Title - badge, burden or bore

 @executivetrish

@executivetrish

Humans have an innate desire to sort things, and then to order things, and in order to monitor that order; to label things. It helps provide structure to our lives, enables learning ( program learning) , provides a platform for progress ( good or bad) and ultimately gets things done (for better or worse). Life without a lot of order and labels will be, so they lead us to believe…. chaotic.

Or would it?

There are those who wonder if order has not become a little too saturated, too constrained, and in particular in our working lives, too limiting. If we are restricting human potential and functional possibility by boxing ourselves and others into labels known as job titles, and by this I mean containing or limiting a persons potential by an interpretation of the title.

I have been doing a lot of research and reading over the last three years about post heroic leadership and the decline of great man theory in modern day western business structures. The initial findings of the Hayne Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry currently underway here in Australia have been no great surprise to anyone who who has had a bit of a look under the hood of banks and financial services companies which are traditionally run via top down hierarchy. Front-line employees have been trying to wave warning flags up the line for years, only to have them ripped out of their hands and tossed at their feet by organisational rules, politics and cultural decay. The old line “you are speaking out of turn, beyond the remit of your role”.

By comparison it is easy to see how the world can function on momentum built by collaboration as opposed to ‘top down’ instruction and that this momentum can create real results. Social media as a driver for mass movement and the rise of social “influencers” to move product and services over traditional forms of advertising and public relations are one example. The gig economy and the vast numbers of businesses that now make money by “matching” work required with roaming consultants is another. The world of work is certainly changing.

So how is the world of job titles and descriptions keeping up?

A whole new generation is creating a solution to this, with the rise of “bullshit” titles and jobs becoming a thing, descriptor titles such as consultant and advisor finding their way back into the working lexicon and some organisations advocating for fewer or no titles at all.

That is a lot of disruption going on in the title space.

So, how does a person, a human being with feelings stay upright in all this noise. I assume if your career exists within a single industry, it is much easier than if you cross multiple industries and are multi disciplinary. It is risky in a world where the statistics tell us that corporate workers in Australia will face redundancy at least once if not twice in their lives. How prepared are these workers for the day they wake up and their business card is irrelevant?

Getting another job is one solution to those post redundancy income woes, yet the title that comes with that job may be a sore point. I have seen 'General Managers’ move companies (by choice or because they had to) to find themselves in a great role, yet be disappointed that it comes with a perceived lowly ‘Senior Manager’ title or similar. They eventually acclimatize to the new workplace but will always chafe about it until they get to the title they deem to be appropriate to their self worth.

That ingrained habit of defining self worth by job title….shocker... its no wonder we have problems in the workforce.

The future

I am not sure zero titles work either but I have to say I do like the tendency to return to “doing” titles, which help others immediately understand a role such as Teacher, Programmer, Adviser etc. As for silly titles, I get the point but they lose their polish after a bit [having said that I do rather aspire to the role of Chief Bullshit Detector]……..

Since I set up on my own I have changed my job title just about every other month looking to see if one appeals over another, from big hefty titles such as Managing Director, to no title at all to variations of the different contracts I have worked on. At the moment I have settled on a descriptor - Consultant and Adviser. It seems to be the best fit for my consulting life. Who knows what it will be next week and that’s totally fine, it can move with me.

Maybe that is the answer then to the question of titles in the future after-all. The title changes to suit you, not the other way around.

Think well

Trish

November 2018

Perspective on perspective. Understand it, and use it wisely.

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"People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for." Judge Taylor. 
"You never understand a person until you consider things from his point of view....until you climb into his skin and walk around in it" Atticus Finch
To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee. 

I wonder how many of you, if I asked about perspective, would put your hand up in the air to confirm you have either been told to get some ( at some point) or perhaps helpfully told someone else to get some?

I would wager it would be a lot of waving hands. 

I also wonder, if I asked, how many of you would put your hand up in response to having been told that "Perspective is everything" or "First impressions count" at some point ( maybe several points in your career or life) ?

Resonate much? Annoy you much? 

Me too. 

So lets deep think this for a moment or two. What is perspective then? and why are we corporate slaves to it? 

According to the Wikipedia dictionary, Perspective is "a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something, a point of view"

Let's unpack this for a minute starting with this part - a particular "attitude".

Attitude.

Now, I wonder if your manager when giving you feedback had said " you need to find a new attitude....." or "please address your attitude" ....I wonder how that would go down?

I am betting not too well. I am also betting that if you took a friend or employee aside and told them to respect someone else's attitude.....it might not be received as sage advice either, certainly not if they firmly believe their own perspective, and you are stuck in yours.

