Sunday, April 28, 2013

The 5 Futile Behaviours That Every Smart Woman Knows Will Strangle Her Career

Futility is a depressing thing: you push and push and push and still don't get a result. But what's worse, is you chastise yourself for not getting that result.

Women are constantly setting themselves up for failure by going out to achieve outcomes that, in some instances are never, ever, ever going to happen.

Stop wasting your time!

Here are the five behaviours that you must stop doing right now, if you're serious about getting ahead in your career.

Futile Behaviour 1.
Trying to tick everything off your to do list

If you're anything like me, you will constantly have a to-do list the length of your arm. You believe that the list gives you security: that feeling that you're 'on top of things'.

In fact, all the list does is set you up to fail because you and I both know that however many tasks get ticked off your list, new ones are added just as quickly.

The key, I have discovered, is to know which tasks have any real value and which should be dumped off your list entirely.

Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what tasks to complete.

Review your to-do list.
- Which tasks serve no purpose at all?
- Which can be binned immediately?
- Which tasks could you delegate straight away, either up or down the chain?
- And which tasks will create outcomes that will make a real difference to you, your team or your company?

Having answered these questions, you will now have a 'dump, delegate and do' list. Signpost the tasks on your 'do' list that will make the greatest impact, the most quickly, and get to work only on those.

Futile Behaviour 2:
Seeking perfectionism

Perfectionism, by its very nature, is impossible to attain. You will always want to tweak and finesse... and then tweak a bit some more.

Quite simply, stop wasting precious time.
Ask yourself:
- Is trying to 'make things perfect' really helping you?
- Is it getting you where you want to be professionally?
- If so, what are you NOT doing when you're spending your time seeking perfectionism?
- Would anyone notice if you completed a task 5% less well? How about 10%? Would it make a significant impact to your end outcome or not?

And finally, whilst you're striving to be 'perfect', what are your peers up to??? They're your competition by the way.

Futile Behaviour 3:
Trying to be liked by everyone

The world is made up of different people. That is what makes it interesting.

We have different personalities. Different quirks. And different views about whether  or not dogs are 'better' than cats.

I don't know about you, but I don't like everyone I know. That would just be silly.

We don't all share the same values for a start which creates an automatic 'dislike' for one another. So if, I don't like everyone I know, why would I expect everyone else to like me?

The truth is, you don't need to be liked by everyone. Someone might not like you, but respect you highly. I don't know about you, but that would suit me fine.

Get realistic about who you really need to have 'on your side' and quite simply, who doesn't really matter all that much.

Spend the majority of your energies trying to influence the opinions of people you like, respect and who can help you achieve your goals.

Futile Behaviour 4:
Waiting to feel certain before making a decision

A UK newspaper recently ran a story about a fortune teller who makes her predictions using asparagus. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't know how accurate asparagus would be in foreseeing the future. I expect it's not.

Trying to know what lies around the corner is about as futile as it gets. Yes, you can have a 'best guess' based on 'the facts', your gut feel, and the opinions of your most trusted advisors. But none of us can ever really know the future.

If we did, the GFC (global financial crisis) might never have happened and I wouldn't have ever dated anyone who let me down. :)

Read my post here about how to arrive at better decisions with greater ease.

When faced with your next decision making situation, where you feel unsure, repeat this sentence 5 times in quick succession,

"I am never going to know for sure how this will turn out; that is exactly what makes the world such a fun place to live in. But I do trust myself, and my judgment, to make the best decision that I can today."

Futile Behaviour 5:
Waiting around to be recognised

Although 'recognition' is a major need that we all have as human beings, it does not necessarily follow that you need that acknowledgement to come from other people.

Much more important is to know, in yourself, that you have done a great job.

Of course, receiving praise from external sources is wonderful. But just don't sit around waiting for that stuff to come your way; you could be waiting a lifetime.

'Self validation' is a skill that you can easily learn if you do it regularly. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What were your expectations before you started?
- Did you meet those expectations?
- What value did you add?
- How would you rate your performance out of 10?

Once you've answered these questions, get into the habit of writing your achievement down. Even better, keep an 'achievement journal'.

When it comes to your next discussion with your Partner, or Vice President, make sure you have those achievements top of mind. Share them with him and make sure they are known. You might receive some praise (and you might not) but either way, rest assured: if you have self validated and you have made it known what you have achieved, you have done everything that you can to influence their good perception of you.


