Myth-busting alert! Many believe that if you just put your head down and do a really, really good job, then the floodgates will open up and you will be magically presented with endless opportunities and promotions. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to do a good job – but if you think someone will notice your efforts enough to tap you on the shoulder and catapult your career to the next level, then think again.  Your visibility and internal network are critical to your success and advancement within any organization especially in today’s remote work environment. Invisibility equals dispensability. If your manager doesn’t know or doesn’t have a clear line of sight into what you’re doing, the value you’re bringing, or the goals you are aspiring to achieve, then how is he/she going to be able to promote you?

Yes, a positive relationship with your manager is paramount, but what about the rest of your internal network? It’s easy to build relationships with people you naturally work with on a regular basis, but what about people from other departments, functions, and executive teams? This has been a true ah-ha moment for many of our ON Point clients and for various reasons. Some have hitched their wagon to a single individual and found themselves either let go when that person was fired or on an island completely alone. Others have realized how critical internal visibility is when they applied for a promotion and discovered they didn’t have the support because senior-level decision-makers didn’t know who they were. Success is a team sport that requires allies, advocates, champions, and cheerleaders to get ahead.

Your internal network will make or break your career, but it doesn’t happen by accident. There are a few “natural networkers” out there, but for most people it requires a mindset shift to make it a priority and a strategic action plan to make it a reality.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan to increase your visibility and to build a robust and effective internal network before you need it.

  1. Make a list of people you need to know within your organization
  2. Join special committees, projects, and employee resource groups to develop cross-functional relationships
  3. Pursue a senior-level leader from a different team to be a mentor or sponsor
  4. Reach out to another manager with a shout-out or praise about someone on their team
  5. Be a resource for others by providing information, introductions, or a heads-up
  6. Step up and lead a new initiative from start to finish that aligns with the organization’s goals
  7. Show genuine interest, empathy, and respect for other people, their time and their talents

Should I stay or should I go? Is this the right time to go for a promotion? Does this person deserve to be fired or better served with a PIP? Will my company get the needed ROI from this investment? Am I being too sensitive or is this issue worthy of a hard conversation with my manager? Chocolate or vanilla? Exercise or sleep in? From the minute we wake up to minute we go to sleep, we are in constant decision-making mode – from what to have for breakfast to what to watch on Netflix, we are making decisions all day long. Some are big and some are small, but all decisions have the ability to impact our lives and our careers.

 

Leaders are paid the big bucks to make the big decisions, but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. At ON Point, we coach leaders everyday and help them with their decision-making process that has a ripple effect throughout their teams and their entire organizations. There is a lot to consider, a lot of pressure to get it right, and a lot of people watching. Individuals don’t have it easy either. We coach professionals to be proactive and in the driver’s seat of their own careers, and that means they are constantly evaluating opportunities, positioning themselves for promotions, navigating complex workplace dynamics, and every step requires confident decision-making.

 

What is easy, however, is getting overwhelmed and stuck in analysis paralysis – that’s when uncertainty sets in and every options feels like worst case scenario. Nothing happens except the expenditure of a lot of energy and many nights of restless sleep. Making decisions, big and small, are part of our daily lives that benefit from a daily practice and an efficient process. It’s a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to strengthen and to be effective. And remember, not making a decision is also a decision – just means that someone else is probably making it for you.

 

Follow the ON Point Action Plan and master the art of decision-making.
  1. Trust your gut but verify with facts
  2. Be aware of and manage your emotions
  3. Give yourself a deadline and create accountability
  4. Talk it through with a trusted thought partner
  5. Be objective and create a list of pros and cons
  6. Stay true to your values and brand
  7. Be confident enough to be wrong and resilient enough to pivot

The two most important days on the job are your first and your last. Your first day is all about making a positive first impression and starting off on the right foot. Your last day is all about the lasting impression you leave behind. Both days require a solid and strategic game plan, and then you need to execute on that plan. If you’re a tennis fan, you may have seen or heard about the unprofessional exit Novak Djokovic made after losing to Rafael Nadal at the French Open on Tuesday. Contrary to proper protocol, there was a lightning fast handshake at the net, minimal words of congratulations exchanged, and then Djokovic hastily left the court without acknowledging or thanking the crowd. The reaction was swift and severe in the press and in the court of public opinion. Djokovic displayed poor sportsmanship and his behavior tarnished his reputation even though he’s currently ranked #1 in the world. Key takeaway – even if you are a top-performer, how you leave an organization or a tennis court, matters.

