Networking is not my cup of Tea

Networking is not my cup of Tea

 

Networking! Networking Networking!  Its an overused terminology which I don’t want to hear.. enough lessons on Networking..here comes another post.. another lecture..hoof!

If you are emotionally burdened by the idea of networking, you perhaps are blessed to be an introvert. .. Which is perfectly perfect J

If you think, there is no time to network, may be you are ill informed about smart ways of networking.

But nonetheless, you need to network.. u need to meet people, you need to spread that message…the best lesson I have learned in life is to find solutions rather than get into the vicious cycle of ‘ I cant do this..not my cup of tea’ – Fullstop

So what to do….

  • Dig Deep – What is it about networking that tires your senses? Is it the fear of initiating a conversation or the worry of creating that first impression ? Is it the conversation or the people or the setting and ambience ? Track your emotions and feelings..you will definitely find the answer. You can find a solution only if you know of the problem….Address this before your next networking event.

 

  • Follow your Passion – It becomes easy to meet people who share the same passion. When you are at your natural best, its easy to break ice. Thoughts and expressions find their own way and you enjoy the process. It could be anything..related or unrelated to your work..running, singimg, cycling, movies, music..just anything.

 

  • Filter Well – Attending too many networking events can drain your energy. Prioritize and filter the events you would really want to attend. Too much sugar does not enhance the taste, similarly too much networking eats into your limited time and energy. Time is most precious for a working professional, hence be ruthless in taking decision. Learn to say ‘No’ to the party being hosted by your best friend, if you don’t feel like doing so. Networking on Social media is a smart way to connect with people. You do it at your time, at your pace and the best part is that you don’t necessarily have to meet the person!!

 

  • Be an Empathetic listener – Start with being an empathetic listener. So, if you talk less and listen more perhaps, you are a better networker. People like to be heard, people like to connect with individuals who can extend a listening ear…the connection is genuine and deep. Once you feel connected with the other, it would be easier and more natural for you to open up.

 

  • Positive Reinforcement – Success is always the proof in the pudding. Monitor and follow up with the new connections. Track your success for which you can give credit to networking. Figure out what went well, why was it successful. Positive reinforcement is the best way to start enjoying networking.

 

  • Enjoy – The most important aspect of networking is go there to enjoy, share ideas, have meaningful conversations and not with a fixed agenda of selling your product or service. Once you start enjoying, you would be more confident more yourself and hence better chances of a meaningful connection.

 

Now you are ready for Stressfree networking… Remember to invite me over..I love to network J

 

 

Think you deserve better at work? 6 strategic moves to help you get ahead

Think you deserve better at work? 6 strategic moves to help you get ahead

Do you feel like you’re not getting the opportunities to demonstrate what you’re capable of at work? Or, you don’t have the freedom to pursue the assignments that most fascinate you? That you’re working hard at your job, but not getting due credit from your boss and colleagues?

Many of us believe that we deserve a lot more from our workplace than we’re getting today. In a recent survey by Monster India, majority of respondents – 78.52% feel they ought to be in a better position at work. A mere 10.96% are happy where they are. And while few things in life are more powerful than a positive push, simply harbouring the belief that you can do better isn’t enough. To get ahead at work, you need to #GoOutAndBe. Use these easy yet effective tips to get ahead at work:

  1. Be pleasant
    It’s simple logic – people give opportunities to people they like. So ask yourself, do others enjoy being around you? Take a good hard look at your personality. Do you come across as confident and honest? Are you appreciative and attentive towards others? Embrace these traits, and you’ll find you will be treated better, seen as more successful and confident, and your ascent at work may be quicker.
  2. Speak up
    How many times have you sat in a meeting with an interesting idea in your head, only to hear another colleague speak up, be applauded and land the project? Going forward, establish your presence by contributing to discussions. Don’t pause and don’t second-guess yourself.

Joel Garfinkle, executive coach and author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level, recommends jumping in within the first 10 minutes of the meeting. “The sooner you contribute, the less time you have to generate self-doubt. When you delay saying anything, it gets harder to break into the discussion,” he says in this Fortune article.

  1. Take credit for your work
    Ever shared an idea with a co-worker, only to hear him pitch it during a meeting? Or stood aside while a team member – or boss – accepts all the praise for a project you spent hours working on as well?

While we all want to believe that our work speaks for itself, it’s important to take credit where credit is due. In a Harvard Business Review article, Karen Dillon, author of the HBR Guide to Office Politics, says, “In the real world, it matters who gets credit. That all goes into the bank account of how much value you bring to the organisation and plays into promotion decisions, raises, and assignments.”

