Confidence

With confidence, you have won before you have started - Marcus Garvey

As we continue to explore successful attributes, another imperative soft skill is confidence. Confidence is having faith in your own skills and abilities. It is an attribute difficult to measure, but its absence hardly goes unnoticed. Why is confidence so important? Confidence is attractive. Charismatic people tend to exude confidence. Confidence can help you harness your inner potential. Research supports that confident people accomplish more. It has the power to help you overcome challenging situations, take risks, and handle curveballs thrown at you. Confidence helps you establish trust with people and engage them. It makes you appear more competent and helps you win the respect of others. Dr. Ivan Joseph, a professional soccer coach admits that throughout his career he recruited his players not based on their talent – how high they could kick the ball, or how fast they could run or the team spirit they displayed, but on their self-confidence. He believes that everything else is a coachable skill or trait. Tedx Ryerson University

You can display self-assuredness or lack thereof it in more ways than most people are aware of. How you present yourself, your gait, tone of voice, the words you use, non-verbal cues, interpersonal skills, relationships, even your online or social media presence can paint an image of your confidence level. All these aspects create your “presence”. A limp handshake, lack of eye contact, shifty movements, slouched posture, and excessive use of “I think”, “ums” and “ahs” are some common faux pas to watch for. Non-verbal cues are important expressions of power dominance. It governs how other people think and feel about you. You can influence other people’s reactions by exhibiting confidence. People tend to focus more on the delivery than the message itself. Hence, this can be a powerful tool in controlling how people view and react to you.

Have you met someone and wondered how they landed that deal or got the job they have? I know I have many times. If it wasn’t relationships or networking that got them that far, it was their confidence and most likely their confidence played a very significant role in their relationships.

Charisma is not the same as confidence but we all gravitate towards charismatic leaders. Another reason confidence is important is that appearing confident augments your charisma. Have you ever been in a room where one person’s presence dominated the room? They seemed to captivate their audience and drew people in with such ease. John Antonakis, an organizational behavior expert, suggests that charisma can be practiced as a skill utilizing verbal and non-verbal tactic. And once you grow your charisma and connect with more people, your confidence will inevitably be boosted. How to Read and Predict People

Confidence is like a bank account - you must make deposits to have a balance available for withdrawals. You must draw from various sources so not to deplete your funds. Just like a diverse investment portfolio that minimizes risk, you need to have different buckets that you gain confidence from. Identify your buckets and keep them replenished. Recharge your batteries…success is just around the corner!

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Grit = Passion + Persistence

When we talk about attributes or “soft” skills that play an important role in determining success, grit is somewhat of an unknown. Recently I was introduced to Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk about her research on “grit” as a predictor of success in work and life. The dictionary defines grit as “courage and resolve; strength of character”. When you think about successful leaders – having a values-based character, a strong passion for and commitment towards a vision, and the resilience to achieve it, is what stands out. Your professional journey is a marathon and not a race. To be in it for the long haul is success (not just achieving the milestones along the way), and it takes more than just talent or intelligence. Passion can drive you to graduate school or to innovate and start a company, but it is perseverance that will help you succeed and thrive. Can grit alone get you there? Probably not, but lack of grit surely will not!

It involves staying steadfast on your path, overcoming failures and viewing challenges as opportunities to grow, regardless of the effort involved. It involves risk, sacrifice, sincerity and self-control. It takes deliberate practice and intentional strategy. As Lincoln said “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 6 of those hours sharpening my axe. “

Grit is a fascinating word for me personally. I have always appreciated passion and perseverance but to find a word that can articulate both of those significant qualities together is delivering a power packed punch! So, as you take on that next challenge in your personal or professional life, ask yourself if you have the grit to see it through. If you don’t, work on changing your mindset first. And if you do, success should follow…

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Hard-wiring Your "Soft" Skills

