Friday, April 26, 2013

Take Charge of Your Career Trajectory! Group coaching program starts May 16, 2013

Don't be the best-kept secret in your organization! Join me starting May 16 to build your brand as an emerging leader and take charge of your career trajectory.

In this six week virtual group coaching program, I'll be breaking my highly-rated Poised for Leadership curriculum into the simplest steps so that you have time and guidance to put all of it into action. You'll set new goals for your career advancement, review and practice career-accelerating skills, solidify your 'brand' as an emerging leader, and translate your career development plan into action!

You'll have my support to:
  • Build your brand as an emerging leader
  • Gain recognition for your accomplishments
  • Make your value visible
  • Navigate organizational politics with savvy
  • Create a strategic network of influence
  • Gain access to hidden resources and opportunities
  • Identify and lead high-profile projects
  • Lead others, with or without direct authority.

  • Master the skills that help emerging leaders advance, with six leadership topics in video format. Receive one topic per week.
  • Get coaching! Join four high-impact one-hour group coaching teleconferences.

Introduction: * The greatest roadblock to career advancement * Why you need to take charge of your career trajectory * Goals for this program

Getting the lay of the land: * Shadow organization map * How to overcome office politics * Navigate with organizational awareness

Your career sweet spot: * Three essential elements of a great personal brand * Your ideal career niche

Your leadership brand: * Making your brand scalable * Your leadership brand statement
Making your value visible: * Steps to making your brand visible * Career-defining projects * Promote your accomplishments

Leading others: * Making the leap from doing to leading * Leading others, with or without direct authority

Your sphere of influence: * Strategic networking plan * 5 key people you need to have in your network

Coaching teleconferences, 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. Central time (3-4 p.m. Eastern, 12 - 1 p.m. Pacific)
  • Thursday, May 16 (Can't make the first call? Join a catch-up call Monday May 20, 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Central.)
  • Thursday, May 30
  • Thursday, June 13
  • Thursday, June 27

COST  Only $199 for the six week program.

REGISTER NOW!  Places are limited, so reserve your place now.

You can do it! You don't have to be the best kept secret in your organization. You can take charge of your career trajectory, and in this group coaching program I'll show you how.
Jo Miller
Women's Leadership Coaching, Inc.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Told You’re Not Aggressive Enough? Here’s What To Do.

Question: I had my midyear review and received feedback that I am not perceived as being aggressive enough. They would like me to be more aggressive, push back, and challenge my leaders’ ideas. I have a concern about this. My experience is that women can be labeled quickly if too aggressive. Frankly, this can make people uncomfortable. This can be especially true for women of color like myself. Do you know of any resources that might help me have a stronger presence without having to walk the line of aggression?

Jo Miller answers:
I think you were just given a compliment, although a backhanded one, that is wrapped in confusing developmental feedback. The compliment is that your management thinks there’s more to you than you let on. You are being praised for your solid instincts, but challenged to bust out of your comfort zone, speak up, and add value. You’re being encouraged to act less like a high-performing team player and more like a leader. They think it is time for you to transition from doing to leading, and have identified your lack of “aggression” as the gap. But confusingly, your manager said “be more aggressive” rather than giving more detailed, useful feedback.

First, re-frame what you think “aggressive “means

Is it possible that aggressive doesn't mean what you think it means?Ask your manager to provide some additional adjectives or behaviors to describe exactly what they want you to do differently. For example, one woman I know was asked to be more aggressive by her employer, and in return she asked for a more detailed explanation. By doing that, she learned that what they actually wanted her to do was summarize the team’s to-do items at the end of a conference call, then follow-up next time to check on completion. If she had run with the earlier feedback and demonstrated aggression it could well have backfired!

You should also observe people you work with, especially the women leaders you admire. What specific actions and phrases do they use that result in them being perceived by others as constructively bold, opinionated, provocative and disruptive, taking the lead, and taking charge? Can you identify anyone who does this well, in a way that others appreciate and follow? What assertive leadership behaviors get rewarded in the team culture that you are a part of?

