Why the art of decision making is critical to your leadership

Why the art of decision making is critical to your leadership.

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day.  As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

So, becoming comfortable with and being seen to be a strong, decisive decision maker is a critical factor in establishing our leadership credibility.

A quick and well thought through decision backed by logic, gut instinct and taking personal responsibility for whatever the outcome will be, can boost our professional standing in the eyes of those around us.

Appearing indecisive, on the other hand, tends to leave an impression of doubt and lack of confidence, and our capabilities and experience can come into question. Add to that the personal frustration, energy and time that goes along with a protracted decision-making process, indecisiveness is rarely seen as a positive professional attribute.

A 2014 study of 6500 workers found that decisiveness was one of the top three skills sets that make the biggest impact on helping leaders to build credibility. (The other 2 skills sets were open communication and personal presence).

So, clearly, it’s an important leadership quality.

As someone who for many years agonised over even quite simple decisions, I can see now how my old habits and indecisive ways held me back.  I’m sure at times my team watched as I dithered and procrastinated. I often caused projects to be delayed as I struggled to make key decisions. Or even worse… I failed to make any decision at all… leaving good ideas languishing. 

How would you rate your decision-making skills?

    • Do you have unshakeable confidence when making the big calls required of you within your role?
    • Do you agonise over decisions, taking way longer than you would like?
    • Do you get stuck in a cycle of seeking input, collaboration and agreement hoping to make everyone happy even when you know it’s not possible?

Making difficult decisions is what we look to leaders to do.

We expect our leaders to have the courage and confidence to make the tough decision, give direction and take responsibility for it.

Here are 5 keys to becoming a more decisive decision maker

1. Take a balanced view. 

Our natural tendency can often be to look at what can go wrong or the risks associated with a decision. Make sure you are taking a balanced view considering not only what can go wrong but also what the benefits of a decision could be.

Often when I’m procrastinating over a decision I like to call in my good friend Richard Branson. He suggests asking, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” And “if that happened, could I handle it?” Almost always the answer is YES.

2. Embrace uncertainty.

Indecisiveness is often a result of wanting to be certain about the outcome. Looking for certainty is nothing short of torturous… because it can never be achieved! You can only be certain of an outcome once a decision has been made and action is taken.

Learn to make decisions based on the information you have on hand. A timely decision made with confidence and based on experience will almost always trump one that’s perceived to be slow and indecisive. 

3. Engage stakeholders.

This is all about getting buy in and discovering issues you may have been unaware of. But ladies, we need to be careful not to overdo this one. We have a tendency to want to consult and to get consensus from the team. Don’t over play this behaviour or you could be perceived as indecisive or lacking confidence. There comes a time when you quite simply have to move on from the fact finding and collaboration phase and make a decision!

4. Use your internal GPS.

Trust your intuition and your internal knowing. Over the years you have built up a wealth of experience and knowledge, which fuels our internal GPS. Trust it. It’s what allows us to make reliable, quick decisions when we take the time to listen. Your gut instincts will be right way more often than you think.

5. Own it.

Once you make a decision, own it! Speak of your decision with confidence and conviction. Follow through with bold courageous action. No flip flopping or second guessing your decision once it has been made.

And most importantly you must own the outcome… good or bad.

Could you be more decisive?

Reflect on the decisions you currently have on your plate right now. Could you be more decisive in your decision making?

Yes, it’s important to listen, gather critical information, and weigh up the options but without a decisive decision all this good work could go to waste.  Your leadership credibility and reputation is at stake.

Make decisions with confidence and courage, take action and move on to the next big decision.

LET'S CONNECT

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Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston

Young Asian Business woman comforting her friend. Sadness Female crying and sitting on the stair. Sacked.

Do emotions belong at work?

Many corporate environments would have us believe that emotions do not belong at work. We have been well trained to suppress any resemblance of an emotion, pushing them below the surface.

Jane Benston

Why you must stop doing and start leading.

Why you must stop doing and start leading.

What are you known for? Are you known for your exceptional leadership skills or are you known as someone who can be relied on to get the job done?

Sadly too many women are being overlooked and missing out on the best opportunities because they get caught up “doing” the work.  

