What’s at Stake, Up and Down

Guest Post by: Fred Jones, GUAA Coaching Partner

Most of the bosses you’ve had probably fall toward the middle of this contrast: between whether you felt they made it easier or harder to do your thing as a leader. If you’ve had enough bosses, as I’ve had, there’s also at least one on each extreme. Someone who wore you out and drove you crazy, and one who made you better and stronger than you thought possible.

Take a longer look and consider what each of those extreme bosses was doing. Add to that an assessment, from your perspective, how they were “being”–by which I mostly mean the degree to which they seemed at ease, at least in the roles they were playing, in their own skin. Do you sense a difference?

Without fail, we have a lot at stake in our boss. The same goes in reverse. The quality of the connection makes a difference in how information flows and how productively it is used in an organizational system. It also affects the climate–the mood, the weather–from day to day. Poor relationships up and down leave us carrying an extra weight as we move through what already may be complex and challenging. This quality also is visible to others, and it affects their confidence in what’s possible and what’s worth putting discretionary effort into.

From below, there are things you can do to work on the quality upward. You can get in tune on the kind of access you can provide each other, the range of authority you have, how you represent your own point of view even when it varies from your boss’s, and more. Even that sample of a much longer list may sound difficult. The key: making it discussible. This means making the functioning of the relationship itself the focus of attention, with candid sharing of what each of you need from the other. There’s a chance that if you are suffering in the relationship, so is your boss. They may want to make it better, but they never took the time to take your perspective on it.

You may be that boss with one or more of your direct reports. Not necessarily the extreme boss. But you may be in the middle, the one who hasn’t really paused to see what it really is like to report up to you. The boss who is responsible for some amount of lost productivity and personal suffering. You can open the way for them and make the relationship discussible–which means, of course, not making it all about you. If you engage to learn, you are likely to discover something important that may affect not just them but you and the quality of your life as a leader.

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Interview with Dirigo Advisors Founder Patrick McGinnis

Full Name & Georgetown School and Year

Patrick J. McGinnis, SFS ‘98

Professional Title & Organization

Author, The 10% Entrepreneur and Founder, Dirigo Advisors

Career

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

Combining all of the experiences and lessons learned from investing in fast growing companies on five continents into a book that encourages everyone to be an entrepreneur without quitting their day job. My goal was to reach a global audience and that’s been truly rewarding. The book has been translated into a bunch of languages and I’ve spoken on the topic of 10% Entrepreneurship in a diverse set of places, such as Argentina, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Mongolia.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

I wish I had been more open to working on side projects as a way to explore interests, learn, and generate opportunities for upside. I was heads down and all-in on finance, which didn’t work out so well during the 2008 financial crisis.

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

Entrepreneurship is going global due to the falling cost of innovating and the now indisputable fact that talent is borderless. As a result, you don’t need to be in Silicon Valley or New York or London to succeed. You can be almost anywhere.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally? 

I’m credited with coining the term FOMO while I was a student at Harvard Business School. Staying focused, even when it’s not fun or profitable to do so, never gets easier.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? 

Find something you want to be known for it, write about it, establish your authority on the topic.

Hilltop Memories

How has Georgetown shaped you?

I like to joke that I have the most SFS career I could have imagined. Without question, the intellectual foundation and language skills that I got at Georgetown are fundamental to everything I do. I all have been heavily influenced by the values of cura personalis and social justice that I discovered on the hilltop.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

“International Political Economy” with Prof. George Shambaugh and “Problem of God” with Julia Lamm

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

Winning a ticket to see Bill Clinton speak at Gaston Hall my freshman year. I loved that Georgetown gave tickets out so democratically. It is still the greatest speech I have ever seen in person.

Your Inspirations

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

If you pay attention, you can find inspiration all around you, even in the little things. I try to pay attention and stay grateful for the little things.

What is on your desk right now?

A Oaxacan black clay skull from a great store called Tienda MAP in Mexico City. It’s a good reminder to make the most of each day.

Who is your favorite author? 

F. Scott Fitzgerald

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?

I hate monotony, so I rebel against routine, but no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I will always start my day with a cup of very good coffee.

Final Word

What are your words to live by?

Always make sure to have more than one string to your bow.

Building Your Reputation. Stand Out to Get In.

Guest Post by: Jen Dalton for Brand Mirror

What is a personal brand, and why does it even matter? Put simply, your brand is your reputation. It’s the words that people think of to define you. It’s how relevant you are, and what conversations you are a part of. It’s how you stand out from others. If you don’t define your personal brand, others will define it for you, and this is why being in charge of your brand matters.

Brands create an emotional connection. When people think of Volvo, they often don’t just think car, they think safety. Apple is no longer just a fruit, but an innovative technology company. And you can’t think about Nike without thinking sports or speed. What emotional connection do people have when they think about you? There are actionable ways to control that, so let’s go over a few.

Understand Where You Are Today

First, we need to do some foundation building. To define your personal brand, we need to look at the Three D’s: Discover, Design, and Differentiate. Start with doing some self-reflection.

  • Ask yourself questions like: What do I want to do? What is the impact I want to have? What are my skills, strengths, and values? Where am I? Where am I going?
  • Think about 5 words that you think describe you, then go and ask your friends, family, even clients what their words for you would be. Compare the two, and think about how you might align them better.
  • Take a Digital Inventory. Google yourself and see what shows up. Ask a friend to search for yourself on LinkedIn by name, and then by role, and see where you show up. How hard is it for someone to find you?

It’s important to understand where others think you’re at because others’ perception of you is the reality of your personal brand.

What Do You Want People To Say About You When You Are Not in the Room?

Now, onto Design. Here we can look at some actionable steps to take towards designing your own brand. After you’ve figured out how people define you now, think about the ways you WANT people to define you. These are the words that will make up your Brand DNA. Think about how you want to show up, and start to design that brand. Be consistent. Does your work space, the way you dress, how you show up in meetings, and how you interact with others align with your Brand DNA? George Bernard Shaw said, “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Look at your LinkedIn page – is it telling a story about your brand, or is it just a copy of your resume?

If you’re having a hard time designing your Brand DNA, make your signature storyboard. Go through your history and find pictures that mean a lot to you emotionally, where you really liked the person you were at that moment. If you’re not visual, think of words or phrases where you really deliver in a powerful way. This can make up your storyboard, and this will help you define your brand promise. A brand is, essentially, a promise, so take time to create your Leadership Promise Statement. What can people expect when they work with you? How can you present this to people in, say, networking scenarios? When you introduce yourself, what do you say? Take this Promise of Value and make sure it’s consistent online. Show evidence of it everywhere. Prove it to everyone who looks.