Combine power phrases with an open demeanor
To cultivate a stronger leadership presence without being perceived as negatively aggressive, use “power phrases” combined with your usual open, inclusive tone of voice and body language.

One leader who does this well is Donna Fujimoto Cole, founder and CEO of Cole Chemical, who has said that a leader needs to “Communicate well and communicate quickly.” Cole believes that good relationships make the business world go round. She is highly personable and strong leader and driver. A resource she highly recommends is The Leader Phrase Book by Patrick Alain. It includes phrases to use to speak like a leader when opening a topic for debate, saying no to your boss, disagreeing with someone, and what to say when someone is avoiding a topic.

With this communication style in mind, challenge yourself to speak up at least 25% more frequently than you did in the past, and make sure that you are regularly challenging your leaders’ thinking and assumptions. They want you to speak up so that your team can benefit from the wisdom you’re currently keeping under wraps.

Don’t let the little leadership opportunities pass you by
If you look carefully, you’ll see lots of little opportunities to take charge. Perhaps in the past you may have passively watched those moments go by, assuming someone else will take the lead. I want you get used to recognizing situations where there is a gap in leadership. Seize these opportunities speak up! Assume you are the ideal person to fill that gap with your management’s support.

Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. Wondering how to become a leader? Join Jo at the Poised for Leadership workshop, May 29 in Sunnyvale, CA.


Emerging Leader Spotlight: Christina Roberts.

 Turn yourself into a knowledge base – a go-to person.” 
- Christina Roberts.

Name: Christina Roberts, MBA
Company: Siemens Energy

Current title:
Business Improvement, Project Management, Wind Power; Chair of the Women’s Information Network
Favorite quote: Dress the part you want to be.

What is your leadership style?
I consider my leadership style to be very open and all inclusive in the way I work. I am a planner and try to be detail oriented so I take the time to review tasks and delegate when the task fits. I think most people, on all the teams I participate on or lead, are very comfortable approaching me and asking for whatever they need and I think it is important to support one another in this way.
“... Find a sponsor or champion... and make sure
you pay it forward.
What are some top tips you can recommend to other women who want to be recognized as a high potential emerging leader?
I think being educated is key. I’m the biggest proponent of education and not just in the academic sense.  Take the time to obtain your degree or an advanced degree, do not pass up training opportunities and learn other aspects of the business outside of your daily job. Shadow someone if you can, and turn yourself into a knowledge base – a go-to person.

Find a “sponsor or champion.” Mentors are key and wonderful to have but work on cultivating that into a stronger relationship where they also become your cheerleader. They will help find opportunities to throw your name out when possible and getting you some recognition. Also, make sure you pay it forward and do the same for someone else when you are in a position to do so.


“... it is important to know who you are working with and what is going on around you.”

What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?
I have an amazing manager and she has been an awesome resource in supporting my development and allowing me to grow and advance. I also have an external mentor and champion who I talk with regularly to get different perspectives on all things, not just work. These two resources are also great friends of mine and they are extremely supportive of my personal and professional successes. I value their opinion and guidance.

I have set up a strong network within Siemens, from all areas of our business. If I see someone new in the hallway, I take the time to stop them and introduce myself and find out who they are.  I feel it is important to know who you are working with and what is going on around you. All of these people could be or already are a valuable resource and I try to make sure I am a resource for others.

What steps are you currently taking to improve yourself, professionally?

Currently, I am working on some Six Sigma projects and I have just recently finished my Green Belt training. I have already completed a LEAN project and I am leading a Green Belt project to help my organization, hopefully, save a lot of money by making continuous improvements. My Green Belt project started out as a focus on the United States region but now it has expanded its reach globally to several of our other businesses in other regions.

Over the past year I have also been able to take on a larger role in Siemens Wind Power’s global community by acting as a representative for my Division’s project management department on several global projects. I enjoy traveling and love having the opportunity to work on more complex global projects. These new challenges are definitely giving me the opportunity to develop new skills and polish my current skill set.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

From the Article Archive: When to Say “No” to Stretch Assignments.

