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  • 1. Have you requested a promotion in the last year?
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  • 4. Has a co-worker at the same level ever been promoted instead of you?
  • 5. Has there ever been a position you applied for and didn’t get?
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  • 7. Have you ever left an organization because you were passed up for promotion there?
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It’s not always about making time

As leaders, we’ve encountered this anomaly repeatedly: 


When I have little time, I get a lot done, but when I have a lot of time, I get less done. 


Why is this?


The time management professionals out there can definitely answer this question from their perspective, but I’d like to offer a mindset point of view. 


Briefly, the more our mind has room to handle a task, the quicker we’ll get things done. The more our mind is filled with other things, the slower we’ll get things done. So, all we need to do is to clean out our minds, right?


Well, it’s not that easy. If we cleaned out our minds totally, we wouldn’t have any resources to complete our tasks. We need positive mental energy in our minds to get things done. On the other hand, minds filled with negative mental energy keep us stuck.


So the next time you’re contemplating a task, check which of my formulas below best fits your situation.


1. Plenty of chronological time + Negative mental energy = No time (try again later)


2. Plenty of chronological time + Positive mental energy = You’ve got time (go for it now)


3. Short on chronological time + Positive mental energy = You’ve got time (go for it now)

You’ve probably noticed that based on (1) and (3), there’s no real connection between chronological time and the time we need to get things done. It’s a matter of mental energy.


So the next time you’re blaming yourself for being less productive than  you should, consider your mental energy level. Is it up to task?


Good luck.


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.


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How to reduce stress before your next job interview

For those of you about to embark on a job interview, in seeking job promotion interview answers, you’ve no doubt noticed the endless supply of how-to books, informational websites, prep courses, and advice articles.  Of course, there’s a reason for this endless supply: endless demand. And what fuels this endless demand? Simply put: stress. 


Going for a job interview is probably one of the most stressful experiences as you make your way up the corporate ladder - whether inside or outside your current organization. And to try to combat this stress, everyone’s on the hunt for the magic formula that will lead them to the right job promotion interview answers. But even if you’re sure you’ve discovered the “right” way to approach an interview, does this mean you’ll beat out the other candidates? 


Based on my 35 years of experience, the answer is an absolute “no”. And it’s not because you didn’t find the right how-to book or didn’t follow the prep course instructions correctly. It’s because you didn’t answer these three crucial questions:


What do my competitors have that I don’t?

What do I have that my competitors don’t?

What added value can I bring to the organization?


Let’s examine each of these.


1. What do my competitors have that I don’t?

Whenever I ask a manager about to apply for a new job to find out what advantages their competitors have over them, I’m often met with the same response: “How should I know? I don’t even know who else is applying.” But that’s no excuse. Even in cases where you’re completely in the dark, you can always make one assumption: there are candidates out there that meet the job requirements in areas where you don’t. So armed with this assumption, your best bet is to first make a list of these areas. Once you have a list, see if you can brainstorm examples where you might partially meet some of the requirements. Remember, “partially” is better than “none” and will still make a case for your candidacy, especially when the organization takes into consideration other advantages your bring to the table. 


I’ll give you an example. You read in a job ad that at least five years of experience are needed in a certain area, yet you have only three years. You can assume that most (if not all) of your fellow applicants will have at least five years of experience. In this case, the best plan of action would be to demonstrate that your three years were jam packed with the exact kind of experience needed for the job at hand - so much that they’ve prepared you specifically for this new role. If you frame your three years in this way, they will be seen as an advantage over the others who might have five years of experience - but not necessarily as relevant as yours.


2. What do I have that my competitors don’t?


I hope you haven’t put away the list you prepared while answering the first question. Now, it’s time to examine your qualities that might actually exceed the job requirements - positioning  you above your fellow applicants. I call these qualities “surplus points”. Surplus points have to be kept close to your chest and revealed only as needed. Too much waving around of surplus points will flag you as overqualified and unsuitable for the job at hand. Instead, surplus points should be framed as extensions of the job’s core requirements.


