Taking Longer to Reach the Top Has Its Benefits

The rewards of patience.

Source: Taking Longer to Reach the Top Has Its Benefits

This is a great article on why taking some time to ascend in your career has  benefits.

The article lists many good reasons to take a measured approach to promotions including avoiding burnout and gaining the skills you’ll need to succeed.  And my favourite of all:

“Following a “deliberate” path may prevent the problem experienced by any number of hard-charging executives: getting to the top of the career ladder only to realize it’s leaning against the wrong wall.”

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Building stomach for the journey of tough decisions

A colleague and I did an online course on adaptive leadership this fall.  The course was free (through +Acumen) and supported by generous excerpts from a book called The Practice of Adaptive Leadership.

The general idea is that we need to adapt our leadership to situations and the course guides you through exercises which would help you probe particular areas which might require your adaptive skills.  The work of the course is to separate technical challenges from ones that are more complex and need emotional commitment and engagement.

Some of the  readings that resonated with me were on the execution of tough decisions.

“Tough decisions require that you put your heart into them, nourish the possibilities and then make a commitment to a course of action. If you are struggling with a decision then it is likely that all the options have merit.  Outcomes are usually significantly influenced by factors beyond your control and imagination.  And most decisions are iterative.  You can make a move, take the risk and if things are going well, continue, and if not, take corrective action.  See if you can lighten the load on your decisions and even make better choices because tough does not necessarily mean important – stakes may not be as high as you imagine them to be (versus medical judgements which are high stakes).  Maybe you are just making the next move on the dance floor. Think of a past tough decision and take heart in knowing that you survived whatever decision you made. And if you need to give yourself permission to fail, prepare the ground for your constituents.  Enlist them in giving it a shot – language is crucial – not that you can be counted on to pull this off but rather, perhaps that you are trying something to push the envelope.”

 

And on building stomach for the journey:

“Building resilience is similar to training for a marathon.  You need to start somewhere…In an organizational context, this can kind of training can take the form of staying in a difficult conversation longer than you normally would etc.[…] To further build your stomach for the adaptive leadership journey keep reminding yourself of your purpose.  Runners look forward, not down.  Saying focused on the goal ahead will keep you from being preoccupied or overwhelmed by the number of steps necessary to get there. ”

“Leading adaptive change will almost certainly test the limits of your patience. […] Impatience can hurt you in numerous ways.  Your raise a question and don’t get an immediate response.  So you jump right in and keep pounding on the question.  Each time you pound, you send the message that you are the only person responsible for that question. You own it.  And the more you pound away, the less willing people are to share ownership of the question themselves.  And if they do not feel any ownership of the question they will have less investment in whatever the resolution turns out to be.”

“You can find patience by tapping into your ability to feel compassion for others involved in the change effort.  Compassion comes from understanding other people’s dilemmas, being aware of how much you are asking of them.  Your awareness of their potential losses will calm you down and give you patience as you travel a journey that may be more difficult for them than for you.”

If you want to take on a patience building exercise:  Recall situations in the past when you have experienced great patience and think about what enabled you to do that.  Perhaps you were patient as your child learned something and you could remember yourself how hard it was for you to learn these skills.   Or you believed that most people survive difficult journeys and mastered needed skills so you had optimism that fuelled your patience.

Six Questions You Should Ask Yourself When You Want To Quit

Is your job not right for you, or is it just a temporary rough patch? Have an honest conversation with yourself before you walk away.

Some good questions that could guide some useful reflection including:

  1. Are there more opportunities for growth?
  2. Would someone I respect stay?
  3. Am I taking criticism too seriously?

Source: Six Questions You Should Ask Yourself When You Want To Quit

The Best Managers Are Boring Managers

A good article written in praise of the boring, emotionally-intelligent and even sometimes “faking it” manager:

“…[t]he more predictable, reliable, and, yes, boring, they are, the higher they’re rated on integrity, and the more morally they behave.”

Source: The Best Managers Are Boring Managers

7 Habits Of People Who Are Happy At Work | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

7 Habits Of People Who Are Happy At Work | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

A simple list but it works for me.

Things that make the grade:

– committing to improving as a lifetime goal

– not getting caught up in things beyond your control

–  helping others

– expressing gratitude

– managing emotions and having a sense of humour

Why People Cry at Work – HBR

Why People Cry at Work – HBR.

A useful addition to the literature on communications at work.

