Monthly Archives: May 2012

Get Off Your Butt! DIY Executive Development

I’m going to rant a little

l talk to people all the time who are sitting around waiting for their company to “do something” about their development.  They know that they are talented (and for the most part, the company agrees), they know that they are “hi po” (high potential–recognized by the company as having potential to move up), and they know that they do a good job.  So, why doesn’t the company send them to Executive Development programs, or provide them with developmental opportunities, or generally take an interest and develop them?

There are all kinds of reasons

Maybe the company doesn’t have a well-developed Executive Development system.  Maybe the company doesn’t classify these people as “hi po” enough.  (Lots of companies, maybe most companies, take the view that only the most “hi po” gets developed).  When I ran an Executive Development Program for a company, I found that the “hi po”s who were selected by the ‘deciders’ were all over the place.  Potential is in the eye of the beholder.  You may not fit the profile for hi potential for the person in YOUR management chain who makes the decision.  The company may be trying to develop a certain skill (like innovation) at this time and are picking people who they think have the most potential in that area.  Someone up there may not like you.  There are all kinds of reasons why it is not you, not this year, not at this company.

So What?

So why am I going to rant?  Because I think it’s totally nuts for ANYONE to sit around and wait for your company to develop YOU.  Who cares more about your career and your abilities more than you?  Who wants you to succeed  than you?  How long will you stay at THIS company?  They will develop you for their organizational profile and needs.  Will that make you a fully rounded Executive candidate? Maybe, but probably not.  What one organization believes are the key attributes of leadership is another organization’s rejection list.

Get Off Your Butt and Develop You

Most well run organizations have well thought out Executive Development plans and programs (just because it doesn’t focus on you doesn’t mean that there isn’t a plan).  These programs look at what the organization needs, what it has, and puts in place a plan to hire or develop the necessary skills to take the organization to the next level.  You can do the same thing, with you, and only you, as the hi po being developed.  (this applies to you hi pos who are already “being developed” by your organization—make if faster, or develop skills that are outside the organization’s focus that you know you need).  If you do this right, it could have more impact than an MBA (although it is possible that an MBA is a necessary part of your personal development plan).

After years of helping organizations develop Executive Development programs and of coaching all kinds of individuals, I’ve come up with an outline of what needs to be addressed in Do-It-Yourself Executive Development.

DIY Executive Development

Do-It-Yourself Executive Development

I know the print on the diagram is too small to read, but I wanted you to see how it all fit together.  There are four areas of developmental concentration:  1) Know Yourself, 2) Understand Your Environment, 3) Personal Change Tools and 4) Skill Building.   You can start anywhere—they all support each other.

4 Essentials for Do-It-Yourself Executive Development

The Recipe for DIY Executive Development:

Know Yourself–Understand Your:

  • Motivation
  • Habits
  • Personality
  • Beliefs About How Things Work
  • Strengths/Weaknesses
  • Temperament
  • Flaws (aka Derailers)

Understand Your Environment:

  • What is the Culture?
  • What is Your Fit in that Culture?
  • What is the Power Structure?
  • What Gets Rewarded?
  • What is the Organization Life Cycle Stage?

Personal Change Tools–Understand:

  • Reframing
  • Habits
  • Feedback

Skill Building–Develop:

  • Execution Skills
  • Leadership
  • Financial Acumen
  • Organization Assessment
  • Organizational Political Saavy
  • Personal Brand Management
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Organizational Change Management

The well-rounded, and highly successful Executive has all of these.  No one is born with all of them; they need to be developed.  If you want to be a successful Executive, stop waiting for your organization to do it.  Get off your butt and start working on developing yourself.  You’ll do a much better job than any organization if you focus on it.

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Filed under Brand Yourself, Career Development, Career Goals, Derailment, Executive Development, Hi Po, Leadership, Personal Change, Recession Proof, Reframe, Success

Looking for a job? Look in the HJM!

Looking for a job?

Soooooo many people are looking for jobs these days.  People who have been laid off are looking.  People who are dissatisfied are looking.  People who have been underemployed for a while are finally feeling like things are moving enough that they can look.  Maybe it’s just the people I know, but it seems like everyone is looking in the wrong places.

Seventy five to eighty percent of all jobs are NOT advertised.

And remember, this type of hiring (20-25%) includes  the McDonald’s and other entry-level jobs. This also includes all the internet job postings, newspaper job postings, and LinkedIn job postings.

Seventy five to eighty percent of the jobs are in the HIDDEN JOB MARKET.

 The other 5% of hiring happens when the candidate persuades the decider to create a specific job for him.  (Not common, but it happens).

Don Asher in his book Cracking the Hidden Job Market says that you get a job by talking to people.  He’s not talking about interviewing.  He means talking to pretty much everyone who will listen about your job search.  He recommends using every technique available:  face to face, email, phone, LinkedIn, Facebook, and even snail mail.  People are much more comfortable hiring you–or even considering you–when they know you, or when someone close to them knows you.  It’s a lot like dating.

You also need to know what kind of job you want–what industry, function, role, company type.  Then you need to TARGET those jobs.  It is like deciding you want to marry a millionaire.  That is more focused than if you want to marry someone or if you just want to date.  Where do you find millionaires?  How do you know which ones would fit with you?  How do you have to come across to marry a millionaire.  You get the point–it isn’t just throwing your resume at recruiters who have posted jobs.