For example, a job ad requires retail experience in a certain area such as supermarkets. You have this experience but you also have experience in wholesale. Such a surplus point should be communicated as an extension of the retail experience required by the organization. In other words, you don’t want to overwhelm the interviewer by touting that you can take on both retail and wholesale markets. Instead, you want to illustrate how your understanding of the wholesale markets will assist you in dealing with the retail markets - something other candidates can’t necessarily offer.


3. What added value can I bring to the organization?

Added value in this context means something that you bring to the job that’s not required by the company - but is of specific value to the company. This might sound a lot like the surplus points above, but added value is different. First of all, as I said before, surplus points run the risk of flagging overqualification. Added value, however, is always positive and is usually communicated as specific knowledge the organization would be happy to have. Therefore, your added value should be communicated in a way that results in a pleasant surprise for the interviewer - and sets you leagues above the other candidates. 


For example, you might know that the organization is currently trying to penetrate a specific market you know well. In fact, you have the knowledge to help the organization form its strategy, custom its product or service, and identifying key competitors. This is the added value you could bring to the organization that others cannot offer. It should be made clear in the interview, though brought up within the context of the organization’s current challenges in the new market. And don’t forget to include concrete evidence of your knowledge in that market.


The head of the pack

If you focus on any of the three questions above - or a combination of more than one - you’ll find yourself at the head of the pack when the organization shortlists the leading candidates. As you have seen, it takes some effort to answer these questions, but the payoff will be worth it.


Good luck!


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.


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Hiring top talent is still the Achilles Heel of many organizations.

It seems like hiring top performers has gotten almost impossibly challenging. No doubt, the furious pace of global business is a big contributor, with demand for top performers climbing all of the time. 


But the truth is that hiring top performers has always been one of HR’s most difficult challenges. It’s something I struggled with when I began my own career over three decades ago.


When the difficulty of hiring top performers first came up in my career, I made a list of possible reasons:


Headhunters aren’t doing their job.

Organizations can’t offer enough money.

Role descriptions aren’t accurate.

Role/industry/company image/location aren’t attractive.

Ego issues (on both sides)

“Old school” hiring practices


While these were good hunches, I knew that I needed to check with the field. As I was lucky enough to have working relationships with many of the top HR industry leaders, I asked them why they thought hiring top performer was so challenging. After analyzing all of their answers, I boiled them down to four main points:


1. Incompetent headhunters

2. Differences in compensation expectations

3. Inflated egos making unrealistic demands

4. Unattractiveness of industry/organization/location 


This was from the HR perspective, but what about the top performers themselves? Again, as I had access to many top performers (I had “raised” most of them), I asked them the same question from their perspective: Why did you turn down your latest job offer?


This time, I received a much wider range of answers, but here are the top four (in descending order):


1. Organizational culture

2. Intraorganizational mobility

3. Compensation package

4. Hiring process


When I analyzed the data, I was surprised to see that compensation was listed as third. According to the HR professionals, they were missing out on top performers because of money. But according to the performers themselves, this clearly wasn’t the case. The number one reason was organizational culture. What was I missing?


To answer this, I needed to somehow bridge the perspectives of HR and the top performers themselves.


So I went back to the top performers to ask them what they think organizations see as their biggest challenge in hiring them. I got three answers:


Incompetent headhunters

Compensation demands

Top performer’s ego


Clearly, the top performers were able to put themselves in the shoes of the organization - so much that unless the organizations were told that their culture was the number one culprit, recruiting top performers would remain elusive forever.


So it was now time to focus on organizational culture. As it’s such a catch-all term, I returned to the top performers to ask what they meant by organizational culture.


From their responses, their understanding of organizational culture seemed to center on how much a top performer can develop and advance within an organization. To gauge this, they’ll ask themselves some of the following questions:


Is the organization open enough so that new performers can really learn how it operates? 

