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  1. Making your LinkedIn Profile Attractive to Employers

    February 10, 2015 by Jenna

    These days having a LinkedIn profile in the corporate world is almost a necessity. While Facebook and Twitter share your personal thoughts and opinions, LinkedIn will make you shine as a professional if you utilise it correctly.

    It’s an opportunity to share you’re employment history, qualifications/achievements. Effectively, it’s your digital resume. Your LinkedIn profile is available to a huge variety of employers. People are often head-hunted even when they aren’t looking for employment.

    However, if you are not using your profile to its potential, you could be missing out on opportunities without even realising it.
    An article by Emmanuel Banks posted on Lifehack shares simple steps to making your LinkedIn profile more attractive to employers:

    Treat It Like an Interview
    First impressions are quite important during an interview and so is your presentation. The same applies when formatting your online layout and choosing an appropriate profile picture.

    You want to create a positive and professional image so choose a profile picture that reflects you in a professional way. If it looks like you are on an all-night party bender, or modelling a bikini while on your latest holiday, you may be deterring employers straight away. This also applies to a poorly presented or poorly written ‘Summary’ or ‘Employment History’. If you are not taking the time to proofread or update your personal details, qualifications or skill, you could be automatically viewed as sloppy. If you are making LinkedIn connections with business professionals for the first time and they have potential to help you get your foot in the door, make sure you are advertising yourself to your best ability.

    Stay Connected
    The purpose of LinkedIn is to connect and network.

    Requesting a contact to connect allows you to provide a tailored introduction to the person and explain why you feel it is important to connect with them. You can then follow up with contacts on a to keep them up to date on your career. There are also groups for members within your industry where you can be kept up-to-date regarding networking events, news topics and discussions.

    It also shows your passion and genuine interest in the industry to keep connecting with others and participating in as many groups and interactions as you can. It maintains relationships with past and present contacts.

    Have Your Experience Vouched
    Your background and experience can appear even more attractive to an employer when they see that other professionals have verified your experience or expertise.

    Employers may be looking for a select set of skills for a potential role and it can prove advantageous when others verify your experience or even provide recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask past employers’ if they would mind verifying details or providing a recommendation.

    Keep Profile Up to Date
    It is time consuming for an employer to chase up information that isn’t included on your online profile. Important information can include; a good description of your current position, start and finish dates of your previous appointments, reference details or educational achievements.

    Even if you are not looking for a new role, it is important to keep your information up to date just in case you situation changes. This will also save you time if you do decide to look for work elsewhere in the future.

    What do you highlight on your LinkedIn profile that makes you stand out?


  2. Enough is Enough! When it is time to move on

    February 25, 2014 by Jenna

    I covered a blog topic a few weeks ago on the pursuit of happiness at work and ways to keep a positive attitude during the daily grind.

    But there are also situations where your current role leaves you feeling empty. You may be experiencing the following:

    You are lacking passion – You wake up each morning without the sense of excitement or enthusiasm to go to work the way you used to feel. Each day you are like a robot filling time rather than delivering your true potential.

    You are consistently stressed, negative and/or unhappy at work – If you get anxious or unhappy even thinking about work, this may be a sign to move on.

    Your work related stress is affecting your physical health – We all get stressed from time to time, but if stress is consuming you to the point where you are losing sleep, becoming ill and are unable to perform tasks the way you normally would, then it is time to address it.

    Your skills are not being tapped – You may feel like you are not being utilised to your true potential, even if you may have made it clear that you are looking for more responsibilities. You may also feel like you have been excluded from certain activities or meetings or from the team in general.

    Regardless of your situation, the worst thing you can do is be passive and hope that things will go away.