Yes the work they do is to the highest standard but that isn’t what will get them seen, heard and valued as an effective senior leader. 

The people who get paid the most, get the most interesting opportunities and receive the most recognition are not the worker bees! They are those people who focus on creating effective strategies that deliver on the business objectives, engage high performing teams to deliver key KPI’s and are known for their big picture view of the business challenges. 

I recently worked with Gillian, a talented, ambitious leader who had carved out a hugely successful career. But then something went wrong. Her career progress had not only stalled … it had actually taken a backwards step. And with it her pride, commitment and joy evaporated. 

And it all came down to what she was known for.  

Somewhere along the way she had developed a reputation as a “doer.” 

She was the go-to person for preparing contracts, tender documents and completing tasks that no-one else apparently had the skills to do. Yes, she was good at these tasks, but they left her feeling undervalued, bored and without the time or energy to devote to the type of work that kept her challenged and motivated. 

And worst of all… she found herself no longer included in the Senior Leadership Team meetings. 

The good news is, it is possible to resurrect and repair your professional reputation and be seen as a leader who can truly make a difference rather than just someone who can get work done. 

How to shift your professional reputation from doer to leader:

1. Create space.

At this stage in your career you are employed not just to do – but to think. So, the first thing we must do is create space to think, create and be strategic.  

Finding the time to do the work that truly matters doesn’t happen by accident.  We need to create the timethrough relentless focus, prioritisation and commitment to diarising high impact work. 

2. Get strategic.

Ok ladies it’s time to get strategic! One of the biggest challenges I see for women is that they are busy being busy and getting the job done, but not necessarily working on those activities that make the biggest impact for the business, the team or their own professional progress.

Look across your portfolio and pick one project you could devote some concentrated time and effort to over the next 3 months. The aim is to showcase what you are capable of as well as demonstrate your contribution to the business goals. 

3. Get visible.

It’s time to get yourself out there and known for the great work you do. Doing great work is never enough.

Think about the best leaders you know. They don’t hide themselves away. They are visible and have a strong network who they call upon for support, guidance and collaboration. 

Developing and maintaining a network of strong relationships is the secret to opening up the best opportunities. So prioritising time to grab a coffee or lunch with people of influence within your organisation and industry is important (even if it has to be via Zoom during this time of Covid.)  

You are employed to lead – so lead.   

At the end of the day, getting stuck in the weeds of doing isn’t helping you, your team or the organisation

LET'S CONNECT

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At the intersection of roads. The symbol is to make a choice. Female figure. Selective focus.

Why the art of decision making…

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

Jane Benston

Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston

Why working hard is hurting your professional growth

Why working hard is hurting your professional growth

You know you are good at what you do and you’re getting great results. Your team members are engaged, enjoy working with you and you’re building a strong team.  

But yet… 

You don’t feel valued. You are not getting promoted, and you suspect youre being paid less than your peers. 

But why? 

Well, it’s quite likely because you’re working too hard.  

Yes, you read that right.  You’re working too hard!  Ok. I hear you. It’s your hard work that’s got you to where you are today.   

But sadly – what got you here wont get you to the next level of leadership, impact or recognition.  

There is no doubt that working hard was a great strategy in your early career but it’s not enough as you step into the more senior leadership roles. 

Relying on hard work at this level of leadership, will only lead to resentment, frustration and ultimately burnout. 

You are way too smart and have way too much to offer to remain overlooked and underappreciated. And right now, more than ever, organisations NEED what you have to offer. 

It’s time to focus on what will get you a valued position at the leadership table. 

If you are being overlooked… here’s what to do

1. Step into Queen Bee work. 

To me our work falls into two categories. Queen Bee work and Busy Bee work. 

Busy Bee work has you stuck in the weeds of the day to day, leading you to be busy but not necessarily effective or productive. 

While Queen Bee work is the work that’s strategic, bigger picture and supports the team or the organisation to move closer to achieving the goals of the business.  

If your days are filled with primarily Busy Bee work – then chances are you’re working on the wrong things. 

You’re focused on the details rather than the big picture. You’re getting trapped in the day to day implementation rather than being seen to be a strategic thinker who can move the business forward. 

