Find Your Job Series: Develop Your Plan

Find Your Job Series: Develop Your Plan

You’ve spent time identifying your interest, your skills, and your ideal environment.  You understand your strengths, what you have to offer and a profile of what the organization you want to get into looks like. It’s now time to develop your plan. 

Develop your targeted companies list 


You should have your industries picked out by now. You’ll use that list plus items you discovered in your ideal environment study to target companies that fit your profile. Sites like zoominfo.com, ReferenceUSA, Glassdoor, and Linkedin can help you build a list based on your industry preference, company size, and geographical preferences. Your targeted list now becomes one of three avenues that you will pursue in landing your job.

  1. Your targeted company list.
  2. Job openings you find. 
  3. Your network.

Proactively reach out to your targeted list to get to know them and show them the value you can add. Connecting with their employees, doing informal interviews, going to their events and job fairs are a few of the ways to connect with them. 

Track your progress


You want to track your application statuses and set deadlines and expectations for yourself to ensure that you stay motivated and informed. 

  • Job Tracker: I suggest creating it online so that you can reference it across multiple devices. Google Docs is one of the easiest to use. (It’s similar to Microsoft Word) Break this document into three sections.
  1. Jobs applied to: List out the role title, the company, pay range if known, and date applied. Also, add in other contacts you made and when. 
  2. Said no: Move any applications to the no pile once you hear back. Leaving it in the applied section just clutters up what you have out there that is still an option. Delete out your No section from time to time so that it doesn’t build up to a discouragement. 
  3. Never heard back: (60 days): If you haven’t heard anything back in 60 days, you likely aren’t going to hear anything. Moving them out of the applied section again gives clarity to real options. Clear this one out periodically as well. 
  • Activity Goals: Set weekly goals for yourself to hit towards your ultimate goal of finding your job. It’s easy to get sidelined because you are overwhelmed, don’t know what to do or just get plain lazy. Keep yourself accountable so that you don’t fall into those traps. 

Resilience and proper expectations


Finding your job can take some resilience. Know going into this that you are going to have setbacks and be prepared for them. Make peace with the inevitable and do your best to not take it personally. Just because you don’t get an interview or someone says no, doesn’t mean you have less value. It just simply means that the opportunity wasn’t your job.  Look to see what you can learn from those tough moments to help you in the future.  

Keep yourself focused and in the right mindset while on the hunt for your job. 

You know who you are. You know the skills that set you apart. You know what that ideal job and company look like. Use all that knowledge to build yourself a solid plan to land your job. It’s out there, you just need to go and find it. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

The Full Find Your Job Series

Step 1: Uncover your interests

Step 2: Identify your skills

Step 3: Find your ideal environment

Step 4: Develop your plan

Find Your Job Series: Identify Your Ideal Environment

Find Your Job Series: Identify Your Ideal Environment

It’s important to match your skills, strengths, interest, and personality to a company’s culture, values and environment. No doubt, that the company is going to feel you out for culture fit during the interview process. How do you learn about the environment and culture of a company that you’ve never worked at before? Getting this one wrong could lead you to regret the decision to join the group in the first place. Let’s get it right. 

Understand the company’s purpose and philosophy

You should research any company that you are interested in to understand its purpose and philosophy. It’s the whys and hows of its existence. Here are a few of the ways that you can check in on this. 

  • Check out the company’s website. What are they promoting and proud of? What is their history? Do they have info on the specific location that you are looking for? You can find much of this info on the about page of their website. 
  • Look into the CEO. Have they been there awhile? You can look at sites like Glassdoor to see their approval rating among the employees. You can also discover if the employees would recommend the company to others.  I like to check to see the trend in the comments. Have they jumped up or taken a nosedive in the year? Why?
  • Check the organization’s social media feeds to see what they are highlighting. It’s a signal of what is important to them. 
  •  If you have an in-person interview, get there early and observe how people interact with others. Are they modeling the type of environment that you like?
  • Interview everyone that interviews you about their thoughts on the company. (They usually love this!) Ask them to describe the company. What is their favorite thing about working there? What is one thing that they would change? What does success look like there?