Own What Makes You Unique and Different

Next, you need to Differentiate yourself from everyone else. What is your position? Look back over your storyboard and your Brand DNA and figure out what you have offered in the past that nobody else could’ve done. Figure out who your audience is. What companies do you want to be a part of that inspire you? What boards do you want to be on in your community? Taylor your brand to be approachable to your audience. Who are your competitors and who do you look up to and why? Spend some time researching them, how they got where they are, what exactly they’re doing. Figure out what their brand is.

Now you can start creating value and opportunities for yourself. Think about what you should be talking about. Should it be company related? Or perhaps about your passions, or your particular set of skills? Does what you have to say matter, and will people care? Is it relevant? Are the right people seeing you? How can you get them to care AND share what you talk about? Who are the leaders and influencers writing in the same space? These are the key elements that make up your Digital Brand. You can also create opportunities for yourself offline. You can join a board or volunteer in an organization. You can interview people in your same space and blog about it. You can network with others, and look for places to share your insights. You can look for speaking opportunities and webinars.

Plan Your Work, and Work Your Plan

Remember, timing is everything. Create an editorial or visibility calendar for your brand – where to be, when to write posts and blogs. You want to stay visible. In many cases, out of sight is out of mind. Make sure that your content is easy to share and re-purpose. Write about other people, companies, and organizations. Be sure to tag them when you post your content. This creates opportunities for others to share and help make you more visible. Write about others and help them be visible. Share helpful articles. Give shout outs on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Write recommendations on LinkedIn for people and on Google+, and Facebook for businesses. Send thank you notes, and provide recognition. Be genuine. Don’t expect things in return. Contribute to your brand by giving to others. Above all, be authentic. Authenticity contributes greatly to your personal brand. It’s easy to tell when someone is being disingenuous, and that puts a big hit on their brand or the way we think about them. Although you may plan a lot of your communications, be spur of the moment too and share things real time.

Lastly, monitor yourself, and listen to what others are saying about you. Continue to search yourself on Google and LinkedIn. Ask people to describe your brand periodically to check up on yourself. Do your own self-reflection when you can. Keep control of your brand, the emotional connection people make to you, by monitoring yourself using the steps above. Remember, although you are not a product, you do have a reputation and people will decide to work with you and help you based on your brand.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember you how made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Be a noisebreaker, not a noisemaker.

Jen

How To Handle Difficult Conversations

Guest Post by: Christine Brown-Quinn, The Female Capitalist

Do you shy away from having those conversations that are truly uncomfortable, whether that be about a pay rise, performance or a particular conflict situation? Have you ever over-practiced the conversation in your head, and in the end hesitated to actually deliver the message as the timing no longer seemed ideal?

While having difficult conversations may seem natural to others, it’s really a skill any of us can learn… and the sooner the better! Not taking action of course doesn’t resolve the issue. In fact it makes matters worse as we tend to internalise the stress, increasing our anxiety levels and decreasing our ability to successfully navigate the situation. And worse yet, that difficult issue just got bigger as we haven’t dealt with it on a timely basis.

Those conversations that we dread having are actually the ones that can change the trajectory of careers. That certainly was the case for me – my ability to embrace those tough talks defined me as a senior professional. The key is to adopt the right approach to get the outcome you’re looking for.

Here are my top tips for tough conversations:

1. Bring your best self – schedule those conversations at a time when you’re feeling the most rested, positive and calm. Also think about what might be the best timing for the person you’re going to have the conversation with. You want to have their full attention.

2. Capitalise on positivity – begin your conversation with a ‘power lead’ – think about something positive to say about the current situation. What’s working well? What are you feeling energised about?

3. Be curious about the other person –cultivate an attitude of discovery and curiosity. Have the intent to learn as much as possible from the conversation. While you do want to have the end goal in mind, remain open and flexible on how to get there.

4. Share the bigger picture – provide context and background to the issue you want to discuss. This shows respect for the other person and de-personalises the issue.

5. Build up your muscle – strengthen your abilities by doing. The more tough conversations you undertake, the easier it gets. While the issues or content of the conversation may be different, with practice your stress levels will decrease, and thus your ability to master the situation will increase.

As I built up the habit of having these tough conversations, I had much less anxiety about having the conversations, and was calmer when I did have them. Each conversation gets easier and you actually start to enjoy the possibility that these interactions can be game-changers, making our work place (as well as personal relationships) that much more fulfilling, enjoyable and fun!

 

Six Rules for Effective Networking

Guest Post by: Sandra Buteau, GUAA Coaching Partner

If you cringe as soon as you hear the word “networking,” you should know that you are not alone. Many of us in the world feel the same way. During the course of my professional career as a leadership and career coach, networking has been a recurring theme discussed in practically every single one of my coaching engagements. No matter where you are in your career, you need to embrace networking to expand your professional reach or move up to the next level.

Last month, as a guest Webinar speaker for the Georgetown Alumni community, I encouraged participants to view networking from a different perspective and consider it as a way of making connections, talking to people, seeking information, and building community by interacting with others. Think about it not only as a great opportunity to hear fresh ideas and open doors to help you progress in your career no matter your profession, but also to develop new friendships whether on a personal or professional level.

Some individuals have a natural talent for interacting with other people in professional and social settings while many others struggle and agonize at the thought of putting themselves out there. The good news is that networking is a skill that anyone can learn if you are committed to it and challenge yourself to go out of your comfort zone from time to time.

To help you navigate the process of making connections effectively, I present to you my 6 Rules for Effective Networking.

1. Bring your true and authentic self to any networking efforts. Do not pretend someone you are not.

2. Instead of being afraid of making connections with strangers, change your frame of mind to view networking as sharing, learning, connecting, having good conversations and interactions with others.

3. To be an effective networker you must first adopt the attitude of a giver. Give every person you meet your undivided attention. Listen carefully and ask open-ended questions seeking to learn as much as you can about the other person to support or offer your help with no expectation that something will be given to you in return.

4. As you are building and maintaining your personal network, focus on quality of the relationships. Networking is not a numbers game. If you are planning to attend an event, avoid committing yourself to meet everyone that you come across. Be prepared to devote time and energy to develop meaningful and long-lasting connections.

5. Think of networking as a two-way street. Effective networking requires “sharing.” Someone helps you out today and you help them out later.

6. Always be prepared to make connections. Be open to starting conversations and speaking to everyone around you. You will be surprised that when you ask someone to tell you their story, amazing connections can develop.

What do you commit to do today to move forward in your networking journey?

Freelancing Won’t Help You to Build Wealth

Guest Post by Patrick J. McGinnis, a venture capitalist and private equity investor who founded Dirigo Advisors, after a decade on Wall Street, to provide strategic advice to investors, entrepreneurs, and fast-growing businesses. He is the author of the new book THE 10% ENTREPRENEUR: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job.

