Self-care in a demanding world

Be gentle with yourself. You are doing the best you can – Paulo Coelho.

Paul Coelho’s quote feels highly relevant right now, particularly as the world of work seems to have turned on its head during the past eighteen months.

It is an excellent reminder that we all need to practice some self-care and some self-compassion. So, I was delighted this month to take part in a panel discussion with executive coaches Jenny Garrett, Carol Stewart, Leyla Okhai and Obehi Alofoje on Avoiding Burnout in a 24/7 work culture.  

You can catch up with the panel discussion here

And here are a few of my guidance and tips:

  • Avoid Overwhelm – if you can, build elasticity into your diary. Leave some gaps. Easier to slot things into existing gaps if required.
  • Let some things go – does everything need to be 100%.  Some things will need to be good enough. Familiarise yourself with the concept of good enough – and decide what falls within this category.
  • For those of you that are Strictly fans, it might be more helpful to think about your tasks as dancing partners rather than juggling balls, plates etc. Focus on one partner at a time.
  • Use daily journaling – to release the worries, concerns, stop or prevent them from taking up permanent residence in your head. Stop, prevent them from scurrying about inside your head. 
  • Create pockets – 20 to 30 minutes away from the screen – get as much fresh air as you can. I have enjoyed spending time in my garden, use whatever outdoor space is available/accessible to you. It also helps to move about and take a stretch.
  • Schedule in and stick with some ‘me time’ – this is not a luxury – it’s your oxygen mask.
  • Check your energy levels – you may need to see your GP. Read more here:
  • How is your sleep – disrupted sleep patterns might be an indicator that something is amiss.
  • Protect your sleep – establish a regular, consistent going to bed routine – hot shower at night, a little reading in bed, no screens after 9 pm.
  • Control – consider and establish what control you can take back. Who is in control of your diary?
  • Establish clear boundaries – around your time, space, tasks.
  • Experiment with your day – in the past 18 months, I have shifted the start of my day by 60 minutes. I started with 15 minute chunks and noticed that this small change multiplied as I became more alert in the mornings.
  • Get yourself checked out – though this might be more easily said than done.
  • Watch your ‘to do lists’ – what are you doing with these? They might not be helping if they are overlong and appear never-ending.
  • Think about how you say no-  I found this article on LinkedIn and think it provides a valuable framework for saying no:
  • The more I work in front of a camera – the more I can appreciate and sympathise with those delegates/participants who choose to keep their cameras off or decide to have them on intermittently. It is hard work looking at yourself all the time. Read more about Zoom Fatigue here.
  • It can be helpful to give yourself a break – relax, breathe, and allow your face to assume its most natural shape, expression. Read more here.

I hope this helps.

Until next time.

Janice Taylor

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The day I had to listen with everything I had

Earlier in the week, I posted an article via LinkedIn – about the Chinese character for listening. You can read it here. But it was finding this article that reminded me of the day I had to listen with everything I had.

There are times in life when it is perhaps better to not have all the facts, to be completely unaware of all the complexities and emotional turmoil involved with a piece of work.

Thank you Pixabay

I still remember this as though it happened yesterday – because almost fifteen years ago, I was asked to design and deliver a workshop on assessment days and their role in the College’s selection process. It was a piece of work that I had to facilitate within a challenging environment, and even today, if I had known what I know now, I might have decided to give it a miss.

Anyway, I pitch up on the day to face a group of highly disillusioned and angry senior managers. Emotions were running high as the College had asked them to reapply for a reduced number of roles. They also wanted to get things off their chest concerning their treatment through the initial stages of the potential redundancy process.

These managers most likely saw me as part of the problem and were cynical about what I could offer them. And as the day kicked off with my first PowerPoint slide, I began to wonder the same. I quickly realised that I was facing an uncomfortable and challenging experience – with my scale of discomfort/challenge shooting to a ten.

My first reaction was probably panic, but then I decided that wouldn’t help them or me. It was my job to deliver a workshop that would support this group through the organisation’s selection process. I had a programme to deliver, which I had already spent considerable time thinking through and preparing. I believed what I had was of value and practical use to this group, but maybe it needed to be put across differently, and this is when I decided to draw on my counselling training and experience.

