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Category Archive: Blog

  1. What lies ahead for your career this year?

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    As we get to this time of year, a whole load of achievements behind us and a new year ahead, it is a good time to think about what next. In Australia many are heading for a summer break from work and this can often be a catalyst to considering where next in career.

    I notice as I say in this video, that many people, when they think about what next, rather than setting goals for what they want, focus on  what they don’t want. This is called moving away rather than moving towards and can affect the outcome in a negative way.

    Have a listen. I would love to hear your thoughts and a,so hear about any previous experiences you have had with moving away or moving towards. Also I am talking about career and work roles here, but you can apply this to anything, education, retirement, holiday planning… The list goes on  …

     

  2. How to Change Your Mood and Emotions to Suit Your Situation

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    Sometimes the emotion we have is not the emotion we need. We may wish to feel energised, calm, empowered or social when we actually feel lethargic, apprehensive, impatient or don’t feel like being part of a group. In this video I talk about some of the things that I do when this happens. How do you change your mood and emotions when you need to?

  3. Building Connections with Others: the Barriers and the Benefits

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    I spent three days last weekend making some new connections in a group setting over a three day learning intensive. Building new relationships and connecting with people in a deep way takes time and effort and one of the conversations we had, as we formed our connections in the group,  was about the challenge of forming close relationships that have meaning in the context of our increasingly busy lives. Added to that, we thought the impact of the more superficial communication that occurs on social media may be influencing off line communication too.

    Perhaps we have forgotten how to be vulnerable and open with others. Perhaps we have forgotten how to sit and be with, and there for, others. Perhaps we are unwilling to experience the emotional discomfort that accompanies forming a significant friendship. Perhaps we don’t want to show our true selves for fear of judgement. This is a worrisome thought as social isolation and loneliness have the potential to negatively impact our general mental and physical health.

    I wrote the poem below as a way of processing my learnings about the journey of becoming known and of knowing others and how important that is. I would love to hear your thoughts.

    To Be Known

     

    To be known

    Is the greatest gift.

    To be known is to be seen

    And understood

    In ones full specialness

    And marvellous oddity

     

    Becoming known is to be exposed

    To be seen raw

    To feel less than,

    Not enough.

    To wonder ‘what do they think of me?’

    To feel afraid and

    Unprotected.

     

    Becoming known is

    To be vulnerable

    To risk

    Being misheard,

    Misunderstood, misinterpreted.

    To have meanings made that were not meant.

    To feel exposed.

     

    Becoming known

    Takes courage

    And sometimes wine.

    To challenge, to debate,

    Agree, and disagree

    To try and understand

    To feel open hearted

     

    Becoming known is

    To be open, curious, accepting

    To laugh and to cry.

    Enjoying moments upon moments

    Together.

    A two way street

    To feel connected

     

    To be known

    Is friendship

    Is love

    To be known and to know

    Is familiarity, and comfort.

    Like the relief of coming home.

     

     

     

     

  4. Finding Purpose and Meaning in Mid Life

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    If you are between 45 and 55 you have 10 – 20 years of work ahead of you. Do you have career goals and a plan to help you gain satisfaction and find meaning and purpose in the working years ahead and beyond? Many people I speak to don’t. Some are waiting for retirement and all the good they perceive it will bring. They’re waiting in jobs they at best dislike and at worst hate. This is not good for health and wellbeing. This is not good for workplace productivity, workplace culture and society as a whole either.

    Also there is danger that retirement will arrive and life won’t be better. A lack of purpose and associated goals is not good for the soul and is a recipe for further dissatisfaction. Waiting doesn’t fix things, planning and taking action does.

    What can you do to find purpose and meaning in your working life and beyond?

    If you need help to explore your options and possibilities, coaching might be the answer. Give me a call to discuss how that might work 0421 775 924 or email debra.pittam@personcentredladership.com

  5. Ladies: Watch Your Language

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    I was recently leading a project that has a very successful outcome in a very short timeframe. A colleague complemented me on it.

