Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The top five most-read articles this month

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In case you didn't get a chance to browse the women's leadership blog in the past month, here are the top five most-read articles.
Enjoy!

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Rujul Pathak, Cisco Systems



Name: Rujul Pathak
Current title: Sr. Program Manager Company: Cisco Systems
Favorite leadership quote: Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. —General Dwight Eisenhower

“...it is important to always keep the end-result in mind.”

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?
That it is important to always keep the end-result in mind. That sometimes you need to reprioritize in order to achieve business critical needs. That people skills are very important. That working smart is more important than working hard. And last but not the least, if what you speak during a meeting does not add value to the dialogue or increase understanding of attendees then it is better to keep quiet.

“Leadership is not a ‘one size fits all’ thing; often, you must adapt your approach to fit the situation.”

What is your leadership style?
My leadership style is transformational. If I may expand on that- I believe that Transformational leaders have integrity and high emotional intelligence. In my leadership style I also motivate people with a shared vision of the future, and keep the communication very transparent. I am very self-aware, authentic, empathetic, and humble and can bring that to the team.

As a Transformational leader, I inspire the team members because I expect the best from everyone, and hold myself accountable for their actions. I set clear goals, and use my good conflict-resolution skills within the team if the need arises. This certainly leads to high productivity and engagement. However needless to say, leadership is not a “one size fits all” thing; often, you must adapt your approach to fit the situation, which I tend to do.

“Don’t be afraid to say how good you are in a particular scenario and how you are a perfect fit for a potential leadership position — sometimes that’s all you need to get there.”

What are some top tips you can recommend to other women who want to be recognized as a high potential emerging leader?
Have a plan and follow it. By this I mean that you need to really detail out timelines (by when do you want to be in a leadership role), strategy (how are you going to position yourself), and execution (how are you actually going to put the plan into action). More often than not, as women we do not emphasize our value in the organization as much as men do. We go above and beyond, we over achieve; but then we don’t find it necessary to communicate our wins and graciously accept kudos.

I strongly feel that as women we have to start putting ourselves in the limelight whenever deserved and put ourselves front and center whenever the opportunity arises. Don’t be afraid to say how good you are in a particular scenario and how you are a perfect fit for a potential leadership position — sometimes that’s all you need to get there.

“My manager was visibly thrilled (with the end result) and as a testament to how proud he was he endorsed me for ‘Cross Functional Leadership’ on my LinkedIn profile that same day!”

What professional accomplishment or result have you achieved in the past year that you are proud of?
I lead an initiative in my organization that entails working with executives (Sr. Director/VP level). When we were outlining the goal for this fiscal year, there was a particular part in that goal that my manager did not agree with. He pushed back on that critical part of the goal and said we couldn’t possibly sell it to executives. My approach was that we need to at least try before assuming something won’t be accepted. I took on the challenge and told him that if I am able to sell the idea and get an approval, would he be willing to consider including that critical component in the overall goal? He agreed and I set to work.

I socialized the idea with a variety of stakeholder groups and got their buy-in. Finally, I presented it to the Operations Lead for the Sr. VP who was going to approve/disapprove the idea. She loved it. So much so that she wrote me an email with a copy to my manager about how great the idea was and how she couldn’t wait for us to present to the Sr. VP.

My manager was visibly thrilled and as a testament to how proud he was he endorsed me for ‘Cross Functional Leadership’ on my LinkedIn profile that same day! Needless to say, we were able to get the goal approved and currently that goal (including the critical component) is part of the review process for over 5000 employees within Cisco Services.

“I also liked how she (Jo Miller) reinforced the most important points at the end of each session; as well as, giving the class an action list before closing each module.”

You recently completed the Take Charge of Your Career Trajectory virtual group coaching program, led by Jo Miller. What did you gain from the class that you will use moving forward in your career?
Jo explained how important it is to really take charge of our career ourselves. The most important lesson I learned from the class was how it is important to work smarter rather than work harder.

I loved all the topics that she covered and was particularly impressed with how methodical and articulate Jo was. She was always well prepared and always willing to answer any questions that came up. I really liked her approach and presentation style. I also liked how she reinforced the most important points at the end of each session; as well as, giving the class an action list before closing each module. It helps to make for an easy transition, which I can implement immediately into my career plan.

I would highly recommend this coaching program to all women leaders and aspiring women leaders.

Want to reach out to Rujul directly? Connect with her via LinkedIn.

How to Lead in a Meeting When You’re Not the Leader

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you view meetings as a necessary evil to suffer through, you might be missing out on the ideal setting to showcase your leadership skills.