I found that adopting a more counselling approach, using active listening, reflecting on what was said, allowing them space to reflect, challenging when appropriate and containing the emotion enabled me to deliver the content and the group to take most of it on board. This experience taught me valuable lessons in managing my emotions and keeping my cool in the face of an ’emotional storm’.

I should stress that the anger, cynicism, and frustration were not in any way directed at me, but it was still a very highly charged day.

The key then for me was to balance between enabling them to express feelings and concerns appropriately, gain some perspective on their situation, challenge some of the ‘major’ cynicism and get across the day’s content. It certainly wasn’t a day to try and ‘jolly them along or a day for me to become one of them. My job, as I saw it was to remain independent, outside of the situation in some ways while supporting them towards success in the selection process.   

Today in 2021, as I reflect on this piece of work, I can still remember how exhausted I was at the end of the day, but genuinely pleased and buoyed by the positive feedback I received especially regarding my conduct throughout the day.

However, if I had known what I know now, I have to be honest; I’m still unsure.

And for those of you who prefer not to have to click on additional links, here is my LinkedIn post:

Wholehearted listening-

Did you know that the Chinese symbol for listening contains five different elements?

  • Eyes to see
  • Ears to listen
  • Undivided attention to focus
  • Heart to feel
  • Mind to think

I find this beautiful and a great way to think about how we listen but don’t just take my word for it you can go directly to the article here

I also like the actions at the end – how you can make wholehearted listening a daily part of your life.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

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How are you investing your energy – in times of change?

Today’s post is the second of three on the ‘Energy Investment’ model and how it relates to the choices you might make as a leader during times of organisational change. So right slap bang in the middle of a Pandemic:

  • How is it affecting the choices you make?
  • How much has your organisation been affected?
  • How are you engaging with these changes?
  • How is it affecting those around you?
  • What is happening with the teams you lead?

If any of the questions above resonate with you, the EI model might help you assess your response to the changes and how it affects those around you. It might help you as a leader to understand what is motivating your staff to either participate enthusiastically with the change or resist or work against it. Consider the dynamics of your team – the star players as well as the people who may need additional support.

To recap, the Energy Investment Model identifies two dimensions of an individual’s motivation to perform a task:

  1. The attitude of the individual regarding the change
  2. The willingness of the individual to expend energy on the change.

And it is the combination of these two dimensions that define each of the categories/communities – Victim, Spectator, Cynic or Player.

Victims – Low energy, Negative attitude

People in this category live in fear of making mistakes. Typically, individuals in this group feel powerless to take action or influence events. They generally think that they are ‘done to’; there are too many things outside of their control. In the past, they were possibly micromanaged or disempowered in some other way. Individuals in this group primarily turn up to do the job, no more and maybe less. They are in limbo, marking time until the change goes away or they leave the organisation.

Spectators – Low energy, Positive attitude

Within this group, people will talk the talk but rarely deliver it. They likely lack confidence, choosing to wait until they feel safe to act. Preferring in general, to keep their head down, keep a low profile and wait for things to settle down again before moving into Player mode. In times of change and challenge, Spectators may feel threatened and exposed.

Cynics – High energy, Negative attitude

The Cynics are generally articulate, with good technical skills. But they are furious at the organisation. They will not be backward in sharing their views and potentially sabotaging, wrecking projects, plans, and change. And they are likely to try and get others to come around to their perspective – spreading negativity and discord to spectators and victims.

Player – High energy, Positive attitude

These people make things happen and are generally comfortable and excited by the change. They typically hold a realistic and optimistic view of the organisation, willing to put extra effort and energy into its improvement and success. Players are open to new possibilities and ideas and are usually not afraid of short-term setbacks or mistakes. They have a willingness and desire to make things better.

So how might you as a leader move forward with the different groups? What might each group need?

Victims need:

Victims are likely to need greater understanding and support to help deal with any stress they are suffering. They will likely benefit from encouragement both from you and from peers. Is it possible to offer them some stability in their role, some certainty? They might also benefit from a series of mini challenges to help build confidence. But it might also be the case that they need professional help and support. Encouragement to seek outside professional help.    

