Recently I asked a senior leader what he’s noticing in his company’s Zoom and Slack community. What he said broke my heart a little. He said that of the 40 people he deals with on a regular basis, the same handful participate regularly in Slack or on Zoom meetings. Another handful almost never speak up and worse, they call in from a phone and no one sees their face. He said it seems like they’re using WFH to hide out.
In June another corporate client asked me to do a session for 100 mid-level managers ahead of their mid-year reviews. A lot of their managers were feeling uncomfortable asking about promotions and career advancement when there’s so much suffering going on. To that company’s credit, they wanted me to talk about how to have a career conversation with your boss — because they want their managers to keep growing.
The net-net of it is that the Great Pause doesn’t have to be a time to put career management or professional development on hold. Here are a few ideas to help keep you and your team on track:
Brand yourself: Keep sharing what you are up to and what you are focused on. It’s important that others in the organization now what you want and where you feel you can contribute. This year your organization might not be able to accommodate your request, but knowing your goals will help them help you when they can.
Executive presence and leadership: If there are areas of weakness or skill-building that you have wanted to work on, keep it up. One of my favorite sources for growing as a leader is The Next Level by Scott Elbin. Another great source is the Center for Creative Leadership. As ambiguity and uncertainty increase, your ability to work well in changing teams, or your ability to lead a highly collaborative team will be a huge factor in your success.
Know who the key decision makers are and build relationships with them: In Expect to Win, Carla Harris talks about the importance of mentors, sponsors and advisors. An important difference is that a mentor may help you with advice, but only a sponsor is in a position to make decisions on your behalf. That matters for your advancement.
Keep building your network: With change only accelerating, we all need to stay connected. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, do make an effort to check in with people.
Make sure to take care of yourself: When you’re feeling low energy, disconnected from friends or aren’t processing the sometimes heavy emotions that come with the times we’re living in, it can affect behavior. Defensiveness, protectiveness, procrastination. These are all behaviors that come up when we are out of sorts. We think the problem is with the situation or the person we’re dealing with, but so often it can be misdirected emotion.
Remember, we don’t help anyone by playing small. On the contrary, as we grow and show our best self, we offer others the opportunity to do the same.
All my best,
For every story I’ve heard from someone who’s been feeling isolated the last three months, I’ve heard a story from someone, usually an introvert, who is feeling such a sense of freedom! Without the constant buzz and interruption of an office, they can finally think. That’s a big part of introversion. It’s not that introverts are necessarily shy, it’s that their creative process is an internal one. They think better on their own or with just one or two other people. Extroverts, on the other hand, often think out loud. As a very extroverted friend and mentor of mine says, “When people say to me, ‘Bill, what do you think?’ I say, ‘I won’t know until I say it!’
And many of us are a blend of both. Either way, my hope is that this time of changed work circumstances will help reveal your preferences. And that you can use that awareness to learn to create boundaries that will allow you to thrive at work. What I mean is this. What if an introvert could truly understand the value their solitary thinking brings to their team and company, and ask for (or take) alone time in a way that doesn’t alienate others. On the flip side, what if an extrovert could be transparent about their need to brainstorm with others and find those who are willing to engage? In short, having healthy boundaries doesn’t have to create a disconnect with your colleagues. Here are a few steps to take:
- Embrace your strengths and preferences without apology. This is often an inside job. Others probably see your strengths. What I see with so many clients is that THEY don’t see, or accept, their strengths. It’s normal in a way. What comes naturally doesn’t feel like work, so you don’t see that it’s a strength. A few sources to learn about your strengths are: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Strengths Finder 2.0, and Social Style.
- Connect your strengths to your impact or contribution, because it’s not enough to know what you’re good at. When you truly understand how your strengths positively impact others and contribute to the whole, it sends confidence through the roof. Two tools I use to reveal that are the Seven Stories Exercise, and Belbin Roles which shows the different energies that are present in effective teams.
- Then craft messages that let you showcase those strengths, while asking for the boundaries you want, like, “Leave it with me. I love to chew on a complex issue with lots of moving parts. Just let me know when you need a status. I can get lost in the weeds if I’m left to my own devices.” Or the flip side, “I have a really strong sense of what the client needs, but it would help me get crystal clear if I could talk it through. Would you be willing to spend 30 minutes with me before the office happy hour this Thursday?”
