Category Archives: Book Review

Guest Post by Dr. Dawn Graham – My Job Switch Is Killing Me!

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Dr. Dawn Graham, PhD is one of the nation’s leading career coaches. Her latest book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers – and Seize Success is written specifically for people thinking about changing career paths. Packed with psychological insights, practical exercises, and inspiring success stories, Switchers helps these individuals leap over obstacles and into a whole new field.

 

What do the words “smooth”, “linear”, “rational” and “straightforward” have in common? NONE describes a job search.

Whether voluntary or not, the process of seeking a new position is often a sandwich of frustration and ambiguity bookended by excitement and anticipation. Similar to moving to a new home, you know the process will be worth it in the end, and can only hope the inherent broken dishes, crushed boxes and lost mail along the way will be minimal.

While this description may seem to lean toward the negative, research shows that happiness and satisfaction are more dependent on outcome in relation to expectations, rather than outcome alone*. What this means is that a little pessimism about the smoothness of the job search may actually keep your spirits up as things go wrong since you expect the hiccups.

In addition to setting realistic expectations, here’s what else you can do when your job search feels overwhelming:

  • Control what you can AND accept what you can’t control. Typo-s, arriving late, an unkempt LinkedIn profile or being unprepared are all things that can be eradicated from the hiring process for organized job seekers. Nailing these basics shows you’re a serious candidate. On the other hand, hiring bias, competition from internal candidates, and being ghosted are beyond your control in many cases,  so don’t allow these to shake your confidence or dampen your attitude for your next interview.
  • Change strategies. If you’ve been in a search for several months and aren’t getting bites or making it past the first interview, evaluate your strategy. Is there a red flag that continues to get in your way (e.g., career switcher, long-time unemployed, lack of degree)? Do you need to change your interview style, or perhaps your frustration or desperation are coming through and you don’t realize it? This may be a good time to invest in a career coach who can help you identify and get past an obstacle that you may not be aware of.
  • Take (unrelated) action. When Steven Spielberg couldn’t get his mechanical shark to work in the movie “Jaws,” he almost gave up. Fortunately, he took action, which led to a creative alternative (see here), leading to the movie winning three Oscars! While the last thing you might feel like doing when in a job search funk is going to the zoo or finally trying Vinyasa yoga, now is the perfect time to do it. Novel experiences inspire new neural connections in the brain, which lead to original ideas. Bonus: research shows that creativity is unleashed when physical activity is added to the new action**.

Bumpy, circular, irrational, and complex tend to be words that are tied to the job search. However, expecting a roller-coaster will help you maintain your sanity and make the entire process less frustrating.

Happy hunting!

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Dr. Graham is the Career Director for the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio’s popular weekly call-in show Career Talk and is a regular contributor to Forbes.

This guest post originally appeared on Dr. Dawn on Careers

 

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Guest Post – Diversity of Thoughts Raises Complexity By Sunnie Giles

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Our post today is from author and thought leader Dr. Sunnie Giles. Dr. Giles’ latest book, The New Science of Radical Innovation, provides a clear process for radical innovation that produces 10x improvements and has been endorsed prominent industry leaders such as Jonathan Rosenberg, Daniel Pink, Marshall Goldsmith and Sean Covey.

“As we have seen, harnessing the collective intelligence of people from diverse backgrounds can solve seemingly insurmountable feats, impossible to solve by one super expert. To curate various interdisciplinary functions within an organization, or even across diverse organizations, and produce extraordinary results, leaders must be open to divergent views and flexible enough to seriously consider the merits of opposing views. Valuing diverse opinions requires asking questions more than issuing orders. Collective error is equal to the average of individual errors minus diversity (variance) of the group.

“Scott Page also mathematically explains that collective error is almost always smaller than individual errors, because collective error is equal to the average of individual errors minus diversity (variance) of the group. From this equation, we can surmise that there are two ways to decrease collective error: reduce the average individual error, by hiring smart people; or increase the diversity of thoughts from many people. It also highlights a potential risk: if we adopt other people’s opinions or mental models too much, we might reduce individual errors, but the diversity (variance) of the group goes down, resulting in higher collective error. This is a mathematical explanation for what happens in groupthink; people make irrational or dysfunctional decisions in an effort to conform to each other (as was the case in the space shuttle Challenger disaster). Everyone on your team must be valued and given credence to minimize collective error. This, in turn, raises collective complexity.