Spectators need:

Spectators will also need greater understanding and help to cope with fears and lack of confidence. They are more likely to thrive with careful and thoughtful delegation rather than being dumped on or deluged with tasks. In addition, they may need a safe place to try out new learning. Challenges that stretch but do not overwhelm, with lots of positive encouragement and feedback. Coaching around their development might be helpful to understand the story behind their lack of action. Has this always been the case, or has one event/situation triggered their inactivity? Was this spectator once in the Player group? The critical thing with this group is to build on their positive attitude and turn it into action.

Cynics need:

An opportunity perhaps to do things for themselves, with clear accountability and boundaries. A chance to put their energy to good use. Cynics may need reminding what their job is about, the part they play, and the difference they are making. Cynics could also benefit from support and encouragement, which also challenges their continuing negativity. It could be that they no longer feel heard, so an opportunity to come up with and follow through with solutions might be helpful. If they can see tangible outcomes of their suggestions, then so much the better.  It might also help to buddy up a Cynic with a Player, though there might be some risk here.

Players need:

Reward and support for being positive key players through change, do not take them for granted. Players may well appreciate flexible opportunities for personal growth and support if they take a stand against Cynics. They are likely to benefit from high impact objectives and projects which provide stretch and allow them to shine.

Respect, recognition, and thanks – do not allow your Players to become the dumping ground just because they take a positive approach to work. Remember, this group needs care and attention too. You do not want to take their willingness and desire to get things done for granted. If Players become overloaded and stressed, they may decide to migrate to another group.

If any of this resonates or is in any way helpful, please do let me know.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

PS – Adapted from my Training notes on the Energy Investment Model.

References: Claude S. Lineberry, Vanguard Consulting Group, 1986

Word Count: 973

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Giving yourself permission to dream

How often do you allow yourself to dream, immerse yourself in your ideal world? Give it structure, and form so you can inhabit the future you want for yourself?

If you think this is something you might need, then allow me to introduce you to the Walt Disney Creativity Strategy. A technique we used with participants towards the end of our two-day Career Development programme at the BBC. Going back a few years now, so thank Winnie for the recent reminder.

Thank you Pixabay

Giving yourself permission to dream is how I like to think about Walt Disney’s Creativity Strategy.

It is an approach that enables you to fully explore your dream before moving on to think through the practical steps required to make it happen and any potential obstacles. Based on the idea that there are three parts to creative thinking:

The Dreamer or Possibility (Blue Sky thinker)

The Realist or How to thinker (bridge building)

The Critic or What if thinker (identifying blocks)

Each part or stance requires that you step into a room (can be done by stepping onto a sheet of paper, but some movement is necessary), physically as well as emotionally and psychologically – so you inhabit each space fully.

Dreamer/Possibility Thinker – ‘this is what I want’ stance.’

In this room, you can use your intuition and feelings to respond to an issue or problem. You can be playful here and not worry too much about logic; that will come later. The purpose here is to generate solutions and approaches.

You can let go and step into the future you can imagine for yourself. Move about, permit yourself to step into the future you want. What do you see, who are you with, what can you hear? How are you living your values and beliefs? How are you using your strengths?  

What would it take to let yourself go and step into your dream future, live it, breathe it, hear it, smell it?  

To step into your ideal world that is as you want it without shutting yourself down too quickly.

Dreamer Questions:

What are you doing?

What do you see? What colours are associated with your dream?

What can you hear?

What do you feel as you access this dream?

Are there other people with you? What are they doing that lets you know you have succeeded?

What symbols do you associate with achieving your dream?

What are the opportunities, possibilities?

Once you have explored the dream, it is then time to move across to the next room.

The Realist/How to thinker – ‘this is how I can, stance.’

I refer to this as bridge-building – what will I need to put in place to get me from where I am now to where I want to be?

In this room, as the realist, you will assume that the dream is possible and focus on creating the plans and actions needed to make it happen—it is your chance to break the vision down into manageable chunks. It is an opportunity to establish timeframes and milestones for progress – define some short-term steps.

Realist Questions:

What do you need to do first?

How can you break it down?

What are the main components of your dream?

How will you know that you have achieved your dream?

When will you have achieved this?

What are the main steps and the timeframes associated with this?

What resources will you need? Money, time, social support?

Who can help you and how?

Once you have finished in the Realist Room, it is then time to move across to:

The Critic/Block thinking – ‘Change to’ Phase.

I think of this as identifying blocks – what might get in the way? What could go wrong? What might I need to do to mitigate potential problems, weaknesses?  