The shift is subtle, but I find that so many clients don’t realize their preferences because they are so used to working in an environment that doesn’t allow them to fully lean into them. Or I see professionals who do know their preferences, but don’t know how to create boundaries for them without seeming difficult. With this simple approach, I’d love for you to be able to stand in your strengths and enjoy the balance that comes with asking for what you need.
I’m a little tired. Tired of not knowing whether activities I try to do with the kids will be open. Tired of not feeling motivated enough to go and find out (and risk being disappointed). Tired of no one appreciating what I serve for dinner, even though I’m trying! Tired of feeling uncomfortable with friends because everyone has different points of view about mask wearing and social distancing.
Argh! It reminds me of a scene I always loved from an 80’s movie called The Sure Thing. The characters are crossing the US and find themselves in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain and the woman says, “I have a credit card! Yay!” Then, “But my dad told me to only use it in case of an emergency.”
Permission. We’re often on such a hamster wheel that we forget to give ourselves a little grace. And when I step back, I realize that it’s often not the circumstances that get me down as much as it is the “shoulds” I attach to them. Right now I’m tired of feeling like I “should” be able to rise above it all. And I “should” use this time as one of transformation and lots of personal growth. It will be that in hindsight, I’m sure. But no need to attach a lot of expectations for now.
We are at the mid-point of summer and it’s normal to feel a little worn out. Last week I wrote about the Positive Intelligence work I’m doing. Permission and kindness to yourself is part of that. So join me if you like, and give yourself permission to let go of the “shoulds” that are swarming right now.
Have a great week,
You prep a presentation. Then you worry for days because in your enthusiasm, you spoke over your boss’s boss.
You say you’re a perfectionist, but really you burn yourself out with overwork.
Or maybe you keep putting off the thing you dream of because you have to come out of the gate doing it super well.
You get frustrated with people on your team who are clearly incompetent, and don’t understand why others don’t see it.
You do so much for others, only to be disappointed when they don’t respond in kind.
You’re not alone. The Inner Critic is at the heart of every scenario above. And it’s universal. You can learn time management, better listening, managing your boss, influencing others, but if you’re not aware of your inner critic those tools will only take you so far. If the critic is undermining your confidence, you are suffocating the very strengths and talents that make you shine when you’re at your best. And that is costing you productivity.
Over the next several weeks I’ll be diving deeper into Positive Intelligence, a tool I’ve used over the years to help hundreds of clients conquer their inner critic and find confidence in any situation. Please stay tuned. In the meantime, you can learn about your own inner critic at: https://www.positiveintelligence.com/assessments/
And try this: Next time you experience any of the scenarios I outlined above, or you feel frustrated, anxious or critical, try this small shift. Instead of saying, “So and so is an idiot!” say, “My inner critic says ’So and so is an idiot.’ “ Or instead of “I can’t figure it out; I’m not a tech person,” say, “My inner critic says I can’t figure it out because I’m not a tech person.” Or instead of, “I can’t believe So-and-so didn’t do the analysis I asked for after I helped him with his presentation,” say “My inner critic can’t believe….” You get the picture.
That little action of separating you from the voice is so powerful. And it’s amazing that once you start, you will see the inner critic everywhere. So for now, just notice.
More to follow…
Last week I was super present in my work. I’m always present, but this felt like present on steroids. What’s funny is that it also felt easy. My kids can’t go to camp this summer, so it’s Mom as cruise director and I decided to work mornings only (most days). The most important tricks are brutal prioritization and plenty of grace. By grace I mean deciding that what I’m doing is enough. It’s counter intuitive but when I give myself that permission, my inner critic is quieter and I move through the work so much faster.
One of the most consistent requests I get from clients is for focus. Instead of being in meetings worrying about the email you forgot to send on the project you are managing, you actually pay attention. And…you don’t have to have another meeting just to go over what you missed. Decision making is easier and less exhausting because you know your big picture goals. You end the day with energy to spend outside of work because you’ve paced yourself. Good time management gives you focus, which provides balance and connection.
Early in The Great Pause, I put together a video on my favorite time management tools. Please take a look. One of the great gifts of this time is that we’ve realized what matters. Learn how to use time for the things you want most.
A funny thing happened last Friday. I felt sad when governor Cuomo did his final briefing. For three months I saved his press conference and watch it while I prepped dinner. First, thirsting to hear the “numbers” as they were going down for New York, but then just listening to him repeat the same reassuring messages over and over.
As much work as our lockdown habits were to create, I’m finding they’re just as hard to let go of. Which got me thinking about my clients who get frustrated about things they don’t like in their teams, but can’t find the momentum to change. Habit change is hard. So I found an article with some great insights on habit change.
