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.

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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.

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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 (my friend – 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. And when you do, you’ll build a trusted and loyal following because of who you are.

3. Showcase you key strengths. You do your best work when you work to your strengths. Deep down you know this. You know that work get’s 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 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 not better version of you … than the real version of you.

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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 fare 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 that are 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.

This is the most important step towards creating luck. If you are unsure and lack this clarity then Career by Design, a one day workshop for mid career women may be a great starting point.

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 the organisation.

3. Focus on what matters. We only have so much time in each day, so focusing our 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 this year, map out time in your schedule each week that will get you one step closer to this.

This might mean prioritizing 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 all 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 the opportunities to luck?

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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.

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Meetings. Are yours a waste of time?

Meetings. Are yours a waste of time?

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 that 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 in meetings?

Or are they your number 1 time waster and source of frustration?

I was speaking with the women from my inner circle program yesterday 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 we can’t always influence the effectiveness or the outcomes of the meetings we attend but we can take charge of the meetings that we run ourselves.

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 is?

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 pretty much 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 gathering 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 an 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 to 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.

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How to position yourself to protect against corporate change

How to position yourself to protect against corporate change

Change in the corporate world is the one constant we can rely on. No job is 100% secure. No role will remain exactly the same one year to the next. Cultures change. Corporate structures and strategies change. Boards Change. Executive leadership teams change. And all of this change will directly or indirectly impact you and your role at some stage.

The question is … are you ready and prepared to weather the storm?

I was speaking with a senior leader recently who had just been made redundant for the 2nd time in less than 4 years. (A not so uncommon story.)

The first time around was tough. She struggled to come to terms with the loss of income, feeling out of control and suddenly loosing the certainty that comes with a being employed in meaningful work.   And then with financial pressures looming, she took the first acceptable (if not totally ideal) role that came her way.

This time round it has been different.

In the last 3½ years she has strategically positioned herself so if she were to be hit by redundancy again she would be ready. She has worked to build up her professional profile, broaden her network and strengthen her skill base.

She has also set herself up financially; funnelling funds from her annual bonus into prepaying school fees and mortgage repayments.

Although she is just at the beginning of her job search, she is filled with confidence that she has the resources, networks and importantly the headspace to secure the perfect next role.

How would you fare if you were made redundant tomorrow or found yourself in a role that no longer suited you as a result of a restructure, take over or change of leadership?

And of course, lets remember that not all change is bad.

I know most of us instinctively are cautious of change and may even try to resist or be resentful of it. But change can also bring with it incredible opportunities.

Susan recently secured a seat at the executive leadership table for the first time, taking advantage of an opportunity that presented as a result of a corporate take over.

You could say that she was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

The truth is… she has been working hard over the last 18 months positioning for this type of role.

She has focused on getting known around the organisation as someone who not only has the ability to unify and engage a team to perform above expectations but also has a reputation of bringing new ideas and effective strategies to the table.

Are you ready to take best advantage of the opportunities that inevitably come through change?

And being ready is all about positioning.

Focusing on positioning is a bit like having an insurance policy for your career success and fulfilment.

Suddenly working on building your visibility and profile when it’s time to move roles isn’t the best strategy. And ignoring your network only to call on them when you become redundant feels a little desperate and inauthentic.

Learning to position like a pro is key to the health of your career.

3 top tips to position like a pro to insure against change.

1. Build Strategic Relationships

In times of change and uncertainty the value of your network is priceless. It will be these people who will reach out to support you, offer assistance and make introductions that could possibly lead to job opportunities.

But given that building strong relationships takes time, make sure that you are ALWAYS prioritising (in good times and bad) building and strengthening your networks.

2. Raise Your Profile

You will never get considered for the best opportunities if people don’t know who you are, what you can do and what your career aspirations are.

One of the best ways to raise your profile is to be strategic about the projects you devote your time, energy and resources to. Leading high profile projects will give you a great opportunity to demonstrate your value, your strengths and your leadership skills.

