leadership incorporated blog

February 22, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Creating Opportunity — What NOT To Do

Everyone I talk to is looking for opportunities.

My clients in transition are looking for job opportunities.

My clients who are in leadership roles in organizations are looking for business opportunities.

What I usually hear at the beginning of my client relationships is that there are so few opportunities right now.

I want to propose to you that this is not true.

Consider the possibility that there is, in fact, more opportunity than ever before. Because there is more need than ever before. And where there is need, there is opportunity.

The challenge in tapping into the potential in today’s environment is that people and businesses don’t necessarily see the opportunity in their situation. They don’t always know what their need is or that there is a way to get it met. Sometimes they don’t even recognize that they have a need.

To tap into the abundance of opportunities that surround us, we need to make a fundamental shift in perspective. To be successful, we need to STOP looking for fully formed jobs, clients looking for our services and other opportunities to apply for and win – and start taking responsibility for co-creating opportunities from scratch.

Following are 5 huge mistakes I hear smart  and savvy people making every day that PREVENT them from creating incredible opportunities.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, if you want to create opportunity, DO NOT:

  1. Start by compromising on your vision, your title, your salary, or what’s possible.
  2. Be willing to do absolutely anything to get work/business
  3. Continue to do what isn’t working
  4. Blame yourself
  5. Repeat over and over out loud and silently the stories of how bad things are out there

For 5 things you should do, tune in next week.

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February 16, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: What’s your personal brand?

This week I worked with a senior executive, a leader who realized that despite years of hard work, the people around her, including her CEO, have no real understanding of what she does. As a result, her job is at risk.

I hear every day from people in transition, who are competing for work with tens to hundreds to thousands of other applicants and who are frustrated that they can’t figure out how to stand out from the crowd.

Another of my clients is in the process of stepping into a new position, trying to figure out how to navigate the political territory successfully and survive in a leadership position in which others have failed.

There’s a powerful opportunity for each of the people above in the realm of personal brand.

Your personal brand is the mental real estate you own in other people’s minds. My friend Mary is the definition of grace. Everything Moira designs is exquisite. Gary is absolutely brilliant at connecting people. Etc. etc

How would your career be different if you could clearly communicate the contribution you make?

How would your search for work be impacted if you could stake out a unique and memorable position?

What might become possible in your life if others could know, beyond a doubt, who you are and what you stand for?

Would it surprise you to discover that you already have a personal brand? Chances are that you do. But it may not be working for you. And it may even be working against you.

Are you someone who people know they can depend on to get anything done? Are you the go-to-person on a particular topic? Do you inspire those around you? Are you a brainiac? The life of the party? Or…a flake who never follows through? A screamer? A wanna-be?

What are you known for? And how can you use it…or change it?

You may have heard buzz recently about personal brand. It’s becoming a popular topic. And as more and more people develop their brand, it will become more essential than ever that you do, too, if you want to be competitive.

I’ve worked with and taught branding—for both commercial and personal use—for almost 30 years. What I’ve learned is that the way you are perceived (your brand) is often more impactful and more predictive of what you can accomplish than anything else.

I have helped companies brand their way into market share and I have helped people brand their way into jobs.

If you become intentional about your brand, it can be an extremely useful tool in accomplishing your goals, whether you are leading an organization, taking your career to the next level, finding a job (or for that matter, even in finding the “right” mate.)

Here are 7 questions to ask yourself about your personal brand:

  1. What is the essence of who I am?
  2. What do I stand for?
  3. How are my words, thoughts, and actions expressing my personal brand?
  4. How are my words, thoughts, and actions NOT expressing my personal brand?
  5. How do others see me?
  6. What is the gap between the way people see me and the way I want to be seen?
  7. What needs to change for others to see me as I see myself?

This week, be aware of the impact of your brand on your life and work.

Let me know what you notice,

February 8, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Hire your gut.

A couple of weeks ago, I was debriefing a DISC assessment with a new client.