Some items that describe fit are universal


Some things are just universal and are nearly always looking for in a new job. Here are some of the most common to look into and discover how important they are to the organization you are looking at. 

  • Trust
  • Employee engagement or their level of care
  • Promotability
  • Their culture: formal or informal 
  • Leadership
  • Communication to its employees
  • Ownership of role and responsibility 
  • Delegation or micromanagement

Identify your ideal leader


Hopefully, you have had at least one great boss. It’s ok if you’ve had a bunch of bad ones too. Use the bad ones to figure out what you don’t want in a leader! Write out all those qualities and honestly ask the hiring leader how they see themselves as a leader and what their leadership style is. If it’s a match, that’s just further confirmation that you are in the right place. If it’s not a match, it’s an indicator that you likely will be frustrated in the role. 

Now, you know everything you need to about yourself, you have your industries narrowed down and your companies picked out. Next time we will formulate the plan to get your job. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

The Full Find Your Job Series

Step 1: Uncover your interests

Step 2: Identify your skills

Step 3: Find your ideal environment

Step 4: Develop your plan

Find Your Job Series: Identify Your Skills

Find Your Job Series: Identify Your Skills

For your next job, you’ll need to have a good grasp of your skills and strengths so that you can show that value to the hiring leaders for the company that you want to be with. 

Uncover your skills and strengths


First, you need to note what your skills are. Think about your current and former jobs, schooling, hobbies, and other activities that could draw out what those skills are.  Some categories to consider are:

  • People skills: coaching others, leading, listening, performance management, hosting, selling, and teaching
  • Data skills: research, compiling info, finance, programming, excel, reports and problem-solving
  • Creativity skills: writing, designing, music, producing, planning, acting, creating, vision casting, 
  • Hands-on skills:  machinery, specialized skills, building, cooking, repairs

Some areas to think about to uncover your strengths.

  • What are you known for?
  • What are you the go-to person for?
  • What do you love doing?
  • What are you successful at?

Resources


There are several places that can help you identify your skills and strengths.

  • I recommend the book Strengthfinder 2.0. It’s not a traditional book in that you read it from cover to cover. You take an online assessment and then use the book to dive into your strengths and then increase your understanding of who you work well with and you wouldn’t work well with. 
  • Assessment.com is a free site where you can find your strengths and skill set. Be prepared. It takes nearly 25 minutes to complete. There are paid options for this site as well. 
  • Mindtools.com is another comprehensive site out there that identifies and maps your skills. 

List out your accomplishments & build your story


Now that you’ve got your skills and strengths figured out, take some time to list out your accomplishments. These could be projects, tasks,  that you are especially proud of. What are you most proud of in your job? Try to get to a list of 10 or more. They don’t all have to be monumental things. They may be simpler things you did that put a smile on your face, made you celebrate, or helped someone out. 

Got your list?

Perfect! The next step is to start to create stories around those accomplishments. We’ve talked about the importance of storytelling in the past. (Be the Storyteller: PTB show #124) Reference that resource to understand the story type that you want to convey with each accomplishment. 

There are many acronyms that professionals use to convey a good story structure. Regardless, each story should start with your situation, what action you or your team took and what the end results were. We’ve covered this topic in the past as well. (Ace the Interview: PTB show #113)

Put those two together and you’ve got strong accomplishments that are presented clearly and in an engaging format for hiring leaders to hear. 

You should have a list of 12 or so industry careers interests from our time last week. Combine that with your knowledge about your strengths and skills and you should really be getting close to finding what your job looks like.  Next week we will look at your ideal environment. What does your dream company look like?

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

The Full Find Your Job Series

Step 1: Uncover your interests

Step 2: Identify your skills

Step 3: Find your ideal environment

Step 4: Develop your plan

Find Your Job Series: Uncover Your Interests

Find Your Job Series: Uncover Your Interests

As you get older, the stress of finding a new job increases. As a high schooler or college student, there is little risk or consequences, and you typically have many options to choose from. Life gets more complex. You start a family, you buy a house, you are (hopefully) preparing for retirement. It can be easy to fall into temptation and just jump into any job that you can land that pays what you were making before or a little more. 