As Luann Pendy, vice president of global quality at Medtronic explains, “Meetings are your greatest opportunity to be visible and show your organization what you bring to the table.” 


Read Jo Miller's article for The Daily Muse.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Toni Henning, Chevron




It is our great pleasure to introduce Toni Henning as this month’s Emerging Leader. Toni leads with a ‘get it done’ personality and inspires others through her visible actions. Toni is an energetic and engaging professional; she enjoys building relationships and helping others do the same and even has her own professional development book in the works!


Name: Toni Henning
Current title: Global Strategic Technology Planning
Company: Chevron
Favorite leadership quote (optional):“You get what you tolerate.”


“You don’t have to create conflict to learn about your colleagues...you must listen and authentically study others to have this relationship insight.”

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?
My role within Chevron is one of influence leadership to a magnitude of global technical and business leaders. I engage colleagues across functions and across the globe. My biggest learning from this diverse collaborative role is the importance of relationship management. To truly connect with others, I need to know the individual – know what they value, recognize their experience, know how they operate and understand their preferred communication style – every individual is unique.

Early in role, I sent an email which caused a stir of conflict where I had four colleagues each react differently, in their own way. One person approached me in the hall with direct confrontation, one sent me a long questioning email, one called my boss and one was absolutely silent. This was excellent data about how best to engage each colleague in the future regarding tough topics.

You don’t have to create conflict to learn about your colleagues like in my example, but you must listen and authentically study others to have this relationship insight. Work on building healthy relationships first and you can then influence with success very quickly.

“I’ve been described by others as an action-oriented leader. I like to get things done, completed and crossed off the list.”

What is your leadership style?
I’ve been described by others as an action-oriented leader. I like to get things done, completed and crossed off the list. I become impatient at times when others cannot proceed as quickly as I might want but I have come to recognize this urgency for execution is my own expectation. I now practice patience and use my ‘get it done’ personality in the hope that I can inspire others through my visible actions.

“Serving on a nonprofit board has been a great way to develop and demonstrate leadership and decision making skills...”

What steps are you currently taking to improve yourself, professionally?
I am President of National Association of Women MBAs – Houston Professional Chapter, an organization with the mission to empower and propel women into leadership positions. Serving on a nonprofit board has been a great way to develop and demonstrate leadership and decision making skills and the experience may prove beneficial for corporate board recruitment later in my career.

Reading books and blogs about leadership, communication and change management keep me in a continuous learning mode. When I find a book or article that resonates with me, I share within my network.

Most recently added to my development repertoire, is dedicated time for thought and reflection. Much can be gained by stopping to think, develop inference and acknowledge lessons learned. Given my ‘get up and go nature’ this pause and documentation of experience tidbits, means I have my own professional development book in the making – always there for reference later or to help develop others.

“As an emerging leader... I agree with Jo that one must seek opportunities to demonstrate leadership before being ‘given permission’.”

You attended the 14th Annual Women in Leadership Conference at Rice University in Houston, TX where Jo Miller presented the topic was Build Your Brand as a Rising Woman of Influence. What were your greatest takeaways from the session?
Jo Miller always delivers an exceptional program. She opened the session with the emerging leader’s quandary, “You can’t get a higher level job without leadership experience…but you can’t get the experience without the job.” As an emerging leader myself, I can appreciate this concept, and I agree with Jo that one must seek opportunities to demonstrate leadership before being ‘given permission’. It’s not a title that makes you a leader, it’s the ability to remember the big picture while you motivate and inspire others. This ability can be honed in every meeting and on every project. If you continually exhibit leadership without authority, over time you will be recognized as a leader, and the career success will follow.

Jo walked us through how to first develop a leadership brand and to then make that brand visible. She shared that leaders with outstanding careers are known for delivering results. In my career, I have observed that demonstrated performance is recognized, but you must know what’s valued to ensure results have measurable impact. Results mean planning turned to execution and delivery of tangible success which is valuable to your team, company and shareholders.

_________________ 

Want to reach out to Toni directly? Connect with her via LinkedIn.

Know Your Niche: 5 Leadership Quotes about Finding Your Career Sweet Spot


Before climbing the career ladder, ask yourself, “Is my ladder propped against the right building?” Don’t just focus on getting the next job. Sustainable, long-term advancement comes more easily when you set out on the right career trajectory in the first place. Before committing yourself doggedly to simply “getting ahead,” do some serious self-reflection and identify a career “sweet spot,” or niche, that fits your passions, values, and strengths.

