4 Steps for Business Development Success
During Coronavirus

Contributed by EJ Stern

How can you cultivate and maintain business development success during Coronavirus? I’ve heard from many lawyers lamenting that Coronavirus has brought their business development efforts to a screeching halt. After all, networking and staying top of mind with your clients, prospects and referral sources is absolutely critical to cultivating new business. The nature of business will forever be changed by this pandemic and so too our pursuit of business development. In these challenging times, there are plenty of ways to stay connected with your network.

Avoid Isolation

The business environment has shifted dramatically with a largely remote work force. If you’re feeling isolated because of social distancing, I can assure you that you’re not alone! We are all experiencing the great unknown together. There’s virtually no industry or business untouched by COVID-19. Now is the time to check in with your key clients, targets, referrals and colleagues. It’s also a great excuse to reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken with in a while. There are many great tools to help us stay connected today. Consider a simple phone call, virtual coffee, or a virtual happy hour to bring people together to simply say hi, celebrate a success, or discuss a pressing deal.

Up your Social Media Game

Social media platforms reward engagement. The more you share, the greater visibility you’ll receive. LinkedIn is an excellent platform to broadcast your message, position yourself as a thought leader, and highlight your expertise. If you’ve seen a particularly poignant article, share it. If your company is doing something innovative to address the pandemic, re-share the press release. Be sure to include the importance or impact the article has on your industry, your clients, or your business. Now is a great time to get active on alumni, bar, industry or Inn of Court forums, as well.  Much like a news article, make sure your subject line is on point and draws people into your topic.

Go Virtual

The spring and fall are critical conference and seminar seasons. No doubt you’ve poured countless hours into preparing content, only to find out your big conference or workshop has been canceled. Now is a great time to turn to virtual options. Shift your presentation to a virtual platform like Webex. Lead a small roundtable discussion for clients in the same industry using Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Start a podcast to discuss how Coronavirus is impacting your clients’ business or industry and then broadcast it via LinkedIn. Blog on the latest industry trends and then send it to your firm’s electronic mailing list. There are remarkable free and low-cost tools at your fingertips that you can easily leverage so that you don’t miss out on an opportunity.

Reuse, Recycle, Repeat

Time is particularly precious as you work remotely, likely overseeing your teenager’s virtual classes, chasing after a toddler, or trying to quiet Rover’s bark. Now that you’ve invested your limited time into preparing a presentation or article, maximize your investment. Consider turning it into an advisory for your firm’s newsletter, offering it as a virtual in-house lunch and learn, pitching it to an industry publication, sharing it on LinkedIn, and linking it to your web bio. Give it as much mileage as possible!

And remember, now more than ever, business development is critical to the future success of your practice. We simply don’t know what the future will look like, so take steps today to fill the pipeline for tomorrow.

About the Author

EJ Stern helps her clients cultivate business development best practices and provides the accountability necessary for marketing success. EJ has more than 15 years of experience advising on business development and marketing solutions for professional service organizations, particularly in the legal industry. She has extensive experience coaching lawyers on how to effectively expand their books of business. Her results-oriented approach focuses on identifying and leveraging a professional’s strengths, motivations and work style to grow his/her existing client base and cultivate new leads. If you have questions or would like more information, contact EJ at ejstern@novateurpartners.com.

Tips to Effectively Work from Home

Contributed by Lori Ray.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the globe, more and more leaders and employees are being encouraged to work from home. How do you transition from an office environment to a productive at-home work station? Whether you are new to this situation, or a more experienced remote worker, below are 7 tips to effectively work from home.

1. Work Environment

Currently, the internet is full of photos from around the world showing creative ways people have set up stations to work from home. I have seen ironing boards, laundry baskets, chairs, and shipping boxes being used as makeshift desks. Whether you have the ability to set up a dedicated work space or you are using a corner of your kitchen table as a desk, here are a few ways to set up an effective work environment.