We want to help you find not just any job, but your job. It’s out there, we just need to figure out what your interests are, what your strengths are, what the environment looks like and develop a plan. We’ll focus on your interests today. 

Know your personality


It’s important that you start with your personality and interests as you look for your job. After all, your job should be about your interests, skills, and desires and not something you have to mold yourself into liking. 

If you do research on personality types, you’ll find anywhere from 4 to 16 personality types listed. They typically fall under these general categories:

  • Introverted/Extroverted: This should be the easiest for you to identify. 
  • Planner/Flexible: Do you love building and following a plan, or do you enjoy meeting the surprises of life? Public service professions strive in flexibility, think of nurses, firefighters, police etc. While they do train and plan, they never know what their day is going to look like. Great planners sit in areas like finance, operations, and management.
  • Big picture/Small details: Are you more of a visionary leader or love being in the details of the work and creation? Loving details is great for those in auditing and technology programming. Big picture and creativity work well in the arts, marketing, and business strategy. 
  • Solo/Team: Do you like depending on yourself or love the team environment? This will help you narrow down what type of job in the industries that you pick out.
  • Logics/Emotions: Do you lean towards logic? These people love numbers, analytics, data and facts in making decisions. Emotional people follow their heart. They typically have a strong sense of their morals and use that to guide them. 
  • Consistency/Variety: Do you like to work on the same things consistency and grow a deep level of knowledge and expertise or do you enjoy mixing it up on different tasks and projects?
  • Driver/Contributor. Some would say this category is leader/follower. We know that you can lead yourself well without having the desire to lead others. This category is still relevant though, and one I surprising struggled with a bit as I was going through the same process. Is leading others important to you? How much? Does it have to be direct leadership or can you have an impact through indirect influence? I found that I love leading people directly, but I didn’t require a number of direct reports as long as I am influencing the whole organization. 

Two of the largest and most known personality profiles are Myer Briggs and DiSC. A number of companies and organizations use these two companies to better understand their people.  You can find those and various free outlets online. I would suggest utilizing one. You will likely found yourself as a bit of both options in the categories above and a test can help clarify that for you. 

Uncover your interests


Now that you’ve got your personality nailed down, you need to identify your interests. This means figuring out what industries you want to work in.  O*NET  is a site by the US Department of Labor that can help you narrow down the industries to find the best fit for you. 

Step one: Find your industry

  1. Eliminate the industries that you are totally out for you. 
  2. Pick ones that really interest you.
  3. Identify ones that have some interest. 

Step two: Find your job areas

  1. Click on each industry that you picked and choose your top 25 areas. This will take some time to complete. 
    • Once you drill into the industry, you can see jobs, projected growth and what the estimated job count increase will be in the coming years. 
  2. Narrow your list of 25 down to 12. 

Uncovering your interests and identifying your personality are two very practical points towards finding your job. You now know what type of job role that you want based on your personality and where you want to work based on your interests. We’ll cover skills, the company profile, and your plan in the coming weeks.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

The Full Find Your Job Series

Step 1: Uncover your interests

Step 2: Identify your skills

Step 3: Find your ideal environment

Step 4: Develop your plan

Prepare Your Successor Today

Prepare Your Successor Today

Whether you have a business or you are looking to forward your personal career, it pays to have a plan in place. Finding your replacement before it’s needed is essential in order to keep continuity in the business and work, but it also requires you to let go of some ego and even perhaps overcome some fear and trust issues. 

A Harris poll found that 60% of small business owners had no succession plan in place. I study by Wilmington Trust further affirms the data, finding 58% of small business owners with no succession plans. The gap isn’t just a challenge for small businesses, many national and global organizations lack a true plan for leadership succession. 

