Monday, August 30, 2010

Leading Your Leaders: Tips for Managing Upward

For our August 24 webinar titled Leading Your Leaders: How to Manage Upward, Kimberly Brown Strickland, VP, Merchandising and Marketing at Walmart was kind enough to share written answers to questions that were sent in by webinar participants.

Kim agreed to let me post the Q&A here.

Question: How do you manage upward when the managers are in different geography? - Anita

Kim Brown Strickland answers: By phone or video conference is usually better than trying to manage a situation through email. Before I physically moved to England and then Japan, I managed people and processes through conference calls from the US to other countries. You need to be able to present logical, factual answers/suggestions just as you would if you were in person. Its even more difficult through language translation so, again, be prepared to ask the same questions several different ways to get a good answer or drive the decision to closure.

Question: How do you communicate effectively so management can provide resources needed? - Leah

Kim Brown Strickland answers: Make a good case and make it simple. Provide a logical, reasonable case that shows the issue/objective and then provide pros and cons of what you need in a very simple, convincing manner. If it doesn’t work the first time, be persistent without being pesky and bring it up again, reiterating the net benefits. Resources is tough one to ask for but you need to show you’ve exhausted every other possibility or method to get things done and still need more resources.

Question: What are some suggestions to become visible and ready, to our bosses eye? - Jessica

(and from Debra: How do you manage upward so that your accomplishments are held in higher regard, with recognition and visibility?)

Kim Brown Strickland answers: I think this goes back to having mentors and advocates that will speak for you. It first starts with doing a good job, but networking and being involved in projects or initiatives or even affinity groups that show you can do more than just your job don’t go unnoticed. Your mentor or advocate can get you recognized or promoted sometimes as easily as your boss. You can also set up “career one on ones” with your boss’s boss to gain an understanding of their perspective and what they know about you and your accomplishments. You don’t have to be the one to tell them about all of your accomplishments but at least you’ll know where you stand and what conversations to have with your boss or mentor.

Question: Is it appropriate to discuss your manager with another mentor/manager? - Barbara

Kim Brown Strickland answers: I think so. You obviously need to be respectful about it but I would have to say that the majority of the conversations I have with my mentees end up being about their manager or their team members and them trying to get advice on how to handle something. I have even recently called one of my mentees managers to have a conversation about a specific situation and framed it as us developing that person together because that’s how I view it and ensuring we were on the same page.

Question: How to manage a manger that doesn't want to change - Rachel

(and from Michelle: After years of not clicking with your manager, when is it time to resign and move on?)

Kim Brown Strickland answers: This is a tough one and I have had a couple of mentees with this situation before. Its not an easy decision. At Walmart, we have an open door policy that allows you to have conversations openly with potentially your boss’s boss or even up to the CEO. So, at some point, you have to know when its time to escalate the problem. However, I’m not saying this always works, it could just be a personality/style conflict and only you know what you can live with. I have been very fortunate never to have been in this situation but know people who have and it’s generally a fairly long, fairly frustrating process. The key is that you have to happy with whatever you are doing so only you can decide when enough is enough.

Question: How do you get a "break-through" when it seems the "daily tactics" are overwhelming the strategic direction? - Kathy

Kim Brown Strickland answers: I agree that sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. When you get to the point where you are doing things just to be doing them and they no longer seem to align to the strategic direction, you need to stop and take a step back to re-evaluate what’s important and what’s effective and challenge the process.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Learn how to break into leadership, Orlando, September 17 2010

Join me on September 17 in Orlando for Poised for Leadership, and discover what it takes to break into leadership.

Poised for Leadership is a one-day workshop for women who want to create a roadmap into positions of responsibility, influence and leadership.

Register now, to discover what it really takes for you to break through into leadership. You will learn how to:

* Project a seasoned, credible leadership presence
* Gain visibility and reward for your accomplishments
* Build a reputation as a leader, expert or go-to person
* Understand the dynamics of power in your organization
* Navigate organizational politics with savvy
* Build an influential network
* Leverage your network to gain access to hidden resources, information and opportunities
* Cultivate influence and get buy-in for ideas and initiatives
* Create, envision and lead high-profile projects.

Poised for Leadership is receiving rave reviews from women across the US and Canada. One 2009 participant wrote:

"... a month ago I was promoted to a Senior Manager position, three months after attending Poised for Leadership. The takeaways from the workshop have tangibly accelerated my career advancement. Thanks for offering such a valuable resource to women leaders."

September 17, 9:00am - 4:30pm
Symantec Corporation, 801 International Parkway, Heathrow, FL.
Sponsor: Symantec Corporation

Register now, for $259

Sunday, August 15, 2010

From the article archive: How Smart Women Win at Office Politics

By Jo Miller, 2006

Do you enjoy dealing with office politics?

Becoming politically savvy is not always viewed as a wholesome, worthy goal. The mere mention of the word "politics" triggers negative connotations.

A Senior Finance Manager had said "I refuse to schmooze and manipulate to get ahead". Yet she was frustrated after she was passed over for promotion twice. The two male colleagues who were promoted ahead of her were less qualified, but excelled at politicking.