  • Use a supportive, comfortable chair that promotes good posture. Better yet, stand for part of the working day. Employees that use a standing desk have reported less back pain, improved circulation, and better productivity. While working from the comfort of your bed might sound tantalizing at first, you may quickly find that it is difficult to find a position in bed that allows you to comfortably work all day.
  • Set your monitor about an arm’s length from your body, and just slightly under eye level. If you work with paper documents, use (or create) a document holder that will hold your copy close to your monitor, and at or near the same level.
  • Minimize distractions. While some employees find that music or other noise actually helps them be more productive, a blaring TV, kids playing or fighting, and dogs barking throughout the day can add up to being major distractions. If you can’t get to a separate room, and you find yourself constantly being pulled out of your mental focus and concentration, consider wearing headphones while you work. Communicate to the rest of your family or roommates that when you are at your work station, it is important not to interrupt you.

2. Proper Lighting

While it’s very enjoyable to sit in a nice, sunny room, too much light can cause eye strain. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Bright lighting and too much glare can strain your eyes and make it difficult to see objects on your monitor. The worst problems are generally from sources above or behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight.” What can you do to ensure you have proper lighting?

  • If possible, set up your computer monitor so that sources of sunlight are coming from the side, not in front of or behind you.
  • Partially close drapes or blinds to reduce glare from sunlight, while still enjoying some natural light.
  • Dim overhead lights to a comfortable setting.
  • Don’t go to the extreme of reducing lighting so much that the brightness from your monitor is shining like a beacon in the room. The brightness setting of your monitor should closely match the ambient lighting in your environment.

3. Maintain Routine

While your schedule may be much more flexible than it was when you reported to an office, it is important to maintain some structure. Our human bodies and circadian rhythms thrive on routine. So going to bed and waking at the same time each day, showering and dressing (even if it is casually) every day, eating meals around the same time, and turning off your screens before bed will go a long way to help you thrive as you work from home.

It is also helpful to schedule chunks of time that you will do certain things. For example, you could have a routine where you check emails first thing in the morning, tackle a big project before lunch, handle phone and video calls in the afternoon, and then plan tomorrow’s to do list before signing off for the day.

4. Have a Plan

When you work from home, you may find yourself being pulled in multiple directions. It is hard to concentrate on work when you are constantly thinking of the pile of laundry you need to fold, what’s for dinner, and how badly your walls need touchup paint. Having a dedicated list of work tasks will help you focus during work hours. Popular apps like Microsoft ToDo or iOS Reminders allow you to set up separate lists. With the ability to set reminders and recurring tasks, these tools can do wonders to keep you on track. And, of course, a simple checklist using pen and paper is a tried and true method that always works.

5. Stay Connected

Human and social interactions remain vital to wellbeing. In the absence of face-to-face meetings, take advantage of current technology that allows us to interact virtually. Look into programs such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and FaceTime, as video conferencing will become the new normal for now.

6. Take Breaks

Rather than using your breaks to scroll social media, read endless news articles about Coronavirus, or watch YouTube clips, get away from your desk. To prevent body and eye fatigue, try to stand up every hour. Just a quick walk around the room, a gentle stretch, and taking your eyes away from your monitor for only a few minutes each hour can make a world of difference in the long run. Set a timer or use a smartwatch to remind you when it is time to stand.

Go outside. Step out your front or back door at least once a day to get fresh air and sunshine. Daily sun is beneficial for our physical and mental health. Depending on the timing and duration of your sun exposure, consider if you need to protect your skin with sunscreen.

Take a dedicated lunch break. Regardless of whether you are in an office or work from home, it is important to eat away from your desk. Studies show that taking a lunch break allows your mind to recuperate, making you more productive after lunch. Without giving your brain this chance to recharge, you may find yourself suffering from the dreaded afternoon slump.

7. Set Boundaries

At the end of the day, mentally “clock out” from work. Just because your laptop is sitting on your kitchen table doesn’t mean you should respond to emails during dinner. Close your laptop, silence your phone, and enjoy your evening at home as you would if you had physically left the office.

Stay well, stay positive, and enjoy your time as you work from home!