Capabilities of today vs needs for the future


The saying, “What got you here, won’t get you where you want to go,” is certainly true when it comes to succession planning.  Just because someone is very productive and efficient at the role that is currently in, doesn’t automatically mean that they will be great at the next level. 

As you look for that next leader on your team, think about the skills that they currently have against the ones that they will need in order to be successful. Each time a person crosses a threshold from one level of leadership to another, it requires them to reconfigure their skills in order to have continued success. 

Think about a phenomenal individual contributor. They may be incredible at what they do, but they’ll need to let go of certain passion projects/tasks and learn to delegate and prioritize their time differently in order to be a leader. As they progress in their career to lead other leaders, they’ll need to change again in what they focus on, how they communicate, and spend their personal time. 

Identify and spend time with your future leader to prepare for those key skills and changes in behavior before the opportunity arises. 

Test it and realistically access


Once you figure out those key skills and attributes to develop the person around you, it’s good to test out their learnings. Here are a few ways that you can test their growth and readiness:

  • Run hypotheticals: Present real-world scenarios and talk through how they would go about navigating the challenge. You can add a sense of urgency by condensing timelines, and/or temporarily taking away resources to understand how they adapt to the environment. Give the person meaningful feedback after they complete the scenario. This is a great safe way to role-play unique and challenging parts of the role with someone. 

  • Extend some authority: There’s very little that someone do that can’t be ultimately fixed. Extend some authority to the person, so that they can get an understanding of responsibility, try it on, and provide others with a glimpse of what the person is capable of. Start small in scale, time, and impact level and add on as the person shows more comfortability and delivers on the result. 

  • Give them exposure to other parts of the business: Often when a person moves up, it means that they will be interfacing with a new area of the business. Perhaps they would take on more financial responsibility or perhaps take in a whole new segment of the business. Give them opportunities to explore those new areas early, so that they have comfortability and knowledge around them as they grow their business acumen. 

As you add in these scenarios and situations to prepare them for the next level, give them real and honest feedback along the way. It serves them and your people better when aren’t afraid to shy away from difficult conversations and coaching moments. 

During the development phase, you and the other person may realize that they are currently in their sweet spot in the career, and promoting them would do both the person involved and the team a disservice. Rest assured that learning this information, doesn’t mean that you’ve wasted effort. Quite the contrary! You’ve saved an employee from going into a job that they wouldn’t enjoy and you have saved time and money spent in replacing one or both roles. Through the process, you’ve also increased the knowledge and experience of the person that will serve them well in the role that they are currently in. 

Run the two-up exercise on yourself


Now that you’ve got some idea of succession development with your people, it’s time to put your strategy to the test to see how well you have future-proofed your key positions.  

Run the succession exercise with yourself or your leader(s): The exercise is simple enough, you simply start at the top of the team and ask the hypothetical, “This is now gone, who’s next?” You then work your way down your proverbial organizational ladder from there to check where your opportunities are. It’s not uncommon to have segments that are well-prepared for and others that are in obvious need of attention. 

Once you have built in a good layer of succession and development on your ladder take the exercise to the next level by going two-deep on the roles that you are planning succession around.  We’ve seen on countless occasions where this has real-world implications and payoff. Have you ever seen a leader leave and then the 2nd in command leave not long afterward? It happens! Going two deep on succession provides you with a natural level of protection when two drop (or promote) within a small timeframe. 

Embrace your succession planning efforts to take your team’s development and your own potential to the next level. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Four ways to find purpose in your work

Four ways to find purpose in your work

I seem to coach and help a lot of leaders looking for their next job or step in their career. One thing I always stress is for the person to find their job, not just any job. (Ep 228-231) There is an intentional reason behind the distinction between the two; your job has purpose and will give you long-lasting satisfaction, while any available job will likely leave you empty and back and same place of searching for another role. 

We all want our work to mean something. We want to know that we are contributing to something larger than gathering a paycheck. Here are some ways to lock in on your purpose as you carry a strong connection to what you do. 

1. Find purpose in your purpose


A purpose that doesn’t run deep or ring true on a foundational level is…well not a true purpose. 