We all know that the secret sauce to success is having the right ingredients of skills, knowledge and abilities. Skills and knowledge can be gained through educational training, work experience and mastery through practice. The abilities often revolve around the “soft” skills you possess. One definition sums it up for me – “Soft skills are the personal attributes, personality traits, inherent social cues, and communication abilities needed for success on the job. Soft skills characterize how a person interacts in his or her relationships with others.” (Source: The Balance)

Why are these skills important? Have you met a highly qualified and brilliant person who may be struggling in their career? Well, chances are that their EQ (emotional quotient) may not be as high as their IQ (intelligence quotient). Teamwork, communication, leadership, listening, negotiation, self-promotion, critical thinking, conflict management, innovation, flexibility, emotional regulation, persuasion - the list maybe endless depending upon your professional niche. But these skills help you better utilize your technical skills and be more effective and competent in what you do. Lack of these skills can also be “derailers” to your success. We spend years sharpening our “hard” skills through school and continuing education, certifications etc. But not enough attention is paid to investing in cultivating the soft skills which are much harder to master but can really differentiate you in a highly competitive market. Although some of these abilities maybe innate, most of them can be developed through awareness and deliberate practice.

Through heightened emotional intelligence, you can learn how to balance the rational and limbic systems in your brain and enhance your personal and social competence. The four core skills of emotional intelligence are – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. As you advance through the various domains, the soft skills become easier to master. The first step is to identify key skills that are necessary for success in your chosen field. You can do this by reviewing “job descriptions” for positions like yours, speaking with role models, mentors, industry stalwarts. The next step is a self- evaluation exercise to help you identify which of these skills you possess and how strong they are and, which skills are areas for opportunity. There are several tools out there that can be used like Myers-Briggs, DiSC, Stengthfinders, Hogan Leadership Assessment, Leadership Circle Profile 360. You can also work with a coach on this and the next step. The final step is reviewing the assessment results and laying out an action plan to address the gaps and strategize on improvement. Behavioral change takes time and baby steps will help you get there.

Over a series of blogs, we will explore several of these skills that can magnify your success, both personally and professionally. Stay tuned!

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Career Lattice vs Career Ladder

Last week when the guest speaker in my Organizational Behavior class mentioned “career lattice”, I saw many quizzical expressions on my student’s faces. I realized, where other industries have adopted this method of talent development and retention, the healthcare industry largely lags. Part of the reason is the level of specialization, training, and even licensure requirements in certain roles. Certain skills need to be honed over time and you get better at your “trade” the longer time you spend in it. This can and has, however, led to burnout in many healthcare professionals leading to a talent drain. Healthcare is now one of the largest employers in the country, so it is time we paid attention to breaking stereotypes. The hierarchical career ladder has always been around and may have worked well in the past. But as more and more professionals look towards versatile and rewarding careers, while still maintaining a semblance of balance and flexibility, the concept of a career lattice makes much more sense that it ever has. The other limiting factor is our definition of career growth. We mostly tie it to a title or compensation, making it very prescriptive and limiting our options. But how about expanding your professional toolkit or repertoire, getting outside your comfort zone to challenge your abilities, utilizing your skills and experience in a different area – is that not a growth opportunity? Sometimes to take a step ahead, you may need to take a few steps back or sideways!

Though it may not be applicable in some specialized niches, it is important that healthcare organizations explore and adopt the concept where high potential employees are given growth opportunities to explore other roles and develop new competencies. We know that changing an individual’s attitude or behavior based on an organization’s culture is a much harder journey than teaching new skills and competencies. They why lose a professional who has become an integral part of the organization due to a lack of opportunities? In some industries, it is the norm for professionals to remain in their roles only for a couple years before they move into another role. This enhances employee engagement, retention and loyalty, while ensuring a steady pipeline of motivated individuals within the organization to fill critical vacancies. It also significantly reduces the costs associated with recruitment. What are some best practices that healthcare can adopt? Most healthcare organizations are accustomed to matrix structures, so opportunities are plentiful.