How transparent is the organization in terms of employee promotion and turnover? 

Is leadership development a priority? Are there sufficient resources for this?


Following this, I understood that many organizations, when attempting to attract top performers, were making the mistake of prioritizing money over an open organizational culture that encouraged top performer growth and advancement. This, of course, with work, can be changed.


From my perspective, every organization has the potential to hire top performers. They just need to make the choice to develop this potential.


What are your thoughts on the challenges of hiring top performers? I’d love to hear your ideas.


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.

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Delivering Disappointing News, Is there an effective way?

Earlier this week, I was asked to participate in a senior management VC of one of the industry’s leading organizations. The main issue on the virtual table was how to communicate impending disappointing news (layoffs, salary reductions, etc.) to their employees.  


As we all settled into the virtual conference room, one of the participants, who seemed a little agitated, spoke up:


“I might be preaching to the choir, but I really can’t stand those cliches that have been going around. You know, ‘every cloud has its silver lining,’ or ‘making lemonade out of lemons.’ Our employees deserve a heck of a lot more than that.”


I smiled and gave a big nod of approval. I took the floor.


“From my point of view, I don’t have an issue with what these kinds of sayings want to teach us. What I do have a problem with, though, is how they are used.”


“What do you mean, Etika,” another participant asked.


“Look, I am well-aware of the fact that delivering disappointing news to your employees is probably one of the most challenging and frustrating parts of being a leader. I’ve seen this played out many times, and it’s never pleasant, no matter how it’s packaged.”


I switched to gallery view on my VC software and saw all of the talking heads nod in agreement.


I continued, “But when you approach your employees with disappointing news, you have to put yourselves in their shoes first. This is definitely not the time to make things easy for yourselves. You’re the leaders here. You’re going to have to put yourselves out there so that they can feel how difficult it is for you to face them.”


I looked out at the Hollywood Squares and noticed a little confusion.


“I have a hunch that today many of you expected me to come with a written script to read to your employees, filled with wise advice,  brimming with optimism towards the future - sayings such as, ‘when one door closes, another opens.’” But that’s not going to happen today.


I looked at my screen. Silence. Was my laptop frozen? No, they were in shock.


“Now, please don’t get me wrong,” I continued. “Those of you who’ve worked with me over the years know that I’m the first person to try to turn a crisis into an opportunity. However, as I said before, you have to put ourselves in your employees’ shoes. And frankly, they’re just not ready to hear about the “day after.” They are worried about tomorrow.”


“In fact,” I said, “any talk of optimism will probably backfire.”


I peered into my screen, trying my best to read the body language of the other participants. I could see they were looking for answers.


“So here’s what I think would be an effective way to approach things. First, each part of the population needs to hear a specific message for their particular situation. This will require dividing employees into groups, such as those who are facing a salary reduction and those about to be laid off. Then, these groups need to be separated again according to level, such as middle managers and line employees. You will need to hold separate meetings with each subgroup.”


I continued, “Begin each meeting by genuinely showing both how uncomfortable you are with the situation as well as the personal sacrifices you are making to keep the organization going. This will help your employees begin to connect with you, at least on a basic level. Not only will they see that you’re also affected, they’ll also understand you’re doing your best to restore things for them as quickly as possible.”


“The next stage is very important,” I emphasized. “Here, you have to demonstrate that the organization wants to help them during this time of crisis. It’ll take some planning, but for example, you could provide guidance in managing finances or mini-courses in improving professional skills. I’m sure you have the in-house talents for all kinds of offerings. Under today’s circumstances, all it takes is a laptop and goodwill.” 


I conceded, “Of course, there’s no substitute for bringing back a full salary and stable job. But the feeling that the organization is trying, under these exceptional circumstances, to do what it can, will at least offer some encouragement to employees as they navigate this crisis.”


Many of the faces began to lighten up and I could sense wheels turning in the minds of most participants. They were formulating plans.


