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Take the Leap and Lead (You Do Not Need a Title)

The next time someone infers that you are not a leader, think twice before responding. Some people are ‘positional leaders’ by virtue of their titles; others are ‘non-positional’ leaders who find a gap and take action. They don’t wait for a title; they take a leap and lead!

In May, I was invited by the Regional Diversity Roundtable to speak to participants in their Community Leadership Program (CLP). The topic was Leadership Model: Vision for Inclusion & Diversity. Below I share some notes from my presentation.

McKinsey report states that, “Awareness of the business case for inclusion and diversity is on the rise. While social justice typically is the initial impetus behind these efforts, companies have increasingly begun to regard inclusion and diversity as a source of competitive advantage, and specifically as a key enabler of growth.”

As the topic takes centre stage, some companies have issued performative statements indicating what they hope to do to make sure all their employees have a chance, not only to sit at the table, but to contribute, to feel a sense of belonging, and to thrive.

Considering the current social and economic upheavals, the topic for the presentation was quite timely.

One of the sources I consulted for my presentation was a report from Deloitte University Press titled “The Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership – Thriving in a Diverse New World”. This report is aimed primarily at individuals in the upper echelons of organizations to help them rethink the traditional notions of leadership. However, these traits are not only meant for these ‘positional’ leaders; ‘non-positional’ leaders also need to develop these traits.

Difference Between Positional and Non-Positional Leadership

Positional Leadership operates from the traditional understanding of hierarchy; people who possess ‘positional power’ because of their titles (CEO, director, manager). Non-Positional Leadership is not constrained by a title; it emanates from people who are able to impact, influence and inspire others to action.

Below I have highlighted the six traits from the Deloitte report. It’s important to note that there is nothing in these traits that suggest one has to have a title to be an inclusive leader. “Lead from where you are”, I told the participants. “No one has to tap you on the shoulder and anoint you a leader. Leadership is noticing the gap and stepping in to do something about it.”

Trait 1: Commitment – Highly inclusive leaders are committed to diversity and inclusion because these objectives align with their personal values and because they believe in the business case.

Inclusiveness requires a commitment to making things better, and that’s done by ensuring fairness and equality of opportunities.

Trait 2: Courage – Highly inclusive leaders speak up and challenge the status quo, and they are humble about their strengths and weaknesses.

“The courage to speak up – to challenge others and the status quo – is a central behaviour of an inclusive leader, and it occurs at three levels: with others, with the system and with themselves.” (Pg. 10). Sometimes self-preservation prevents us from ‘ruffling feathers’ but there are times when we find ourselves in situations that require us to demonstrate courage in speaking up and challenging the status quo.

Trait 3: Cognizance of Bias – Highly inclusive leaders are mindful of personal and organizational blind spots, and self-regulate to help ensure “fair play.”

Everyone of us has some form of bias – conscious and unconscious. As such, we are naturally inclined to lean toward self-cloning and self-interest, but this can be mitigated if we identify and confront our own biases, self-regulate and adhere to existing policies, processes and structures.

Trait 4: Curiosity – Highly inclusive leaders have an open mindset, a desire to understand how others view and experience the world, and a tolerance for ambiguity.

Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell said “…with curiosity comes learning and new ideas…If you’re not curious you’re not learning.” Inclusive leaders know their limitations, and are open-minded; they engage in curious questioning; they listen, empathize, suspend judgement, and entertain other viewpoints. Curiosity helps us learn and grow.

Trait 5: Culturally Intelligent – Highly inclusive leaders are confident and effective in cross-cultural interactions.

When it comes to cultural intelligence, all of us need to recognize that our own culture determines our worldview, and that view can influence our expectations of others. It is important, therefore, that we deepen our cultural understanding and learn from the experiences of others.

Trait 6: Collaborative: Highly inclusive leaders empower individuals as well as create and leverage the thinking of diverse groups.

Cultural diversity is a huge economic advantage and leaders should always be looking at ways to be more inclusive. One way is to ensure that when people collaborate, group members don’t all look and think alike. Groups benefit from people with different ideas, perspectives and experiences.

During the webinar, one program participant asked if she would be considered a leader if she didn’t have followers or a title. I told her that leadership is based on how one acts, not by a title. John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Based on the foregoing, it is obvious that inclusive leaders do not always have titles. Inclusive leaders, as the Deloitte report states:

  • Treat people and groups fairly based on their unique characteristics, not on stereotypes.
  • Understand and value the uniqueness of each person and accept them as members of the group.
  • Leverage the diversity of thoughts that lead to good decision-making.
  • Inspire confidence. When people feel that they ‘belong’ and that they have a voice in decision-making, it makes a difference.

There you have it! You do not need a title to be an inclusive leader. You can lead from where you are. Take a leap and lead!