    I said, “It wasn’t just me, I couldn’t have done it without all of help and cooperation I received from the team and the stakeholders too”.

    He responded that it is so common for women to deflect a complement and give others the credit and not themselves.

    I said “I didn’t!” (bit indignant), followed by “I think it’s important for leaders to acknowledge the input and impact of others on the success of ventures they lead.  I strive to do that and always will!”

    He said “But you are doing it at your own expense. A man would not have done that. . A man would have said… thanks and acknowledged the part he played in the projects success as well.” He’s right.

    Hmm. I took a deep breath and said “Ok. Reword: my project was successful because I am good at project management and bringing  a great team with me and inspiring them to join me in the work, which they did brilliantly. I also have great relationship building skills and people trust me. This means I have a broad network and as long as I believe in the project it is easy for me to influence ‘buy in’ “.

    He said “Thats better”

    I said “Oh wow, thank you”. Light bulb moment as they say.

    And I am a coach who works with women. Who should know better than I, the impact of language, self talk and how you present yourself and your talents to others. And how that impacts on success.

    This has taught me, that even though I know the theory of empowerment and the right language and attitude, it is not always easy to implement it. Easier to fall back on the long ago learned feminine default of self depreciation.

    To counter this and stop it in its tracks, I think it is important that we notice and reflect upon what we say about ourselves and how we say it. It’s also a good idea to seek feedback from those we trust about how we are perceived by others when we speak about ourselves and our accomplishments as a colleague and as a leader.

    Adjust language and behaviour accordingly. Repeat.

    I am still not comfortable with the word change and I am working on that with a ‘fake it till you make it’ approach. I cannot unlearn this lesson though. And so I give it to you.

    What will you do with it?

     

    I am happy to chat if you need any help with that. Mail me to book a time on  debra.pittam@personcentredleadership.com

  6. Poem: The Others

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    So many various varied people in the world.

    Each of us has a story that you can’t see from the outside.

    A story that you could not guess no matter how many assumptions you make.

    We ‘other’ others because they are not like us.

    We separate ourselves from them,

    Fear, judge, dislike and vilify them,

    The others.

    Pain, love, despair, hope, grief, joy, disappointment, and pleasure,

    These we all share.

    No matter race, ability, religion, sexual orientation or gender,

    Cis or otherwise.

    As much as we ‘other’, we are the same.

    We must be tolerant, be understanding, be curious, be compassionate.

    Don’t you think?

    Let all of us be us and let none of us be them.

  7. Women in Leadership: the Untapped Power of the Over 50’s

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    Perhaps because I fit the demographic, I have been noticing of late in the media, (social and otherwise), through conversations with clients, friends and colleagues, that women in the 50 plus age bracket are under appreciated and underused in the leadership space across industries. This may be because of time taken off due to caring roles or high level responsibility not sought for the same reason. It could be because women, more than men believe that they are not good enough and won’t apply for positions unless they meet all of the criteria. Or it could be because workplaces are not flexible enough for them to manage competing responsibilities. Whatever the reason, this group of women is an untapped resource that has a lot to contribute.

    To unapologetically generalise, women in their 50’s have had a lot of experience in the workforce and many have also been in a caring role of some kind, whether of children or ageing parents. They are also often active in their communities. Make no mistake, these are leadership roles and the capabilities and behaviours are the same. Some of them are:

    • Influencing
    • Negotiation
    • Delegation
    • Communication skills
    • Conflict management
    • Managing unacceptable behaviour
    • Creativity
    • Tolerance
    • Wisdom
    • Problem solving
    • Nothing much phases them they’ve seen it all before and know it will be ok in the end
    • They understand the importance of family and balance and well being across life
    • They have made mistakes and have taken responsibility many times over
    • They lead more from a place of compassion than ego
    • They are effective workplace culture influencers

    What do you think – am I right or wrong here?

