Tag Archives: leadership

Are you future proofing your career?

21 Aug

40% of all jobs are likely to be automated by 2030 – that’s according to Oxford University economists Dr Carl Frey and Dr Michael Osborne. The question is what new types of work will you be doing by then?  How will you be freed up from repetitive tasks as automation opens up new possibilities?

These are important questions to ask yourselves and while 2030 is in the distant future, automation is already happening. It’s likely to affect portions of almost all jobs, according to a new report from McKinsey & Company which recently analysed 2,000+ work activities in the US economy.  It will require businesses to understand how their orgainzations will be transformed and how processes and culture will have to be changed as a result. It also requires a mindset shift in all of us. Here’s why.

Demographic changes are impacting us all in the workplace:   

  1. We’re living longer – in the UK, the number of centenarians has risen by 72% over the last decade and life expectancy continues to increase across European countries. We’re all going to be working much longer and the idea of retirement is eroding. Some of us can expect to work up to 20 years after retirement age.
  2. We’ll have multiple careers – as we’ll be working longer, the concept of a ‘job for life’ is increasingly rare. Instead, we’ll have upwards of 10-15 different roles, careers and build a patchwork of skills designed to adapt to changing technologies and trends.
  3. Gigs won’t just be for musicians – we’re starting to see people choosing to work‘gig jobs’ having a portfolio of part-time jobs to give them freedom and flexibility in the types of work they do. It’s becoming increasingly popular with millennials, keen to try multiple pursuits at the same time.

Why the type of work we do is changing

The structure of employment is shifting – while automation, artificial intelligence and robots will replace certain jobs with repetitive tasks, new jobs will be created, while skills gaps in certain areas like cyber security and analytics will still exist. It’s estimated that by 2020 there will be 756,000 unfilled vacancies for ICT professionals in Europe. Last year, the EU Commission helped to form four new national coalitions to help build a stronger digital Europe – two of which were the Belgian Alliance for Digital Skills and Jobs and the Netherlands National Coalition.

What can you do?

At a personal level, it’s vital that you take responsibility for your own careers now so you can disrupt yourselves and learn new skills to ensure your future employability.

It requires a different approach to learning – where you take the initiative to learn continuously. It could be online learning courses, certification, reading blogs, forums, Medium posts, book club style learning sessions with colleagues – the possibilities are endless. But it demands a change in mindset to be open to  new possibilities and invest time in your own personal development, something I’ve talked about previously in my post: Disrupt Yourself to Success.

 Here are some useful questions to ask yourself to future proof your career: 

  • What skills do I currently have?
  • Are these skills future proofed for the changing nature of work?
  • What steps do I need to take to acquire new digital skills?
  • What type of work interests me?
  • Where are the current industry skills gaps? Could I re-train to move into one of these areas?
  • Am I continuously learning?
  • How can I make learning a daily habit?

Changing the type of work we do isn’t necessarily going to be a comfortable experience – but that’s OK. It’s part of the learning curve and helps you grow personally and professionally. There’s no time like the present to start future proofing your career and open yourself up to change.

What are you doing to future proof your career?



Disrupt Yourself To Success

11 Jan

disrupt yourself to success

Are you comfortable in your current job but you feel that there’s something missing? Do you find your tasks are becoming routine and no longer challenging? Do you feel like you’ve reached a career peak and your job has lost its shine? Perhaps it’s time to disrupt yourself.

Most of us work with a personal goal or ambition in mind, whether it’s to develop new skills, make a difference, become famous or simply to provide for our families. When your work is challenging it energizes you, gives you drive and generally makes you feel good. Then, once you’ve finally achieved your goal or career ambition, you bask in the warm glow of your success and are happy to work at it thereafter.

However, after a time you may find that dream job, or a large part of it, becomes automatic and routine. This tends to occur when you enter a “comfort zone” in which you can confidently perform your work year in year out without issues. It’s a perfectly good place to be but it’s not where the magic happens. Growth, fresh ideas, innovation and creativity all occur when you are outside your comfort zones. So, in order to step outside the zone, you need to disrupt yourself, be prepared to learn new skills, open up to new experiences and go on a journey where the end goal might not even be in sight.

Career development is no longer the linear track it used to be, where we’d follow logical steps up the ladder to success. To accelerate personal growth requires courage to leave a comfortable position (where you are at the top of your S-curve), and take a step back or sideways to try something new (starting at the bottom of a new S-curve) that will take you further over time.   Timing is important and good preparation before you jump to the next learning curve is essential for successful career advancement.