Now, Over to You!

Have any of these behaviours been slowing you down?
What have you done about it?
What are you going to do about it?
Love to hear from you!
Rebecca     Rebecca Wells is a Career and Executive Coach with a specialism in Personal Branding for Corporate Women. She believes that women are phenomenal and add long lasting commercial value to business and yet often struggle to understand their value or believe deeply in their abilities to succeed. Her coaching programs are designed for talented and savvy professional women who simply need that extra push to achieve their greatest fulfillment and success. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Biggest Loser 2013: What Have Diet and Exercise Got To Do With It?

To all my Australian readers, are you enjoying this season's "The Biggest Loser" on Channel 10?

I'm sure you'll agree that 'weight loss' is, on the surface, about your diet and exercise routine.

The fact is, your mental state is far more important: your degree of self-worth and determination will determine whether or not you can maintain that routine.

The three trainers on "The Biggest Loser" spend a lot of time talking to the participants about their mental states.

Participants are often challenged about how highly they value themselves.

The trainers push and push to reveal the excuses participants are making about why things are as they are or who else is to blame.

The trainers are constantly looking to help partipants break their limiting attitudinal and behavioural patterns and encourage them towards new decision making.

I actually think the number one priority when faced with any challenge (weight loss or otherwise) should be your self-worth.

Do you value yourself highly enough to even attempt this challenge?
Do you deserve success?

Once you feel congruent with questions like these, then those practical strategies, like diet and exercise plans, have a fighting chance of success.

What do you think?
Have you lost a great deal of weight and how important was your attitude to achieve that?
How important is your self-worth at work, certainly in terms of your decision making?

Love to hear your feedback!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thatcher: A Lesson For We Women

Today we mark the passing of Margaret Thatcher - 'The Iron Lady' - and first, and only, female Prime Minister of Great Britain.

In her lifetime she had a phenomenal impact, both at home and overseas, and created a platform from which modern British politics has been shaped. When asked about her greatest achievement she replied, "New Labour."

Thatcher hauled a weak Great Britain out of its despair and led it, through a highly tumultuous period, to power once again; she took on the Unions, education and police reforms; led her country through ferrocious terrorist attacks on home soil; and even went to war.

She is famed for her no-nonsense approach, sheer determination and deep patriotism for her country.

A remarkable life and a remarkable legacy.

And all from a woman who was the daughter of a humble grocer.

We modern women must take note of the fact that Margaret Thatcher achieved what she did because of the woman she was.

What do you think?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Blaggers: 3 Reasons Why They're Stealing Your Next Promotion

All too often I hear from peeved clients that 'blaggers' are stealing their thunder.

'Blaggers', not to be confused with 'bloggers', (as my spellcheck keeps doing) are those people in your meetings who speak openly and candidly about themselves and their achievements.

At times, they twist the truth or in some cases, downright lie.

Whatever you might think about blaggers, there are three crucial reasons why they're getting ahead faster than you:

1. They speak up

2. They're convincing

3. They're 'known'

Let's look at each reason in turn:

1. Blaggers speak up

Blaggers do the first thing right: they share their opinions (however annoying that might be to you).

Speaking up and sharing your ideas are crucial steps if you are serious about raising your profile at work.

The reason why a blagger might steal your next promotion is that he or she is adding what I call 'PIV', or 'perceived intellectual value'. And that word 'perceived' is absolutely vital here because we all know that some blaggers are talking rot, but if those key decision makers aren't affected, or are simply unaware that it's 'rot', then this isn't necessarily an issue.

The crucial point is, blaggers share their ideas (or PIV) with the exact people who can help them advance their careers.

2. Blaggers are convincing

Certainty sells. Most blaggers have a knack of sharing their opinions with vigour, whilst looking people directly in the eye.

Think back to a time when you were looking to hire a plumber to fix a problem in your house. If he sounded unsure as he explained how he'd fix your burst pipe and mumbled his way through the technical details, I bet you didn't hire him did you?

The reason why a blagger might steal your next promotion is that certainty sells.

3. Blaggers are 'known'

People who share their opinions boldly and stand for something tend also to create strong positionings for themselves in the office.

