Tag Archives: career development

Change Your Mindset or Suffer the Consequences

5 Steps to Thrive in Our Unstable World

By Brad Wolff

Brad Wolff-mindset shift

We live in a world of unpredictable and uncontrollable change. How can we survive and even thrive when our environment turns against us?

Bill Evans was the CEO of Shifting Rocks Corporation, the dominant regional player in providing rocks for road construction. After thirty great years, they suddenly dropped behind two competitors. Due to a combination of unforeseen changes, sales plunged from 50 million dollars to 25 million dollars. They went from 5 million dollars profit to a loss of  2 million dollars only two years. Bill hired a firm that helps companies thrive in a changing environment. After one year of working together, Shifting Rocks reached break-even. In two years, they climbed to a 6 million dollars profit. Their engagement levels are now higher than the “good years,” and Bill enjoys his job more than ever.

Become a Flexible, Adaptive, Learning Organization

The turning point was when Bill’s mindset changed with the realization that what led to success in the past often doesn’t work today.The primary characteristics needed to thrive now are:1.

  1. Flexibility—The willingness to change or compromise.
  2. Adaptability—The ability to utilize flexibility to meet the demands of new conditions.
  3. Learnability—The ability to quickly learn new knowledge and skills that are required to meet the demands of new conditions.

When you implement these traits, you become a Flexible, Adaptive, Learning Organization (FALO). A FALO provides a unique competitive edge in an unstable environment. A key element is the mindset shift to focusing on the things that lie in your area of control rather than constantly reacting to things out of your control. Instead of things getting easier, you get better!

How do you develop a FALO?

Focus on the things that lie in your area of control rather than constantly reacting to things out of your control. Click To Tweet

 Below is a five-step process to creating a FALO:

1. Shift your mindset from solving problems via processes and technologies to solving people problems first.

All business problems (including process and technology problems) are people problems at their root since people select, develop, operate and manage your processes and technologies. The perfect processes and technologies with the wrong people or with people who are not using them properly will never work. A process and technology focus is a convenient distraction away from the more challenging arena of human beings. However, starting with processes and technologies is treating the symptoms, not the cause. Your solutions will always be suboptimal with this approach.

Step 2: Create a personal development mindset as an organizational strategy.

The key to your professional growth is your personal growth and development. We take ourselves with us everywhere we go, and your self-awareness, skills and character traits are your only tools. It’s critical to realize that these elements of personal growth are developed not inborn. Certainly, you have inborn gifts. However, none are very useful until they’ve been developed over time.

History’s most successful CEOs such as Jack Welch of GE, Lou Gerstner of IBM and Ray Dalio of Bridgewater shared a common philosophy. They recognized that as people work on their personal development, they contribute far more productivity, collaboration, and positive energy/engagement as benefits. Each of these benefits enhances the others to create a multiplier effect throughout the organization. As people develop, they also adapt much better to ongoing life challenges. The organization’s knowledge and skills (learning) increase while becoming more flexible and adaptive.

Step 3: Develop a culture that supports ongoing personal development.

Developing a strategy of personal growth requires that you develop a culture that supports this strategy. Organizations frequently fail to execute their strategies due to lacking a culture that supports these strategies. Peter Drucker said that “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”

Google provides one of many examples of an organization that focuses on culture as a key driver of its success. Here are their “three principles for a top-notch culture”:
  1. Mission that matters—A clear mission and vision statement to motivate and unify employees.
  2. Transparency of Leaders—A crucial element to build safety, trust and collaboration that requires openness and vulnerability.
  3. Giving everyone a voice—Aperspective that values everyone’s opinion and point of view.

Do these principles apply to other companies? Yes, in fact, it’s more difficult to apply these principles in large organizations like Google due to increased layers of complexity

Step 4: Starting with upper management, take an open, honest inventory of weaknesses: A weakness is any habitual behavior that impairs your effectiveness, which prevents you from becoming who you want to be. Having weaknesses is an unavoidable part of being human. The key is to deliberately identify and acknowledge these habits rather than trying to hide or cover-up. Your weaknesses are obvious to others anyway, so attempting to deny or hide them impairs our growth and relationships.