The gig economy is here, it’s real, and it’s global. As many as 53 percent of Americans can now be classified as freelancers. While that number includes your (hopefully) friendly Uber driver, it also encompasses a growing number of white collar workers as well, who offer legal, financial, accounting, or design services on demand. This is a direct result of recent instability in once-staid industries like law and finance that has pushed many professionals out of firm life and into consulting roles. As a result, software giant Intuit projects that temporary workers will represent 40 percent of the workforce by 2020. It seems that in the future, nearly half of workers – no matter the color of their collars – will be free agents.

While the rise of the “gig” economy, as the growing dominance of freelancing is often called, has been great for consumers and small business owners, it isn’t necessarily good news for the people providing all these services. Freelancing offers flexibility and a home for workers displaced by the changing labor market, but it also suffers from a fundamental flaw: When you’re a freelancer, there is no company stock plan. You get paid based on the hours you work and nothing more. You have no ownership in any of your projects and you don’t have the possibility of owning a share, even if it’s a small one, of something that can grow in value over time.

Given that reality, how can you make the most of your time as a freelancer in the gig economy?

 Think like an owner

When you’re a freelancer, you are also, in a fundamental sense, an entrepreneur. Over time, you will build a list of clients, expand your network, and assemble a track record of achievements that are your own. In that sense, freelancing can offer a path to building your own firm, so it’s never too early to establish credibility before the wider world. That means taking some time to create a brand, build a website, design a logo, and order slick business cards. Thanks to the sharing economy and inexpensive online platforms, you can accomplish most of these tasks by investing a few days and a couple of hundred dollars. You can also legally incorporate your company quickly and easily with a minimal investment of capital. Even if you’re not yet sure whether you plan to work for yourself over the long term, you’ll always have these resources if you want to moonlight on the side.

Be a 10% Entrepreneur and look for opportunities to earn sweat equity

Don’t restrict thinking like an owner to your own firm. You can also endeavor to own stakes in other people’s businesses as well. Specifically, you can become a 10% Entrepreneur, allocating at least 10% of your time and energy to offering your services in exchange for shares of a company – commonly known as earning sweat equity. This practice is relatively common because most startups have more to offer in the way of equity than they do in cash. As a result, there are many services, such as advising on a business plan or legal documents, making critical introductions, or creating a logo or website, that young businesses will consider as an in-kind capital contribution in exchange for stock.

While it it naturally riskier than simply walking away with a pocketful of cash, getting paid at least partly in equity can be surprisingly lucrative. Take the case of David Choe. Choe is the graffiti artist who took stock in Facebook as payment for murals he painted at their headquarters. Today, those shares are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

With freelancing here to stay, thinking like an owner, with respect to your business, as well as the businesses of others, can represent a powerful strategy to build long-term wealth. Not every company you work with is going to be the next Facebook, but as you gain experience, you will learn to spot the companies that are poised for growth. Not only will these companies become reliable clients, but if you earn sweat equity, they can also become long-term partners.

Interview with the Co-Founder of Solemates Monica Ferguson (B’00)

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

There have been a lot of rewarding moments as an entrepreneur, but I think when Oprah Winfrey devoted a half page in her magazine and called my invention/product “genius”. It was great.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

I wish I had learned basic HTML/CSS earlier in my career.

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

As a retail brand, we are constantly navigating the changing face of brick and mortar retail (i.e., its decline), as well as how to strike the right balance in the digital space with the investment that goes into our branded website in a world dominated by Amazon.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally? 

For sure it was the decision to leave Goldman (the second time) to start my company.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? 

Be comfortable being uncomfortable.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

Georgetown helped me understand what it was to have the courage of my convictions; and the importance of acting in accordance with my beliefs.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Advanced Financial Management (unlikely a common answer). It was the first class that showed me how numbers tell the story of a business. Accounting did not do that for me!

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

Any memory that involves spending time with my friends; whether it was a class project, a dinner, or just sitting around our house. It was all so much fun.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

My parents. They raised 4 children, have demanding careers, more friends than they can handle, and they have always made time for everyone and everything. I am inspired by their work ethics, sacrifice, and their energy.

What is on your desk right now?

An old fashion (paper) date book, an amazon Echo, a bottle of Smart Water, a to-do list, and a mess of sample products and packaging.

Who is your favorite author? 

Amor Towles, Jonathan Franzen, and Kristin Hannah

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?

Coffee and exercise

What are your words to live by?

Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder (Gilbert K. Chesterton), but I erroneously attributed it to David Brooks for years.

 

Interview with Halo Top President and COO Doug Bouton (COL ’07)

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

If I had to choose, I think the fact that we employee more than 100 people right now. It’s very rewarding to create great jobs for great people.

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

Unfortunately, my “career” has largely been Halo Top so not sure I would’ve done anything differently. I went to law school out of college and practiced law for a year or so before Halo Top. My legal background helped tremendously with the founding of and raising money for Halo Top so can’t say I even regret that aspect of my short career.

What trends do you see in your profession or industry?

There are plenty of trends in the food industry. When Halo Top started, it was in the middle of the healthy eating trend that continues to this day, which Greek yogurt largely spearheaded. In that sense, we’ve been fortunate to have the right product, right time – aligning with food/beverage trends like low-calorie, high-protein, and low-sugar. As far other trends, non-dairy/vegan is a big one that will last for a long time. I suspect things like gluten-free are more fad than trend and will pass but time will tell.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally? 

The first few years of Halo Top were really tough, really stressful. I would’ve been easy for my business partner and me to give up. Persevering through those 3-4 years, in hindsight, was probably the hardest thing that I’ve done professionally. I’m also most proud of what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished because I know personally just how hard and precarious it was. We could just as easily not be here today, Halo Top wouldn’t exist, and I would be personally bankrupt if we didn’t catch a bunch of lucky breaks and keep on keeping on.

What is the best career advice you have ever received? 

If you’re not happy, stop talking about it and make a change.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

Georgetown has shaped me in more ways than I can count. I think the two most important ways in which it shaped me are:

  1. critical thinking (especially as it relates to self-reflection)
  2. holistic education

Georgetown was the first time that I was really challenged to critically think about all of my beliefs and opinions, and the importance of critical thinking – in business and in life – cannot be understated in my opinion. Georgetown also emphasized the importance of a holistic education – focusing on activities, relationships, and social education beyond the classroom.

What was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Professor McKeown – Problem of God

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

House parties, Georgetown Day activities, 2007 Final 4 trip to Atlanta, pretty much all of my theology classes. Too many to count.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

The easy answer is my parents. The values they taught me, the work ethic they instilled in me, and the love and support they have given me are the main reason why I am who I am and have accomplished what I have accomplished.

What is on your desk right now?

Papers, clutter, and more crap than I care to admit.

Who is your favorite author? 

Don’t really have one. I read anything – biographies and other non-fiction, fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. Literally anything.

What are your words to live by?

Pick just about any Drake lyric.