So the next time someone tries to undercut you, don’t let it slide. Talk to the person about why they felt justified taking all the credit for the project or idea. Simultaneously, use any opportunity to demonstrate your involvement with the project, like joining in on an email discussion about it to prove your knowledge. Consider asking a third person to speak about your involvement in a meeting when the project comes up in conversation.

  1. Volunteer

Find yourself stuck in a corner doing a small project that nobody has heard of? You’ll have a hard time getting noticed, much less getting ahead.

When the opportunity arises, put your hand up for the difficult and high profile projects. You need to be seen as someone who can get things done (well!) if you want to be selected for promotions, bonuses and other accolades.

  1. Showcase your expertise
    Build your personal brand online – through a blog or social media – by showcasing your expertise on some work-related subject. You could write about problems you have come across in your line of work and offer your solutions or, in case that’s against your company policy, share your perspective on the challenges companies and employers are dealing with within your niche, and share suggestions for ways to do things differently.

The exposure will improve your value to your current employer, which in turn can help you get ahead when opportunities arise.

  1. Network
    What’s the point of working hard if nobody knows about you? Being a “self-marketer” at work is important. The more people who know you, your strengths and abilities, and your ambitions, the more likely your name will be come up when opportunities arise. A good relationship with a manager or someone senior in your department can do the trick for you. Studies show that a mentor higher up in the company influences four out of five internal promotions. Remember networking is key.

Also, look outside the scope of your regular job to increase your visibility. For instance, offer to speak at industry or career-related events. This will help you build your personal brand as well as provide more visibility to your company.

Remember, gaining a promotion requires more than simply doing the job well. You need to #GoOutAndBe.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.

 

Ready to #GoOutAndBe? Follow our 7-step guide to success

Ready to #GoOutAndBe? Follow our 7-step guide to success

 

The journey from college to the real world goes hand in hand with thinking. After all, there’s a lot that you’re going to do over the next couple of decades. You will listen to your spirit. Find your inner voice. Follow your dreams. Change the world. Make your mark. Keep thinking and dreaming.

But while you’re busy thinking, there will be other people who will stop saying “I want to be…” or “I think…” and start doing. Thinkers may think of all the possibilities and ways ahead, but it’s the doers who get there. So how do you get from being a thinker to a doer?

Millionaire mompreneur, author and founder of Boldheart, Fabienne Fredrickson famously said the “difference between a dreamer and a doer is the amount of action that follows their vision”.

In a powerful commencement speech at Dartmouth College recently, Shonda Rhimes, creator of hit shows like Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, said, “Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”

Most of us tend to lean in one direction, but here’s how you can shift the balance towards being a doer. Here’s the 7-step guide to success.

#1 Write down goals and set deadlines
The importance of setting goals is known to everyone, but writing them down increases the odds of achieving them. Write down the 5 to 20 things you need to do to achieve every goal.

Do Schedule mini deadlines for each goal and take stock every month to see how you are doing.

#2 Learn to think out of the box
Edward de Bono, one of the world’s foremost authorities on creativity, coined the phrase “lateral thinking”. He writes that the brain is “not designed to be creative”. But you can train it!

Do Break out of your comfort zone, try different things, frequently change your environment and take your intuition into account.

#3 Don’t do what doesn’t work
If you’ve been thinking about Plan A for long but have been unable to take it to fruition, it’s time to stop and turn to Plan B. Reassess, try to figure out what’s wrong and try a new approach.

Do Take baby steps to get the ball rolling. Working backwards will often put you on the path to doing.

#4 Learn new skills to reinvent
One of the major things that can hold a thinker back is the lack of knowledge about the new venture s/he is planning. Do all that you can to gain knowledge about relevant subjects.

Do Sign up for an online course, attend industry seminars and read all that you can.

#5 Extend time lines and costs
The thinker always tends to look at the brighter side. However, actioning plans tends to take more than the estimated time and money.

Do Increase time and money by 15% to give you a buffer and avoid sudden shocks.

#6 Surround yourself with doers
Hanging out with people who are doers will inspire you to go after your dream. A thinker may feed your thoughts, but it’s the doer who will want to know what your plan is.

Do Work on building a support network that can back you and give your ideas where you’re stuck.

#7 Pick yourself back up
To go from thinker to doer #GoOutAndBe, you need to be tenacious. Giving up is easy but it’s essential to give your new venture the time it needs to settle down. Be patient, but resolute.

Do Embrace a cycle of planning, acting, learning, understanding, adjusting and repeating. As many times as needed.

