Values Rekindle your Drive

Here’s a suggestion to help rekindle your drive at work:

Try to remember and connect with your values every time you walk into the office, whenever you chat with a client or team member, and even when completing routine tasks like paperwork. Remind yourself: “This is why I’m here.”

When you actively look for ways to fulfill your personal mission and values, you find opportunities in surprising ways. While this isn’t a magic pill, it can bring some magic back into your work. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a zombie-like routine and forget to connect with what you love doing.

Often my coaching clients are good at their jobs; so good, in fact, they could go through their day on automatic pilot… what a mistake. Ask yourself questions all the time:

  • “Why am I doing this?”
  • “Is there a better way?”
  • “Who else can help out here?”
  • “What do others think about this?”

Another important point to remember is that organizations have values, too. To be effective, your values must be compatible with those of your company.

In coaching my clients, they may have conflicts of ethics and values with their organizational culture. If these aren’t sorted out and resolved, they won’t flourish in their jobs. That’s when it becomes time to reevaluate their career choice.

Know and Manage Yourself

Self-knowledge is essential. In business, nobody will manage your career if you don’t. Ask yourself three questions:

  1. What are my strengths?
  2. How do I perform best?
  3. How do I learn best?

Learn about your strengths through feedback analysis. Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. Later, compare the actual results with your expectations. Over time, your strengths—and your incompetencies—will be revealed. Spend the most energy on developing strengths in lieu of focusing on weaknesses.

How do you perform best? Are you a reader or a listener? Some people work well in teams, while others excel when flying solo. Some learn by doing, while others process information by hearing themselves talk.

The key to knowing yourself well is to receive feedback from peers, formal assessments, or a mentor or coach.

Before Switching in mid stream…

Many people who seek professional coaching complain about losing their passion mid-career. Some would like to switch careers, but they remain cautious in these uncertain times.

Most coaches, including myself, will advise you to look inward before making a drastic decision. Perhaps the problem isn’t the job or supervisor, but within you. If so, you can change your thinking, beliefs or level of engagement as you strive to make work more meaningful.

Middle age is accompanied by a heightened awareness of one’s sense of meaning. Psychologist Erik Erikson described this stage of life as one seeking productivity and generativity.

You’ve probably seen this in your own life: You want to help others, provide reliable goods or services, make an impact on your community, and provide a comfortable existence for your family. You want to feel that your job is worthwhile.

This is a good time to review your values and purpose with your coach or mentor:

  1. What was initially attractive about your job?
  2. When you began your career, what did you expect or hope for?
  3. In the early days, how did work excite you?
  4. What has changed?

People are often surprised by their answers, having forgotten their early enthusiasm.

To rekindle your drive, explore three key personal-development components with your coach or trusted advisor:

  1. Identify your core values.
  2. Know and manage yourself well.
  3. Determine how your values fit with who you are today.

This may be a good opportunity to take some assessments with your coach or advisor. Few people know their strengths well. Two popular assessments are the Strengths Finder and the The Leadership Circle Profile (you can take learn more by clicking on the link). Another is the Emotional Quotient Inventory. In any case, I find the wisest people are those that use their feelings of malaise to find out what drives them, what their strengths are, and use coaching to rekindle their spirits.

Interested in finding how to use these assessments? Contact me.

Fallen Into a Zombie Like Routine? “Got Passion?”

“We hear a great deal of talk about the midlife crisis of the executive. It is mostly boredom. ~ Peter Drucker, management expert

At some point in your career, you may sense a creeping malaise. You’re no longer enthusiastic about the day ahead. Perhaps you’re experiencing a midlife crisis—the sudden realization that you’re no longer a rising star.

I hear this from my clients a lot. In fact, 75 percent of them struggle with mid-career issues. One person told me, “I can’t seem to find my passion.”

After 20 years of all-too-familiar work, you’re good at your job, but you’re not learning or growing as much. You seldom feel challenged or particularly satisfied and may be reminded of the song “Working on the Chain Gang.”  While you show up to pay the bills, bosses remain unpleasant, projects fail, and work stagnates.

Even when I suggest a focus on true values and the reasons you chose your line of work, the daily grind somehow seems to take over. Often, work life seems to be reduced to reports, data, meetings and managing difficult coworkers.

