- Who & Why?
All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘leadership’
It’s always scary to stand out and shine. No doubt about it. I’m always working on ways that I can live what I teach, ie, shine and “wow” folks with my sincere and genuine brand. Most days it is easier for me. Some days it is a challenge.
Because I don’t want to seem overbearing and scare folks- or worse yet, be seen as the “weird” (and wild?) one that always has to do things differently. I can’t say anyone has ever really given me the impression that this is their impression, perception or thoughts about me. Yet, it still shows up every once in a while for me.
Because I’m human and as humans, we all have illogical fears that our ego uses to mess with us- ego keeps us from seeing our own greatness.
Here’s an example.
One of my clients went on a pitch with 3 other colleagues. Let’s call her Jane. Two of her colleagues pitching with her were partners (service partners). One was another senior employee, much like Jane. Jane was involved in the pitch initially because she knows how to shine and “wow” prospective clients. The two service partners- not so much.
Here’s the deal- when it came time for Jane to step up and shine and wow during the pitch- what do you think she did? You know the answer because we all do it at some point or another.
Jane (who was sequenced to speak third after the two service partners) backed off her pitch and did not “wow” or shine.
She didn’t feel right outshining and out”wowing” her fellow senior colleagues. She didn’t want them to look bad and be better and maybe overbearing. Makes sense, right? So instead Jane backed off and delivered a rather uneventful pitch when her turn came around.
The company didn’t win the pitch. On top of that, on the debrief the two service partners told Jane all the things she could have done better during the pitch. Never once did they look at their own lack of “wow” or take ownership for themselves. That’s pretty common, though, right?
The beauty of all this: Jane had enough self-awareness to know exactly what she didn’t do AND to know what she would differently next time! That’s the key: to stop and look at your actions and brand and ponder, “why”? I guarantee you next time she won’t make the same decision to lay low and not shine.
Here’s the deal: when you allow rank, seniority, family order to take the front seat, you lose your personal power to shine and sell your brand well with integrity. Your voice is not being heard and your brand is not resonating. You are stifling yourself. You are not helping the company any, either. We must respect rank and order- so don’t go rogue.
However, just because someone is your senior, does not mean you can’t mentor them and act in a way where they can learn from and follow you. Leaders are everywhere and all ages. You just have to be brave enough and step up.
What does this mean for you? Step back and consider:
- where are you playing it safe and coming from fear in your career and life?
- where is your brand not shining because you don’t want to “show off” and shine?
- where is your brand not shining because you don’t want to offend your senior colleagues, boss or hurt your family members?
Remember, in the end your actions likely will have the opposite impact than you want: contributing to lost pitches, babying family members who could learn from you and not leading/guiding your colleagues to their own success and that of the company/business.
Hard to do? Of course. Branding is simple, yet not easy. However, I’m your biggest cheerleader. You got this. Call or email for support. I’m always here.
Aside from being a wife and family member, I am blessed to have several leadership roles, including running a branding company. So often I’m trying to figure out how to lead well. If I trust my gut and stay self-aware, it’s easy. If I start to analyze and agonize, it quickly becomes very hard to lead- much less to stay present.
What’s the right thing to do in any leadership opportunity situation? Should I say something? Should I stay quiet and let those I lead figure it out? Should I say just a little bit but not give away the farm? What if they don’t like me anymore once I open my mouth to lead? Worse, what if they hate me?
And on and on and on….it can get maddening if I let it.
Here’s what I’ve learned through my trials and tribulations in developing a leadership brand that works for me.
First, I’ve discovered I have to have a general goal. My goal (and I recommend it for you) is to aim to have my leadership style resonate my brand. This really means making sure that your only goal is to develop a brand culture for whatever group you are leading.
This brand culture must come from values development. How? It involves the human element- does everyone you lead have their values identified? Are they allowed and proud to own their values? Do their values seep into the organization’s brand culture?