Being a doer isn’t necessarily better than being a thinker. For you need both qualities to succeed. Thinking is the source of your inspiration and creativity, but it’s the doing that lets you reach for the stars.

Time to #GoOutAndBe.

Millions of Jobs. Find Yours. Find something that you love doing. Start with uploading/updating your resume.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.

Give Direct Feedback…You owe it!

Give Direct Feedback…You owe it!

feedback

Feed Forward

During my leadership days in several organisations, I noticed that a formal appraisal or development conversation was one of the most uncomfortable situations, for both the Manager and the subordinate.

Managers and leaders constantly struggle to give direct and constructive feedback.  They fear growing resistance.  They predict higher attrition.  They worry of rejection.

The trend is growing amongst leaders to stop feedback and instead feed forward.  Simply put, focus on progressing the relationship and working on development areas constructively than doing an investigation of the past.

In many instances, leaders list an array of ‘Star’ awardees periodically to mark appreciation. More often than not, this is delayed beyond a reasonable time and the felicitation sounds more like an announcement than a celebration to the recipient.

It is very important development conversations –

  • are timely and do not delay any important conversations
  • are focused on both compliments (on what has worked well) as well as on the complaints (on what needs improvement)
  • are specific (with instances and observations) and do not generalize
  • do not stock up compliments with a surprise ‘Star’ Award for later
  • give full attention and managers listen more than speak, and
  • establish the level of self-awareness before giving developmental inputs.

To be respected, leaders will need to be more direct in their conversations.  They will need to be fair when they judge and should avoid bias.  You owe it to your employees/team !

Feeling held back at work? 4 ways to achieve your true potential

Feeling held back at work? 4 ways to achieve your true potential

Catch yourself daydreaming about a more impressive job title, higher compensation or greater responsibility at work? Most ambitious employees experience a level of frustration with their careers, believing they ought to have achieved more or, at times, wish they had chosen a different career altogether. According to a recent Monster survey, a whopping 78.52% of respondents felt they could have been in a better position in their profession than they are at present.

Various factors are preventing employees from achieving their true potential, according to the survey. Lack of education and opportunity (49.71%) is a major problem, but not trying hard enough (15.59%), not thinking unconventionally to pursue one’s passion (10.29%) and choosing a regular or conventional profession (17.35%) are other reasons standing in the way of professional satisfaction and fulfillment.

The good news is that none of these constraints are insurmountable. With a little ingenuity, you can overcome them all and realise all your career goals:

Lack of education and opportunity
The solution:
The proliferation of online courses and certifications, weekend courses and a plethora of executive education programs has meant that lack of education or skills is no longer a barrier to achieving your full potential. Admittedly, even as these courses are specially designed for working professionals, it still requires large amounts of discipline and motivation to balance them with your professional and family life—something you will have to look for within yourself.

Not trying hard enough
The solution:
There can be several factors behind not trying hard enough, including lack of motivation and physical and emotional exhaustion. Reminding yourself about what inspired you to choose your profession, and a clear-eyed view of your career goals, are powerful motivational tools you could fall back on. Hacks like prioritising your tasks, organising your schedule at the start of each day and efficient email management can all help you break away from the rut and hit the road to career success.

On the other hand, among the best ways of tackling the problem of emotional and physical exhaustion is adopting a healthy lifestyle. Healthy habits not only increase your energy levels, but also boost creativity and concentration and help you excel at your job.

Not thinking unconventionally to pursue one’s passion
The solution:
Arguably the best way to ensure career success is to find a job you are passionate about. Yet the fact remains that not everyone is fortunate enough to have chosen a career that aligns with their passion. If you find yourself stuck in a job that doesn’t inspire you, it’s never too late to change tracks. But it’s vital not to lose sight of logic and common sense while taking a step that’s as big as a career change. For a step-by-step approach to finding a career you’re passionate about (and also ensure that it’s financially sustainable and suits your personality type), click here.

Choosing a regular or conventional profession
The solution:
With almost a fifth of the respondents (17.35%) citing this option, it’s clear that choosing a regular or conventional profession is seen as a major impediment to career success. But know this—there’s a way to shine even while staying on in a conventional profession. The key is to keep reinventing yourself through a variety of available means, like continuous learning, networking and finding yourself a mentor group. Several unconventional professions require people with conventional skills and experience, so you could also consider how to take your career in more fun and challenging new direction. (For e.g., if you’re passionate about music, but skilled in accounting, consider becoming a financial planner for a record company.)

Taking a proactive approach to your career can help you excel in almost any field of work, from the most mundane to the cutting edge.

