Showing posts with label leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label leadership. Show all posts

IWL Women’s Leadership Conference 2012: Two Key Takeaways

I had the pleasure of attending the Indiana’s Women Leaders Conference on October 2, 2012. Traffic was an absolute nightmare because even the slightest sprinkle of rain sends Indiana drivers into a world of panic and I foolishly under dressed for this auspicious occasion. The normal attire for SEO conferences is a nice shirt and jeans – nerds don’t go all out.

Fashion issue aside, the conference was full of great information. Speaker presentations and breakout sessions related to the conference theme, “Present & Future: Choices, Chances, and Changes”.

Key Takeaways

Networking is super important, y’all. If you aren’t networking or are networking incorrectly, your chance for professional success diminishes.
  • Colleges, universities tell students that networking is important but they don’t take the time to teach them HOW to network. Isn’t that silly?
  • Hazel Walker shared a pretty cool statistic from her new book “Business Networking and Sex (it's not what you think)": 12K people were asked, “Has networking played a role in your success?”  91% responded “Yes”.
  • It’s better to build your network when you don’t need it than start one when you do need it and it’s too late.

Here are a few ideas on how to groom and grow you network:  
  1. Ask for what you want. What’s the point of having a network if you aren’t going to use it? Be clear and make sure to explain how you can help them in the future.
  2. Create a list of accomplishments and update this list frequently. Be ready and prepared to brag about recent accomplishments with your current and potential contacts, employers, etc.
  3. Perfect your handshake. The correct handshake has nothing to do with how hard you shake: it’s about wrapping your hand completely around the other person’s hand with purpose.
  4.  Follow up with everyone you meet. Don’t let any opportunities pass you by because you forgot to follow up!
Communicate your career needs, wants, and aspirations. Every panel member, and most of the speakers, stressed the importance of communicating your needs, wants, and aspirations to your employer and your mentor. It’s critical to take the time to figure out your career priorities (both short and long term) and then have a conversation to figure out how to take action on those priorities.
  • If you aren’t happy with your current situation, it’s on you to make a change. No one else is going to do it for you. Be the master of your career destiny!
  • Stretch yourself to take on intimidating challenges – you learn as much from failure as you do from success.

Suggestions for next year 

I have three suggestions for the event next year – mainly, embrace the world of social media.
  • Include social media handles and information for all presenters in both the packet and on presentation slides.
    • I like to credit quotes to the speakers but this information was not readily available. I had to search for their handles during the presentation and I’m sure I missed some awesome knowledge bombs!
    • I couldn’t find the conference hashtag! It didn’t appear anywhere on the presentation slides or inside the conference packet. It wasn’t on any of the signage, either.
  • Do not host a keynote speaker at lunch. I was interested in what she had to say but also wanted to network and socialize. Socializing won.
  • WIFI! Please for the love of GOD give me WIFI! The Indiana Conference Center wanted $99 for a single day’s use. Perhaps there is a way to incorporate this into registration fees? I’d pay more for internet.

Remove obstacles

You know that person you imagine yourself being, in a perfect, consequence-free world? The secret life of your daydreams? Where you can do anything, be anyone, go anywhere?

Who would you be?
No really, who would you be? What would you do?


What's keeping you from becoming that person?
No, really, what's keeping you?

Are you keeping yourself?

It's time to remove obstacles and push forward.

Make positive tiny, small, little changes daily, weekly, monthly.
This is how we change the world.

I just realized that I'm unstoppable.

Are you?

The T in Team

Trust is absolutely essential for a team to thrive. Think about it … trust is critical in any relationship because a relationship without trust is not really a relationship at all! As businesses continue to shift from cubicles to team-oriented workplaces, developing team building skills (trust included) is becoming necessary for success. And you want to be successful, right? Of course you do! defines trust as:
  1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
  2. confident expectation of something; hope.

Absolutely beautiful, isn't it?
Is it possible to have a team without trust? Not a successful one, that's for sure.