Follow Your Instincts to Find Passion

Guest Post by: Christy Steele (C’06)

What was your favorite activity as a child? What was easy for you? These might sound like frivolous questions, but consider for a moment what truly brought you joy. Was it finding frogs in the pond? Drawing with colored pencils? Banging on the drums in music class? Solving math problems? The answers to these questions can reveal valuable information that will help you build a meaningful and fulfilling career.

As an artist and producer in the media industry, I have taken many left turns and woven multiple interests and skills into my work. I pursued my love of photography after college and found a job working as a photographic coordinator at National Geographic Magazine. I worked with world-renowned photographers, learned from experienced photo editors, and discovered that I have a passion for visual storytelling. Since leaving National Geographic, I have directed photo shoots for Science Magazine, worked on documentaries and television series for Smithsonian Channel, Animal Planet and Travel Channel, created videos and websites for individuals and small businesses, completed a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program, and acted on stage and in films.

Each time I make a decision about leaving a job or working with a new company, I try to determine whether I will feel fulfilled and engaged if I take the opportunity. Here are four guiding principles that I use when making decisions.

Ask what brings you alive.

If you can’t remember what excited you as a child, simply list activities that you love doing. This can include caring for a pet, organizing dinner parties, traveling, baking, or watching movies. As you consider all of the activities that bring you joy and satisfaction, you will begin to see common threads. Steven Spielberg once said “the hardest thing to listen to, your instincts, your human personal intuition, always whispers, it never shouts. Every day of your life you have to be ready to hear what whispers in your ear.” When you start incorporating the activities into your life that bring you joy, your soul will begin “whisper” to you.

Have a mission!

When you choose to follow your instincts and pursue the things you love, it may not lead you down a straight path. When you encounter uncharted territory, your personal mission statement will become your guiding compass. As Tony Robbins suggests, “If you have a big enough why, you can figure out how to do anything.” If you have a strong enough reason for wanting to get a new job, move to a new country, or start your own company, it will be harder for obstacles and setbacks to stop you.

Ask lots of questions.

Talk to as many people as possible who share your passions. Also talk to people who are passionate about their work even if their work does not align with your interests. Passion is contagious, and these conversations will inspire you and give you ideas. People love to talk about what brings them alive, so let them! These conversations will help you put your own interests, skills, experiences and passions into a greater context. They will also help you make meaningful connections. Through my documentary film series, Uncovering Passion, I put this practice into action by talking to dozens of people who love their work. I created short documentary films with some of these people and published them at uncoveringpassion.com.

Create space for great insights!

In order to identify what brings you alive and hear the “whispers,” you must cultivate a sense of peace and quiet in your body and mind. The best way to start doing this is to simply focus on your breath for a few moments every day. There are simple and powerful energy and breathing techniques like Emotional Freedom Techniques (also called “tapping”) and Presence Process that can help you reduce stress in your body and deal with negative emotions. But any activity like taking a walk, doing yoga, or putting your bare feet on the earth is a great start.

Follow your instincts and trust yourself. While your passions may not instantly translate into a successful job or career, following these principles will open doors and make life more fulfilling.

Lawyers: Maximizing Your Mobility

timon-studler-63413-unsplashGuest Post by: Inti Knapp

As legal recruiters, we work closely with employers to fulfill their lateral attorney hiring needs. Without exception, when legal industry employers describe their ideal candidate to us, they specify the following three criteria:

Level of Experience
In the legal job market, it’s possible to have “too much” experience because more job opportunities exist for junior to midlevel attorneys. That’s because most law firms and corporate legal departments have a pyramid structure, with more attorneys at junior levels reporting to fewer senior attorneys at the top.

For example, if you are a law firm associate wanting to move to a different law firm, the easiest time is when you have 2-6 years of legal experience. Once you have 7+ years of experience, law firms have fewer lateral openings at your level, unless you have a book of portable business.

If you are an attorney wanting to move in-house, most openings are at the corporate counsel/senior corporate counsel level, requiring typically a range of 5 – 15 years’ legal experience. Of course, attorneys with even more years of experience make moves in house, but often they are surprised they have fewer opportunities than earlier in their career.

Practice Area
Depending on the economy, some practice areas are more marketable than others (for example, in a booming economy, transactional work like M&A and IP licensing is busier than bankruptcy or litigation). After you have practiced law for a couple of years, you can market your experience to law firms that need a lateral attorney hire to hit the ground running with minimal training. If you want to change law firms, you’ll get more traction when your practice area is in demand, so don’t delay a job search even if you’re buried in work.

Consider also whether you want to go in-house, because certain practice areas are more attractive to in house legal departments. If you have the ability to choose your practice area, and want to go in house someday, be aware there are more in-house openings for transactional attorneys than litigators. Although lawyers of all specialties go in house, attorneys with desired areas of expertise—such as corporate or tech transactions—typically enjoy more opportunities to join startups and corporate legal departments.

Credentials
For better or worse, the legal industry is credentials conscious. Law firms and corporate legal departments ask us to present candidates from “top” law schools, with “top” grades, or from “top” law firms, as defined by that particular employer. As attorneys get more senior, law school pedigree becomes less important as law firms focus more on whether a candidate brings portable business, or whether the attorney has good training in a high-demand specialty.

Conclusion

If you are considering law school, or a current law student, consider how your choice of law school and practice area may impact your future job prospects—attorneys rarely stay at one employer their entire career. If you are a practicing lawyer who wants to change employers, be alert to your best windows of opportunity in terms of your experience level, practice area, and local economy. With strategy and forethought, attorneys can maximize their opportunities to make a fulfilling lateral move.

Inti Knapp (F’95) is Managing Director at Harris Legal Search in Seattle. Her search firm has placed hundreds of attorneys nationwide, including general counsel and in-house counsel at companies, and partners and associates at law firms. Inti has shared her legal recruiting expertise as a published author and speaker, presenting to law schools such as the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Washington School of Law, and professional organizations including the Association of Corporate Counsel. Prior to becoming a legal recruiter in 2004, Inti earned her B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University and J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, and practiced litigation at Perkins Coie. She lives in Seattle with her husband, John Knapp (F’93, L’97), and two young children.

Speaking Tips: Last Things First

Guest Post by: Dean Brenner (C’91), The Latimer Group

Have you ever led a meeting, handed out the slide deck, began discussing the topic and while still on slide 1 or 2, most of your audience has already flipped to the last slide? I’m sure you’ve seen this before… Perhaps you’ve been the one flipping to the last slide, or perhaps you were the frustrated presenter. It happens all the time.

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is, “How do I prevent people from automatically skipping to the last slide?”

I usually respond by asking, “Why do you think they go there first?”

Everyone usually says some version of, “They want to see the summary information right away.”