 3. Attitude Matters

Through my work with high achieving professional women I am convinced that attitude plays a significant role in determining the outcome of change. Time and time again I see the women who remain upbeat, optimistic and open achieve a more positive outcome than those who are negative, resistant and fearful.

I know that remaining upbeat through the turmoil and uncertainty of change can be difficult. So choose your support network wisely. Reach out to people who you know will lift you higher, keep you motivated and support you to consistently bring the best version of you to the office.

So… how prepared are you to cope with a corporate takeover, round of redundancies or change in leadership? 

If you answered… not at all prepared, you are not alone.

And that’s why I have made positioning and preparing for change, a major component of The Leadership Connection, an exclusive 6-month program designed for smart professional women.

Click here for more information and to apply for your invitation to join the group.

LET'S CONNECT

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What happens when we dare to share?

What happens when we dare to share?

 

If you have ever been to an event just for women you will know that magic happens when women come together. We may walk in as strangers but it doesn’t take long to find common ground, share from the heart and connect.

At our core women are gifted connectors, collaborators and communicators and it’s these natural gifts that allow the magic to happen when we come together in a room. The possibility and belief in what can be achieved is magnified through open, vulnerable and inspired conversation.

The real gold comes when we share our dreams and aspirations.

So many big, bold and courageous ideas have been brought to life over a shared cup of tea or a glass of bubbles in the company of like-minded women.

Perhaps it harks back to the days of women sitting around a campfire, telling stories, sharing the workload and looking out for one another.

Many women have shared their embryonic idea of what they envisage for the next stage of their career at Career by Design.  Often it’s the first time they have voiced their idea aloud; either to themselves or others.

For some it feels vulnerable. For others they express fear that their idea is crazy. While others wonder if they have what it takes to succeed.

In the company of supportive women, their aspirations are given the best chance to blossom. So often the potential others see in us is more than we see in ourselves.

The accountability of sharing our dreams publicly within a safe space can be incredibly powerful.

Not to mention the sense of possibility and certainty that comes from a robust conversation to further develop the idea and brainstorming the actions it will take to take the next step or up level in your career.

But sadly, the male dominated corporate environment has taught many of us to be overly competitive. How often have we seen women climb over each other or stab another in the back in an effort to WIN in business?

And then there are those that pride themselves to be fiercely independent.

OK, I’ll admit to this one. For many years I was proud that I’d achieved so much alone. From buying a house, traveling across the globe, to achieving career success… I was proud that I had done it all alone. I believed that it was a sign of weakness to need to reach out for help.

How wrong I was!

Going it alone is the hard, slow and painful way to creating a successful career.

You just have to listen to a panel of successful women leaders at a conference to understand the importance of their connections. The common theme running through their stories is almost always that their success did not happen in isolation. They most often attribute their growth and opportunities to the people who have supported them along the way.

Who do you have in your corner?

Do you have a pose of powerful women to fuel your dreams and champion your success?

If women are going to have a greater impact at the leadership table we need to tap into the power of the collective. There is no doubt that we are stronger when we come together than when we work alone.

Who do you have to lift you higher, hold you accountable and give you courage as your step beyond your comfort zone? Who do you celebrate your wins with, swear in frustration with and cry with when things don’t work out as planned?

A safe place to learn, laugh, sing, dance and cry is hard to come by for smart professional women.

Everywhere I turn there are groups popping up for entrepreneurial women to connect, learn and support one another. They are hugely popular and have been a major contributing factor in the success of so many women run small businesses.

I know first hand the power of a group of powerful women.  I have just come out of a very productive 3 day retreat with a intimate group of high achieving women business owners as part of a year long mastermind program.

Yes there were tears, laughter and learning. I know that these women have my back. They have given me new perspectives, made introductions to potential clients and stretched my thinking and personal expectations to another level.

I love these women.  

They have become my friends, my confidantes and an my inner circle of advisors.

And I want that for you too.

And that’s why I have created a brand new program called The Leadership Connection, an exclusive 6-month program for smart mid career professional women to connect and grow in their career success.