 

Gone are the days when the only way you left an organization was on the day you retired. Today the average person will hold 12 different jobs throughout his or her career. That’s a lot of jobs and that’s a lot of goodbyes. It’s not a fun experience and it’s rarely easy. At ON Point, we have coached countless people through this period to ensure a smooth transition and to prevent the “dramatic exit” fantasy from becoming a reality. We all know the fantasy…tossing papers in the air while telling your manager what you really think about him/her, sabotaging your computer files, stealing a stapler and some post-it notes, and essentially burning every possible bridge. Think of Tom Cruise’s exit in Jerry Maguire on steroids – that’s what we want to avoid.

 

An impulse-driven last day will haunt you for many, many days afterwards. Even on a less dramatic note, it’s still critical to remember that you have the power to shape, influence, and control the perception by how you say farewell. Your brand and reputation are priceless and take years to build, but only take moments to ruin. Regardless of whether you’re moving onto greener pastures for an exciting new position or were fired from your current position, those final moments still matter.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan to help you say goodbye with grace.

  1. Be professional and always take the high road
  2. Co-create the narrative and terms with HR
  3. Refrain from gossip and negative comments about your manager or the company
  4. Set your team up for success with a smooth transition plan
  5. Introduce clients to the new point person
  6. Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn and references if possible
  7. Reflect on the wins, successes, and accomplishments you achieved
  8. Make sure you are connected online with your internal network
  9. Take with you everything that is yours being mindful of IP
  10. Get to a place where you can be grateful and thankful for the experience

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and we can all agree that teachers should be appreciated every week and all year long. We know it’s one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, jobs in the world. When we think of “teachers” we appropriately think of school teachers and college professors, but given that our learning extends well beyond graduation, this is also an opportunity to acknowledge, appreciate and celebrate the other types of teachers in our lives.

Think of all the executive and athletic coaches, formal and informal mentors, organizational leaders and managers, thought leaders and inspirational gurus, and the wise friends and even wiser elders in your life that have shared their wisdom with you in a way that encouraged you to think more critically, grow more expansively, elevate more exponentially, and dig more deeply. Think of the people who have challenged you, pushed you, and believed in you…those are all the “teachers” in your life.

At ON Point, we know how critical it is to be a lifelong learner committed to a lifetime of growth and development. The teaching and learning never ends, but the classroom and environment may change. Whether you are working 1:1 with an executive coach, joining your colleagues at a leadership retreat, attending an industry conference, or working towards a new degree or certification, the goal is the same – to learn.

There is no finish line or expiration date on learning. It is basic Darwinism – those who don’t evolve, change, and adapt become extinct and obsolete. With how quickly change happens today and with how complicated our lives have become, this is more true today than ever. From the introspective journey in learning more about ourselves to the future-forward vision about what is possible, the opportunities to learn from a wide variety of teachers, coaches, and experts is endless.

Recognizing that no one grows and develops on their own, follow the ON Point Action Plan and show some appreciation to the “teachers” in your life.

  1. Send a handwritten and heartfelt thank you note
  2. Provide specific feedback about how they helped you
  3. Give them credit and a shout out on social media
  4. Make a donation in their name to a cause they support
  5. Pay it forward in a meaningful way
  6. Support their passions and celebrate their successes
  7. Refer and recommend them or their program to others
  8. Connect or reconnect in-person or online and share updates
  9. Show genuine interest
  10. Continue to learn, grow, and develop

March Madness and the road to the Final Four may be over, but the lessons live on – no one achieves success alone. It takes a team and it takes a united effort working towards a common goal. Even though the goal of growth and development may be the same, the motivation may be different. Leaders want to retain their top talent, build high-performing teams, and reduce turnover, and workers want to learn, grow, be challenged, and feel valued by their employers. All of this can be accomplished, and both sides win, when training and development is a priority.