    If you have exercised all options with your current role and still feel like it is time to go, take a look at some of the following steps by Alison Doyle from her article, What To Do When You Hate Your Job:

    Keep Your “I Hate My Job” Thoughts to Yourself

    This can actually sabotage your current role and potential opportunities if you are spreading the word in public about how much you are unhappy at work. And under no circumstances should you complain about your job or discuss about how much you don’t enjoy your job on social media streams! Once it is in writing it is out there. Take the time to plan a strategic exit from the current company rather than leaving on bad terms.

    Get ready and begin the Job Search

    Make sure you don’t quit on the spot and prepare yourself properly before taking those next steps.

    Update your resume, your LinkedIn profile and social networks and make sure that information being shared is relevant to what you are looking for. Have the time to create that wow factor before submitting resumes. Also take the time to research companies, recruitment agencies and so forth before submitting resumes. You can also seek career guidance programs to help steer you in the right direction of where you may want to go.

    When you are actively submitting resumes or CV’s, do so quietly and discreetly. Do not be corresponding about upcoming roles on your company’s email account or actively be searching on SEEK when you are supposed to be doing your day job.

    But most importantly, keep performing to a high standard in your day to day working routine. Looking for a new potential role does not excuse to put in half the effort. Remember, having a job is a privilege and should not be taken lightly.

    Moving on and leaving on good terms

    If your decision is to resign, do it gracefully, and offer the full notice period in your employment agreement to allow for any handovers, re-advertising of your position etc. There is no need to shout from the rooftops that you are leaving.

    If you have a good relationship with your boss or colleagues try and keep it that way, don’t let your only potential reference be your enemy!

    Have you ever had an experience like this where you needed to move on in your career? Where did it take you?


  3. Testing Times: Prepare, Practice and Succeed at Psychometric Testing – by Narelle Hess

    August 20, 2013 by Jenna

    Most of us at one point in our career will be required to complete psychometric testing. There are no fast rules on how to beat psychometric tests. Truth is you don’t need to beat psychometric tests; you just need to make sure you are ready to perform at your best. If you are the right person for the job, the psychometric tests will help confirm this.

    The good news is that psychometric tests help you to be objectively assessed against the key competencies required by the job. Companies that invest in psychometric testing want to make sure they are hiring the best person for the job. These companies are also likely to be companies that invest in their people to ensure that they achieve this potential.

    But just like we board the plane excited about the destination, but with some trepidation about the flight. Most people approach psychometric testing with a level of anxiety, despite the excitement about the job in front of them. Just like your first flight, the first time you complete psychometric testing is likely to be somewhat scary and unfamiliar. To help you get ready to succeed at psychometric testing preparation and practice are key.

    Prepare: Know the details of the types of tests you will be completing

    To help you prepare for the psychometric tests it is critical that you know what tests you will be completing. The two most common types of tests include:

    Aptitude – these tests are usually timed tests and you are given a time limit to complete a certain number of questions. Most common aptitude assessments include: verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, and abstract reasoning. Other aptitude assessments depend on the role you are being considered for and could include: mechanical reasoning, spatial reasoning, or visual acuity. The level of these tests will depend on the level of role that you are going for.

    Personality and Motivations – untimed questionnaires that ask you to answer a series of questions about your preferred style of operating at work. Typically you are asked to answer how strongly you agree with a statement. Alternatively you may be given a list of statements and asked to select which you agree with most and least from the list.

    3 key questions to ask to confirm the test details:

    1. What are the tests? (Aptitude or Personality? Timed or untimed?)

    2. How long will the tests take to complete?

    3. What practice tests are available? (Most test publishers offer practice test websites where you can practice questions or complete tests to help you get an understanding of the types of tests you will be asked to complete).

    Once you know: the types of tests, when and where to complete the tests, and practice website, now is the time to practice.

    Practice: Get familiar with different types of psychometric tests

    Practicing psychometric tests helps you get an understanding of the types of questions you will be asked to complete. This is especially important if you haven’t completed psychometric tests before.