And sadly being a Worker Bee does not get you the recognition or access to the best roles or a seat at the leadership table. It’s the Queen Bee work that does. 

2. Lead rather than do! 

If you’re a leader – you need to be leading. Many women I speak to are so busy ‘doing’ the day to day tasks that they neglect to make time to actually lead.    

The work of building and managing a high performing team, of setting the strategy and making progress on the big strategic projects is relegated to ‘when I have time’. But of course, you never have time.  

Leadership is about being proactive and prioritising the work that matters. You need to be ok with saying NO, delegating the busy work and truly step up to fully take on the role of leader.  

3. Focus on developing strategic relationships

Putting your head down and working hard usually means that you are too busy to be building strategic relationships  

But building relationships with the key decision makers in your business and in your industry is not something to do when you have time. It’s something you have to make time to do, given that it’s a critical to advancing your career.   

Having people who know you, appreciate your contribution and advocate for you is priceless and well worth the investment of your time and energy. 

Being overlooked is frustrating and can impact your confidence. 

But let’s see it as a sign that something needs to change. 

The good news is… big change is usually not required. Tiny tweaks are all it takes.

LET'S CONNECT

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At the intersection of roads. The symbol is to make a choice. Female figure. Selective focus.

Why the art of decision making…

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

Jane Benston

Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston

5 Rules You Need To Break.

5 Rules You Need To Break

We learn early on in life the rules we need to follow to stay safe, be liked and to get ahead. 

But many of the rules we learned growing up as little girls and young women were not designed to develop courageous leadership. Many of us were taught to be good girls, to play nice and work hard. These rules work well in the early years but, as you progress in your career and take on more of a leadership role, some of these rules will most certainly hold you back. 

So, here are my top 5 rules to break. 

 1. Saying yes all of the time. 

Saying NO creates the space to say YES to the perfect opportunities that come your way.  

In the beginning of your career, success is about saying yes to pretty much everything. But you cannot continue to say yes… you will end up burnt out or in a job you no longer love.  

There comes a time when you must focus your time and energy on the activities and tasks that will allow you to step up to the next level of leadership. 

 2. Waiting for permission. 

Most of us have been taught to follow instructions, stick to the plan we are given and to act like good girls. This rule was definitely made to be broken.  

Make the decision today to stop waiting for an invitation to lead. Go out and be seen for the leader you truly are. Make decisions, take action and lead from the front. 

3.  Needing the entire plan before you begin. 

Decide today to set a goal and take action. Do not wait to know every step for now. Do not wait until your plan is perfect to get started. Its only once you take the first step that the plan will unfold before you. And the beautiful thing is, the richest opportunities are hidden within the unexpected twists and turns that come after you get into momentum. 

 4. Not sharing what you think. 

Speak up and share your opinion and your ideas. Sitting silently through meetings will not serve you well. How can you be of influence or have an impact if you do not share your brilliance? 

Stop being afraid that not everyone will like what you say. You are not a leader if you are not sharing your thoughts and saying what you think. 

5. Fixing your weaknesses while ignoring your strengths. 

Throughout our early years there is a focus on fixing our weakness. For me that meant plenty of feedback and extra classes to overcome my struggles with spelling. (Clearly it didn’t work given this continues to be a major challenge!)  

Now is the time to switch your focus to your strengths and align your career with the type of work that comes easily to you and that you do best.   

Focusing on your strengths will bring way more joy, job satisfaction and allow you to achieve the results you are truly capable of. 

Which of these rules do you need to break today? Don’t wait for permission.  Just do it!

LET'S CONNECT

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At the intersection of roads. The symbol is to make a choice. Female figure. Selective focus.

Why the art of decision making…

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

Jane Benston

Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston

Opportunity Is Knocking. Will You Answer The Call?

Opportunity Is Knocking.
Will You Answer The Call?

The time is now!

Opportunity is knocking for professional women. Ladies, our time is now. A change has been brewing over the last couple of years and now it’s knocking loudly on our door.

Do you feel it?

Women all over the world are refusing to play small and to stay silent. Over the last 12 months we have seen the power of change that comes from an engaged, energised and empowered collective of women.