As the critic, your role is to separate yourself from the vision and take a more distant objective view. You are here to prevent problems and ensure quality by identifying what is missing – to check how the idea or plan holds up under various, ‘what if,’ scenarios. You want to make sure the project is sound; there are no holes. You also want to keep what might work well – without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Critic Questions

What could go wrong?

What problems can I foresee?

Who could benefit if things go wrong?

Who might be threatened by your success?

What might stop me?

In conclusion, the critical thing to remember is that each room/stance is an essential part of the whole creative process and that getting stuck in just one or two is not going to lead to a successful outcome.  You need to inhabit each room in turn.

Your dreamer without a realist cannot turn ideas into concrete plans, outcomes.

Your critic and dreamer without your realist are likely to remain stuck in eternal conflict with no obvious way forward.

Your dreamer and a realist might create things, but they may not work in practice, or the first problem might cause the whole project to collapse.  Your critic will help to evaluate and refine the project, work constructively with the idea. They are not there to shoot it down in flames for the sake of it.

I hope this gives you some food for thought, and please click here if you want to read more about Walt Disney’s Creativity Strategy.

And if you want to work with a coach who can take you through this, please check out my website.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

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How are you investing your energy – in times of organisational change?

Today’s blog is the first of three on the ‘Energy Investment’ model (1) and how it might relate to the choices you make during organisational change. So first let me ask:

  • How much has your organisation been affected by the Pandemic?
  • How much are you engaging with these changes?
  • How is it affecting you and those around you?

If any of the above applies to you, the model might help you assess your response to the change and how it affects those around you.

Why? Because the Investment model describes four communities of people and their behaviour. Each based on a combination of two factors:

  1. The attitude someone has towards the change, either negative or positive.
  2. The energy someone chooses to invest in the implementation of that change, high or low.

So, thinking about the organisation you work for, and the changes you are facing, which category best describes you?

  • Player – ‘Up for it, let’s make this work.’
  • Victim – ‘Stuck in a rut, ‘nothing I do will make a difference.’
  • Cynic – ‘Here we go, seen it all before, bought the tee-shirt.’
  • Spectator – ‘Sounds like a great idea, I’ll cheer from the side-lines, just don’t ask me to get too involved.’

Whichever category you fall into, you are unlikely to be alone. However, there may well be more ‘Cynics’ than ‘Players’ depending on your organisation and the type of change it is going through. Past experiences may be causing you to react more negatively.

Circumstances that might induce ‘Cynicism’ or feelings of ‘Victim-hood’ include:

‘Working within a climate of fear’ – fear of making mistakes, taking risks and the consequences if things go wrong. In other words, there is little or no psychological safety (2).

Micromanagement – not being able to get on and deliver in the way you know is best, not being trusted to organise and get the job done.

No management – not having enough guidance and support, not being given enough information, boundaries, clarity on what is required. You are in an environment where there is a tendency to dump rather than delegate.

‘Lack of credit and recognition’ – people not being recognised and acknowledged for their input and contribution.

If your typical response is one of immediate distrust and disbelief, it may be that you fall into the category of Cynic. Particularly if you are choosing to invest your energy in undermining, the change, or at the very least actively sharing your ‘feelings’ with those around you.

To what extent is your cynicism warranted in this instance? Do you need to dig deeper into what is happening? How much are you assuming? What facts do you need to check?

It might be worth reflecting on whether this is temporary, relating to this situation. Or whether it is more pervasive, becoming your permanent home? In which case, what might you need to consider doing about it?

I believe that at the heart of the ‘cynic’ stance is a lack of trust. Either in the organisation, the management, colleagues or perhaps even in yourself and your ability to manage. So, it begs the question, ‘where did the trust go?’ or ‘what is the distrust based on?’

Perhaps it is time to reflect. Try and pinpoint the exact source and timing around the distrust; consider what it might take to rebuild or repair it. Do you need to be more actively involved and accountable for the change? Can you present your views and or concerns in a way that ensures you are heard?

Wherever you are, it is also worth considering the impact your stance might be having on others. If you are actively vocal about your feelings of ‘mistrust’, others may struggle with what they perceive as your ‘negativity’—possibly undermining your ability to communicate effectively.

