Finding your ideal Career Coach

By chance, are you looking to find your ideal Career Coach? I saw a recent article in Financial Management on the topic. This triggered a thought.

 

Over the years, I’ve reminded many colleagues that the best investment that I’ve made in my company and in my career is in myself. I don’t ever confuse this with the behavior of “leaders eating last.” That is a different premise entirely.

As the article points out, a Career Coach can help create a personalized plan to achieve the goals of your work life. That said, career coaches aren’t therapists! They aren’t qualified or experienced to intervene or opine on emotional, mental or psychological issues. The right Career Coach should provide unbiased perspective (they should have your success and well being firmly at the center of the relationship). Further, they should identify challenges, roadblocks and/or blind spots that might stymie your progress towards your career objectives.

As I have noted many times in my blog, I’ve had the great pleasure of serving under some great Coaches in my life.

Going back to when I was a CEO, I’ve always had a Career Coach. They have been particularly helpful when I’ve experienced “the dip”; unfulfilling moments in my life or career or to take action to change direction.

Here are a few “triggers” that might help you if you are thinking about a Career Coach:

  1. Malaise: Apathy and anxiety are two sure signs you could use a Coach. If you’re having trouble getting out of bed it might be a very good time to have a discovery call with a Career Coach.

  2. Unfulfilled ambition: Ideally, you approach a Coach when you’re doing well and you want to get to the next level. Put together an action plan on how best to proceed. This conversation may accelerate your desired outcome. Re-focus, re-evaluate and set new goals for yourself.

  3. Entitlement or complacency: Sometimes we think we’re better than we are. A good Coach helps me identify those feelings, sorts them out and defines and maps my unique abilities to career acceleration.

  4. Anger: I’ve had times when my anger has gotten the best of me. Shoot, we all do! When that happens, it is helpful to re-route those feeling quickly and get them channeled in the right direction.

  5. Stale, stuck or stagnant? Sometime a “clarity break” with an independent career coach can be just the tonic for the situation.

Maybe you have a friend, colleague or contemporary who could use some a coaches clarifying conversation?

 

 

Critical thinking visualization tool

Recently, Paul Sand acquainted me with a critical thinking visualization tool called a Radar Diagram. A radar diagram is a visual problem solving tool. Some may have seen it referred to as a spider graph, mind map or star profile. As Paul says, “diagram allows you to plot several elements to visualize, compare and contrast how things are progressing in your life personally or professionally.” A brain dump to paper if you will.

Unpacking this a bit, some time ago, I initially came into contact with Paul Sand and his “Idea Sandbox” through a VISTAGE contact.

Over the years, I have found Paul’s ideas and his Idea Sandbox helpful to me for ideation, creative brainstorming, innovation, and help in identifying (visualizing) a problem. Further, Paul’s content is always “on the business” and accretive in the area of decision-making and problem solving. Idea Sandbox

Critical thinking visualization tool

Idea Sandbox

The Radar Diagram fits my preferred learning style as I am a visual learner.

I have attached an example of a recently completed Radar Diagram JMS Radar Diagram 0918 using myself as an example. The Radar Diagram allows me to easily visualize my near-term strategic objectives at a glance for my VISTAGE Chair practice. (NOTE: the completed Radar Diagram also suggests that I have work to do, which is the purpose!) I have also attached a Blank Radar Diagram PDF template for your convenience. Blank_Radar_Diagram

If you are similarly interested in experimenting with this simple, critical thinking visualization tool, here are your next best actions:

1. Write the variables or things that you wish to measure on each spoke.

2. Set a measurement (KPIs) from the center outward. Use the same scale on every spoke.

3. From observance, you can easily spot “out of balance” or “outliers” using the visual tool. In fact, I plan to keep a copy of this in front of me on my desk as a constant visual reminder. Therefore, the intelligence derived from the visual tool makes the intelligence “actionable.”

4. Let’s talk about this tool in your life next time together.

Intentional Culture by Design; next best action?

David Friedman, VISTAGE best practice speaker on the topic of Intentional Culture recently visited with our CEO peer groups in North Carolina. David, a former CEO, recently published Culture by Design.

