-create. Just as Ed Schein’s approach to process consultation (PC) starts with the principles “Always try to be helpful” and “Always deal with reality,” the U process of presencing starts with the primacy of attention and intention: “Listen to what life calls you to do.” Or, in the words of Martin Buber: “[She] listens to what is emerging from [herself], to the course of being in the world; not in order to be supported by it, but in order to bring it to reality as it desires.” The U method is firmly grounded in process consultation as one of its principal parent disciplines.

2.    Listen and Dialogue with Interesting Players on the Edges

The second domain of listening takes you out of your familiar world and to the edges and corners of the system. Connect and talk to interesting players in the larger eco-system of your relationships. Talk to both the visible core players and the less visible ones— including people from marginalized and underserved communities that do not have a voice in the current system. As you proceed on your mini-journey, let yourself be guided by the field. Focus on emerging opportunities. The most important helpers, partners, and guides often turn out to be different from what you expect; therefore your inner work is to stay open to suggestions.

3.    Clarify Intention and Core Questions

Do not rush the first step of clarifying the intention and core questions that guide the inquiry. When working with designers from the consulting company IDEO, I have been impressed by how much time they spend up front, before beginning a project. “The quality of the creative design process,” one IDEO leader explained, “is a function of the quality of the problem statement that defines your starting point.”

4.    Convene a Diverse Core Group around a Shared Intention

Convene a constellation of players that need one another to take action and to move forward. The opposite of co-initiation is marketing—getting people to “buy in” to your idea. That almost never works because it is just your idea. So part of the art of convening these players is to loosen your own grip on the idea— without necessarily giving it up. You lead by painting a picture that is intentionally incomplete; you make a few strokes and you leave lots of blank space so that others can make a contribution. In this way you shift the power dynamics from individual to shared ownership, and from ownership to belonging, to seeing your part in a larger social field. The quality of the impact of your initiative depends on the quality of the shared intention by the core team.

5.    Build the Container

And the quality of that shared intention largely depends on the quality of the container, the holding space that shapes and cultivates the web of relationships. The most important leverage point for building a high-impact container is right at the beginning, when you set the tone, when you evoke and activate the field. Container building includes outer and inner conditions, the most important of which is collective listening to the different voices and to the whole

 More about Otto Scharmer
Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program for cross-sector innovation that helps leaders from business, government, and civil society to innovate at the level of the whole system. He is the author of Theory U (translated into 20 languages) and co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future, which outlines eight acupuncture points of transforming capitalism. His latest book, The Essentials of Theory U: Core Principles and Applicationsilluminates the blind spot in leadership today and offers hands-on methods to help change makers overcome it through the process, principles, and practices of Theory U.

In 2015, he co-founded the MITx u.lab, a massive open online course for leading profound change that has since activated a global eco-system of societal and personal renewal involving more than 100,000 users from 185 countries. With his colleagues, he has delivered award-winning leadership development programs for corporate clients and co-facilitated innovation labs on reinventing education, health, business, government, and well-being.

 

 

Guest Post from Ken Blanchard

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Servant leadership has been around for decades, however, for many it is just becoming mainstream. It's leadership that focuses serving people not standing on a pedestal asking to be served. I'm please to host a guest post from Ken Blanchard who just happens to know a thing or two about leadership! Enjoy.

Servant Leadership: A Model for Leading in Today’s World

By Ken Blanchard

When I first began to teach managers back in the late 1960s, I met Bob Greenleaf, who was just retiring as a top AT&T executive. Bob talked about servant leadership—the concept that effective leaders and managers need to serve their people, not be served by them. It was entirely new thinking then, and in many ways Bob is considered the father of that term.

Today, it is much easier for people to see the importance and relevance of servant leadership. There seems to be general agreement that leaders have two basic roles in business: one of vision and the other of implementation.

In the visionary role, leaders are the definer of direction. They must communicate the mission, values and beliefs the organization aspires to for its people. They need to communicate what the organization stands for and how organizational values encompass the individual values of its members.

