In a variety of companies and industries, and in a range of roles involving direct reports, I have been responsible for decisions related to training and career pathing, Over the years, I have also learned the value of maintaining focus on my own professional development.
As you may have experienced, there is a palpable feeling of high stakes in many organizations – you work in an increasingly competitive industry, operating globally and therefore 24/7 (at least in terms of accessibility), and technology is rapidly changing the way you conduct business. Consequently, so much is needed to stay relevant, confident, and authentic amidst the stark realities of change management, process improvement and customer satisfaction against which you are measured.
“Yes, yes you do have to network.” As a Stress Management Coach and Training Director I spend a good deal of time describing to others how important maintaining a web of support is. It reduces stress, builds resiliency and can help you both personally and professionally. So why for so long was my first thought always, “Ugh, do I have to?” Over time I learned to appreciate how networking is wrapped into social and emotional intelligence and how they, in turn, are very important to our overall success. I knew I needed to change my response, mainly the one in my head, and figure out how to step outside my comfort zone.
If you believe coaching is a great way to approach supervision and develop people, great. But do you give your managers the know-how and time to coach? When I ask managers I work with whether their bosses support their talent development role, many say, no, or not much. Their performance is too often evaluated based only on their functional roles as program managers, sales team heads, etc.
After a plenary or panel session at a conference, it is helpful to protect time at the end to engage the audience with the content just presented. One idea for doing this is to pose a question for people to reflect on or discuss with others around them (or at their table):
Does sitting for hours staring at screens while monitoring the endless flow of interruptions lead to improved engagement, innovation and creative thought? What about unplugging, going to a gorgeous, off-the grid location and spending a few days with the crew as a way to boost team performance, inspire better leadership and promote wellbeing? Science suggests that taking the team outdoors could trounce training time in conference rooms when looking for ways to optimize performance. Here are five scientific reasons why:
As an employee, you hope your supervisor knows about all the valuable contributions you’ve made, big or otherwise, for clients, for team members, and certainly for them. The truth is, while accomplishments on key projects may come with their share of kudos, there’s likely much less visibility into your more regular feats of development, execution, collaboration, and problem-solving. It’s time to consider a more proactive approach to professional self-advocacy.
Taking time to reflect is baked into the holiday season like those colorful chewy bits in a fruitcake. Resolutions abound and gym memberships fly off the shelf as we review the passing year and make plans for the coming one. But why limit this educational practice to an end of year frenzy? Reflection is a free, easy, no technology needed method of digesting the present and nourishing plans to thrive in the future.
I have spent considerable time in the decades since college graduation contemplating my next move. Whether looking for advancement (greater challenge, more senior title, higher pay), relocating for family, returning to work after maternity leave, or considering sole proprietorship, I have continually found or made opportunities that have been rewarding and educational.
In and of itself, being ambitious is culturally accepted in the U.S., if not downright encouraged. It goes hand in hand with the norm in our present day society to expect upward career mobility (while recognizing that a few lateral steps periodically may be necessary to give us a better position from which to launch to the next level).
Fourteen years ago, I graduated college and moved to a small, rural village in Burkina Faso, West Africa as a community health Peace Corps Volunteer. Thus began my quite accidental career in the learning and development profession. Little did I know at the time, but I would also be forging relationships that would endure time and space across oceans.
I remember when I learned to drive. There were no cell phones back then or GPS, just my 8-track tape deck and AM/FM radio. Fast forward to Oct. 1st, 2014 when a new law went info effect where I live in Vermont that bans the use of handheld portable electronic devices while operating a car. Vermont is only one of 12 states (plus D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) to have such a law, although there are 44 states (plus D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands), which have laws banning text messaging for all drivers.
There are important milestones in your professional development that will arise as you strive to accelerate and accentuate your leadership competencies. I am using the term leadership in a very generic sense, not implying any formal role, title or authority, but rather an elevated presence highlighted by intelligence, actions and behavior that inspires others to seek you out. Essentially, at various times in your career you will come to a crossroads, and whether by intention, guidance or luck, you might choose to go in one direction over another.
When you had your last BIG IDEA, where were you and what were you doing? Based on the answers I’ve heard, many of us meet the muse while running/biking/working out, showering or vacationing. I’d be willing to wager that there aren’t many who’d cite sitting at their desk or post-lunch meetings as incubators of Ah Ha! moments. So, when it comes time for a retreat, why head to the same old catered conference environments? Here are six reasons to head beyond the box:
Organizations where coaching skills are infused in day-to-day practice have “higher employee engagement and stronger financial performance.” So says a 2014 International Coaching Federation (ICF) research report.
As I see it, more traditional approaches to leadership development involve three components: leader training programs, formal mentoring, and/or coaching offered to senior leaders (and sometimes to a select group of rising stars.) Comparing these three components highlights special features of coaching.
Working within your comfort zone has its moments. There is a period of time (for some it might be months, for others it might be a year or more) when you’ve hit your stride – you’re working efficiently and effectively with no discernible downside. The effort is reasonable, the quantity is manageable, the time spent is acceptable, and the output is respectable, perhaps even impressive. Overall it feels predictable.
"doing more with less" or simply doing less with less? how execution cultures get things done by michele comette
There are many organizations and individuals out there who have subscribed to the notion of needing to “do more with less” in order to succeed in the ever-changing economic climate. In addition to implementing legitimate ways to become more lean and effective (e.g. waste reduction, work flow re-engineering), organizations are requiring their talent to become more agile and nimble, more innovative, and more strategic in order to remain competitive in the business landscape, all with less resources and less time. If everything is a priority, how do we get everything done without burning out?
When it comes to leadership, being a high-performer just isn’t good enough anymore. Just because you’re the company’s number one sales rep, doesn’t mean you’re going to be a successful sales manager. Being a brilliant engineer doesn’t equate to being a magnetic CEO. Being the most productive line worker doesn’t automatically make you a great shift leader. Effective leadership is learned. Effective leadership is intentional. Effective leaders build meaningful relationships with their staff - cultivating a culture of resonance. Many “star players” find themselves promoted into management or supervisory roles with little to no leadership development support. Being an effective, skillful leader takes compassion, competence and intentionality - traits we must all learn and develop. As leaders it’s easy to fall into the traps that consume our time, get in the way of our sensibilities and hijack our best intentions.
In a recent training class my organization conducted, one of our exercises was to pair up people from the same department in similar job functions and have each person share a challenging situation they were facing at work. The other person’s role was to listen, ask questions, and offer any additional insight. The participants were “senior” level, having been in this line of work for many years. In addition to coming up with some options and alternatives to their respective challenges (our main objective), many of the participants vocalized how they had gained a greater appreciation for seeking another’s perspective which added value to the problem solving process (our secondary objective).
I have always been interested in different approaches to teaching and learning. As a young child, I was so excited about school that I would share all of my learnings with my younger sister as soon as I got home every day. Later, as a college student, I studied secondary education at a school that features a non-traditional academic schedule, where students focus intensely on one subject at a time.
When you’re involved in a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement with someone there are a multitude of factors that can affect the process and outcome. One of the more significant variables is relationship. In the midst of ongoing discussion - negotiating a contract, persuading someone to share your perspective, offering feedback, resolving a conflict – the status of your relationship with the other party can swing the pendulum dramatically.
Assuming you agree that time is valuable, ask yourself these questions: