In talking with a senior leader recently she was asked if she had made any career missteps and if so how did she navigate her way out of them?
I thought this question very interesting as we often assume when we see people who have had these huge successful careers that they know exactly what they doing along the way. That they are so good they just climb the corporate ladder one step at a time, no problems at all. When in actuality this can be far from it.
Just because these high level executives are now in positions with significant power and responsibility doesn’t mean they had a straight and unchallenged pathway to get there. Everyone makes wrong turns, it’s a fact of life. The key in this leader’s response back was having faith in yourself, and in a way practicing self-coaching. The self-coaching is the crucial piece becuase utlimately at the end of the day you are the only one that knows what you truly want and you are the only one that get yourself there.
She said that everyone is human and it’s those wrong turns and misguided steps that we take where we often learn our best lessons. The critical piece is knowing how to coach yourself to find your true direction that you want to go in, acknowledging the skills or added knowledge you will need to get there, and taking the action to make that happen.
Just because these high powered senior leaders seem to have it all, this doesn’t mean they always have. After all, they are human too right?
In my series of posts of my key take aways that I had from hearing the amazing key note speaker, Nora Denzel is this last point, “Remember what you’re judged on”.
So often we get wrapped up in all the other things going on at work, all the extra curriculars, all the extra little asks, all of the extra “nice to do’s” and before we know it, you’re spending all of your time on items that you aren’t even getting judged on.
Are those extra curriculars, projects, nice to do’s good to take on sometimes, sure, but not at the expense of the work that your management is actually going to look at when evaluating your performance which is, what are your RESULTS?
Even if the time comes for the review and maybe you didn’t get all the results during the year that had been expected, maybe you fell just a little short but you feel that you put in a really good effort….more often than not that’s not what matters. What it boils down to plain and simple is, what exactly did you achieve, what did you make a difference it, where was your impact seen, what were you results?
The piece of advice on this take away was to just keep this in mind at all times, because as nice as it is to get involved in all the extra things, make sure that your results are always kept top of mind.
In the ninth take away from the great key note speaker was about how important it is to “Accept the ‘Feedback’ aka Criticism”.
We have all been guilty at one point or another where someone is giving us feedback and we automatically start thinking of reasons why their feedback is wrong in our heads before they are even done with their sentence and then there are some of us that are guilty of rebutting the feedback right then and there verbally.
As Nora pointed out in her talk, this is the wrong thing to do. When you are given feedback you need to realize that far more often than not, the person is simply trying to help you. The second point was when we are given feedback just say “Thank you” and if you feel like you would like a little more clarification on what exactly they meant by one of the feedback points then don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions and see how much further information you can get out of them.
Lastly, when you are receiving feedback, especially in a one on one meeting with your manager, after saying thank you and asking your clarifying questions don’t hesitate to think future looking and ask them in “How does my performance differ from a qualified person at the next level?” Don’t be afraid to solicit some additional feedback from them on areas that you are interested in hearing their thoughts on, not just the feedback they want to give you right off the bat, dig a little deeper and hopefully you come away with some very valuable insight.
As a continuation of my last several blog posts of the key take aways I had from a business seminar, was to “Aim High”, it doesn’t even matter of this lofty goal is even actually real for you, it should still be the goal you tell people you are shooting for.
The key takeaway of this eighth point was always aim high with any goals you set, realistic or not, and you should tell people these lofty goals when they ask you what your goals are. The reason for this is twofold.
First, why not tell people these high lofty goals, even if it may not be completely what you want or don’t know if it truly is what you want, what do you have to lose? So what if you end up wanting or needing to adjust your lofty goals down the road, there isn’t any rule against doing this, that’s what goals are for. For you to AIM HIGH and adjust along the way for whatever new goals or path you choose to pursue.
The second reason for doing this, is as soon as you tell people your high lofty goals, they will immediately starting giving you feedback and advice based on those goals you gave them. I know from personal experience this couldn’t be more true. As soon as I told a couple of senior level people my lofty goals I got instant feedback, good and bad and quite a bit of guiding to get me to the next step I should take to purse those goals. For this very reason you should always aim high and don’t be afraid to tell people about these goals because in vast majority of cases, people are far better editors then creators and love to provide you with their edits to your career path and previous stated goals.