When you lose your passion, your job is no longer enjoyable or meaningful, your energy sags, motivation lags, tasks go undone, and you make mistakes. At this point, you may think about switching jobs, but this presents additional risks. A “grass is greener” mentality often leads to disappointments, similar to changing seats on the Titanic.

A new career may mean a loss of seniority, lower pay, a geographic move and a new set of problems that closely resemble those you’ve left behind. But staying in a job that seems to be going nowhere, filled with mind-numbing work, means resigning yourself to a lack of growth and meaning.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Not if you’re working with a coach. That’s one of the primary reasons to use a coach: loss of passion and to explore work/life issues of purpose and meaning.

More on this in future posts… it’s important. I’d love to hear from you. Have you experienced mid-career loss of motivation and drive? Let me know.

A Leader’s Roadmap Conclusion

Businesses are becoming more complex. It’s harder to predict outcomes because intricate systems interact in unexpected ways.

Staying on track is much easier with a guide or checklist. Michael Useem, a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of The Leadership Moment, has published The Leader’s Checklist to create a clear roadmap for navigating any situation. I will present in the blog in condensed form, with sample questions accompanying each principle.)

Principles covered in this series of posts were:

  1. Articulate a Vision
  2. Think and Act Strategically
  3. Express Confidence
  4. Take Charge and Act Decisively
  5. Communicate Persuasively
  6. Motivate the Troops, and Honor the Front Lines
  7. Build Leadership in Others, and Plan for Succession
  8. Manage Relations, and Identify Personal Implications
  9. Convey Your Character
  10. Dampen Over-Optimism.
  11. Build a Diverse Top Team
  12. Place Common Interest First

Not all of these questions are applicable to every situation, but it is the questioning that counts.

Whether you are facing a typical day at the office or walking into a crisis, ask yourself and others these questions to inspire correct actions. Only then can you make sense of the complexities you encounter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Leader’s Roadmap Part 12

(Intro from Part 1: Businesses are becoming more complex. It’s harder to predict outcomes because intricate systems interact in unexpected ways. 

Staying on track is much easier with a guide or checklist. Michael Useem, a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of The Leadership Moment, has published The Leader’s Checklist to create a clear roadmap for navigating any situation. I will present in the blog in condensed form, with sample questions accompanying each principle.)

12. Place Common Interest First: In setting strategy, communicating vision and reaching decisions, common purpose comes first and personal self-interest last.

When teams adopt a sense of accountability, they recognize that their participation can and will make a big difference. They go the extra mile because they know what to do, and they know how their job and their actions will drive results. This adds energy to their work, as most people crave meaning and fulfillment.

a. In all decisions, have you placed shared purpose ahead of private gain?
b. Do the firm’s vision and strategy embody the organization’s mission?
c. Are you thinking like a president or chief executive, even if you are not one?

A Leader’s Roadmap Part 11

(Intro from Part 1: Businesses are becoming more complex. It’s harder to predict outcomes because intricate systems interact in unexpected ways.

Staying on track is much easier with a guide or checklist. Michael Useem, a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of The Leadership Moment, has published The Leader’s Checklist to create a clear roadmap for navigating any situation. I will present in the blog in condensed form, with sample questions accompanying each principle.)

11. Build a Diverse Top Team: Although leaders take final responsibility, leadership is most effective when there is a team of capable people who can collectively work together to resolve key challenges. Diversity of thinking ensures better decisions.

Employee accountability and engagement are the driving forces behind achieving great results. As a leader, it’s your job to help team members see how their participation contributes to your team’s success. Employees become engaged when they can describe their role in outcomes and desired results.

 

a. Have you drawn quality performers into your inner circle?
b. Are they diverse in expertise, but united in purpose?
c. Are they as engaged and energized as you?

A Leader’s Roadmap Part 10

(Intro from Part 1: Businesses are becoming more complex. It’s harder to predict outcomes because intricate systems interact in unexpected ways.

Staying on track is much easier with a guide or checklist. Michael Useem, a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of The Leadership Moment, has published The Leader’s Checklist to create a clear roadmap for navigating any situation. I will present in the blog in condensed form, with sample questions accompanying each principle.)