 

Intentional culture by design

Culture by Design (cover)

 

This may be one of the best business books I’ve ever read. A guide to the tactics for building a highly successful culture. It is fast paced, clear persuasive and credible. (Bellamino)

In David’s foreward, he asks: “What is the implication of this recognition of the influence that culture has on performance as it relates to leadership? Well, as a leader, think of the enormous impact you could have if you had some way that you could mre purposely or more intentionally create the kind of culture that would help your team to perform at their highest level.”

In Friedman’s presentation , he reinforced that your culture can be a competitive differentiator. Friedman outlined an 8-step framework (see below) for designing the culture that you want.

Intentional culture: the 8-steps are:

  1. Define
  2. Ritualize
  3. Select
  4. Integrate
  5. Communicate
  6. Coach
  7. Lead
  8. Drive

As your next best action, please consider defining or re-defining your desired behaviors (culture). Consider ritualizing the behaviors with your employees or associates in a daily or weekly huddle. With repeated impressions, behavioral rituals will begin to permeate the organization.

Similarly, some leaders embraced Friedman’s HPCWayFinal and called it their own. Others set out on a journey to (re) define their unique behaviors & culture.

For illustration, let me give you an example.

Intentional culture desired behavior: Go above and beyond.

Supporting behavior narrative: “Be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the job…plus a little bit more. Take the next step to solve the problem. Even if it takes doing something that’s not in your job description, it’s the extra mile that separates the average person from the superstar. Be a superstar.

In conclusion, if you had a simple and effective way to disrupt and transform your intentional culture that not only engages employees and gets results, why wouldn’t you?

 

Lencioni “What Matters Most”

What Matters Most? Patrick Lencioni recently weighed in on the topic in a CEO Briefing.

Lencioni What Matters Most

Patrick Lencioni What Matters Most

Check out Patrick’s website www.tablegroup.com for access to AdvantageComprehensive_Checklist(4)

“Companies, especially in technology, that love the accoutrements of culture, that’s not really culture. To me that’s excess. And I have to say I think it’s rooted in narcissism.”

Lencioni cites the causes of strategic miscues or even failures as rooted in fear, greed, and mistrust.

“Organizational health” will prove to be the decisive edge among companies in the future. 

Crib notes

  1. Great CEOs feel…the pressure to do the right thing, to work really hard and be a good steward of the opportunity.
  2. If you really want to get a sense of a healthy and successful company, attend a leadership meeting. If the meeting is boring with no tension and no emotional engagement, there are really bad things going on. Good leadership teams have to push each other.
  3. The great thing about millennials’ is that they sniff out the BS. (If you have a foosball table or a kegerator, and the managers treat people like crap, management is trying to manipulate you into staying there.) Touchy feely stuff doesn’t work. Collaboration and engagement does.

Because competitive advantage comes from four (4) simple things:

A cohesive, frank leadership team.

  • Do you have one?
  • Ideally, 3-10 people.
  • Team dynamics include trust both ways; with a willingness to be vulnerable with each other.
  • Engage in unfiltered conflict around important issues, opportunities and challenges.
  • Hold each other accountable.

Clarity about what matters most for company’s success.

  • First off, why do we exist?
  • Similarly, what business are in?
  • How do we behave?
  • What is the most important thing we could be doing for the organization, right now?
  • Who must do what by when (roles, responsibilities, accountabilities)

Communicating that message over and over again to everyone in the company.

  • Cascading messages.
  • Top-down, lateral and upward communication.
  • Constantly reinforce the key messages.
    • This is what we’re about, and I’m going to tell you over and over again.

Structure—without bureaucracy—that reinforces the clarity.

  • New hires integrated based on company values and behaviors.
  • Put just enough structure in place to reinforce the culture without bureaucratizing it.
  • Employees who don’t fit the culture are managed out.
  • Compensation and reward systems are built around the goals of the organization.

Most importantly, what is the best piece of advice for a leader today? Make your organization as healthy as it can be and you will become resilient. When the inevitable crisis occurs, together, we can weather that storm.

VISTAGE Triangle CEO community

We’re birthing the VISTAGE Triangle baby.

Summer hiatus

Regular subscribers’ to my blog noticed that I haven’t posted in a while.

I appreciate your patience with me. I am sorry for the delay in re-connecting.

Welcome back

To you— my faithful readers. During my hiatus, several of you mentioned that  you miss my blog. Thank you!