There are a few  books that I recommend:

Now the Excuses

  • It’s way more work to do it this way.
  • I don’t want people to know I’m out of a job.
  • No one I know knows of any jobs–they would tell me if they did.
  • And on and on and on

Yeah, it is more work.  You want a job, you do the work.  People who know how to work these systems and find the hidden jobs control their careers.  The rest of us are flotsam floating on the river of chance.  EVERYONE knows about jobs or knows someone who does.  It isn’t top of mind.  By talking to people about your job search, you help them remember you when they hear about jobs.

Oh, and don’t wait till you need a job to do this.  Start building the network and targeting the organizations now so that you are ready.  Get ready to lose your job!

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Filed under Books, Career Development, Career Goals, Executive Development, Job Hunt, Networking, Recession Proof

Take Feedback, Especially Bad Feedback, As a Gift

My “Bad” Feedback

I remember the first time that feedback got my attention.  It didn’t get enough attention, but I kept thinking about it—for a really long time.  My mentor told me, “Well, you didn’t get where you are on your looks or your charm, but on your hard work.”  I took it as a compliment.  And it was, but there was a message underneath that I ignored.  The next time that I got feedback that I should have paid more attention to was a couple of years later, when my CEO said, “You should smile more.”  My reaction was that smiling or not smiling didn’t affect the quality of my work—which in my opinion was quite good.    Let me run that by you again.  My CEO told me that I should smile more and I felt completely justified in totally ignoring his feedback.   Not only could I not see the connection between the quality of my work and how I came across to people (by not smiling), I didn’t even get how ridiculous it was that I was ignoring feedback from my CEO!  Looking back on it, I’m surprised he didn’t fire me on the spot.

Even More “Bad” Feedback

My company had a process that it called “New Manager Assimilation,” that was an onboarding process for new managers.  I moved around the organization quite a bit (usually being selected to go “fix” an organization with process redesign and continuous improvement), and therefore, I went through new Manager Assimilation several times.  I got the same feedback, over and over.  My new employees had difficulty reading me and wanted to know more of what was going through my head.  Again, my reaction was that it wasn’t necessary for them to “read” me.  From my perspective, what they saw was what they got.  I told them that I had 2 speeds: neutral or pissed.  It was clear when I pissed, so they could assume if I wasn’t then everything was OK.  I really thought I was providing them helpful information about me.  In one of my organizations, my direct reports got together and gave me the top knob on a gear shift and told me that they wanted more speeds.  I FINALLY got it.  My failure to be openly expressive made it difficult to work for me.  What was going on in my head was so different from that.  Everything was OK.  I wasn’t mad or unhappy unless I expressed that.  What was in my head didn’t count AT ALL.  People needed me to smile and have open expressions to be comfortable around me.   People assumed the worse when they couldn’t read me.

I heard variations on a theme—lack of charm, smile more, unreadable—repeatedly.  I discounted it.  I didn’t believe it.  I looked at it from inside my head—from my perspective—rather than from the perspective of the people who were giving it.  So I didn’t act on it, until they got my attention with a symbol.  Once I “got” it,  I started acting on it immediately.  It took me a long time, but I finally figured out how to be more openly expressive.  And my job got a lot easier.  I became much more effective.  I got promotions (and raises  :-)).

Feedback is a GiftFeedback as a Gift

Chances are really good that you’ve gotten feedback that is equally important.  Chances are that you discounted it the way I did.  “It doesn’t really matter.”  “It isn’t important in getting my job done.”  OR “I couldn’t get my job done if I weren’t like that/didn’t do that.  You may think that the people who count don’t think that or that the good things you do outweigh the negatives.  This last is probably true.  Until it isn’t true.  At a certain point in your career, the things that have been tolerated become too important/irritating/in-the-way to be tolerated any longer.

This feedback is a gift.  Do yourself a favor.  “Get” that it is a gift earlier than I did.  Remember that the perception of others regarding your performance is probably more important (and probably more accurate) than your own opinion.  Sure you have to be confident and believe in yourself.  BUT you also have to be open to feedback and able to change your behavior to be more effective.

What Do You Do?

First, think about the patterns.  What have you heard repeatedly?  Think about why it keeps coming up.  Think also about what your reaction is to the feedback.  If you blow it off or make excuses about it, pay especially close attention to that.

Second, think about what you would do if it is accurate and you need to change.  Even if you don’t think it’s important or accurate—what would you do.  What would you change? How would you change?  Try little changes (they’re easier).  Experiment.

Finally, get more feedback.  Ask people you trust about their opinion.  Don’t ask them if it’s important or right; ask them if they can see why people say what they do.  Have them explain it to you.  DO NOT ARGUE!!! Feedback is a GIFT!   When someone gives you a gift you don’t tell them why blue is the wrong color.  You thank them.  Ask questions.  Make yourself pay attention and stop thinking about why it’s wrong.

Then go away and think about it.  Repeat the second step above.  Then repeat again.


Filed under Career Development, Communication, Derailment, Personal Change