Second part - " a point of view"  

Imagine getting some feedback that a Senior Executives  "point of view' is everything , or that "first impressions count" and that apparently this is the reason why you missed out on a promotion or an opportunity.  

Unfair? Yup, pretty much. 

Someone else's perspective is just one point of view. We acknowledge that too many times in current hierarchical structures that person often  has power and influence;  but really how can anyone justify judgement or decision making simply on their "initial point of view". How on earth do you prepare for something you cannot see, cannot feel and cannot investigate ahead of time. Even armed with a biography, you just don't know if the person you need to get on side got out of bed on the right side that morning. 

I am pretty sure if I lined up a cross section of some of the most senior leaders of Australian Organisations in a room they would all espouse the virtues of Transformational, Adaptive, Agile, Inclusive Leadership. None of which is reliant on a single point of view. 

Yet, curiously in complete contrast, the same Leaders no doubt have at some point, advocated the use of "perspective" as a way to correct, mentor or coach others in the ways of political maneuvering their way through a situation, problem or opportunity, or to defend their decisions about the fate of employees. 

What the??? That makes no sense, how on earth is anyone going to succeed when they have no idea what they are up against? 

Seems somewhat ridiculous now we look at this way doesn't it.

Lucky for us the Collins English Dictionary has a different definition

Perspective : A particular perspective is a particular way of thinking about something, especially one that is influenced by your beliefs and experiences. 

Unpacking this one, indicates that judgment based on 'personal perspective' is heavily biased, "influenced by your beliefs and experiences". Not really a good foundation for making well considered decisions or giving people advice or feedback is it? 

My challenge to you all, is to cease the madness of overusing "perspective" as an excuse for trying to explain action or inaction, or to influence behavior in others and in ourselves. Refer back to the Judge Taylor quote above, this is exactly the folly he ( via the pen of the wise Harper Lee)  is referring to. 

Instead, let us work towards the practice espoused by Ms Lee using her character Atticus Finch in the second quote;  that of using "perspective" as a tool for our own thinking and in the act of personal reflexive leadership. In other words, consider perspective for yourself , not others. 

Take time out to actually understand that you may have considered only 1 point of view, and that it is not the end state. Understand you have bias, that led you to a judgement, and this may not be appropriate or accurate. Be curious to think about whether your perspective matters, should matter or could matter. Consider if delivering a judgement based on your single perspective is moral, ethical and reasonable. Respect difference, think deeply. When in doubt, take pause and have others "not like you, nor the friends who are always agreeing with you" help you see things from other angles. Is perspective a good enough reason or is it an excuse?

The golden rule of course, is to never use "Perspective" as a reason to judge others or justify a behavior. 

think well 

Trish

 

Resilience: Why running away isn't actually a bad idea...

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I keep reading about Resilience lately. How to "bounce back", how to be "mentally tough" and how to navigate your way through the troughs of a working life. 

I have long held a fondness for the idea of resilience. I figure I am fairly adept at it myself as my career like most of those around me, has had its fair share of fabulous peaks and rough deep troughs.  I have had to work hard to get through as best as I could during those down times with what I had at my disposal as the answer is not always just to leave. So for the purpose of this article I will define a career trough, as being a finite term of disadvantage. Many of you might refer to this as change or disruption in the negative. 

In recent years I found myself in a pretty big, nasty career trough and it was (in my mind) going on FOREVER. Now that I have been trough free for a year or so, it is with a different perspective that I read articles on resilience.  One thing that really bothers me, via my review with this reflexive leadership lens, is the regular assumption of these articles that if you need to build resilience;  then you are wrong, damaged or broken in some way. That you need fixing.

I call 'you know what' to that assumption :) In my experience, resilience is required for a wider universe of needs and frequently it is also called for in situations when you feel alone in an unfriendly and unknown place.

I wondered if things can't be simplified a bit in the resilient dialogue, in a "how to" kind of way. Here are my 5 tips for enduring a career trough

Self assess.

Usually if you find yourself reading up about mental toughness and resilience then it is kind of an indicator that there are some prawns hiding in your career curtain rods, and you can't ignore the smell anymore. Ditto if you find yourself behaving in ways you don't normally behave, and doing so more often. Frustrated crying and shouting in the office or spending long periods off or on at work may be something you have done once or twice in the last decade but doing so now every week is a pretty good indication things are not working out the way you envisioned them to be. Look for patterns. Identify how big the bumps in your road are and then think through whether this is a career trough or something bigger.  