The author suggests that there are three general reasons for crying at work:

– a “formidable manager”

Inspiring fear or even respect through expressing power doesn’t form any part of my conscious management style (in fact, quite the opposite) but, sadly, I am not overly patient by nature and moments extreme frustration have brought out my most strident behaviour as a manager making people cry and I feel dreadful about this.

I have also been told that people have cried off site because a disconnect in the direction I was giving and what they needed from me.   In the latter case, I was able to eventually clarify that I had no further direction to give.  A part of high level competency in our world is advancing projects on generalized direction and creating products that no one has ever seen before.  Moving away from templates can make our otherwise often bureaucratic work invigorating though it can also be de-stablizing.  But, I don’t want people to feel destabilized and unsupported.  On this experience, I have now gotten better at saying, I given you all that I know, just put some ideas down and we’ll work through this together.

– the intersection between personal and professional

 As I have written before, I will now solicit and give general information on the goings on in personal lives to help understand how emotions might modulate over time and better understand that a bumpy patch does not mean that someone is fundamentally unsuited for a certain work environment.

– organizational culture and differences.

This includes personal management style and meeting people where they are.  I’ve just finished Bob Sutton’s book Good Boss, Bad Boss and he would counsel that it is OK to show flashes of anger to really get a point across.  I prefer the “pick a face” approach.  I find with high performing teams, their own desire to perform well will be sufficiently bruised by the most moderately presented feedback that there is no need for extreme emotion.  That said, I think it is true that as elaborated in the Talent Code, having a boss you respect enough to want to please and feel a bit intimidated into doing so, doesn’t harm but help.  You stay on your A-game and you work on being prepared to present.

Will we be able to utterly avoid ever crying at work as the author suggests, I doubt it.  I was informed of the sudden death of my father at work and I did want to know this as soon as possible but falling apart at work was a consequence.  People were lovely and supportive on that day and the days to follow.

Seth’s Blog: The panic tax

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Seth’s Blog: The panic tax.

I deeply admire Seth Godin’s ability to pump out blog posts daily on crucial topics.

This is a great treatise on how panic corrodes good work places.  We don’t become better workers when we panic but worse ones.

Panic fuels the fight or flight reaction and actually makes us deaf.

“The answer to, “should we panic,” is always no. Always. Panic is expensive, panic compounds and panic doesn’t solve the problem.”

Panic also gives the message that we don’t have what it takes to overcome the hurdle or that we are headed for catastrophic outcomes.

My former coach Charles Lemieux  created a teaching tool by taking the results of a survey on how the best companies do business and had simplified the key concepts into single words.  For immediate supervisors, the word was “hope.”  I think that panic, at least in the moment, erases hope and we abdicate our role as leaders when we give in to it.

How to Handle Stress in the Moment – HBR

Some good tips here on managing stress on the spot.

My favourites:

– Identify your stress signals so you can react appropriately.

– Re-frame stress as an occasion to focus on something important that matters to you.

They also mention taking three deep breaths before you respond.  What I’ve found is that I may have time for just one but it is the equivalent of when we say “3-2-1, pause” at the end of a tutoring session.  One deep breath is often enough time to think instead of react.

I’ve also found the benefit of doing a quick check to see if a decision or feedback is really required on the spot or not. If not, no harm in asking to pend a decision when you’ve had more time to think on it.

via How to Handle Stress in the Moment – HBR.

Ten ways to do what you don’t want to do

http://www.fastcompany.com/3029404/work-smart/10-ways-to-do-what-you-dont-want-to-do?utm_source=facebook

a great article which hits at many reasons to push through things that suck.

There is nothing new here but the list is bang on.

Including:  do a bit then quit and give yourself constraints. embrace the suck – hard things require work, meditate on why you need to do this and embrace gratitude – I have a job and a roof over my head.

smart and strategic

Roger Martin is one of my favourite business writers.

This short piece on strategic thinking and how it differs from being smart is a gem:

“The problem with smart people is that they are used to seeking and finding the right answer; unfortunately, in strategy there is no single right answer to find. Strategy requires making choices about an uncertain future. It is not possible, no matter how much of the ocean you boil, to discover the one right answer. There isn’t one. In fact, even after the fact, there is no way to determine that one’s strategy choice was “right,” because there is no way to judge the relative quality of any path against all the paths not actually chosen. There are no double-blind experiments in strategy.”

Martin notes that the essential qualities for this type of person are flexibility, imagination, and resilience.