I once asked Max Dupree, who wrote a fabulous book entitled Leadership Is an Art, what he felt was the most important role of a leader. He compared the role to that of a third-grade teacher who keeps repeating the basics. "When it comes to vision and values, you have to say it over and over and over again until people get it right, right, right!"

Once people are clear on where they are going, an effective leader’s role switches to the task of implementation. How do you make the dream happen? This is where servant leadership comes into play. The traditional way of managing people is to direct, control and supervise their activities and to play the role of judge, critic and evaluator of their efforts. In a traditional organization, managers are thought of as responsible and their people are taught to be responsive to their boss.

We’re finding that kind of leadership isn’t as effective as it once was. Today when people see you as a judge and critic, they spend most of their time trying to please you rather than to accomplish the organization’s goals and move in the direction of the desired vision. "Boss watching" becomes a popular sport and people get promoted on their upward influencing skills. That role doesn’t do much for accomplishing a clear vision. All people try to do is protect themselves rather than to help move the organization in its desired direction.

The servant leader is constantly trying to find out what his or her people need to be successful. Rather than wanting them to please him or her, they are interested in making a difference in the lives of their people and, in the process, impacting the organization.

More about Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard is a best-selling business author with over 21 million books sold. His newest book, Servant Leadership in Action, is being released on March 6. Ken is also hosting a free Servant Leadership in Action Livecast on February 28 featuring more than 20 authors, CEOs, and thought leaders speaking on the topic.  Learn more here!

 

Knowing the Self Who Leads by Shelly L. Franci

Have you ever found yourself wondering where inner wisdom and courage come from? Have you been in a situation where your real leadership blooms because you know what you value and believe in?

Shelly L. Franci's new book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity offers soul searching and a path you can take to find your authentic self and bring out your true gifts to impact others. Here is an excerpt from Shelly's new book.

The underlying premise of the Courage Way is that we all have a trustworthy source of inner wisdom that informs our lives and leadership. It is our identity and integrity, the sum of our shadows and light, our true self. Without knowing our true self, we cannot be an authentic leader.

Just as Ed came to recognize, leaders must find clarity about what they value, what unique gifts they have to offer, what contribution they wish to make. Strength and resilience as a leader come from knowing the ground on which you stand, the convictions you will act on with courage. But that’s not all. Resilience comes from being aware of and accepting your limits and what problems your shadows are causing. That is wholeness—and that comes from knowing your true self.

Otto Scharmer, author of Theory U, acknowledges this inner life: “We observe what leaders do. We can observe how they do it, what strategies and processes they deploy. But we can’t see the inner place, the source from which people act when, for example, they operate at the highest possible level, or alternatively, when they act without engagement or commitment.”

This inner place Scharmer speaks of is more than intellect, ego, emotions, and will. In the inner work of leadership, it is a light behind the eyes, the energy that animates us, or, as Howard Thurman puts it, “the sound of the genuine in you.” Instead of true self or soul, you could say inner wisdom, essential self, or even trusting your gut. Poets, musicians, and mystics have given words to the essence of who we are—our human spirits—when we take off the trappings of our resumes. John O’Donohue calls it the dignity somewhere in us “that is more gracious than the smallness / that fuels us with fear and force.”  William Stafford appeals to “a voice, to something shadowy / a remote important region in all who talk.”

Although Parker Palmer often refers to his inner teacher, he often says that what you call this core of our humanity doesn’t matter, “but that we name it matters a great deal. It’s important to recognize it: If we don’t name it anything, we start to lose the being in human being. We start to treat each other like empty vessels or objects to be marketed. When we say ‘soul,’ or ‘identity and integrity,’ there is something to make a deep bow to. There is a word for it in every wisdom tradition.”

Beyond being the sum of your life experiences, the true self is a mystery that simply is. How do you get to that underlying mystery of knowing people deep down? Intimacy is not necessarily the goal of every relationship in community, especially in the workplace. But respecting that each person has an essential core self, an undeniable dignity and humanity—now that is worthwhile.

But seldom, if ever, do we ask the “who” question. Who is the self that engages in leadership? How does this self impact the practice of leadership, for good and for bad? How is the self continually honored and renewed as we lead?

