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Not All Professional Storms Are In The Forecast

The sea change occurring in business today presents exciting, boundless career horizons for women. Right now, we stand on the brink of all women have worked so hard to achieve, even as businesses around the globe are simultaneously laboring under unprecedented forces disrupting and changing, where being smarter, faster, and more flexible is essential.

We, woman, know our potential is unlimited. Yet, no advanced warning system alerts you to the threats set to knock you off-course.

Women, is there anything you can proactively do to ensure you’re at the helm of your professional future?

You bet there is!

It begins by putting yourself at the top of your “to do list” as Michelle Obama shared with Barbara Walters: “A lot of times we slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else.

For many, it’s an uncomfortable exercise, and you may not even know where to start. Let’s look at three, course corrections, which offer career security in turbulent times.

Building Relationships: At the top of your “to do list,” should be expanding your professional network. This activity has a two-fold return on your time investment.

  1. To Be Knighted The Internal Choice: SHRM research determined, 44 percent of employees think it’s who you know that counts in getting ahead in their organizations with only one-in-three thinking it is merit.
  2. To Quickly Find an External Position: As Matt Youngquist, President of Career Horizons says: “At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs, are not published.” The majority of hires are through network referrals.

Driving For Relevancy: Vital to a long-lived, thriving career is continuous growth and development. On average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months, but according to IBM, the “internet of things” is leading to doubling of knowledge every 12 hours—as compared to after World War II, when knowledge was doubling every 25 years! Burnt Glass Technology has it right when it says if you don’t dedicate time and attention to moving up the “human value curve,” you’ll be left behind wondering what hit you.  If you’re not a “yes” to learning, it’s time to adjust your priorities.

Expand Your Range: Unlike in years past, where there was an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)—the more left brain competencies, today’s fast-paced work environment, entails not only those abilities but an even broader array as well. Today’s in-demand soft skills are a more right brain pursuit encompassing emotional intelligence, writing, collaboration, creativity, as well as problem-solving to name a few. Relying solely on your left brain competencies year-after-year, you know the ones you proudly spent years perfecting, rather than taking on new ones, won’t guarantee job security. Such an attitude will most assuredly quash your future in today’s business reality.

Women, I hope “Aha’s are flashing before your eyes. Your attention can’t be only about the quality of work you perform. It also has to be about your preparation for the unexpected storms heading your way. That means a constant commitment to upping the ante in these three critical up-skilling practices: building relationships, driving for relevancy and expanding your range. If you don’t, you’re turning your back on your prosperous professional tomorrows.

Managers: Are You Feeling The Weight Of The World On Your Shoulders?

Well, you’re not mistaken.

The fact is who you are and how you interact with your staff impacts not only how they feel about the company, but the length of their employment. Gallup recognizes employees leave managers not companies.

You can see this as a burden or as a gift—it is your choice.

You may ask: “How can this be?

The trajectory of your career is in large part produced by the operational results you generate through your employees.

There’s no question being an effective manager isn’t an easy role that’s why not everyone makes the grade. Every day more is put on your plate with ever-tightening deadlines. In such an environment, it’s difficult not to lose track of management responsibilities.  Let’s take a look at several concepts which will help you soar as a manager. Read More→

Is Your Company Catching Glimpses Of Their Future In You?

There isn’t anything more crucial for your career than integrating innovation into your daily work experience.

Research from Burnt Glass Technologies slams this home with recent research showing approximately 12 percent of job openings today, and projected to grow over 21 percent the next 10 years will be hybrid positions…. More than double the rate of jobs overall!

These hybrid jobs require a combination of the creative right brain as well as left brain technical skills. And they’re less at risk to the disruption coming where PwC projects nearly 40 percent of jobs in the U.S. may be vulnerable to replacement by robots in the next fifteen years.

Already we see a slew of routine, repetitive jobs eliminated by technology and AI.

But before you get too nervous about your future employment, let’s examine how innovative you already are.

your last week:

  1. What percentage of your week did you expend on “fire-fighting,” “get it done” activities?
  2. What percentage of the week did you spend on innovative, originating thinking that didn’t have a current timeline attached to the project?

Most of my clients answer: “100 percent was deadline driven.”

If your intention is to be evaluated by your boss as a “work-a-bee” rather than a “high potential employee,” keep on doing the same old things in the same old way. But I don’t think that’s how you envision your future.

So, let’s turn your future around.

Are You Imprisoning Yourself In Your Job Description? Recollect, a peer you’ve worked alongside in the past; someone recognized as doing a superb job; and then, they were promoted or left the company.

Now, think of that newcomer who assumed the same responsibilities; and they too were stellar.

“Did the job look the same under both executives?”

I bet the answer is an emphatic, “No!”

Everyone brings their particular brand of giftedness, skills, and point of view to the job. There are more expansion opportunities for more of you and your innovative mind to show up than you credit.

Are You Thinking R.E.D.? As projects and assignments cross your desk, reflect on:

“What can I Reduce, Eliminate and/or Delegate that won’t harm the outcome?”

As you assess your job with new eyes, you open pockets of time on your calendar.

Are You Working Within Your “Golden Touch?” Many employees—mainly, managers—spend much of their time on tasks well below their expertise. Then, wonder why they’re collapsing under the sheer weight of their workload.

Scrutinize the assignments crossing your desk, asking yourself:

  1. “Does it involve my “Golden Touch” (A combination of what your company hired you to do, your expertise, your strengths, and your passion.)
  2. Does this assignment expand someone else’s proficiencies?
  3. Does it comprise one of my subordinates or peer’s interests?