Here are a few tips to prepare for launch:

  1. Write down the functional and emotional elements that are important to you in a new role or job.
  2. Know your distinctive strengths and apply your special skills in a unique manner.
  3. Ensure your strengths align with the learning curve you are planning to undertake.
  4. Analyze how well your skills map to unmet needs.
  5. Be prepared to step down, step backwards or step sideways. When you’re seeking a new venture outside your comfort zone, you have to be prepared to invest in learning and developing before you can achieve success. For instance, to strengthen or learn new skills you may need to take a step back on the career ladder, or a step sideways into a new area of business and then learn the ropes.
  6. Embrace failure and use your experience wisely. If you welcome failure as a guide and teacher you’re more likely to find your way to success.
  7. Engage in discovery-driven planning where you have a plan but the outcome may be as yet unknown. If you pursue a disruptive course, you can’t see the top of the curve from the bottom and you may end up with a different result altogether.
  8. Follow the “equal odds rule”.  This rule basically states that success is a numbers game. The best strategy is to produce as much work as possible in order to provide more opportunities to create something meaningful. For instance, if you want to write a frequently cited paper, publish a lot. If you want a successful business, go to work. If you want to sharpen your skills as disruptor, disrupt. As Woody Allen brilliantly pointed out: “80% of success is just showing up”.

In her latest book “Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work” Whitney Johnson http://whitneyjohnson.com/ talks about the importance of driving innovation through personal disruption. Definitely an interesting and worthwhile read!

Go ahead and disrupt yourself to success!

The Female Leadership Advantage

23 Mar


Have you ever noticed how most words associated with leadership are masculine?

Manager, leader, boss, chief, officer, they all lack a feminine connotation. Historically leadership positions were a male stronghold and, even in corporate boardrooms today, the balance remains in their favor. Perhaps this was understandable in an industrial era but in today’s networked economy there is a need for more authentic, emphatic and collaborative leaders. And these happen to be just the skills that female leaders often have in abundance.

Authenticity in communications is vital for leadership in a changing business environment. Change creates anxiety and confusion and requires genuine and clear communications to build trust and confidence. Female leaders often have better communication skills and the ability to articulate a strategy with empathy helps to create optimism and clarity in uncertain times. This is a great asset to any management team that has to steer an organization through disruptive changes.

Collaboration between teams is more important today than it has ever been. With organizations becoming increasingly global, cross-cultural, and networked, leaders will need to find ways to inspire their teams using creative and collaborative tools. Female leaders often have good listening skills and relate well to others, which is important to ensure an inclusive approach to nurture innovation and new ideas. Their interpersonal skills and the ability to empower and engage team members are strong assets to help any organization deliver high levels of performance.

Creativity and the ability to spot opportunities are essential qualities for any good leader to ensure a sustainable, successful business. Female leaders are great at networking and use this to good effect to sow the seeds of ideas. Generous in their ability to give and open doors for others, they include all team members as they like to make in a difference in the lives of others. For any organization looking to create an open culture of innovation, they would do well to include female leaders on their teams.

Relationships are at the heart of any organization, and building strong, long-lasting relationships with clients, employees and other stakeholders are even more important in the digital age. Female leaders are specialists at cultivating relationships that are purposeful, genuine and meaningful. Connecting people and resources effectively, they thrive on creating and sustaining momentum for both themselves and others, using their caring and nurturing skills to best business advantage.

Socially conscious organizations tend to outperform others as they attract the best talent and have a more engaged workforce. Female leaders are natural givers and often prefer to serve a cause that advances social needs. They tend to be socially conscious leaders, looking at a long-term, sustainable strategy for organizations and a beneficial impact on the community at large.

Numerous research reports and surveys over the past few years have shown that engaging more female leaders contributes to growth, performance and prosperity. The time for change is now. Here is a call to action for all leaders to embrace diversity in the boardroom. A special call to action for all those talented women out there – use your female leadership advantage and encourage others to do the same!

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition” – Marilyn Monroe

The Human Side of Business

27 Oct


We are very good at working with numbers; they form the universal language that translates into business failure or success. In fact, everything of value, whether tangible or intangible, is translated into figures to enable us to gauge our business performance. It’s a straightforward method of measuring, monitoring and improving our business operations and, as we all know, what get’s measured gets done – a mantra that most leaders recognize and deploy on a daily basis.

But are we measuring the right things? Do our increasingly connected and collaborative business networks require new ways to measure success? As knowledge and data rapidly become a powerful new business currency and social connectivity becomes the latest engagement model, it’s time for us all to focus on our most important asset – our people.

Corporate performance measurement has barely changed since the industrial revolution, when the ‘organization as a machine’ metaphor played a major role in driving improvements in efficiency and effectiveness. The result was an organizational management model based on mechanistic, command-and-control thinking, that was driven by individual assessments, financial indicators and performance-driven remuneration arrangements. Performance management improved greatly in the 1960’s with the introduction of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) – originated by McKinsey – to identify and measure those aspects of a business that determine its success. Choosing the right KPIs relies on what is important to each organization and, to date, most companies continue to focus almost exclusively on their financial KPIs.