—Parker J. Palmer

About Shelly L. Francis

Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.

The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work. Her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life.

 

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Women Need to Break a Few of Their Usual Rules - Jill Flynn

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Women continue to drop out of the workforce in large numbers because of the barriers that we face. Unfortunately, we don't help ourselves any because we are often our own worst enemy. We need to collectively take back control of our careers and use our strengths to become the influential leaders that we really are deep inside. Here is a guest post from Jill Flynn one of the authors of the new book The Influence Effect. 

There is almost nothing more crucial to success in any organization than developing excellent leaders. It is a no-brainer. But, although there’s no shortage of ambitious people with executive aspirations, what threatens the strength of your leadership pipeline may be a scarcity of senior-level women.

You may have seen the stats: Women are entering the global labor force in greater numbers than ever before; they earn more undergraduate and graduate degrees than men in many countries; yet, just 13 of 500 CEOs running Fortune 500 Global companies are women. In addition, the gender wage gap across the world remains significant. Some of this can be attributed to the type of age-old gender stereotypes and traditions that take generations to eliminate. But there are other culprits to consider—ones that are within our control to address right now that will significantly strengthen women’s chances of rising to the top of organizations.

Over the past decade, my colleagues and I have coached and trained over 7,000 professional women, traveled across the globe and to Africa to speak with women, and interviewed over 3,200 senior executives to find out how they believe women can be more successful. What we’ve found is that for women in middle management, and particularly those approaching the top, continued career momentum is not about adding technical skills. Many women are taught as children to behave in certain ways that don’t help them succeed as executives. What women need to do in order to succeed at higher levels in global business is to think differently.

The New Rules

In essence, we’ve found that women need to rethink the conversations they are having in their heads and tell themselves a new story. They need to challenge some of their outdated expectations and attitudes about themselves and the workplace. These are the rules women need to break:

1. Take Center Stage (Instead of focusing on others):  Many of the smartest women around the conference table focus too much of their attention on other people’s needs. They are assisting others, pitching-in and volunteering to pick-up other people’s slack. This leaves precious little time and energy to allow themselves to thrive professionally and personally. The instinct to put others first can work against women by keeping them from focusing on their own career goals.  The result is that too many women let their careers “happen to them” rather than putting themselves in the driver’s seat. We tell women to invest in themselves and have a written plan for their career. Women who have a clear vision for what they want to achieve are much more likely to own their ambition and work in ways that allow them to succeed.

2. Proceed Until Apprehended (Instead of seeking approval): In our coaching sessions we’ve worked with countless women executives who are exceptionally collaborative leaders. They like to be liked, but the desire for consensus can slow them down. In order to succeed, women need to retain that core strength of collaboration while at the same time acting creatively and decisively to make things happen. They need to stop “asking for permission” and instead demonstrate behaviors that exhibit leadership. In terms of career success, we tell women that remaining silently behind the scenes is much riskier than putting forward bold ideas and proactively campaigning for the big assignments.

3. Project Personal Power (Instead of modesty): We’ve found that many women who are motivated to move into leadership positions are ambivalent about projecting power. Modesty and self-deprecation come more naturally. In fact, some women act downright apologetic in the face of success—as if it doesn’t suit them or they don’t deserve it. To exude confidence and power, women need to pay attention to their non-verbal messaging. Stance, eye contact, tone of voice, and facial expressions all send a message to others about confidence. In addition, women need to take credit for their many ideas and accomplishments. Taking credit for their success and being assertive will help women move more quickly into the jobs they want.

4. Be Politically Savvy (Instead of working harder): Many women are disappointed when their hard work and long hours don’t seem to pay-off in terms of career advancement. They dislike politics and try to remain above the fray. Yet, being politically savvy is actually about building relationships, achieving consensus and networking—women are great at these things. We coach women to build their careers as if they are running for office: create a platform of ideas, line up sponsors, put together a coalition – and then do it over and over again as their agenda and goals change.