Question: A mentor told me that volunteering for stretch assignments will help improve my career. I took on three new projects and now I am not getting any sleep. Help!
Answer: Your mentor gave you sound advice.
Two weeks ago in a webinar for women in the energy industry, I interviewed a partner in a consulting firm who stated categorically, “I wouldn’t be in the position I am if I hadn’t had the courage to step into leading activities that were not in my area of expertise.”
If you are like most women, you will reach a point in your career where you find that you can’t advance to the next without being able to show that you have relevant experience; but as everybody knows, you can’t get the experience without the job.
One ideal way to demonstrate that you have potential to grow beyond your current job is to take on “stretch” assignments. By volunteering for additional roles and responsibilities, you can learn new skills, make your talents visible to your leaders, and demonstrate your readiness to step into a role that goes beyond the one you are currently in.
One leader who has consistently taken on such assignments throughout her career is Debra Aerne, Territory Services Leader at IBM. Aerne said that there have been countless times throughout her career when she has voluntarily taken on a project that was beyond the scope of her job description.
“What I have tended to do is to volunteer for things that are of interest to me that will help me and help the organization, that I can have some fun delivering, while I get recognized for my work in the meantime.”
The projects Aerne volunteered for are too numerous to list here, but they include producing a film, coaching younger staff, managing student interns, creating new change management and product development methodologies, making annual presentations at National Manufacturing Week, and being published in numerous industry journals. “None of this was part of my formal role,” she clarified.
Aerne’s career benefited from these projects as she strengthened her grasp of new subject matter and gained visibility with her leadership team. At the same time, she personally gained a great deal of satisfaction and fulfillment. “I was having fun; I was doing something that would help me and others; and I was recognized by my leadership for taking the initiative.”
Despite all the benefits of volunteering for stretch assignments, there are times when the extra workload can work against you. How is it that women like Aerne use these opportunities to leap forward, while others just burn out? The key is to be highly selective. If you are going to take on responsibilities outside the bounds of your job description (and I hope that you do), you must choose strategically.
One common career misstep that many women make is accepting too many low-visibility assignments which require them to work long hours without gaining the benefits of recognition and skills growth that a true ‘stretch assignment’ would bring. Here’s a checklist for when to diplomatically say “no.”
When to say “no” to stretch assignments
Don’t volunteer for:
  • Assignments that stretch you too thin. Look instead for projects that stretch you without overwhelming you, so that you can deliver a consistently high quality of work.
  • Assignments that don’t meaningfully expand your network. Stay away from projects that are all about work and have no networking opportunities. Go after projects where you can build stronger working relationships and demonstrate your expertise to leaders, sponsors, and other stakeholders.
  • Assignments that don't build your strengths. best stretch assignment is one that requires you to build business acumen, new technical skills or leadership skills. Don’t volunteer unless a project has the potential to expand your ideal skill set and lets you demonstrate your potential to go beyond the job you are currently in.
  • Assignments that don’t build the reputation you want to be known for. Say no to projects that don’t align with the “brand” you are trying to build.
Be ruthless but diplomatic about turning down assignments that do not align with where you want to go next in your career.
One caveat is that there are times when it is politically wise to say “yes” to a project that you otherwise wouldn’t want to work on. In those situations it won’t do your career any favors to say no. Instead, be a team player and accept the challenge. Deliver great work, and leverage the situation to negotiate the next project that you do want to work on.
True stretch assignments are those that allow you to demonstrate a level of skill above and beyond your current job description and make your abilities and accomplishments visible to people who need to know about you. Be highly selective and take on one assignment not three. You’ll get all of the benefits and none of the burnout.
Debra Aerne was a guest speaker in the webinar about “Managing Others, With or Without Direct Authority”, part of the Emerging Women Leaders Webinar Series.
Members, log in now to view the webinar recording.
Not a member yet? Join now for immediate access to the webinar.