I was watching a video of what Matthew Stafford said to Joe Burrow (this year’s Super Bowl-winning and -losing quarterbacks, respectively) on the field after the Super Bowl was over, and I thought, “What, really, is the difference between these two men at the end of this game? [Read more…] about Celebrate Your Losses
Managing Your Career
The goalkeeper for the university soccer team was ready. The ball was coming down the field toward him, two forwards passing it between them as his own teammates unable to steal it away. He saw the shot coming, crouched, and leaped left. The kick was beautiful. The keeper’s fingertips brushed the ball but not enough to stop the score. [Read more…] about Call Out the Good Stuff
In 2012, I was passed over for a CEO position, one I thought would be mine. I desperately wanted to be a CEO. I had worked for a few examples of “not so great” CEOs, and I just knew I could do it better. It was the next step in a successful career. It was what I knew everyone expected for me. [Read more…] about What Is Your Definition of Success
Jenni Broyles: VP and GM, North America & Global Outdoor, Wrangler – Kontoor Brands, Inc.
Kathleen Ligocki: Board Director and Serial CEO
Carol Seymour: Founder and CEO – Signature Leaders
Katy Vu: CFO of North America – Bunzl
While the impacts of the Great Resignation ripple through all organizations, leaders are finding it difficult to slow the attrition rates, especially for women. Identifying and solving the reasons why employees are moving elsewhere may be as challenging as coping with the resulting vacancies. In a recent gathering of top-level Signature executives, Jenni Broyles, VP and GM for North America & Global Outdoor at Wrangler, pointed out: “Where I think we’re blowing the executive team’s mind is why people are leaving. Some are just burned out. They’re not leaving because they have another mega job. They’re just tired; they’re going to take a break… These kinds of reasons, you can’t throw money at.” [Read more…] about Keeping Your Top Talent Means Recognizing and Investing in Them
Teri McClure: Board Director, Retired General Counsel and CHRO – UPS
LeighAnne Baker: Board Director, Retired CHRO – Cargill
Bentina Terry: SVP, Region External Affairs & Community Engagement – Georgia Power
As we all know, office politics can be messy, at best. At worst, they block productivity and frustrate employees to the point of quitting.
Ever been in this situation?
Your organization has an initiative that needs to get across the finish line. There are key players involved who can either help or hurt the initiative’s success. You’re a team member just trying to get the job done, but because of the politics you perceive around you, it’s challenging to get clear direction, let alone a green light.
[Read more…] about Navigating Office Politics is Mostly About Navigating Relationships
“People sometimes ask me, ‘What’s the time commitment to sponsor someone?’ And I reply, ‘What’s the time commitment to be a leader?’” — Carol Seymour, CEO of Signature Leaders
Who benefits most from a culture of sponsorship?
The answer might seem obvious at first. When championed by senior leaders, protégés — particularly women or those from other underrepresented groups — find their ceilings lifted and their career advancement accelerated.
This truth is rooted, however, in understanding that underrepresented individuals can’t — and shouldn’t be asked to — do all the work of blazing new pathways to a more inclusive organization. They need sponsors who see their potential and advocate on their behalf. They need an organizational culture that values, welcomes, and rewards the fullness of their diverse perspectives and unique gifts. [Read more…] about The Superpowers of Diversity Sponsorship
For the first 20 years of my career, every time I was promoted, I felt “lucky.” It took me that long to realize it wasn’t luck at all.
During 15 of those years, I worked with a U.S. paper manufacturer. I advanced my way up through the sales division to become Sales Director. I shifted into the company’s marketing operation and eventually was named Director of Market Development and Sales.
Strategies I led increased revenues by $78 million and improved mill productivity by 35%. Yet every time I was promoted, I felt like I had been lucky. Every single time.
Nevertheless, Accenture saw something in me and hired me away. They gave me a big salary and a big title, and I still thought I was the luckiest person around.
At Accenture, as I applied my skills and expertise to helping other companies grow, I finally started to see it. The knowledge, insights, and abilities I had developed over the years were all very valuable to Accenture and our clients. I was very valuable.
In less than a year, I was promoted to Associate Partner, a rapid ascent that was unheard of at Accenture. And I finally knew that it had nothing to do with luck.
At Signature, we cover this theme in our programs, but it is time to revisit.
How do you create your own “luck”? How do you prepare to capitalize on your next opportunity?
It is predicted that half of the S&P 500 will no longer be a part of that list within 10 years.1
Disruption is all around us, and it is continuous. There will always be new markets created, financial market crises, election years, trade wars, virus breakouts, floods and other natural disasters, and more. Last year alone, the amount spent investing in digital technology reached almost $2 trillion. The creation and pace of new business models such as Uber, Airbnb, Tesla, and others will continue to disrupt the way we innovate, organize, develop and train, and most importantly, lead.