Distract yourself

So it's a career trough. Got a hobby you haven't had time to indulge in? A passion for something or someone? When things are a bit rough at the office spending some time focusing on the things that make your heart go buzz ( in a good way) can be a lifesaver ! It also gets your mind thinking about something other than the problem at hand, so you can actually get some perspective. For me it was fandom, I found my tribe on social media, and to this day some of my best friends ever are a bunch of ladies from all over the world, who I talk to every single day. The power of tribe. Go find your people in your happy place, feed your soul.  

Run away 

Yes that is right. Pack those bags and get away for a weekend or a week. Put down the phone, go for a drive in the country, fly to a tropical island, sail off in a boat. Get some space between you and the trough, let the air in. It won't cure the problem but it can give you valuable perspective to get away from it all, air out the brain cells and remember what all this working life and purpose really means. Giving the brain a rest also usually allows some good thinking (hello solutions and new ideas!) to break through the deeply entrenched patterns your brain has been bound up in. Get some space! 

Educate yourself

Think you know better eh? Go get yourself qualified, or spend time doing research, treat your challenges like a high school or university assignment. Pretend you need to cross check your theory, that you are in a debate and working for the opposing team. Read the science. 

This will help you get some evidence behind your thinking about the situation. It may lead to a new role or to a degree you never anticipated. I ended up doing a Post Grad this way, because I questioned the methods being used, and wanted to go find out what the academics had to say; and I learn't so much in the process that my thinking changed and progressed so far away from where I started, it wasn't a problem for me anymore! 

Share

This is most important. A problem shared is a problem halved. 

Burn out is real. Bone tired and frustrated and SO.OVER.IT is real. A strong desire to change fixed minds is real. Not sleeping, drinking and eating too much or not enough, waking up in the night with a racing heart, not sleeping for thinking about work, going over conversations in your head, coming up with scenario's in your head all night. All real.

Seek some help, ask your GP , a friend or anyone close. I found using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) , a good Executive Coach and a watchful GP were essential to my ability to clear my mind. Others I know use hypnotherapy, mindfulness techniques, exercise and mentors. Please don't suffer, reach out and talk to someone. 

Be patient. All these things take time and usually so much longer than you want. Break it down into one day at a time if you need to. 

On reflection these pretty simple steps are well....simple. They were my methods and they worked for me, and to be honest still work. They don't involve heavy breathing or diets, or re-framing perspectives because the very point is that they don't assume you are wrong or broken. You just need a different view and some practical ways to turn that trough into a peak.

Before you know it you will be hitting another peak + may your peaks be long and wonderful ! 

think well

Trish

NB- I wish to reiterate that I am not providing any advice, specifically medical or psychological advice and that if you feel you need help with workplace problems please reach out to your manager, your Human Resources Department or your GP. 

When will we "own" our story?

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I recently watched the excellent "Nanette" , by Hannah Gadsby on Netflix. If you have not seen this then I encourage you to do so. It is an extraordinary show,  a profound statement on what happens when we back ourselves first and foremost, and so much much more. 

I don't want to give too much away for those who have not seen it , other than to say that out of the countless takeaways from an hour or so in the theatre, one that I want to explore more is the act of speaking up at work.

Owning yourself

Effectively Hannah, a comedian,  stands up in front of her audience, who are her customer; and the comedy industry: her boss, and says she won't do things their way anymore. She goes on to explain how the craft of comedy is actually not aligning to her morals and values, that half her story is being lost in comedic structures and as such she will no longer participate. It's extraordinary stuff. Powerful stuff, uncomfortable, inspirational. Wow stuff. 

Speaking up at work to say "I won't do this" or "this is against my values" is often something we dream about doing but rarely ever do thanks in large to office politics, the desire to get ahead, the need to provide for our families and many other reasons, that up till now have been almost acceptable. 

With the rise of the #MeToo movement globally,  and shocking stories coming out of the Royal Banking Commission locally, perhaps we should be asking ourselves -  are these reasons good enough?

The plethora of research out there about the Future of Work indicates that in an automated working world, tolerance for poor behavior and misalignment to an employees morals will simply see that employee move to another employer, and swiftly do so. In a freelance economy and amongst the younger workers we see this happening every day, self selection creates more power of choice re where we will be actively choosing where we work and who we will work with, including how long we want to work in that environment. A Growth Mindset is overtaking traditional networking and politic playing for continuous improvement and career success is being self defined not imposed. 

When work is skills based as opposed to being locked into the boundaries of a job description buried in hierarchy and chained up by performance indicators and forced rankings it removes some of the barriers that are in the way to owning your own authenticity. 

An optimist, I see a place where diversity of thought leads the charge and people of all differences are able to come together to work. There is no single mold, square pegs are welcome into round holes. 