Remember, there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent you from reaching your full potential. All you need to do is #GoOutAndBe.

Millions of Jobs. Find Yours. Find something that you love doing. Start with uploading/updating your resume.

This article was first published on MonsterIndia.com.

 

Tolerance Quotient™: Need of the hour!

Tolerance Quotient™: Need of the hour!

intolerance

In India specially, the most commonly used word these days is ‘Tolerance’ or its opposite!  I decided it was time to dust off my old paper on TQ™ and publish it again here.  Note that, this is a longish one and, more importantly, has only to do with Leadership!  Here goes……

In the coaching profession, it is widely acknowledged that leadership challenges are identified through a process of constant introspection, self-critical examination and, through an independent exploration of the leader’s mind.  Dilemmas are expressed, difficulties are stated, a feeling of helplessness is sometimes conveyed and, a framework for thinking aloud and identifying solutions are drawn up along with the Coach’s facilitation. Leaders often discover their true potential, experience a sense of exhilaration at times and, gain an immense sense of achievement as their actions begin to show positive results.

From my own experience over many years as both a leader and an executive coach, I have seen a common thread or attribute which most leaders tend to overlook even after all the diagnosis and treatment are completed viz., Leadership Tolerance.  This is what I find most lacking amongst leaders with varied experience and expertise.

Tolerance defined can have different connotations including, endurance, flexibility, attitude, etc. and these can be interpreted based on the situation a leader is facing.  I also find that Tolerance (or the lack of it) is a harbinger for most ailments that leaders suffer from and paying serious attention to this one element can bring about tremendous insights and show positive results in leadership effectiveness.

Given that most businesses today face very demanding and ambitious growth, both from their stakeholders as well as from themselves, leaders tend to demonstrate high levels of urgency (or impatience), discourage failures, stretch targets, overestimate skills and competencies, etc. amongst a whole host of other factors that can test their upper tolerance limits.  Conversely, there are also circumstances where leaders tend to lower their tolerance levels far too much and can thus create a totally different ‘drive’ in their organization.

Why do leaders then ignore this important element? Very often, leaders tend to mistake their authority (or sometimes misuse it) without a clear understanding of the wider implications on team effectiveness or are so results-oriented that they tend to ignore the longer term effects on the human relationships involved in the process.

So, the point to ponder for us is whether leaders need to demonstrate a more optimal level of tolerance in their management style.  Will that help them lead the team better, delegate better, prioritise better, trust better, respect colleagues better and so on?  In all probability, it will.  It’s a foregone conclusion now that, along with IQ, leaders require a strong EQ.  Tolerance Quotient™ or TQ fits snugly in the EQ box.

Is managing tolerance alone the magic pill to attaining a balanced and effective leadership style?  Certainly not, leaders face a plethora of dilemmas and not all can be routed through a tolerance toll point.  An optimal mix of rational decisions supplemented with adequate levels of TQ is the success mantra.  As leaders grow, they will gauge what these optimal mixes should be, which approach is more impactful, strike the right balance between the limitations of organizational goals and policies versus their own tolerance towards executive decisions and so on.

Maybe there is a formula after all. Decisions + Tolerance =Effective Leadership!

So, how does Coaching help leaders realize the importance of Tolerance in their day-to-day management at work and, life in general?   Coaches need to appreciate the importance of Tolerance, identify the extent to which the leader is applying his/her TQ levels after decisions are taken, explore ways to enhance use of more Tolerant approaches in their behavior and evaluate the effectiveness of such leadership behaviors from time to time.

As Coaches help leaders identify goals and define their strategies and actions, they will alongside need to compliment such efforts by including sufficient doses of Tolerance boundaries.  The leader can experiment with these until such time the new approach is showing positive results.  A leader focused only on implementing actions/strategies to achieve his goals and without adequate Tolerance levels built into his efforts is akin to seeking an incomplete dosage to remedy a medical problem.

Let us now examine 2 case studies that have emanated from real-life coaching engagements which go on to test the concept of Leadership Tolerance, realistically.

CASE STUDY #1

A CEO running a prominent business magazine is looking to drive more innovation across the organization to publish more exclusive cover stories, forge strong partnerships with external content providers, to create collectors’ editions for greater visibility and to boost sales as well.

Some of the key dilemmas the CEO encounters every day are –

  • To delegate or not to delegate: as a leader, the CEO has never entrusted responsibilities to drive innovation to anyone in her team as she believes that she needs to be aware of every single idea that is germinating.
  • Wider Vision: the CEO has always built her vision based on the inputs of her direct reports and not from the wider organization.
  • Limited Network: building the organisation’s visibility and networking to foster new connections with readers, writers, newsmakers, etc. is presently the primary responsibility of the CEO and none other.