So, take a step back and check with yourself – is this warranted? Which parts can I make a contribution to, which parts might I need to accept? Could I become part of an enhanced or improved solution? Or is it time to bail?

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

References

  • The Energy Investment model – based I believe on research by Dr Donald Tosti and C.S. Lineberry.
  • “Psychological Safety is being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status, or career. It can be defined as a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected.”

 Source: – Wikipedia

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Why some compassionate curiosity might be perfect right now

During these times, and the roller coaster of emotions I am experiencing; as a result, I am learning to check in daily and ask myself with compassion and curiosity:

  • What have I struggled with today?
  • When did I feel at my most vulnerable?
  • What has energised and uplifted me?
  • How am I grateful?

For example, I struggled with a few encounters last week. I found them to be incredibly draining, and I can still feel the effects now. But the learning from them was immense and has made me more determined to pursue this line of work, all around Black Lives Matter.  There will be a lot for me to do both professionally and personally if I am going to make this happen.

And here I have to admit there wasn’t too much I found last week to energise and uplift me, but to quote the ubiquitous, Scarlet O’Hara, ‘tomorrow is another day.’  And yes I get the irony.

I am also thinking about friends and colleagues, wondering how they are managing, what they might need? Or who might be struggling right now and how I might reach out to them?

Recently, I have also found myself acting as informal supervisor to some work colleagues, while they let off a little steam. It was a relief to listen with compassion to their issues while letting go of the need to come up with a solution. Accepting, learning that I do not have to solve this. It was enough for me to listen with compassion and curiosity.

And curiosity, in my view, is one of the key characteristics that underpin resilience, underpins an individual’s ability to either, ‘bounce back’ or ‘slog through’ a challenging event or situation.

Curious people are open to new possibilities and fresh perspectives. They are perhaps more alert to changes and what they might mean. Open to new experiences and new ways of thinking, doing and being.

It may be that people who have questions are more motivated to go and seek out answers, even if they end up uncovering a whole new set of questions. A big part of being resilient is first accepting the situation you find yourself in and not staying in a place of ‘denial’.  Far easier to maintain a state of ‘denial’ if you are not looking ahead, asking questions, and seeking answers.

If this applies to you, then it is likely that your curiosity will extend to the people around you and why they act the way they do. You may find that you do not necessarily take everything at face value, especially if you perceive someone to be behaving out of character.

Being curious will likely mean you are continually learning in a way that is easy and natural for you.  Frequently on the lookout for new pieces of information, new ways of doing things, new opportunities and hopefully put yourself in the best place to take advantage of these as they arise.

In times of stress and difficulty, your natural curiosity might help to keep you on an even keel. It is easier to maintain emotional balance and or distance from a situation if you can question it. What is happening here, who can help? What are the implications?

Curiosity can also put you in a position of having some control, information, and choice within a situation. It can put you ahead of the game. Over the years I have coached people facing redundancy and noticed the difference between the people who had seen the changes coming, had seen the ‘writing on the wall’ and those for whom it was a complete shock.  The more curious, seemed to have some plans in hand, whilst the others were almost ‘paralysed. It took them longer to come to terms with the situation and start to move forward.

It is also worth considering that you may not bounce back, like a rubber ball to exactly where you were before this all started. You may find that you have experienced a fundamental shift, and moved through Post Traumatic Growth. I know this happened to me when my mum died almost nine years ago, I am not quite the same Janice Taylor as I was before. I feel as though the experience has tempered me very much like tempering steel by reheating and then cooling it.

So, with the current situation, what are you noticing about yourself and the people around you? Perhaps it is time to apply a bit of compassionate curiosity.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

https://www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk/

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When times are tough, keep going

What do you do when times are tough? Perhaps work is not going well, or it just feels like you are ‘wading through treacle’? Progress feels inordinately slow, and you wonder if you are moving backwards.

I know for me, there is a stubborn streak in my nature, (I do not always want to admit I might be on the wrong track).  There is a certain level of ‘grit’, in my makeup, which helps me when needed to get my head down, put the work in and keep going.

Sometimes the breakthroughs come at the moments you least expect them, the ‘darkest hour is just before the dawn’- Thomas Fuller. How many people, I wonder give up just at the point they are about to make their ‘breakthrough’?

So, my question for you today is what can; you do to encourage and support yourself when times are tough?