For instance, my number one value is integrity. My number two value is to have fun and be happy.
Once I’ve set my leadership branding goal, I now have a pattern to compare all my actions as a leader. This ensures my brand values (and company brand culture) syncs up with, and consistently resonate, all my leadership actions.
In the next blog, I’ll talk about what to do from this point to ensure a strong leadership brand for you and your organization/employees.
For now ask yourself:
- What are my brand values?
- Does my leadership convey my brand values?
- Do those you lead (your employees and/or colleagues) know their brand values and “own” them well?
Within organizations the one thing you can count on is change. Change is inevitable.
It comes often and is often painful. In the branding world, change is an indicator of brand flexibility: brands that go with change, evolve and survive to thrive. Brands that don’t bend with the wind, die out.
What kind of changes are we talking about? Such changes include a) reorganizational changes of any kind, like changes in management, buy-outs, downsizing due to economic factors or due to innovation b) technological changes leading to obsolescence c) pure economy dictated changes.
What do all these changes involve? Employees. Your best advantage and greatest asset- your talent pool.
Here’s the problem: The 2013 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report found that only 13% of employees are engaged at work. Engagement equals productivity.
So what are the hurdles to employee engagement and productivity due to change? Here’s what I’ve found happens when there is any internal change- and there will always be internal change:
- There is a fundamental shift in brand values due to change in management- often this is accompanied by mass confusion, often subconscious, among the employee pool. Why? Read on.
- There is no focus on the notion of building the “internal” brand first- since the brand of the employees/agents is behind the company brand and comes first, it pays to develop the employee brand first- this involves direct communication to the employees and inclusion of the employees in the brand value process. Leadership must engage employees in the exercise of discovering their values that coincide with the shift in brand values of the new management.
- There is a strong possibility that employees/agents go rogue and drift away from the corporate brand representation.
So what is management supposed to do about this? The first step is that “management” needs to stop thinking like “management” and start thinking like “leadership”. This means first and foremost having conscious awareness that a shift has occurred. This shift may not be well understood or accepted by your employees.
Next, leadership needs to take steps to make sure the brand values shift is a) communicated well and b) open to revision by employees c) based on the ability to have the employees develop their own brand values and contribute to the new direction of the company’s brand. This is where I come in to assist the leadership team.
What happens if management does not become leadership and apply these steps? From my experience, the best that can happen is employees leave the company. The worst that can happen is that employees stay, become disgruntled which in turn leads to apathy, lack of productivity, and low morale. All of this inevitably leads to a decline in profits.
So what does this mean for you?
If your organization is going through change, make sure you consider your employee brand values. They must be in sync with your organizational shifts and the brand value changes they bring. These changes must be communicated to your employees and your employees given the ability to participate in creating the evolved organizational brand culture.
Life throws us so much “stuff” sometimes, it can be challenging to see it all as a gift. We end up having to juggle so many things that to me it is a miracle when I get to crawl into bed some days. Take today for instance: I had car “issues”. That, in and of itself, is stressful. Then my car got vandalized (don’t ask) on top of it all. I had to deal with all this between the hours of 6:30am and 9:30am. Then I came into the office (late, of course). I had a call followed by a staff meeting and then the bookkeeper had questions, too, to which I was the only one with answers. Get the picture?
Here’s the question: how was I supposed to separate the personal stuff from work and be a good employer and leader? How was I supposed to come into the office and be an effective leader/manager? Is it possible, you ask? Yes, and it can either be done well or… not so well. Here’s how I see the distinction.
I was with a client the other day. She was speaking of the challenges of managing her staff well when there were so many “interesting” and varied personalities involved. I suggested to her that she stop viewing her job as “management” and instead look at it as support. Why, you ask? Management is different than leadership. When we are asked to manage others, it’s as if we are given a set of tasks that those we manage must complete. Our job as managers is to just make sure the set of tasks get completed well by those we manage.
Effective and impactful brands are leaders, NOT managers.
Leadership is the brand that I look to cultivate for all clients. Leadership has nothing to do with a checklist or tasks. It also has nothing to do with giving stellar speeches or your title. Leadership is about having a brand that is: a) creative, b) large and forward-looking in scope and outlook and c) kind to those who report to you. If I had to sum up the concept of successful leaders with great brands it would be those who support others well. When we are able to support others in their goals and challenges, we are not only great managers and leaders- we are human beings who care. Simply put, people take instruction and want to be around those who care and practice compassion.
So what does “support” mean? Support is whatever you make it to be. I always try to remember that supporting others may not look the way I think it should be- it is a very individualistic process that is based on the other person’s needs and goals, NOT ours as the supporting leader. This always requires us to choose to see things differently. This is true when you support/lead/manage people at work, when you interact with your spouse/partner and your children.
So stop and ask yourself:
- How do you support others?
- Do you stop to see things differently by putting yourself in their position?
- How can you improve upon your own leadership abilities?
- How can you develop an awareness practice to know when you could care more and be more compassionate to others?
Ever wonder how some people just have greater and better capacity for life than others? I’m not talking just in business, but in what seems all aspects of their life. Ever wonder why the entrepreuner can really wear all the hats of CEO and Chief Bathroom Cleaner, too?
In my time, I’ve learned that being flexible and open to new ideas is one of the most important attributes in my life. The only attribute higher for me personally is integrity.
Being an immigrant has always helped me be flexible, nimble and see the world of options before me. That’s just how we grew up. We moved to the US with two suitcases thinking we were just here on vacation. We never ended up leaving, which was fantastic. When I stop and think about how much my parents had to tolerate change and be flexible and creative, I’m astounded.
I lost some of my willingness to try new things and flexibility to adapt when I was knee deep into the practice of law. I’m not quiet sure what it was. Maybe it was because my days were very predictable and the law was founded in precedence. I really didn’t think anyone cared for me to be creative, flexible and take on new learnings beyond my substantive practice. Being a lawyer was hard enough, it seemed.
But somewhere deep inside me, I was yearning to learn new things, adapt and try on new roles and experiences in life that may have made me uncomfortable, but would have been fun and creative. I was used to discomfort and sitting in the unknown. In a way, I thrive on novelty and unchartered territory, but I also have compassion for how others may not share my views.
Fast forward all these years to now, where I run this personal branding company. What I ask of my clients all day long is for them to sit in discomfort, put on a creative hat and try to learn from new experiences and apply their lessons learned to new situations. In particular, I want them to apply their lessons to new situations that may not always be predictable and comfortable.
This is the hallmark of a dynamic and creative personal brand. People will always stand up and notice you and your brand if you are agile, fluid and creative. People welcome your self-confidence to try on something new.
In the workplace this notion is referred to as “learning agility”. In fact, The Korn Ferry Institute says learning agility is a leading predictor of talent and leadership success for people. Korn Ferry also finds that learning agility is rare, with only 15% of the workforce being highly learning agile.
John Delaney, Dean of the school of business at University of Pittsburgh, said it best in a Huffington Post article about this very subject. Professor Delaney said, “Learning agility is what happens when a lawyer is asked to maintain a robust social media presence or a financial professional is tapped to open a global office even with limited knowledge of the new country’s economy or culture, and yet they overcome their lack of experience and discomfort and find a way to simply make it work. Those who are learning agile know what to do when they don’t know what to do. They know the questions to ask, the people to work with to find the answers they need and they are comfortable being uncomfortable.”
So what does this mean for you? Stop and ask yourself:
– How willing and self-confident are you to take that next step at work even when you not sure what to do? How about in your personal life?
– How often do you find yourself in uncomfortable situations where you are willing to tough it out in order to find a solution?
– How creative do you allow yourself and your brand be in order to grow as a human and a leader?