From the global women’s march in early 2017, the #metoo movement and powerful image of the “Fearless Girl” on Wall St, we see issues that have long been ignored or hidden, become front page news.

Women everywhere are rising up and taking the “women’s movement” mainstream. No longer is this a women’s only conversation. Men are becoming more vocal and aware of gender issues and finding ways to be active as allies.

At a local level I’m seeing signs that businesses (large and small) are finally putting genuine effort towards creating more opportunities to support women to have a greater impact at the leadership table.

Women in my inner circle are being offered seriously impressive promotions and attracting significant pay rises. Their collaboration, negotiation, team building and problem solving skills are being called upon like never before.

And the genuine support coming from both senior men and women from within organisations is increasingly positive.

The conversations I’ve had with senior leaders recently have been heart felt and genuine in their desire to do better when supporting their high potential women … not because they have to but because they want to.

They know they have a pool of talented women who are hungry for growth and to contribute to their fullest potential. And they know the ripple effect supporting their high performing women will have throughout the business.

To say that I’m hopeful for what the future holds for professional women is a massive understatement.

Ladies … this is our moment.

Are you ready to step up with courage to embrace the opportunities I’m certain are poised to emerge for so many?

I’m not so naive to think that this will be easy. It will take work. It will require courage. It will mean taking a chance or two and have some faith in yourself and the people you bring into your inner circle to support you.

My question today is … are you with me?

Are you committed to do the work to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities that will no doubt open up? Do you have the courage to answer the call?

Here’s to being bold and having an impact beyond what was possible just a few short years ago.

LET'S CONNECT

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At the intersection of roads. The symbol is to make a choice. Female figure. Selective focus.

Why the art of decision making…

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

Jane Benston

Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston

Tied, overwhelmed and plagued with uncertainty! So how can you perform at your best?

Tied, overwhelmed and plagued with uncertainty! So how can you perform at your best?

“What state are you in when you perform at your best as a leader?”

I first came across this powerful question in Michael Buntings brilliant book; The Mindful Leader. If you haven’t read it I’d highly recommend it.

We intuitively know the answer to this even if we haven’t thought about it before.

We know that we are most likely to do our best work when we are well rested and full of energy rather than feeling out of sorts or sleep deprived.

We respond best when we are calm rather than flustered or overwhelmed.

We achieve our best results when we are courageous, open and supported rather than fearful, closed and under attack

And we create the best outcomes when we have confidence in our abilities rather than experiencing uncertainty or we are out of our depth.

Simple really! So when was the last time you focused on preparing yourself for high performance?

In his book, Michael Bunting encourages us to “deliberately cultivate a state of wellness and be a beacon of goodness, responsiveness and clarity even in the toughest circumstances.”

The more I think about this the more obvious it seems.

Elite athletes follow this practice – so why wouldn’t we? They know that to perform at their peak they need to take care of their mind, body and soul.

They train hard, fuel their bodies with the right nutrition, incorporate periods of rest and recovery and more and more they are placing their trust in the power of meditation and mindfulness.

The winning team of the 2018 AFL Grand Final – Richmond, attributed some of their rapid rise to the ultimate goal to the introduction of a daily mindfulness practice.

So if we know that these are the ingredients for high performance – then why are we not setting ourselves up for success? I think the simple answer is that we think we are too busy or that it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.

I now believe it makes all the difference!

Since introducing this concept to the ladies in my inner circle program – The Leadership Connection, they have told me that it’s one of the things that has made the biggest difference to them, not only professionally but also personally.

So what have they done that’s making such a big difference?

Here are 4 Keys to deliberately cultivate high performance.

1. Start well. How we start each day has a massive impact on our outcomes and our performance. It sets the foundation for our energy and focus. A chaotic, rushed start will often leave us feeling chaotic and rushed for the rest of the day.

Where ever possible create a routine that sets you up for the type of state that enhances your performance. This is likely to be a different for all of us but for me this includes a little exercise while listening to an educational podcast, a healthy breakfast and a review of my high priority action list.

I know that when I by pass this routine for a sleep in, both my mind and body feel sluggish, leaving it nigh on impossible for me to work as effectively or productively as I’d like.

