Archives for business development

Conscious Leadership is NOT Just for Managers and Executives

Anyone can step into conscious leadership, but it does take something – courage.

Once you are conscious, it is a compulsion. Just like you can’t unknow something, but you can forget, you can’t become unaware and then lose that awareness. You can, however, become less aware. It’s easy, really, in this hustle and bustle, noisy world.

Last week I made a plea and gave the following challenge to a little over 20 people who are seeking change in their employment situation.

If you are currently working, and there is something you really enjoy about your job that makes you hesitant to change, first step into conscious leadership and make a case for improving the situation for all.

The top three reasons people leave jobs (money, a bad boss, and lack of growth opportunity) may be something you can change. It’s not always possible, but I’d wager that it’s more changeable than you assume.

Conscious leadership starts first with self-awareness. It requires refuting your bias, including a bias that things are a certain way or people are a certain way, and they can’t change. The growing sentiment of resignation is the most dangerous threat to progress and real positive change.

For many years in my business, especially as I was raising small children, I was content to help leaders land new opportunities where they were able to contribute their whole selves, expand and grow, and improve their lifestyle. However, over the last few years, I have begun to think more about the casualties left behind. The people who are now left to suffer through bad conditions, those who are at risk of losing their jobs due to unsustainable or unethical business practices, and those who will continue to be underpaid, undervalued, and living less than their best lives unnecessarily while unscrupulous, greedy “leaders” make decisions that conserve their way of life at the cost of others.

I can only help so many people by working with people one-on-one. It’s time that I and other conscious leadership coaches make a compelling call to action to inspire more leaders to follow the Conscious Leadership framework. This way, rather than just saving themselves from a bad situation, they can take action to improve the situation for their teams and across the organization.

This is no small feat, and it takes extreme courage. I get that not many are willing to risk their jobs, income, financial security, and potentially their lifestyle to answer this call to action. Additionally, there is no guarantee that it will make a difference. However, I think about the people of the past who were willing to speak out a risk their relationships, homes, freedom, and lives for the sake of a better world. We need more of these people in corporations right now.

The following are particular situations in which stepping into conscious leadership does the highest good versus stepping out into a new company:
  • When your company keeps losing good talent, but their mission is critical to saving and improving lives.
  • When you love something about your job, like the commute, your boss, or your team, but decisions being made from higher-ups are proving detrimental to the company’s performance, the customer, or the planet.
  • When innovation lags, creating a competitive chasm that puts jobs at risk.
  • When stress is causing burnout, high disengagement rates, or even sabotage.

How do you do this?

As I mentioned, it starts with self-awareness, then expands to “other-awareness” – empathy, and then to advocacy and execution.

In a company, change starts with a business case. It’s a goal of every company to stay in business or to sell for a profit. This requires making the business as strong and sustainable as possible.

Those issues that have you wanting to leave are vulnerabilities to a business’s sustainable success. Losing talent further weakens the company. Most likely, a company will have to hire someone at a higher salary/rate than they paid a tenured person. Further, they lose the knowledge capital, relationships built, and potentially face costly setbacks on deliverables.

There has never been a better talent market than right now for someone like you to make a case for improvements that enhance working conditions, engagement, retention, customer experience, and income.

Making a business case is essentially how you get decision-makers to understand the short and long-term business benefits of change – all kinds of change.

Below are the major steps and guidelines in presenting a business case.

When making a business case:
  • Gain clarity on the most pressing issue using available data, e.g. P&L reports, customer satisfaction surveys, empirical data about the number of people who have left, etc.
  • Evaluate and pressure test as many solutions as possible, asking direct stakeholders for input on how the solutions will impact their contributions directly and indirectly
  • Assess and analyze stakeholder’s priorities and agendas
  • Do your research on costs vs. benefits of proposed changes
  • Anticipate objections; validate and address them upfront
  • Scrutinize all potential costs, including non-monetary costs/losses, researching the least expensive, effective options, etc.
  • Present facts, data, and case studies as stories
  • Refer to the company’s own mission/vision statements and quotes from press releases
  • Promote the competitive advantage of your proposed change
  • Paint a clear picture of all of the ways in which the business will thrive after the proposed change is implemented
  • Compose your presentation professionally as a slide deck, white paper, video, or Flipboard.
  • Don’t use “should” language; instead, use “if/then” statements
  • Identify and engage an influential sponsor using all of the above
  • Make a clear ask that outlines all that would be necessary and nice-to-have in order to achieve the outcome you have promoted
  • If rejected, ask them to help you understand why
  • Re-strategize and re-present using feedback

Just like any communications process, the outcome has more to do with the spirit and emotion that the communication is sourced from versus the actual words chosen.