In order for a team (any kind of team) to function properly, every member must do what they promise, on time and as expected. Even harder, everyone on the team has to trust that every other member is going to make good on their commitments.

Easy right? (insert LOLcano here)

I've only officially been in a leadership role for 6 months now, but I can tell you with full assurance that a team without trust will collapse at the first sign of struggle. I say officially because I've been a leader my entire life; although I was always picked last in gym class, I was always the sucker who stepped up to lead group projects in school (and wound up doing most all of the work because I HAD to get an A).

I know, I know – trusting someone can be scary! Like many of you, I've put my trust in the wrong people and been disappointed and hurt.

I will never be able to control what anyone else does/says/thinks but I can control what I do/say/think. I can make damn sure that I do everything within my power to demonstrate that my word is good, that I am trustworthy (true, accurate, honest, faithful).

According to The Third Opinion: How Successful Leaders Use Outside Insight to Create Superior Results, there are three fundamental distinctions of trust: personal, expertise, and structural.

Personal trust develops in the workplace from shared tasks and an understanding of what makes your teammates tick so to speak.  It is being confident that your teammate won’t let you down when it counts, and vice versa.

When developing personal trust, you might ask the following questions about your teammate(s):
  • On a personal level, do I trust this person? 
  • Do I believe this person is honest, ethical, and well-intentioned? 
  • Do I believe s/he will make good when s/he gives his/her word? 
  • Do I believe this person will handle confidential information with care and 

Expertise trust comes from competence and knowledge in a particular subject matter or process. Expertise trust focuses on the knowledge, judgment and thinking abilities of someone else.

When developing expertise trust, you might ask the following questions about your teammate(s):
  • Do I trust that this person is an expert in his/her field? Is their knowledge current and up-to-date? Do I trust the information they gather to inform and support their opinions?
  • Do they have an ability to understand my situation and apply their knowledge to it? 
  • Do I trust their judgment regarding risk, options and tradeoffs? 
  • Do they have the ability to innovate and develop custom solutions to hard problems?

Structural trust refers to how much someone’s position or role affects your confidence that s/he will be able to deal with you straightforwardly.

When developing structural trust, you might ask the following questions about your teammate(s):
  • Do they have a personal agenda? 
  • Are they in a role where their judgment and thinking is likely to be significantly influenced by their need to advance their goals, self-interests, or advocacy?
A person trusts a team when s/he believes that team members make good-faith efforts to stick to commitments, are honest in negotiations, and don't take advantage of one another even when the opportunity presents itself.

Trust is one of the key ingredients necessary for a team to succeed, and teams of all types must remain firmly rooted in trusting relationships if they are to function effectively.

How do you build trust within your team/organization?

How do you define leadership?

Webster's dictionary defines leadership as:
  • The office or position of a leader
  • Capacity to lead
  • The act or an instance of leading

When defining leadership should we consider leadership styles? What about types of leadership training? In recent conversations I've heard leadership used to mean religious training, political opinions, procedural direction, organizational planning, experience driven team building, and volunteerism. Leadership seems like such a simple word, doesn't it?  

When discussing leadership, keep in mind; others may have a different definition of leadership. One of the most common breakdowns in communication is assuming others think as we do. Avoid this breakdown, when discussing leadership, by asking questions and explaining your definition of leadership.

How one defines leadership may be personal, but leading isn't. 
Regardless of your style and definition of leadership there are certain leadership truths. Here are a few to consider.

  1. Charisma is not leadership. Leaders are not born. Leaders learn to lead.
  1. A leader without followers is not a leader. Pretty simply huh? Think about it.
  1. Leaders are self-aware and obsessed with personal improvement.
  1. The best leaders learn what followers need to succeed and furnish the tools.
  1. Managers want employees to change when change often begins with management. Be a leader - lead by example – be the first to change.
Lead by example. Use recognition and encouragement to paint dreams, to show a path, and share a vision. Train and help, and help and train, and train and help some more. Keep in mind - You manage accounts and lead people.

How do you define leadership? Leave a comment; I’d like to know.