2. Know what matters. This is all about clarity. Without clarity confusion reins and nothing good comes from a state of confusion.

Getting clear on what matters most to you, your team and the business allows you to prioritise and focus your time and energy. It keeps you on track and allows us to choose what requests to say yes to and which to say no to.

We can choose to be busy being busy, ticking off a to do list OR we can make time for the projects that really move the dial and get us seen and recognised for all we are capable of.

3. Slow down to speed up. This may seem counter intuitive but I believe we must all slow down a little.   (Me included!)

Rushing from meeting to meeting, checking emails and sending off quick messages to manage the latest disaster is not conducive for creative or strategic thinking. How often have you reacted to a situation in a way that only made it worse, during a time of busyness or stress.

Spending time planning is a worthy investment. As is creating what I call “white space;” that precious time in your calendar where you have NOTHING planned.

It could be as simple as blocking out time over lunch to get outside and breath. You might be surprised at how the answer to a problem you have been stewing over, suddenly seems so clear. 

4. Listen.   Building self awareness through listening is critical. Listening to you body, your thoughts and your emotions will all leave clues to what’s working and what’s not.

Aches and pains and recurring illness are often signs that something is out of alignment. There is significant research that demonstrates the link between our emotional and physical wellbeing.

So listen to your emotions. I recently spoke with a senior professional woman who expressed her frustration, having either cried or become angry on a number of occasions in the presence of senior leaders.   Not only was it unhelpful in the situation, she felt it undermined her authority and her position.

And listen to your thoughts. A persistent racing, chaotic mind or self defeating self talk will not support high performance.

So what will you do to deliberately cultivate a healthy physical, emotional and mental state? The simple decision to manage your internal world more effectively will create positive change in your external world.  Let’s make these small every day tweaks to improve how you perform as a leader.

LET'S CONNECT

Similar Blog Posts

At the intersection of roads. The symbol is to make a choice. Female figure. Selective focus.

Why the art of decision making…

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

Jane Benston

Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston

Can You Really Be Yourself and Succeed as a Leader?

Can You Really Be Yourself and Succeed as a Leader?

Leaders often confide in me saying they are not sure what style of leader they are meant to be. Some tell me that they are completely different at work to how they are at home. While others tell me they have to push themselves to operate in a way that doesn’t feel 100% authentic.

The sad thing is – it’s well documented that we struggle to do our best work when we aren’t being true to who we are.

And it’s hard to build deep trust with your team, colleagues and customers if you aren’t being authentically you. They may not be able to put their finger on it, but they will sense something is off, a mile away.

So…are you bringing the best, most genuine version of you to your leadership role or have you developed some hybrid style that’s part you and part what you think your organisation needs you to be?

I recently worked with a team of middle managers. They were dedicated and hard working … but something was just a little out of whack. They all spoke of rarely being in flow, they were struggling to keep the team engaged and the business performance was beginning to slide.

By the end of the day, many had come to the realisation that they had been operating outside their natural zone. They were not being themselves and had created a leadership style that didn’t showcase their unique character, abilities and strengths.

They are now on a path to leveraging the best of who they are in their approach to their leadership.

Authenticity has become the gold standard for leadership.” — Harvard Business Review, January 2015.

It sounds easy … but it does take work. Authentic leaders have generally done the inner work to discover who they are and what their strengths are. They know their guiding values and what matters most to them. And they have developed a sense of self worth and use their emotional intelligence to modify their approach to bring out the best in others.

Be yourself… to build your success as a leader

1. Build self awareness. Obviously, we don’t want to bring any old version of you to your leadership… we want to bring the best version of you. And to do this you need to know who you are, what makes you tick, what lights you up, what motivates you, what pushes your buttons and what state you need to be in to do your best work.

You need to become consciously aware of your talents, strengths and unique character traits and how to bring these to your leadership to get the best from you and your team.

And, to keep you on course, you need to know what matters to you, what your values are and what leading with integrity means to you.

2. Trust you’re enough: Being you is enough. They hired you for the role because they wanted you… not some hybrid version of you! Yes, you need to keep growing, learning and doing the inner work (as a leader that never stops) but it’s now time to own who you are… and know you are worthy of the role you are in.