For an optimal outcome, be in the spirit of the company’s best interest at all critical junctures: procuring input, soliciting a sponsor, requesting a meeting to present, while presenting, upon closing and in the follow-up.

Communicate from the emotion of confidence that the stakeholders and decision-makers are wise enough to see your proposed change as a no-brainer once you have presented all the facts. Along with the solution and the ask, identify what decision-makers have to do to fulfill the proposed change.

I get that this process may be too much for you to undertake if what you are fighting against is being spread too thin.

Even so, you still might consider taking action, and I hope you do.

There is potential loss should this not produce the desired outcome. Stepping up to leadership can create rifts and speaking out can ruffle feathers. The gains, however, are not to be overlooked.

Imagine that you present your case using this proven method, fail, and everyone knows it. Even then, you’ve just answered some looming questions on people’s minds about the prospects of things getting better. Even if you were not able to create change at your company, you have given people a reason to follow your lead now and jump ship. So, essentially, you still saved them! You’ve also still inspired people to advocate for themselves and others. You may have even earned some loyalty from people who will now follow you anywhere knowing you have their back. This social capital is a tremendous asset to your career and can be leveraged to help you land and negotiate a great salary. So, you may suffer some short-term losses, but you ultimately gain in the long run!  Though what you tried to teach the business decision-makers may not have had an impact while you were there, they may take a second look at what you proposed once you and a bunch of people leave after you leave the organization. Then you will have also still saved them and the company.

I do have to warn you that if you miss critical steps, come from a misguided mindset, or fall into many of the common consciousness traps, you may create new problems for yourself and/or others.

However, I am confident that you are fully capable of embracing and embodying conscious leadership. It might just very well be your next best career adventure and an optimal chance to reach your own potential and leave a legacy.

The Epic Careering Conscious Leadership framework called the Consciousness Ripple Formula will be launched in the coming weeks to usher people through creating transformational outcomes.

The Consciousness Ripple Formula will include:
  • Simple and Sneaky Soft Skills Training
  • Mastering Influence
  • The Conscious Decision Protocol
  • Stimulating Sponsorship Step-by-Step
  • Clear and Compelling Communication
  • Conquering Calendars

More information will be available soon. In the meantime, please join the consciousness conversation. If you are interested in learning more about the Consciousness Ripple Formula, join my new Raising Corporate Consciousness Facebook group. If you are a conscious leader looking to spread awareness of conscious corporate practices, I invite you to join my new LinkedIn group, the Conscious Leadership Connection.

Andra Day – Stand Up For Something feat. Common [Official Music Video]

“Stand Up For Something” by Andra Day feat. Common. Written by Diane Warren and Lonnie Lynn, from the original soundtrack to the motion picture “Marshall”, i…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Conscious Leadership vs. Servant Leadership: Why Do We Need Another Leadership “Flavor of the Month”?

Related to the disenchantment with corporate life that is driving people to leave, which I covered a couple of weeks ago, people are growing skeptical, if not cynical, that companies are actually capable of delivering on their promises of positive change in any meaningful way.

Words can be manipulative, cause division where they’re meant to cause unification, and seem pretty empty and meaningless when that’s the case. People are sick of initiatives with catchphrases that amount to nothing actually changing for the better. Change initiatives face enormous resistance, and if an organization uses an inauthentic tactic to execute change, it strengthens that resistance into an even larger obstacle. There’s no sense trying to get buy-in from people who have been duped before.

Some companies are legitimately trying, and their leaders have good intentions. They lack, however, the blueprint, consistency, trust, and/or tools to spread change to every level of their organization and turn that into its new identity. Not all of them can see their blind spots or identify vulnerabilities.

Other companies steamroll change, disregarding casualties and intimidating the survivors into submission…or else.

When starting my new Facebook and LinkedIn groups, I reached out to you for your input on potential names for the groups. The responses that I received demonstrated that people don’t want a new “flavor of the month” when it comes to leadership. It seems people are becoming resigned to anything really transforming systemically. Even if a company can achieve an internal transformation, it sometimes has to operate under a larger system of archaic values and profit models used by its vendors, regulators, shareholders, etc.