Finishing Well

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

25 years ago I ran my first Marine Corps Marathon and last week I ran my final with the Marine Corps 50k. The conditions were challenging (rain/downpours/wind and then temperatures shot into high 70s), and I am certain some were wondering what they had gotten themselves into.  For me,  it was a privilege to run again in celebration of the Marine Corps (I am a Marine vet – a Captain), veterans, families of those who gave their lives in service to our country and people from around the world in what is known as “the people’s marathon” and 50k.

This day for me, however, was different for another reason and one I want to share.  In every race I have run over the last 25 years, I have always challenged and pushed myself for a best time, a best placement in my age group or even a best overall finish!  Competition is a value of mine and while I have had many great successes, the road is also sprinkled with some pretty epic failures and races in which I was unable to finish.

This race was different.  I didn’t even realize it until the start of the race when I wasn’t pushing myself to the front of the starting corral for position when the cannon went off.   For the first time, I didn’t try to race; instead, I took in the scene, the spectacle.  I looked at monuments, talked to Marines, families of the fallen, fellow runners and spectators.  I simply enjoyed the event and savored the day.   This was a big shift for me, taking off the competitor hat striving for a finish – instead, engaging in the present.

How often do we take off our striving hat, our competitor role and simply engage in the present?  Doing so doesn’t mean we are weak, or without goals.  Remember, I still had to run the 31 miles and finish!  What taking off the hat gave me was hours of time to be grateful for all the previous races and runs and a moment to pause and acknowledge my accomplishments without a focus on “what’s next.”  It gave me an opportunity to smile at the many peaks and valleys (in running and in my career) I have faced along the way, and like leaders in any profession, to smile at the resiliency I developed to navigate them.

Think of what taking off that striving hat and engaging in the present can do for you.  It may give you time to reflect and decide if your direction is really pointing to the destination you want.  It may help you more effectively navigate today’s 24/7 work life integration challenges.  It may help you simply pause, acknowledge your accomplishments and be grateful.  I challenge you to try it.  It helped me acknowledge a final completed ultra-run.  At the finish of a long day, I smiled when a recently commissioned 2nd Lieutenant put a finisher medal around my neck, saluted me and said Semper Fi, mission accomplished!

Building Leadership Resiliency

Submitted by Debby Stone.

Recently I delivered a keynote to a group of leaders who are in the midst of tremendous organizational change.  At times like these, people are tested.  They are asked to reach challenging goals, to do more with less and to persevere in the face of cultural upheaval.  In order to prevail during challenging times and to thrive throughout a career, these leaders need to be resilient.

Resiliency is a simple concept.  It is the ability to bounce back after a set-back or recover quickly following a difficulty.  Rubber bands are quite resilient and some people are as well.  Resiliency is a personal trait that many of us have developed through life’s challenges and set-backs.  It is also a leadership trait that is viewed as essential to being promoted.

The good news, as I explained to the assembled leaders in this particular organization, is that our capacity for resilience can be increased.  In other words, we can train our brains to be more resilient.

This training involves building stores of energy — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy stores — that can help us bounce back better and faster.  If those energy storehouses are full, we are more resilient.  If they are empty or depleted, we are not resilient at all.

Although as humans we don’t have gauges to let us know when our energy level in one of these areas is low, we typically have some indications.  Often though we ignore those early warning signs and continue to push ourselves forward, taking on more and more, until we reach burnout.

The better strategy is to look at times of corporate change, and indeed life in general, as a series of sprints rather than a marathon race.  With the sprint approach, we have a chance to build in habits or routines that allow us to refill our energy tanks as we go, rather than needing to finish the full 26.2 miles before we get a break.

Below are some ideas for refilling your energy tanks in each of the four areas.  These ideas come from my clients and audiences, and while they are not rocket science, they are creative ideas for building resiliency.

Physical Energy: 

  • Go for a short walk at lunchtime.
  • Eat fruit salad instead of French fries.
  • Carry a refillable bottle of water wherever you go.