If you’d like more of my definition of leadership, check out these posts:
12 Attributes of Great Leadership

 About the Author
Randy Clark (@randyclarktko)
"I am Indiana born and bred - I love basketball, the Indy 500 and our state fair. My beer fridge at any given time has a couple hundred beers representing 75-80 different styles."

Randy Clark is the Director of Communications for TKO Graphix, where he blogs for TKO Graphix Brandwire. He is an avid flower gardener, beer geek, and he fronts the Under the Radar Rock & Roll. Randy is husband to public speaker Cathi, proud father of one principal, one educator. He is also a grandfather to four grandchildren.

Purple dinosaur

A very wise purple dinosaur taught me to "Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share." While I've yet to apply this to my apartment cleaning routine, I have completely changed my perspective on what it means to be a leader.

I hope that a T-Rex would be this friendly IRL.
(That's in real life for those just joining us.)

When I first accepted a team lead position at my company, I was excited to try something new and grow my skill set. Okay fine, I was nervous, too -- I like to be the best of the best (winner) and uncharted territory meant no established standards and quotas. How can I raise the bar if I don't know where it is?

At first the uncertainty brought me an incredible amount of stress and worry. I was so focused on proving that I could do this that I forgot to actually lead. Once my perspective was shifted I settled into my new responsibilities and defined my leadership role for myself; I set my own bar.

What Being a Leader Means to Me 
  1. Helping everyone on my team realize and reach their potential
  2. Being available for problem and solution discussions, both professionally and personally
  3. Encouraging my team to push themselves to be better (for themselves, not just for me)
  4. Communicating frequently and being honest in that communication
  5. Being my team's greatest advocate
Being a team lead means more to me than producing quality output. I see it as an opportunity to hand-pick people who can build the best company in the industry. If we are willing to work together, there is nothing we can't overcome. Going alone is a tough row to hoe, ya mean?

When I was young and a fresh college grad (n00b) I was under the impression that getting a job in the career field of my choice was going to be a cakewalk. What a laugh.

It took me years to not only figure out WHAT I wanted to do but WHO I wanted to be. As if figuring that out wasn't hard enough, I then had to find an environment where that wanted me accomplish both things. Needless to say, my quest for career bliss has been full of more ups and downs. I could have really used a mentor to show me the ropes. Rug burn sucks.

In the end I'm happy to have overcome so many obstacles when defining myself and my career goals: I am capable of being the mentor I never had. I'm going to push myself to offer more than just assignments and tasks to my team: I'm also going to offer encouragement, guidance, support, and concern.

I leave you with a final thought from one of my favorite Tweeps, Suzanne Zaleski (@MsSwank):

Are you pushing yourself to be your personal and professional best? Why not?

Rafael Sanchez

The unthinkable happened to me on Thursday: I met one of my personal local media idols Rafael Sanchez.

He is 'The Watchdog' of WRTV6 in Indianapolis. He also has the most beautiful brown eyes I've ever seen.

I was approached by my employer on Wednesday about an interview about our four-day work week. I've never been interviewed on camera and I'm not the best at interviews, period. I decided to give my fear the boot and prepared for my close-up.

I went home, picked out the perfect outfit, and crunched the numbers of my yearly commute.
  • I drive 66 miles each day (Monday through Thursday) to work.
  • I use a little over 3 gallons of gas a day.
  • By not going into the office on Friday, I save almost 170 gallons in gas (that's over $500 give or take) a year.
I was completely cool (well, as cool as I ever am) the next morning at work. The nerves didn't kick in until the marketing department told me that Rafael 'The Watchdog' Sanchez would be conducting my interview.


I immediately started sweating and stanning out. I took deep breathes, ran over my figures, and waited for my prince to arrive.  He was on time and in his trademark yellow jacket. He was also a foot shorter than I imagined.

Trying to do damage control while Sanchez asks the tough questions.

As far as the interview goes, I think I did pretty well. It airs this evening on Channel 6. The trouble didn't start until after I'd answered questions and we went to shoot b-roll.