And then I usually say, “Then if they want to see the last slide first, why do you put all that info on the last slide? Why make them wait?”

Business storytelling is counter-intuitive. This is not like a movie or a good book. The point is not to keep your audience in suspense until the very end. The point with business communication, especially in the 21st century, is to get to the point quickly, explain to people where you are taking them, and then backtrack just enough to explain to them how you got there.

Don’t make your audience wait. It will be better for them, and they’ll pay closer attention to what you have to say.

Good luck.

Dean Brenner (C’91) is a recognized expert in persuasive communication, and is the founder and president of The Latimer Group, an executive coaching and training firm that that specializes in creating powerful communication skills. Dean and his colleagues offer coaching and training to a global client list of Fortune 500 companies. In addition, Dean has written two books on effective communication, and is currently working on his third. Dean lives in Connecticut with his family. To learn more about Dean and The Latimer Group, please visit TheLatimerGroup.com.

 

 

From Surviving to Thriving

Guest Post by: Linda Hardenstein

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, but I do know this isn’t it.”

It’s frustrating to be unsure about your career path, or to be unhappy at work. Especially when you have talent, knowledge, skills, and abilities to contribute.

“Making it Work” Doesn’t Work

Being miserable in your career causes stress and burn out. It can have a profound, negative effect on your health, your relationships, and your wellbeing.  I found that out the hard way when exhausted, overworked, and burned out, I fell down a flight of stairs on the way to a business meeting. I heard my neck crack and wondered if I’d ever walk again. The emergency room brought a stark reality into focus – I was miserable. I had no life. It was time to stop tolerating unhappiness and start living!

How did I go from just surviving to thriving in my career? Here’s 5 steps I took, and you can too:

  1. Decide. There is great power in letting go of what is no longer benefitting you. Deciding to release what’s in your way opens the door for what’s next to show up.

“Everyone has been called for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in his or her heart.” – Rumi

  1. Find Your Purpose. Each of us is born with a distinct set of talents and gifts with a special role to play and a unique contribution to make. Knowing your purpose shows where you fit. It helps you understand where you don’t. One of the quickest and easiest ways to discover your purpose is with the unbiased guidance and support of a career coach.
  2. Align With What You Were Born to Do. You can’t help but live out your unique design. The problem arises when you’re doing what you are designed to do in a job, or a place, that doesn’t resonate with who you are. If you’re at odds with something — a boss, a co-worker, your company’s mission, work that takes away from living the life you really want, or a lack of recognition for what you contribute — you’re out of alignment with who you are. Doing work that is in alignment with who you are, brings ease, joy, a sense of meaning and accomplishment.
  3. Be Open. Giving up what you think you “should do,” or going against what a well-meaning parent or teacher told you to do, isn’t easy. For fulfillment, meaning, and motivation, let go of who you thought you should be. Be who you are.
  4. Take Action. Once you’re clear that it’s time to find the right job, synergies and opportunities will line up to support your intention to fulfill your purpose. Inspired action will lead you to the next step and the next one. Before you know it, you’ll be thriving in your job and life because you’re doing what you were born to do.

Linda Hardenstein, MPA, PCC, coaches professionals to find their purpose and authentic careers to have more meaningful lives. Contact her at linda@lindahardenstein.com.

© Linda Hardenstein, 2018

Procrastination

Guest Post by: Yolanda Gruendel, GUAA Coaching Partner

Every so often, my eye catches the paperweight on my desk.  It reads, “you can do anything but not everything.” It was given to me by a friend and fellow graduate of the Law Center a few years ago.  When she gave it to me, she confided that she had purchased one for herself. We laughed. Two peas.

On one level, we know we cannot do everything.  We simply do not have the time. And yet, we behave as if we could.  We gauge success by whether we are able to cram everything into our days and feel overwhelmed when we can’t.

Not being able to get to everything necessarily means that on any given day, we are procrastinating.  To focus on some things, we delay or delete others. It is not a matter of whether we procrastinate. The only question is whether we procrastinate absentmindedly or deliberately.  Those of us who procrastinate absentmindedly tend to value all activities equally and focus on the immediate. Whatever event or distraction captures our attention hijacks our time and energy as well.  When that activity is over, we dedicate the time we have left to our remaining commitments or never bother to circle back to them.

Other people procrastinate more deliberately.  They know the to-do list never ends so they sequence activities based on their relative importance.  They resist getting carried away by unexpected events. They keep their focus on the vitally few important activities that matter most, and they put off, outsource, delegate, or eliminate altogether the other tasks.

It is a relief when you finally accept that you cannot do everything.  I always knew it, but at the moment of choice, often opted to take on more.  I wasn’t trying to do everything, just this one additional thing. My commitments mushroomed.   The realization that something needed to change forced a critical internal conversation about what mattered most to me and which activities contributed or detracted from these priorities.  I try to maintain my attention and energy these days where it matters most and measure each activity or commitment accordingly. As for the rest, well, I’ll get to it later.

Leaders Must Practice Servant-Leadership, Not Expect Others to Serve Them

The term “servant-leadership” was initially coined by Robert Greenleaf, an executive for 40 years with AT&T.  Greenleaf was originally inspired by Herman Hesse’s novel “Journey to the East,” which Greenleaf read in 1958.

As Greenleaf wrote: “In this story, we see a band of men on a mythical journey…The central figure of the story is Leo, who accompanies the party as the servant who does their menial chores, but who also sustains them with his spirit and his song.  He is a person of extraordinary presence.  All goes well until Leo disappears.  Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned.  They cannot make it without the servant Leo.  The narrator, one of the party, after some years of wandering, finds Leo and is taken into the Order that had sponsored the journey.  There he discovers that Leo, whom he had known first as a servant, was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great and noble leader.”

For many years, Greenleaf researched management, professional development and education.  As he read and wrote, Greenleaf developed a suspicion that the authoritarian leadership style prominent among major American companies was not successful.  In 1964, he took early retirement from AT&T to found the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

Greenleaf’s approach has been characterized by others as embodying 10 characteristics:

  • Listening
  • Empathy
  • Healing
  • Awareness
  • Persuasion
  • Conceptualization
  • Foresight
  • Stewardship
  • Commitment to the Growth of People
  • Building Community

Greenleaf’s idea was not that all people who possess each of these traits are automatically excellent leaders, but that leaders must consistently practice and demonstrate each of these traits in an ethical manner to create a lasting framework for a true leadership culture.

Servant-leadership means the leaders are always in service to the people they lead.  This concept is challenging to model because it runs counter to so many traditional views of leadership.  To practice true servant-leadership, we must get to know the people we lead as human beings and not merely as employees.  We should know their professional and personal goals, be cognizant of their family situations, be familiar with their backgrounds, and understand what motivates them.