 

In fact it is not “a” priority, it is “the” priority today. A workplace survey report found that if a company invests in its employees’ career development, 94% said they would stay at the company longer. If employees don’t feel valued, or if they don’t feel like there are opportunities for growth, 76% will actively look for another job. 74% of workers say that a lack of employee development is preventing them from reaching their full potential, 76% of employees are looking for ways to expand their careers, and 91% want personalized and relevant training.

 

Learning and development is no longer a perk – it is a necessity and needs a full court press from both sides.

 

Organizations are stepping up and investing millions of dollars in L&D initiatives. JP Morgan Chase increased their $250 million upskilling investment to $600 million, Amazon has committed to spending $700 million on upskilling their employees, and PwC is investing $3 billion in upskilling over the next three to four years. Not many companies can afford to spend millions or billions of dollars, but all companies can afford to do something – or rather, they can’t afford not to. Learning and development can be accomplished with in-house training, third-party training like ON Point, off-site activities like the Women ON Point Signature Leadership Summits, management or sales training programs, mentorships, professional certifications or higher education, or 1:1 executive coaching engagements.

 

It’s also important for employees to step up as well. Leaders and managers are not mind-readers and need input, ideas, and transparency from their people. You can’t just wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder and offer and endless array of development opportunities. You need to know what your career goals and aspirations are; to have enough self-awareness to be able to identify your gaps and areas of growth and improvement; to be resourceful in finding options, courses, programs, leadership summits, coaches, and more; and to initiative the conversation with your manager, keep it top of mind, present a compelling business case if need, and drive it with confidence.

 

When you and your manager share a common goal that growth and development is the top priority and create a winning game plan, then you are well on your way to your own Final Four.

If you had to describe your personal brand, what would it be? Are you the go-to person at your company whenever there’s a difficult task? Are you a trailblazer who loves thinking outside the box and implementing new ideas? Your personal brand not only describes who you are and what’s important to you, but it also helps differentiate the value you bring to your particular role and your company.

Just Google “personal brand” and “career,” and you’ll find more than a billion — yes, that’s BILLION — results on why your brand matters and how to define yours so that you get the results you want. One thing stands out across the board, however; your personal brand is what makes you stand out from the crowd.

Your personal brand can give you a greater competitive advantage in securing your next promotion, raise, Board seat or even a new job. Yet, building the right brand can be tricky. If you’re looking to get ahead and stay ahead this year, here are the secrets to building a brand that will help you at any stage of your career.

 

Ask Yourself This Question

Personal branding is fundamentally about defining who you are as a person and a leader. But for many, diving into what makes them tick can feel very overwhelming. So instead of tackling big existential questions, start by asking yourself this bite-size question: what is the reputation you’re consciously trying to build?

You enter a room with executive presence, and your personal brand is what you leave behind. It’s how people experience you and what they remember when you’re not there. For example, your executive presence can be confident, poised and decisive, but your personal brand can be a super-responsive team player who always gets things done. Begin by identifying the skills you bring to the table, then ask yourself how you want others to view those qualities. Write down the traits you want to be remembered for and which superlatives you want others to use when talking about you. This will give you a great foundation for defining your personal brand.

 

Be Authentic

As author Simon Sinek once wrote, “Great leaders don’t try to be perfect. They try to be themselves. And that’s what makes them great.” Remember, it’s called a personal brand for a reason, so be true to yourself and your expertise. People equate authenticity to credibility, so don’t try to be someone else or only “fake it ‘til you make it.” They want to get to know the real you — your core strengths, goals and the obstacles you’ve overcome. At ON Point Next Level Leadership, we coach leaders, executives and teams across all industries nationwide on how to understand their weaknesses, leverage their strengths and lead with confidence. It’s only by being authentic to yourself that your true confidence can shine.

 

Walk the Talk

Once you define your real brand, make sure your actions mirror it. Personal brands, by nature, come with expectations, and your conduct and behaviors should reinforce who you say you are. For instance, if you say you’re a servant leader, what steps have you taken to care for your employees’ personal and professional growth and well-being? If you claim you’re an expert in a certain field, what projects have you done that showcase your strengths in a meaningful way? By aligning your actions with your brand, you will build both trust and a more powerful personal brand.