5. Play to Win  (Instead of playing it safe): We hear in our interviews with senior executives that women need to get out of their comfort zones, be bold and take risks. Women can make themselves visible in this way by taking the lead on high-stakes projects and bringing in new business. Putting themselves out there means getting comfortable with risk and the possibility of failure. It may seem safer to let someone at a higher pay grade take the risks, but it is the major decisions that offer women the best opportunities to establish their credibility as leaders.

6. Have a Both/And Perspective (Instead of all-or-nothing thinking):  One phrase that has crept into dozens of our coaching files over the years is the notion of having it all. It’s no coincidence that many of the women who are trying to have it all are also the ones who get burned out. There’s no one right way to succeed, but avoiding black and white thinking – and remaining flexible – can help women establish leadership credibility. Because complexity and constant change are everywhere today, dealing with ambiguity has become skill that all of us (not only women) need to master.

As these new rules illustrate, we’ve found that most high-performing women don’t need to make major changes in order to give themselves a better chance to succeed. Small adjustments in how they think about themselves can have a big impact on their everyday behaviors and lead to visibility and continued career momentum. And that outcome will be good for everyone.

From a bottom line perspective, paving the way for more women at the highest levels in leadership is a net positive for business. Women are natural consensus builders and collaborators, so they are well suited for the nimble, less hierarchical workplace of the future. And research proves that companies with more women leaders have a higher return on equity and a better return on sales. There’s no doubt about it: when women get ahead it is good for business.

About Jill Flynn

Jill Flynn is a founding partner at FHHL and a co-author of Break Your Own Rules and her latest co-authored book, The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders. Jill previously served as Senior Vice President at the nation’s fourth largest bank, First Union (now Wells Fargo), where she established their leadership development, diversity, organizational consulting and employee satisfaction initiatives. As the corporation grew exponentially during her tenure, Jill and her team prepared a cadre of high-potential leaders to assume senior positions. Within a three-year timeframe, the number of women in these roles increased from 9% to 26%.

 

Play With Soul at Work and in Life by Mark Nation

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Mark Nation is the author of the new thought provoking book Made for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation. Mark takes us on a journey to learn more about ourselves and our own hidden gifts. Following is a guest post from Mark Nation.

“Beautiful music…is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”      —Martin Luther

Think about your favorite musician or band. The greats all play what they possess in their souls, and it is evident in their timeless pieces, many of which endure for generations. All famous musical artists play with deep intention. They already grasp the basics and could easily just play the notes, instead of playing with their heart—but they always seem to find a path to the soul.

Don’t think. Feel!

Many times, we tend to overthink what we are doing instead of feeling, or sensing, what we should be doing. Your brain is merely an outpost, yet your music comes from the center of you. It can be so easy to overthink things, but you must find your groove and try not to play too hard, nor think too much. Overthinking can lead to confusion, make you fumble, or result in output that comes across overly-rehearsed and clinical.

Many musicians sound good technically, but have no ‘soul’ in their music; you don’t ‘feel’ it when you listen. They aren’t playing from their heart nor listening to their spirit. This is where God comes in. God has given us His Spirit, a helper to walk alongside us, to direct our own spirit. God is all about the soul, and He loves the chance to develop more ‘spirited’ players.

Strength is found in the struggle.

Think about a struggle you are having in your life. Are you overthinking it, or seeking to rely on the direction you feel from the Holy Spirit? We all face persistent mental battles, particularly when trying to live more authentic and purposeful lives. This is where it helps to practice seeking God diligently each day. Remember, beautiful music rarely happens alone. It’s hard enough to navigate routine daily challenges, much less the seasons of serious distress. It stands to reason that if we knew a strong, steady lifeline was available to us at any moment, we would make use of that lifeline constantly. God is our soul’s lifeline, our spiritual Maestro. Relying on Him is what truly brings our best music to life.

To achieve success, you must dedicate yourself to achieving excellence—there are no shortcuts. You can’t get to where you want to be by going through the motions. We so easily slip into a routine of going to church or synagogue, skimming a devotion, and praying…occasionally. We believe we are seeking God, but these markers might also indicate we’re just ‘phoning it in.’ If we’re honest, we all know when our playing lacks soul; nothing satisfies in that place.    