It’s time to step into your space and proudly own your quirks, your strengths, your foibles and what makes you different and unique. When you do, you’ll build a trusted and loyal following because of who you are.

3. Showcase your key strengths. You do your best work when you work to your strengths. Deep down you know this. You know that work gets easier, faster and more fun when you are working to your strengths. And importantly – delivering great results, well that just seems to flow.

So, I wonder, do you know what your strengths are?

If you know you are great at engaging and growing a high-performing team to get results… back yourself to use these strengths to lift the sales results. If you know you are a master influencer, who can build quality relationships to negotiate agreeable, sustainable and practical outcomes – go for it.

Put aside the temptation to follow the leadership model of someone else. Just because it works for them doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Trust that working to your strengths will give you the best chance to deliver the outcomes required.

4. Lead from your heart. Lead from your heart not just your head. Many corporate environments encourage logic over intuition… but it’s when we bring both that we make the best decisions, engage best with our teams and settle into a comfortable rhythm as a leader.

It may require a little vulnerability at times and as a massive advocate of the work of Brene Brown – bringing a little vulnerability to your leadership can only be a good thing.

So now what …

I know at times, it seems like we are being encouraged to conform into some cookie cutter version of a successful leader but, rest assured, you will only create long-term leadership success when you are being you. I encourage you to be yourself and to bring all of you to your leadership. There is no better version of you … than the real version of you.

LET'S CONNECT

Similar Blog Posts

At the intersection of roads. The symbol is to make a choice. Female figure. Selective focus.

Why the art of decision making…

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

Jane Benston

Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston

Luck? A Smart Career Building Strategy

Luck… a smart career building strategy

Some people just seem to attract good luck… are you one of them? People who are lucky in their career are those who are asked to participate in the most interesting projects, are in the right place at the right time to take advantage of an incredible one-off opportunity or are promoted without even applying for the role.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women say to me “I’ve had a lot of luck throughout my career.”

But is this luck at play or is it something else?

I used to think that my career had been built on a fair bit of luck.

Every couple of years I landed a new role as a result of corporate restructures. Each role built on the last, allowing me to step into more senior roles with more responsibility without really having to do much to get them.

So… what action will you commit to today to open up the opportunities to luck?

Luck is the intersection of hard work and opportunity.

Luck = hard work + opportunity

So is it possible to increase our luck quotient? I believe it is!

It’s all about building a strong foundation. It’s about building your reputation, positioning for what you want and being willing to say yes when the right opportunity comes knocking on your door.

If you are in the market for a promotion, pay rise or a new position this year, let’s start right now to increase your chance of “luck” playing a role in your career progression.

5 steps to create the foundations to building your career through attracting more good “luck”

1. Create clarity. For luck to play a part you have to know what you want.

You will not see the opportunities in front of you if you don’t know that’s what you want.

Likewise, your network can’t support your progression and clear the pathway for you while you remain confused and without direction.

2. Do great work. This may be obvious but it still needs to be said. You have to do great work for the opportunities to come your way. You will not get offered a promotion or to lead an exciting project if you’re not doing great work.

So, even if you have lost the motivation and dedication to the role you are currently in, it’s time to find a way to re-engage and demonstrate the value you bring to your role and organisation.

3. Focus on what matters. We only have so much time in each day, so focusing your time and energy on work that matters both to you and the organisation you work for is key.

If progressing your career is high on your agenda, map out time in your schedule each week to work on those things that will get you one step closer to this.

This might mean prioritising working on a project that will get you recognised for a particular skill or creating time to reconnect with your boarder network.

4. Raise your visibility. Luck can not come your way if you remain unknown and invisible! A key to luck is creating a strong professional reputation with people with influence – both internally and externally.

Seek out opportunities to participate in high profile projects that will allow you to demonstrate your skills. Speak up in meetings, focusing on allowing others to see the key skills you want to be known for.

And remember – relationships are everything. People who experience a lot of luck tend to be people who have developed genuine relationships with people who have influence. Make sure you are one of those people.