It’s easy for an organization to say, “These are our Values and the purpose of our work.” Unless you find a way to connect with that on a personal level then that purpose doesn’t really mean anything.  We all have inherent things that uniquely drive us and motivate us to be our best. Some people are drawn to be connectors, others are servants, others creative, builders and solutionists. Connect to whatever your inner drive is to latch on to your purpose in your work. It’s common to find people working on the same team and on the same tasks with totally different purposes for being there and finding value in their work. 

2. Think of purpose holistically 


I’ve coached several very talented people in the past that had bountiful potential. It struck me as odd at first how some would burn out, not meet their potential and leave their job. You could see it coming towards the end, so it wasn’t a surprise but it surely was disheartening. They were frustrated by not reaching their sense of purpose, which was often a world-changing event on impact in the organization.  

Purpose is certainly having a large-scale impact on others, but that is not all of what purpose is. Those “tent-pole” moments of purpose don’t happen on a daily basis, and if we hold ourselves to the all-or-nothing mindset of purpose we can have long stretches of dissatisfaction in what we do. 

Think of purpose holistically. We often talk on the show about how minor things matter. That’s certainly the case with purpose. Making someone’s day a bit easier, bringing a smile to someone’s face, or helping someone meet a need could all be parts of your purpose. Find purpose and joy in the smaller things that you do throughout your week. There are plenty of small opportunities to serve a bigger purpose and cause in what you do. 

If you only chase after monumental purpose moments and events, you’ll find yourself unfulfilled. 

3. Break the comparisons


Not everyone is going to be a CEO or someone that is written about in the history books. As obvious as that sounds, there are plenty of people that put their purpose and impact through a comparison lens of others.  Perhaps you look back every once in a while to see how you are doing compared to your high school or college classmates. Maybe you compare yourself to your teammate or a family member. Letting go of the self-induced pressure of legacy frees you up to truly live out your purpose in your work and in your life.

I once coached and mentored a small-town business leader who was singularly focused on leaving a great legacy behind as he retired. You’ve likely never heard of him, but that doesn’t mean his legacy with those that do know him is any less valuable. He truly lived thrived in his purpose to serve others by not caring about comparisons between him and someone else. 

4. Remind yourself of your purpose


We can lose our focus on purpose through changes in the how of the work, cultural changes, or technology changes. If you find yourself struggling to find the Why in work, take some time to refocus on what you do. 

  • Make a list of all the things that you enjoy about your job. Remember the small things!
  • List out all of the accomplishments you’ve had over the last 6 months or a year. You’ll likely be surprised by how much you have accomplished. 
  • Take some time off to refresh and recharge. 
  • Be transparent with your supervisor or peers. Look for new opportunities or projects that you can be a part of to help introduce you to some new people and concepts. 

Latch on to your purpose, let go of comparisons and keep your focus on your Why as you navigate change. You’ll be more productive, have a higher sense of satisfaction, and work in what you do and you’ll have a long-lasting impact on others. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Onboarding your team for success

Onboarding your team for success

There’s typically a lot of excitement when a new person starts on the team. As a leader, you are looking forward to the extra help and what the person can offer to the team; for the new employee they are excited about a fresh opportunity and look forward to serving somewhere that has an impact both personally and professionally. 

It is important to have a strong strategy around onboarding a new team member because let’s face it….sometimes good help is hard to find and studies show 31% of people have quit a job within 6 months of taking the role. 

Start out with a strong foundation


Make it simple, make it easy, and make it fun. Think back to dating when it comes to a new employee.

Before you went out on a date, you probably put some extra attention on your appearance and worked out all the details to make sure that it was a perfect event. That same level of attention and intentionality should be put in ahead of a new person’s arrival. 

  • Is their workstation set up for them?
  • Access has taken care of ahead of time?
  • is the equipment (CPU, hardware) ready for them? 
  • Is your schedule set so you’ll have protected time to spend with them?
  • What other miscellaneous things need to happen beforehand to have a great first week?

