Elevating your leadership | If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

Why avoiding conflict can hurt you and others

Avoiding conflicts is generally a solid advice to follow. However, at times, disagreements (perhaps a better term) are unavoidable. By this I refer to those moments when someone needs to speak up in support of others and with collaboration and progress in mind.

However, even during these disagreements one needs to remain professional, respectful and polite, but the points of value must be made effectively. Remember that no single individual should be able to stop much needed progress and advancement for hundreds or thousands of people. Similarly, if you have an opportunity to make such changes please make sure you do so for the benefit of those who may not be able to voice their concerns.

Focusing on success and managing project expectations

Project management is an acquired skill, one that doesn’t come over night and is certainly not for everyone. As you are joining new project teams it is essential to do so with an open mind without any prejudices or preconceived notions.

Listen to all ideas, think about them and consider them seriously. Learn from past collective experience, but leave any disagreements where they belong, in the past. Move forward with your eyes on the success of that project and manage project expectations along the way. You can never communicate enough to all those involved to ensure that everyone understands what their contributions are and what the final outcome needs to be.

Work together, collaborate and achieve success.

Top 3 areas to focus on at a new job

Top 3 areas to focus on at a new job may vary when it comes to specifics and details. However, the overall theme of the three areas that deserve and need you attention once you join a new organization are:

  1. Meet your coworkers – learn what their hopes, goals and ideas are. Leverage their institutional knowledge and experience in adapting and adjusting accordingly to your new culture and environment.
  2. Learn everything – familiarize yourself with agreements, contracts, operating procedures, budget…read everything you have access to.
  3. Meet people outside your team – proactively request to meet with people to learn what their needs are, what matters to them and how you and your team can provide value.

Once all of this is done, and you have an understanding how you can be of value to the organization, the real work begins. Good luck!

Client experience is the starting point

Client experience is the starting point of all service offerings. When designing services to support your organization it is essential to start with the experience of your users (both internal and external) in mind.

Once you are aware how your services impact the lives or responsibilities of others that’s when you reverse engineer the process to make sure proper people and resources are allocated in order to ensure success. Services can be centralized, federated or distributed, but they should never fragment user experience and negatively impact organizational performance.

Make progress and don’t compare yourself to others

Make progress, don’t chase perfection and most importantly don’t compare yourself to others. Move towards your goals each day and don’t get discouraged by seeing someone who is at this time further along the path than you may be. Most of them have started from zero, and with time, effort, hustle and commitment have advanced to their present state. You too can get there and can even eclipse them should you decide to focus on yourself, your skills and your daily contributions.

Work to achieve your goals, and don’t waste time looking at goals of others.

Organizational mission sets all calendars

Business side of your organization sets the calendars of all others. This can happen directly or indirectly, but all functional areas need to be aware of the core mission of their business and act in support of it.

In my particular case, in higher education, academic calendar sets our IT calendar and has a significant impact as to how and when we proceed with some of our responsibilities. This particularly comes into play during midterms and finals as well as during important events across campus. During these times we can’t have any planned outages (unplanned outages are a different beast entirely) as they would negatively impact the primary mission of our university, student education. Same goes across most industries and as such it is essential to be aware of the primary calendar of events in order to continue to provide value to the entire organization.

Communicate, collaborate and work together towards common vision and goals.

Today’s setbacks don’t define your future success

Overcoming personal and professional setbacks is part of life. It is one of those “absolute truths” in a sense that life is not always smooth, easy and doesn’t develop according to plan. Having said that, what we do with those setbacks and how we react to them is of even greater importance.

It is important to understand that nearly all setbacks are temporary. They may stop you progress or even send you back several steps, but they don’t define your future, they don’t define what you are capable of achieving.

Get back up, refocus and continue your progress with determination, drive and passion.

Career advice: be thoughtful and intentional, be strategic

When it comes to your career and your professional future (same goes for many personal goals as well) it is essential to be thoughtful, intentional and strategic. Think long and hard about where you would like to be in 10, 15 or even 20 years and then design your strategic plan. Once you have identified your current professional summit (as it may change with time) you will need to break down the path leading to that destination into smaller, more manageable steps.

In order to accomplish this future goal you need to consider two general areas that require your action:

First, look at people currently in that position in your own firm or in other comparable firms within your industry and research how they got there. What steps did they have to take to build experience, knowledge and credibility to be able to earn a shot at the position you want in your future.

Second, plan your path to that goal and work on continuously expanding your knowledge and experience and continue advancing into positions of increasing responsibilities in a progressive manner. Your trajectory needs to be focused on your ultimate goal, yet flexible enough for adjustments when challenges come your way (and they will come).

Finally, build credibility and demonstrate commitment to firms you work for by spending several years there and providing value to those you work with. If you are what my friends and I call a “jumper” (someone who leaves every 6-12 months) at some point this might begin to count against you as prospective employers will see you as a “liability” of sorts. Most hiring managers don’t want to search for the same position every few months and go through hundreds of resumes while losing stability and continuity of their teams.

Remember, be thoughtful and intentional, be strategic!

We are all in customer service

No matter what you do, what your title or position says, part of your responsibilities is customer service. In order to create organizational culture where everyone is on the same page and provides consistent level of quality to clients (both internal and external) each team member must understand that their interactions with customers matter.

All of us must embrace this mindset for the sake of both organizational as well as personal benefits and goals. Furthermore, in order to advance professionally, one of the cornerstones of success is familiarity with people in your organization and excellent customer service.

Be fearless and connect to your inner child

Connect to your inner child to reinvigorate your determination, belief and focus in order to continue after your goals with even greater energy.

Don’t you remember how fearless you were as a child and how much fun you had going after the things you wanted (putting aside the times you got in trouble for a moment)? Better yet, if you have kids (toddlers in particular) all you have to do is look at them to see this level of belief, intensity and determination toward accomplishing their goals (irrespective of obstacles that lie in front of them).

We all had this at some point, but many have lost it as we “grew up” and our responsibilities have increased. While we should continue to be responsible, we should also find ways to relocate this drive, attention and motivation in order to accomplish what we truly believe in and what we want deep inside.

Go after your dreams, your goals and be fearless!