 

Keep Your Online Brand On-Brand

You better believe someone is also checking out your online presence to see if it matches your personal brand. 98% of employers say they research job candidates online, and 43% of HR professionals rely on Google to learn more about applicants. That’s why it’s so important that your online brand is on-brand too.

If you say you’re all about leadership development and your professional social media platforms don’t reflect that, an automatic wall goes up. Ultimately, if what you’re saying isn’t what you’re sharing, it’s another opportunity for people to lose trust in you. In order to stay on-brand, make sure your platforms share the messaging you want people to see by asking yourself before you post — does this hurt or help my brand?

 

Revisit & Refresh It

Lastly, as your life changes, so too will your brand. Revisit your personal brand aspirations yearly or when big milestones happen and refresh them accordingly. New seats and elevations often come with new expectations, so you’ll want to consider if your current personal brand still works for you. If not, how would you like to be known? Maybe it’s time to be more vulnerable, more empathetic or more direct. Starting at new firms or taking on new titles are prime opportunities to hit the reset button and update your brand to fit your new circumstances — while still staying true to you, of course.

If you’re looking to take your career to the Next Level, your personal brand can be one of the keys to driving your success. By building a brand that’s meaningful, genuine and in-tune to your goals, you’ll be able to open doors to new and even greater possibilities.

Over the past few months, American workers have left their jobs in record numbers in what’s been dubbed as the Great Resignation. People all over the country and across industries are searching for new job opportunities and even new careers during this significant season of change. Many factors, including work-life satisfaction, pay and burnout, are driving the exodus.

While many employees are now in the “driver’s seat” when it comes to asking for more flexible schedules and higher wages from either new or current employers, many still need to put their best foot forward if they want to land their dream job or everything on their must-have list. If you’re considering a career move this year, preparation is key, especially before and during the interview process. Here are some ways to get ahead of the game, appeal to hiring managers and make sure you’re going to a right-fit employer:

Before the Interview

Amplify Your Personal Brand: Before you even begin to interview with potential employers, marketing yourself online on professional platforms like LinkedIn is a must. Your visibility matters, so make sure everything is up-to-date and your strengths are highlighted.

Think of your LinkedIn profile like a value proposition; it should summarize why a company should hire you, and it’s a promise of what you’re able to deliver to them as a potential future employee. It should showcase measurable achievements that show how you will help make their company bigger, better and stronger.

 

Level Up Your Resume: Resumes are still relevant. In fact, they’re your foundation when it comes to job hunting. Like your LinkedIn profile, the information on your resume should be current and tailored to the specific role you’re applying for. Our executive coaches work with clients on finding the right keywords and buzzwords to include in their resumes and profiles. One way to do this is to look through open positions and compare descriptions so you can find patterns and themes. Then, incorporate those words in your resume and cover letter.

 

Use Your Network: Pandemic or not, your network is your net worth. Ideally, you want to build it before you need it and actively contribute to your connections on an ongoing basis versus just reaching out when it benefits you. Not only will you be a resource for others, but you’ll also be top of mind for any opportunities they know of or have.

If you want to grow your network, you have to be thoughtful and strategic. At ON Point Next Level Leadership, we offer Signature Leadership Summits, which are great networking opportunities for top-performing corporate leaders. Attendees develop their leadership skills while also forming long-lasting relationships. We continue to see Summit alums stay in touch, help each other out and celebrate one another’s successes.

 

During the Interview

 Know Your Stuff: An interview is nothing more than a sales presentation. You need to show up prepared and have talking points. You should be able to talk about everything on your resume as if it happened yesterday; nothing should blindside you.

You don’t ever want to come across as a threat, so it’s also important to research the person who’s going to interview you. If they ask where you see yourself in five years, don’t list their job title as your destination! There’s only one way to answer this question: “I see myself here in a position where I can continue to bring value and grow.”

 

Come With Questions: Not being prepared with questions for the interviewer is not an option. These will change based on the interviewee and where you are in the interview process; questions in the first round addressed to a human resources manager will be very different than what you might ask a potential direct manager. Either way, asking questions is mostly about building relationships and showing you’re interested in the particular company and its people.

Be careful not to ask someone a question that’s beyond their pay grade. Make sure they’re softball questions, like what their experience is and what they like about where they work.

 

Have a Number in Mind: Talking about salary can be intimidating on the spot, so it’s helpful to have done your research in advance, taking into account your experience, what you’re currently making and what others in the role you’re looking at are making. If you’re asked about a desired salary, always speak in ranges instead of listing finite numbers. And remember, don’t end your salary discussion on numbers; wrap it up by expressing that you’re more interested in learning how you can help the company and can work out salary details later. This will help keep the conversation flowing and won’t automatically rule you out based on your answer.

If you’re considering a new job or career switch, it’ll take time and effort. From updating your resume and professional profiles to investing in your network to being prepared for all questions, it’ll be worth it in the end when you find the right fit. With these tips, you’ll be well equipped for any and all opportunities that are on the horizon. Good luck!

The new year is officially here, and if you’re like many of our clients, you’ve probably set a few goals or resolutions for personal and professional growth in 2022. Each year, our clients tell us what they’re looking to achieve, and we help them map out how to get there. Usually, those goals vary – from getting a promotion to writing a book. But recently, we noticed a very interesting shift. The majority want the same goal this year – to become stronger leaders. And they’re not alone! Nearly 64% of employees say learning and development is now a “need to have” job requirement. While many believe their companies should provide the support and tools to help them reach their Next Level, we encourage our clients to take responsibility for their own growth as well.

Ultimately, whether you’re investing in yourself or investing in your team, it can pay off tremendously in the long run. Here’s how you can advocate for yourself, or if you’re a member of a leadership team, how you can support your employees in becoming stronger leaders this year:

 

Individuals

Be Assertive: If you’re a top performer looking to grow as a leader, start by having a conversation with your manager. Ask what the organization’s policy is – do they offer leadership development resources through the company or will they provide funding if you’d like to attend a conference or take a course that helps you grow within your career? If the answer is “yes,” take advantage of those opportunities and figure out how to get involved.

Get Creative: If your company doesn’t offer any development opportunities or financing, don’t let that stop you. Get creative and invest in other opportunities. For instance, check out our Signature Leadership Summits. These unique and transformational sessions are designed for C-suite and senior-level executives, emerging leaders and high-potential employees, and they allow you the opportunity to refine your skills, learn practical strategies and network with other top performers.

In addition, books like “ON Point” and “The Crooked Rim” by Founder Pam Borton and “WOMAN UP!” by Founder Aimee Cohen are excellent resources that set you on the path to success. You can also get involved with professional associations or take classes online or at your nearest college. There are plenty of ways you can take the initiative and learn valuable skills to become a stronger leader.

 

Leadership Teams

Have Meaningful Conversations: If you’re a member of a leadership team and want to encourage your employees to develop as leaders, it’s important to begin by having meaningful conversations with them. When you’re speaking with an employee one-on-one, take time to go beyond tactical topics. Instead of just asking about deliverables and how a project is going, ask what each employee’s goals are and where they see themself in the organization over time. This will help you customize your approach to the individual.

Know the Options: If an employee tells you they want to grow and evolve within the company, it’s important to be well-informed about what options are available for their development. Do you have a mentorship program that allows employees to take on a leadership role with one of their colleagues? Does your company offer Leadership Academies that are tailored specifically to your style and mission? These can be incredibly beneficial at developing high-performing employees, creating a collaborative leadership culture, elevating your team and attracting and retaining top talent.

The companies we work with that are doing it best are walking the walk. They invest in growth and development from an individual, team and organizational level. They genuinely want to see people climb in their careers, and they back their employees’ goals emotionally and financially. Businesses who walk the walk when it comes to employee development have higher retention rates and pick up quality hires. When people feel valued, they add more value to the company.

As we kick off 2022, consider the impact professional growth and learning can have on yourself, your employees and your overall businesses. As an organization, you’re making your team stronger, and you’re showing your employees they’re capable and worthy of advancement opportunities. If you’re working for a company that doesn’t offer leadership development opportunities, don’t make excuses – create your own journey. The benefits are worth it!