  8. 10 Tips To Get The Most From Your 360 Feedback

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    360 feedback can be an anxiety provoking experience. Having undertaken the assessment myself a few times and also facilitated and coached many people through theirs, I have noticed that the mindset you adopt about both the process and the content is key to your perspective, your reactions, your learning and how much value you gain from the experience.

    So What is 360 Feedback?

    It is a process, which enables you to find out how the people you work with and influence, experience your leadership. These commonly include direct reports, peers and managers (your raters). Each of your chosen raters, completes a survey in which they rate your leadership behaviours, capability and effectiveness. Apart from (usually) your manager, all of the raters responses are generally anonymous.

    Why Engage in 360 Feedback

    If you take a look at the Johari Window Model developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955, you will notice that there are four areas of self knowing:

    1. That which we know about ourselves and are happy to share with others
    2. That which we know about ourselves that we do not want others to know and which we hide
    3. That which others know about us, but we don’t know about ourselves: our blind spot
    4. That which is completely unknown by ourselves and others and a potential area for discovery

    (For more information about Johari see the link in the references)

    360 feedback though the lens of this model, has the potential to help us (depending on our mindset) to increase our self-knowledge and awareness and gain insight into our blind spots in the context of how we work with and lead others. This in conjunction with education, training and/or coaching is a process that is commonly used in leadership development.

    Creating a Positive Learning Experience

    David Rock (2009) likens the feeling we get prior to impending feedback, akin to that experienced when someone is following you down a dark alley. I think you will agree this is not a useful feeling to have prior to receiving your 360 feedback. Below are some tips that may assist you to reduce this feeling and instead, develop a mindset that is open to learning and growth in this context.

    1. Find a coach who is experienced in facilitating 360 feedback and has a track record of helping people achieve positive results. They should be able to help you identify your strengths, consider your career goals and what broad outcomes you would like to gain from the feedback before you begin
    2. Before your feedback session, consider your career goals. Where do you want to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5?
    3. As you begin to review and unpack your feedback, remind yourself that completing these surveys is not easy and rater’s have taken the time to give you the gift of their opinion. Most people do this from a place of wanting you to do well
    4. Remember that we each see the world as we are, not as it actually is. The raters are also within their own Johari window and generally speaking can only rate your leadership from their perspective. No one can see the whole picture. That is why the feedback is facilitated. So you can be assisted to unpack it and apply it to your situation, role and career gaols
    5. It’s ok to feel emotional about your feedback. It’s a perfectly normal to feel disappointed that you are not perfect and see the negative more than the positive at first. Consider that feedback doesn’t happen in isolation, it occurs in the context of the ups and downs of life, both yours and your raters, so be kind to yourself
    6. Focus on the positives and identified strengths in the first instance. These are your foundation and from these you can build, learn and grow
    7. It is through the process of facilitation and coaching you will be assisted to make sense of your feedback and determine how you want to move forward in your leadership development. You shouldn’t have to do this alone
    8. You don’t have to agree with all of the feedback. Negative feedback can be either general or it can be context specific related to an event, or to a specific day or situation. It’s important to unpack it with your facilitator and discuss and determine what you want to take on board, what you don’t and why.
    9. You don’t have to take on board all of the suggestions for development, even if you agree with them all. No leaders are perfect and everyone will have areas they want to improve, but if you take on too much at once you will be less effective. Consider the top three that relate directly to your role and/or to your career goals. Once you have achieved your goals around those you can always go back and look at other areas.
    10. Zenger and Folkman (2009) talk about fatal flaws in leadership. These are a list of 10 behaviours and qualities that their research indicates characterise the worst leaders. If one of these is identified throughout your feedback, they suggest it needs to be addressed as a priority (i.e. one of your top 3). See the reference list for a link to their article.

    I wish you well in your leadership development and if you implement these tips, or not, I would love to hear how  360 feedback went for you. If you are looking for a coach to help you with 360 feedback please get in touch.