In her article titled Seven Career Killers, author Erin Burt warns "avoiding politics altogether can be deadly for your career. Every workplace has an intricate system of power, and you can -- and should -- work it ethically to your best advantage." By becoming politically adept you can learn to:

  • Rise above power plays and interpersonal conflicts

  • Build a reputation as a go-to person, expert, or leader

  • Gain access to resources, information and opportunities

  • Influence outcomes and get buy-in for ideas and initiatives.

As you acquire the ability to navigate office politics effectively, I encourage you to let go of negative assumptions about office politics, and consider these alternate perspectives:

New Perspective #1:
Replace the word "Politics" with the term "Organizational Awareness". Doesn't that sound better already?

New Perspective #2:
Workplace politics is all about understanding communication and relationships, which women can excel at.

New Perspective #3:
Make a personal commitment to use your organizational awareness in a way that is ethical and authentic.

Now that you are armed with a positive perspective, consider taking the following steps to use office politics to your strategic advantage.

Step 1: Map the Shadow Organization
In parallel to a company's traditional hierarchical organizational chart there exists what is known as a shadow organization. The shadow organization is an unofficial, informal network of relationships and coalitions. Understand your shadow organization and you will understand how power and influence play out.

Investigate your shadow organization by playing the role of observer, as though you are a corporate anthropologist. Notice who has influence, who gets along with whom. Discover who is respected and who champions others. Who are the hubs of social interaction and corporate intelligence? Find out who really gets things done.

Create a visual map showing all key players. Classify every interrelationship, noting whether it is built on friendliness, advocacy, respect, or coercion. Note the strength of each connection, and the direction in which influence flows.

For example, when a Project Manager mapped her shadow organization, she discovered she had strong bonds with peers, but not with higher-ups.

Step 2: Build Relationships
Identify people with whom to build relationships. Take at least one month to build your network without imposing an agenda on any of the relationships.

A Manager of Human Resources went out of her way to build strong ties with her company's marketing department after she noticed they were always first to hear about new products and trends. Having access to this information allowed her to gain greater credibility in her own department, where she is now has a reputation as having a finger on the pulse of the business.

Step 3: Leverage Your Network
After relationships mature, your network can help you accomplish valuable goals and influence. For example, you can use your network to build visibility, improve difficult relationships, gain access to information, and attract opportunities.

Employing these perspectives and steps worked well for the Senior Manager of Finance who was passed over for promotion. She knew that her boss and her team did not recognize her value to the company. By mapping out relationships and spheres of influence she realized how to gain recognition and influence. Her most recent research topic was a hot-button issue for her VP, so she mentioned her findings to him in passing. At an all-hands meeting, he singled her out for praise, and recommended that their entire organization could learn from her focus on their business objectives. She continues to build her relationship with the VP by continuing to update him on her progress.

By changing your perspective on politics, and using your network, you can dramatically improve your opportunities for recognition and advancement.

Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching Inc, helps women create their roadmap into leadership positions in business, with workshops, webinars and executive coaching. To learn more, visit

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pictures from Poised for Leadership, Minneapolis, June 11 2010

Tanuja Korlepra of Symantec just sent me the photographs taken at the June 11 Poised for Leadership workshop, sponsored by Symantec in Minneapolis.

You can see more here >>

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Read the latest edition of Women's Leadership News

In the latest edition of our e-newsletter, Women's Leadership News, you will find:
  • Article: The Greatest Career Roadblock
  • Emerging Women Leaders Webinar Series
  • Webinar Recording from Aug 6
  • Upcoming Events
Read the newsletter here>>

Monday, August 9, 2010

Do you have a go-to introduction?

Selena Rezvani is the author of The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School.

Selena writes "When it comes to work, it matters how you present yourself at every turn. So what is presence and why does it matter? Presence is about carrying yourself in such a way that you are seen as credible and truly heard."

For advice on using a 30-second commercial to build a credible presence and harnesses the influence of your position and job title,
read Selena's article here >>

Friday, August 6, 2010

Webinar recording is now available: How to demonstrate your leadership potential when you don’t have a leadership job title

Sorry if you missed the webinar earlier today. We had to close registration after reaching capacity of 1,000 participants.

If you missed out, visit this link for a description of the program, and for
immediate access to the recording >>

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Free leadership webinar tomorrow! Friday, August 6th

Are you the best-kept secret in your organization?

Join me for a special webinar event and discover...

4 Steps to Break Out of the Emerging Leader’s Quandary
(How to demonstrate your leadership potential when you don’t have a leadership job title)

Friday August 6th 2010
1pm Eastern (12 noon Central, 10am Pacific)

Click here for more information and to register >>

Monday, August 2, 2010

Schiff Hardin Women's Networking Group (WNG) reports on the Poised for Leadership workshop

On May 24, 2010, a high-energy group of 35 professional women came together to network, learn strategies to advance their careers, and support each other to take action in a leadership training seminar sponsored by Schiff Hardin LLP and Women's Leadership Coaching, Inc.

Read the full article from the Schiff Hardin Women's Networking Group (WNG)
newsletter >>