Saying Yes to High Visibility Projects – Five Steps to Visible Success

Saying Yes to High Visibility Projects – Five Steps to Visible Success

No matter whether you are just starting out in your career or about to retire, saying “yes” to high visibility projects should be at the top of your list of priorities. For those starting out, it indicates willingness and motivation. It helps mark you out as a future leader. For mid-career leaders, taking on high visibility projects can accelerate your progression, open up additional responsibilities and opportunities and signal your interest for executive leadership roles. And for those considering retirement, and thinking about a different kind of future, high visibility projects can provide a lasting career legacy while also acting as a beacon for younger leaders. High visibility projects are important – particularly for women – as a HBR article by Shelley Correll and Lori Mackenzie points out, for those wanting to succeed in a corporate environment, visibility is the single most important factor: More than technical competence, business results, or team leadership ability — these leaders agreed — visibility is the most important factor for advancement But before you can say “yes” to a high visibility project, there is some work that needs to be done. Let’s take a look at the five steps to visible success: Start with a small success: We all like to make a “splash”, but taking on a large challenge also comes with risk and additional pressure. Volunteering to present at the national sales kickoff, for example, will put you squarely in the line of sight of your organization’s leadership. They will know your name, voice and the way you move on stage. They will scrutinize your presentation and speech – and this...
Come Drive with Me

Come Drive with Me

Today I walked out of the office and into the fresh air. I stopped, looked across the parking lot, looked to the sky and began to walk. I took my time. I took long, deep breaths and felt the clear, unfiltered air filling my body. My head cleared and I scanned the horizon. What was in front of me? Opportunity as far as I can see. Sometimes I drive alone, and sometimes I travel with colleagues. I am always interested to observe the way that people change once they step outside of the office. Do they loosen their ties? Run their fingers through their hair? Do they take a moment to pause and take in the world around them? I particularly like it when there is more than two of us. Three or four is great. We get to my car and I wait and watch, Who will take the passenger seat? Who offers to sit in back? Is this a transaction or an experience? It is a small thing, but it is important. It reveals plenty. This episode reminded me of Seth Godin’s recent article on the “front row culture”. It is a style of culture that I very much strive to foster: The group files into the theater, buzzing. People hustle to get to the front row, sitting side by side, no empty seats. The event starts on time, the excitement is palpable. The other group wanders in. The front row is empty and stays that way. There are two or even three empty seats between each individual. The room is sort of dead. In both cases,...
Three Degrees of Separation and the Compassionate Leader

Three Degrees of Separation and the Compassionate Leader

In leadership as in life, it’s the people that matter. We build careers and companies on the relationships that we have with the most important people in our lives – family, friends, colleagues and partners. Sure there are other pressures and dynamics, but the human-to-human dynamic continues to create value for us all – and dominates our thinking and ways of doing business. And it is this that makes me speculate – that perhaps the power to change our organizations, societies and cultures is less to do with the structures of power that we have come to accept, and more to do with an authentic willingness to focus on people. Recently, Facebook announced that the world had become smaller – that the six degrees of separation that has been popularized through books, movies and hundreds of articles, had been halved. A team of data scientists working for Facebook crunched through the 1.6 billion strong membership of the social networking platform to reveal: Each person in the world (at least among the 1.59 billion people active on Facebook) is connected to every other person by an average of three and a half other people. So that means, according to network theory, that we are no more than four people away from anyone else. That includes Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg (who unsurprisingly both outperform the general population). It also includes the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, the amazing artist, Marina Abramovic and entrepreneur without peer, Richard Branson. It means from my mom through me, there is someone that is connected to Mark Zuckerberg. Or Richard Branson. Or...
Leveraging Female Talent to Drive Innovation

Leveraging Female Talent to Drive Innovation

One of the most significant factors limiting the growth potential of countries around the world is the fundamental participation and engagement of women in their workforce. The second annual research study by Mercer on gender diversity in the workplace suggests that eliminating the gap between male and female employment rates could boost countries’ GDP by up to 34%.  How do we get there? We need to leverage the talent of women to drive innovation in our businesses – and this goes beyond lip service. It needs to become a strategic imperative. How Investing in Female Talent Produces Dividends To capitalize on innovative thought, businesses need to invest in a diverse workforce which includes funding, supporting, and mentoring female talent. These investments pay rich dividends for companies as a recent Babson College report shows that “businesses with a woman on the executive team are more likely to have higher valuations at both first and last funding (64 percent higher and 49 percent higher, respectively).” The Harvard Business Review report agrees that women are essential to growth and innovation: … employees who work for companies [that acquire and support female employees] are 45% more to likely report that their company improved market share in the last 12 months. And they’re 70% more likely to report that their company captured a new market in that time frame. Hiring a diverse workplace is the first step to harnessing female innovation, but businesses also need to foster women’s ideas. The Harvard Business Review further reveals that the “full innovative potential of women” remains largely untapped within corporations largely because the leadership doesn’t know how...
Women in Leadership: Raji Kumar and the Dallas Medical Center Turnaround

Women in Leadership: Raji Kumar and the Dallas Medical Center Turnaround

When it comes to women in leadership, there are many cases where women show unique and valuable leadership styles based in both their gender and cultural identities. Raji Kumar, CEO of Dallas Medical Center, is a great example of bringing a fresh style of leadership to her executive job and in so doing, turning a failing hospital into one of the area’s most disruptive, innovative and successful hospitals. Previous Leadership Kumar inherited Dallas Medical Center in a very bad position. The previous leadership had focused on getting the latest technology and newest cutting edge medical systems, but were easily overwhelmed by the gigantic purchasing power of nearby competition. Relationships with nearby physicians were frayed, reducing the probability of any physician referrals to Dallas Medical Center. The year Kumar took her position as CEO of Dallas Medical Center, the hospital was going $2 Million deeper in the hole every single month, and an entire floor had to be shut down because of rooftop leaks. Innovation and Renovation Kumar used the style of leadership coined by Sally Helgesen as The Female Advantage to find needs in her community, build relationships with physicians and staff and turn around the hospital so that in 5 years the hospital went from losing $2 Million dollars a month to being over-budget the same amount. In Helgesen’s bestselling 1990 book, she described how men and women approach work in fundamentally different ways, many of which can benefit women. Specifically, she wrote about how women are often better suited to running organizations that “foster creativity, cooperation and intuitive decision-making power,” obvious necessities for companies of today. And...
The Four Styles of Mentoring

The Four Styles of Mentoring

People often picture a mentor as someone older or at least someone who has been in a particular business for a long time, but mentoring is not always about age or the number of years of experience a particular person has in a certain field. Instead, mentoring is about inspiring or helping another person, no matter the age or experience level of the people involved in the mentoring relationship. Kim Getty, president of Deutsch LA, an advertising agency which markets for companies such as M&M’s and 7up, talked in a recent article about how people of all ages can be mentors to others. She talked specifically about how younger people make great mentors. Getty, who also teaches journalism classes, said her students act as mentors, as they keep her up-to-date on trends in the media. She focused upon the four types of mentors which are essential for any professional. First, you need a Peer-to-peer mentor. This is someone who works in your field and who is on the same professional level as you. This person is someone you can turn to for advice when you are just frustrated or otherwise worked up about something at work. Second, people need a Reverse mentor. For Getty, this is her students. Overall, it is someone younger and newer in the industry, someone who can give the seasoned professional a fresher outlook, and at times this the person who can explain new terms or gadgets which might be essential to the success of the company or the individual. At the beginning of someone’s career, he or she will be this type of mentor,...