The authenticity of leaders about their weaknesses builds trust and respect and creates a culture where people feel safe to do the same. Research and experience consistently demonstrate the importance of people safe feeling safe. People won’t allow themselves to be open about their weaknesses until they feel safe from ridicule or punishment.

Step 5: Commit to a process of ongoing improvement.

The key is that the leaders’ commit with both their hearts (emotions) and minds (thoughts). Developing new habits that serve you better than the old ones requires committed effort over time. Demonstrating this commitment helps develop a culture of people committed to their personal and professional growth.

It’s also important to develop a culture of constructive feedback and encouragement since you often don’t realize when you revert to old habits. Ongoing improvement is difficult without a culture that supports people making a consistent effort.

Developing a FALO is not complicated. It starts with a mindset shift from focusing on the external environment to focusing on the source of your success and power—the ongoing development of human beings. You can try to control your external environment or adapt to meet (or exceed) the demands. Which approach will you choose?

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As the managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, Brad specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their people to make more money with less stress. His passion is empowering people to create the business success they desire, in a deep and lasting way. For more information on Brad Wolff, please visit: www.PeopleMaximizers.com.

The New Super Heroes: Introducing The Intangibles

By Baldwin Tom

Baldwin Tom-spiritual investmentsThere are seven capital investments available for organizations to build value and wealth. These capital investments are Human, Relationship, Spiritual, Customer, Organizational, Physical, and Financial.

In the 1980 winter Olympics in Lake Placid, the U.S. Men’s Ice Hockey team won the gold medal. In order for them to win gold, they had to beat the Soviet Union team ranked 1 in the world. They beat the Soviets on their way to winning the gold in a game that was called the Miracle on Ice. The odds against them winning were the same as if the University of California football team beat the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl champions. Impossible!

How did this happen? One can assume that it was not because they skated better than the Soviets. The U.S. team was composed of college students and the Soviets were semi-professionals. Instead, it was some intangible force. Here is a clue: The U.S. coach invested heavily on the intangible side into the team members. He instilled in them aspects of Human, Relationship, and Spiritual capitals. The team took to heart what they heard—they believed.

The result of the infusion of these capitals was a powerful Return on Investment of some psychic power that allowed the team to rise above expectations to beat the ‘unbeatable’ Soviet team. The effort by the U.S. team was considered by the International Ice Hockey Federation as the most incredible international ice hockey story in the last 100 years! There is power investing in intangibles.

Of the seven investments available to organizations, the five people-side investments are the most interesting. Three of these can be considered as the new super heroes powering success in organizations—The Intangibles. The three are Human, Relationship, and Spiritual investments.

These three set up the other investments and the organization for success. They clear the way, they prepare the path, they set the stage, they provide the spark, and they stay the course to provide significant multipliers for high ROI.Character comes from the inside. Invest in people and their relationships to build strong teams. Click To Tweet

The Intangibles, when deployed as investments, create energy and activate others toward positive action. Each of the three super heroes has distinct personalities based on their actions. Each has unique powers in what they initiate in others.

Each one will leverage existing opportunities to benefit the organization and to increase ROI from their efforts. The Intangibles interact with each other and with different other investment combinations to create value and wealth for organizations.

Super Hero 1. Human capital investments: Invest in the capabilities of people, their knowledge, skills, and competencies.

Human investments possess a driver type personality. Their uniqueness is in their direct action on people to energize, encourage, and support work. The actions may involve new education, advanced training, and psychological support.

Through activities of human capital investments, people are more able and prepared to take on new tasks and to be more creative and innovative. From this, people are more satisfied with their work and look forward to new challenges. Accordingly, the investment of human capital generates positive ROI.

When human capital investments are teamed with customer investments it leads to creativity and innovation and new products and services. When this investment is teamed with Organizational investments, it leads to new intellectual property and corporate memory. When Human capital investments are teamed with Relationship investments it creates high performance teams.

Super Hero 2. Relationship capital investments: Link people together for interactions that leverage power and influence.

Relationship capital investments involve influencer type personalities. The strength of this investment is focused on people—in linking people together. Relationship capital investments help build meaningful interactive groups, create bonding of personnel, and foster can-do mindsets. Relationship investments effectively build strength through numbers.