Having a clear view of your company’s financial performance is vital, as good financial health is critical to ensuring sustainable business growth. However, a radical rethink will be required to remain successful in the future and thrive in the emerging “everything is connected” era. As disruptive technology profoundly changes the way we work and do business, the current metrics will no longer be adequate. Social business networks, remote working, mobile devices all enable us to work anytime, anywhere from any device. Gone are the days when productivity was measured by the number of hours spent in the office under direct supervision of a manager.

Introducing the Kindness Performance Indicator (KiPI). Ever since the start of the industrial revolution, employees have been viewed as production units. The terms FTE, headcount and human resources, all reflect that ‘mechanical’, and still very industrial view. Productive workforces are essential for any organization to be successful and, historically, a lot of effort was put into ‘time and motion’ studies in order to become more efficient, cost effective and competitive. In modern business we can look to today’s Lean and Six Sigma programs to optimize processes and activities. Are they bringing us the results we are looking for? Not entirely.

Now let’s consider adding the human element, perhaps better referred to as the ‘social’ aspect. We can all acknowledge that a happy employee is generally more productive and engaged. If this sounds simple, you’re right, it is. Empathy, kindness, attention, appreciation and valuing an employee’s contribution are all ‘free’ management tools that make the difference between a bad employer and a great place to work where every employee’s wellbeing is important. We know these qualities and management principles instinctively and yet we rarely think to apply them. “I’ve no time, I’m too busy, and… it’s not on my bonus scorecard”. It seems we’ve come full circle. To incorporate these principles we need to redesign the way we measure performance and success using the established KPI model.

So let’s look at introducing a Kindness Performance Indicator (KiPI) – a method of measuring and improving the wellbeing and happiness of employees within an enterprise. Consider it as a way of placing the human side of our businesses at the forefront of our business operations. After all, it is not success that drives happiness, but happiness that drives success!

In my next blog I will explain how kindness can improve happiness and wellbeing at work, resulting in a connected workforce that is more engaged and productive.

What do you think the metrics should be for the KiPI?

Wellbeing@work – the human side of business.

The Power Of Positivity

12 Oct

think, do, be positive

The Mind is everything. What you think you become” – Buddha

Positivity always has a payoff. How? A positive attitude not only brings you health benefits, it opens your mind to new opportunities, broadens your network and, ultimately, makes you more successful.

Whilst we sense that being positive is good for us, the science of positive psychology and happiness proves that we benefit greatly by viewing the glass as half full. According to psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, a leading researcher in this field, positive emotions are more than just fleeting, frivolous sensations; instead, they can profoundly change our minds and bodies, provide new perspectives and making us more resilient to setbacks.

Being positive makes you more successful

A positive attitude opens your mind and broadens your awareness. When we experience positive emotions, we are able to see the bigger picture as it increases our peripheral vision and helps us to become more aware of different possibilities. This widening of awareness is directly linked to greater creativity. It helps us find solutions faster, develop new ideas and think outside the box.

Furthermore, positive thinking improves your performance. Studies show that if you’re feeling happy at work, others will judge your work to be more innovative and your supervisor will rate the quality of your work more highly. It was also found that managers who cultivate happiness and connection find that team members are more productive, creative, engaged and have better health profiles.

It is no surprise then that positive people are great to be around, particularly in the work place. They are perceived as more trustworthy and intelligent as well as less selfish. As a result they’re likely to have a wider network within the company than their colleagues and, as team players, they can always count on their support and cooperation. Tasks are performed faster, projects completed more quickly and creative solutions are discovered with ease making them more successful as a result.

Think positive and positive things happen

Positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring unpleasant or difficult situations. It simply means approaching them in a more positive and productive way. Happiness is a choice. You may not be able to change your current situation but you can change the way you view and respond to it.

Can you turn a negative attitude into positive thinking? Yes, anyone can do it but it does take time and practice. A good start is to surround yourself with positive people who provide you with support and encouragement. Wear a smile and you’ll soon find that it’s contagious! Last but not least, be kind to yourself. Remind yourself of your good qualities: your strengths, interests, skills and activities. Want to know more about the power of positive thinking? Why not take a look at the following recently published article from the Mayo Clinic or the publications from the Greater Good Science Center.

Let’s get positive. 

Positivity at work pays dividends. Here is a simple exercise that’s really worth trying: if you are facing a difficult task, try recalling a positive memory just before you engage with it. This broadens your awareness and will make the task easier.

The “Don’t Eat The Sausage” Management Principle

15 Jul

Bangers and Gnash_Team Reward II

You probably haven’t heard about this particular management principle before, unless you are a keen Mr. Bean watcher. Those that do watch Mr. Bean may recall the episode in which he enters Teddy in a dog obedience competition. (http://youtu.be/6w3472uquaM). And yes, you guessed it, one of the exercises involves a tasty sausage. The contestants must complete an obedience task successfully and in order to win they have to resist temptation. Except most fail at the first tasty hurdle…

The management principle “don’t eat the sausage” stands for forsaking immediate self-gratification in favor of the greater goal and reward of your team, community or organization. To be successful in deploying this principle, each team member needs to be motivated and willing to go for the team goal, whilst the reward has to be equally desirable for all team members.