5. Be open to opportunity. I believe that opportunities are always around us… we just need to be open and on the look out for them. Once we decide what we want and start taking action towards that goal, the universe seems to conspire with us to present us with the right opportunities. But the opportunities will only appear once we have clarity and start taking action.

Relying on luck alone is NOT a smart career building move, but by following these steps you can engineer more luck to come your way.

So… what action will you commit to today to open up your opportunities to luck?

LET'S CONNECT

Similar Blog Posts

At the intersection of roads. The symbol is to make a choice. Female figure. Selective focus.

Why the art of decision making…

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

Jane Benston

Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston

How to get the most out of your performance review

How to get the most out of your performance review

How do you approach your annual performance review? Do you see it as a golden opportunity to reflect on what you have achieved, how you have contributed and set your plan for personal and professional growth?

Or do you groan and see it as nothing more than a tick a box exercise.

Your view is likely influenced by past experience, the focus your manger puts on it and your sense of process fairness.

Whatever your perception is, let’s make sure that you are in an empowered position when it comes to this time of year. Given that the process is usually linked to payment of bonuses, pay increases and potential promotions; investing time and energy into showcasing your value and contribution is well worth it!

Here’s how to get the most out of your performance review.

1. Preparation is key. Throughout the year keep a file (hard copy or digital) of your achievements. A year is a long time so let’s make sure we capture them all – big and small.

Ideally your preparation does not start the night before your review… but if it does, go through your calendar to jog your memory of the activities and projects you have been involved with and your team success stories.

This is your opportunity to think a little out of the box about your broader contribution – for example to team moral, delivering exceptional customer service or embedding the business values.

2. Take control. This is your review, not your managers so set the tone, direction and be clear on what you want to get out of the process. At a minimum, make sure you have completed all the pre-work required and come to the meeting with a clear agenda of what you want the outcome to be.

Over the past 5 years I’ve facilitated a 360 degree feedback process for an organization. Each year there are a couple of leaders who come to the feedback session super prepared and in control of their own learning and growth.   They are a joy to work with and their results year on year have surpassed those who have been more passive in their approach to the process.

So make sure you are leading the process not the other way around.

3. Be bold. Ladies… this is not a time to be overly humble. This is your opportunity to showcase your achievements and the contribution you have made. Don’t hold back and don’t assume your manager has noticed your good work.

Make sure you are not just talking about your technical skill. You need also to be demonstrating how you have contributed to the achievement of the overall business strategy and creating a team who are engaged and highly effective in delivering exceptional results.

4. Claim your career ambition. Take advantage of your performance review to voice your career ambitions. Too many women I work with sit back and expect that by delivering exceptional work that the promotion will come. It doesn’t work that way.

If you want a more senior role, you must claim your intention.

For many women, articulating their career ambitions can bring up fear and awkwardness. But like my client Cindy, who last week finally spoke with the CEO about her ambitions… the outcome of this conversation can set you up for a new level of career success.

5. Direct your development. If you have identified an area of development, ask for it. This might include an opportunity for secondment to another department, act in a more senior role to cover extended long service or maternity leave or enrolment in a professional development program.

Go prepared with a business case. Be clear on what the business will get from investing in your development and the value you will bring to the business through this opportunity.

As many of my clients who have received financial support to join The Leadership Connection (a women’s leadership development program) discovered, you will never get what you don’t ask for. Do your research; create a business case and ask for the development you really want.

So todays take home message is – this is your performance review.

Take control. Be prepared. And ask for what you want.

LET'S CONNECT

Similar Blog Posts

At the intersection of roads. The symbol is to make a choice. Female figure. Selective focus.

Why the art of decision making…

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

Jane Benston

Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston

5 tips to boost the effectiveness of your meetings

5 tips to boost the effectiveness of your meetings

As a senior professional you attend a LOT of meetings. Maybe too many? Some of them may be productive and useful but I’m guessing there are many you walk away from, frustrated with the lack of purpose, achieving little progress and without a clear outcome or action plan.

There is no doubt, meetings are important. 

Meetings are where great ideas are born, collaboration happens, relationships are strengthened, problems are solved and momentum to deliver important projects is maintained.

But how effective are the meetings you attend?