Sanchez wanted a shot of me walking out of the office. He also wanted a few shots of me entering and exiting my vehicle, as well as pulling into a parking space. I didn't have any reservations until he told me that his cameraman would be riding in the car with me.

Saving gas, wear and tear on my car, and the environment? Awesome.

My mind immediately pictured the empty water bottles, laundry detergent, newspapers, and other items littering the interior of the cavalier. Time to stall.

"Is there any way I can have five minutes to go and clean out my car?" I asked sweetly. Sanchez had to be downtown at the state house by 10:30 am to cover the union protesters -- we didn't have a moment to lose. I straightened by shoulders, smiled, and decided to make the best of it.

The cameraman couldn't fit himself and camera in the front seat and still get a decent shot; he had to climb into the backseat. I can neither confirm or deny if he got tangled in the seat belt. He was very sweet about the entire situation as I apologized for the interior of my chariot.  He told me repeatedly not to worry -- he had managed to find a way to hold the camera so that you couldn't see all the trash!

I didn't fall, I didn't swear, and I did my best to make the wind-blown look work for me.  All in all I'd say it was magnificent.

Windblown? Check. Can't see the trash in the car? Check.

Oh, and Sanchez has one hell of a handshake.

It's da bomb, like tick tick

I have returned from a week of shower shoes and Atrium food.

Being an RA was definitely different than I expected.  When I lived in the dorms as a freshman I spent most of my time outside of the residence halls; I worked, I played, I avoided hall checks.  Living in LaFallApart was a challenge and being on the 8th floor of a non-air conditioned dorm permanently raised my body temperature a few degrees.

This time around I spent 8 glorious days at Woodworth and experienced the luxurious side of the dorm life.  I now had a window air conditioning unit and was the one performing room checks.  Flying first class up in the sky...
Being around high schoolers for a week made me realize two things.
1. High schoolers are ruled by their emotions.
2. Being part of The Group is a top priority.

I am still ruled by my emotions to a certain extent, but these kids experienced the highs and lows of each day 100 percent.  When they were excited, they were EXCITED.  When they were sad, you could feel their melancholy reverberating off the walls.  I haven't been around teenagers, with the exception of my sister, for a long time and I forgot how strong the desire to fit in can be.

Case in point -- during our dance on Wednesday night, one of the students requested Sandstorm.  Yes, you read that correctly: SANDSTORM.  Talk about a throwback!  Anyway, three kids started banging on the floor in a very Jersey Shore manner and before you knew it, close to 50 kids were pounding the beat out on the gym floor.  They were so in-tune to what everyone else was doing that they all jumped up to fist pump within seconds of each other.  Amazing.

All recreational activities were considered lame until a handful of students started to participate.  I found in interesting that, generally speaking, the outsiders of the camp were the first to join in group activities and get the ball rolling.  They danced, they butchered sang karaoke, they made fools of themselves, and most importantly, they didn't care!  Because these campers had the courage to stand out others joined in.  Ironically, their willingness to participate is what singled them out in the first place ... repeat cycle. 

After watching the hierarchy of high school play out for an entire week, I was amazed at the things I'd witnessed.  The popular kids from different schools and different states found each other and formed a clique; the nerds, the jocks, and the outcasts all followed suit.  Yes, they interacted to a certain extent, but as a whole everyone knew their place and mingled within their peer group.  And I thought classism no longer existed!

As an adult, it was particularly heartbreaking to watch certain students try to mingle outside of their clique and be rejected.  They often felt ostracized and, because they are highly emotional, their sadness was plastered across their face.

One of my favorite campers watched the dance from a distance because his peer group was not participating; he wanted to dance but was worried his moves would be made into a joke.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that everyone on the dance floor made an idiot of themselves (see fist pumping).  He later confided in me that he was also upset because the girl he liked at camp decided to date (for a whole week) someone else, someone 'cooler' than he was.  He had spent the entire week trying to show his adoration for this vixen.  For one reason or another, he was not chosen.

I am so glad high school is over.

Me as a high school senior