About 5 years ago, I was explaining to a client that the way he was describing his philosophy on leadership seemed to align with “servant leadership.” He talked about how he didn’t see himself as the authority. He considered his team members the subject matter experts and he viewed his job as making sure that they had what they needed to perform their best and deliver for the organization. Sometimes that looked like lobbying for new technology, sometimes it looked like fighting for extra bonuses or vacation time, and sometimes it looked like taking all of the blame and accountability for something that went wrong. In his past, it also looked like whistle-blowing against his employer and providing his leadership with a healthy dose of truth when it came to negotiating project scopes and timelines.

At the time, I saw servant leadership as the noblest kind of leadership to emerge. I loved the idea of an upside-down organizational chart where value is shifted to the frontline.

Servant leadership goes back to 1971 although it wasn’t necessarily in every corporate leader’s lexicon until Southwest Airlines brought it en vogue as a model. It then took several other pioneers to demonstrate that this style of leadership is responsible for dramatic performance and engagement improvements.

While Southwest continues to lead in culture and servant leadership, they may not qualify as a consciously led corporation. I read recently that their on-air water quality was among the poorest and contains high levels of E. coli bacteria (that’s the poop bacteria.) This might just be an overlooked facet of their procurement, but it could also be a symptom of leadership that is not fully considering the wellness of people and our planet at all levels of the organization. I’m not saying that they are absolutely not a conscious company, but I am distinguising between servant leadership and conscious leadership.

There is so much I would not refute about the value of servant leadership, but it’s not an end-all, be-all leadership model for 2020 and beyond. Like many “flavor of the month” terms that came before it, once a way of leading earns the spotlight, unconscious companies will come along and “borrow” it. They will make it their new manifesto and try to sprinkle it around to get people excited and re-engaged. They will do this, however, without a real concrete blueprint or training to imbue it into all leadership decisions and relationships at every level of the organization. So, transformation falls flat, the results it was intended to garner don’t last, and the community becomes skeptical of new initiatives. Future change becomes that much harder to execute and accept.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on why NOW is the critical time for conscious leadership to earn the spotlight and get adopted in corporate America.

While conscious leadership certainly shares values with servant leadership, such as authenticity, transparency, and empathy, there are a few key distinctions that augment servant leadership so that results are sustainable and profits don’t come at a cost to people or the planet.

One key difference is accountability. There is a risk in servant leadership that employees, whether engaged or not, will come to expect that a leader is there to create perfect conditions for performance. This nurtures entitlement. Perfect conditions are not always possible. While in conscious leadership, there is the acknowledgement that people perform better when they are supported, they are not supported at the cost of the customer, the growth that will lead to sustainable success, nor the environment. Instead, they lay out the short and long-term potential impacts of change to all potential populations with the input of subject matter experts. Then, they involve the most engaged people on their teams to devise a plan to do the most amount of good while causing the least amount of harm.

“But wait,” you say, “That’s not inclusive of disengaged employees, and how do you decide fairly who is engaged and who isn’t?”

You’re right! That’s why engagement framework comes along with the conscious leadership blueprint. It borrows from traditional engagement surveys, but it is determined by more than just an individual’s perception of his/her own engagement, which can be misrepresented. It includes, but is not exclusively determined by, how well employees meet KPIs. It also incorporates how well this person has aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and values as exhibited by their actions and multi-dimensional feedback. People are not penalized for being on a static track versus a growth track. People can still be engaged in their jobs while they allocate extra focus to other areas of their lives besides work. At times, it’s necessary.

In conscious leadership, leaders invest time in understanding, communicating, and learning how to circumnavigate or achieve their own areas of development. This brings the leader to a human, relatable level with his or her team(s) and demonstrates that being imperfect is okay. It encourages self-reflection as well as openness and honesty. How much of a servant can a leader be, after all, if they remain blind to the real challenges of team members?

Servant leaders are still susceptible to situational greed. It works like this: A leader does good and as a byproduct receives recognition, accolades, and compliments. This releases a flood of feel-good hormones and the brain says, “I want more!” So, with positive reinforcement, the leader continues to do good and continues to be praised. Also, keep in mind that with attention, accolades, praise, and prestige often come lucrative opportunities and chances to integrate with movers and shakers, which makes doing good even more intoxicating.

Now, the leader falls prey to someone promoting a high-prestige program as good that will get the leader even more accolades than before! At some point, the brain switches the motivation to do good from doing good to receiving accolades. This leader is essentially duped by an ill-intentioned leader preying upon this leader’s desire to do good. It turns out that the program was not good or mostly good. In fact, it hurt people. The leader failed to examine all facets of the program and perform conscious due diligence because he or she wanted the praise more than the reality that this program had major flaws and should not have happened.