Until then, it is worth thinking hard about your limits, and about not being afraid to stand up for your authentic self. Assess the risk and think about your options. Own your story. 

Trish

An exercise and lessons in self reflection. Look me in the eye .....or don't.

 Photography by Trish Nicklin

Photography by Trish Nicklin

Self reflection as an exercise, the cause

It has been an interesting month, not the least because I have been working hard exploring the topic of neuro-diversity which is the appreciation, acceptance and recognition of neurological differences; such as those on the Autism Spectrum, Tourettes Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia to name a few. This has all been part of the final publication of a White Paper I researched and wrote for my work with the Australian Transformation and Turnaround Association, on the topic of "Diversity in Transformation: Having the courage to think, lead and act" a copy of which you can find here on the website. 

The benefits of bringing together Diverse Thinkers to any debate, discussion, collaboration or collective is a no-brainer ( pun intended) because the results of all this different thinking are so rich and diverse. 

The reflection 

But we digress, whilst looking at neuro-diversity I took the opportunity to question a lot of my own habits and behaviors and to reflect on myself and some of the challenges I personally face, and have faced as I charge head first into and around this corporate life. I opened my mind and just let my thoughts self reflect to see what came up. It was an interesting exercise. I started with a scenario of me having a conversation with another person. 

My thinking works this way.....

I have always known my brain sees a big bank of television screens. Kind of like a TV producer sees in a TV studio. I was blessed to train with some perceptive folk earlier in my career and to have been put through countless personality profiles in my time which all put me in different baskets which we worked out down the track was because I was focusing on certain screens at the time. Interesting stuff. 

This led me to realise I apply critical thinking naturally - being the art of thinking of one topic in different aspects, perspectives and environments. Eventually after a lot of false starts this realisation led me to develop models of this process , to teach others so that they can use it to improve their own decision making and to stress test their own idea's and plans.

So when I am listening to someone, I am filtering through the screens applying different logic and perspectives so I can actively contribute to the conversation. 

My physical reaction is like this......

But the interesting item that came to my attention from this exercise was reminder of my inability to look people directly in the eye for more than a few seconds. 

Yes, you read that right. if you know me you might say "but Trish you look me in the eye all the time". Actually no, I am looking at the bridge of your nose, or your mouth as you speak, a self survival technique I taught myself way back in Primary School that has helped me all my life. 

I don't know any different, because for me looking someone direct in the eye is very distracting and I cannot follow the conversation as a result. I get anxious, it feels strange and way too intimate. I start focusing on what the eye as a picture is telling me not what you are saying. So instead I stick to the other central parts of the face, with the occasional glimpse at the eyes just to make sure I am not being caught out. 

The lack of eye to eye contact has never been a problem for the most part as it allows my brain to focus in on the TV screens it needs to to absorb and process information. 

with the odd exception...

I never forget the shame and embarrassment I felt once in a client meeting about 6 years ago where a client admonished me for not looking him in the eye when he was talking to me. I went red, my cheeks flushed and I mumbled my way through a very poor explanation about how I struggle to concentrate when I look at a persons eyes. His look of disgust at what he considered a poor excuse was painful to endure and I barely managed to make it out of there before dissolving in a fit of tears and shame at the first opportunity to be alone. Ever since then I have re-doubled my efforts to mask my eye to eye deficiency. 

mostly its great....

There are few people whose eyes I can stare into for longer than 2 seconds when they are talking to me, for example my husband and children.  

I do look some people in the eye, there are people who really capture my attention without fogging my TV screens and as rare as they are, I really enjoy the opportunity to read about them via their eyes. 

The learning is constant..

So I have been wondering if this means anything much at all. I am sure there are loads and loads of others out there who have similar experiences. Yes I have wondered if I am on the spectrum, yes I have done some tests, yes it looks like there is alignment, no it isn't complete or conclusive. 

For me, the learning of this act of self reflection is profound. More so because I didn't particularly invite it in, rather I opened my mind and it kind of barged its way in making sure I took notice. 

So now I am hyper aware of this eye contact "thing" I will have to do some thinking about what to do with it and why I should, when I will or if I want to. 

I hope that by sharing this with you, you might take a dip in the self reflection pool and see what comes along and knocks you down mid thought. I guarantee you it won't be anything you expected. 

think well

Trish

May 2018

 

Power. Your Personal Power Audit.

 Be the Telegraph pole that holds it all together, not the wires that get crossed. 

Be the Telegraph pole that holds it all together, not the wires that get crossed. 