  • Do you achieve tangible outcomes?
  • Do you get a reasonable return on the time and energy you invest?

Or are they your number one time waster and source of frustration?

I was speaking with the women from my inner circle program about the effectiveness of meetings within their organisation. Some are spending up to half of their week locked away in meetings, many of which venture way off track and achieve very little. That is a LOT of unproductive time!

Unfortunately, you can’t always influence the effectiveness or the outcomes of the meetings you attend but you can take charge of the meetings you run.

Mastering the art of running productive, effective meetings is critical to your long term career success. 

Who would have thought… the humble meeting being important to your career success?

Let’s take a step back for a moment and think about what the purpose of most meetings are?

They are generally to support the team to deliver a task, service, project or new initiative… all of which are ultimately linked to the achievement of the business goals.

So becoming a skilled meeting facilitator can set you up to be seen as an invaluable contributor within the business and position you for some of the best opportunities on offer.  They are your opportunity to make your mark and get you seen, heard and recognised as an influential member of the leadership team.

So let’s drill down into some simple strategies you can employ to minimise time wasted on ineffective meetings and maximise outcomes.

5 tips to boost the effectiveness of your meetings.

1. Conduct a meeting audit. Just hearing the word audit makes me cringe … but bear with me. Let’s start by eliminating those meetings that don’t have a clear purpose or outcome. Let’s stop having meetings for meetings sake. You know the ones. They are nothing more than a data dump or an update fest.

2. Banish the 60 minute standard. Why is it that almost every meeting is a standard 60 minutes long? Let’s take a moment and decide if this is the right length for every meeting.

Trust me. Your attendee’s will love you for booking just 45 minutes. It will give people an opportunity to grab a coffee, return an urgent call or gather their thoughts before dashing to the next meeting starting on the hour.

Or perhaps a couple of 20 minute desk-side catch ups would be better suited to keep track of progress and solve problems on the spot, rather than waiting for a longer, less regular meeting.

3.  Agree before you start. At the start of every meeting be clear on the purpose and agree on what needs to be achieved before the end of the meeting. Getting this agreement will help shape the discussions and keep everyone on track.

And, if it does go off track (we all know how easily a meeting can be hijacked by an off topic discussion or issue), it’ll be much easier to steer it back on point and towards the outcome you all agreed to.

4. Focus on needs & wants. Let’s agree that data dumps and team updates are of limited value …. and quite frankly boring to sit through! Aim to keep updates to a minimum and focus on what people need or want from the group to move a project forward.   Maximise the wealth of knowledge in the room to collaborate, brainstorm solutions or seek advice.

5. Make it actionable. Never again allow the attendees of a meeting you facilitate, leave the room confused or unsure of what the outcome is. There comes a point in every meeting when you must move on from brainstorming and general discussion and make a decision.

And be ok that you may not reach consensus. Pleasing everyone is not the aim. Taking a stand, making a decision and moving forward towards achieving the business goal is your role as a leader.

And to conclude the meeting… be very, very specific and get agreement on who is going to do what by when.

Which of these tips will you take action on?

If you have read to the end of this article, it suggests to me you know you have room for improvement.  Pick just one of these tips and give it a go during your next meeting.

I’d love to hear how it goes.

LET'S CONNECT

Similar Blog Posts

At the intersection of roads. The symbol is to make a choice. Female figure. Selective focus.

Why the art of decision making…

One of the primary differences between a mid-level leader and a senior leader is the size and number of decisions they need to make in a day. As we progress and grow as leaders we will be called upon to make more decision more often with ever increasing impact.

Jane Benston

Hard work and good results are…

If your career progress has stalled it may well be time to focus on raising your visibility. You are unlikely to have the type of impact you want to have or to get recognised for the work you do – if no one knows who you are, what you do and how well you do it.

Jane Benston

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference with laptop from the office.

Powerful language comes from a powerful…

Yes, it really is that simple.
What you believe to be true (whether it is true or not) influences the words you use on a consistent basis. If you don’t believe you are worthy of your position, if you don’t believe the targets really can be met, if you don’t believe in the talents of your team… it will come out subtly in the words you use.

Jane Benston