    References

    David Rock, 2009. http://2uxlo5u7jf11pm3f36oan8d6-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/ManagingWBrainInMind.pdf Available 26.2.18

    Johari Window https://www.businessballs.com/self-awareness/johari-window-model-and-free-diagrams-68/ Accessed 26.2.18

    Ten Fatal Flaws That Derail Leaders, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman. June 2009. https://hbr.org/2009/06/ten-fatal-flaws-that-derail-leaders Accessed 26.2.18

  9. Do you know your values?

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    I am currently in the process of having conversations with a range of women for a book I am writing called Women with Heart.

    The women I have the privilege to speak with are extraordinary women who are invested in what they do, who care and have integrity. These are not high profile women though; rather they are extraordinary, ordinary women whose experiences are seldom heard and whose successes are seldom acknowledged and celebrated, even by them, themselves!

    As I ponder and reflect on the conversations I have been so lucky to have had, I can see a number of themes are emerging. Themes that they all have in common, at least broadly. One of these, is their principles and their values. They know them, they live them, they are guided by them, they find comfort and strength within them. They are the foundation of integrity and even self love. These are not trivial impacts. These are powerful. Knowing and living by your values then, is important, something powerful you can do for your self. We all have them but it can be hard to express what they are. Can you articulate yours? I would love it if you would share them and how they impact you in the comments.

    If you find it hard to articulate them, try these questions out and when you have answered them think about the emotion and the value that lies underneath. Some examples of values are at the end of this post to give you some inspiration if you are stuck:

     

    • What do you most love doing?
    • What pushes your buttons, makes you feel irritated or angry?
    • What do you spend most of your money on?
    • What are you proud of?
    • What is really important to you, something that you will not compromise on?
    • What brings you joy?
    • What does success mean to you?

    Some examples of possible values are below to give you some ideas:

    Respect, fairness, honesty, integrity, learning, social justice, family, collaboration, courage, conscientiousness, fun, love, open mindedness, flexibility, freedom, empathy, compassion, loyalty, openness. And there are many more…

     

     

  10. Do You Need More Connection in Your Life?

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    One of the joys of working at home is that I get to check on my friend’s puppy! And as I sit here with said Puppy, it makes me think about connection.

    What I know about connection, is that just as the puppy needs it, so do we all. It is central to our well-being and according to the research I have read, it is important for our longevity too.

    Across interviews I conducted with a range of women for my book Women with Heart, so far connection has been a recurring theme. So I know connection is hugely important and we must pay attention to our and others need for it.

    I know it doesn’t necessarily take much time in a day or a week to fuel our personal feeling of connection or that of others. Often a few moments are enough. It does however take effort and intention.

    There are many kinds of connection and it occurs and across a range of relationships: family, friends, co-workers, and teammates. Also we can feel connection through animals and nature. You may identify with others. The depth of connection varies across all of these too.

    Connection matters across a range of contexts including school, work, community and sport. I’m sure you can think more here too.

    The strong connections we make in life, persist across time and distance.

    I know that a sense of disconnection can feel devastating.

    Implicit within connection is openness, kindness, empathy, thoughtfulness, fun, appreciation and effort. Also when necessary, compassion and lack of judgement are required too.

    A feeling of connection can happen with a stranger over a shared interest or passion. The woman in the vet’s office with the beautiful Dalmatian cross, I am thinking of you.

    And to go full circle from where I began this conversation, connections can happen with other people’s pets too. Examples: the aforementioned Dalmatian and of course the puppy.

    The purpose of this post is really to remind us to stop for a moment and seek to create and perpetuate connection. So I will finish this post with 2 questions for you to consider:

    • How can you reach out today to meet your need for connection and at the same time meet someone else’s?

    and

    • If you are a leader, how can you foster connection in your workplace?

    I would love to hear you thoughts about connection in the comments.

     

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