High performing teams result from the activities of Relationship capital investments. The results from Relationship investments include facilitated and accelerated actions throughout the organization and with customers and a boost in ROI.

When Relationship capital investments are teamed with Customer investments, this leads to partnering with customers. When this investment is teamed with Spiritual capital investments, it leads to satisfied people willing to work hard for the organization.

Super Hero 3. Spiritual capital investments: Establish cultural norms that smooth work flow and facilitate people and customer relationships.

Spiritual capital investments have social type personalities. This Super Hero is not demanding or pushy. Spiritual capital is subtle but significant when in place. It’s a lot like spraying WD-40 on all work because the result of Spiritual capital is a smoother and easier effort in getting work done.

he efforts of Spiritual capital investments are to support the personal side of peoples’ efforts that engender peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment, of satisfaction. The result of this is that people feel valued leading to higher personal motivation and willingness to contribute more.

When Spiritual investments are teamed with Organizational investments, the results lead to refining cultural norms and ethical decision making. When Spiritual capital investments are paired with Relationship investments, it leads to an ethical workplace that fosters positive group chemistries and greater resiliency within an organization.

When Spiritual capital is teamed with Human capital it promotes caring and committed people, willing to go the extra mile. When Spiritual investments are teamed with Customer investments, the result fosters value-based customer relations

Investing on the soft-side intangibles provides the intestinal fortitude to overcome internal and external challenges. Character comes from the inside. Invest in people and their relationships to build strong teams. Invest in team-focused spiritual capital to build loyalty and bonding, resulting in strong character. When opportunities arise or challenges surface, the people will do whatever it takes to help move the ball forward. Focusing on the intangibles strengthens an organization, giving it a solid core and foundation.

In 1990, the Wallace Company won the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Started in 1987, the award has been given annually to up to three U.S. companies who have implemented successfully quality management systems. Surprisingly, just two years after the award, Wallace filed for bankruptcy.

Following the award, instead of working to turn around an already troubled company, top Wallace officials spent time leading tours through their offices and leaving town on speaking tours. Clearly Wallace did everything it could to win the award. Yet, in the end, they lost it all. There is a lesson here. What did they invest in and what did they miss investing in? It’s possible that they did not invest sufficiently in the intangibles. They needed The Intangibles!

Baldwin Tom is a management consultant, professional speaker, and author of 1+1=7: How Smart Leaders Make 7 Investments to Maximize Value. A medical school scientist, professor, leadership program developer, and founder of an award winning science and technology firm, he leverages his experiences in those fields to provide insight and strategies to fit client needs. Baldwin is a Certified Management Consultant and served as the National Board Chair of the Institute of Management Consultants USA. For more information on Baldwin Tom, please visit www.geoddgroup.com.

Giving Yourself Permission Slips to Succeed

By Sarah Bateman

Joan was sitting at a round table when a hand descended over her right shoulder and slapped a piece of paper down on the wooden surface. A permission slip lay before her. Joan wondered, “Why do I need a permission slip?” She glanced up at her colleague, Cheryl, who said, “It’s a permission slip. You’ve been thinking about honing your presentation skills for decades. Why haven’t you?”

“Why hadn’t I?” Joan thought. She was right. It was her choice to dream but never act. It was her choice to exist but never take the risks to improve her life. Joan was expected to give presentations at work. Her presentation style was somewhat lacking—she sometimes appeared nervous, and it was obvious to others that it wasn’t an area in which she was particularly confident.

Joan noticed that her self-limiting routines and beliefs were affecting both her personal and professional life. She had to remember that her presence was significant and she began creating her own permission slips to succeed.

1. Her first permission slip to becoming significant and successful was allowing herself to do make mistakes. This is the natural growth and learning process when we’re children. If you’re not willing to allow yourself to do something badly you are not allowing yourself to change—you are not allowing yourself to grow. You are not allowing yourself to master new skills.

