As women moving up the ladder we tend to believe that we advance our careers and attain leadership by working hard. We make a 150% commitment. We give loyalty. We strive to excel by gaining additional qualifications. Behind the scenes we get a coach or mentor to improve our performance. Then we wonder why it isn’t working. We then sometime later we realise, after nothing happens, that it doesn’t work that way.
Men, on the other hand, believe that their career is advanced by who they are close to, by knowing the right people. They devote significant amounts of time to developing these relationships. They get the right introductions. They belong to the right organisations. They take leadership positions on the right committees. They build their profile in their industry or professional group. They also make sure they are known and recognised as someone who wants to go somewhere, someone with leadership potential.
Most women have reservations about doing that. We are not good at self-promotion.
We can, however, be women of influence. We can make a difference. We need to learn how to self-promote in a way that sits well with our values, and sees us acknowledged for out talent and expertise. We will do it much better when we support one another. So find yourself a colleague today who can become your Accountability or Performance Partner and work with one another to be who you want to be, to achieve the career success you deserve and and are prepared to strive for.
I’ve been preparing a workshop for managers on being coaches to their team members. One of the most important skills in that is the ability to listen, to “actively” listen. That means to listen with the whole of ourselves, not just to the words, but to the non-verbal as well. This is why communicating face to face is so important because when we communicate digitally it is very difficult to pick up the non-verbal. When we don’t have access to the non-verbal, we are much more likely to misinterpret what is happening for the person.
As I was preparing this workshop, I began to think about some things I had read about communication in general. I share some quotes here for your reflection and that might inspire you to develop your communication skills in general.
The ability to engage and empower employees to give the best of themselves to their work is one of the greatest skills any manager can possess. It results in people bringing not just their bodies to work but also their hearts and minds. They want to work WITH you, not just FOR you.
70% of employee engagement is determined by employees’ managers not by external rewards and perks. It therefore makes enormous sense that organisations invest in the professional development of their managers as a way to grow their organisations.
When managers know how to motivate their employees for high performance, rather than just attempting to manage their work, a great organisational culture is built of energised and empowered people and as a result productivity increases.
Yet 44% of managers do not know what motivates their employees. They therefore do not have the information they need to bring out the best in their people who are a significant source of their organisation’s success.
“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists”. -Eric Hoffer
You are living in a highly unpredictable, uncertain and complex world. There are no absolutes and few black and whites any more, but many shades of grey. The days have gone when any professional group has all the answers within its own professional arena. Your success lies in how willing you are to open up to and draw upon insights from a multi-disciplinary field of expertise and be a learner, someone always searching for what is new. This is about letting go of the professional badge of honour of becoming learned in your field of expertise and becoming as well a learner. Only if you do will you be able to stay up to date and work at the cutting edge in this rapidly changing environment.
Learning to be a leaner may well take you out of your comfort zone, create fear in you and make you want to put your foot even more firmly on the brake. At the same time, I’m sure you recognise that what Eric Hoffer says is right.
Interruptions at work are the bane of people’s lives and they see them as one of the greatest challenges to them effectively managing their time. This is why an article by Doug Conant that I’ve linked to here is so important and helpful – Why Leaders Should Embrace Interruptions. As a top CEO of large companies Doug, himself, had experienced this as a major problem and rather than let it continue to be a problem, he reflected on how he could turn it into a positive. He explains how he has done this in this article referred to here and in his book “TouchPoints”.
Discovering the work of Tony Schwartz about 7 years ago via a Harvard Business Review article, Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, had a profound impact on me and the way I think about time management.
Tony is the President and Founder of The Energy Project, a global “consulting and training company that provides organisations with a detailed roadmap for building and sustaining a fully energised workforce”. He says that they help “leaders and managers become ‘Chief Energy Officers’ by taking responsibility for mobilising, focusing, inspiring, and regularly renewing the energy of those they lead.”
One of the key points Schwartz makes is that while time is “a finite resource”, after all there is only 24 hours in a day, energy is not. You can expand, recharge, renew, develop and enhance your energy. You can learn ways to do that. You can stop doing the things that drain your energy for starters and use that time to do the energising work that empowers you. Have you noticed how high energy people never seem to be stressed or overwhelmed? They always seem to have time for what they deem to be important to them.
In his article Managing Your Energy, Not Your Time, Schwartz gives a number of practical examples of how he has developed these energy management skills in organisations that make it quite clear that managing your energy can really result in much higher performance.
Two people look at the glass. Each person explains differently what he/she sees. One says the glass is half empty. The other says the glass is half full. The glass half empty person tends towards always seeing the negative first and focuses on lack and scarcity. That person is a pessimist. The glass half full person always sees the positive first and focuses on abundance. That person is an optimist. Which one are you?
Be a glass half full person and watch what happens when you be that kind of person consistently over a period of time.
The glass half empty person attracts negativity, emptiness and hopelessness. When you spend time around these people you can very easily feel oppressed as if there is a heavy weight on your shoulders. You feel quite dis-empowered.
The glass half full person, however, exudes positivity, fullness and a “Can Do” attitude. When you spend time around them, you feel everything is possible. You feel buoyed up. You feel very empowered.
This difference between glass half empty people and glass half full ones explains why some people get all the opportunities and other people miss out.
Everyone can be a leader today. You don’t have to have a leadership title or role. In fact, the leaders of the future are the employees who act like leaders in every situation in which they find themselves because they want to make a difference. They are the horizontal leaders. They stand out from the crowd and they attract the attention of those with the power to give them the title and the role.
If you ignore the opportunities that horizontal leadership offers, you will be overtaken by those who seize them. Leadership no longer depends on seniority or length of tenure, or maleness or technical expertise. Here is what you can begin to do right now to become the leader of the future.
There are still a lot of people out there in our workplaces who believe, that because they are of a certain age, or because they have been there some time, or because they are male, or because they meet their KPIs (even if they stomp on everyone else to do it), that they deserve to be appointed to the next leadership position.They don’t realise that it doesn’t work that way anymore. They need to stand out from the crowd as a leader before they get the title and the role. Leadership today is no longer a title or a role. It is a quality and too many have not caught up with that new reality!
A senior executive I was coaching came to me recently with exactly this issue. There had been some significant changes in his organisation. A number of management positions had disappeared and the rest were all re-advertised. He’d had a major role in the recruitment process and had focused on appointing people who were already demonstrating leadership, acting like what he wanted his leaders to be. This meant, however, that some of those who expected to gain the leadership positions missed out. He now had on his hands a number of people who, not only had disengaged, but were outwardly hostile towards him and the new leaders. What could he do? How did he manage this?
The ability to engage your employees for high performance sees you become a highly sought leader. With only 24% of Australian employees engaged, 60% neutral (just there but not engaged) and 16% disengaged, it is not surprising that the lack of productivity in Australia costs $42 billion a year. Why is this so? Your employees often can’t see, do not know, what value they are contributing, what difference they are making to your organisation. They come to work, do what they need to ensure they keep their jobs, but leave, in the car park, their hearts and minds, that part of them that has the potential to bring so much innovation, empowerment and high performance to your organisation. 70% of employee engagement in an organisation is dependent on managers, yet 44% managers have said they do not know what motivates their employees. So is it any wonder that employees are not engaged.
Here are 9 actions that you can take to motivate and inspire engagement in your organisation.