Learn to Love Office Politics

Learn to Love Office Politics

Love it or hate it – there is no way around it. Once you start working with a team you are going to experience “office politics”. And for leaders at any stage of their career, learning to deal with office politics is vital. In fact, it can determine whether you are successful in your career or not. Recently I was interviewed by Women’s Leadership Coach, Jo Miller on the subject of office politics. Over on Jo’s blog, February is “office politics month”, so there is plenty of useful information and insight and a range of viewpoints on this controversial topic. In my interview, I fielded a number of questions from Jo’s readers. Here are a couple of extracts – but be sure to read the whole article. QUESTION: Do you feel you MUST engage in office politics in order to be considered successful? Jane, WA NINA: Politics are a reality and one must not ignore them or do so at their own peril. I am not a fan of politics, but I have learned that ignoring them can have negative consequences. So, I do believe that we all must understand the nature of the politics within our respective companies and participate to the extent necessary. QUESTION: Nina, what are some of the “rules of the game” that you have encountered? Shelley, TX and Kay, CA NINA: I have encountered issues of being the only woman in the room, being younger than many of my colleagues, etc. but I have always kept my focus on delivering value and results. I believe, based on my experience, that outcomes matter the most....
Five X-Factors that Mark Out a Leader

Five X-Factors that Mark Out a Leader

When we think about leadership, we are often conceptualizing it in terms of the very top level of leadership – the CEOs, directors and other senior executives. But in my experience, leadership can be found at every level of a business – in fact, it should be. For without a culture of leadership, organizations suffer under their own weight, perform poorly and lose connection with their customers, stakeholders and employees. But what do these leaders look like? I tend to agree with the breakdown from this infographic by the Harvard Business School. They identify five “X-Factors” that mark a leader out for the C-suite – passionate curiosity, battle-hardened confidence, team smarts, simple mindset and fearlessness. Allow me to expand these from my own point of view (and I’d encourage you to reframe these from your own experiences as well): Passionate curiosity: The leader must not only show an interest, but also have the drive to follow that interest. Where will this lead you? Perhaps into conflict with your current boss – or up the corporate ladder. But many of us lose our curiosity and our passion as we grow older. This cannot be allowed to happen to you – for the challenge of the leader is to cultivate their curiosity in all circumstances and situations. Battle-hardened confidence: A leader, and particularly a CEO, must wear their experiences as a badge of honor. We must use our experiences in a way that shapes and feeds our sense of confidence, which in turn, radiates through the organization. For the aspiring leader, this means not shying away from difficulties but dealing with...
The New CTO – Chief Transformation Officer

The New CTO – Chief Transformation Officer

When we think of technology, we mostly think of the most visible, in your face, technology – like computers or mobile phones. Or we might think of the changes that have occurred due to the digitization of business or our personal lives. But it’s not just in the obvious places that technology is having an impact – and in the world of business, that means opportunity. As I suggested recently, CIOs are being called upon to deliver more innovation and corporate impact. Likewise, the chief technology officer (CTO) is being challenged – not just around the notion of technology, but in the way that technology is transforming the business landscape. Let’s take a look at one small example – wearable tech. Once upon a time, business people would wear pagers on their belts. They would carry BlackBerrys in their pockets. And this would provide them with connectedness – with email and business applications wherever they may be. This meant that the time between client meetings could be productive. It meant that business travel didn’t separate business leaders from the running of the organization.We could not only make calls to prospects, check in on our teams and so on, we could make decisions, email colleagues and act on the information that we received. But wearable technology was still clumsy and simplistic in its impact. Over the last five years, technology has improved and become smaller. We know from Moore’s Law that computing power doubles approximately every two years, and at the same time, that technology shrinks. The average smart phone now carries more processing power than was used to put...
Finalists Announced for the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Finalists Announced for the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Each year, the Stevie Awards are held to honor and recognize the achievements and positive contributions of business people and organizations around the world. Awards are made in a range of categories from Sales and Customer Service to Women in Business. This year, they celebrate their 10th anniversary. Back in 2008, I was awarded a Stevie Award as Best Executive in a Services Business (over 2500 employees). It was a surprising and humbling experience. But it also firmly aligned with my personal goals – to encourage, motivate and empower women to chase their dreams. The 2013 Stevie Awards finalists have now been selected. They have been assessed by a panel of over 150 judges across a range of business categories from product, media and marketing through to entrepreneurship and company/enterprise and non-profit groupings. I am excited to see so many women being recognized for their contribution and achievement. Be sure to take a good look through the list. The winners will be announced at the 10th annual awards dinner on Friday, November 8 in New York. Tickets are now on sale. In the meantime, over on the Stevie Awards blog, they have pulled together a potted history of past winners. Under the theme “where are they now,” you can get a snapshot of the recent histories of business leaders like Marla Letizia, COO at Big Traffic LLC, Madolyn Johnson, CEO of Signature HomeStyles, Sandy Forster, CEO of WildlyWealthy.com, Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace; and yes, me too. Image: Aural Asia via...
The New CIO – The Chief Impact Officer

The New CIO – The Chief Impact Officer

There once was a time when the driving force for corporate innovation was comfortably at home with the office of the CIO. It was a time when technology was vast and confusing – and in the corporate world – had newly emerged as a powerful way to drive efficiencies, transform supply chains and bring financial accountability to ever more complex global operations. And at the core of all this was information. Coupling the information of a business with the technology that helped accelerate and make decisions across that business generated untold billions in value for organizations around the world. But over the last decade, there has been a shift. There has been less emphasis on the strategic role of information technology and a greater focus on technology responsiveness. Less interest in business cases and capital expenditure than rapidly deployed apps and operational improvement. And there has been more of a demand to balance the back office needs with front-of-house expectations. Today’s CIO has a broad ambit – covering what I call “all things ‘I’”. Insights – CIOs have always been aware of the potential of big data, but the next generation of analytics platforms are turning our data warehouses into a ready storehouse of insights that can power everything from our marketing campaigns through to changes in our supply chains, partner networks and CSR programs. Interactive – As investments in digital marketing begin to outstrip more traditional forms of advertising, technology is no longer on the back end of the customer experience, but front and center. CIOs have an increasingly important role supporting front-of-house activities, feeding insights, data and...
From the Athena Doctrine to the Five Forces of Kibbutz Leadership

From the Athena Doctrine to the Five Forces of Kibbutz Leadership

In 2011, when the wall of water hit the Kinoya seafood factory in Ishinomaki, Japan, 800,000 cans of seafood were swept away. In the months and years that followed, as Japan worked to recover from the massive impact of the tsunami, a remarkable movement grew out of the devastation. Volunteers began collecting the cans. One-by-one the cans were cleaned of the sludge and debris that covered them, brought back to the factory and repackaged. About half of those recovered were saleable and were sent to stores around the country. The cans soon became known as cans of hope. However, there was a problem – the labels had been washed away. This meant that the contents were a surprise to the purchaser. Undeterred, the Japanese public began decorating the cans, leaving messages of hope and encouragement. The story of hope had taken a whole new direction. John Gerzema shares this story at the start of his TEDx talk as an illustration of a powerful leadership trend that I have observed for sometime. He calls it the “Athena Doctrine.” At the core of this is an approach to business and leadership that is breaking away from the traditional ways of working – leadership that is more collaborative, flexible and nurturing. Gerzema suggests that this style of leadership is more “feminine” than “masculine.” The Athena Doctrine was built on research carried out with over 60,000 participants in 13 countries. And one of the core findings was that 57% of adults are dissatisfied with the conduct of men. A fact with which 54% of men also agree. The most powerful aspect of this...