I love where she starts: Love yourself into change. What if you and your team are worth the goals and dreams that you have? Yes, habit change is hard, but what if you could increase your chances of reaching those goals, AND have fun along the way?
I translated the article from “healthy eating habits” to “healthy team dynamics:”
1. Identify the habits you want to change – Could you cut the tension on your team with a knife? Does one person struggle with decision and backtrack so it drives everyone crazy? Take time to break down the frustration into identifiable habits.
2. What are you getting out of it? – We call this “serving you.” Sometimes in what you complain about there’s a little piece of what you want. So maybe you complain about a colleague after hours, but doing that lets you avoid a difficult conversation.
3. Honor your wisdom – Like having healthy snacks around so you don’t binge, what would it be like to connect with your colleagues during low-stress times? So your feeling for them isn’t only driven by high-stress situations where no one’s at their best.
4. Have a plan for the stress moments – Maybe it’s breathing, maybe it’s stepping away, maybe it’s telling yourself all is OK
5. Remove triggers – As you are trying to create new habits, maybe avoid the hyper-demanding client or supervisor who makes everyone feel lousy. Give yourself a little space to create the new habit and play with it.
6. Visualize yourself changing – Imagine the team doing great, collaborating and delivering on what you promised.
7. Monitor your negative self-talk – Shift “our team is a mess” to “We’ll get there. We’re all good people.”
8. Take baby steps – When I teach the Social Style, I always recommend choosing two 15 minute slots a week to practice flexing for other styles. Just because you have an insight (like, “running five miles a day is good!”) doesn’t mean you can flip a switch. You have to strengthen the muscle little by little.
9. Accept that you will falter – Someone on the team losing their cool doesn’t mean you give up.
10. Know that it takes time. It took several weeks for me to get hooked on my daily press briefings!
If there’s one thing we’re seeing these days, it’s that habit change is hard, but it is possible. Keep the faith and take it one step at a time.
The last three months have taught us that change is hard. Organizational change is hard too. I’ve worked on teams that had that, “high-five!” energy. It’s amazing. And the business results are often extraordinary, with creativity that’s off the charts. But even though most of us want that energy, engaging in the change that could make it happen is hard. We talk a good game, but don’t execute.
Three things have come up for me around organizational change and our resistance to it: Habits, Perspectives and Identity.
Changing Habit – Staying home to stop the spread of coronavirus was like landing in a foreign country. Boy did it drive home how much we depend on habits to get us through even our least productive day. Habits make us more efficient. That’s good. But when we want to change, they present formidable obstacles.
Different Perspectives – Remember the gold versus blue dress debate a few years ago? People on-line were enraged! The photo in this post is another famous example. The last two weeks with the Black Lives Matter movement brought up how hard it can be to see things from another perspective. Imagine what that does to collaboration, especially when people build strategies around their different assumptions. Once we’re invested, we fight hard for our positions, and selectively look for evidence that supports our point of view.
Identity – Identity may be the most resistant to change. When we have to consider that our point of view, which drives our actions, could have a negative impact on someone else, it’s tough. Most of us identify with being good people, and with being right. Having that challenged goes to a place we’d like to avoid.
In a recent session, two team members got into a tense exchange that ended with, “Fine. We’ll do it your way.” Their boss, who was also on the call, reached out the next day to tell me she was surprised to hear backlash. She told me that she had taken those words at face value. She was in a perspective driven by a strong value that says, “Onward and upward! Let’s get it done,” and that is core to her identity. So she didn’t pick up on the tension that others did. To her credit, she wanted to explore it more so she and the team could learn from it and resolve it.
Taking a fresh look at the habits, perspectives and identity is challenging. Organizational change is hard, but it’s also doable. And it’s worth it. I believe that we have a unique opportunity to drive real change right now, in the world, and in our workplaces. When we are connected, open and share deep trust, we can do amazing things. There’s a great book called Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, that talks about the role of identity in our resistance to change. Take a look.
I work with a lot of high performers. But when I refer to them in that way, they look over their shoulder like they’re looking for the person I’m actually talking about. And that disconnect between how they perform and how they see themselves costs a lot of energy…which contributes to burnout. Maybe one of these scenarios sounds familiar:
- Your team could cut the tension with a knife. People go home exhausted and spend precious personal time venting to friends and family. In meetings, low trust means people are hoarding work, and doing more of it. Yet when you point out that they’ve had double digit growth for three years, they say “I guess so. But it’s been through sheer determination.”