In my last Blog I introduced the topic of Power (Power. Deconstructed) and created a useful guide for helping you to critically assess your own views on Power and where you sit in the Power line-up based on your own situation, your own present. 

In this follow up entry I would like to take your thinking to the next level, where you move yourself into taking an audit of that information you have collected, by using it to understand how you treat power in both the giving and the receiving, along with the oft forgotten sense of your own personal power.

"Silence, silence," whispered a loud speaker as they stepped out at the fourteenth floor, and "Silence, silence," the trumpet mouths indefatigably repeated at intervals down every corridor. The students and even the Director himself rose automatically to the tips of their toes. They were Alphas, of course, but even Alphas have been well conditioned. "Silence, silence." All the air of the fourteenth floor was sibilant with the categorical imperative. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

In his book Brave New World (published back in 1932), Huxley presents us with many examples of personal power, influence and the impact of conditioning and groupthink. Concepts that over 80 years later are still in play. In the above quote from chapter 2 of the novel the message is that regardless of where we sit on a hierarchy, once power is given away, our subsequent choices, without self-reflection can be further self-limiting.

You will be familiar with the oft used term “Balance of Power”. It occurred to me that this is a concept people tend to think about in circumstances they are viewing as an audience. Take for example, a review of the current political situation in your country, or the politics in your own organisation. My challenge to you, is to turn this reflection to yourself. And do so often, because this can be a helpful exercise for your own thinking and decision making.

Is your Power balanced? It is important to sit back and consider what power you have, what power you receive and crucially, what power you give; and then to ask yourself – is there a balance I am comfortable with?

Sometimes for the very best of reasons we can find ourselves in situations where there is not a balance. Too much power can find you isolated, lonely and in a difficult position of consistent defence (defending your title, your realm), too little power can place you in a position of lack, struggling to find a way forward. There may be times, in order to get things done that you need to strategise your way into one or the other. For the most part though, Personal Power is where its at!

A couple of years ago I assessed my own power position and the results whilst not surprising to me were no less alarming. More so because as an educated and experienced operator I had failed to see myself moving into such a dis empowered position. The good news is that once I knew this, I could then re-balance by making some hard decisions and making firm plans.  

A personal Power Audit (once you have critically assessed power for yourself) helps you work this out and is especially useful if you are trying to navigate a complex question or personal situation that you feel uncomfortable about.

Using the below as a guide, and working on the results of your Power Thinking, consider where power sits on the scales below. Be honest, this is a personal exercise.

 Personal Power Audit Diagram - Trish Nicklin April 2018

Personal Power Audit Diagram - Trish Nicklin April 2018

The power of you

Your own sense of personal power and the power you see in and allow yourself to have. This is true power, unrelated to others, dependent on no one else but you.

The power you give

The perception you project on others, to whom you assume have the mantel of power and allow them to have power over yourself.

The power you receive

The power others project and bestow onto you.

This exercise requires a lot of honesty and self-reflection and can be really be worthwhile. If you are unhappy with where the scales land, then it is up to you to re-balance them. This can be as simple as deciding a few things for yourself and moving towards a better outcome. For me, it meant an honest discussion with myself about how I had let the views of other people shape my view of myself. An easy thing to do and something I continue to nudge the scales backwards and forwards on.

Good luck with your own Power Audit, may your scales balance in your favour.

Trish

April 2018

 

 

Power. Deconstructed.

 photography by Trish Nicklin ( @executivetrish insta and viewbug) 

photography by Trish Nicklin ( @executivetrish insta and viewbug) 

How much ‘Power’ is Powerful?

We have covered some thoughts on the topic of workplace ‘Influence’ in my February blog, so this month, let us spend some time looking at the topic of ‘Power’ from a few angles and see if we can’t come up with something interesting. I have a lot to cover about this so it will be in 2 parts, the Power Thinking and then a Power Audit. Let's get stuck into part 1. 

George Orwell, the Author of 1984 wrote once “The object of Power is Power”.

For a very long time in my corporate life I believed wholeheartedly in Power and Influence and it seems to me at least that this quote is fitting for corporate micro climates. ‘Power’ as I understood it to be (perhaps imprinted?), was a commodity; awarded to the brightest and best, the sponsored and championed. As power was bestowed, it was celebrated. An example set. Power came with privilege. Privilege; that was defined by shiny things like invites to meetings previously out of bounds, access to budget and decision input. Organisational Pavlov’s Dog. Transactional Leadership.

