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...
Take Steps to Crack the Glass Ceiling

Take Steps to Crack the Glass Ceiling

We still have some way to go before we can honestly claim to have shattered the glass ceiling. That invisible barrier between minorities and women that prevents access to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder still requires our attention and action. The Economist’s glass ceiling index for 2015 reveals that the United States ranks below the OECD average, behind Germany and Australia and well behind countries like Finland, Norway and Sweden which rank highest. The Glass Ceiling Index combines data on higher education, labor-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity rights, business-school applications and representation in senior jobs. It draws on data from a range of sources including the OECD, European Commission, World Economic Forum and others. Each country’s score is a weighted average of its performance on nine indicators. The interactive version of this chart allows you to see how the weightings can modify the results, showing how that a focus on specific factors can transform a whole country’s performance. You can hover over each country to delve into the figures for each country – and when we do this for the US, the data is revealing – especially when we contrast it with some of the other countries in the list. Let’s extract the data for a few countries: USA Canada Britain Finland Higher ed gap 5.0 11.3 2.2 12.9 Participation gap -11.5 -7.0 -11.4 -2.5 Wage gap 17.9 19 17.5 18.7 Exec positions 42.7 36.0 34.3 32.0 Board roles 21.2 18.3 22.6 32.1 Childcare cost 35.1 29.3 45.7 22.5 Paid maternity 0.0 8.0 11.7 14.1 GMAT exams 38.3 38.5 27.4 53.6  Women in parliament 19.3 25.2...
New Horizons

New Horizons

This week I start in a new role as Chief Product Officer, leading global product and commercialization strategy for NTT Innovation Institute (NTT i3). NTT i3 is the Silicon Valley-based open innovation and applied research and development center of NTT Group. I will lead the development and commercialization of NTT i3‘s groundbreaking platforms and solutions aimed at today’s Digital Businesses. You can read the full press release here. This is an incredibly exciting time to be stepping into this kind of role – one I see more and more leading businesses creating. We are living in a time where our lives are increasingly connected – not just in terms of people and devices, but also “things”. We used to think of these as trends, like the “internet of things” or “social networking”. But the truth is, they are now our realities. The technology that we use consciously or unconsciously shapes the way we live, not just how we live. It is this that excites me. As Srini Koushik, President and CEO at NTT i3 says: Like all major drivers for change, the interplay between technology and the evolution of human experience is complex. Just as the first human societies were shaped by their use of tools—the technology that we are inventing now is re-inventing us. This new role will be a challenging and exciting one. It will require invention and re-invention. Leadership and innovation. And I look forward to sharing my insights with you...

The Buck Stops With You

President Truman famously kept a sign on his desk with the words “The Buck Stops Here.”This sign indicated that, ultimately, decisions cannot be passed to anyone else. President Truman was acknowledging that decisions can be hard – that there are always other options to consider, approaches to balance and people to convince. He was also acknowledging that the role of the leader is to take those decisions and make them stick. And “making them stick” is often the hardest part. When  you are clear about your role and responsibility within an organization, and when you have a clear sense of vision and the strategy that is being followed to realize that vision, then – as a leader – you have a great platform for success. What you have is a framework for your decision making – and it can prove very effective from a timeliness as well as a risk point of view. You should be able to: Clearly identify where a decision will align with strategy – and where it goes against the grain Determine which decision will receive the blessing of your stakeholders and which will not See a path to realization of your decision through your teams, technologies and processes In How Great Leaders Decide, Lisa Petrilli explains this as the combination of the goddesses Nike and Athena: A great leader portrays the best of Nike and Athena when they: Make a strategic decision Commit to the decision Communicate the decision Champion the decision Hold others accountable to executing according to the decision But as Lisa points out, Nike is also the Goddess of Speed. A...

Leadership PhD in a Can – Preparation, Honesty and Credible Delivery

The latest chapter in the U.S. fiscal drama – rejection and then subsequent passage of the government’s purported bailout/rescue measure – underlines the critical roles both negotiation and trust play in effective leadership. Sound leadership is often bolstered by artful negotiation skills, whether selling an idea, an approach or tangible product. Integrity, credibility and trust are crucial components. While the absence of one can undermine a leader’s effectiveness, the absence of both – real or perceived – can completely derail a leader, team, or even an entire organization. I was frankly surprised by how surprised our political leaders seemed to be in the wake of the bill’s failure. I’ve spoken before about negotiation. One of the basic tenets is to know your audience and have an understanding of probable outcomes. Ask yourself: What is the best deal I could realistically achieve in this negotiation? What is the likely outcome of the negotiation? What is the limit of my authority? One should also consider: What are the intended outcomes and interests? What are the possible outcome and interests? What is my Plan B? What is my worst case scenario? Our political leaders may be becoming dangerously arrogant at worst, disconnected at best. It doesn’t appear that anyone seriously considered meaningful objection to the bailout plan. Successful leaders simply cannot afford this lack of preparedness, foresight or connection with their teams. We cannot bully our people into following; we must earn that right through clear, consistent and effective leadership. It all boils down to really understanding that any credible definition of leadership must include the word “influence” in it. Integrity and...

Conceding to Win

A Sign Originally uploaded by fensterbme We all like to win. After all, be it in personal life or business, it’s better to win than to lose. The trick is to recognize the best path to victory. And often, this path is not always as clear as one might think. In the course of business, you cannot underestimate the importance of or the art of negotiation. And by negotiations, I do not mean specifically things such as contract terms with suppliers, co-marketing agreements with partners, revenue-sharing arrangements with service providers, or the like. I mean the day-to-day negotiations required to help you achieve your outcomes. For example, in the course of doing my everyday job, I am constantly involved in the “give and take” of much more mundane business happenings. These may include setting sales targets for employees, making a business case to management for the need for additional headcount, determining who will have responsibility for certain tasks or outcomes, etc. Now to be very clear, all of these examples involve negotiations of sorts. Keeping our inherent desire to win in mind, it is easy to see how negotiations can appear more combat-like with both sides wanting to come out victorious and doing what they must in order to achieve that outcome. However, perceptive leaders and experienced negotiators recognize that the outcome of any individual skirmish does not indicate the outcome of the broader battle. In fact, in considering negotiation strategies, it is best to understand what your most important requirements are [“must haves”] and be sure to focus on achieving them so as to reap the benefits of...