When I look at my own career path, it has certainly been a lattice. I planned to get to the “top” and the quickest way was the hierarchical ladder. It was a competitive rat race. I wanted to remain in hospital operations as that was the world I knew, loved and thrived in. I exceled and did achieve my career goals becoming a hospital CEO. But that also got me to a crossroads in my personal life. I loved my work, but I also loved my growing family and had to make some difficult career choices to give both my best. What I have learned through my experience is to keep your options open and never be afraid to take risks. The adage “greater the risk, greater the reward” maybe cliched but is so true! What I feared to have been career suicide (stepping down from my first CEO role) launched my career into a very different and equally rewarding path! So, whether your organization supports a career lattice or not, don’t be wary to explore it in your own career journey and seek out opportunities that help round your experiences and not typecast you or limit your options. Be creative and enjoy the journey. It is not a race so why not take the scenic route?

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Are You Ready for 2018?

2017 has been a turbulent year for the healthcare industry. Not only have we seen tremendous disruption in technology and innovation, but also more consolidation and strained resources. Natural disasters across the country and the unstable economy have added to the mounting pressures. Leaders have been challenged to do more with less, like never before. You may be using predictive analysis tools in strategizing for your organization, but have you looked at your personal toolkit to see if you are ready for what’s in store in 2018?

At Wiederhold & Associates, we consider three key ingredients for success – history, process, and relationships. Here are some techniques to proactively and methodically plan for a successful 2018.

History:

  • List of accomplishments - Do you have a list of professional achievements for the year? Grab a pen or type out a list, before you forget! It is important to keep track of any milestones, at work or outside, that have been proud moments for you. As time passes by and memories fade, you may lose track of things that may have significance in the future. Doing a quick year-in-review list of accomplishments will help you document and keep these fresh. Or even better, start a business journal and keep it updated throughout the year.
  • Resume - When was the last time you updated your resume? You do not have to be actively looking for a job to keep your resume updated. In times like these when change is inevitable and happens at lightning speed, it is always a good idea to periodically update your resume especially with new skills, accomplishments or credentials that you may obtain along the way. The same applies for your LinkedIn or any other social media profiles.
  • Self-assessment – Have you done a gap analysis for yourself lately? There are several assessment tools available but even a simple exercise of listing any new skills that you have learned or honed, assessing any areas that still need development, and identifying ways to work on these ensures that you are focusing on your professional growth. The core competencies for roles have steadily evolved, and what measures were used to assess your performance even five years ago may not be as relevant as what is needed in the future. Do you have a competency checklist for the types of roles you see yourself in and are you diligently working towards building/polishing those skills?

Process:

  • Personal Brand – Have you “Googled” yourself lately? Always be aware of what is floating in cyberspace about you. Reputation management is an active and lifelong task of maintaining your personal brand. At times you may find yourself caught amid a media blitz not of your own doing or liking. Being aware, and taking necessary and proactive steps to protect your online brand is critical to your professional success.
  • Goals – Do you have a SWOT analysis for yourself? Once you have identified strengths and areas of focus, set SMART goals for yourself. Ensure that your personal goals align with your organizational goals, if there is dissonance it is time to reflect! Where possible, have discussions with your boss to find synergies that will benefit all parties.
  • Action Plans – Do you have clear action plans to achieve your goals? What skills/experiences are you missing in your toolkit and which ones do you plan to focus on in the coming year? How will you measure success?

Relationships:

  • Networking - The holidays are a great time to reach out and reconnect with individuals in your network. It also offers a lot of social opportunities, holiday parties and gatherings to meet new people and expand your network. With work slowing down some, and the holiday cheer around, people tend to be more open to giving and receiving. A great time to nurture your relationships!

So, celebrate your accomplishments in 2017 and ring in the New Year with confidence and assertion. Cheers to your success in 2018!

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