This leader was a servant leader throughout this scenario – encouraging and supporting the team, giving others credit, doing everything possible to create conducive conditions to top performance. Yet, this leader was not a conscious leader.

A conscious leader would have used a conscious decision protocol to explore all of the known potential short-term and long-term impacts and, even at the risk of making an unpopular decision, would have led a team in deciding that the risk was not worth the reward. Personal gain would have been eliminated from the equation through a self-check that helps leaders recognize when they are operating from ego and switch to the higher self.

A conscious leader also recognizes value systems, belief systems, and methods without discrediting or disregarding other perceptions. That is not to say that a conscious leader has to make all parties happy or even be agreeable to other perspectives. It just means that the impacts on people as they report them are considered valid and are considered – even if in the end, the plan decided on does not accommodate them.

Like all leaders, in a pure definition of a leader as beings someone who creates and develops more leaders, conscious leaders see the development and growth of the team to be the best way to serve the most people and achieve the most good.

If you are interested in learning more about the Conscious Leader Blueprint for Leaders or the Consciousness Ripple Formula for Aspiring Leaders, join my new Raising Corporate Consciousness Facebook group. If you are a conscious leader looking to spread awareness of conscious corporate practices and discuss the challenges of widespread adoption, I invite you to join my new LinkedIn group, the Conscious Leadership Connection.

Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground

1973 – Innervisions Many thanks to ClosedCaptionIt for the captions! If you’re interested in captioning your own videos or someone else’s check out http://ww…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Celebrating 11 Years

Thank You by Andrew Bowden of Flickr

Ten years is usually the big milestone, and it was, but 11 is my lucky number and the year that I had been most excited to reach – a second decade in business to celebrate.

Rather, what is more worthy of celebration are the people I have met, engaged, helped, supported and been supported by. Also, the challenges I have overcome and the self-limiting beliefs that I have busted are worthy of celebrating.

I was very busy with business, grading, and preparing for my first destination girls’ trip (a celebration of the year my high school friends and I turn 40) on my anniversary, that I forgot to acknowledge it on the actual day, June 1st, prior to leaving.

But I arrived before my friends in Hilton Head, SC, and as I lie in a lounge chair over looking palm trees and the warm, gentle, loving ocean, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

  • I had hardly enough time to pack or sleep because my clients, mentors, and partners have been referring so many leads to me, and because now more clients engage me to work one-on-one with them throughout their campaign, a much larger investment, and more prospective clients are asking to speak with references.
  • I am so grateful for the myriad of former clients who are thrilled to share their story and genuinely want more people to have a happy ending/new beginning just like them.
  • I am grateful that I can spend money on a jaunt without worry that the well will run dry and I will soon regret spending that money, both because I have a full pipeline and because I have busted the belief that I am un-deserving, that the world is a place of cruel limits and lack, and that just when things are finally going well, tragedy will strike.

These beliefs kept me from fully spreading my wings, and while my wings are still not as fully expansive as they can become, they are FAR wider than ever before.

  • I trust in God and the Universe.
  • I know that I am deserving of success, happiness and wealth, and the world is abundant in resources and possibility, as long as I am resourceful and open to possibility.

My 40s and this second decade of business are looking to be my most exciting and adventurous years yet, and I have had quite an exciting and adventurous life so far. But, again, it is not about the years, it is about the people.