To get to this level of familiarity with our people, we must do the one thing that is guaranteed to take us away from our phones, our computers and our desks – spend quality time with them over breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner, after-work drinks or at a professional event.  We do not have to become friends with our colleagues or socialize with them; in fact, many leadership experts would label such behavior a mistake.

However, if we want our people to go the extra mile for us or for our office, we must show them that we are invested in their personal and professional growth, that we “get” them and that we will support them in pursuing their dreams.  The old statement is still valid in 2018 – and I have seen it play out at law firms, government agencies and corporations during my past 40 years in the legal profession: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Hoya Highlight: Luisa Santos (C’14)

luisa-santos
Luisa Santos (C’14) is the Founder of Lulu’s Ice Cream, and was the recipient of the 2018 GEA Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Rising Star. Luisa’s liquid nitrogen ice cream business is based in Miami, FL.

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

I received a lot of great advice from my many mentors over time. The best piece of advice, and one that I apply every single day, came from Alyssa Lovegrove, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship in the MSB. She said, “Problems are going to seem insurmountable if you try to tackle them all at once. Think about the absolute smallest step you could take to solve the problem in front of you, and break the problem apart into small steps to work toward a solution.” Anytime I have something huge to figure out, I think through what is the absolute smallest thing to do to start to figure out how to solve problem. In business, this usually means doing the least costly thing you can to test out how to solve the issue you’re facing.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

Seeing my team achieve their own financial goals through the jobs they had at Lulu’s and through our financial literacy training program. We’ve set up a network of financial literacy advisors for our staff members to learn from, and the results have been incredible. One of our team members was able to pay off a pile of debt; another team member started saving for retirement. This program has helped to de-stigmatize issues around financial literacy and has given my team confidence and tools to plan for the future.

What is the hardest thing you have ever had to do professionally?

Having to close a shop in December 2016. This was really hard because it was the first time I had to objectively look at my business and make decisions based on numbers without emotion. People lost their jobs. It was really scary. And there were difficult consequences to navigate. At the end of the day, I realized if I didn’t make hard decisions early on, I could ruin everything else I’d worked so hard to build.

Who or what was your favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Professor Michael Ryan who teaches Personal Finance in the Business School. His classes were incredibly impactful at Georgetown and beyond. He’s a genuinely caring human who values his students, and he teaches from a values standpoint on the subject of finance. This is hard to do, and it made his classes super interesting and relevant. I also loved the entrepreneurship classes I took. I started Lulu’s as a project for one of those classes!

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

The first time I made ice cream! It felt like every single person on campus somehow contributed to allowing me to make my ice cream on campus.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

I don’t think I could have done what I’m doing without Georgetown. The competitions I participated in gave me my initial capital for starting Lulu’s; the unparalleled access to mentors in the startup world gave me a support system; and the classes I took gave me the ability to learn the basics of starting and managing a business. My debut ice cream making happened at Georgetown events…Georgetown laid the groundwork for where I am now.

Who is a source of inspiration and strength to you in your life and why?

My mentors are a source of inspiration for me, and so I want to be able to give what I got from my mentors back out into the world. I’m a mentor for everything! From the startup club at Florida International University to women’s college groups, I want to be a mentor and a source of advice to as many people as possible.

What is one part of your daily routine you could not live without?

Personally: journaling and working out. Professionally: I look at our cash flows Every. Single. Day.

Who is your favorite author?

Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl was incredibly impactful to me.

What are your words to live by?

Every day, I ask myself “How can I do the most good today?”

View Luisa’s story and other alumni stories on the Hoya Highlights page of the ACS Website

To Communicate Well, Listen First by Dean Brenner (C’91)

When we think about communication in the workplace, all too often we focus on the delivery part: what we will say, what our slides will look like and how loudly we should speak. All that’s important, but what about the other side?

Before we speak, we need to listen. And when we do speak, we need to make sure that our audience is listening to us. As with nearly every aspect of persuasive communication, there are a few key ways to improve your own listening and encourage it in your audience.

First, why is listening so important as an initial step in communication? Because it helps you understand your audience and, thus, tailor your message to their needs and concerns. By listening well — in other words, through active listening — we discover the best way to deliver the message we need our audience to hear.

As you seek to cultivate active listening, keep in mind three important ways to engage with what you are hearing:

Fully Engage: Put away your cell phone and shut down your email. Truly focus on what is happening in this conversation. Ask questions, and listen closely to the answers. Be a thoughtful listener.

Take Notes: For your listening to really pay off, you need to be able to remember what you’ve heard. A written log of a conversation is an invaluable resource as you move forward to analyze what you’ve learned.

Repeat Key Information: When the conversation is over, review what you’ve heard, whether by going over your notes, discussing the call with colleagues or writing up a synopsis memo.

Asking questions — and being open to the answer, whether it is what you want to hear or not — is an important part of this process. Preparing a few questions in advance can be helpful; that way, you can really listen to the answers rather than thinking about what you should ask next. And recognizing what Tony Salvador at Intel calls “listening bias” can help make you more receptive to new ideas and fresh insights and better align you with your audience.

Besides allowing you to gather important insights into your audience, the act of active listening demonstrates your respect for your audience. In our overcrowded, high-volume world, it is easy to forget that communication isn’t a one-way street. It’s not just about broadcasting our own opinions: It’s about exchanging ideas and learning from one another. By listening well, you show your commitment to a respectful exchange. And your audience will be more likely to return that respect to you.

Which brings us to the other side of the equation: What can you do to cultivate active listening in your audience? It’s more than just crafting a gripping message, although that certainly helps. Once you’ve set the tone by demonstrating your own active listening, how else can you set up your audience to hear what you want to say? Often, it’s very simple: Change the environment.

Consider your goal, and pick a meeting place accordingly: Do you want people to think creatively? Consider moving to a new space or making sure that everyone sits somewhere new. If you want the focus to be on your slide deck, try to set up the room so that you can engage with the audience easily while keeping your screen in easy eyeshot. Think about the space, the ambiance and how you want your audience to feel as you speak.

Gauge the energy level, and plan ahead: If you need to meet first thing in the morning or right after lunch, bring coffee. Be aware of when people’s energy is most likely to lag, and try to offset it with additions to the meeting. And bear this in mind as you craft your message: If people have heavy eyes, they might need more attention-grabbers within your presentation to stay alert.

Engage from the start: Think about sending a quick introduction to the audience, so they enter the room prepared to address your topic. Use a video, tell a compelling anecdote or offer a striking statistic. Show your audience that you understand what is interesting to them about your topic, and they’ll be more likely to keep listening.

As individuals and as organizations, the better we listen, the better we work. By cultivating empathy, curiosity and humility, we connect more quickly, more sincerely and more enduringly — and we communicate more clearly, more efficiently and more persuasively.