I’m often asked about my blogging intentions moving forward.

I will be publishing fresh relevant content 3X a week (please hold me accountable) centered, aligned and correlated with four (4) core “hub themes” on my VISTAGE Triangle website design (see below):. Our new website hub themes are better insights; better leaders; better decisions and better results. These hub themes align nicely with the last station in my life as a VISTAGE Chair.

A little “inside baseball” is appropriate here. I want my VISTAGE Triangle website to be my hub for all things “digital” as well as a place to curate content. The better I index new content, the more likely it is to be found by my online community.

Naturally, I want my content to be unique, relevant, timely and accretive. When I accomplish those objectives people seek it out! In short, I’m likely to comment on most anything that comes my way!

As always, I sincerely appreciate your patronage of my VISTAGE and WINGMAN practice and my blog.

Migrating my blog platform from Typepad to WordPress

Some more inside baseball.

I’ve written and archived my blog posts for several years using Typepad.

A couple of my “virtual mentors” Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt switched to WordPress years ago. In addition to being “early adopters”, they’re both extraordinarily gifted bloggers and mentors. Initially, I was a little slow on the draw yet I finally took the visual cue from both of them. If I get a fraction of their respective readership, I’d be delighted.

This decision motivated by a.) integrating the experience between my blog and digital assets including my website and social media, b) more robust and visually pleasing reader experience through WordPress, c.) WordPress is not proprietary and is open-sourced.

Thus far, I’m very comfortable with this decision. I like to experiment with new platform capabilities and appreciate your patience while I learn and work out the kinks on the fly.

By the way, I syndicate my message content cross-platform using FeedBlitz. For the time being, it will remain so.

If you like what you see, I would encourage you to be a copycat.

New VISTAGE Triangle website

I’d like to introduce you to my new WordPress website (we’re still a work in progress and we’re getting there) which can be found through typing any of the following domains: www.vistagetriangle.com, www.jamesmsexton.com,  and www.triangleceo.com,

So there you have it. Birthing the Vistage Triangle baby.

Please take a look and tell me what you think!

What goes on inside our head drives results

Some time ago, had VISTAGE best practice speaker Mary Lore promoting her book Managing Thought

Many nuggets contained in Mary's book perhaps none better than "What goes on inside our head drives results." 

Our beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, intentions, passion, purpose—our thoughts—drive our actions. Therefore, if we don't address our thoughts change does not happen.

Download Mary Lore Managing Thought

Recently, VISTAGE best practice speaker David Friedman visited my group with his presentation and group discussion on the topic of behaviors and rituals. My crowd loved David's message!

For a little while, I kept coming back to "connecting the dots" of David's presentation on the topic of behaviors with that of Mary's on the topic of thought, e.g. linking thoughts (values) and behaviors.

I thought that you might enjoy a "reprise" of some of the thirty behaviors David created for his business HPC, e.g. "The HPC Way", and that he shared with all of us.

I would encourage you to begin thinking about these behaviors from this place.

What if everyone in the organization was universally aligned on these themes? David reviews these "rituals", one at a time weekly with his team. These behaviors build and reinforce each other and over time begin to permeate the discussions, day-to-day decisions and culture of the organization.  

#1 Do what's best for the customer. In all situations, do what is best for the customer, even if it is to our detriment. There is no better way to build a reputation than to steadfastly do what's right for others. Every day.

9 stucks

I'm often approached about this idea of being stuck.

Coincidentally, some time ago I archived a sketch created by fellow practitioner Jim McHugh entitled "9 stucks."

It captured the moment beautifully and I archived it.

I like the central theme and scope of the idea.

I created my own infographic in an attempt to catalog some of these 9 stucks that I see all too frequently with the business owners  that I meet with. I see it as my job when I see you stuck, to help you get unstuck.

Certainly "9 stucks" is not an exhaustive list.

Download 9 stucks 0618

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do you (continually) resist the facts in your life?

Archived a column from WSJ writer Elizabeth Bernstein. Here is a digest.

Do you ever wonder why it is that you resist facts in life even when you know the facts are important? I do!