My experience is that this kind of power has the potential to become a drug which creates a yearning for more power, and hence we refer to career progression in vertical terms, described as a career ladder. ‘You must’, they say “aspire for more”. ‘You must’ they say “strive to improve”. “You should” they say “want to move ahead”. “You can” they say “get that promotion”. “Stay”, they say, “and keep striving to be like me”

Within the microclimates of our working life, we are encouraged to succeed and improve, and by doing so we are rewarded with power, or in other words climbing the corporate ladder to success.

I encourage you to think about this in terms of the leadership you have experienced to see how that sits with your own reasoning. Furthermore, move outside the prism of influence that surrounds you, and feeds you; this may be the industry you work in, the organisation you work for or the department you are in; and consider what would Power be to YOU; if your work was by your own design and choice.

Ask yourself some questions

·        Do I have any power here now, where I am?

·        How is Power defined and demonstrated here?

·        Am I part of that story?

·        Do I want to play with the powerful?

·        If I get power, what can I really do with it?

·        How agile is my power?

·        Is my power mine at all? Where do I go to get it back?

·        Does power really matter? Do I understand why?

·        Are my ethics, values and morals threatened or enhanced by the power I have / covet?

·        If I move myself am I being powerful?

·        What does my power look like? Feel like?

·        If I asked others to describe my power what would they say?

That’s a lot of thinking to do, and I encourage you to spend some time really mulling this over.

Workplace cultures have a long way to go to turn around the ‘Power is Everything’ culture, something they may never do in time to meet the rising tide of disruptors, the post social leadership mass movements who just refuse to work that way. It is going to be a hugely interesting few years ahead so getting yourself ready ahead of the bumpy ride is a good idea. 

Next we will cover Power in terms of taking some of this thinking and auditing ourselves. Stay tuned, and in terms of Power; keep your eyes open.  

best

Trish

March 2017

Influence. When it dies will anyone hear it scream?

 Photography by Trish Nicklin  [@executivetrish photography on Instagram + ViewBug]

Photography by Trish Nicklin  [@executivetrish photography on Instagram + ViewBug]

Ah influence. That …..thing…..that……aspirational magic that (supposedly) propels one into the inner sanctum of secret decision making. It is a deity like presence that wafts around board room tables, and which workers spend a lot of time chasing down with holey butterfly nets. Its presence is noted by compulsory attendance at every strategy meeting, plotted for in account plans, an essential addition to every performance review discussion. 

I have been doing a lot of thinking about Influence; and how important it has become in contemporary corporate culture, and how sustainable that crown is, in a future workplace.  

I am beginning to wonder if we aren't all being taken for a bit of a ride. 

No one argues that influence can get you places, what no one seems to have knuckled down is whether this is a natural innate phenomenon, unique to an individual used in every facet of life and work equally- or whether it is a skill than can be pursued, learned and exerted by an individual for their benefit, called on when needed.  Finally; I wonder; is it even important anymore in a future freelance economy?

So let us boil this down for a minute, categorise it into themes and work through whether they are passing their 'use by' date or useful for us as we look forward. 

Permissioned Influence 

This is where you make it up the ladder, because you were literally dragged up by someone above you. That super special project that only the blessed get to work on, and you have been asked to be part of.  That perfect assignment that you were given, and that allowed you to work to all your strengths and passions. That time when your boss gave you an unexpected promotion. These are all examples where someone simply decided for you that you could wield the power and gave it to you to wield. Rare I know; but nonetheless terrifically exciting! 

Sponsored Influence

Where someone from further up, provides a safety rope for you, then you climb up for yourself. This is where someone of import ( or influence themselves) encourages you to take on assignments or projects that have some bearing of risk,  which they are willing to support and back you as you fumble through. The work is all yours, the grit is all yours, but the risk is shared[- because someone believes you can make it happen, and sings your praises to any naysayers. They are there to provide guidance and support when you fall. This form of influence is generally common, wonderful when present in your life and gut wrenching, impossibly hard to achieve anything, without.  

Generated Influence - disruption

Aha - a new entrant ! Or not. It has been around since the Dawn of Man. Disruptors are those who take their guts and their passion, put their head down, their horns on,  and just climb that damn ladder anyway,  generating influence along the way like you would gather fish in a fishing net off the back of a trawler at sea. It is incredibly difficult to maintain due its  risky nature ( at any time those up the ladder will contrive to stop you, beat you down and prevent you from progressing) but in the long term it can very very successful. No one forgets a trail blazer, those scars give you a story to tell and an experience to sell. 

I am sure as you read these that you can find examples throughout your life where you have experienced each one, gathering and building your own influence as you go, sometimes building it up in one part of your life, and perhaps losing it spectacularly in another. Is it a learned skill for you or is it something you find comes naturally?  

