All leadership is influence.
My own journey and also helping hundreds of people with theirs has taught me a lot about what underpins career success. Since working in recruitment, outplacement, career guidance, and executive mentoring/coaching over the past 21 years, I've come to see that ongoing success depends on just three things:
1. What You Have to Offer
As we move through life we continually build skills, knowledge and experience.
I wrote my last blog, Be Bold, Move Forward, after finding a way to end the frustration of our house purchase being blocked by something beyond our control. Well just yesterday (within 48 hours!) everything changed. Our vendor, has now bought another property with no onward chain. The problem is resolved!
I always amazes me how seemingly insurmountable and sometimes depressing problems can disappear really quickly.
Here are just four examples to illustrate:
It's springtime in 1991 and I am standing in the kitchen with my girlfriend. Since meeting a year earlier we had moved in together and had each celebrated our 30th birthday. On this particular day, she starts saying something that both surprised and impressed me.
She spoke from the heart about where she was on her life journey. She was feeling ready to settle down and whilst she felt that she could do that with me, she said that I needed to decide what I wanted. If I wasn't really feeling ready, she would understand but she would need to move on to create the life she wanted.
Philip said with conviction, "No, Australia's only silver medal in 1976 was won by the men's hockey team. Stephen Holland won a bronze medal"
I said with equal conviction that it was definitely silver. I was so sure I was right I said I'd bet on it. "Are you really sure about that?" he said, graciously giving me the chance to back out of this. "Yes!", I said. I wanted to punish him for being so foolish to think that he was right.
As I sat down with my family to watch the often amusing and sometimes inspiring TV programme, Britain's Got Talent, there was clearly a very new dynamic on the panel of judges.
Head judge and creator of the show, Simon Cowell was back along with regular, Amanda Holden, and new judges, Alisha Dixon and David Walliams.
Previous judges have included Piers Morgan, David Hasselhoff and Michael McIntyre, but none have made Cowell seem much less cool and powerful, and more ordinary in the way that Walliams did last night.
He got away with it for three reasons:
Last week I went to the dentist for an overdue check up. I'd had no problems with my teeth in the last year and as I he looked in my mouth, the dentist could see no problems. However, we agreed it was time for an x-ray to make sure. This showed something else. One tooth had a lot of decay beneath the surface. The dentist was a little surprised I not had any problem with it and recommended I book in for a filling ASAP. I said to the receptionist that perhaps I could wait until after my 3 week trip to Australia. She said it is not worth the risk. .... She was right.
Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck noticed the difference between a "fixed mindset" and a "growth mindset". Now people may vary in their innate abilities and potential, but which of these mindsets they choose can have a huge impact.
People with a fixed mindset assume their capabilities are already set. They therefore place a limit on themselves and will miss opportunities.
Those with a growth mindset recognise that application and experience enables them to achieve more in life. And so they usually do!
Having committed myself to accelerating the development of the next generation of leaders, I find it helpful to either reinforce or extend my existing knowledge on the subject.
His comments did both.
We agreed that some things have changed since his days as a young leader stepping up into big roles in his 20's and 30's, compared to today's new generation of leaders. These include:
Recently I met with a client who recruited a new team member with a view to this person being a potential successor. What appeared to be a great "marriage" has thus far proved to be a disappointment for all concerned. There are many reasons for this but it highlights why a successful marriage (whether to a prince or to an organisation) requires a bit more forethought and attention than the fairytales would suggest.
In 2000, I had to take an honest look at myself when a colleague said this to me: "Peter, sometimes in meetings you say things that don't need to be said."
Upon reflection, I could see myself trying to justify my existence in the organisation. I was wanting to show how "clever" I was. In fact, what I was doing was making "noise" that wasted time whilst revealing a lack of deep confidence and self-awareness!
Not wanting to make a fool of myself again in this way, I made an important decision. Whenever I felt the urge to speak I would ask myself ONE SIMPLE QUESTION.