- You are like one of my high performing business school students who chokes up when I tell him he’s a good son and brother for how he supports his family. He has great grades and wonderful friendships, yet all he can focus on is the fact that graduation is eight months away and he hasn’t secured a job.
- Or maybe you have a rising star on your team who is losing her own team members because of abrasive behavior. Instead of spending time learning to motivate her team, she can’t stop focusing on what’s still not done. Instead of delegating, she takes back work in frustration and belittles her team.
All of these people are experiencing success, but that success comes with considerable burnout. Below are several ideas around mindset that help me, and my clients, feel more restored and energized.
Start with healing your mindset: Tara Brach describes it in a meditation I listened to recently. We have “deep habits of judging ourselves.” To enjoy success without burnout, we need to restore ourselves regularly. Spend a few minutes following a mediation.
Get to know your inner critic: Stop for a moment and be with the voices in your head. Sounds funny, but overwhelm, procrastination, even being critical of others are often driven by the feelings linked to voices like, “I know I’ve missed something critical and we’re all going to look bad,” which is a version of, “I’m not good enough.” Success without burnout means knowing that perfectionism is a lie…but it’s tough. You have to slow down and ask, What does your critic say? What are your feelings underneath the message? To learn more about the inner critic, PositiveIntelligence.com is one of my favorite resources.
Understand your emotional triggers: The inner critic is within us. But often it’s situations outside that trigger those voices. Maybe someone is a stickler and it triggers your self-doubt about sometimes missing detail. Maybe someone else has a ton of charisma and you hate public speaking. What situations make you lose your mojo? Which people do the same? What is it about those situations and people? You might find there are common themes. Spend some time thinking about what the themes are and just sit with them. The more you avoid the feelings, the more they persist. Sometimes just immersing yourself in them has an incredible way of releasing them.
Change Your Habits: Once you know what your inner critic and triggers are, you can deal with them. Maybe before a meeting with the stickler, you need to prepare so you have your ducks in a row. Maybe when you are with the charismatic person, you need to speak up instead of letting things go. Habits don’t change just because we have an insight. Once you have the insight, break it down into specific actions and pace yourself. Try it once or twice. See how it goes. And create a new habit.
Appreciate What You’ve Done: The frantic pace of life today is one of burnout’s most powerful weapons. One of my favorite end-of-week activities is to look at the three to five things you did that week and for each write:
- What was the accomplishment?
- Why is it important?
- What would further progress look like?
- What are the immediate next steps, if any?
Write Three Things You Are Grateful for at the Start and End of Each Day: These gratitudes should be from the last 24 hours, not from life in general. For more, check out The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. Ending the day feeling good about how things are is a great way to be more present after work. And feeling free to focus on personal life evenings and weekends is an amazing way to restore, and counter the effects of burnout.
Resilience and Taking Action: One of the best ways to achieve success without burnout is to take initiative and stop avoiding things that feel hard or scary. A lot of learning is on the other side of action, and when we wait until we can be perfect, we lose the learning that builds confidence and experience. And confidence is a huge burnout buster. To get better at taking initiative, one of my favorite tools is to understand failure.
Resilience and Understanding Failure: There are four kinds of failure, but once you understand and embrace them, there really is no failure. Here they are:
Learning: When you’re on the right track and are doing something you’re excited about, bumps in the road are part of the journey. When those happen, pause to understand what happened so you can get the most from it.
Redirect: A redirect is like a learning failure, but it’s one that makes you change course, maybe a little, maybe a lot. This might be when you realize early in your career that you aren’t made for sales, or for accounting, or marketing, and you decide to change course. For a team, maybe you realize your marketing strategy didn’t work because sales are down, and you have to seriously rethink it.
Self-reflection: This is when a failure makes you hold a mirror to a deep assumption. Maybe you’ve stayed in a job because it looked good on paper, and you put that before your happiness. Or maybe you hired a friend to be on your team, it’s not working out and you have to confront that you put your friend before your team.
Transformative: These are major changes, like firing, bankruptcy. They tend to grow us and make us learn, but things won’t go back to being the same.
Getting comfortable with the ups and downs of performance without it being a comment on your character is important.
Too many of us think that success should deliver us from burnout, but often the pressure to perform that comes with success actually does the opposite. I hope these tips are helpful to you.
If you are experiencing burnout and would like to have a conversation, set up a time to talk.