Treasure the journey inside yourself.

The Bible encourages us to seek God like a buried treasure. Now that’s a passionate endeavor! How many movies have you seen that are related to treasure?! This approach promises an exciting journey, where you learn to trust your gut and follow His clues. Are you seeking God, and listening to His Spirit, with that kind of abandon?

In business, and in life, you need to inject your soul into your goals. It’s what makes life really sing and the light of your own song resonate with others in a transformational way. Assess your intentions, and resolve to seek God with reckless abandon. Feel the Spirit rising inside you, resisting the urge to follow your same worn-out routines. We’re all on the journey to discover our best selves, and we can do that with the help of the Spirit.

Make good use of His precious gifts by bringing your most soulful music with you everywhere you go.

Mark Nation is a globally-recognized management expert, leadership consultant, executive coach, author, and speaker. He is personally driven to discover what makes individuals, teams, and organizations amazing—those elements which power the heart and soul of individuals and businesses worldwide. His new bookMade for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation, helps people to identify and optimize their unique talents.

 

It All Matters: I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone by Paul Cummings

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I'm always drawn to books that can help me find clarity, focus, and more confidence. There are so many distractions pulling at us from every angle. Our brains become fuzzy, our goals fall to the wayside, and we feel disconnected and off track. I'm excited to share this insight from Paul Cummings on how you can start to see clear again and the importance of doing so.

I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone

By Paul Cummings

Do you know who Johnny Nash is? In my opinion, he is a genius who provided a tremendous life lesson hidden in the lyrics of a great song. If you investigate the meaning behind the message, you’ll discover the impact of his words.

Have you ever realized that your perception of life is the lens through which you view your life? Our perception truly shapes our reality. Is your lens clear, and do you like what you see? Or have you allowed circumstances in your life to cloud up your lens and change your viewpoint and perspective?

“I can see clearly now the rain is gone.”

I love this lyric. Here is a person who has cleaned his lens. The rain was blocking his vision of life. When the “hard rain” is pouring down all around, it’s easy to miss the beauty around you, the opportunities open to you.

“I can see all obstacles in my way.”

This person has arrived at a moment of clarity. Now that the rain is gone, he can finally see the obstacles preventing him from the goals and dreams he has been pursuing without success. Once you define and acknowledge your obstacles, you can create a compelling plan of action to turn these obstacles into tangible opportunities.

“Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.”

Wow, this is such a powerful use of words! We have all experienced "dark cloud" moments in our life. We have been hurt and disappointed. We have experienced losses and unexpected moments of sadness. We have been this close to a major victory only to fall short and have to start over. To me, these powerful words represent a message of hope. The dark clouds in our life will disappear. We will maintain our faith and belief that things can and will work out in the end.

“It’s going to be a bright bright sunshiny day”

Beautiful optimism! What an inspiring and positive outlook this lyric project. This person has cleared off the lens, recognized the obstacles, removed the dark clouds, and replaced his blindness with a powerful vision. The road ahead is bathed in bright sunshine.

Johnny Nash's words are open to interpretation, but I believe the rain could have been a series of negative emotions. The obstacles could have been the source of that (rain) pain. The dark clouds could have been the acceptance of those negative emotions causing blindness to the possibilities. The bright sunshiny day could be the moment the person said, “No more! From today forward, I will take hold of my life and choose to look through my lens with the hope, faith, and confidence that a bright future brings.”

Clear your lens and embrace your future - every day. What song has a lot of meaning to you?

Make A Difference Today,

 ~Paul  

More about Paul Cummings

Paul Cummings is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Paul D. Cummings World Wide Enterprises, a global training and teaching company that has motivated and inspired hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses to make real and lasting change. Fueled by his personal and corporate desire to give to others, Paul developed skills and techniques in Leadership, Goal Setting, and Sales Techniques, including his Grid Square Technology.