When we are the business that is getting disrupted, it’s easy to fall ball back on what we know. Neuroscience tells us that when we are in high-stress situations, it’s easy to resort to familiar patterns and experiences that have worked for us before. Unfortunately, our tendency is to back away from learning during stress, but we do our best thinking – and learning – when we are in uncharted territory! When we are not the experts, we become the “interns,” and we begin to ask thoughtful questions, take in new data, and pull diverse thinkers and experience into the discussion.
Jan aspired to be the COO. It wasn’t something she had planned on early in her career, but when she got to mid-management, she was put in charge of a major initiative to help fix an operationally deficient business unit. She found she was good at identifying quick wins and quickly making a difference. She began to be recognized for her work and was given more of the same. Her mentor told her she should think about the COO role in her future. She felt honored that he thought of her that way, and the recognition invigorated her to strongly consider that path. Pretty soon, the vision crystallized in her mind, and she began to articulate that, one day, she wanted to be the COO.
This sounds like the beginning of a story with a happy ending. Jan capitalized on recognition, took in the counsel of a mentor, and began to vocalize her aspirations. But there was one thing she didn’t know until it was too late. Jan had the wrong goal. When she became COO, she immediately knew she was in the wrong job. It was not what she anticipated it to be.
You are a top performer and have been for your whole career. Your manager knows it and is a great mentor and coach. But what if your manager leaves the company? How well are you known throughout the rest of the organization?
You may be doing very well with your own work group, perhaps even across your business unit. But what about beyond your day-to-day routines and meetings. How many relationships do you have across the enterprise in other units? In other geographies? In different functions?
If the scouting report on you is “she is a top performer, she always gets things done,” that’s good! But it’s not good enough. What is it about you that is valuable to others?
“Stop right there,” she said. “I’m in.”
I was dumbfounded that Ronee Hagen, CEO of PGI, Inc. (a Blackstone Company), had just agreed to join us as our CEO guest at a Signature Program. It was 2013. I had been introduced to her only a few weeks before by a mutual contact who thought we might hit it off with a joint passion for developing more women leaders. But I was just a new entrepreneur starting to gather some momentum and Ronee was the CEO of a company with over $7B in revenue.
But her response wasn’t luck.
The foundation for this successful conversation had started years before that call.
At this point in 2018, you have probably heard the term “reverse mentoring.” It is where less experienced professionals mentor their own leaders. Cox Communications, located here in Atlanta, GA, is doing this using the Wisdom Warriors book to facilitate discussions. Many other companies are employing this relatively new concept to get the most out of their workforce and give their leaders access to the skills and knowledge available in its up-and-comers. Reverse mentoring allows companies to bring new perspectives into leadership conversations and make it a safe space to give and receive information. [Read more…] about “E” is for: Enlighten your Sponsor with new intelligence he/she may not have access to
“I had a wonderful sponsor in my company who was two levels above me, until she decided to take a position in another organization. Suddenly, I was left without an advocate at my company.”
-Susan Beat, Senior Vice President at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Research shows that individuals who are most satisfied with their rate of advancement are individuals with sponsors. It’s great to have a sponsor. But it’s even better to have more than one. As Susan found out, there is a risk in hooking your star to just one person in upper management. When that person moves on from your organization, you can be left without a sponsor to advocate on your behalf.
What does it mean to internalize something such as feedback in a workplace? We know that feedback helps us learn and improve. We know that frequent feedback leads to better performance. So why do we shy away from asking for feedback?
Early in my career, I waited for my annual performance review to get feedback. I was nervous, and if I heard, “You are doing great,” I would smile, sigh with relief, and move the conversation to other topics. Receiving feedback can be uncomfortable, but it is invaluable for your career development. If you don’t take the opportunity to ask real, probing questions, you might not get the feedback you need until it is too late.
Most companies do not have a culture of providing regular or unsolicited feedback, so you have to be proactive. Establish a regular cadence of asking for input. Your manager, your peers, your direct reports, and especially your sponsor, who is invested in your success, can be great sources of feedback – if you know how to ask. [Read more…] about What Does It Mean To Internalize Something
“You are responsible for driving your own career.” It’s a refrain we have all heard before, and it may seem obvious, so why do so many people struggle to do this effectively? Often, it is because we don’t know where we want to go. We can’t picture a career path because we can’t picture the destination. What if I told you that you don’t need to know where you want to go?
Your mentors, coaches, and most of all, your sponsors can help you pick a destination.
You just need to be able to articulate your value – your unique gifts – that will help you on the journey. If you can’t describe your own value, how can you expect anyone else to promote you?
In this blog on how to SHINE and earn a sponsor, we emphasize the importance of identifying your unique gifts, articulating them to potential sponsors, and utilizing your sponsors’ broader knowledge of the business to pick the best opportunities for you and your career.
What are you passionate about?
To find out, start with this simple exercise. On a piece of paper, create a left column and a right column. Each evening, on the left side, record your highest energy moment of the day; the point where you felt like you were “on fire.” On the right side, put down the moment that drained your energy; when you felt like you were “off.” [Read more…] about “H” is for: Help your sponsor articulate your value – know your unique gifts and strengths