Sources: The Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership

Book: How to Be An Inclusive Leader, Jennifer Brown

Thinking Your Way to the Top: 10 Ways to Think Through a Thought

Positive Thinking Mind Showing Optimism Or Belief

 

 

Client Lands Job Posted on Twitter

Her recent email read “Remember that job posting you sent me about a Bilingual Marketing Manager where they asked me to translate my résumé to French? I want to let you know that I got an offer and I accepted it. I am very excited since there will be a lot of interesting challenges and I am getting everything I want – salary, vacation and benefits. Thank you for all your help and I will keep in touch.”

This message was from a client with whom I had been working for several months. She was having a tough time finding a marketing manager’s position and thought that nine months was unbelievably too long to be looking for work. At times in our conversations I could sense her frustration, but I reminded her gently that job searching could be a slow and tedious process, but if she kept her head up and continued doing the right things she would eventually land the job she wanted. I also told her that giving up was not an option. She hung in there and got the job.

How did this happen? As part of the job search strategy, I encourage my clients to invest time in social media. I do, and it’s not not for social reasons, although that happens. On Twitter, for example, I follow hiring managers, recruiters and job boards, and participate in Twitter Chats with HR professionals, recruiters and leadership coaches to keep abreast of industry trends. Through these channels, I sometimes become aware of job opportunities and if I find that someone in my network seem to be a match for some of these opportunities (whether they are clients or not), I forward the information to them.

This Bilingual Marketing Manager’s job is a great example. It was posted on Twitter by Monster Canada (@Monsterca). When I read the requirements, it sounded perfect for my client so I forwarded it to her. She translated her résumé to French as the company requested, and after a couple of interviews and several weeks of waiting (because of the summer holidays), she landed the job with “everything she wanted…” as noted above.

Looking for a job is a full-time job, as it’s often said, but it requires various strategies to achieve success. The other point is that you may have a great résumé, but if you continue to use ineffective job search methods or rely on one particular strategy, it will not help you land the job of your dreams. Therefore, plan to incorporate social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ into your job search toolkit because that’s where employers and recruiters hang out these days. Job boards are still around, but the companies behind these boards are extending their reach via social media. If you are an early adopter ready to jump on the social media band wagon, you will be way ahead of your competitors and achieve your job search goal.

And, don’t buy in to the concept that there are no jobs! Jobs are out there, but you need to assess your skills, employ a variety of tools, be deliberate with your search and visualize yourself sitting at the desk as an employee at one of your target companies!  Remember, “Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve.”

I hope you have gained some value from this post. Share your comments below, or connect with me if you need to discuss how you can move your career forward. I will be pleased to have a chat with you!

 

Monday Rx: Change Your Job Search Strategy If…

You have often heard the saying, “If you always do what you have always done, you will continue getting what you have always gotten”, or something close. If that sounds like you and your job search or your career, then you may want to reconsider your strategy, regardless of your status or what stage of the job search game you are at.

Consider this story:

A Mom wrote me on September 8, and said, “My daughter has taken a year off before going to college and she desperately needs a job.  She has been job hunting, but her lack of experience is a real hindrance.  She is now very discouraged.  Could you spare some time to talk to her on the phone in the next few days?”

On September 10, I contacted the young lady – all of 17 years old – and asked her to explain to me what she had been doing. After our initial conversation, I suggested she did things differently. Since she had never worked before, I gave her a research assignment to visit several locations in her area – Tim Hortons, McDonalds, Starbucks, Canadian Tire, among others. She was to observe the surroundings, how the employees behaved, how they treated customers and generally be alert for other things that were taking place. She was also to make notes of her observations. In addition, she should write down comments that people frequently made about her – her punctuality, reliability, leadership skills, etc. Lastly, she should create a list of some of her own qualities.

With the information from her research, we created a one page hybrid of a cover letter and résumé and I asked her to customize each to fit the companies she was targeting. She was to write what she observed on her visits, what was going well and how she could add value as their next employee. Remember, she had little to go on in the first place.

On September 15, she responded by saying: This is incredibly helpful! I’ve been applying to places all week so tomorrow I will follow up with all the companies to which I applied. I will keep you updated on how that goes.”

What a difference in her mood in five days! On September 23, she wrote: “Hi Mrs. Wright, I just want to say thank you for all your advice and help. I really appreciate it. I received my first job yesterday – full time hostess at Red Lobster. I’m ecstatic!”

Entry-level students are not my usual clientele, but I deviated from the norm with this young lady. What I found is that a change of strategy works, whether one is an entry-level job seeker or a more seasoned professional, but it requires commitment and perseverance. Who would’ve imagined that in a such a tough job market, a 17 year-old who had never previously worked could change her job search strategy and find success within 13 days?

How about you? Is your job search strategy working for you, or is it time to go back to the drawing board and tweak it a bit? Contact me if you need some assistance!

 

Image source: Google