    It is important that you give yourself plenty of time before you complete the psychometric tests, to have a go at completing some practice questions or practice complete tests. You may also like to start trying to complete crossword puzzles, Sudoku problems, and other mind challenging problem solving tasks. The practice tests are to help you gain familiarity to the types of questions you will be asked, so that you are ready to answer these types of tests during your psychometric testing session. Remember that practice is important, but also remember that the psychometric tests that you complete are likely to be more difficult than the practice tests.

    What is even more important than practice is getting in the right mind-set to complete the tests.

    Succeed: Get ready to perform at your best

    Each of us at one point in our life has sat a test, it could be during High School or University or for your Driver’s License. We all know that how we approached these tests significantly impacted the end result. Similarly with psychometric testing it is important that you are ready to perform at your best.

    Have a good night’s sleep, eat something before the test session, and approach the testing session positively.

    When you begin the tests you will go through a series of standard instructions and example questions. Take this start of the test session to breathe and take the time you need to understand the tests before beginning. If there is anything you are not sure about, ask the Test Administrator before beginning the tests.

    Once you are clear on what is expected, now is the time to start the tests. Work as quickly and accurately as you can, if you find you’re spending too much time on any one question, skip it and come back to at a later time if you have time. Once you have completed each testing component, take a moment to pause, get ready, and begin the instructions for the next test.

    After you have completed all tests, confirm feedback policy. Most companies provide feedback of your results after you have completed the selection process. Make sure you get this feedback regardless of if you are successful or not. And that’s it!

    Practice, prepare, succeed and let psychometric testing help you reach your dream destination – that great new job!


  4. The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking

    May 28, 2013 by Jenna

    For some people it can be quite easy to approach someone in a room full of people and begin a conversation. For others, it can be extremely uncomfortable and something you approach with confusion, hesitation, and for some a sense of dread.

    I know personally when I attend a networking event, I get nervous. Like public speaking, you are in a room full of complete strangers. Because you are connecting with someone new it takes time to let your guard down. You may fear what people think of you, and without trying to judge, we often do on our first meeting.

    But connecting with others is vital for business and career success. So perhaps it isn’t ‘networking’ itself that we don’t enjoy so much as how we approach the concept of networking. For many, networking = attending networking events, handing out business cards and “hard-sell”. It can seem fake, pretentious and impersonal.

    I have been in situations where I get approached by individuals who try and find out where I rank in the company so that they can try and sell me a service without any interest in who I am or what I do. And I am afraid to admit that there are too many people out there that do this, and I find it exhausting. However, the definition of networking is:

    Networking: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. (Miriam Webster)

    So how can we turn our perception of networking around from “fake” to “productive”?

    I tend to approach individuals in networking situations that aren’t in a big social group or who aren’t walking to each individual collecting a handful of business cards. I find that often the quiet person in the room is often the most interesting person to engage with, and at the same time I often lend them a bit of relief by approaching them first if networking isn’t their strong point.

    So let’s begin with outlining the benefits of networking. I found a blog post from Flora Lowther on The Undercover Recruiter website who describes the benefits below:

    Networking has the ability to open many windows and doors to anyone at any stage of their career. Meeting and talking to the right people can earn you free advice, awareness of you and your company, word-of-mouth referrals and if done correctly, networking has the potential to gain you credibility, trust, professionalism, knowledge and expertise.

    Keeping all of this in mind, the next two questions you should ask yourself would be what is my current networking approach? What areas could I improve upon or change?