Do you feel uncomfortable placing yourself in unfamiliar situations? Have you avoided seeking new responsibilities at work because you didn’t want to look foolish? Research shows that it is important to become perpetual beginners. This is especially true as we age. Learning new skills makes you more flexible and ready to compete in this chaotic world. Successful working professionals are willing to become a beginner over and over again. They are willing to let go of being the expert.

There are strategies which can help you undertake new challenges. One is to break your routine. Do you find yourself on autopilot often? Are your day’s carbon copies of each other? Set the intention to try something new. You might speak up more in a meeting, or seek new functionalities at work. Find a friend or coworker to support you. Learning to say no when appropriate gives you more control over your life so you don’t overextend yourself. It is a way of learning to respect yourself. Click To Tweet

2. Joan’s second permission slip to becoming successful and significant was letting herself be heard and seen. She was practically non-existent during her early years at the office. Her first presentation was a moment of silence—she literally could not speak. Her struggles with connecting at work or in networking situations were drastically impacting her professional life. She needed to give herself the permission slip to speak up, and speak with confidence.

How would being seen and heard change your business life?. Would you gain more respect from those around you? Would you be able to build trust and relationships? If you are not seen and heard, you are not known—and opportunities and promotions will pass you by because you don’t stick out in people’s minds.

Deciding to be seen and heard can take courage. One way to begin is to set your intention before you attend a meeting or meet a client. Know what you want to contribute. Know what ideas you would like to share. In a meeting make sure you speak up early. The longer you wait to speak the harder it will be. Make eye contact with others in the room and use open body language. Be sure you are not creating a barrier between yourself and anyone else in the room. Remember: you want to be accessible at this time. Celebrate your victories so the next time it will be easier for you to speak up.

3. Joan’s third permission slip to becoming successful and significant was learning to say no. In the office she was very accommodating.—the supervisors loved her. Basically she never said no. They got into the habit of bringing her rush files, just before 5:00 PM. They would drop them at her desk and head home. Joan learned how important it was to shorten her yes list. Do you have too many Yeses in your life?

Have your forgotten the benefits of saying no? Learning to say no when appropriate gives you more control over your life so you don’t overextend yourself. It is a way of learning to respect yourself which will lead to others respecting you as well. Saying no gives you more time to yourself which is a precious commodity in today’s chaotic world. You will have more energy and time so when opportunities appear you will be available to take them. When you have time to yourself you have time to determine your priorities and make better decisions which cut down on daily stress.

Before saying yes ask yourself these following questions.

1)         Is this something I truly want to do?
2)         What am I saying no to if I say yes to this?
3)         What will I gain by going to this event or doing this task?
4)         When I need help will this person reciprocate?
5)         If I don’t do this how will I used my time instead?

If you decide to say no to someone, let them know as quickly as possible so they can made other plans. Maybe you can help the other person out by suggesting an alternative.

What aren’t you giving yourself permission to do?

What are the dreams which have escaped you until now? Since Joan began following her three permission slips she began enjoying her work life more. By allowing herself to make mistakes she felt less pressure to be perfect. She gained the confidence to learn new skills which made her more valuable to the team. When she began speaking up at meetings she learned that she had good ideas to contribute. She was more valued by the team. When Joan said no to excess, unexpected work she was able to focus on her responsibilities. If you’re struggling like Joan was, write yourself her three permission slips. They will better your work life, and make you a more valuable contributor to the team.

Sarah Bateman is a widely-recognized speaker, coach, and author of, Speak Up! Be Heard! Finding My Voice. Drawing upon her own experiences at crafting, honing, and delivering presentations, Sarah aids entrepreneurs and businesspeople to develop a focused message which is relatable, memorable, and succinct. A longstanding member of Toastmasters International, Sarah holds the Distinguished Toastmaster Designation. For more information about Sarah Bateman, please visit: www.SpeakUp-BeHeard.com.

Wield the Five Keys to Leaving a Positive Leadership Legacy in Your Life

By Jeffrey W. Foley

Jeffrey WoleyMany successful business people have pondered their leadership legacy—how do they want to be remembered. And many of them struggle to find the answer.

Your legacy is defined by the impact you have on the lives of others after you are gone. It is how you will be remembered. We are all leaving a legacy, there is no escaping it. If asked, how would you respond to the question of, “What do you want your leadership legacy to be?”