Well, it might help to look at my checklist:

Check your perspective, are you really making so little headway? How realistic are your plans and expectations? Are you hoping for too much too soon? Or are you playing too small? Sometimes it is easier to go for the ‘bigger’ dreams.

It may be that your vision or your dream is simply not big enough. Take a look at an earlier post here https://careerresilience.wordpress.com/2016/06/23/making-sure-your-dreams-are-big-enough/

Check-in with your values, is what you are trying to do in alignment with who you are and the things you stand for? A lack of progress might well be a big clue to this; you may well have propped your career ladder up against the wrong wall. It just might not be the right thing for you.

Check your timing, so much of life I think is about timing and luck. Perhaps there is some additional learning and training that you need to undertake first. You may well be stretching yourself too thinly and not giving your project the energy and focus it needs.

Check your pathway, is it time to adjust your approach? It might be better to, ‘stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach’ – Tony Robbins

Check your process, similar in some ways to the point above, but if you know you have the right elements in place then ‘let go of the outcome‘ and focus on the doing. Sometimes this is the only way to proceed, keep going and trust that the process you are following is right for you.

Check your destination, is it still where you want to go?

Check your self-talk, what are you saying to yourself about your seeming lack of progress? Would you allow anyone else to talk to you like that?

So, whether you are:

Making a change of career

On the hunt for a new job

In pursuit of your first role

Looking for that first break

Hustling for that first piece of work as a new business owner

Chasing your dream

It is worth remembering that for the moment and for the foreseeable future, life is a bit of a marathon, no quick fixes, no sprints to the finish.

Be kind to yourself and accept that you are most likely doing the best you can.

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

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Twelve steps to a successful career

Be aware – know your environment. Know the terrain in which you operate. Who are the leaders, influencers, competitors, and innovators within your industry? In other words, know the major players in your field.

Careeresilience 1 Sept 2020

Build a reputation – be the person who is consistent, reliable and delivers. You want to be the person who others find is a joy to work with.

Embrace change – learn to embrace change, treat it as a friend, a welcome guest as it is going to show up anyway.

Build a network – then maintain it, like a garden. Nurture and sustain your relationships, do not just show up when you need something. Know the people who you can trust, the people who genuinely celebrate you.

Build a team – around you, of friends, colleagues, a mentor or two, specifically to help you on your career journey. Do not try and do everything by yourself. Find people that you can catch up with regularly to share experiences, news, celebrate career successes.

Try something new – take some risks, push yourself out of your comfort zone on occasion, you will not know until you try.

Update yourself – keep your skills and knowledge as up to date as you can. What tools and techniques should you have under your belt? Remember your interpersonal as well as technical and IT skills.

Careerresilence 3 Sept 2020

Learn how to learn – no one fully knows how work will look in the future, so those who can adapt, learn, and apply their learning are more likely to thrive.

Continue learning – become a life-long learner, be curious about what you can learn and where it might take you. Review your learning regularly.

Maintain balance – whatever it looks like for you, do what you need to, to recharge, refresh and renew.

Know yourself – understand your strengths, skills, any gaps you might need to fill. Understand your stressors, your limits. Understand what lights you up, energises you? Notice what makes your heart sing and what makes it sinks.

Take ownership – your career is ultimately your responsibility, plain and simple. No one else has a bigger stake in it.

There you have it, my reflections on what it might take to create a successful career. Please do let me know if I have missed anything?

Until next time

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

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My charter for Inclusive Leadership….

“You can have courage, or you can have comfort, but you can’t have both” – Brene Brown

 One of my favourite quotes and the one I am choosing as the banner for today’s post on Inclusive Leadership.  And, as a leader, if you are going to move forward with this, I salute you, but I would also say, ‘buckle up you are in for a bumpy ride.’

 In the light of George Floyd, the global protests around Black Lives Matter and the inequalities thrown up by our current pandemic, it seems now more than ever we need leaders prepared to dig deep and act. Now is not the time for tick boxes, empty gestures, policies that mean nothing and fruitless studies.

Careerresilience Values 1

We need leaders prepared to walk the floor, listen to people, come out from behind the small group of courtiers, and take a long hard look at what the numbers are already telling them.