    What makes us appear at our best when we attend a networking opportunity? The Undercover Recruiter blog goes on to describe the dos and don’ts which I have summarised below:

    Do’s

    • Put your best foot forward – Say hello and engage, chances are the person is just as nervous as you are.
    • Elevator pitch – We have discussed this in previous blogs, make the time that you have count with that person. Don’t bore them with a long winded story about your life. Keep them engaged, bring out the best in you in the time that you have and make it memorable.
    • Business cards – Make sure that you have enough with you. I have been to a couple of networking events where people have run out or ‘forgot’ their business cards. How do you expect people to remember you if you don’t have your company details on hand? Even if you don’t get contacted right away after and event, people can keep your business cards and when they require your services later down the track they at least have a means of contacting you.
    • Follow up – Touching base after an event is nice because it is easy to get caught up in your work routine or get distracted, but a follow up call reconnects you with that individual and shows your keen interest in maintaining that professional relationship from that point forward.
    • Listen and learn – Remember you can’t offer the right services if you cannot establish the wants and needs of the other person. Take the time to listen to what they want and share information with each other. You never know what you can gain from someone else’s information or experiences.
    • Quid-pro-quo – You cannot expect to get something without offering anything in return. Perhaps establish offers ahead of time before the networking event and negotiate with that individual.
    • Patience is a virtue – Don’t expect to reap the rewards immediately. Good things come to those who wait.
    • Prepare questions – Anticipate the kind of people you are likely to meet and think about what you would like to ask them, what you would like to learn from them.

    Don’ts

    • Don’t be timid – This can often involve going to the ‘safe option’ of talking to people that you already know. I am guilty of this too, but networking isn’t just for the flamboyant big shots or charismatic colleagues. We need to step outside of our comfort zone sometimes.
    • Don’t only speak to one person – The more people the better, for your own brand awareness and your organisation.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – Everyone is scared of appearing ignorant or stupid but there is no need. After all we are also attending networking events to gain knowledge and experiences from others too right?
    • Avoid overzealous self-promotion – This tactic is more likely to annoy than build valuable relationships.
    • Don’t forget to follow up – Remember there are also social media connections such as LinkedIn where you can connect and send a follow up email. And if you initiate a ‘coffee’ meeting, make sure you stick with your promise and organise it within a time frame after the event.
    • Don’t get drunk – Especially at the more informal meet-ups, there is the chance they will be serving alcohol.

    I think one way or another we have been guilty of a few don’ts. But we are all human beings, and we are often in the same boat. So instead of fearing the individuals in the room or ranking them far higher above than you, place them on the same playing field and approach them to make conversation. What is the worst that can really happen?

    If you don’t make a connection with one person out of five it is not the end of the world. We can’t please everyone, but at least you have made the effort.

    Ever had a networking experience that opened doors or took you on an unexpected journey? We would love to hear your stories.


  5. Would YOU Hire Someone Based On Experience Or Potential?

    April 18, 2012 by Jenna

    There’s often debate between the two words ‘potential’ or ‘experience’. As employers, you are in a position where you need to hire candidates that are right for the role, but even for the new recruit that doesn’t have an extensive background, if you don’t take the chance in hiring them, how will they gain the experience?

    When I was studying Event Management, my background was based in hospitality and working as a checkout operator part time at Woolworths. As you can imagine that did not offer me many open doors for an ‘Event Planner’ position. So I volunteered in events for different companies, built up contacts and references, built a name for myself so to speak, and then before I knew it a company took me on full time based on the portfolio that I had built up. They took a chance on me based on my potential as they could see I was determined to get into the industry and a dedicated worker regardless of whether it was volunteer work or contract work. Even Challenge Consulting took a chance with my new role when my background was in Event Management.

    Of course there are roles out there that do require the experience over potential. You can’t hire an IT Manager to someone who has never used a computer before it’s just not realistic. So I do agree that depending on the role it can be subjective, however, I wanted to see what your thoughts were and I have put some of my favourites below:

    • ‘We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done’ – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807 – 1882
    • Past performance is a huge indicator of future performance
    • Both potential an experience play an important role when recruiting, however, the most important thing I look for is ‘fit’, quite often the skills required for a role can be developed.
    • Except if working in a specialised industry or specialised type of work, a worker with potential would be great to have on board, most people have some kind of experience or transferable skills. Hopefully he/she will bring fresh ideas, new blood, different vision, new energy and have all other personal attributes and skills needed for the job e.g. lateral thinking, resourceful, problem solver, enthusiasm, high performer, high achiever, integrity, values and people skills.

