Thursday, May 29, 2014

Leadership: The Feminine Way Forward

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Leadership is no longer a man’s game. Despite the statistics suggesting that women are still the second sex in boardrooms and senior positions across the world, it seems that the leaders that are succeeding have embraced the female way of ruling

The Leadership Communication Monitor 2014 surveyed 6,500 people in 13 countries across 5 continents on the subjects of effective leadership and communication, finding that although “the world may look more to male leaders, female leaders top the charts in all the areas that matter most”.

Jo Miller, one of the foremost career coaches in the US with her company Women’s Leadership Coaching, highlights similar studies done several years ago, which yielded equally promising results…

Jo advises career women and executives all across the world on how to be become a leader and she is adamant that leadership, like confidence, is about authenticity.

Read the article at Business O Feminin.

Influencing Upward: The Skill You Need to Get Ahead

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Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you just can’t get through to your boss?

Maybe you had what you thought was a breakthrough business idea get shot down before you could even really get into the details.

Read Jo Miller’s article for The Daily Muse.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Know Your Niche: 5 Leadership Quotes about Finding Your Career Sweet Spot

Have you ever asked yourself What's my career superpower? Okay, maybe not, but before you roll your eyes at the suggestion, heres something I have discovered: seasoned leaders are able to succinctly articulate what they do well, why their skills are uniquely valuable, and how this differentiates them from their peers. It is one reason why they are where they are today.

So before climbing the career ladder, it can be helpful to ask yourself, “Is my ladder propped against the right building?” In other words, what is your niche? Don’t just focus on getting the next job. Sustainable, long-term advancement comes more easily when you set out on the right career trajectory in the first place.

Instead of committing yourself to simply “getting ahead,” do some serious self-reflection and identify a career “sweet spot,” or niche, that fits your passions, values, and strengths—and is sought after by your company or industry.

To help you find your sweet spot, I’ve corralled some of my favorite leadership quotes and gathered them here to help you systematically drill down to find the secret ingredient in your professional awesomesauce.

1. Know your vision, values, and goals

Romea Smith is the Senior Vice President of Customer Support for CA Technologies. Romea suggests that you, Establish your personal vision, values, and goals because if you have those, you know where you want to go. It helps you to see when there are opportunities that fit in with that vision. It keeps you from going on a path that is not consistent with what you believe in.”

Romea continues, “If we have a clear idea of what our personal values are, then we don’t take on things that cause us to sacrifice our self-esteem or integrity. We know exactly what we need to sustain us and to fulfill the goals that we have set out to achieve, and we apologize to no one for that. Knowing our own personal values allows us to understand how the organizational values align with our own.”

2. Identify your passion and where it fits

Sharell Sandvoss is the Vice President and Finance Director Europe for Brown-Forman Beverages, whose portfolio includes such brands as Jack Daniels, Canadian Mist and Southern Comfort. With a passion for fine spirits and bold leadership, Sharell is a perfect fit for the organizational vision of her company.

But what about you? What is your niche and how can it help you and your company grow together? To find out, Sharell suggests, “Know your passion and evaluate how it fits with your role, your company, and the strategy of the company. Make sure you’re comfortable doing what it is that you want to do. It’s the best for you, your company, and your career in general.”

3. Develop your own style

As the Territory Services Leader for IBM, Debra Aerne knows both the value of leadership and of crafting one’s own style while moving up the corporate ladder. Indeed, that’s her advice for emerging leaders: “Develop your own style,” she recommends. “Figure out what works for you and mold the process to match your strengths. Building on that style, be thoughtful and define what success means to you. Don’t look at how other people do it and try to emulate that because if it’s not genuine, it won’t be true, and it won’t reflect well on you.”

4. Know what you’re not good at

Jill Jones is Executive Vice President and President, North America and Latin America for the Brown-Forman Corporation. Jill believes strongly that you should, “Know what you are good at and what you are not good at. Before you take a job,” she warns, “sit down and ask yourself, ‘What am I really, really good at and what do I need to develop?’ Then ask, ‘What does the job call for, and am I a good match for that? Can I be successful?’ If it is not a good match, will you be able to develop that skill set? That is the first hurdle.”

5. Know yourself and be authentic

Dara Bazzano Jones, VP of Finance, Controller, GAP Inc., has the final word when it comes to identifying your career sweet spot, and it’s a fitting message for any stage of your career.

“Know yourself and be authentic,” she says. “People know when you’re a fake, and they’re not going to trust or respect you if that’s the case. So, be who it is that you are. You’ll be amazed at how much further you’ll get within an organization when you embrace being yourself.”

This starts with being real about the job, the opportunity it presents, and whether or not it’s the right fit. Finally, Dara suggests, “If your skill sets match up to the job, then ask yourself, ‘Is this someone I want to work for?’ Even if you have everything worked out, even if it’s a promotion, if you don’t want to work for this person, in the end, it either breaks your spirit, or you don’t succeed.”

The Takeaway: Whats Your Sweet Spot?