Paul continues to revolutionize the way people and businesses learn by making learning simple, affordable, fun, and efficient. His Level 10 philosophy has become the benchmark that others have aspired to achieve. His latest book, It All Matters: 125 Strategies to Achieve Maximum Confidence, Clarity, Certainty, and Creativity releases October 9, 2017. The book provides an all-encompassing framework for achieving the life of your dreams offering strategies to inspire professionals—and help them develop skill sets, build knowledge, improve attitudes, and develop work habits that pay off.

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Lessons for Self Leadership

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I am a big fan of Ken Blanchard and his One Minute Manager books. Each one teaches valuable lessons through storytelling and there is no better way to learn and become more motivated to grow. I'm delighted to share some thoughts from Susan Fowler from the new book Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager.

Originally Published at Blanchard LeaderChat on 8/17/17: https://leaderchat.org/2017/08/17/four-hard-truths-about-self-leadership/

I can’t get what I need. My boss doesn’t understand me. My organization’s systems don’t work. I don’t have the resources I need. My job doesn’t take advantage of my strengths. No one appreciates me. My boss micromanages me. There’s no room for me to grow. They don’t understand how much I could be contributing if only they’d give me a chance.

If you’re human, I imagine you’ve thought or invoked one of these statements. I know I have.

Even though we may be able to justify these types of statements, they often reflect our own assumed constraints: beliefs that allow us to escape personal accountability and fall victim to circumstances or the actions of others. In the new Self Leadership program I co-created with Ken Blanchard and Laurence Hawkins, we teach that self leadership is about having the mindset and skillset to accept responsibility and take initiative.

While it is wonderful to learn how to ask for the direction and support you need to be successful in your role, it’s also important to remember that when something goes wrong, there’s no one else to blame.

The Hard Truths about Self Leadership

  • Sometimes you misdiagnose your competence. Not knowing what you don’t know can be dangerous. Enthusiasm and high commitment are blessings, but don’t mistake them for high competence. Self leaders are able to appreciate where they are on the learning curve, diagnose their development level on a goal, and recognize the times and tasks where they need direction. Self leaders also have the wisdom to ask how to do something they’ve never done before.
  • You have to ask for feedback. One of the most important habits of a self leader is proactively asking for feedback every day instead of waiting to get it. Recent research suggests people are more likely to listen to feedback when they have asked for it. And neuroscience shows the brain is more ready to integrate feedback when it’s asked for and received at a time that is most relevant to the learner.
  • The best person to solve your problems is you. Nobody knows your problems better than you do. With experience, the best person to solve a problem is the person who identifies it. Self leaders go beyond problem spotting to proactive problem solving, which has been shown to reduce workplace stress and result in higher energy at the end of the day.
  • You must stop blaming others. Even if your manager is ineffective, dismissive, or a micromanager, you need to build on the positive direction and support you do get from them—and manage up or around to get what you still need to succeed. When you take the lead in regular one-on-one meetings with your boss and ask for what you need, you may discover they simply weren’t aware of those needs.  

Who Benefits from Self Leadership?

At an organizational level, recent research shows that the most important key to successful initiatives in organizations is the proactive behavior of individual contributors—self leaders who have the ability to accept responsibility and take the initiative to make change happen.

At an individual level, self leadership helps you liberate yourself from the perceived tyranny of organizational life, which frees you from assumed constraints that can limit the quality of your work experience. Being able to respond effectively to everyday challenges can be personally and professionally rewarding.

The responsibility for your success at work falls to you. The good news is that you have a choice. Is developing the mindset and skillset required to be a self leader worth your effort? Yes! A not-so-hard truth: the benefits of self leadership are as good for you as they are for your organization.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Fowler implores leaders to stop trying to motivate people. In her latest bestselling book, she explains Why Motivating People Doesn't Work ... And What Does: The New Science of Leading, Engaging, and Energizing. She is the author of by-lined articles, peer-reviewed research, and six books, including the newly revised bestselling Self Leadership and the One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have learned from her ideas through training programs, such as the Situational Self Leadership and Optimal Motivation product lines. For more information, visit SusanFowler.com