Be a connector


Your new people are going to rely on you to be a connector in two ways; first to introduce them to other key people on the team and larger organization and secondly to connect them to the larger context of what’s going on around them. 

Networking: Starting a new job with a new company is hard and it can be overwhelming sometimes. Be intentional to connect the person to other people across the team and capitalize on moments to bring them along to meetings and meet and greets so that they can starting connecting to what will be their larger professional network. 

Context: We can be tempted to throw the person right into the work and have them starting to immediately produce. In order to be truly effective, they need to understand the context and the why behind what they are big asked to do. 

Slow down and explain the why and story behind the reasoning of the approach, why the tasks need to be done, and what the impact is on the larger goals at hand. This won’t be a one-and-done process; you’ll need to continue to fill the context as new projects and responsibilities take shape. 

Set them up with a partner/mentor


New employees often share the sentiment that they appreciate a good friendly co-worker, mentor, or partner to lean on while they learn their role and responsibilities. 

Assigning a person on your team to play this role with a new employee is a win for all parties. Your new employee is keeping a high level of engagement while you are not there, you have confidence that they are getting the support that they need and it’s a chance for the mentor to grow in their own abilities both personally and professionally. 

In order for this partnership to reach its fullest potential, set some expectations on what they should cover together, the tempo for check-ins, and what the end goal is for the relationship. Without good parameters and expectations, even the best-intentioned mentoring relationships can fall aside due to other work priorities and life in general. 

Think about the person’s longer experience 


Over the years when I’ve asked leaders who long they onboard a person, I get a wide variety of answers. Some say a few days, and others say up to 90 days. As you work to onboard a new employee I would encourage you to think about a year’s worth of experience. 

A year may seem like a lot but think about a year’s worth of work where you are. It’s likely that you have some busy times and slow times during the year. You may have projects, tasks, or responsibilities that fall into a specific time of the year that only occurs once a year.  You are selling your new person short if you stop onboarding them at 90 days when many of your big-ticket items of the year are 6 months from now. 

As their rolling 12 months progress, you shouldn’t have to stay as close to them in their daily work, but you should be mindful and intentional to spend time with them and help them learn seasonal changes and big projects that occur throughout the year. 

One of the biggest reasons people leave in their first year is because they didn’t get the support to be successful in their role. 

Engage with your new employee throughout their first year with you. You’ll increase your retention rates and new people will feel welcome and supported as they start a long career with you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Finding Leadership in Chess

Finding Leadership in Chess

Chess is a game that I can honestly say, that I’m ok at but would not do well against a seasoned player. I do love the concept of chess though. Utilizing the same starting resources with the winner being determined by strategic planning and ability to adapt to their opponent.  

We can find leadership in chess in a few different ways that wrap around strategic thinking. 

You need to understand everyone’s role 


The first step in learning how to play chess is to understand the roles of all the pieces (how they move, what they should do, priority, etc) so that you can actually begin to play the game. 

The same has to happen with your team in order to be effective in your job. Yes, it’s important to understand the literal job that they sit in and what that role encompasses on the team, but it’s just as important to get to know the person to understand what unique talents and abilities that they bring to the table. 

Knowing just about the role on the team without the personal context is like knowing only half of what each piece does. Can you still win? Sure, with easier challenges and opponents. You are going to be quickly taken out of a game though if you go in this way against a seasoned player. 

Learn your people’s passions, talents, and motivators to take their role on the team over the top. They can help you move your strategy in a way that you may not even realize right now. 

The best always think ahead


Good chess players are playing their turn, but they are thinking about several moves ahead. Playing chess can help you be a great strategic planner. 

I use the chessboard analogy quite a bit when teaching leaders about being strategic when they think about the future of their talent and the strategy of the team and organization. 

The idea is that you start with a hypothetical that is rooted in the real world and then you begin to play out how you would react and what your next steps would be. 

For talent, we typically start with the hypothetical sudden opening in a key role. Who is the next person? What happens if that option doesn’t work out? Who is the backfill for the new role? Who is the backfill’s backfill? You can quickly find out where your strengths and opportunities are with the current and future strength of your team when you run scenarios like this. 