And is all that important in the grand scheme? In this whole new world of the incoming freelance economy will anyone hear when influence screams?

Sustainable?

Influence, when pursued;  is hard to catch, near impossible to keep and rarely tamed. Networking can only get you so far, as can the success of your latest project;  because at some point you need to consistently produce, or be in a position that you can use others or trademark your prior work's IP so that it is the gift that keeps giving. Even then very few people can maintain that level of influence as a construct. 

Why? because at the end of the day influence is an internal creation, usually ignited by an external stimulation. One rarely gets going without the other. 

So if we move into a world where we are isolationists colliding together to create, are any of the above categories going to survive?

Like any of our usual crutches, the role of influence will be reshaped and re-designed to fit. 'Permissioned influence' may die with the organisations who fail to transform, 'Sponsored Influence' will likely re-shape into something far less structured, more fluid and will be short bursts of support that come and go far quicker than we experience now. 'Generated Influence', now there is something interesting;  it hasn't changed since the Dawn of Man, so why change now?

So in conclusion, if you want to survive the influence 'kool aid', be smart enough to do it for yourself on your own terms. 

Think well and think forward. 

 

Its 2018. Disrupt yourself and think better ( in 3 steps)

 Be Lady Thor. 

Be Lady Thor. 

Happy 2018 friends. I hope you are all recovered from the holiday madness and rested sufficiently to be diving into the panic that is 'New Years planning'.

Ah yes, on the personal front, January means days of thinking about what weight you will lose or move or add, what foods you will avoid, and the old "no week-day drinking" rule is applied with gusto. 

At work, focus shifts to the REAL career goal setting ( ignoring all the ones we set before the break and agreed with the boss).  Over that holiday Margarita, staring off into a palm framed sunset, you promised yourself you would "make it happen this year". So here we are sitting at our desks and dusting off the CV , thinking about networking with new people and looking at job boards. This year, I hear you say - will be it. A new start, a fresh perspective and a clean slate. 

Fabulous work. I just ask you to do one thing for me before you begin. 

Pause. 

Yes you heard me, stop. Back away from the desk and the computer. Leave it alone sunshine. 

You are being a predictable bore.

Everyone approaches looking for something new this way. They follow the rules, they slide into the mainstream thinking, put on the clothes everyone expects their 'end state' to look like and walk like the champion they are told every day of their working life that they should want to be. 

Well stuff that.

Why the hell spend so much time and effort being someone else's version of you. 

Disrupt your thinking. 

The answer isn't always a new job, it could be something entirely and radically different. And much more exciting. So here are a few things you can do to tackle the "wanting" differently. 

Step 1 - Change the approach.  Ditch starting at your 'end game' and start at the 'start'. With YOU. Think about what bugs you most, what you are prepared to suffer for and what makes you smile. Maybe the answer is you just don't know all that and therefore you need to give yourself six months to work it out. So go do that. How you navigate the way ahead is your choice. Spend some time thinking about what you would do, if there were NO BARRIERS in your way. Stop defining yourself by what you do for a living and define yourself by how you want to live. Be BRAVE, consider a house move or not going through with massive renovations to fund some personal space, or the cost of a course. There is enormous freedom in not keeping up with the Joneses. 

Step 2 - Brainstorm + consider options.  So you know by now one or two things that sound much more interesting, but they cost time, money and possibly ( hopefully) your reputation! Great. There are always options, start googling, talk to your family, to your bank, think about insurance you might need to take out to mitigate against future dips ( e.g income protection, mortgage insurance). If you have a burning desire to study photography, look for local classes and find out if you can get flexible hours to cover attendance. ( Hint - if you are not given the flexibility it tells you more about your current situation and why you are looking for something else in the first place.....) 

Keep going, get down as many rabbit holes as you can, read articles, find people who have done it before and ask loads and loads of questions. Don't stop at the first, or second or any closed door, you find in front of you. Step back and look out for the next one ( hey - it worked for Alice!)  Allocate some time every day to this cause. You are continuously improving yourself here. That alone is worth shouting about, it's taking action.

Step 3 - Be open to end up somewhere totally new. Life flows. You are not restricted to picking a career at 17 years old and sticking with it through to retirement anymore. In fact, future of work studies indicate that a freelance economy is on our doorstep. This means having a handful of skills and then lobbying your way into termed contracts that might cover a hundred different industries. Or vice versa. That photography hobby could lead you to your next role, and it might be nothing to do with what you do now, or photography. Make sure you don't box yourself in by labels and titles. Oh and my one big tip here, is that the more people who say NO, DON'T and STOP to you = keep going. Keep searching. Find stories that interest you, inspire you and feed you. 