Dean (C’91) is a recognized expert in persuasive communication, and is the founder and president of The Latimer Group, an executive coaching and training firm that that specializes in creating powerful communication skills. Dean and his colleagues offer coaching and training to a global client list of Fortune 500 companies. In addition, Dean has written two books on effective communication, and is currently working on his third. Dean lives in Connecticut with his family. To learn more about Dean and The Latimer Group, please visit TheLatimerGroup.com. 

No One Leads All the Time: 7 Characteristics of Good Followership by Dean Brenner

At The Latimer Group, we often say, “No one leads all the time.” Part of being a good teammate – and a good leader – is knowing how to also be a good follower. True, followership isn’t always fun; it’s not always sexy. The credit often goes to the person in the lead. But good followership can have its own rewards since the best teams celebrate the successes of the whole group.

What makes a good follower? It’s not that complicated. The concepts are simple to understand but often complicated to execute. Why? Because a little something called “the ego” gets in the way.

But if we can manage the ego; embrace the fact that there is value to ourselves, our teammates, and our leaders; and be good teammates and followers; then we have a chance to do something great. So with all of this in mind, here are a few practices that will make you a great teammate and follower:

  1. Be part of the process. Strong followers are not just along for the ride. They contribute to the process. Strong leaders seek the input of others in their organization, and strong followers seek to contribute whenever possible and appropriate.
  2. Be open to ideas other than your own. Strong followers give input and contribute, but they also realize that good ideas can come from others, too. Listen to what others have to say. Listen with your ears and your mind.
  3. Disagree internally, support externally. Strong followers on good teams have a responsibility to raise their hand and speak up when they disagree with something. But strong followers always share that disagreement respectfully, logically, and internally within the team. Once a decision is made final, the strong follower supports it and does everything they can to make it work. Strong followers speak up and then “get on the bus” once the decision is made.
  4. Celebrate the performances of others. Strong followers enjoy and celebrate the successes of their teammates. Strong followers cheer for the people around them and love to see their teams succeed. The strong follower, just like the strong leader, thinks and speaks of “we” and rarely of “I.”
  5. Carry your own weight. Being a strong cheerleader is important, but to be a valuable member of a team, you must also do the legwork. Everyone loves to have a positive cheerleader on the team, but eventually, if that cheerleader does not actively contribute to the team’s success, the cheering starts to ring hollow.
  6. Don’t run for office. Strong followers do lots of things that may eventually make them a candidate for a leadership position, but strong followers don’t actively campaign to replace the current leadership. Strong followers do their job well, and they are ready when the time comes to step forward and assume a more prominent role on the team.
  7. Keep the “dirty laundry” within the team. This point is similar to #3, but is still worth a separate mention. Strong followers don’t publicly criticize a teammate or team leadership. They keep their issues within the team. Weak teams don’t.

Good luck.

Emotional Intelligence by Monica Thakrar (F’96)

Emotional Intelligence is such an important topic these days when it comes to leadership. The best leaders are of those with high emotional intelligence skills as that allows for a person to understand themselves, manage their own emotional state, understand others, and build strong healthy relationships with others. As people move up in leadership positions people skills and the ability to focus on developing, guiding, and influencing people becomes the essence of what is required for success. So what are the skills for emotional intelligence. Using the EQ-I 2.0 model the five major components of emotional intelligence are:

1. Self-Perception: understanding and awareness of your own emotions
2. Self-Expression: expressing your emotions
3. Interpersonal: developing and maintaining relationships
4. Decision Making: using emotions to make better decisions
5. Stress Management: coping with stress and other challenges

So how can you build up your emotional intelligence?

1. Know what emotional state that you are in – how often do you know what you are feeling? Are you in tune with your own emotions and understand how they are impacting you? Take an inventory every so often about how you are feeling.

2. Develop your capacity to manage your emotions – sometimes emotions can rule us. Have you ever gotten road rage or got upset at a boss/coworker who didn’t do something the “right way?” Imagine being able to take a breath and control the emotions prior to making a decision, acting out with people, and/or speaking up in a meeting. By taking a pause, breathing, and controlling your emotions first you can take the next step in a more centered way.

3. Develop more organizational awareness – once centered you can begin to understand what might be going on for other people. Noticing how other people are feeling, when they are upset, or how to understand when they might need to vent is a critical piece of emotional intelligence. Begin to expand your awareness by noticing their body language, expressions, and/or tones of voice can be a good way to enhance your own organizational awareness. Emotional intelligence can be developed. As leaders from Georgetown University (whether is a leader in your organization, community group, or home) it is important to develop the people skills necessary to develop and influence people in your lives for relationship success is the key to your success.

Improving Our Responsiveness to Our People — John Keyser

Recently, I read an article about the key communication qualities of an effective leader. The article spoke about the importance of asking questions and being an attentive listener. I certainly agree. Yet, the article failed to mention responsiveness, which is certainly a very key quality as well.

If we are to help our team members feel appreciated, valued and heard, we must try to respond to their calls and emails and other forms of communication promptly. In my assessments of leadership and organizational culture, I often hear “My boss does not get back to me. He must not feel I am important and what I need or think matters.”

(Personal note: in my experience, women tend to put a higher priority on their responsiveness and how their team members feel about themselves than do men).

People all too often tell me that they have to follow up two or three times before their boss responds or maybe he never does. That lowers morale, organizational culture, and negatively affects our results over time. No question about that. Happy employees do better work.

When discussing the results of the assessments, the senior executives tell me “I know. I do get back to my people when I am able, but they need to understand that I am very busy.”

This is not acceptable. Everyone is very busy. We all have too many meetings to attend and a constant flow of emails and information coming at us.

When we receive an email or voice message and we cannot reply in a timely manner, we often can at least respond “I am very busy, and will get back to you first chance or in the morning.” This dignifies our team member, let’s them know we respect her/him and want to be there for her/him.

Yes, we are crazy busy. Too busy! Many of the meetings are simply scheduled automatically and way ahead and are not really necessary. Many of the meetings are inefficient and run too long.

Let’s do something about this! Ask our people how we can have fewer and more efficient and productive meetings. We must save time – our own and our people’s time.

And let’s develop a customized plan to manage our emails. The most effective leaders are efficient and have boundaries to maximize their productivity.

Delegate responsibilities and authority to free ourselves up to be more effective leaders. Conversations are the work of a leader. We want to have conversations, especially one-on-one conversations, throughout our day – letting our people know they are appreciated and valued, asking them for their ideas and advice, what they are learning from our clients, what they need, how can we help them, what we feel should be our priorities going forward, and other purposeful questions.

Let’s make our New Year’s resolution be freeing ourselves up so we can be out of our offices and meetings, having more time to walk the halls, and having more time for conversations with our people, and let’s make sure our other senior executives and middle managers also make their responsiveness a priority, as well. And the same goes for our home office being promptly responsive to those in the field.

