The word passion is often used as a holy grail for leaders. The trouble is, what passes for passion is often bad behavior. Taking over, not listening, showing preference for certain employees, ignoring feelings, considering a need for support as weakness, yelling, or too much focus on short-term results. The list is long. And the statistics on lack of engagement and turnover are concerning. According to Gallup*, 33% of US employees are engaged, 49% are disengaged, and 18% are actively disengaged. According to 24-Seven**, salary increases decline from 12% in year one of employment to 4% after four or more years — which may explain why 66% of employees are planning a job change in the next 12 months. And according to Boston Consulting Group*** the companies who were “most capable” at “On-boarding and retaining new hires,” “Managing talent,” “Improving performance management,” and “Improving leadership development,” enjoyed double the profit margin of those who were “least capable.”
In a perfect world, strong individual contributors are promoted to positions of leadership. From there, they use their considerable expertise to mobilize a team to perform. Unfortunately, unless the organization is providing tools to learn how to manage people, as well as tools to grow their mindset, new leaders can fail or under-perform. They may have a few direct reports who “get them” and do well, but they won’t consistently motivate the diversity of behavioral styles required to support all the roles in a team.
Often leaders who have been successful doing it “their way” struggle to see why they need to change. Nevertheless, there are resources that can gently give leaders insight, and the tools to evolve on their terms. A few that I use in programs to help support leaders are: Strength Finder 2.0 Tracom’s Social Style and the Hogan Assessments.
Good leadership and management increase productivity, efficiency and profitability. And being more profitable gives companies the breathing room to compete and innovate to handle today’s constant change. Are you willing to take an objective look at your leaders? What could be possible if they were even better?
*Gallup Employee Engagement Survey
**24-Seven 2016 Job Market Report
***BCG 2014 “Talent requirements for the future of Beauty”
Last week I attended a fantastic event at Cosmetic Executive Women focused on Prestige Beauty Branding*. Something that really stood out was when the panelists were asked their views about Amazon, the retail giant they are increasingly forced to work with, whose positioning does not align with their prestige images. It got me thinking about David and Goliath, and what to do when you are trying to get something, a raise, promotion or new opportunity, at a large employer who seems to hold all the power.
What these very smart leaders shared was so enlightening — not one was ready to back down. Instead they all agreed that the negotiation begins with their story…the quality and crafting of their brand, and the connection and impact they have with their consumers. The same is true with career! Often we ask for what we want in a stilted way that assumes a lack of power. To be more effective in a negotiation, try starting with:
- Appreciative Inquiry: What have you done in the last few months or years, and what is the impact it has had on the team and the company? Impact can be quantitative like sales results (even in a supporting role) or qualitative, like motivating others around a vision at any level.
- Impact today and tomorrow: Looking at the impact you tend to have on others and the work, what would that look like next? What is most interesting to you? How can you turn that into an opportunity for your organization? This does not need to be huge, like facilitating a corporate merger. We can create positive impact at any level.
- Consider your audience: Beyond “what’s in it for them?” what style are you dealing with? An idealist? A pragmatist? A relationship person? How can you structure the ask to be most appealing.
In this month’s Q&A, I share my best tool on influence and negotiation. Please join me on Wednesday, December 13th at 12:00ET. Here is the link: https://zoom.us/j/934574457
Clarity can come from anywhere! Keep your insight eyes open.
*The speakers were from L’Oreal USA, Parfums Christian Dior, Kjaer Weis, Cle de Peau Beaute and Women’s Wear Daily
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscape, but in having new eyes.” ~Marcel Proust
Lisa was overwhelmed. From a traditional small town, she had come to New York for a career shift and found the “anything goes” culture jarring. A mom of two, she was having trouble connecting with her colleagues who were mostly younger and unmarried. She told me that her difficulty in connecting came from having been “different” all her life — in grade school, in high school. But as we dug deeper, it turned out that she did enjoy close, supportive relationships with close friends, her husband and her siblings.
Lisa was doing what so many of us do. We have scripts in our head. When things happen, we “make up” that what’s happening is proof of that script or story. Why is matters shows up in what happened next for Lisa. Once she took “I don’t connect with people” off the table, she realized that she had been avoiding the work from the leadership development program she was enrolled in. Visioning, planning, decision making and effective communication. All critical skillset tools that would prepare Lisa for the job managing a team of 50 that her organization had hired her to eventually take on.
