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Your Career: What Leaders Know That You Don’t


3/26/2010 10:46:51 PM

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Your Career: What Leaders Know That You Don’t March 20, 2014

Establishing and maintaining leadership behavior. Are you a leader?

By Ford Myers, Career Coach

A leader generates his or her own opportunities. Leaders don’t whine and complain about the lack of opportunities to develop their careers. They CREATE opportunities—regardless of their current situation, regardless of their current boss, regardless of obstacles that may seem to stand in the way of developing their full potential.
The following information is adapted from "The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It's Too Late," by Leigh Branham, AMACOM, New York. When I read this piece, I was impressed—so impressed, in fact, that I decided to share it with you!

I hope you will get as much out of the following material as I did. These strategies are empowering and practical—and if you actually implement them, you will find that they work. Enjoy!

1. If you’re not getting enough feedback and coaching:
  • Whenever you believe you are not receiving the feedback and coaching you need, ask for it.
  • If you find you are reluctant to seek feedback, start by asking those with whom you feel most comfortable.
  • Develop the habit of asking for feedback from peers, customers, direct reports, coworkers, and anyone with whom you might interact—not just the boss.
  • If you receive feedback that is too general or difficult to understand, ask for specific examples.
  • If you have never been invited to write your own performance objectives or self-assessments, ask to do so.
  • If you are not comfortable with your performance objectives or appraisal results, speak up. Try to reach a satisfactory mutual understanding with your supervisor.
  • If you feel that changes in external circumstances have necessitated changes in your objectives, request a meeting with your supervisor to rewrite the objectives.
  • If your company makes 360 degree feedback assessments available, consider asking if you can participate in the process.
  • Ask whether your company provides off-the-shelf personality and work-style inventories, employee development planning guides, or competency assessments you can take.
  • If you feel you are spending more time trying to improve weaknesses than building on your strengths, change your developmental objectives, your supervisor, or your job.
  • If your company retains external coaches to assist employees, ask if they would be willing to provide such coaching at your level.
  • If your organization does not retain outside coaches at your level, consider retaining an outside coach on your own.
  • If you work for a supervisor who is not interested in coaching or giving you the feedback you need, consider seeking a new position within the company where you can work for a manager who is interested in doing this.
2. If you’re not getting enough opportunities for growth and advancement:
  • Master the job you have now, first and foremost. Remember that fortune favors those who do a brilliant job today.
  • If you are in the wrong job, change to the right one. Love what you do—which means figuring out who you are in terms of talents, interests, values, and motivations.
  • Know how the money flows through the organization, what factors cause profit and loss, and what part of that you can help control.
  • When no promotional options seem open, seek lateral or cross-functional assignments, or create a job that meets unmet company needs and makes use of your talents.
  • Seek continual learning via formal and informal means.
  • Familiarize yourself with the career paths of those in positions to which you aspire. Solicit their advice, get realistic overviews of their jobs, and ask them to be a mentor to you.
  • If a position you desire is not currently available, seek mini assignments that will help prepare you and try out pieces of the desired job.
  • Seek new challenges and satisfying activities in your current job before pursuing other opportunities.
  • Communicate your aspirations, talents, ideas, and plans to your manager so he or she can provide appropriate feedback, coaching, or sponsorship.
  • Re-energize your career by acting like an entrepreneur. Start a new service or line of business for the company.
  • Before deciding to leave the company, communicate to your manager or a trusted mentor the source of your career frustration.
3. If you feel your contributions are not sufficiently valued and recognized:
  • Ask your manager to define what results are required for excellence in your job.
  • Ask yourself if you are willing to work hard and pay the price to achieve those results.
  • Ask what criteria determine bonuses and raises.
  • Ask yourself if you are willing to put more of your pay at risk, to be paid bonuses based on achieving targeted results—rather than just getting annual pay raises.
  • Compete against yourself to achieve key results, not against your peers.
  • Ask what new skills would make you more valuable to the organization.
  • Tell your manager exactly how you prefer to be recognized for your contributions.
  • Sit in on a sales call with a satisfied customer to better understand the value of your job.
  • Present a cost-benefit analysis to your manager, making the case for purchasing resources you believe you need.
  • Don’t wait for your manager to ask for your input—give him or her the benefit of your views and ideas at appropriate times.
4. If you’re feeling stressed and overworked:
  • Understand that each of us has the freedom to choose how we respond to stressful events. Train yourself to become more conscious of, and accountable for, making those choices.
  • Organize the work to be done the day before. Sort your in-basket according to priority and work on high priority items first.
  • Establish specific times of the day to review email and voicemail.
  • Let go of the need for perfection. Very few things in business really have to be done perfectly.
  • Take all the vacation you have coming to you. Reserve those days on your calendar as far in advance as possible.
  • Don’t try to do two or three things at the same time. Chronic multi-tasking takes a toll.
  • Don’t bring work home with you every night. Instead, stay later or go in earlier occasionally.
  • Let voicemail answer your phone when you are extremely busy and don’t want to be distracted.
  • Block out your calendar ahead of time to make sure you will have the uninterrupted time you need to finish a large project or complete several smaller tasks.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask coworkers for help when you are trying to handle heavy workloads.
  • Take breaks to clear your mind and relax for a few minutes at a time. Go outside for fresh air if you can.
  • Take lunch out of the office whenever you can or just go for a lunchtime walk.
  • Delegate more.
  • Create a morning ritual, such as quiet meditation or reading time, which can set the tone for your entire day.
  • Block out your calendar days before it starts to fill up to ensure that you have the time needed between appointments—or to work on important projects uninterrupted.
  • Exercise every day if possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for flex-time, part-time work, job-sharing, or other family-friendly conditions if it can help to make your life less complicated and less stressful.
  • Seek more sources of gratification besides your job—pursue a new hobby (or an old one), spend more time with friends and family, take more vacation days, travel more often, or treat yourself to a massage—whatever works to give you more balance.
  • If you are in the wrong job or working for a manager who cranks up your stress levels, create a plan to change your situation and start working your plan today.
  • Get enough sleep.
5. If you feel senior managers don’t have enough trust and confidence in you:
  • Speak up in meetings and express your convictions firmly.
  • When a leader or manager puts confidence in you by giving you the freedom to do your job without constant supervision, be prepared to take the initiative.
  • Show that you are interested in having an “ownership mentality.” Learn how the business makes money and what you can do to help make it more profitable.
  • Earn your company’s trust by constantly looking for ways to meet customers’ needs, or by improving your own skills so that managers will trust you to handle new challenges.
  • Give new leaders the benefit of the doubt. Allow them time to communicate and begin to execute their new vision before judging it to be unworthy.
Copyright © 2014, Career Potential, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Ford R. Myers, a nationally-known Career Expert and author of “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.” For information about career services and products, visit www.careerpotential.com and www.fordmyers.com.

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