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

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!

How to be a confident public speaker

Being able to speak well and learning how to be a confident public speaker is one of the most valuable skills we can have as we advance in our career. Throughout your career you will need to speak in meetings, share ideas, reports, present in front of your team or other teams; speak in front of your boss or their boss or maybe even an entire board of directors. How you deliver you content and how your story get received could go a long way towards your advancement and success within the organization.

With this in mind, here a several important concepts to consider as you prepare your next presentation:

  1. Know your stuff
  2. Rehearse your presentation
  3. Open with a teaser or an icebreaker
  4. Close with a strong message
  5. Pay attention to your body language
  6. Engage your audience (look at them, smile…)

Finally, and most importantly, believe in yourself and keep practicing. You will do great!

Your major goals shouldn’t be trusted to New Year’s resolutions

Another year is here, and most of us are looking over our resolutions and feel energized about all these potential accomplishments that lie ahead. However, if we fast forward a few months, the majority of people will no longer be as excited or as motivated to follow though and stick to making these resolutions a reality.

Why is this happening to so many of us?

People will often tie changes to the beginning of a new year/month/week, to a particular calendar date (because it feels like a fresh start) which on its own isn’t a strong motivator to really see them through. What works better is understanding the following areas and honestly answering the following questions:

  1. Why are these goals important to you? What is the value at the end of the road?
  2. Do you really want to succeed? If so, keep your goals visible at all times.
  3. Prioritize your goals and limit your initial list to 5-7 major goals.

Now, that you know what you want and why you want it, go after it and make 2015 your best year yet. Good luck!

Focus on your personal strengths and hire your weaknesses

Focus on your personal strengths and hire your weaknesses. Each of us have different skills and talents and we should leverage them for our success. These qualities will complement qualities of others as you build or join teams and with everyone working together towards a unified vision, success is guaranteed.

Contrary to what you may have heard in the past, don’t waste too much time (if any) on your weaknesses and surround yourself with people whose strengths are your weaknesses. Focus on your strengths, continue advancing and improving them as you move forward and continue to grow, learn and make progress.

Age is just a number, don’t let it limit your growth

Your experience, skills and education matter more than how old you are. The quality you bring to a team depends on your past performance and your track record, not when you were born so please stop using it as a self-limiting factor in advancing and moving forward.

You are never too young or too old to make a career move. You are either ready or not; qualified or not, but never too young or too old.

Prerequisite for success: transparent leadership

In order for a team to work well together, leadership must be transparent. Leaders need to keep the entire team on the same page; have them collaborate; back each other and move in unison towards mutually agreed-upon goals. Transparent leadership where vision, mission and decisions are clearly communicated and supported with valid facts and arguments is a must for all teams which aim to realize their full potential.

Include people in the decision making process, collaborate and once a decision is made, make it clear to everyone on your team.