The sausage was too much of a temptation and a far better reward – in the eyes of the dog – than the ultimate prize the owner had set as a goal: a paper rosette! As such the personal reward for the dog was instant, whilst the team reward evaporated.

In our new world of work, collaboration through social networks is rapidly becoming the norm to unlock knowledge and expertise across borders and organizational silos. Working together in diverse teams is key to drive innovation and business success. How can you keep your team together, motivated and keen to achieve the objectives and goal you set out?

  • Explain the bigger picture. Take time to explain the company strategy and objectives and how that is reflected in the goals of your team. Motivation has to be intrinsic, team members have to understand and embrace the goal. Simply being told what to do, won’t get the desired result.
  • Every member has a valuable contribution to make. Have a good understanding of the skills, expertise and experience each team member can bring to the project in order to select the right member for the right job.
  • Trust your team members to perform their tasks to the best of their abilities and deliver on their objectives. Follow the progress and coach them where necessary, but don’t micro-manage.
  • Encourage team members to step outside their comfort zone by learning new skills, trying a different approach or thinking outside of the box. It will bring fresh ideas and inject new energy into the team, whilst each team member has the opportunity to grow and develop.
  • Ensure the team reward for achieving the goal appeals to all members and is worth going the extra mile for. If it is a longer term project or program, set milestones that can be achieved along the way.
  • Show your appreciation for exemplary behavior, for instance tasks completed before the deadline, or a great idea that will shorten timelines or brings in more business. Say thank you to the team or an individual team member for exceptional support, for staying late to ensure the job was finished, or simply for taking over some urgent actions of a team member that fell ill. Small tokens of appreciation such as a dinner for 2 (to also thank the partner at home for his or her understanding when working late), a bottle of champagne or a voucher for a theme park to take the kids for a treat will be much appreciated.
  • Celebrate team success. Take the time to celebrate success, whether it is for achieving the goal or the intermediate milestones. Broadcast it internally so others know about it and may pick up some lessons learned or best practices from your team. It will put your team members in the (well deserved) spotlight as successful experts and it might even open up new career opportunities.

In short, don’t run off with the sausage half way through the project. Use bite size treats to celebrate small successes and keep motivation up, and enjoy the “steak” together with your team when the goal has been achieved.

What do you do to keep your team motivated to achieve your team goal?

Are you a natural leader?

9 Jul


migrating canada geese

Are you a leader, do you have leadership qualities or are you leading a team? It may all sound the same, but there is a slight distinction between a “leader”, “leadership” and “leading”. For instance, you can have formally appointed leaders who do not have real leadership skills. Leadership is related to a person’s skills and degree of influence, and can often be found in people who are not formal leaders.

In the emerging, hyper-connected and collaborative business environment, there is a need for a new type of leadership. Old command and control styles from leaders who assume they have influence simply because they are the boss, will no longer work in this new world of work. Instead, there is a need for leaders who can create working environments in which people want to belong. This demands a different set of skills that includes communicating, interacting and managing relationships within an organization, network or social system.

In fact, we are all leaders at some point in our careers or personal lives. There will always be tasks or situations where you will take the lead, simply because you are the best person to solve a problem, or the family member who takes control of a particular personal matter. As social beings we all have natural leadership skills, but are often not aware of it, sometimes because it’s buried under layers of conventional management training.

Are you a natural leader?

  • You lead from a basis of authenticity, trust and respect instead of a formal role and control. Be true to yourself and most of all, be yourself (everyone else is already taken!)
  • You balance your head, heart, body and spirit – a healthy mind in a healthy body. Listen to your heart, trust your intuition and open your mind.
  • You overcome your limiting beliefs and connect to your true potential. Dare to step outside your comfort zone to learn, explore and grow.
  • You lead in the here and now, which is reflected in ease, flow and connection instead of effort and waste of energy.
  • You create mutual beneficial situations and joint goals. Collaboration is about working together. Leveraging diverse skills, views and cultures to drive innovation, fresh ideas and ultimately success!
  • You have the power to influence your circumstances and not to rely on external factors.

When you align your knowledge, skills, attitudes and mental models and stay true to yourself, you connect to your true potential and the natural Leader within you. In the words of Brian Tracy: “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position”.

What is your view on natural leadership?

This Wellbeing@work post originally appeared on the Ascent blog and shares an addition paragraph on a unique leadership training program with horses: http://blog.atos.net/blog/2013/12/10/natural-leadership-leadership-inspired-by-nature/

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