We define Inclusive Leadership as leaders who are aware of their biases and preferences, actively seek out and consider different views and perspectives to inform better decision-making. They see diverse talent as s source of competitive advantage and inspire diverse people to drive organisational and individual performance towards a shared vision.”

Source: – ENEI, Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion

 It took me all of two minutes to locate this definition online, and I am sure there are others we could refer to, but how many of you as leaders have looked?

  • What does Inclusive Leadership look like to you?
  • What does it mean?
  • What are your stats telling you?
  • How hard are you looking?
  • Who are you listening to?

With this definition, I like the dual focus on awareness and activity—the need to act on mitigating your bias.  I also like that diversity is seen as a source of competitive advantage. However, you could argue that it should happen regardless, still, perhaps it is better not to get tied up in that philosophical debate.

From my own experience, two leaders come to mind when I think about accessibility and visibility:

The first, walked in as I was being interviewed for my first full-time job – on hearing that I spoke German, he immediately switched to that language to ask how I was. He seemed reasonably satisfied with my answer, and that was the first of many encounters during the four years I worked with that organisation. He was regularly on the shop floor, wandering around the offices and it was not unusual for him to stop and chat with whoever he came across, including yours truly.

The second, who even after five years I barely spoke to – was hidden mainly away either in his office or behind the same small group of people. When I queried this with my boss, I was told ‘he’s a bit shy.’ Not good enough. I was not impressed then, and it would not impress me now.

If you are a leader, it is your job to be accessible, visible to all, to be seen and to bloody listen.

I also think it is time to talk numbers and to be forensic in how you examine them. It is time to look beneath the surface, and determine at a granular level, what the figures are telling you. What is the story behind your stats?  What is missing? Or more to the point, who is missing?

  •  Who are the people working for you?
  • Where are they working for you?
  • What do your pipelines look like?
  • How often are you recruiting, promoting, mentoring in your own image?

Medium June 2, 2020

Now, I would like to share another definition with you:

“Psychological Safety is being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status, or career. It can be defined as a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected.”

 Source: – Wikipedia    

How safe and inclusive are your teams? How would you know? Are you tapping into the potential of all team members? Because one thing that is glaringly obvious to me is the monumental waste of potential and talent that is caused by discrimination, racial or otherwise. There may well be people within your organisation who simply feel they cannot bring their whole selves to work, their ideas, their perspectives, their innovations, their insights. Can you afford to continue running a toxic organisation? I would suggest not.

Okay, just a couple more definitions around acceptance, and respect:

“Acceptance of a person is the act of agreeing to that person’s becoming a member of an organisation or group, or to that person’s belonging to your group as an equal.”

 Source: – Cambridge Dictionary

Do your people feel they belong at all levels within your organisation? Is everyone accepted and valued as equals?

Respect: –

 “A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”

 “Due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others.”

Source: – Online Dictionary

I would hope at the very least you can put your hand up to the second line, having due regard for the feelings, wishes or rights of others.

Because if you cannot, you have no business calling yourself a leader.

So, there you have it until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

 

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Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom…

My tongue in cheek homage to Baldrick’s war poem, ‘The German Guns’ from Black Adder Goes Forth. It starts and ends with Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom.

Careerresilence May 2020

So, without further ado, I give you:

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom…

Some pointers –

  • For the love of God, mute yourself. No need for the rest of us to hear every sniffle, cough, crunch, and rustle emitted from wherever.
  • Look at your screen, to see who is talking so you can wait your turn. We cannot all talk at the same time, but then please, please do not take all day to make your point.
  • Plan and prepare ahead of time. Make your tea, coffees, go to the loo, switch off your oven, hang out your washing, do all this before the call. Do not be the one person continually popping in and out of view.

If you need a break, here is a tiny clip of Baldrick, doing his thing, enjoy:

  • Sort your internet connection and pay heed when someone messages to say you have frozen. Or when you can no longer see or hear anyone.
  • All pets are a welcome distraction, except screeching parrots.
  • Unmute yourself when you finally have something exciting or useful to say.
  • Arrange your face, or to put it another way, set it to neutral. No one needs to see your eye rolls.
  • Say your goodbye once, maybe twice and then get out quick. Do not get caught up in prolonged and protracted goodbyes.

So, there you have it, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.

Glad to get that off my chest 🤪.

Until next time.

Janice Taylor

www.blueskycareerconsulting.co.uk

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