Now put it all together to identify your ideal career niche. Ask yourself: What could you be doing more of in your career that aligns your passions and strengths? Is there something youre great at, that you could do in your own authentic style? Would it be possible to maneuver into a role or career path where you get to do all of that, while delivering a service to your company or industry that will have you be sought after and highly valued?

Once you find it, Kieth Cockrell, Divestiture Executive with Bank of America would encourage you to stick with it, and make a difference. “Do your best to stay in your leadership sweet spot,” he urges, “because its not work; its not hard for you; it just comes very naturally and you have the opportunity to be impactful.” 

So before you take your next step up the corporate ladder, make sure it’s in the direction of your sweet spot!

Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. and a leading authority on women’s leadership.

Are you a rising women of influence? To have leadership articles and advice delivered to your inbox, sign up for Jo’s newsletter. Or follow Jo on Twitter at @womensleadershp.

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Andrea Bond, Southwestern Energy

Name: Andrea Bond
Current title: Community Relations Manager
Company: Southwestern Energy
Favorite leadership quote: “Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.”–John C. Maxwell

Editor’s note: While serving in Iraq, Captain Andrea Bond earned her place in history as part of the first all-female Blackhawk mission. Read all the details here.

What key steps did you take to get to the role you are in today?
I took an opportunity and ran with it! Southwestern Energy (SWN) is my first “real job” outside of the military. I have worked for the military for so many years that the thought of working in a corporate environment was intimidating to me. I was excited but nervous at the same time.

Taking this position required me to relocate from Minnesota to Texas. It was a difficult decision for me to move away from family but I believe in living my life with the concept that I would rather try and fail, than live with the regret of not trying at all.

I remain focused and dedicated to achieving my personal and professional goals by believing in myself and knowing that I have a great deal to offer SWN and the industry. Plus the companys environment is supportive and encouraging of its employees, in regard to personal and professional development, which makes it a great place to work.

Image credit: Eric Bowen



What is your leadership style?
I am an involved leader. When I was deployed to Iraq, my soldiers addressed me as Ma’am or Mom (depending on the circumstances) which was an honor. It confirmed that they respected my leadership abilities and trusted me to be a supportive confidante.

Image credit: Eric Bowen

 “ parents instilled the value of teamwork, hard work, getting the job done right, being creative and innovative and caring about others...

What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?

My upbringing taught me the most about success. I grew up on a dairy farm in Southwest Minnesota where my parents instilled the value of teamwork, hard work, getting the job done right, being creative and innovative and caring about others along the way.

Also, my military background has been crucial to my success. Being in the service, trained me to trust and challenge myself, as well as, to make decisions and execute them in various levels and situations.

What is the next step you plan to take in your career to develop your leadership skills?
Due to the fact that I am just starting out in the oil and gas industry, my main goal is to educate myself on topics that are important to the business. I plan to do this by researching and studying on my own but also through networking and professional education events and courses, which has enabled me to learn more about industry and the company.

I am energized by the thought that no one can take better care of yourself or your career than YOU!!!

Recently, you attended Jo Miller’s session, Take Charge of Your Career Trajectory, hosted by Southwestern Energy in Houston, TX. What did you gain from the class that you will use moving forward in your career?
By attending Jo’s session I am reminded that networking is so important and that I should never stop communicating or collaborating!

Also, it was great to see people in attendance become inspired and motivated and I believe they are both vital to personal and team victories.

Finally, I am energized by the thought that no one can take better care of yourself or your career than YOU!!!”

The Top Five Most-Read Articles This Month

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In case you didn’t get a chance to browse the women’s leadership blog in the past month, here are the top five most-read articles.

8 Ways to Stay Motivated and Engaged at Work (slide show) (273 views)

2. 5 Ways to Motivate Yourself (and Everyone Around You) (172 views) 

3.  Why Avoiding Office Politics Could Hurt You More Than You Know (161 views)

4.  How to Lead in a Meeting When You’re Not the Leader

5.  Are You On Fire… Or Burned Out? What Top Leaders Do to Stay Motivated and Engaged at Work

See you next month!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

5 Ways to Motivate Yourself (and Everyone Around You)

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To be seen as a leader at work, you’ll need the drive to consistently deliver superior results, the energy reserves to give a your colleagues a boost when they have a tough day, and the mental agility to be at the top of your game when you interact with senior leaders—so that they know you’re up for bigger challenges.

But, when you face the same ups and downs as everyone else in the office, it’s easier said than done. So what can be done to motivate the motivator?

Read Jo Miller’s article for The Daily Muse.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why Avoiding Office Politics Could Hurt You More Than You Know

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Imagine that you’ve worked your butt off to position yourself for a promotion. You took a job you were more than qualified for because you believed in the company, took the projects no one else wanted and knocked them out of the park, and even mentored new teammates until they became self-sufficient stars.

But despite your hard work, there may be one more hurdle standing in your way: office politics.

Read Jo Miller
s article for The Daily Muse.