Take charge of your Career

Trying to figure out where you want your career to go – and get a job that’ll take you there?

That’s no easy task in a fiercely competitive market. How do you clearly and convincingly define what you’ve got to offer to an organization?

And how do you dig up realistic opportunities that match your skills and passions?

Even if you’ve discovered exciting possibilities, you may face other obstacles: Perhaps you’re finding it difficult to compete with more-seasoned professionals. Or maybe you’re struggling to show a logical progression in your job history because you’ve hopped around.

With challenges like these, it can be hard to get any job at all, let alone something that’s satisfying, stable and a good fit. But you can find and land the right job for you, even in a tough economy, with experienced guidance – and commitment from you.

Success begins with knowing exactly where you want your career to take you and then creating an actionable plan to get you there. My career guidance will help you explore your options and decide the most rewarding career path given your experience, skills and passion. Read the rest of this entry »

Why so many Leadership Programs fail

The Difference – what we know about Leadership and what we do as Leaders

The topic in the Executive Committee meeting I was involved with turned to a difficult area for all.

No one had addressed that issue – the topic seemed untouchable.

This time looked to be no different. When the key Executive said he was on top of things, no one challenged him. I looked around the room at the silent senior leadership of the firm, all of whom had privately complained to me about his performance in recent weeks. I suggested we take a 15-minute break.

Every one of these leaders was smart, knowledgeable and capable. They’d all read innumerable books on leadership, taken leadership skills assessments and attended multiple training programs — including executive leadership programs at top business schools. They knew as much as anyone about leadership.

So why weren’t they leading?

The answer is deceptively simple:

There is a massive difference between what we know about leadership and what we do as leaders. Read the rest of this entry »

Hard and Soft Barriers to Effective Communication – and Collaboration – to the Benefit of the Family Business Client

This is intended as a thought-provoking piece underscoring that family business consulting is an exciting, demanding and very complex field. It is practically impossible for one professional to possess the requisite skills and knowledge to perform all of the functions necessary to address the problems that family firms face. This creates the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration, which is something FFI (Family Firm Institute – USA) and FBA (Family Business Australia) have made great strides in promoting. However, sometimes there are obstacles in realizing collaboration because of limitations in how we see others and ourselves. This piece should challenge you to reconsider the language used to describe colleagues in a way that is more nuanced and respectful of what everyone has to offer. Read the rest of this entry »

Hard and Soft Barriers to Effective Communication – and Collaboration – for the senior Executive Client and key Stakeholder Clients

This is intended as a thought-provoking piece underscoring that executive mentoring is an exciting, demanding and very complex field – certainly for all those currently “jumping on the band wagon” with little or no relevant experience. It is practically impossible for one professional to possess the requisite skills and knowledge to perform all of the functions necessary to address the challenges that firms face. This creates the need for cross-disciplinary collaboration, which is something AICD and AIM are still grappling with – while, for example, top-tier Law and Accounting firms are ignoring – at least to my experience! However, sometimes there are obstacles in realizing collaboration because of limitations in how we see others and ourselves. This piece should challenge you to reconsider the language used to describe colleagues in a way that is more nuanced and respectful of what everyone has to offer.

Understanding and respecting what we all do is critical to our working together and learning from each other.  Using shorthand phrases or jargon that tries to encapsulate in a word (“hard”, “soft”, “process” or “content”) a profoundly complex distinction simply gets in the way of effective understanding and collaboration. Read the rest of this entry »

A Mentor can really give you the Edge

It can be tough and lonely at the top, so it pays to have an experienced person to point the way

When Peter James moved from London to Australia, he was surprised at the huge difference between the business environments in the two countries.

James, chief executive of a large professional Industry body, said: “You would think that moving from the UK to Australia would be pretty similar, with the English language, English legal system and so on in common. However, there is a fundamentally different approach here and I needed advice to help me cope.”

In the southern hemisphere decisions were made much more quickly, he said. “In Australia, if you have 80% of the facts you will take the risk and move forward. In the UK there’s more a tendency to keep talking through the issue to get more than 90% or 100%. I was not prepared to push on much faster.

“By moving halfway round the world my old network of support was no longer as valuable because they didn’t understand the new situation. I needed someone I could talk to who understood what was happening in Australia.” Read the rest of this entry »

A Meeting or an Email? Part 5 of a Series

I once had a mentoring, senior executive client (with a large team) who when we met one morning in his office, bitterly complained how displeased he was with his whole team. I asked why naturally and the response was that the email he sent out to the 3 layers of people heading up to him, had not responded to his email request “to organise a meeting, to organise a meeting.” Yes you read it right!