To help you find your career sweet spot, I’ve corralled some of my favorite leadership quotes about niche-finding and gathered them here to help you systematically drill down to where you want to lead, and how best to achieve that goal:

Know your vision, values, and goals

Romea Smith is the Senior Vice President, Customer Support, for CA Technologies. Romea suggests that you, Establish your personal vision, values, and goals because if you have those, you know where you want to go. It helps you to see when there are opportunities that fit in with that vision. It keeps you from going on a path that is not consistent with what you believe in.”

Romea continues, “If we have a clear idea of what our personal values are, then we don’t take on things that cause us to sacrifice our self-esteem or integrity. We know exactly what we need to sustain us and to fulfill the goals that we have set out to achieve, and we apologize to no one for that. Knowing our own personal values allows us to understand how the organizational values align with our own.”

Identify your passion and where it fits

Sharell Sandvoss is the Vice President Finance Director Europe for Brown-Forman Beverages, whose portfolio includes such brands as Jack Daniels, Canadian Mist and Southern Comfort. With a passion for fine spirits and bold leadership, Sharell is a perfect fit for the organizational vision of her company.

But what about you? To find out, Sharell suggests, “Know your passion and evaluate how it fits with your role, your company, and the strategy of the company. Make sure you’re comfortable doing what it is that you want to do. It’s the best for you, your company, and your career in general.”

Develop your own style

As the Territory Services Leader for IBM, Debra Aerne knows both the value of leadership and of crafting one’s own style while moving up the corporate ladder. Indeed, that’s her advice for emerging leaders: “Develop your own style,” she recommends. “Figure out what works for you and mold the process to match your strengths. Building on that style, be thoughtful and define what success means to you. Don’t look at how other people do it and try to emulate that because if it’s not genuine, it won’t be true, and it won’t reflect well on you.”

Know what you’re not good at

Jill Jones is Executive Vice President and President, North America and Latin America for the Brown-Forman Corporation. Jill believes strongly that you should, “Know what you are good at and what you are not good at. Before you take a job,” she warns, “sit down and ask yourself, “What am I really, really good at and what do I need to develop?” Then ask, “What does the job call for, and am I a good match for that? Can I be successful?” If it is not a good match, will you be able to develop that skill set? That is the first hurdle.”

Know yourself and be authentic

Dara Bazzano Jones, VP of Finance, Controller, GAP Inc., has the final word when it comes to finding your career sweet spot, and it’s a fitting message for any stage of your career.

“Know yourself and be authentic,” she says. “People know when you’re a fake, and they’re not going to trust or respect you if that’s the case. So, be who it is that you are. You’ll be amazed at how much further you’ll get within an organization when you embrace being yourself.”

This starts with being real about the job, the opportunity it presents, and whether or not it’s the right fit. Finally, Dara suggests, “If your skill sets match up to the job, then ask yourself, ‘Is this someone I want to work for?’ Even if you have everything worked out, even if it’s a promotion, if you don’t want to work for this person, in the end, it either breaks your spirit, or you don’t succeed.”
 

Before you take your next step up the corporate ladder, make sure it’s in the direction of your sweet spot!

Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. and a leading authority on women’s leadership.

Are you a rising women of influence? To have leadership articles and advice delivered to your inbox, sign up for Jo's newsletter. Or follow Jo on Twitter at @womensleadershp.

Monday, March 10, 2014

8 Ways to Stay Motivated and Engaged at Work (slideshow)

By Jo Miller, CEO, Women's Leadership Coaching, Inc.

We’ve all had days where we felt crushed by our workload. Here are eight ways to be a high performer during stressful times at work.

Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. and a leading authority on women’s leadership. Are you a rising women of influence? To have leadership articles and advice delivered to your inbox, sign up for Jo's newsletter. Or follow Jo on Twitter at @womensleadershp.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Being Strategic: The Three Components of a Good Strategy, with Ellie Pidot of Medronic

By Jo Miller, CEO, Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc.

You may be a good tactician, known for your ability to get your job done and deliver results. But what if you were asked to move into a position that required you to be more strategic? How would you make the transition from being reactive to thinking and acting strategically? And what is strategy, anyway?


Ellie Pidot should know. In her position as vice president of strategy at Medtronic, Pidot works closely with the CEO and senior management team to lead the development of corporate strategy and improve the quality of strategic decision-making companywide.

Pidot recommends that any good strategy needs three characteristics: to be forward looking, aspirational and grounded in facts.

Step 1: Focus Forward

Pidot advises that to be truly effective, a strategy must be forward-focused.

“To move from getting caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of the job and become more strategic, you need to be looking ahead,” Pidot advises.