“I’ll leave you with this,” I said. “It’s crucial, especially since we can’t meet face-to-face, that our messages are both clear and sincere. This is the time, as a leader, to rise to this occasion. 


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.


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How arrogance can cloud decision-making (2)

I’ve said it before. There’s a chronic illness plaguing our leaders and it’s called the sin of arrogance. The challenge is that all successful leaders suffer from the sin of arrogance to some degree. And there’s one area where it can create havoc: decision making.


In my previous post (link), I gave some background regarding how the sin of arrogance develops in successful leaders - resulting with all kinds of problems, including derailment of career goals for leaders. Even though no one is immune from the sin of arrogance, it can still be managed. But first, let’s list two major challenges associated with the sin of arrogance:


1. Inability to identify the connection between the symptoms and the disease

2. Complete denial (No leader wants to be “accused” of being arrogant.)


And the effect of denial is that when you deny being arrogant, you automatically ignore any connection between your “non-existent” symptoms and the disease - often compromising the career goals for leaders.


Now I’d like to focus on how the sin of arrogance affects one of the most important aspects of effective management: decision making.


Because the decisions of leaders have far-reaching consequences for organizations, it is important to understand how these decisions are developed in the minds of its leaders:


The sin of arrogance directly influences the way leaders interpret reality. Their focus becomes cloudy - often resulting in hapless “know it all” decision making. But when the penny finally drops and the leader realizes they’ve made crucial mistakes, denial takes over - and then the leader hunts for someone else to blame. The tragedy here is that the leader, intoxicated with their own version of reality, can’t even learn from their own mistakes.


The sin of arrogance encourages leaders to attribute themselves with superpowers that they think allow them to quickly understand, assess, and act on any situation that comes their way. Because of their rich experience, many leaders think they’ve “seen everything” and therefore let their superpowers decide what to do. Ironically, belief in these superpowers actually weakens the very qualities that have served in developing the leader, such as sharpness, determination, quick-thinking, and caution. This becomes dangerous, especially in nuanced situations the leader might not have experienced in their career. The danger here is that the more leaders continue to rely on the superpowers they think they’re imbued with, the quicker their actual performance - especially when faced with new scenarios - will weaken.   


Many leaders are probably thinking, “I’m so lucky I don’t suffer from the sin of arrogance.” I completely understand their thinking, as it’s pretty impossible to analyze yourself objectively. However, with over 35 years of experience with leaders, I haven’t found a single leader who isn’t at least slightly infected by the sin of arrogance. Without it, they wouldn’t be a leader. What I will say, though, is that how much the sin affects their management performance can definitely be put into check.  Here’s what needs to be done:


Become familiar with what the sin of arrogance is.

Identify any symptoms you might have. 

Find out ways to ensure that the sin of arrogance does not eat away at your performance. Remember that many people live successful lives with chronic conditions.


Look out for my next post, in which I’ll help you identify the symptoms of the sin of arrogance so that you can learn to manage them - instead of having them manage you. 


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.

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How Successful Leaders Suffer from the Sin of Arrogance

You’ve worked hard and you’re a successful leader by all measures of how to measure success at work.


Everyone knows you’re a star. But they know something else as well: You’ve got a huge ego. 


Don’t worry, success and egos go together, especially when examining how to measure success at work. As human beings gain power, our egos tend to grow as well. 


But here’s the catch: while success will make you famous, your ego can be your own worst enemy, as a growing ego inevitably leads to what I’ve dubbed the Sin of Arrogance. 


The Sin of Arrogance, as I’ve seen over the years, causes leaders to fail miserably. At first, the Sin lurks under the radar. But then it creeps out in typical leadership situations: meetings, projects management, or decision making. 


Let’s take decision making. I’ve witnessed how the Sin can lead to completely illogical decisions on countless occasions. It goes like this: the Sin causes general confusion, which results in a distortion of reality. Armed with this distortion, leaders charge into situations, completely confident in their courses of action. Along the way, they develop immunity to the advice, opinions, or warnings of their team, often sounding claims, such as, “I know better than everyone else”. The decision flops.


