From reactrive to Proactive leadership

In the unpredictable, uncertain and changing times, even before COVID-19, being proactive was a most significant and important skill for all of us, especially for leaders. I’ve always called on people to be proactive. I’ve always believed it was a matter of mindset. By changing your thoughts you could change your behaviour. It was a shift that was possible if you developed some self-awareness of what was happening within you. You could see the considerable benefits of being proactive as compared with being reactive.

Yet here we are now caught in this unprecedented reality of the COVID-19 pandemic that I feel challenges those beliefs.

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Networking

Networking, for me,  is first and foremost about making connections and building relationships with people – the more high quality and targeted to my work the better. It’s about staying connected to these people over the long term developing a mutually supportive relationship where I can get to know, like and trust them, and they me. I believe that what happens, as I authentically engage in doing that, is that we begin to build our personal brand, our profile and our reputation.

No amount of money can buy those three things. We have to earn them and networking is one of the most effective ways of doing that. Only then will we be ready to do business together, refer clients to one another and work on joint projects together. Networking is as much about what we can give as what we can get.

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Leadership

Why were you promoted to leadership? Do you even know? I asked a group of leaders this question recently and there was little clarity. In fact, they seemed surprised to be asked. There was no one who said they were appointed because they were skilful at leading, motivating and inspiring people to be high performers. That was one of the answers I was looking for.

So why are people appointed to leadership? I’ve come up with 8 reasons.

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grow your career

If you are a Baby Boomer, or even a Generation X professional, you will remember when there was a career ladder. It had rungs, levels, that showed you how to get from the bottom to the top, how to progress your career. At each rung or level, there were fairly clear cut performance expectations that if you met granted you the opportunity to step up to the next rung or level. Depending on how far up you wanted to go and how quickly, you could get to the top of your career.

Today young professionals do not have that luxury, that certainty about how to take their career where they want it to go. There is no career ladder or if there appears to be one, many of the rungs are broken and getting from where you are to the next level seems a huge leap, often impossibly big.

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Emotoionally Unintelligent Leader

What kind of a leader do you want to be in the midst of these changing, uncertain and challenging times? Do you want to be an emotionally intelligent one or an emotionally unintelligent one? In the article I refer to here on the importance of working on yourself as a leader there is the story of Ann who was invited by her manager to give feedback.He took her comments and feedback and allowed his emotions to personalise them, became offended and then threatened her with withholding her bonus for no other reason than the fact that he couldn’t manage his emotions intelligently and appropriately as a leader. Emotional intelligence, like self-awareness, are crucially important leadership skills and deserve a high priority in our professional development as leaders. I doubt that Ann’s manager would have learned anything from this experience Who would be courageous enough to tell him if they were going to get the reaction that Ann received? Make a commitment to developing your emotional intelligence in 2020.

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Hands tied and disempowered

“Setting up systems”, you say. “How would that empower my productivity?” It can. Let me tell you more. How much time do we waste every day at work telling people the same thing time after time? The next day we do it all over again. We explain procedures to our clients over the phone twenty times a week. We explain to at least 2-3 of our colleagues every week how to do something that is integral to our business.

Why haven’t we got a system that does that to which we can refer our colleagues and clients? We could have a flyer or brochure on it – online and hard copy – to which we could refer them. We could have a video on the intranet to which we could direct our colleagues when they don’t understand that issue or situation. Sure it takes time to set up systems, but it also takes enormous time – if we add it up over a day, a week or a year – to explain the same things over and over.

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Valuable Old Watch

Do you feel valued in your workplace? If not, why do you stay there? Why wouldn’t you move to where your expertise is valued?

In my work, especially as a mentor, I constantly talk with people who don’t feel valued at work. What keeps them there, however, is a doubt about their own ability. Part of them believes they are making a valuable contribution, but because no one actually acknowledges it, they then feel that maybe they are not as valuable as they think. They rely on the people around them to validate them. Because that doesn’t happen, they then fear to go elsewhere, feeling they have nothing to offer.
That’s one of the great things about mentoring. It validates you even while it challenges. If it is one-on-one mentoring, the mentor does that, but if it is group mentoring, a whole group of like-minded, equally motivated people share their experience with you and you find it validating yours.

So if you want to discover your real value, ask the right people. A mentor is one of those people.

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Mentoring Group with Maree Harris

When I read recently that Michelle Obama feels a fraud and imposter and feels she shouldn’t be taken seriously, I wondered where that left the rest of us. She is one of the most admired and inspirational women in modern times. She drew audiences of 6000+ people as she promoted around the world her book “Becoming”. Yet in spite of her constantly feeling that way on the inside she presents as an empowered and empowering woman on the outside.

I realised how big an issue this is for us as women. Most of us have had that feeling, or carry it around with us as unnecessary baggage. We doubt ourselves often even when we are successful and accomplished at what we do. So we don’t seize opportunities that would enhance and accelerate our careers.
We, together, can break through this lack of confidence and self-belief, learn how to self-promote in a way that fits your values, find your voice and negotiate the future career you want. These are absolute essentials we need as women to accelerate our careers and become empowered and empowering leaders.

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can't manage people

Last week I told the story of Mark the highly skilled technical expert who was promoted to management but couldn’t manage his people. What happened next was the organisation’s worst nightmare.

This was a blog post I wrote back in 2016. I recalled it when I recently had a CEO come to me to talk about a Mark in his organisation. I’m not going to detail exactly what we talked about for his Mark, but as this is a very common issue, I am going to give you some approaches for how to handle this kind of situation if you are a CEO or leader in your organisation.

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Manager can't manage people

Mark has technical skills your organisation cannot afford to lose. No one else in the organisation has his level of expertise. You really want him to focus on bringing that expertise to research and development, enhancing the product development and service delivery in the organisation. Mark, however, has been wanting to move into management for the past 18 months, saying that having been with the organisation for 3 years at the same level, he deserves a promotion given his significant contribution.

You don’t deny any of that and you are quite concerned that if you don’t grant that management promotion to him, he may seek it elsewhere. So what do you do? You make him a manager. What happens next is an organisation’s worst nightmare.

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