Keiths Executive Blog

Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:00

Work Life Balance or Managed “Imbalance”?

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Attend any professional conference, business meeting or industry luncheon and one topic always comes up… life balance. Most often the discussion will focus on the lack of time available for family, friends, hobbies, etc due to the extreme demands of today’s workplace. Having been a corporate athlete for thirty years, I can testify that today’s Workplace is much more demanding than ever before. Not only are we being asked to work longer hours, technology has almost “handcuffed” us to the job 24/7! Think about it? Emails are non-stop, voicemails can arrive at any hour, Smart-phones function as “life support” devices that sit on our nightstands buzzing at all hours of the night! Recently, a colleague’s wife shared that she told her husband that their bedroom wasn’t big enough for her and his Blackberry….one of them had to go! So what are we to do? In such a competitive workplace the difference between a promotion and a pink slip can be the perception of who is more “dedicated” to the company? Who is willing to work late? Who will spend their weekends in the office to finish the project? If you don’t do it, someone else will, and get the upper…
Meaning: Great leaders are on a “leadership journey.” They learn, grow, evolve, develop and find new ways to lead in an ever-evolving business environment. While the oft-heard expression, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” may subtly tempt us to opt out of active learning, we have an enormous capacity to change and develop. Becoming a better leader tomorrow means proactively striving to do so today. Idea for Action: While it may seem tough to find time to be intentional about learning, we know practice makes perfect for leadership effectiveness, just as it does for anything worth doing well. Every day we have the chance to learn, if we just take it. Look at the events, interactions, conversations and meetings you will encounter in the next week. How can you tackle them in a new way, rather than just relying on what may have worked (or not) in the past? Consider creating a meaningful and compelling leadership development plan, focused on one or two areas for growth. Base one of the areas on a strength and find new ways to use it; make the second area something outside your “comfort zone” to help you stretch and grow. Write down…
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 00:00

Pay Attention to Your Attention

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Meaning: Are you good at multi-tasking? Many leaders are, and the fact is, they have lots of priorities and decisions to juggle, as well as office phones, cell phones, desktop computers, laptops, and/or iPads with all kinds of messages jangling for attention. Yet with so many clamoring stimuli, do you consider your degree of attention toward others, either in large group or one-on-one settings? Those you meet with notice. If you’re giving more attention to the text message that just vibrated your phone than what the person in front of you is saying, you are sending a message about what is most important to you. Instead, consider this ground rule: whatever you are doing in the moment, be fully present for it. By giving others the power of your attention, you send a clear signal: “You matter to me, and this topic is important to me.” Ideas for Action: As a leader, what you say or do matters immensely to those around you – and especially to those who report to you. Just as you expect the full attention of your direct reports during one-on-ones or team meetings, so too do they seek and deserve your undivided attention when presenting…
Monday, 29 July 2013 00:00

The Rewards of Reflection

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Meaning: We started these pearls with the premise that all of us are on a leadership journey of growth and change. If I were to ask you, “Tell me about a time when you learned the most about leadership,” you would likely relate an experience. It might be a “first” or a “best” or a “worst” – but you would have a story to tell. Your stories and your experiences create your own pearls of leadership wisdom. Yet these pearls remain hidden until you think about them. “We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience,” said the late psychologist John Dewey. A few moments of reflection or meditation every day can give you the insights to grow and change. Ideas for Action: Even if you’re not the reflective type, you can quickly learn. In April, I was on an executive coaching panel at a professional conference with David Peterson of Google. Peterson, who has written extensively about coaching, extolled the power of reflection and suggested four basic tasks of reflection: To look inward (what am I trying to accomplish?); look outward (what matters to others?); look back (what new things have I tried?); and look ahead…
Thursday, 18 July 2013 00:00

Mentors & Sponsors: Do You Have Them?

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One reality of professional life is, no one makes it to the top by themselves. To rise through the ranks and break the proverbial “glass ceiling,” two things must happen: First, you will need people to guide you along the way. Secondly, someone already on the other side of that glass ceiling has to see your value and pull you through! For the sake of simplicity Mentors are those who “guide” you through, and Sponsors are those who “pull” you through. No matter how smart, good-looking, well dressed, or even hardworking you are, without the benefit of Mentors and Sponsors, your full career potential will not be realized. Mentors come in all shapes, sizes, and yes, even colors. Furthermore, there are various types of mentors. Organizational Mentors are those who help you understand the culture and political landscape of the company you work for. Organizational Mentors are essential when you are new to the organization as they can help you learn the do’s and dont’s of the culture. Situational Mentors are those who provide a unique skill that you need to develop. Perhaps you are weak when it comes to understanding financial concepts? In this case you would seek out…
Tuesday, 02 July 2013 00:00

The Interview Secret YOU Need to Know!

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As someone who interviews candidates on a regular basis, I can tell you that nothing is more stressful than making that final selection. After weeks and sometimes months invested in finding the right candidate, you hope that you made the right choice. Because there are people who interview well, and others who are talented, but interview poorly, hiring managers have become astute at trying to determine who’s for show and who’s for real! Most candidates get stumped on the questions that begin, “tell me about a time you had a major challenge at work, and what you did to solve it?” Most of us are good at talking about the highlights of our resumes. However, the problem with most resumes is that they focus on: Titles, Tasks and Timeframes. As such, many candidates struggle to answer the more pointed questions to “what did you actually accomplish?” An executive search friend of mine introduced me to a pre-interview process that has helped me and many of those I mentor, increase our attractiveness during interviews. The process involves taking the three most recent roles you’ve had and identifying the following for each role: 1. What major challenges did you inherit when you assumed…
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