How do we see our same landscape through new eyes? It’s a challenge. What we know, or think we know, is like the water in front of a fish — very hard to see. What are your go-to stories? And what is on your list of skills that would make a difference if you learned them?
Stories: Sometimes it’s a victim story like, “If I only had XX,” or a core belief like, “In my family, we do YZ,” or, “I didn’t work for XX years just to YZ.” It often sounds like issues with others and/or management.
Skillset: Like for Lisa, what would you be doing to grow if a story didn’t get in the way? What is the next thing, large or small?
The end of the year is a good time to get a little pensive. In the next few weeks, watch out for my year-end review and new year planning exercises.
In the early days of Clear Strategy, I gained an amazing insight. Half of the clients who were coming to me for job search ended up staying in their jobs and getting promoted. More than once. It turned out their career management problem was not that they needed a new job. They needed leadership development. They needed influence tools that could make them feel in charge of their destiny. From there they could refocus their energy on performance, which led to results. What if you and the leaders in your organization could get direct reports to meet you half-way — to take initiative over their career path and become more engaged and mature employees? Here are two insights to consider:
- Trust that employees want to feel excited to come to work
- Let them be right
This second principle is critical. Every day I see professionals make employees or team members “wrong.” When things don’t go the way they’d hoped, they vote against someone’s work ethic, intelligence or capability. If instead they trusted that the person had good intention and was in the team for good reason, they could get curious about what (not who) went wrong. They could uncover improvements to vision, interim goals, communication or the decision-making process.
Making someone wrong breaks a tiny thread of trust that, with time, erodes their motivation. Next time you come up to a bump in the road, I invite you to get curious. Slow down, suspend judgment, and ask open ended questions. What assumptions did the person make? What information would have helped? How did your communication help or hinder their ability to ask the right questions?
A team with fire in the belly is a fantastic goal. Will you take it on?
All my best,
Last week eight brave souls signed up for my 30-minute free coaching sessions. Congratulations! It was exciting on so many levels. The first lesson is a “listen up” for job searchers — I sent three sign-up reminders and only had two people register until that third reminder. It’s a huge lesson to all those, including me, who imagine that if we just get a cover letter or promotion conversation perfect, we don’t have to bother people with follow up. People are busy. You have to reach them multiple times for them to realize you are serious, and respond.
The second is around complacency in career management. Too many of us think that if you work hard and are good at your job, career will take care of itself. Simply not true. I re-learned this lesson in June when a smart colleague told me I was being complacent about my coaching practice. You see, I held having a referral based business as a point of pride. The fact that clients were sending their friends and corporate clients were asking me back seemed to be the ultimate sign of success. Work hard, be effective, things will take care of themselves. But that pride around referrals allowed me to hide from the discomfort of putting myself out there. I see it every day with clients and there I was falling victim to the same bad habits.
The good news is that putting yourself out there works! It is uncomfortable, no doubt. But every day I see the excitement clients feel when they realize that their actions are having a direct impact on what’s happening in their career. It’s like a light goes on and they feel in control again. Here are my two favorites on job search and career strategy: Through the Brick Wall* and Expect to Win. Congratulations to those who joined me on Friday. You took the first step. Career Management is separate from your professional abilities and needs attention.
Clarity Hotspots: In October I began Clarity Hotspots, video blogs and social media posts where I share insights as I go. With all that’s going on, once a week blog posts no longer feels like enough! To join me on those sites, please go to: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to connect.
The F-Word: From Fear to Fulfillment: I want to invite you to a fantastic event my two colleagues are producing in Brooklyn in December. Come and learn how to make decisions from a place of clarity, not confusion. Click here for more information and to sign up.
Breakthrough Careers – How to be happy right now, and get unparalleled clarity about what you want next. And finally, last week I announced the first of my monthly Q&A calls. Please bring your questions and hear best practices from me and others: Click Here for the Link
In this week of gratitude, I am so thankful to be able to work with so many of you to create the career and life you want. What a gift.