Emotional Energy:

  • Call a friend at lunch.
  • Take a ten-minute quiet time break when you get home from work.
  • Redsicover a hobby you used to enjoy like reading, gardening, knitting or carpentry.

Mental Energy:

  • Take a quick break every 90-minutes and walk down the hall.
  • Don’t work on one thing for too long; switch projects every couple of hours.
  • Practice mindfulness – try to align what you are doing with what you are thinking about.

Spiritual Energy:

  • Meditate using an app like Headspace or 10% Happier.
  • Find a book of inspirational readings or quotes and read one each morning.
  • Post your values near your desk and remember what’s most important to you.

Lessons Learned by Slowing Down

Submitted by Debby Stone.

I recently had surgery to repair a torn ligament in my right hand.  And for those of you who are wondering, yes, I am right handed!  After surgery, I went home in a heavy, large bandage that served much like a cast.  While bandaged, I had virtually no use of my hand at all.

Fortunately, I was liberated from that bondage (I mean bandage) after two weeks and now have a splint which gives me partial use of my right hand.  At least now I can wiggle my four fingers!

I will wear the splint for another couple of weeks, and during my recovery I have learned a number of things.  First, I have learned that there is a reason for the opposable thumb.  Without it, so many things are impossible.  The ability to grip really does set us apart from other species!

More importantly, I have learned the value of slowing down.  Normally, I move through life very quickly and slowing down seemed like a foreign concept to me.  However, as I recover from this surgery, I have been forced to move through life more slowly, deliberately and consciously.  It takes conscious thought to do anything and everything with my non-dominant hand, and it simply takes longer to do it.

Interestingly, my surgery coincided with adoption of meditation as a daily practice.  Meditation helps focus the mind and bring conscious awareness to each moment.  And let me tell you, currently, everything from feeding myself, to brushing my teeth, to typing requires me to deliberately, consciously  and carefully take the needed action.  There is no such thing as going through the motions of something without that extra bit of concentration and awareness.

Through my forced slow down post-surgery, I have been given a great gift.  I have learned that sometimes slower is better.  Much like the budding slow food movement, there is a great deal to be said for moving through life with more conscious awareness and for taking more deliberate action, even if that action takes more time.  The slower pace allows for space and in that extra space, I have thought more, reawakened my creative mind and gotten it through my head that it is okay if every email is not answered instantaneously.  When we slow down, the world does not end, it simply slows down with us.

I certainly don’t recommend hand surgery as a way to try slowing down but I do recommend meditation for anyone who has not yet tried it out.  And, as a coach, all of this makes me curious…

What could you learn by slowing down?

A Grown-up Version of Fun

Contributed by Debby Stone.

holiday-fun“What do you consider fun?”  I posed this question to a client recently in a coaching appointment and she had trouble answering.  For most of us, as adults, fun is an elusive concept, and it is often easier for us to put a finger on what is not fun than what is.

I borrowed the question “What do you consider fun?” from a line in the song “Genius of Love” by the Tom Tom Club.  The song was popular many years ago and has recently resurfaced in Target commercials.  Back when the song was popular and played on the radio, fun was simple for most of us.  We were young.  We knew what fun was and what it looked like to have fun.

It was fun to ride your bike downhill without braking.  You could feel the speed and the wind in your hair.  That was fun!  It was fun to go to a friend’s birthday party, eat cake and ice cream and play games.  It was fun to play with a favorite toy.  Fun almost always involved smiles, laughter and feelings of outright glee.  Sometimes it even showed itself through screams or squeals of delight.

Now that we are grown ups, fun is more difficult to define.  Can work be fun?  Is it possible to have fun without laughing or even smiling?  As children, fun was outward focused and typically depended upon circumstances beyond our control.

As adults, fun is often a by-product of something deeper.  We can find that we are having fun while achieving a goal, engaging in fulfilling work or honoring a deeply held value.  Nowadays most of the fun we have comes without squeals of joy.

Since it is often difficult for us as adults to know when we are having fun, I want to issue a challenge to you to begin to consciously look at this concept.  How do you define fun?  How do you know something is fun?