For your business or goals, it’s a similar concept. Start throwing what-ifs into your work routine that are grounded in reality and probability. They can be rooted in business goals or maybe more soft skills in nature. If the business plan doesn’t take off like planned then what? How do I lead my people if someone were to, unfortunately, pass from COVID?

Running these with yourself and your team on occasion is always a worthwhile time investment. We actually call this type of exercise chessboard when we do it with other leaders. 

Things change and you have to adapt


Even the best-laid plans don’t always work out like they were planned to. Life happens! In chess, you may have to change your strategic plan and begin reacting and changing your plan based on an unexpected move from the other side that just occurred. 

Help your team see the changes before they occur and equip them to communicate their thoughts to you and the team as they occur. Some of the best companies in the US to adapt early to COVID saw what was happening in Asia and Europe and got ahead by beginning to change plans before it hit them. You’ll need to have a high degree of trust and respect built up between you and your people in order to be great here. They need to understand that you will value and take to heart their guidance and you need to trust they are thinking through things with the right mindset and have the right level of perspective for the issue at hand. 

On a smaller scale, think about how you react to the smaller changes that happen to you on a regular basis? Does it wreck your day or stop productivity, or do you make a quick plan, adapt, and move on? 

Handle change, both big and small, well to keep your plan moving forward. 

Just as in chess, you’ll be a better leader when you understand what challenges you’re up against (The other player) understand your team well (the pieces) that execute on your plan well while being flexible to adapt along the way. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Find the full Finding Leadership Series here

Finding Leadership in Michael Scott

Finding Leadership in Michael Scott

“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”
-Micheal Scott

The Office continues to be a hit show years after the conclusion of the series. It’s both absurd and totally relatable. You’ve probably seen a little (or a lot) of Micheal in your supervisor and the likely experienced workplace drama that mimics the show to at least some degree. For leaders, you may see those cringe moments that Micheal has and can see yourself in those situations. Maybe it’s not to the extreme that he often goes to, but relatable nonetheless. 

As bad of a boss that Miachel was, we can learn a thing or two about leadership from him, to help us be more effective when working with others. 

Michael has a heart for his people


One of the most likable aspects of Michael’s character is how much he loves his team (except for Toby in HR). His misguided antics are often rooted in trying to save his people’s jobs, to do something to motivate his team, or to celebrate personal and professional success. 

What are you willing to do for your team? What would you sacrifice and what length would you go to take care of them? to take that challenge further ask the same question about each individual that you work with. 

A trusting and empowering leader is willing to put some risk on the line as well as their personal reputation in order for someone else to have a chance to succeed. Check your comfortability in letting others have the spotlight and understand where your personal boundaries are and how far your ego extends. You likely have room to further push for growth in this area. 

Michael celebrated the success of others


We’ve talked at length in the past about the importance of celebrating success (ep 143) and having fun with your team (ep 120, 192). Lee Cockerell, retired EVP of Disney World talked about the idea of sharing appreciation, respect, and encouragement on ep 200. He and I have shared examples of cheap and imaginative ways that you can have fun and celebrate others. 

Micheal and the office staff certainly lean into this idea. The Dundies are cheap annual awards that he would give out every year like the Oscars. People in the real world like them so n=mcuh that they by replicas and hand them out to others. The team also had a fun day with their own office Office Olympics. The medals were made out of paperclips and yogurt tins. Several people cherished their cheaply made medals because it held sentimental value to them. 

I love formal recognition programs. They certainly have their place in highlighting someone’s effort and impact. I think there is a large opportunity to recognize others in a more informal, silly yet sincere way as well. Whether it’s the Dundees, Lee’s green hot sauce, or my All That and a Bag of Chips Award, do something different to recognize others.  

Michael was available to his people and there when they needed him


There are many examples of Micheal being there for his people and having a personal investment in both their personal and professional endeavors. Pam had a high personal passion for art and got into a local art show. When she invited the office to the event, no one showed outside of her boyfriend who was very critical of the work. Michael shows up at the last moment and is truly impressed by her work. He buys her small painting of their office building and puts it on display outside of his personal office for the remainder of the show. 