All my best,
*This book is 25 years old and does not have a lot about on-line search. Subsequent Kate Wendleton books have that, but this one spells out the strategy really well.
In the balmy night air, I was at the estate of an art collector in the hills above Cannes, France, watching two hundred beauty and press executives dance the night away for the international launch of Dior’s latest fragrance when a voice told me, “Claire, you don’t belong here.”
I was there because it was a part of my job. By outward measures, a very glamorous job. I had worked hard to get there and more than anything I wanted to feel the sense of belonging and joyful abandon that those people dancing were feeling. As I watched from my seat I smiled. Because instead of feeling bad about it, I felt an inner peace. I had been here before. Three years earlier I was also uninspired after working so hard to get the job I had. But the time before, I had blamed myself for what seemed like my inability to be happy. I had slogged through, then switched jobs in a failed attempt at a quick fix. The peace this time came from a deep awareness — I dared to believe that there was something out there for me, and that I would find it.
Today I get to work in the same industry, which I love, but in a role that suits me. Yes, It is possible to get excited about work again — and to feel in control of your destiny. I have lived it myself and I have worked with hundreds of professionals to do the same. Change takes commitment, and deciding to change is not easy. That’s why I am offering you two small steps to help clarify if the moment is right for you.
- Free Q&A call – Next Tuesday, November 21 from 12:00-1:00 join me and bring your questions on Breakthrough Careers – How to be happy right now, and get unparalleled clarity about what you want next. Click Here for the Link
- Free 30-minute private power session – This Friday I am making 8 spots available to focus on you. Bring me your challenges and let’s talk about how to focus and start your change plan. Click Here to Reserve Your Spot
The content of these two offers comes from what you have been requesting. For those who sign up, I am offering a special offer – the chance to save 25% on my 3-month 1:1 Clarity Creates Confidence program.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I am grateful every day for the excitement and challenge I feel at work. I want that for you. Will you join me?
Last week I was invited to Fast Company’s Innovation Festival for a session by architecture firm M. Moser on how sound, light, air, comfort, movement and communication impact our work day. Change is not easing up. Companies need to push their employees. And more will always be better. Yet innovative companies are seeing that taking care of employees lets us restore and perform better. I call it the Houdini Principle. How can we untangle ourselves when it feels like there’s no escape?
I used to think that just aligning with work we love — finding our “True North” — would be enough to make us engaged and passionate at work. But we live in complex times, where a lot is asked. In addition to doing what we love, time management and stress reduction elements like exercise, nutrition, community, spirituality, and environment must be part of the picture. A couple of resources that have become go-to’s are the Blue Zone research, The Happiness Project (I was skeptical but it’s very detailed and thoughtful) and just about any meditation. One of my favorites is on the Positive Intelligence site.
My Houdini request to you: Will you pick two small changes you can make without upending everything? Do them for a month and see what happens. In my experience, the positive feeling only builds momentum for more. And, please continue reading for another way to build momentum on personal growth
Is Your Career Ready for the New Year? A Special Offer
You know how year end is about holidays, family and not worrying about career? I get it. But this year I am nudging you to commit to yourself now. What if you could stop putting it off, and start following an easy and predictable path for the next job or promotion? Working with an experienced partner (me!) will keep it light and help you focus on the stuff you are missing, not the stuff you don’t need.
- Get clear on where you want to go, so you can take the first steps on your roadmap.
- Have the pitch (and resume and cover letter) that will get you in front of the people who can hire you or get you promoted.
- Let me evaluate where you are, so you can focus your time, and not get frustrated on things that aren’t effective.
“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust
Hundreds of professionals have worked with me to realize they had what they needed all along — they just needed to see themselves, and help others see them through new eyes. The Executive Director of Alumni Career Management at Columbia Business School has said that I don’t just help with job search tactics; I teach leadership development that serves you in the next job and beyond. It’s learning you take with you.
The Clarity Creates Confidence 3-month program includes:
- Know Your Value Understand your strengths, and how you use those every day to impact the team and the company results
- Find Your Target: Use your impact knowledge to get clear on the exact job you want next
- Tell Your Story: Talk about yourself in ways that make people see you as the right person for your target job. Learn key interviewing techniques.