But unfortunately, such leaders rarely see the Sin as the cause of their failed decisions. Instead, they’ll attribute flops to anything else that comes to mind. Rinse and repeat a few times, and you’ve got what I call toxic leadership.


And be sure that no leader is immune. The common denominator among leaders from all walks of life is that they’ve achieved their status based on their success and contribution to their organizations, no matter the size or type. 


And every leader who’s finally achieved their coveted status must deal with the same questions: “Now that I’m a leader, will my new status help propel me even further?” “How will my new status influence my daily lives? My values? The way I work?” “What does it mean for me to be a leader?”Am I “above” everyone else?”


In my practice, thousands of leaders have answered these questions with one common answer: “Nothing has changed for me; I’ve just got more responsibilities.” 


But when I’ve asked their subordinates or peers, I’ve gotten a completely different response. Without exception, they feel a significant change in the way their leaders behave, see themselves, and relate to the environment. 


But of course, even if faced with such feedback, leaders will deny any change. And even if, deep down inside, the leader believed there might be a grain of truth, they’d justify the “slight change” by saying things such as “the role requires it”, “it’s healthy to keep some distance”, or “those people are just jealous”. 


The problem here is that such denial will keep the Sin of Arrogance alive and moving, though possibly at a slow, undetectable pace. 


Before I close, I want to ask successful leaders to stop and take note of how easily the Sin of Arrogance can appear - especially following success. Yes, leaders, it’s almost unavoidable, but it can certainly be dealt with. 


Look out for my next post, in which I’ll continue to explore how the Sin of Arrogance negatively affects decision making. 


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.


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Great managers are made. Not born.

We all start off our career with great aspirations and dreams.


But for a shocking 70% of us, these dreams will never come true. 


No promotions. No influence. No status. No executive paycheck.


Many people think that career success is for the “privileged few” - those who graduated at the top of their class from Ivy League schools, or who somehow started their career off with a bang, or who just got a lucky break. 


But after 35 years of research, I can assure you that none of these privileges contribute to career success. 


What does count, though, is active career management.


In fact, if you don’t work towards landing your first promotion within the first five years of your career, your chances for further promotion could be reduced. 


This doesn’t mean that you’ll never be promoted. What it does mean, though, is that it is never too early to manage the next step in your career. 


Leaders: When was the last time you actually had time to plan your own career?


Will your career weather the storm? Start getting back on track with my FREE 6-hour power course: The Three Most Important Secrets to Getting Promoted. 


Enjoy  : )


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.


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פוסט עתידי

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What does organizational potential mean to you?

A few years back, I was called into an organization to try to settle a conflict among the executive leadership. From what I understood, certain leaders were accusing others of the fact that the organization wasn’t fulfilling its potential.


As I prepared for my meeting, the word “potential” was really gnawing at me. Of course, I had my own understanding of the word, and used it widely in my practice. However, to help narrow the rift among the leaders, I needed to understand what they meant by potential.


I made a series of appointments with some of the leaders involved with one question in mind: 


What is organizational potential?


My first stop was the CEO. When I asked him the question, I received the results of the latest marketing research: market share, competition analysis, etc. This all led to the increased market share the organization should aim for. For the CEO, the organization’s potential was the market share left for the taking.


I then moved on to the VP business development. I was met with a similar answer, as she explained new markets, innovative products, and some possible M&As down the road. So from her perspective, organizational potential seemed to be business growth as well.


After a quick coffee break, I headed to the office of the VP product. I received an answer similar to the VP business development, but with details about new product lines, new products for existing lines, and increased market share. There was also mention of the need to improve logistics. With regard to organizational potential, I was definitely seeing a pattern.