If you are like most managers today, you get in a 9am and are lucky to be done by 7pm, and you’ve only crossed one or two things off your To Do list. You don’t want to micro-manage your team, but it can feel like herding cats.
You are not alone. Most companies today don’t have the time or resources to train junior employees to work autonomously, or give managers on their way up the education that can help them truly manage and motivate their teams. The good news is that it’s figureoutable.
There are several secrets I use to help clients regain the freedom to focus on their own work, while they support their teams to own and reach their goals.
Secret #1 – Know the Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Person on Your Team (including you!) and stop trying to make everyone good at everything.
In school we’re trained to get good grades in everything. Work’s not like that. Your job as a manager is to figure out which role you, then each team member, will do best.
- What are you good at and how do you contribute to your team and your company? Take the Gallup Strengths Finder 2.0. Then spend some time connecting what you’re good at to the good work you’ve done in the past. This small awareness is a huge confidence booster.
- Think about what each of your team members is good at.
- Some people like to figure out what to do, then get it done. Give this person projects you are doing for the first time, where the roadmap is not totally clear. Like a product launch for a new category, or a presentation to a new client.
- Others love to come up with ideas and talk about all the good stuff that’s possible. Let these people brainstorm — they may imagine something no one else thought of.
- Some people will roll up their sleeves and do anything, as long as they feel connected. Let these people work together and with other departments to get things done, and to pause at the water cooler now and then; they are like glue that can keep your team connected.
- And don’t forget the people who are amazing at detail. Sometimes it feels like all they know how to say is ‘no,’ but they’re great at seeing the mistakes you want to avoid. Let them “kick the tires” at the start and end of your project to make sure it has the quality and detail you want.
Check out Belbin Team Role Inventories, to help your team “divide and conquer.”
Secret #2 – Know what motivates each of your team members
Managers often make the mistake of thinking that they should be the same with everyone. Avoid playing favorites, but do realize that different people want different things. I suggest sitting down with each of them and answering these questions:
What do they want to achieve in career?
What do they want in their personal life?
What motivates them?
What gives them a sense of purpose?
What are they good at?
What would make them better at their job?
Do they want public recognition, or a quiet lunch with you or your boss?
Secret #3 – Know how to give feedback that is welcome and effective
- Be generous and specific with positive feedback. Research shows that we learn best when we use the neural pathways connected to our strengths. If you want your team members to do something differently, first point out the specific things that come naturally to them. Not, “Great job!” but “Thank you for bringing that extra research to the meeting. It was so helpful to be able to give the client a thorough answer.”
- For difficult feedback, focus on what their behavior does to you. Instead of, “Why don’t you ever proofread your work!” try, “When I find mistakes in a presentation and we are close to the deadline, it makes me very anxious. There are so many moving parts to what we do and I don’t have time to proofread and get it all done.” If the person becomes defensive, denies or blames someone else, just stay calm, listen without judgment, and when you can, repeat your feedback. It can feel tense. You may go back and forth a few times, but hopefully you will both get to a place where you can have a productive discussion about some solutions.
- And finally, be good at receiving feedback. If someone pays you a compliment, let them know you appreciate it. If you brush it off, they won’t do it again. And if they give you difficult feedback, also say thank you. If it makes you uncomfortable, let them know you’d like to think it over. Don’t deny or get defensive. Remember that they are watching you — so model good behavior. Come back to them in a day or two with your thoughts.
Secret #4– Be real with your team members
A client named Heather was experiencing high turnover in her team and knew she was too harsh and demanding. What I discovered interviewing her team is that when she was relaxed, they loved her! They said things like, “When we are at off-sites and Heather is relaxed, she is so much fun! If she could only be like that more of the time.” Heather was so anxious about getting her work done that she spent most of her time focused on what her team still hadn’t gotten done. She’d lost them.
We focused on letting “Off-site Heather” show up more consistently. She shared with her team that she was working on changing her intense behavior. She practiced smiling more and using her sense of humor, saying things like, “Uh oh, here comes the General. Better take a moment and step back.” In those step back moments, she and the team said one or two things that were going well, then moved on to discussing the work at hand.
We also worked on having Heather feel more confident and less defensive. She spent time each week writing down her wins. She also spent some time writing down what she feared might go wrong. Just to get it out of her system.
So. Much. Better. Remember, her team wanted her to be fun more of the time, not all of the time. Her efforts meant so much to them. They learned not to take her intense moments personally, and those moments shifted to how much she cared about their collective success. With that, they were much more willing to roll up their sleeves and collaborate with her.