In other words: their direct reports, peers and senior managers come to know about them because they speak up with certainty.

The reason why a blagger might steal your next promotion is that he or she has a profile within your organisation.

In Summary...
Now, I am not suggesting that you start blagging your way around the office willy nilly... or compromise your integrity in any way.

But I am recommending that you stop getting frustrated by blaggers and start to learn from them.

There are many ways to raise your profile within your organisation. Blagging can be done well and help you get ahead. It can also be executed badly and tarnish your reputation.

Observe the people who do it (frustratingly) well.

Notice how they share their views. See how they use certain vocabulary, tone of voice and gestures to give them an added air of credibility. And then watch them become famous around the office.

What are your experiences with blagging?

Are you a blagger? Does it help you raise your profile effectively?

Love to hear from you!

- Rebecca

The Problem Women Have with 'Job Offers'


Did you hear the one about the woman who snapped up a job offer of $150k and then cried all the way home?

A 'job offer' is just that: an offer. It is not a final offer.

You may know that many women start their careers financially worse off than men.

To give you an idea a recent UK study, published in the Hecsu Journal Graduate Market Trends, found that 55% of male graduates earned below £23,999 whilst 70% of female grads earned an equivalent sum.

These figures are reflective of global statistics unfortunately and of course set a precedent for women for the rest of their careers.
Women are constantly playing 'catch up' and it all starts with that first job offer.

But Isn't $150k a Lot of Money?

Now, a job offer of $150k might sound remarkable. It might even take your breath away.

But unless you observe the figure in context, you will never know how much more you could have secured.

Stand Your Ground

The mistake many women make is to accept the initial offer and walk away. They feel happy because this decision gives them immediate security.

But what if there was a budget of $220k assigned to the job in question? Haven't you just lost out on $70k?!

You Have Nothing to Lose
Too much rides on your ability to negotiate. Remember, it isn't just your salary today that's at stake, but the incremental effect this particular negotiation will have on all your future salaries as well.

Here are some ideas to give you the strength to negotiate:

1. See your initial offer as just that: an offer.

2. Have a view of what salary you want to negotiate up to.

3. Ask for what you believe you deserve, plus a bit more.

4. Be (a little) flexible.

5. Wait: you should receive an amended offer.

6. Consider it and take your time.

7. Push back again if you need to - focus on the value you add to the organisation: they need you more!

8. Celebrate when you believe you have done all that you can to achieve the outcome you want.

What are your thoughts on this - I'd love to hear your perspectives.


WARNING! Your 'Decision Making' Style is Stalling Your Career!

'Decision making' is a crucial part of leadership. It's not just about making those tough calls, but how you conduct yourself during the process.

Most people naturally make decisions based on three different approaches. The problem is: none of these approaches is especially effective.

As you review these response types, think about which one describes you most accurately:

1. Emotional
An emotional decision maker reacts to how she feels. She gets a sense in 'her heart' that an outcome either feels 'right' or 'wrong' and will be comfortable to arrive at a decision with, or without, any facts.

2. Analytical
Someone who bases her decisions on facts and rational data thinks with her head. Often she will do so with little thought about how she, or anyone else, might feel as a result.

3. Reactive
A poor future planner will make a decision 'in the now' without considering how that decision might fit with the 'bigger picture'. She will tend to make decisions in a reactive manner.

Which one best describes you? Are you a reactive person, or do you rely on your head or heart to make decisions?

The Solution!

Arguably, the reason why each of these approaches is deficient is because they are all too simplistic and operate without a breadth of data.

To achieve this breadth of data, and to make more effective decisions, here are six key factors to take into account when you are next making a big call:

1. Head
Yes, logic is important:
- What do you know for sure?
- What are the facts?

2. Heart
And yes, how you feel is also useful to draw on:
- How does this make you feel?
- Who else do you need to consider here?
3. Intuition
What about your intuition as well?
- What do your experiences tell me?
- What's your gut reaction?

4. Context
How does this situation fit into a longer term time frame?

5. Counsel
Who else could provide an insight and give you an alternate view?

6. Values
Which of your values are you basing your decision making on?*

*This one is such a biggie I am going to write a dedicated post to it!

How do you currently make decisions? Do you tend to rely on one instinctive approach or do you unite many?   What has worked best for you? I'd love to hear; send me your comments below.   Rebecca