As we sat down, a gut feeling told me to ask her when her birthday was.

Well, that seems inappropriate, I thought to myself and put the thought aside.

That gut feeling came up again and again throughout our time together.

I kept pushing it away.

Finally just as we were wrapping up our conversation and starting to get ready to leave, the gut feeling was so insistent, and I felt that we had bonded enough during the conversation to risk it.

As casually as I could I said, “Hey, when’s your birthday?”

She just about fell off her chair. “Why did you ask me that?” she said.

“I don’t know,” I said, “something just told me to ask you.”

“It’s today,” she said. “I gave myself this assessment as a birthday present to get my year started off right.”

Listening to my gut in that situation instantly took that relationship to a deeper level.

I’ve learned that gut can be an invaluable life and business tool.

How about you? How in tune are you with your gut feelings?

How could tapping into your intuition help you be a better leader?

Other leaders say intuition gives them useful insight into clients, employees, vendors & associates and helps them to see and act on new possibilities in challenging situations.

To develop your intuition, imagine that mind, heart and gut are each separate and distinct consultants living inside of you. Imagine that you can converse with each. Find a quiet place and take a few slow breaths to get in touch with your body. Think of a situation facing you that day. Begin by asking mind what is most important about the situation for you. Don’t form the answers, rather wait for the answers to form themselves. Ask heart what it wants from the situation. Again, wait for the answer. Finally, ask gut what you need to know about the situation. Do not edit or question or control the answers, just let them come and be open to being surprised.

Make a practice each day of consulting with mind, heart and gut about a work or life situation. For some people it works best to do this in writing. For some just posing the question internally is effective. Either way, pose the question, and then wait for the answers to come.

The more you get to know your intuition, the more reliable a consultant it will become.

February 1, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Are you negotiating against yourself?

Before writing these each week, I reflect on the situations that my clients have presented the week before, looking for themes that might inspire all of us to find new more effective ways of thinking, doing and being in our work and lives.

This week, it seems like everyone is anticipating the worst and then negotiating against themselves before hearing it.

A corporate leader about to make a big presentation to a prospective client even before presenting, began lowering the prices in the presentation out of fear that they would be too high in this economy.

A vice president in transition was ready to lower his base salary, title, and other compensation…before there was even an offer on the table.

A director in transition is looking at positions that are a step down in anticipation that she will have to take a step backwards from the job she lost 3 months ago.

A successfully employed client in a personal struggle with a family member anticipating a “no” was ready to give up on what she wanted before even expressing her wishes in conversation.

Where are you negotiating against yourself? Most of us do this somewhere in our lives.

Here are some tips on how to approach these kinds of situations differently.

  1. Wake up. Start to notice when you go into negotiation with yourself before the actual negotiation with others.
  2. Stop. When you’re actually in a negotiation you may end up conceding certain things. But don’t start giving up before you get into the negotiation.
  3. Cultivate a “How might this be possible?” attitude. Just because the other person wants something different doesn’t mean that there isn’t another option that might satisfy you both.
  4. Engage the other person in finding mutually beneficial solutions.
  5. Know the value you provide. Know how you will be of service and what that service will mean to your partner in the negotiation.
  6. Be committed to providing value that exceeds the price.
  7. Keep YOUR focus on the value you provide throughout. This will help them to keep their focus on the value and not get distracted by the price. (This works even in situations where money is not involved. There is always a price.)
  8. Don’t enter a money discussion until it’s clear that everything else is working for both parties.

Some language you might adapt to do this: “If it’s right, I know we’ll be able to arrive at a mutually agreeable price/compromise. Let’s just make sure we’re both getting what we want before we waste either of our time negotiating.”

By the way, in the situation above that has already resolved, I worked with the VP to stand strongly in his confidence in what he brings to the position. He went into the conversation asking for what he wanted. The company offered a signing bonus and other creative solutions that closed the gap in a satisfactory way. He accepted the offer and begins work this week.

This week, resist the urge to give up anything prematurely.


Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

— John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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