Examining the above dilemmas, it is imperative that, as a leader, the CEO approaches these scenarios with a new mindset. After all, her organization’s objectives appear challenging and are more strategic than tactical in nature.

Now, let us try to associate the above three dilemmas with the corresponding Tolerance issue the CEO is facing.

To delegate or not to delegate – this requires her to accept failures, take risks with her subordinates, attempt newer ways of doing business, etc.  Tolerance here is largely around the CEO’s ability to ‘let go’.

Wider Vision – for the organization’s vision to succeed, she needs to understand that a buy-in from her directs alone is inadequate for such a large venture. More importantly, she needs to ensure a wider participation in the vision building process from as far and wide across the organization so that the onus is embedded on all right from the start. Tolerance here pertains to the CEO’s openness to connect and communicate and to invite diverse views amongst her people.

Limited Network – everyone can make connections and everyone needs to appreciate the rippling effects of building a solid network.  Networks multiply with each and more engagements and can not only open new doors but also reveal new ideas with such interchanges.  For the CEO, the Tolerance emanates from her ability to entrust her directs and others in establishing the network and ensuring that the organization’s vision and objectives are aligned in a way that the clientele receive a one-voice, one-brand, one-goal message.

In conclusion, while solutions like greater delegation, participative leadership, greater communication and building trust are all appropriate to the above scenario, a key common ingredient to take that leap of mindset is a fair amount of Tolerance. You can delegate but not fully let go. You can communicate but not with complete transparency.  You can invite diverse views but not implement them always.  You can trust but not accept the outcomes necessarily.

Some of these negatives could be well justified, could be subject to the environment the CEO is currently in or could be constrained by inadequate resources of a particular kind.  However, there is no denying the fact that the extent of Tolerance allowed directly impacts the ultimate decision by the CEO.

Executive Decisions + Tolerance = Effective Leadership

CASE STUDY #2

The Deputy CEO was recovering from a serious illness and wanted to bounce back at work and in life.  Having faced a near life and death situation, he wanted to prepare for any further eventualities both at home and work, accomplish more than he had ever planned for before his health had failed, set relationships right and, not reveal his weaknesses at any point in time.

The dilemmas he faced were –

  • If tomorrow comes: the leader wanted to prepare for the worst in everything he did and approached most matters with a negative attitude, sometimes couching his decisions with conservative excuses.
  • On Overdrive: with his mortal fear so strong, the Dy CEO’s relationships were on their hinges both at home and at work leading to misunderstandings and friction; it didn’t help further that the leader had an inherent short temperament all along.
  • Work is life: the leader found himself in a precarious situation with over-commitments at work, family time dipping and a growing distance with close family members.

Delving deeper into the above dilemmas, it is apparent that all is not well at both work and home for the Dy CEO.  He needs to pay close attention to many fragile elements spanning self-confidence, temperament, relationships and prioritization.

Lets now again examine the above dilemmas from a Tolerance prism.

If tomorrow comes – any leader with a pessimistic frame of mind is bound to err on the over-cautious side, become unapproachable and will most likely discourage his team entirely. What the leaders need to accept here is the independency of the organization versus his existence. Tolerance is thus required to clearly take risks with a positive attitude, to instill stronger team morale and place the organization’s interest before his.

On Overdrive – when confronted with a threat to his life, it is almost natural for any human to feel insecure and over-protective of his environment.  However, in the process, he could intentionally or otherwise demonstrate a level of anxiety, caution, emotional imbalance, etc. which could weaken his relationships. Leaders are expected to withstand all eventualities and face up to challenging situations thereby demonstrating their Tolerance to react maturely and manage relationships even in stormy periods.

Work is life – having always been a workaholic and with a high pressure job, the leader often prioritized work over life.  With the overhang of an illness lurking in the corner, the Dy CEO found it even more compelling to achieve more at work than accomplishing in roles and responsibilities at home.  His test of Tolerance was in rejecting unimportant work that could very well be delegated, demonstrating high levels of patience with his daughter’s learning disabilities and in being a better listener during conversations with his wife.

In summary, a leader has to back his decisions with a positive attitude, respect the organisation’s importance before his own, demonstrate high levels of maturity in relationships, be willing to say ‘no’ to less critical assignments and maintain an exclusive relationship with his family.

Emotional Decisions + Tolerance = Effective Relationships