Begin by reflecting on what you do that absorbs you so much that you don’t notice the passage of time.  Chances are you are having fun in those moments.  Also notice what brings you contentment and joy.  Start to keep a log of joyful moments.  A pattern may emerge that points you in the direction of activities where fun can be found.

Also, notice your own reactions.  When you are having fun, are you feeling relaxed or intense?  Note the times when you finish something or leave somewhere and say out loud, “I am glad I did that.”  Consider the circumstances of those activities.  What are you doing?  Are you with other people or alone?  What was enjoyable about those moments?

There are many factors that influence fun and adult fun has many faces.

Since it is no longer the simple equation it was when we were kids, if we want to amp up our enjoyment of life, it is important that we examine the question “What do you consider fun?”

Positively Delivering Constructive Feedback

feedback-796135_1920

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

We are approaching the season of performance reviews and feedback. If you manage people, you will likely be called upon to evaluate those you lead. How will you deliver feedback? The tone and temperament with which you give feedback will significantly influence your brand among your bosses, subordinates and peers.

Recently, at the Decatur Book Festival, I had the opportunity to see two authors, my colleague, Debby Stone (The Art of Self Promotion – Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career) and Sandy Jap (Partnering with the Frenemy – A Framework for Managing Business Relationships, Minimizing Conflict, and Achieving Partnership Success) who articulated important aspects of feedback in their panel on Crucial Conversations. As the authors navigated the topics of effective self-promotion and the dark side of business relationships and the individuals who drive them, a recurring theme came through. Simply put, the question was, “how do I positively communicate the negative?” In essence, what are some ways to effectively navigate and communicate feedback in challenging workplace relationships and environments?

As you might have guessed, this is easier said than done, and we all can think of situations we have been in where we wished we had given feedback better.

You probably have heard the phrase, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.” While this sounds like good advice at first glance, if your goal is to provide others with meaningful and actionable feedback, in reality, this advice is not going to be valuable. Providing high impact feedback requires these key ingredients:

1. Go in with the intent to help the employee’s growth and development, not the intent to show the individual what is wrong. The feedback should build up, not drain, the employee’s motivation and resources for change. Communicate in a manner that builds confidence.

2. When preparing for a feedback conversation, reflect on what you hope to achieve and on what impact you’d like to have on the employee – their takeaway. Practice this!

3. Openness and authenticity on the part of the feedback giver is critical to creating a connection that facilitates change. If you start off accusatory, dominating and self-protective, your employee will match that energy. Model a presence and demeanor that is worth imitating so your employee can internalize this grace and in turn model it throughout the organization.

4. Invite the employee into the problem-solving process. You can ask questions such as: What ideas do you have? What are you taking away from this conversation? What steps will you take, by when, and how will I know? Powerful questions that encourage ownership on the part of the receiver of feedback have a profound impact on accountability.

Giving feedback – positively communicating the negative – is a critical skill to master. Effective mastery and modeling by leaders can make the difference between an employee who contributes powerfully and positively to the organization and one who feels diminished by the organization and contributes far less or leaves. Remember, a single conversation can switch an employee on or shut the individual down. As Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Consciously Creating Your Next Career Chapter

Contributed by Debby Stone.

Is the role you are in now the product of a well thought-out career plan or did you arrive at your current position through happenstance?  Have you ever given conscious thought to what you would most like to do?   If you could magically wake up on Monday and be doing something else, would you?  What would that something else be?

These are the questions our clients often explore with us during our coaching engagements.  When someone approaches Novateur for career coaching, we initially ask “how satisfied are you with your current role?  On a scale of 0-10 where zero is ‘I hate my job so much that I am going to quit as soon as we are through with this conversation’ and ten is ‘I love my job so much that I jump out of bed each morning and skip all the way to work,’ on average, what is your current satisfaction level?”