How do you think Pam felt about her leader after that showing of compassion, care, and authenticity? 

Don’t’ let the hustle and bustle of the day or the fact that you aren’t physically with someone on a daily basis hold you back from being authentic and available to others. Check-in with your people on a consistent basis so that there is a consistent flow of communication to fill in the questions and gaps that people may have surrounding their work and expectations. Be sure to connect on a personal level as well.  Instead of asking “How are you?” start the conversation off with a follow-up to something personal that was previously shared. 

You will gain a lot of ground in garnering trust, respect, and admiration from your people when you show your investment in them on a personal level. 

Michael Scott is certainly an over-the-top leader on The Office. Peel away the craziness and you’ll see a person that cares for others, know the power of celebrating wins and 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Find the full Finding Leadership Series here

Finding Leadership in the Avengers

Finding Leadership in the Avengers

There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if we could become something more.
-Nick Fury

The Avengers have fully taken over the world. Their universe in TV and film has spanned over 10 years and amassed billions in ticket sales alone. It seems we can’t have enough of our beloved heroes. Underneath all the space travel, intergalactic wars, and Avenger-level threats lie several leadership lessons we can take away and apply in the real world. 

Ordinary people, extraordinary powers


If you look at the Avengers, most of them are ordinary people who came across extraordinary power along their journey.  It’s the reason why we relate to these characters so well. 

  • Spider-man: High school kid bit by a spider. 
  • Captain America: Underweight Army soldier injected with super serum.
  • Hulk: Scientist covered in gamma radiation. 
  • Star-Lord: Regular guy who grew up in space. 
  • Ant-Man: Nerdy ex-con who uses a shrinking suit. 
  • Captain Marvel, Black Widow, War Machine, Winter Soldier: Military personnel. 
  • Black Panther: Leader of his country Wakanda. 

Sure the suits and accessories are cool, but it’s their character that gives them true power. They are inspiring, brave, and bold all the while carrying the human flaws that we have. Let your character be your superpower. Be bold as you help others achieve success. Be brave in those though moments of decision making and leadership moments. Be humble as you lead others. 

Continual learners and leaders of development


Every character that has been around the Marvel Universe for a while now has shown some type of character and personal development. Perhaps the greatest of those is Tony Stark. 

Tony is the first character from the universe that we meet. He’s incredibly cocky, naive to the collateral damage he creates, and can’t hold down a meaningful relationship. Over 10 years, you see Tony become a true hero both inside and outside of the suit. He’s grown to be a caring man, understands the values of relationships, and is certainly sacrificial. Ironman didn’t stop growing as a person once he had the suit, although he could have. 

He is a great reminder for us to continue on in our own journey. Maybe you are building the next great thing. Perhaps you just got that job you always wanted. Don’t stop there. Keep growing and investing in yourself. 

Even the greatest heroes fail


Marvel movies are filled with our favorite heroes failing. From Captain America failing to bring Bucky back to the good side to the whole team’s failure to save the universe in Infinity War. If you think about Thor, he fails about as much as he succeeds. 

Some stay down longer after a defeat than others, but they all bounce back and face their failures head-on. They learn lessons from their experience and use that to help them come back stronger than ever. 

It’s ok to fail. As a leader, you need some level of failure in your life. It keeps you grounded and shows that you are trying new things. Don’t let those lessons destroy you. Learn what you can, sit on the sidelines for a minute to regain yourself, and jump back into the action. 

You cant hold onto it forever


Several of the original Avengers have come, and are continuing to, realize that you can’t hold on to your spot forever, no matter how much you enjoy doing it. They built in their own succession plans in friends, family, and colleagues. Yes, the Avengers know the value of passing the baton. 

Plan your time in leadership and life like it is short. In all likelihood, it’s already shorter than you think it is. Grow the next generation to take on the legacy that you have built. 

Learn these lessons and assemble a great leadership reputation. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH