Top Business Books: Career Edition

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career
Reading time: 1

Following up my post about classic business books, here are my picks for excellent sources of career inspiration. These help one get over the main, faulty assumptions about jobs and careers that strangle would-be pursuers of their passions and life work.

  • What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles. This perennial is popular for a very good reason: it gives practical, current, and hopeful advice and tools to find a job, change or grow your career, or start a business. Best part: the Flower, a powerful exercise for discovering your career passion, calling, or life’s work.
  • Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence Boldt. Pick up this book, scan it. Pause anywhere and dive in. You’ll come out with insights into most every aspect of your career development. Zen is deep and yin where Color is direct and yang. Use these two books together for best effect. Best part of Zen: the quotes from the world’s philosophers and leaders that invite needed personal reflection in uncovering mission, values, passions, skills, etc.

Guess what? Leading change is really hard!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 4 min.

Read the cover story of the May 2005 issue of Fast Company: Change or Die. When you read that changing people’s behavior is difficult–really, really difficult–are you more shocked or are you more relieved? As a leader, do you see this as sad news or is it justification of what you’ve always known? Either way, there’s cause for excitement. Sure, the odds are against you; they are against everyone. But you can beat the odds. Here’s how.

  1. Get the context right – this stuff is hard but worth it. Your success as a leader depends on it. Havard Business School professor John Kotter, as quoted in Fast Company, says, “The central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems. The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people.”
  2. Accept reality – if you know how difficult it is to change people’s behavior, you’ll put in the required effort to make change happen. You won’t over-optimistically assume that policy or charisma or any other point solution will handle things. And you won’t brush under the carpet the focus needed to affect change in people.
  3. Understand behavior – study it, query it, confrm it. Make a study of people’s behaviors. There are patterns of behavior out there that you can see and decode. Use tools and methods like the DISC. You’ll be surprised how much you already know. Test your understanding by asking questions. “Has this person given up or am I seeing her quiet-and-committed style?” “How can I diffuse the beligerence of these aggressive types?” Get the input of others to validate you conclusions.
  4. Actively influence and support behavior changeCommunicate. OVERcommunicate! Communicating facts is okay; you’ll win when you address emotions. John Kotter says, “Behavior change happens mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.” And, from the article,
    • Re-define the context of change. People get stuck when they can’t see and break out of their old frames of reference. Give them a new one that’s simple, positive, and resonant.
    • Make bold changes. They’re scarier but they create success faster which supports further change.
    • Provide support. Use as your role definition the CEO in Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.” His advice is to get your team solid, set the vision (“organizational clarity”). constantly re-inforce that vision, and build human systems (e.g. training, compensation, hiring) that support that vision.
  5. Model change youself. The adage, “The fish rots from the head,” says it plainly. If you want to see change in your organization, open to changing yourself. I can’t emphasize this enough. As leader, people look to you for cues. Your organization is ever a reflection of your views and beliefs, stong or weak, positive or negative. It mirrors you. Here are some tips: Give up having to know it all. Give up having to look good. Question practices. Build strong personal habits. Hire a coach! 🙂 Seek feedback. Surround yourself with people of high integrity. Develop your character. Redefine your role as enabler of others. Delegate well. Eliminate stress and build health. Adopt a practical task/action management system. And take everything a step at a time.

You see, you can affect change. You need to find and push on the right levers of vision, emotion, and integrity. I recommend you do this because the alternative isn’t so hot.

Guess what? Leading change is really hard!

The best way to get a job.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Job search
Reading time: 7 min.

How do you find and land a great job?

A great job is one that  suits you, rewards you, lets you offer your best to the world…and pays the bills!

There are many paths to landing a great job.  The one I’ve outlined works well and is more likely to get you a great job.

Slow down, avoid blasting out resumes.

Pause for moment.  Take a deep breath–or three.  If you are anxious to get started, worried about begin out of work or about making a transition to a new job, you’re going to want to jump in and get going.  I’m all for that.  Where you need caution is in the type of activity you choose to do.

Just like your Thanksgiving meal is 90% preparation and 10% eating, just as a good contractor wouldn’t start slapping together some 2x4s when someone asks for an addition to their house, your job search will be most successful when you spend the proper time up front and prepare.

Avoid the well-trod path

In general, this means not “sending out resumes.”  Though it seems like the most basic thing you can do to get into action and get a job, it’s actually not that productive.  Reason: it puts you in the position of a commodity and has you playing the wrong side of a numbers game. (more…)

Top Business Books: Career Edition

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Success
Reading time: 1

Following up my post about classic business books for an Insightful Leader, here are my picks for excellent sources of career inspiration. These help one get over the main, faulty assumptions about jobs and careers that strangle would-be pursuers of their passions and life work.

  • What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles. This perennial is popular for a very good reason: it gives practical, current, and hopeful advice and tools to find a job, change or grow your career, or start a business. Best part: the Flower, a powerful exercise for discovering your career passion, calling, or life’s work.
  • Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Laurence Boldt. Pick up this book, scan it. Pause anywhere and dive in. You’ll come out with insights into most every aspect of your career development. Zen is deep and yin where Color is direct and yang. Use these two books together for best effect. Best part of Zen: the quotes from the world’s philosophers and leaders that invite needed personal reflection in uncovering mission, values, passions, skills, etc.

Life mission: example

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Career, Good: Your Good Work, Sweetspot
Reading time: 1

Here’s a quote from William Henry Channing who lived in the heart of the 19th century. Funny how some things still resonate decades–even more than a century–later.

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to the stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconsicous, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.

And that is not a bad manifesto, I’d say.

Classics in Insightful Leadership

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Success
Reading time: 4 min.

Bookstores have many great books about business and leadership. All shine a strong light on ways to be a better leader, run a more effective business, or play a stronger game personally and professionally. I read many of the books that hit these shelves because, as Tim Sanders (author of a couple of good books himself, including Love is The Killer App) says, “books should be your (knowledge) diet’s staple.” Each one usually has something of value to teach and that I can pass on to others. Yet time and again, I return to a small set of books that cover the issues so well. Listed below, in no particular order, are my top 10. Many are long-time popular titles that still sell well, even many years after publication. Others are lesser-known gems. These ten I recommend whole heartedly to all Insightful Leaders. (more…)

Set your (personal) mission (a.k.a. We goofy consultants)

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Success
Reading time: 3 min.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cited this “fact” to my clients: in a study of Yale graduates tracked over the decades, the most successful (the top 3%) had one thing in common: they all set their goals. Turns out I should have done my homework. A recent article in Fast Company shows that this study never happened. Just goes to show how silly we consultants can be.

This debunking notwithstanding, goal setting has its place. You benefit from simply going through a goal setting exercise. Pausing to take stock, question assumptions, and look freshly at things in your world leads to helpful insights. Your biggest insights are those that highlight your purpose(s) in life. (more…)

The First Obstacle to Leadership

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Success
Reading time: 6 min.

What’s your reaction to this idea?

As a leader, you may be Overvaluing Your Individual Contribution.

You may cringe, shrug, or have a different reaction. If you cringe, you may face this obstacle in leadership. If not, read on; you may know and need to help someone who must overcome this obstacle. (more…)