As I crossed the campus to the VP of HR, I wondered if I would get a different response. And of course, I did. Her answer was that for her, organizational potential is the organization’s people. Of course, I wasn’t at all surprised. 


After a long day, I returned to my office to think about what I’d learned. It was clear that the fact that the VP HR’s office was on the other side of the campus wasn’t accidental. I decided that I’d make another appointments with the CEO to ask him this simple question: 


Do the organization’s people represent any kind of organizational potential?


The next day, when I posed the question to the CEO, he looked a little surprised. “Of course, our people are the most important part of our organization.”


So when I asked him why he hadn’t mentioned people at our previous meeting, he responded “because it’s so obvious - so clear that it doesn’t even need to be mentioned.”


In my mind, his answer was telling me something else: that this organization’s people weren’t seen as the key to its potential. Worse, they were being taken for granted. 


I had my work cut out for me and continued working with this organization for quite a while.


Unfortunately, as I look around, this is a common story. Most organizations do not see the obvious connection between their people and the organizational untapped potential. 


How do you help organizations reach their potential through their people? I’d love to hear from you.

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“Think big but start small: the #1 key to success”

Leaders is the time when your career can either soar north or plummet south. Unfortunately, for most Leaders, plummeting is the default. It’s not because they’re not talented or lack the ability to soar, an example of how to measure success at work. It’s actually because the flight path was never planned very well.


Up until this point in your career, you might’ve taken careful baby steps - from entry level to team leader and finally to middle manager, honing in on whatever background you’d come to your company with. Of course, this path has served you well so far as a respected middle manager. This is a reasonable indicator of how to measure success at work.


But what’s the next step? At this stage in your career, planning this next step requires a complete change in mindset. Many successful middle managers decide they want to vye for the most senior position in their discipline. For example, a mid-level marketing manager might set the goal of becoming the chief marketing officer. Naturally, they might begin to meticulously plan their climb towards this position, rung by rung up the corporate ladder. The rationale here is that each rung would be a “realistic” move as the years go by. And, if they’re lucky, they’ll reach CMO status one day. If not, they’ll be left by the wayside along with the majority of frustrated middle managers.


So how can you make sure you don’t become a middle management castaway? The first thing you need to do is think big. Solid career planning that leads to real results requires that you take the time to think out-of-the-box when it comes to your ultimate career dream. Taking the mid-level marketing manager as an example, trying out “what if” scenarios is key. For instance, what if you envisioned yourself as CEO or in another C-suite role? Would a series of short term, step-by-step plans to move up the ranks in marketing necessarily make sense? Of course not. To be a CEO, you would need to acquire experience in nearly every other discipline in the company. But if you limit yourself to in-the-box planning limited to the next rung on your career ladder, you’ll miss the big picture...and find yourself stopped in your tracks. 


Only after taking the time to think big can you then start to see the multiple paths available to you to achieve your ultimate goal. And once you’ve identified these paths, you can then begin to choose one to plan your next step.


When you’ve chosen a path, formulate goals that will allow you to stick to it. Don’t make what I call the gym membership mistake and commit to seven workouts a week. Instead, aim for two days and then build up gradually. For instance, if you know you want to learn about the financial side of your company, attempting to gorge on every financial report in sight is unrealistic. Sure, just like the gym, you’ll start out with great intentions and full of energy. But then, little by little, the stack of reports will start gathering dust and you’ll blame yourself for failing to live up to your own expectations.


A much more productive plan would be to munch on a couple of reports for a given amount of time and then to increase any intake as time permits. The important thing is that  once you have your overall vision in place (and not just your next short term move), accomplishing your vision bit by bit will lead to real progress.


To summarize:


Give yourself some time to work out your ultimate goal, leaving “realistic” short-term goals aside.

Make a plan towards accomplishing this goal, acknowledging that there are mutliple paths.

Begin one or two steps towards the goal, increasing these steps as you are able.


Good luck and don’t forget to dream!


And always remember: 


Great managers are made. Not born.


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