I felt a former star tennis player’s regular and famous comment engulfing me. Which brings me to the point about emails and meetings – bottom line – nothing matches the face to face.

Here is some more context.

We’ve all been there. We’re sitting in back-to-back hour-long informational meetings. We try to sit attentively as waves of information are poured over us in report after report. Eventually, we realize the meeting is coming to a close and no decisions are being made. We’re bored, we’re tired and we think: “This whole meeting could have been an email.”

Not so fast. Read the rest of this entry »

Limit the Time You Spend on Email – Part 4 of a Series

Many of us resist the idea of limiting the total amount of time we spend on email. Instead, we allow the volume of email we receive, and the number of messages that require a response, to dictate how much of our day goes to the endless cycle of send and receive.

But letting email set the pace and structure of your working life makes sense only if answering email is the single most important part of your job. Unless you work on the frontlines of customer support, there’s probably a lot of other work that’s more important – even if it doesn’t feel as urgent as the message that just arrived. Committing to a minimum and maximum amount of time you’ll spend on email instead allows you to undertake focused work when you need to – and just as important, to take actual downtime.

The best way to keep email from crowding out the rest of your professional and personal priorities is to set an email budget: a specific amount of time you’ll spend on email, and a plan for how you’ll make the most of that time. Like a financial budget, an email budget helps you make the best use of a limited resource — in this case, your time. Read the rest of this entry »

Emailing is not necessarily productive & comes with a Cost – Part 3 of a Series

We’re abusing this once-helpful form of communication and information, and the cost is more than just productivity loss.

One of senior executive clients in a time management assessment stated quite clearly that her job description does not include managing email flow. Yours probably doesn’t, either. But it’s increasingly a big part of the work we do. In fact, in a single week, she received 511 emails and sent 284. Almost 160 emails a day is ridiculous. Even if I was efficient and processed each email in 30 seconds, it would still take almost an hour and a half.

That same week, I further analysed the activity in my inbox: 235 of my inbound emails were from people within the company, close to 46%. Colleagues copied me on 172 emails — the FYI culture that digitally drowns most executives. Another 47 emails had documents for my review.

These numbers were personally daunting, but I needed a more holistic view. By asking for the same information from others in the company, I found that my volume was slightly above average, but some of our senior executives were receiving close to 550 emails and sending almost 800 in a week. With an average of 32 words per email — about two sentences — many were likely superfluous update emails. Read the rest of this entry »

Do Smartphones control you? – Part 2 of a Series

Why can’t some people remember when we last spoke to a client? Why, over the course of 30 minutes, does a senior executive trade 22 emails to organize a simple lunch meeting, only to be cancelled on last-minute? Why does a banker waste the entire day on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn?

If you’re reading this on a mobile device, the surprising answer to these seemingly unrelated questions might literally lie in the palm of your hand.

With a huge and growing user base of nearly half of Australian adults, smartphones are now a core part of our daily lives. Evolving far beyond the email productivity tools pioneered in the early 2000s, iPhones and Android handsets now dominate the mobile landscape with industry-leading functionality and advanced ecosystems.

The value proposition? That we’ll work and play faster, longer, better and smarter. In fact, we found that over 40% of young business leaders ranked mobile as the most important technology to business in the twenty-first century (cloud-type computing came in second). And this was achieved by the novel technique of talking to people! Read the rest of this entry »

Stop Emailing and Pick up the Phone – Part 1 of a Series

Emails are for information – not communication

I have constantly highlighted with folks how we need to get back to allowing conversation to occur without texting, emailing, browsing, Tweeting, Facebooking, or doing whatever else one can do these days on smart phones, iPads, notebooks, etc. We are losing that all important human interaction, because primarily of the perceived ease of these so-called communication tools.

In fact so many people are actively trying to avoid it – walking around with the iPhone waiting for the next email, text or posting – I am all over it!

And it is definitely not a generational “thing” as I have been told – as if all Baby Boomers don’t get it, like Gen Xers do! The dismissive, superior tone in the voice I found to be most amusing. Anyhow my own little straw poll shot that down beyond any reasonable doubt – but it persists, because emails are easy for some obscure reason.  

However we all are guilty as the next person of falling for the perception that any response is acceptable – so let’s focus on the live conversations at hand, rather than parallel conversations on the iPhone screen. Read the rest of this entry »