Cathy Becker, an insightful and caring human resource professional, says “Leadership is how we help people feel about themselves.”

Timely responsiveness to questions, requests and needs definitely helps our people know that we care very much about them and that they and their work is important.

To learn more about the author and Founder of Common Sense Leadership John Keyser, visit commonsenseleadership.com. This article was published on Common Sense Leadership and is used with the author’s permission. 

The Job of a Leader is to Develop Other Leaders by GUAA Career Coaching Partner Larry Center (L’74)

We have all witnessed numerous types of leaders: “hoarders” , “ostriches” and
“farmers.”  It is farmers who ultimately get the real job of leadership
accomplished.

“Hoarders” hoard people in their departments or offices. When they identify
excellent employees or potential leaders, their first question is: “How can I keep
this person here as long as possible?” They focus on their own immediate needs
and want to keep these potential leaders in the their place. Their strategic
question is “how can this help me?”  I remember how I used to see leadership
this way. I wanted to look good, and saw excellent employees as vehicles to
reflect on myself to peers and supervisors.

Hoarders can be good managers; frequently, they know how to delegate well,
they know how to utilize people’s skills, and they know how to get things done.
However, hoarders are usually not interested in developing the skills and
aptitudes of their best employees or in shaping these people to be future leaders.
They tend to view career development by their subordinates as a threat to their
own success, an obstacle to their own personal agenda, or as a hurdle to the
long-term smooth functioning of their domain. Hoarders are not interested in the
career development of staff members. They reason that such growth means they
will move on to other departments within the organization or positions at other
organizations.

“Ostriches” are not smart enough to hoard their people. I remember moments in
my leadership journey when I lacked self-confidence and I functioned in self-
protective mode. I would keep my head in the sand. Ostriches don’t have the
depth of vision to think about the development of their staff. They articulate the
mission of their office and expect all staff members to contribute to the fulfillment
of that mission and the accomplishment of departmental goals and objectives.
Employees exist to serve the department. If they leave, they can be replaced. If
they are interested in professional development or the cultivation of particular
skills, ostriches may not stand in their way. However they will never sit down with
employees and delve into their professional aspirations, asking how they can
assist them in reaching their goals. The development of new leaders among the
staff is simply not an issue on ostriches’ radar screens.

The third group of leaders, the “farmers,” are different. These leaders grow
people. People farmers maintain as a primary objective the development and
success of their team members. In order to fulfill this role, people farmers plant
the right individuals by engaging in a thorough, careful hiring process. They know
that the hiring of any employee is a two-way street. There must be a match not
just for the employer seeking to fill the position, but for the job applicant as well.
Once these team members are hired, the people farmers nurture and cultivate
them. Instead of fearing losing their employees, they actually help them articulate their personal goals and career visions.  Then they develop methods for helping employees work towards those goals. In fact, the people farmers do everything they can to match people’s career aspirations with their job responsibilities, even if it means re-writing job descriptions, as long as such re-writing benefits the entire operation. People farmers know that their role is to put team members in positions to succeed, not to fail.

They provide all employees, new and experienced, with the necessary
ingredients to do their jobs well: desired results, guidelines, resources,
accountability measures and consequences. They collaborate with all employees
they supervise on the development of annual goals, including the identification of
skills to be gained or improved upon or the knowledge to be learned. People
farmers talk the talk and walk the walk – they role model what they want to teach
their employees. They also seek help from their employees, admit their own
mistakes, teaching that vulnerability and humility are strengths, and thus
empowering their mentees to contribute and shine. They empower people to own
their issues and to bring forward solutions.

Farmers lead confidently through seasons, patiently feeding, pruning, tying,
untying, planting, waiting, and harvesting. With sufficient nurturing and cultivation, these farmers experience the true joy of leadership: the development of their team members into new leaders. They also know how to let go. They expect to let go. On the day their people are ready to “leave the farm” and take on bigger responsibilities elsewhere, these farmers celebrate with them because they realize that these employees’ successes are their successes as well.

In all my years of leadership experience, I have very few regrets. One major one
is this: I wish I would have listened to my “inner farmer” earlier and followed the
calling. Hoarding people or burying my head in the sand may have helped me at
the time, but these were leadership strategies based upon a lack of self-
awareness and wisdom. For decades now, I have been focused on cultivating
people, and have seen leaders sprout and grow into majestic trees in whose
shade many, including I, I have found new strength and re-discovered the joy of
authentic leadership.

Leadership and the Stanley Cup by GUAA Career Coaching Partner Larry Center (L’74)

Caps
The Washington Capitals celebrate winning the Stanley Cup in the final game against the Golden Knights in the 2017 season.

Like many in the DC area, I reveled in Washington, DC’s first major sports
title in 26 years. My entire family, including my sons Jared and Ben both
former Hoyas now living in New York City, are both huge fans, Jared
worked for Monumental Sports for four years after graduation, including two
years in Sales & Service for the Caps. We were all thrilled for the players,
the staff and the city.

As the Caps proceeded through the playoffs, finally overcoming the
Pittsburgh Penguins, coming from behind in every round, clinching each
series on the road, I kept asking myself one question: Why did THIS team,
with lower pre-season expectations, an acknowledged lesser level of talent,
fewer veterans and more rookies, finally achieve the ultimate prize: the
Stanley Cup? The answer I came to, one which I also heard from several
experts, was this: The 2017-18 Caps may have had less talent as a whole,
but they were a stronger TEAM. The whole was greater than the sum of its
parts. There was true chemistry among the players. They played for
collective achievements, not individual statistics. How did all this happen
when no one expected it?

Great leadership
Great leadership leads to great teamwork and excellent results. Great
leadership comes from the philosophy of the person in charge. The head
coach of the Washington Capitals, Barry Trotz, said this about his
philosophy: “I have a clarity..If you don’t win any awards or anything, I’m
not going to look at you any different. If you’re a good person, you treat
other people right and you live life right, then I’m going to think really highly
of you. If you don’t, I’m not going to think so much of you. And I started
getting that clarity that everybody looks for the wrong in people rather than
the right.”

As I pondered these words from the man his players call “Trotzy,” I
concluded that the Capitals’s coach understands several basic aspects of
great leadership:

  • Leaders must have clarity about their core beliefs
  • Leadership starts with the leader’s character rather than with the leader’s competence
  • Leaders must learn to lead themselves before they can truly lead others
  • Leaders view their teams through the prism of authenticity and how they show up rather than merely how they complete projects or tasks
  • Leaders make sure that their teammates look out for each other and are committed to “play the right way”

How does your leadership look this right now? How many of these leadership traits do you role model for your teammates? Do you possess clarity about your mission, beliefs and priorities? Are you self-aware of how your character shines through every day? Are you building a culture where team members “play the right way?” It’s never too soon to emulate the winning leadership of a Stanley Cup-winning coach.