10. Dampen Over-Optimism: To balance the hubris of success, focus attention on latent threats and unresolved problems. Protect against managers’ tendency to engage in unwarranted risk.

Many leaders have learned to reframe personal and team setbacks by stating: “There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities”—and it’s a great sentiment. In practice, however, their companies often continue to view failures in the most negative light.

a. Have you prepared the organization for unlikely, but extremely consequential, events?
b. Do you celebrate success, but also guard against the byproduct of excess confidence?
c. Have you paved the way not only for quarterly results, but for long-term performance?

A Leader’s Roadmap Part 9

(Intro from Part 1: Businesses are becoming more complex. It’s harder to predict outcomes because intricate systems interact in unexpected ways. 

Staying on track is much easier with a guide or checklist. Michael Useem, a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of The Leadership Moment, has published The Leader’s Checklist to create a clear roadmap for navigating any situation. I will present in the blog in condensed form, with sample questions accompanying each principle.)

9. Convey Your Character: Through storytelling, gestures and genuine sharing, ensure that others appreciate that you are a person of integrity.

For some, integrity simply means telling the truth, but it goes deeper than that. Integrity has more to do with living the truth than merely telling it. Since integrity is intimately linked with each of our own unique set of core values, we alone are the best judges to determine how well we are adhering to our internal moral code

a. Have you communicated your commitment to performance with integrity?
b. Do others know you as a person? Do they know your aspirations and hopes?

A Leader’s Roadmap Part 8

(Intro from Part 1: Businesses are becoming more complex. It’s harder to predict outcomes because intricate systems interact in unexpected ways. 

Staying on track is much easier with a guide or checklist. Michael Useem, a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of The Leadership Moment, has published The Leader’s Checklist to create a clear roadmap for navigating any situation. I will present in the blog in condensed form, with sample questions accompanying each principle.)

8. Manage Relations, and Identify Personal Implications: Build enduring personal ties with those team  members, and engage the feelings and passions of the workplace. Help people appreciate the impact that the vision and strategy are likely to have on their own work and the firm’s future.

Emotions are critical to business success because they drive behaviors. Leaders that achieve an emotional buy-in from team members will have a competitive advantage in a world of increasing commoditization.

Emotionally astute leaders leverage feelings to gain employee commitment, engagement and performance, according to Dan Hill, CEO of Sensory Logic and author of Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success (Kogan Page, 2008). Similarly, experts featured in a Time magazine cover story (January 17, 2005) confirmed the link between satisfaction and productivity, citing a 10 percent improvement in job performance among fulfilled employees.

A company’s emotional climate may account for up to 30 percent of job performance, according to case studies that Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee reviewed for their book, Primal Leadership (2002). CEOs, they note, are responsible for creating more than 50 percent of this climate.

a. Is the hierarchy reduced to a minimum, and does bad news travel up?
b. Are managers self-aware and empathetic?
c. Are autocratic, egocentric and irritable behaviors censured?
d. Do employees appreciate how the firm’s vision and strategy affect them individually?
e. What private sacrifices will be necessary for achieving the common cause?
f. How will the plan affect people’s personal livelihood and the quality of their work lives?

A Leader’s Roadmap Part 7

(Intro from Part 1: Businesses are becoming more complex. It’s harder to predict outcomes because intricate systems interact in unexpected ways. 

Staying on track is much easier with a guide or checklist. Michael Useem, a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of The Leadership Moment, has published The Leader’s Checklist to create a clear roadmap for navigating any situation. I will present in the blog in condensed form, with sample questions accompanying each principle.)

7. Build Leadership in Others, and Plan for Succession: Develop leadership throughout the organization, giving people opportunities to make decisions, manage others and obtain coaching.

When our team operates from their strengths, the teams functions at its’ best. This holds the greatest possibility of living and working in flow, which often leads to greater satisfaction and happiness in all aspects of life. Each of us needs to have faith that we have been given just the right strengths to advance to a leadership role.  It is the leaders responsibility to develop each team member to make the most of the role they were born to play and to live their strongest possible life.

a. Are all managers expected to build leadership among their subordinates?
b. Does the company culture foster the effective exercise of leadership?
c. Are leadership development opportunities available to most, if not all, managers?