In a continuation of my series of blogs of key take aways from the great key note speaker Nora Denzel that I recently heard, this seventh point was about “learning how to ask”.
I have to say that out of all the great take away points I heard from this seminar I think this one resonated with me the most, only because I have had this happen to me a few time already in my young career, and what comes down to is me not asking. Opportunities are everywhere around you, they may not always be out in plain sight visible for all to see but they are always there. It’s a matter of learning how to ask for them.
A story that was told with this point was about a female direct report she had and a male direct report that were in similar roles. The female did amazing work and the male did good but stellar work, but the male was always straight forward with her (his manager) on what he wanted to. He wanted to get into a role that would allow for him to relocate and work abroad for a few years to gain international experience. So a few months later after he brought this up again in his 1:1 with his manager, a role that would allow for exactly this opportunity he was looking for came open and the hiring manger was telling his manager about the role and needing to hire someone to fill, did she have anyone that came to mind….she obviously said, actually I know someone that has explicitly asked for an opportunity like this and she recommended him for the interview. Turned out he ended up getting the role and shortly thereafter he and his family relocated abroad. Well, her female direct report saw that her peer had taken a new role so she asked her manager about where he was going and when her manager told her, she said, “Wow! That sounds amazing! I wish I would’ve known about it, I would have applied for it. Where was that posted?”
Point here is opportunities aren’t posted on a bulletin board or a job board or very rarely any board but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. You need to ask people for what you want and let them know about the types of opportunities you are looking for because you never know when the one you are looking for is just around the corner….so don’t be afraid to just ask!
As a continuation of my posts from the key points I took away from the great key note speaker I recently saw, is the 6th point, on “lighten up and separate”.
This was a great point that Nora made and as with all of other points she made that day, I saw this as being very true. We all know examples of when something has taken place in the work place that has caused some tension or even more, a team to break apart. Whether it happened to yourself or you have observed it, we’ve all seen this happen. Why does this happen, why do these rivalries form, break-ups happen, and tension form? Because we take it personal and we shouldn’t.
She had a great example of two lawyers she saw in court just going at it, really going at each other’s throats, and then about a week later she was at a restaurant and over heard a conversation behind her where she recognized the voices but couldn’t quite place who it was. As she over heard their conversation they were talking about planning their joint family vacations with each other’s families, so she turned around and there they were, the two lawyers who just a week ago were going at each other’s throats in the court room.
The point here is when you are at work, it’s WORK, and we shouldn’t take it personal, we need to “lighten up and learn how to separate”. When you leave the office you leave your work emotions there, you can’t carry it with you into your personal life and take it out on those who matter most to you, and you can’t look at it from the stand point that they are making a personal attack on you. Keep your business mindset on while at work and look at the situation from all angles, really evaluate what people are saying to you and for those people out there that truly are vindictive and manipulative towards you just, “listen, shluff it off and when you become the boss and run the place, you can fire them”.
Adding to my series of posts from the key note speaker that I heard a couple of weeks ago, the fifth point is titled, “Kill Miss Congeniality”.
The point here is all too often we are guilty of saying “yes” to everything we are asked to do. Sometimes because we genuinely want to do what it is we are being asked if we want to do and other times we say yes because we are fearful that if we say no, we will be looked at negatively and at some point get passed up for that promotion because we said “no”.
Denzel’s point on this one was, we aren’t not going to NOT get promoted because we start saying NO. We are not miss congeniality, we are not responsible and nor should we be, for the holiday festivities, the food orders for work parties, the cakes or desserts for special occasions, etc. Sure could we do these type of things absolutely but in no way should we be doing this out of worry that if we say no to these things, and people stop coming to us asking for these little things to be done, or the coordination work for the office parties, or the project work that no one else wanted to do, should we feel obligated to say “yes” all the time.
If you really enjoy those type of things or being asked to be part of a project team that maybe no one else had any interest but it truly is of interest to you then great, but if it isn’t or if you simply don’t have the bandwidth, then say NO and DON’T think that because you start doing this it could cost you a promotion. Denzel calls out that, “Being Miss Congeniality has never won the title of Miss America and is probably not in the corner office either”.