Being real doesn’t have to be weird or end in a pile of public tears. It’s different for everyone, but here are a few things to get started:
- Smile more
- Share about your tough weekend
- Apologize! If you overreacted or were unprofessional, say you’re sorry
- If you need alone time or a break, say so. It tells the team you are real and lets them stop wondering why you look unhappy or dissatisfied
- Write down the stuff that you are afraid of/worried about, so it stops derailing you
Those are my four secrets to motivate your team and get them doing an amazing job!
The Confidence Building Power of Self-Awareness. During the 2008 recession, I heard Carla Harris speak on career. She said that while it’s human nature to want to hide in times of uncertainty, it’s actually better to put your head up and have a point of view. I’d agree. And, I’d say the best point of view you can have is about yourself. To feel more confident as a leader of a team or in your career, and to manage up, know what you (or your team) have to offer and know how to share it:
Self-Awareness – Know Your Leadership Superpower and How It Contributes
Self-Awareness is so powerful for building confidence. We’ve all heard that you have to know your strengths. What too many people miss is understanding your impact — how does that strength contribute to the whole?
To know that, you also need to understand how teams work. (See the Belbin Team Roles for more on that). Companies need sales people who love to be with clients, analysts who love to do research, project managers who love to move things forward, accountants, and creatives who love to cross T’s and dot I’s.
Then think about how roles interact. Maybe an analyst loves to immerse herself in the technical aspect of the company’s products. She goes on a sales call with a salesperson, who loves to focus on the client’s demeanor and knows how to pivot in the moment. Having the analyst in the meeting, with her deep technical knowledge, makes the salesperson feel more confident. Maybe it’s easier to close the sale. Then the analyst has an impact on the salesperson, who has an impact on the bottom line. That’s how it works. Knowing your impact makes confidence soar.
Exercise: Impact Bullseye. Draw three concentric circles. In the smallest one, write one of your strengths. In the middle one, write how that strength helps your team and close colleagues. Then in the biggest one, write how you impact the bottom line, either directly or via the help you provide to those colleagues.
Confidence Building Power – Strong Leaders Don’t Beat Themselves Up for Their Weaknesses
Famed Harvard Business School professor Peter Drucker said, “It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”
Years ago I was complaining to someone about how much I hated to balance my checkbook and she said, “So don’t do it. The bank doesn’t make too many mistakes. Just don’t worry about it.” I was giddy. Literally. For years I’d dreaded the end of the month. I hated the task, but what really weighed on me was beating myself up for not being good at accounting.
This is something I see. All. The. Time. It’s human nature that when we get feedback, we jump right over the good stuff and focus on the bad. To be clear, not being good at something doesn’t mean you’ll never have to do it. But it’s amazing how light we feel when we let go of the judgment.
Exercise: Make a list of all of the tasks you do in your job (yes, it takes a while). Then, make a grid with four quadrants: “Good at it and energizes me,” “Good at it but doesn’t energize me,” “Not good and doesn’t energize me,” and “Energy drain and just don’t get it.” It’s amazing to really look at what drains your energy. If at all possible, use the knowledge to delegate some of what you don’t like and spend more time leaning into what you’re great at.
Self-Awareness – Share Your Branding Message to Manage Up
By now you should have an idea of what you’re good at and how you contribute through the confidence-building power of self-awareness. The next step is to turn it into a message. I once spoke to a recent college graduate who wanted a job as an assistant to a marketing VP. Not unsurprisingly, she didn’t have a sense of what she could contribute. She was lacking in confidence and had not built the power of Self-Awareness.
I told her to try to put herself in a VP’s shoes and think about what she would need from an assistant. “That’s easy,” she said. During her two internships, she hadn’t needed a lot of direction. She was also good at noticing who liked who in meetings. Ah, politics. I told her to say, “As a recent graduate with two internships under my belt, I know that I won’t have to bother you with a lot of questions, but I will know when to ask before promising work to another department.”
Bingo. Messaging is good when it highlights your area of strength and experience that align with the need in the team or organization.
Once you have a message, know the key decision-makers in your organization and make sure to communicate with them regularly. Can your boss make a decision to give your team resources, or does s/he have to go up one level? So often I hear people say, “I asked for a promotion a year ago and nothing happened!” Getting a promotion or getting resources for your team is like running for office. You need a campaign with a message, and consistent communication.
These are three elements of being a strong leader and managing up that come up all the time in my work. To learn more, check out www.clearstrategycoaching.com.
Schedule a free 30 minute strategy session!