  • I first have to thank my husband, without whom I could not have been able to stay in business this long, and most definitely would not have been able to be home with my daughters.
  • I want to thank my parents. Even though I probably would have started a business without their blessing, I was both surprised and relieved to gain their support from the beginning through now.
  • Thank you my former BNI referral partners with whom I still keep in touch and some who still refer clients eight years later. You helped me hone my public speaking and networking skills, and supported my business during the most critical time in a business’s life and at a time when it was critical for me to have a strong business as I ventured into motherhood.
  • Thank you to the hundreds of LinkedIn Workshop for Jobseekers attendees. It was your feedback that enabled me to develop a much stronger curriculum.
  • Thank you to the people in the dozens of organizations who engaged me to speak. I found a new passion in public speaking and, now that my kids are older, see this as a primary platform going forward.
  • Thank you to my first clients who took a chance on a young, but ambitious and knowledgeable résumé writer and career coach who probably seemed like a baby to you.
  • Thank you to the clients who gave me a shot as a work-at-home mom. I was so scared of being perceived as unreliable that I was uber stressed all the time about keeping a regular schedule with my babies. I did not have a lot of time to work one-on-one with clients as I breastfed every three hours for 45 minutes. Though I was more diligent than ever with my schedule, if ever there was a snafu (baby won’t nap, explosive diaper incidents, illness, etc.) you were more patient and understanding than I could have imagined. Your patronage was so appreciated. You kept my business going.
  • Thank you to the clients who helped me test and launch new products and services. Helping you overcome your challenges was a reason to develop solutions that would help so many more.
  • Thank you to my interns and assistants. My management and mentoring experience before I started my business was minimal, but while I created new opportunities for you to grow, you also gave me the opportunity to see what kind of contributor I could be.
  • To my virtual experimental teams, who allowed me to test out new tools and processes while we learned along side each other, we may not have had the outcome we intended, but I can say that a lot was learned, and none of us were afraid to fail. For that we should be proud and I thank you. I will try again with new insights that will help future teams achieve more success.
  • To my former mastermind community, thank you for the virtually magic synchronicity that was created. Again, we may not have created a permanent group, but the momentum gained during that time had a permanent, compounding effect on my business. Thank you.
  • Thank you to all my clients who were willing to be vulnerable and honest with me, and trusted that I had your back and would be compassionate in my stand for your optimal outcome. You should be so proud of how you expanded your comfort zones, increased your life skill level and confidence, and grew empowered to create a future that makes the life you want possible. You ROCK in a very EPIC way.
  • To all the vendors who have helped me with marketing, graphic design, editing, transcription, sales funnels, and more, thank you.
  • A HUGE thanks to my current assistant, Angela, who has been with me two years supporting the most growth the business has ever experienced. Without your efforts, I could never have focused my time and attention on what really mattered, our clients and major strategic initiatives.
  • Of course, I thank my kids. To be honest, they seemed like an impediment to business a lot of the time. This might sound awful, but I used to feel immense pressure to compete with emerging coaches who had no tethers and could attend all the cool events and who started to “take” all the great speaking engagements. It took a while to grow in my own confidence, to see that I am a uniquely gifted coach, that my audience was not being “taken” by someone else, and that I am a FORCE of nature. That last one is something I learned from my kids, from overcoming the challenges that parenthood presented while conquering product development, plus business development, plus client delivery. I can now instill in other moms that it CAN be done.

 

Will a LinkedIn upgrade help you drive more business?

Linkedin pen by Sheila Scarborough of Flickr

Linkedin pen by Sheila Scarborough of Flickr

Jamie asks:

I need to find a way to drive more business. Is a LinkedIn subscription worth it? It seems like a lot of money. If they charged half the regular rate, I might pull the trigger.

Suggestions?

 

Our response:

Jamie,

If you use LinkedIn based its purpose and best practices, you don’t need a subscription. It is a networking tool, and enables you to expand your network while offering you expanded visibility of your network’s network. The term “network” implies that you have some kind of relationship your connections. The best way to get to know someone new is to have someone you already know well make a warm introduction. LinkedIn is the best tool available to facilitate this.

It is a slow and steady process intended to produce quality leads as opposed to a high quantity of leads, though momentum can take as little as two weeks to increase from below a 5 (on a 10-scale from low to high) to above a 5.

If you want to use LinkedIn as a lead generation tool, you want to make sure that you can be found and that your content is rich in keywords used IN CONTEXT, in addition to a completed skills list. Increase your visibility by engaging with the community and using features, such as status updates and group discussions, to give assistance and valuable information to your network. Once visitors find your profile, you then have to ensure that your LinkedIn profile gives them insight into what it is like to work with you, what contribution your are driven to make, and what kind of impact that has on a companies and individuals. Tell people what you can do to help them and make sure they know how to help you.

Since your LinkedIn profile shows up very high in google results when someone searches for your name, even if someone finds your information on other sites or is referred to you by a friend or colleague, you can be certain most will check out your LinkedIn profile to qualify you and look for clues as to what kind of common ground you might have with them or values you share.

Our free webinar, Learning LinkedIn in 7 Days, breaks out in more detail how to develop your LinkedIn profile to present your brand powerfully to your target audience and how to use the features for lead generation and network nurturing. Also, an added value of investing in our webinar, Insider Edge to Social Media – 3 Success Secrets to Getting Hired, is a comprehensive review of the Business and Job Seeker upgrade packages.

Thank you for your question, Jamie. I hope this information helps you unveil your brilliance!