Constant Contact Do What You LoveMost of the people I talk with say that they are somewhere between a 5 and 7, but you’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at the number who say that their satisfaction level is a 2 or 3 on that 0-10 scale.  When you were in school, was a score of 5 out of 10 or 70 out of 100 acceptable?  No, I didn’t think so.  In fact, I bet that any grade less than an 80% was disappointing.  That’s a “B” and anything less is “average,” “below average” or “failing.”

Given that we spend the bulk of our waking lives at work, why should any of us settle for average or below average satisfaction?  We work 5, 6 or even 7 days each week and put in 8, 10 and sometimes 12 hour days.  We check email constantly and worry about projects, deadlines and expectations.  If we are going to give so much of ourselves to our careers, shouldn’t we be striving for an “A” or a “B” at work?

I believe that those of us who have the education and the financial means to choose our work have an obligation to consciously choose to be engaged in work that is satisfying at an “8” or above.  When work is satisfying, we make a greater contribution, we feel more fulfilled and we have more energy left at the end of the day for the rest of our lives.  When we are satisfied in our careers, we can bring more of ourselves to work, to our families and to everything we do.

When I was younger, I often heard people say that they loved their jobs and I thought they were full of it.  At that point, I had not held a full-time job that I loved and did not believe that it was possible to have a satisfying career.  As I got older (and wiser) I realized that it is indeed possible to have a career that satisfies me, and as a coach, I know that it is possible for you too.  While no job or role is perfect, it is possible to find a career that regularly brings you satisfaction at an 8 (or better) out of 10 on the scale.

While some people find their ideal career path without a plan, for most of us, a concrete plan is required.  We need to look at our values, our goals, our strengths, our skills, our passions and our natural abilities.  And we do all that in the course of a career coaching engagement.  We also spend time considering the practical aspects of finding work that you love – from finances to roadmaps.  Once you figure out what you want to do, how do you get from where you are now to that new role?

I challenge you to consider your own current level of career satisfaction.  If you find that you are working in a role that does not satisfy you, I encourage you to consider consciously creating your next chapter.   Being pro-active about your career path is a bold step.  I hope you will act boldly and accept the challenge!

 

We would love to hear from those of you who have already taken the bold steps toward consciously creating a more satisfying career.  Tell us your stories of transition and how you made the changes to live a more satisfying life.

Leadership Agility: A Key Component to Career Success

Submitted by Dan Sheedy.

Leadership AgilityLeadership Agility is a hot concept we have been seeing, hearing and reading more about over the past several years. In today’s complex, unpredictable, volatile and fast-paced business environment leaders are expected to handle anything and everything that is thrown their way. This environment demands a leader who is flexible, adaptable and skilled at managing diverse objectives, strategies, people and priorities without sacrificing performance or results.

In fact, many thought leaders say that leadership agility is the key ingredient that will define the next generation of leaders – no longer an optional ability but a necessary competency to master for sustained success. Significantly, the growing body of research into the topic has estimated that only 10% of leaders and managers have mastered the level of agility necessary to achieve consistent effectiveness and navigate today’s volatile environment. Put simply, Leadership Agility is the ability to anticipate or adapt and learn from unpredictable circumstances and environments in ways that benefit yourself and others. In seeking to better understand the concept and development of leadership agility, I turned to some research conducted jointly by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and Columbia University to provide a framework for initial consideration. Their work looks at four factors that enable agility and one factor that impedes agility.

Enablers:

Innovating– This enabler involves questioning the status quo and challenging long held assumptions with the goal of finding new ways and processes to bring about change. Innovators have high idea productivity and migrate towards challenges and knowledge expansion. Are you someone who challenges the status quo in developing strategies or seeking solutions to organizational problems?

Performing– This enabler centers on learning from experience while remaining present and engaged in the face of adapting to the ambiguity of the environment. This factor requires excellent observation and listening skills, combined with the ability to process large amounts of data and nimbly act upon it. Are you able to meet the challenges of an unknown, shifting environment but learn new skills in the process to apply in the future?

Reflecting– This enabler considers the fact that just because you have an experience doesn’t mean you have learned from it. This factor focuses on your ability to seek, take and accept feedback; processing this information to gain greater insight into your own assumptions and behavior. Do you confidently seek feedback about your work or actions regarding how you have performed or affected outcomes in your organization?

Risking– The final enabler is that of taking risks. Risking involves putting yourself out there into the unknown, out of your comfort zone. This is pioneering or volunteering to take on a role that doesn’t have known outcomes or success attached. This component is the ability to take progressive, calculated risks that can change the trajectory of you and your organization. What are your thoughts when considering risk? Laura Overstreet Biering’s, The RiskADay Journal: 28 Days to Being You Out Loud with Courage, Creativity and Confidence offers a great tool kit to get you started on thinking about and developing this enabler.

Impeder:

Defending– This impeder is the inability to be open and accepting of experience. Such openness is fundamental to learning. Some individuals become closed, shut down or become defensive when given critical feedback or when they are challenged. Defending gets in the way of the enabling behaviors listed above since it stifles learning. Additionally, it has also been characterized as a potential career derailer (behaviors that cause individuals not to be promoted or to stall out for long periods in their careers) in work conducted CCL.

As an agile leader you can take your team and your company from good to great. Individuals with leadership agility are focused, confident and driven to lead. While it is true that not all of the factors are always exhibited all at once, it is believed that all must be present for an individual to be considered an agile leader.

So what can you do to develop leadership agility? Practice! Be curious. Listen. Reflect. Ask for feedback. Break out of your comfort zone thinking and take a calculated risk. These are all steps that can help you succeed in a business environment that rewards the focused, fast and flexible – the agile. Are you ready?

Tell Your Story in the Fourth Quarter and Beyond

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

calendar-97868_1280As the fourth quarter comes to a close all of us have a measure of excitement, angst and transition in our work lives. Year-end sales goals, projects, performance reviews, promotions and career transitions dominate our thinking. The theme I hear across all of these scenarios is, “How do I tell my story?” “How do I tell my story so that my business development efforts succeed?” “How do I tell my story so that my performance is recognized and valued in the organization?” “How do I tell my story so that I can transition to a new role in my company or with a new organization?”

Effective storytelling is a theme that unites the people who advance in their chosen careers. Career advancement isn’t based solely on luck or education. Those whose careers are on an upward trajectory know how to tell their stories effectively. They know how to self-promote.

Self-promotion is an often talked about but mostly misunderstood differentiator in what makes careers successful. People tend to go to one extreme or the other. On one end you have the braggart or arrogant person whose bravado turns off anyone who might want to help, build or change that person’s career. On the other end is the timid or unaware person who has so much difficulty telling his story that most would not even think he was trying to advance his career. I have talked to many leaders who believe self-promotion to be a key ingredient to career success. How they developed it, however, was a mystery until now.

The Art of Self-PromotionMy colleague, Debby Stone, tackles the subject in her new book, The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career. Stone’s work provides a framework and actionable suggestions that enable professionals at any level to develop an engaging, authentic self-promotion story — a story that interests everyone they encounter including peers, bosses, prospects and clients. Importantly, she defines the fundamentals of self-promotion: What it is – Telling your story, confidence, positivity, authenticity, creating curiosity; and What it is not – Selling yourself, putting on a persona, arrogance, bragging, embellishing the truth.

She starts with looking at the mindsets (mostly negative) we have regarding self-promotion. She then challenges us and gives us tools to shift these mindsets and get past the negative images (the over-promoter) and roadblocks (it’s uncomfortable) that self-promotion holds for so many professionals. The takeaway for everyone is a confidence that moves us beyond the flawed beliefs that everything will work out fairly, that our good work will speak for itself and that self-promotion is socially unacceptable.

The bottom line is we have to tell our stories effectively to achieve the success we desire. Most likely we are not nearly as effective as we think we are. To master the art of self-promotion we must shift our mindsets and adopt the “mindsets of the masters” as Stone puts it. I encourage you to explore the core beliefs of these masters so you can be prepared to position your efforts and achieve results – not only in the fourth quarter but in the years to come!