“Being physically fit allows us to live… being mentally fit allows us to thrive.” – “The Crooked Rim”

As a former Division I basketball coach, I know practice and training are a huge part of building stamina and confidence among individual athletes and teams. It not only prepares them for the toughest situations, it also makes them stronger. The same is true for high-performing corporate athletes, teams and organizations.

Everyone has faced unique challenges since March 2020. The continuing uncertainty of the future holds has only amplified the importance of having a strong mental game. Just like elite athletes who are in the gym and getting in reps at practice daily, training our minds takes time, dedication and prioritization and is vital to our well-being.

As I mentioned in the last two blogs, there are ways we can become more resilient in our professional and personal lives. From digging deep to embracing challenges, we all have the strength to overcome obstacles; we just need to tap into that mindset and condition ourselves to manifest success. That’s where training comes into play. In the end, how often and how hard we put in the work are key to our overall success in work and life.

Train Daily

Just like yoga practice or marathon training, we also have to regularly work out our most important muscle: our brain. The more we train, the more resilient we become. When we train our minds on a daily basis — from practicing positive self-talk to surrounding ourselves with people who support us and challenge us to do better — we actually become motivated when we are met with setbacks.

Training never ends. There is always room for improvement, and there are always opportunities to grow. This is especially true when it comes to resiliency and well-being. Life is bound to throw us curveballs, so it’s important we know how to navigate them.

We all encounter crooked rims throughout our lives both personally and professionally. It’s on each of us to take ownership of developing the skills we need to overcome any obstacle. Life is demanding, but if we train enough and master our mindset, we can thrive in the face of adversity. By setting goals to increase the capabilities of our mental muscles, creating a plan to develop strong minds and blocking out time for our daily routines, we’ll build confidence and productivity.

“Developing a high level of mental strength minimizes or eliminates the feeling of spiraling out of control.” – “The Crooked Rim”

Read all of Pam’s tips on getting to the Next Level by becoming more resilient in “The Crooked Rim,” which officially hits shelves on January 4, 2022. You can also pre-order an autographed copy directly from pambortonpartners.com/the-crooked-rim/.

“Writing about resilience demanded me to demonstrate my own resilience.” – “The Crooked Rim”

 

The last year and a half has been a struggle for most Americans, and we’re still dealing with that reality today. Along with our communities, colleagues and families, we have all dealt with abrupt changes to our daily lives and routines — at work and at home. Nearly every part of our world has changed forever. Though the pandemic has been extremely tough, the lessons we’ve learned about navigating trying situations are and always will be relevant.

 

Prior to the global shutdown, I never planned on writing a second book. After realizing the mental and emotional toll the pandemic had on my life, I knew it was time to lean on something I’ve done my entire career; I needed to embrace the challenges I was experiencing in order to overcome and persevere. This time it wasn’t to survive and advance to another round in the postseason, it was to dig myself out of a rut and bounce back stronger.

 

So, I put pen to paper, documenting everything I’d learned about overcoming obstacles on and off the court, and “The Crooked Rim” was born. Interestingly, writing about resilience forced me to be resilient myself and shift my mindset.

 

Embrace Challenges

During times of crisis, we can either be a positive force to those around us or bring people down. Our mindset determines which influence we’ll have. All of us have the ability to persevere; we just have to reframe our thinking. Many of us have struggled during the pandemic. We’ve feared for our family and friends while also facing isolation and uncertainty — but we’ve overcome. We’ve found ways to work through the chaos in order to come out stronger on the other side. We are better prepared for whatever comes our way next. Without challenges, we may never know how strong we really are.

 

When we think of challenges as an opportunity to learn, we strengthen and sharpen our mindsets. Whether at work or at home, we can turn stumbling blocks into starting blocks and use those situations to propel us forward in life.

 

“It is tragic if the crooked rim becomes the singular obstacle that keeps us from sinking the shot. Instead, think of the crooked rim as a gift—an opportunity to release us from what holds us back and it makes us tougher.” – “The Crooked Rim”

 

Learn more about how to master your mindset for success in “The Crooked Rim,” which will be released on January 4, 2022. To order an autographed copy, please visit pambortonpartners.com/the-crooked-rim/.

 

Next month, Pam will key in on the importance of training daily to build the mental muscle needed to get to the Next Level.