- Activate Your Network: Connect with people who know you, and you feel comfortable with, to get you to hiring managers or key decision makers.
- Two individual 60-minute sessions with me to keep you focused on the parts of the curriculum that have the greatest potential for you. We zero in quickly, and you get moving.
- Email and telephone communication as needed, to keep you on track
I charge $2,549 for this program. Because I want to get you started before the January job market picks up, I am offering a complimentary 4th month of coaching and content, an $849 value, to the first six who commit by December 1 and pay in full.
If you are ready to take the next step in your career, please call or write. I will answer whatever questions you have. Some common questions I get are:
Q – What kind of results do you get with clients? A – 70% of my clients are in their next position within four to five months, 90% within seven months. The remaining 10% take a bit longer, and a few have taken a wildly alternative path!
Q – How much time does it require? A – Clients typically spend 1-3 hours a week on prep work for our calls. Our calls last 45 minutes, twice a month.
Q – What does the process look like? A – In month one we look at your skills and experience + figure out what you want next. In month two, we find targets + get your message right. In month three, we get you having key conversations.
This week a client (the boss) used the techniques she had learned around providing difficult feedback and I was thrilled to hear how she made it work.
Recently she hired a part-time employee. After an initial month that she chalked up to learning curve, the employee’s performance was just not aligning with my client’s expectations. This happens a lot. You know the feeling when you let a few things slide because it would seem picky to mention them, then you realize you are way off track and it feels too late to change it. That’s where she was. My client had to plan a talk. Here are some rules of the road:
- Reserve the time, create a private space and keep the “Can we talk?” light.
- Give the person the benefit of the doubt, even if you can’t see it right now.
- Consider the person’s style and preferences. In this case, the employee was very forthright and fact based, not emotional. The boss did her best to mirror the style.
- Expectations are so important to define at the start! The boss realized she had made all sorts of assumptions about what the new hire “should know” about the job. But the version of the job the new hire had done in the past was very different to what the boss needed.
- Go even deeper with style preferences. The employee shared that she likes rules so she knows where she stands. As someone with a rebellious personality my client doesn’t like others’ rules, so had been holding back on giving the hire the direction she wanted.
- You can’t fix everybody. In this case, the boss was dealing with someone hard working, mature and eager to learn. That isn’t always the case. Do your best, and don’t take on more than your share of the responsibility.
Clarity Creates Confidence — The simple approach to owning work and life
Things can get confusing. Work doesn’t feel right, but you’re not sure how to fix it or what’s next. As a leader, you may be clear on your mission but need to get more cooperation from your team. Or work is great, but there’s not enough time for life outside.
I believe we all feel more confident when we know what we contribute, what we want and have the tools to get there. From this simple belief, I help professionals build foundational strength that they use in career management and leading more effectively. Part personal growth, part tactical tools, we change moments of stuck-ness into opportunities to gain a clear focus and be more successful. You are more effective and happier at work. If you are leading a team, they are more motivated and productive. You feel confident, and work feels exciting.
The Clarity Creates Confidence programs share three foundational elements:
- Impact: Confidence in self. Knowing the value you add, and what makes you happy creates a core of confidence
- Influence: Confidence with others. With the tools to navigate relationships, boundaries are easier to uphold, you can sell your strengths and ideas and you know how to motivate others
- Initiative: Confidence in action. We can prepare all we want, but the learning that comes from action is invaluable. Not fake it till you make it, but take your best guess and then give it a go
I am thrilled to announce the following programs for individuals and for organizations:
- Discover Career Clarity – This 1:1 programs is for individuals working with me separate of the organization, or with the support of their manager
- Lead with a Clear Strategy – Existing or custom built for organizations, this suite of programs focuses on creating individual and team confidence to make organizations more efficient and more competitive
- Jump Start Your Clear Strategy Roadmap – If it’s your first time job hunting or asking for a promotion, or you haven’t done it in a while, this class is for you
- Clear Strategy Peak Performance – For those ready to play a bigger game based on a deep sense of purpose.
Thank you to all of you. Your feedback and the experience of working with you has given me the clarity to develop programs that work, every day. Please keep the feedback coming and I look forward to expanding and developing the offering as we go.