Lastly it is important to be patient. Continuous development and self awareness flows onward. It doesn't stop, it doesn't go backwards and it doesn't measure itself in time, but in strength and viscosity. Some months and days you are strong and firm in your path, others you are drippy and inconsistent. Every day, however you are going somewhere. Just one week of this, spending an hour a day researching things that interest you and exploring your options with an open mind develops your thinking and promotes better decision making. 

Happy exploring ! 

Trish

 

 

Transforming Goal Setting - Redefining GROW - introducing ORGW

 Photography by Trish Nicklin

Photography by Trish Nicklin

Ready for an adventure? Goal setting for 2018

As many of you will know, I am in the midst of completing an Executive Program in Transformational Management co directed by the Australian Transformation and Turnaround Association and the Australian National University in Canberra.  Apart from the joy of being in a room four times a year with 13 of the most wonderful minds this nation has in this field, I get to meet an array of extraordinary academics, practitioners and professionals, each who challenge us on a number of topics. 

During the November 2017 residency, we were doing some work on various models, playing around with them for use in transformation programs. Whilst not specifically part of the program the old faithful GROW model crossed my path again. Now I don't specifically like this model, and I hadn't put much time into why it bothered me so much.

Until now. 

For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the GROW model was developed in the 1980's by Alexander, Fine and Whitmore. It has been extensively used as a tool in coaching and development ever since. In fact, most corporate lifers will have been taught to set goals using the GROW method at least once if not more often in their career. It posits the theory of process in thinking through goal setting so that there is clarity in the goal, evidence in the theory behind the goal, practicality in planning for the goal to be achieved; and therefore more chance of the goal being successfully achieved. 

 Graham Alexander, Alan Fine + John Whitmore 

Graham Alexander, Alan Fine + John Whitmore 

After playing around with it again and applying some #CriticalThinking, the problem I had with this model and still have with it -  is that it assumes you know what your goals are before you start. 

Let's be honest, the truth of the matter is that most of us have a bunch of idea's, a couple of fantasy's ( or more!!!) and a heap of whimsy. Using the GROW process means we rush through the REAL work, which is sifting and sorting through all this stuff going on in our minds and finding out which of these concepts and idea's is the best choice to make when sitting down to set our goal. So instead of careful, considered thinking and sorting, we tend to choose whichever suits the occasion. The danger being that we disregard something fundamentally important to our own happiness. 

For example - you are at work and sitting down to write your goals for the upcoming year. What do you do? You rummage through your brain to find something "work related and sensible" and pick that one. You know you do this.  The clock is ticking, it's a task to be ticked off and you have only got so much time to do it before you need to move onto the next item on your to do list. So you grab something that flies past your mind,  then you sharpen it into something politically appetizing, polish it up to sound professional and carry off on the rest of the process [your ROW].

But did you ever think if that was even near to being appropriate to what you really want, and how it fits into the rest of you? Probably not. If anything you were just getting on with the task hoping the hours would tick by and you can knock off and go home to do something really interesting...

This is my big bug bear with the GROW model. It overlooks the thinking and sifting and  sorting process before you actually get to your goal. 

Never fear. I have fixed it for you. 

Introducing ORGW It just needed to be moved around a bit so that it fits the mindset of the modern age and mind. 

 Property of CriticalQ December 2017 Trish Nicklin

Property of CriticalQ December 2017 Trish Nicklin

Step 1 - Options and Obstacles and Oblivion

So now we start with all that wonderful stuff going on in our heads, and we list it ALL down. Whimsy, Fantasy, Needs, Wants, Desires - all of it ( as long as it is legal and doesn't hurt anyone else!) 

Step 2 - Reality, Reasonableness and Radioactivity

Then, we can go through the list and assess each one, striking off the overly ridiculous, illegal and insane, and pulling out the maybe's, possibly's and potentials! I always say you should include some fun ones and some dreams. Never let a good chance go! 

Step 3 - Goals, Game-play and Gumption

NOW we can start setting the goal based around what will actually work, what we can locate the resources to aid us, and what we think we have the guts to be getting on with. 

Step 4 - Way forward, willingly, with style. 

No point setting a goal if you can't work out how you are going to get started. Plot the first few steps and make a note to come back and plot the next once they are done or nearly done. Things are going to change, obstacles are going to get hurled in your path or maybe you will slide on your backside down a rainbow faster than anticipated. The point here is to work out what to do to get started and to ......get started. Then plot the next bit....etc. 

So there you have it, give it a go and see if it works better for you this way. I hope it does!

Good luck planning for 2018

Cheers

Trish

December 2017