“The reason diversity lowers collective errors is that people bring different heuristics and perspectives shaped by their unique life experiences. Those who grow up in the Siberian tundra have a much richer vocabulary and perspective on cold weather, ice, vodka, and caribou, and see the world through those lenses. Those who grow up in a thatch-roofed house built on Rio Dulce in Guatemala have a completely different perspective on rivers, boats, fish, swimming, and tropics, and see the world through those lenses. Life experiences from different environments provide different heuristics, or simple rules, to handle daily challenges in life. When two engineers from these two completely different environments are put together on a team to solve a problem about how to design space meals optimal for weight and reuse, the resulting output will be much richer than if the two engineers had both grown up in Titusville, Florida. For challenging problems, we need a team, ideally made up of people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse heuristics.”

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About Dr. Sunnie Giles:

Dr. Sunnie Giles is a new generation expert who catalyzes organizations to produce radical innovation by harnessing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA).

Her research reveals that applying concepts from neuroscience, complex systems approach, and quantum mechanics can produce radical innovation consistently. Her expertise is based on years as an executive with Accenture, IBM and Samsung. Her profound, science-backed insight is encapsulated in her leadership development program, Quantum Leadership.

An advisor to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, she also is a sought-after speaker and expert source, having been quoted in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, and Inc.

 

Guest Post by Mark Miller – The Big Picture: Leaders Ensure Alignment

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Today’s post is courtesy of Mark Miller. Mark began writing about a decade ago. He teamed up with Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, to write The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do (2007). More recently, he released Chess Not Checkers (2015), and Leaders Made Here (2017). His latest is Talent Magnet: How to Attract and Keep the Best People (February 2018). Today, over 1 million copies of Mark’s books are in print in more than two dozen languages.

 

What’s the hardest thing a leader has to do? Honestly, I’m not sure.

For me, it varies with the circumstances of the day. However, if I pull up and stop fighting fires and escape the entanglements of growing bureaucracy, I think I might vote for Ensuring Alignment.

Having seen our organization grow from less than two dozen staff to almost 2,000, I can say the task of keeping everyone aligned is mind-boggling. However, regardless of the difficulty factor, I believe Ensuring Alignment is one of the leader’s highest priorities – and one with incalculable returns.

For these reasons, I was not surprised when we began sorting through all we learned from our Top Talent research project about their expectations for their leaders, and landed on this idea of Ensuring Alignment as a leadership best practice. No organization drifts toward a big vision – you drift out to sea or over a waterfall, but you don’t drift to greatness.

Here’s an excerpt from the Talent Magnet Field Guide on this topic…

“When organizations work together, they set themselves apart. Clearly, alignment accelerates impact. Leaders who want to position their organizations to accomplish a Bigger Vision must Ensure Alignment; only then can they harness the collective energy of those they lead. Without alignment, energy, productivity, and impact will suffer.

Picture a tug of war. If leaders can get everyone in the organization on the same side of the rope pulling together toward the vision, their competition is in trouble.  When everyone is in sync, not only is the existing workforce energized, but potential talent will be drawn to the team.

Alignment permeates every aspect of a high-performance culture. Leaders know they must model the way and continually work to train team members to embrace the vision, mission, values, systems, and strategy if they hope to execute at a high level. If they succeed, everyone wins. Additionally, they position themselves to be an employer of choice for Top Talent.”

As a leader, you must choose where to invest your time. You can thrash away neck deep in the weeds of busyness or you can make a strategic decision to build an aligned culture. Choose to Ensure Alignment and you will be a step closer to becoming a place so attractive, Top Talent will be standing in line to work for your organization.

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About Mark Miller

Mark Miller began his Chick-fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977. In 1978, he joined the corporate staff working in the warehouse and mailroom. Since that time, Mark has steadily increased his value at Chick-fil-A and has provided leadership for Corporate Communications, Field Operations, and Quality and Customer Satisfaction.

Today, he serves as the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership. During his time with Chick-fil-A, annual sales have grown to over $9 billion. The company now has more than 2,300 restaurants in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

When not working to sell more chicken, Mark is actively encouraging and equipping leaders around the world. He has taught at numerous international organizations over the years on topics including leadership, creativity, team building, and more.

 

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