But how? She recommends asking yourself, “What is the world going to look like, five or 10 years from now? How are the dynamics that I am operating in going to change over time? How can I put into place a set of actions to get me to where the world is going to be?”

Being more predictive, versus more reactive, will help us all to focus more on the future and the past, and start thinking ahead rather than looking behind.

Step 2: Keep Your Eyes on the Stars, But Your Feet on the Ground

A good strategy needs to be aspirational, while recognizing your starting point and constraints.

“You need to be bold enough in your aspirations that you can get excited about it because you are going to spend a lot of time working on your strategy,” Pidot stresses. “But at the same time recognize where you are today, and what constraints you might have on the potential actions that are at your disposal.”

Every job has “guardrails,” Pidot warns, but those inevitable limitations can’t define your goals – or career. “It is a careful balance,” she warns. “You can’t get too far ahead of yourself, but at the same time you don’t want to limit yourself.”

Step 3: Be Fact Based

A common misconception about strategy is that it requires thinking at the high level and not digging down into the detail it requires to effectively perform day-to-day tasks.

So, how can we get out of “detail mode” and be more strategic in our thinking?

Pidot advises: “One of the common reasons that strategies fail is that they are not grounded in facts, data and a deep understanding of your customers and business environment. One of the most important elements of strategy is moving away from ‘managing by anecdote’ and developing a much more systematic approach using facts, data and analysis.”

Parting Words

By following Ellie Pidot’s Three Components of a Good Strategy you, too, become a skilled strategist and your organization’s “go to” person for all things forward focused, aspirational and fact-based.

Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. and a leading authority on women’s leadership.

Are you a rising women of influence? Sign up for Jo's newsletter and get leadership articles and advice delivered to your inbox. Or follow Jo on Twitter at @womensleadershp.

Ask an Executive: What is Strategy? With Ellie Pidot of Medtronic

By Jo Miller, CEO, Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc.

Do you have what it takes to be a good leader? You may be a good tactician, but what if you were asked to move into a position that required you to be more strategic? Could you make the transition from being reactive to thinking and acting strategically? 


Ellie Pidot knows more about strategy than most of us will forget! In her position as vice president of strategy at Medtronic, Pidot works closely with the CEO and senior management team to lead the development of corporate strategy and improve the quality of strategic decision-making companywide.

So what is a seasoned executive strategist's definition of strategy? Pidot explains, “Strategy is a fancy word for coming up with a long-term plan and putting it into action.” In addition to developing corporate strategy at the highest level with the senior executive team, Pidot also works with Medtronic’s eight business units and various regions worldwide, helping to facilitate their strategic planning process.

One of Pidot’s top tips for being a better strategist is to “collaborate, collaborate, collaborate,” and her approach to strategy creation involves serving as a thought partner to executives across the company.

Pidot begins by asking questions that provoke the type of deeply reflective thinking that enables a business or region to develop its own strategy. Typical questions she recommends asking when formulating a strategy are:

• What are your customers’ unmet needs?
• How should your strategy address them?
• How will your markets be different in the future than they are today?
• What can you do to position yourself for the future?
• What is the business case for your investments?
• How will you measure and track performance to ensure impact?

But what if you are not leading a business but are an individual contributor who is trying to be more strategic? Pidot recommends asking similar questions while imagining your boss as a customer.

“Ask yourself, what are your customer’s unmet needs,” she says. “Meaning, what is it that your boss wants and needs? Reflect on your job description and what you know about your boss, and how you could make his or her life easier.”

Pidot also stresses the importance of need prediction. Or, as she explains it, “Look for ways to better predict the kinds of things that they want you to do. By coming up with a list, you can probably anticipate those needs better.”

Planning is also high on Pidot’s list of recommendations: “Have a bias for action and get things done. Have milestones — check them off and follow through. Come up with a plan, and think ahead in a way that is proactive. Being strategic is about having a long-term plan and putting it into action,” she says.

A final key to becoming a better strategist, according to Pidot, is to take the time to think.

“We all have challenges and our days are jam-packed. We are running from meeting to meeting, trying to accomplish more in less time,” Pidot stresses. “It feels sometimes like we don’t even have the time to get our job done, let alone have time to step back. But I can’t overemphasize how important it is to have unstructured time with yourself or with your team, just to think. An agenda-less hour or two is critical for generating creativity and different thinking.”

As you can see, there is more to a good leadership strategy than meets the eye. But with Pidot’s helpful “checklist,” strategizing your way to the top is easier than ever!

Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. and a leading authority on women’s leadership.

Are you a rising women of influence? Sign up for Jo's newsletter to get leadership articles and advice delivered to your inbox. Or follow Jo on Twitter at @womensleadershp.