Top Headhunter Says CEOs Have To Unlearn How They Have Operated

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Sep 23, 2015 |

Finding top CEOs for organisations around the world is the challenging task faced every day by Rajeev Vasudeva, global CEO of leading headhunting company, Egon Zehnder. It’s challenging, he says, because no longer is past performance the best predictor of future success. The task of leadership is changing so rapidly.
In an interview with Anne Hyland in The Financial Review, 28-29 March, 2015, he says that while leadership is the most discussed topic today there is no clear answer to what makes a good leader.
He uses four markers in selecting CEOs, and many of us may be surprised at these – curiosity, insight, engagement, resilience.
But he also says that CEOs have to unlearn much of how they previously operated that if they want to remain in their positions achieving success, because “what got you here is unlikely to keep you here or get you further.”

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What To Do When Your Career Stalls!

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Sep 10, 2015 |

Are you one of those many people I’m talking with today who feel your career has stalled? You believe you are doing a good job. In fact, your manager has told you so. Everyone seems to be happy with what you are doing, but you are missing out on all the promotions and opportunities that have presented themselves. You are frustrated, bewildered and often even find yourself struggling to contain anger. One part of you wonders what else you need to do to move on and up. The other part, you reveal to me, is that you fear you will be stuck where you are for the rest of your working life!
Learn the skills to break the nexus and how to apply them to create your own opportunities.
Be a leader, act like a leader, even if you don’t have the role or the title. You will imprint yourself in the consciousness of those who have the power to give you the next leadership role.

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The Empowered Leader Knows Small Hinges Swing Big Doors

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Sep 7, 2015 |

Whenever we are challenged, face a crisis, or are confronted with a problem, so often we immediately start thinking about the bigness of the required response.
We start thinking about how much money this is going to cost us to right it, or the enormous amount of time it will take to fix it, or how many months (or even years!) it will be before things get back to normal.
Rarely do we think small: What can I do right now to make a difference here? What small thing can I do that will bring about even a small change here?
It’s the empowered leader who knows that small hinges swing big doors and looks for the small hinges in his company that will bring about the big change in the culture of his organisation.

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Write a book, Become An Author With Gihan Perera.

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Aug 16, 2015 |

Are you one of those many people who has always wanted to write a book, to become an author? You know you have a book in you, maybe two or three even, but you are daunted by the prospect. Maybe you even doubt your ability to write it, let alone know how to publish and print it.

A colleague of mine, Gihan Perera, has come up with the answer for you with Business Book In a Box. He will interview you, drawing out your expertise, record the interviews and turn them into a publish book which will arrive on your doorstep 90 days later.

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Consistency Is More Important For Success Than Motivation.

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Aug 15, 2015 |

Every now and then someone says something very simple that we actually know but it hasn’t really registered for us. Have you ever had that experience? I have many times.

Yesterday was one of those occasions when I came across an article by personal trainer, Michelle Bridges. She constantly gets asked questions about exercise, health and well-being. One that makes her “want to tear my hair out”, she says, is: “So tell me Michelle, how do you stay motivated?”
She says that achieving success in your life is not about motivation. It is about consistency.
If you have already determined that some action is important for you and your success, then don’t have an endless discussion with yourself about it whenever it is time to do it. JUST DO IT!

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Professional Suicide by Brilliant Young People With No Soft Skills?

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Jul 29, 2015 |

Yesterday Bruce Tulgan wrote an excellent article – What’s the Matter with Kids Today?- and why they lack basic skills. He started this way:

“This first-year associate in a midsized accounting firm, a recent top graduate of a top school, was cutting-edge in his knowledge of a new set of tools and techniques for mining and analyzing data buried within evidentiary documents obtained during pre-litigation discovery. One of the partners said, “This kid had done some projects in school using this new approach and his technical knowledge in this area far surpassed anyone else in the firm. But he kept running into roadblocks because his communication made him seem so immature. At first, he couldn’t get anybody to listen to him. Once we got him going on introducing the new process, I know it sounds petty, but he could barely look people in the eye or string three words together without saying ‘like.’” In short, “His inability to speak in a way that seemed even remotely professional was just rubbing people the wrong way, especially in meetings, though it wasn’t very much better when he was working with people individually.” One of the other partners explained, “We had to send him to a class.” One of the other partners added, “It took a lot more than one class.”