You unlock time on your schedule when you grow yourself and others through mentoring and delegating. Now, you’ve freed your calendar a bit to innovate in ways that will enhance the organization. And you have ideas!

Your improvements along the way will expand your continued relevance and career growth. And because you’re carving out time to think in a frame of reference your peers are not; your organization is going to be catching glimpses of their future in you!

Turning Your Workforce Into Profit

There’s no question business today occurs in a competitive and disruptive setting. The big puzzle for companies—whether small or large—and their employees is how to navigate such an environment.  And an innovative, commitment-based culture tops the solution list.

When we think about innovation, companies such as Apple, NetFlix, Alibaba, Google, and Amazon readily come to mind. And yet, not one of these companies would have made the cut without actively engaged, creative employees, making it happen every step of the way.

NFI’s Innovation survey reveals that while 85 percent of employees say innovation is a fundamental driver for growth and profit for their company only 5.90 percent of the respondents are receptive to innovative ideas coming to them from the organization. And of even greater concern, 83.10 percent spend less than 25 percent of their time working on innovation; and of that number, 42.25 percent spend less than 10 percent of their time on this agenda.

Let’s address the concerns employees say impedes them from being an innovator:

Too Little Time—
72.34 percent of respondents named this issue.[1]

Organizations tend to focus their employees’ attention on the functional side of the business rather than the pioneering/improvement side. Such single-mindedness only weakens organizations in the long run. It’s the “both and” conversation that leads to both successful operations and effective, innovative strategies. When companies base their employee’s success on the number of urgent “to do” tasks executed, they’re developing results junkies, which is entirely at odds with producing an innovative workforce.

You can’t permit employees to become so content with producing “today” outcomes they lose sight of the future and never incorporate innovative thought in their everyday activities.

Managers Key Solutionby replacing a boss who is in the lower 10% of boss quality with one who is in the upper 10% of boss quality increases a team‘s total output by about the same amount as would adding one worker to a nine member team.[ii]

Without question, developing an innovative track-record is a critical dynamic for a thriving company. And the key to fostering such an energized, creative-directed work base comes with strong corporate leaders and managers.

Each has a role to play. Leaders inspire the workforce, protect the culture, provide resources, establish a clear game plan and hold the organization accountable for the innovation initiatives, but mid-level managers are where the rubber meets the road.

Unclear Visionthree-year total returns to shareholders are three times higher at companies where employees understand corporate objectives and the way in which their jobs contribute to achieving them.[iii]

It isn’t enough to announce, with a flurry of fanfare, the organization’s strategy. Companies must, also, recognize how crucial repetitive, clear messaging is to engage the heart and mind of their workforce. Leaders and managers should consider sharing: “This is specifically the strategy, and this is how your work connects to it.” Such “big picture” dialogue along with drilling-down to connect the daily detail enables employees to eliminate any miscues. This transparency permits them to key in on long-term innovative opportunities as they arise.

What are you going to take on to move you and your organization to innovative profitability?


[1] Nancy Fredericks International Innovation Survey, Turning Your Workforce Into Profit.
[ii]Stanford University Report
[iii]Towers Watson, Study


Who Do I Intend To Be This Year?

Business executives with soaring careers practice recreating themselves regularly. It appears the combination of a vision and the desire to grow is part-and-parcel of those who are thriving today.

Reba McEntire articulates it best: To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.

You see designing a career, or a life that satisfies and fulfills you requires courage—as Reba pointed out—as well as self-awareness.

Take a momentary pause. Are you ready to do a gut check on yourself to reveal the shadows in the closet of your mind and open yourself to possibility? It begins by asking some powerful questions.

What habits or actions became a part of my last year that I want to keep? Moving forward into your future doesn’t mean giving up what’s been working for you. It does mean, identifying them and determining if they embrace the possibility of becoming all you hope to be. Your past habits launched your yesterday’s triumphs, but do they, also, promote your evolution into becoming the you; you plan to be tomorrow?

What do I wish I’d done last year that I didn’t? Lack of action always stops you from fulfilling all your potential. Dig deep. Are there any initiatives you didn’t take on because of fear or self-doubt or holding yourself small? Identify them, create an implementation plan (or at least move forward with the new ideas emerging from your highly generative brain this year), and stop undermining who you are designed to be in this world.

Have I identified my personal Golden Touch? This unique touch is the aspect of you that most closely aligns with your passions. As you assume responsibility for areas which include your strengths according to Gallup, you’ll be more satisfied and productive. But developing your strengths exclusively won’t have you realizing your dreams. You must also pay attention to your weaknesses particularly if they’re fundamental to your desired career destination.

Where do I intend to step up? This expansion attitude means you’ll be doing things you’ve never done before and this is what growth is all about. If you don’t expand, you’re stagnating. Begin opening doors to your future by trying something new that propels you toward realizing the next great, new adventure in your career.

Am I preparing and anticipating for greatness this year? Your brain is far more potent than you credit because it is next to impossible to bring anything into fruition without first imagining it. One continuous, stretching decision after the other builds careers. So, what are you anticipating—an amazing breakthrough that renews and energizes you? Or are you slamming the doors of your mind closed to possibility?

Once you incorporate the answers to the recreation questions into your everyday work life, you’ll be surprised by all the opportunities you’ve never seen before and all the miraculous doors opening without effort on your part.