For example, about 10+ years ago I had LASIK surgery on both eyes. You see (no pun intended) I was both near- and far- sighted. The LASIK procedure performed at the time was known as LASIK monovision. Between you and me, I was growing increasingly tired of carrying (and continually leaving behind) eyeglasses! I eventually "graduated" to daily wear contact lenses. To me, it was a pain in the AM to mount and the PM to dis-mount. LASIK surgery solved the problem after the initial drama of re-training my brain.

Years later, and in my advancing age, my eyesight has again begun to deteriorate for reading close-up & particularly at night when I am driving. 

I know that it would make me very happy to address this concern yet I keep putting it off. Why?

Dr. James Shepperd, a psychology professor at UF says, "We want to think of ourselves as healthy and smart people who make good decisions so we resist information that challenges those beliefs."

Said slightly differently, and again according to Dr. Shepperd, people tend to avoid unwanted information when the person has limited financial or psychological resources. "Check."

People also avoid information if they don't trust it, feel that it won't help them or might force them into an action or set of actions that they don't want to take.

Further, Shepperd's studies indicate that when people feel that they have some control over the outcome of the information, they're more likely to agree to hear it (and perhaps act on it). "Check."

Assuming for a moment that you may be similarly afflicted from time to time, how can I cut through the resistance?

1.) Start by thinking about what you value in life. Per the above illustration, "seeing is believing" a/k/a "affirmation invention." Whatever is central to one self, in this case "self-care", probably gets done. "Check."

BLOGGERS NOTE: What is important to you? I would encourage you to write a few paragraphs (maybe journal it) and determine how you intend to practice that in your life. This makes the threat (or option) seem smaller, and correlating resources to handle it larger.

2.) Remind yourself that you're in control of your life. Finding out any sort of accretive information ahead of time typically opens up a world of new options. Over time, in the aggregate, peeling back a layer at a time will help you deal with the overwhelm that we all feel from time to time.

3.) Finally, ask yourself why you're avoiding the information. Contemplate for a moment why the information might be helpful or unhelpful. In my case, perhaps another LASIK procedure, eyeglasses or contact lenses is my best course of action.

 

Facebook

By now, you've probably caught up to the rot of the core that is Facebook.

Frankly, Facebook's relationship with your personal data is in a word "troubling."

For starters, your data has been repeatedly exploited in a bold attempt to monetize Facebook's model and to line their pockets.

By extension, you've exposed your friends and neighbors too. And, what to make of the omnipotent Facebook Pixel?

Let's face it, depending on what you have shared over the years, Facebook knows an awful lot about all of us. And, if it is out there, it is difficult to scrub.

Recent events leave us all a bit shaken. If you haven't left Facebook already, you may consider it.

In a nutshell, for years, Facebook has shared a treasure trove of personal information with developers and data miners of varying stripes. The most recent example of this is Cambridge Analytics and their overt ties to the Trump election effort. 

Facebook continues to self-monitor and self-police. In my view, who is guarding the henhouse here? The company has repeatedly failed in its efforts to date to police itself. What are they gonna do, hire hundreds of thousands of people to monitor daily threads? 

The WSJs Christopher Mims says, "Personalization in advertising is sometimes nearly indistinguishable from surveillance, and personalization is how Facebook makes money and in turn captures so much of the online advertising pie." Sheesh!

In my view, we're one brick short of antitrust litigation. You just know that that'll wind around the courts for a most certain extended period of time with adjudications, appeals; you get the drill (sigh).

 

 

 

 

Chances are, it’s already been said

I was thinking about something the other day and wondered your take on it.

I'm wondering if the remaining unique idea(s) out there is a zero sum game. 

Think about it.

In other words, what are the chances that it has already been said? Or, the idea is already out there in the public domain created by an individual or group of folks far smarter than I am just waiting to be discovered?

Probably sounds pretty cynical I know this idea of unique ideas and a zero sum game.

Think about it.

How many unique ideas did you come up with over the last week, month, year(s)? Oh sure, there is a unique idea every now and then that a profound thinker comes up with. It doesn't take long to come to light in a fervent attempt to monetize. Then, folks do a riff on it, "knock it off" and call it their own. Cynical.

For me, I've always been best at filtering other peoples ideas. "R&D" as my good friend DBP likes to say. Replicate and duplicate. Don't get me wrong— I have a pretty strong "filter" for extraneous stimuli. Annotation or transcription skills if you will. 

 

 

 

 

 

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