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How Working Outside The Box Can Accelerate Your Career

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Jul 27, 2015 |

Are you wondering if doing your MBA might accelerate your career and give it that extra boost? Have you just stopped playing your favourite sport so you can spend the next 2 years studying for an extra qualification that you believe will advance your career? Are you one of those university students who has given up all outside activities, convinced that committing yourself to studying hard for a couple of years is worth it, to get you the results that will see you land a job in one of the Big 4 accounting firms?

If this is you, then this message I’m writing here is especially for you. It is great to have all those technical skills and qualifications, but it is your non-technical skills – your Soft Skills – that can enhance and accelerate your career and often provide the X factor. These are often developed and enhanced in out- of- work activities, not in the workplace or in formal education.

Lydia Dishman wrote an inspiring article recently in Fast called Four CEOs On How Their Side Jobs Made Them Better Leaders. It’s about how the activities these CEOs engaged in outside of their work, as a firefighter, a rancher, an IT manager, and a start-up mentor, taught them much about leadership and enhanced their roles as CEOs.

The message that Dishman is communicating here is that many of the skills that make us exceptional professionals in our field are best learnt when we involve ourselves in activities that have nothing to do with our work.

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McDonald’s UK Backing Soft Skills

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Jul 19, 2015 |

In a ground-breaking research report which sees McDonald’s UK Backing Soft Skills, their value to the UK economy has been highlighted. They have statistics that demonstrate the great importance of Soft Skills in preparing people to work in the present economy, in advancing careers and growing businesses.

The report found that Soft Skills has contributed £88 billion in Gross Value Added to the UK economy every year. It is expected this will grow to £109 billion by 2020.

It also demonstrated that by 2020, 535,000 workers will be significantly disadvantaged in their efforts to gain employment or advance in their chosen professions or industry sectors unless they take seriously the development of their Soft Skills. The annual overall expected loss of production due to Soft Skills deficits is likely to be £8.4 per year by 2020.

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Changing The Performance Appraisal Conversation

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Jul 16, 2015 |

In my last blog post, I wrote about Rethinking Performance Appraisals, the ceremonial event of the year for white collar workers in post-industrial economies. I was encouraging you to rethink it and move away from making it the centrepoint of your performance management process.

This blog post follows on from that with some strategies for making the performance appraisal conversation more pro-active and helpful. The strategies you use will either dis-empower and disengage your people, or motivate, inspire and empower them to much fuller engagement and commitment.

The second half of this article – What to do in the Next Year – is about using different processes in your organisation for developing and enhancing the performance of your people, rather than using the traditional annual performance appraisal process.
When you use strategies that empower your people you are more likely to get what you want from them. Criticise them, put them down and dis-empower them and your performance appraisal conversation will back-fire. Be the coach, not the critic and learn the skills to be able to do it.

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Rethinking Performance Appraisals

By Maree Harris, Ph.D. | Jul 15, 2015 |

Performance appraisals are the ceremonial event of the year for white collar workers in every post-industrial economy. They cost a lot of money and produce a mountain of paper work. Managers dread them. Employees resent them.

There is no other business practice that fails so often to bring about the outcomes it sets for itself, but continues to be used year after year.

Some innovative organisations have developed different approaches. Some tinker around the edges, but for most it is fundamentally the same.

It is rare to read an article that says much positive about them, but I did find this one : How Performance Reviews Can Protect You From Unfair Dismissal Claims. I suspect this is the reason so many keep doing them – to cover their backs.

The biggest defect of performance appraisals is their tendency to focus backwards, to feed-backwards, rather than to feed-forward. Performance appraisals “force” you the leaders or managers, into the role of the critic who passes judgement on your team member’s past performance. This is what causes the tension, stress and anxiety that sees few handling it well.

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