However old or young, you have the opportunity to raise the bar on the legacy you are leaving. Whether you are a senior executive, in a new position in your business, a new parent or grandparent, a student or recent graduate, you can choose your legacy. Or perhaps you have had a setback in your life, it is never too late to refocus on what you can change—your legacy.Being a person of character is at the foundation of building trust with others. Character is who we are and what we stand for. Click To Tweet

The most effective business leaders are people who ultimately pursue five separate but related behaviors. These five can provide the framework for you in your pursuit of creating a positive leadership legacy in life.

Character

Being a person of character is at the foundation of building trust with others. Character is who we are and what we stand for. It is comprised of many things but its foundation is values; those deep beliefs like integrity, loyalty, and respect. Values do not change overnight; rather they are forged in one’s heart and soul over time. They ultimately drive how we behave. When you think of those people who left a wonderful legacy for you, was not character the essence of the memory?

Attitude

Your attitude can change everything you do and everyone you meet. No one enjoys hanging out with chronic complainers or naysayers. A positive attitude can be a force multiplier in daily interactions or long term strategies. A positive attitude creates passion, enthusiasm, and a call to action. It can change outcomes. You have a choice in your attitude. Make it positive!

Vision

We all need a vision, or a plan, for our future. A saying attributed to the great Yogi Berra goes: “If you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to end up someplace else.” A vision provides clear direction for your future. Create your future by putting a mark on the wall of where you want to be one, two, five years from now. Craft an action plan that identifies your objectives and critical decision points. Establish a set of milestones that will help you achieve your objectives, and then celebrate each of their achievements as you progress along the way!

Excellence

Both championship teams and successful businesses do not drift to greatness; they commit themselves to excellence. Commitment means tireless pursuit of doing your absolute best, every day, all the time. Excellence matters in everything you do. If you don’t commit to excellence yourself and demand it from others you will create a culture of mediocrity. Most people are not interested in mediocrity.

Relationships

Building trusted relationships with others trumps everything else when it comes to leaving a positive leadership legacy in your world. Serving the needs of others builds trust in relationships. You serve by knowing your people, genuinely caring for them, reaching out to those in need, sacrificing and celebrating with them, exercising humility, are all important aspects enabling strong relationships. Nowhere is trust between leaders and followers more profound than in the military. You can learn, just like US Military Academy graduates at West Point are required to learn, that is Schofield’s Definition of Discipline. Major General John Schofield in his address to the Corps of Cadets in 1879: “The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an Army.” You know you will have achieved the goal of building trust when you can feel the spirit of cohesion that permeates the hearts of who serve together.

These five keys will provide a framework for establishing your approach to leaving a positive leadership legacy in your life. On a scale of one to five, with one being not so good, and five being great, how would you assess your behavior in each of the five areas? An action plan should follow your assessment that focuses you enables you to grow your ability where needed.

I wish you the best in your leadership journey.

Jeff Foley is a recognized speaker, executive leadership coach, and author of Rules and Tools for Leaders. He is a West Point graduate and retired as a Brigadier General having served thirty-two years in the Army. Drawing on his unique military experience, Jeff uses his singular insight to build better leaders. For more information on Jeff Foley, visit www.loralmountain.com.

Keys to Find (And Make the Most of) Your Professional Mentor

By Lei Wang

Lei WangAs a working professional, you have probably heard many stories of how other people credited their success to their mentors. Working with a mentor can truly pave the way to success in one’s career, but oftentimes creating—and maintaining—the mentor-mentee relationship can be challenging. Maybe your company does not offer a formal mentorship program, or maybe you simply feel that you’re not receiving much value out of your current mentor.

The key to crafting a successful relationship with a professional mentor is to look outside the box and identify individuals who can offer the best professional guidance.

Discover Your Mentors: Not Every Mentor is Obvious: A mentor is someone who watches out for you and gives you advice.  Unlike a “forced” relationship between a boss and subordinates, or a contract relationship between a coach or a teacher and students, the relationship between a mentor and a mentee is often informal.

Often, they don’t wear a hat titled “mentor”, and they may not be older than you or senior in professional ranking. You may not even realize someone is playing a mentor role in your life or career until much later.

There’s a tendency to determine the value of advice based on who it came from. When you receive guidance from someone that you regard as your superior—someone with an impressive title—you’re more likely give their advice more weight and take it more seriously. But sometimes, the most insightful advice may come from someone among your peers, an outsider, or even someone you considered less knowledgeable than you. Sometimes the most innovative idea may come from a novice in the field. For a senior manager, you may find the best perspectives come from your subordinates or people of the lowest rank in your business.

Have you noticed mentors in your life or in your career? Do not dismiss too easily advice from someone about whom you thought, “What does he know about this?”

Keep an open mind and a humble attitude; your best mentors could be anywhere.To get the best out of a mentoring or coaching relationship, you first need to know how to listen to advice. Click To Tweet

Asking for Help Is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness: Now that you know how to discover your mentors, you need to learn when to seek their help.

Your passion may be in starting your own business, or adding value to your existing professional position. With an abundance of easily accessible information online or in books, you can often get started on your own.

There is tremendous value in self-teaching, learning through practice, and learning through mistakes. Those are important skills that can carry you far and keep you growing for the long run.

But it is important to recognize when to seek out help. Some skills can only be accumulated over time, but some are a matter of knowledge and experience. There is no need to reinvent every wheel. Human progress is made on the foundation laid by previous generations. You reach further by standing at a higher ground to start with, so it is important to recognize when to ask for help. Asking for help where it matters is a sign of strength, instead of weakness.

Getting the right help at a certain point could make a difference between years of detours and missing the best opportunity, and gaining fast momentum early so you’re at the right place at the right time.

How to Get the Most Out of a Mentoring Relationship: Since mentors are not “obligated” to you like in relationships bonded by monetary contracts or enforced by professional hierarchies, you have to work extremely hard and be driven and passionate so as to attract their attention and to deserve their time and effort.

The reward for the mentor is not money or promotions at work\, but seeing the result—seeing they can make a difference in your progress.

To get the best out of a mentoring or coaching relationship, you first need to know how to listen to advice. Like in any communication, effective listening requires you to give up any prejudgment of what you hear.

The most damaging prejudgment is not about deciding if the advice is right or wrong, or whether or not to take the advice, but telling yourself, “I know this already.”

When you think “I know this already,” you quickly determine that this advice, though valid, is of no new value, therefore quickly brush it aside and take no action.

Often, when great advice motivates you to take the right action and it yields the right result, it is not because it is new advice; you may have heard it many times before. Following that advice worked only when it clicked with you, when you really listened, were more capable of understanding the advice, and you thought, “Why didn’t I take action earlier?”

The best advice is not the new suggestion, but the suggestion you listen to and take action on. Listen to every piece of familiar advice like it is new advice. Instead of thinking “I know,” ask yourself, “Have I mastered it? Have I seen the result?” If the answer is no, make a plan and take action.

Become Your Own Mentor: Shortening your learning path is normally the reason to seek out a mentor in the first place. The most important role a mentor plays is in motivating you to reach higher goals—goals that you might have thought impossible when you first sought help from your mentor.

It is also important not to rely on professional help as a crutch forever. The goal of seeking professional help is to shorten your learning path, to become independent and competent faster.

When you are on the real battlefield, no one can do your work for you; you have to do it for yourself. You cannot go far if you have to rely solely on external motivation.

Ultimately, you have to learn to be your own motivator.

Seeking help and finding mentors is an important strategy for getting where you want to go in your career. Learning to listen to advice and keeping an open mind to recognize those around you who can serve the role of mentor will broaden the opportunities you have for learning.

While self-teaching is an important practice and can go a long way to helping you learn basic skills, coaches will know what you need, even what you do not.

Lei Wang is an internationally-recognized adventurer, motivational speaker and author of After the Summit: New Rules for Reaching Your Peak Potential in Your Career and Life. The first Asian woman to complete Explorers Grand Slam (climb the highest peak on each continent and ski to both poles), Lei channels her experiences to convey a message of perseverance and steadfast determination that her audiences can use at work or at home. For more information about Lei Wang, please visit www.JourneyWithLei.com.