No more going it alone. No more working in isolation.

Click here for more information and to book a time to discuss whether this might be right for you.

LET'S CONNECT

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Could you be more decisive?

Could you be more decisive?

 

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.

While appearing indecisive 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 unshakable 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 balance 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 Brandson. 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 over do this one. We have a tendency to want to consult and to get consensus from the team. Don’t over play this or your behaviour could be perceived as indecisive or showing a 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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How to set clear boundaries for strong leadership

How to set clear boundaries for strong leadership

 

Do you have clear boundaries? Or perhaps an even more important question is … do you have any boundaries at all?

Are you clear on what’s acceptable to you and what isn’t? Do you protect your time, energy and resources and prioritise what is import to you?

In a world that’s becoming busier and where business is conducted 24/7, boundaries have become blurred or nonexistent. In many workplaces there’s an unwritten expectation that you are always on and always accessible.

But I wonder what would happen if you were to create clear boundaries.

Recently I was delivering training in large corporate organisation with a group of professional leaders. The recurring theme for these women became clear; they had failed to set clear boundaries.

For some this meant filling their schedule with small menial tasks not really within their scope of work, while for others they found themselves working excessively long hours.

I loved the realisation from one participant when she said, “I need to downgrade my relationship with my phone.”

She had found herself obsessing over emails and text messages from colleagues in her evenings at home rather than being fully present for her family.

Setting boundaries and sticking to them is difficult!

I think this has something to do with the need to please. Many of us equate being available, responding promptly, saying yes and helping out… with building goodwill and respect.

Unfortunately, in my experience it often does the opposite. Setting personal boundaries protects our personal space, builds respect and allows us to focus our productivity. People who work hard and maintain boundaries typically get more respect and better results than those who allow others to take them or their time for granted.

And how many people do you know that get burned out, stressed, over committed and over worked just because they cant say “NO”? Perhaps you’re one them?

How to set clear boundaries

1. Get clear on what matters most. Get clear on what’s most important to you in terms of your life and your career. A client recently had the massive realisation that what mattered most to her was spending quality time with her young children. She had however been increasingly focused on her work at the expense of time with her family.   Setting boundaries has been crucial for her to better integrate her family priorities with her inner need to do quality work.

2. Clarify your standards. And by this I mean – make a list and write it down.

  • Reassess the hours you are prepared to commit to work, both in the office and at home.
  • Decide whether you will respond to emails, text messages and phone calls outside work hours.
  • Get clear on what work you will routinely say YES to and what you will choose to say NO to.
  • Notice what irritates you and create boundaries to limit the opportunities for this to happen.

3. Let go of the guilt. Beating yourself up and feeling guilty isn’t helpful. If it’s important that you attend your child’s school assembly or make it to a weekly yoga class… then be ok to do what it takes to make it happen. We shouldn’t feel guilty for putting ourselves first.

4. Prioritise and plan. The only solution many women see when their workload increases is to work harder and longer hours. In many instances this is definitely not the answer. It’s more likely to lead to overworking, decreased productivity, poorer quality work and resentment.

Instead, take some time out to review and prioritise your workload and create a plan focused on those activities that matter most to you and your organisation.

5. Take responsibility. Know that we teach people how to treat us. So if your team are dependent on you or you are seen as the go to girl to get stuff done or people are constantly interrupting you … it’s likely you’ve allowed this to happen. To put it bluntly… it’s your fault.

People are predictable. They will always take the route of least resistance. So it’s actually good to create a little resistance, eg: push back, say no, or respond on your terms not theirs.

Others will only respect your limits if you do.

Too often in our effort to produce our very best work, be seen as a team player or purely get through the “to do list” we allow our boundaries to be crossed.

And only you can set and maintain your boundaries.

It takes consideration, being intentional and persistence. Maintaining you’re your new and improved boundaries is about creating a new normal, for you and those around you. You need to be consistent and be ready for those who will fight against them.

But know… it will be worthwhile.

LET'S CONNECT

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Jane Benston

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