    An article recently posted on www.recruitmentblogs.com discusses employers hiring ‘University Graduates’ and what employers are looking for as opposed to what they should be looking for in potential candidates:

    “In my opinion we need to shift mindsets towards hiring for value and potential rather than just focusing on experience and academic records. I’m sure most of you have heard the old adage, “Who you are is just as important as what you know”. The most objective and accurate method enabling organisations to explore this notion has to be psychometric assessment. In a way psychometric assessments afford organisations the ability to identify candidates that are not only technically capable (what they bring), but also suited in terms of their personality or values alignment (who they are).”

    I also looked up an article on insideea.com which asked the same question do we go for experience, or do we go for potential?

    ‘Many managers I have worked with tend to be risk adverse from a recruitment perspective and go for experience over potential. Experience is perceived to be the safe bet as it is generally easier to assess experience than it is to assess potential. Experience also means new hires can hit the ground running, don’t have to be trained up and hence can add immediate value to the business by (in the short term at least) doing the job they were hired to do. While I can understand this attitude (especially when heads are hard to come by), I believe it is very short sighted, and if done on mass, potentially lethal to a company’s future prosperity. The long term is driven and shaped by ideas, innovation, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that challenge the status quo which at the very least requires potential. Experience can be acquired over time but not everyone has potential and therefore potential is key.’

    So based on what I can gain from the two choices, experience will tend to be the logical choice for a potential candidate, especially in the sense of a specialised role that requires particular skills, however, the modern day manager will not overlook potential, especially if it can bring more to the general outcome of the business and the candidate is going above and beyond instead of just filling a role.

    Speaking of modern day managers, perhaps I can pick your brain in my latest poll: Video Resumes: Yay or Nay? to see what your thoughts are on this recent generational evolution. Do you think this will be something that will start taking off in the future?

    If you haven’t had the chance to make a comment on this recent blog post, I would love to hear your thoughts.


  6. What qualities do YOU think represent a remarkable boss?

    March 28, 2012 by Jenna

    Have you ever wondered as an employee if you were given the opportunity to be ‘the boss’ for your workplace, what you would do differently? Would your approach to the role be even more remarkable than just managing tasks?

    On the other hand, you may also be in the position of ‘the boss’ and have your own methods and qualities that you have learned over the years that you have found to work really well in the workplace.

    Regardless of where your position is currently, in last week’s poll I listed what I thought to be some key qualities which were:

    • Strong leadership qualities
    • Someone who has the ability to be diplomatic in difficult situations
    • Someone who can motivate their staff
    • Someone who can adapt to changes in the workplace
    • Someone who is reliable

    Of course the list of qualities can be endless depending on your personal preferences, however, based on the list above, the top two choices that received the highest votes were: Someone who could motivate their staff (76%) and Strong Leadership Qualities (74%) with reliability coming in third.

    I was also happy to read your responses to see how important you found the value of having a close relationship with your employers, having someone who is ‘genuine’, ‘approachable’, ‘trustworthy’  and with strong ‘listening skills’ when it comes to their staff. Someone who can also promote their staff, developing them within their roles by being a mentor and sharing the company vision.

    ‘The most outstanding bosses I’ve ever had, don’t generally see themselves as ‘the boss’. They see themselves as one of the others and act accordingly. Obviously they put on their boss hat when needed and can mentor me and guide me, but we can then go to lunch and laugh together about common things.’

    I remember once in a previous role, an email was sent out with different levels on management CC’d in the correspondence about a particular event that I was running at the time. The person who distributed this email had made a comment, which appeared almost like an accusation, about a situation that had not been handled properly directed at myself without first corresponding with me on the situation.

    As we all know, tone can often be misread in emails, but needless to say I felt humiliated, especially since higher levels of management were included on this email and I did not have a chance to explain myself before being blamed for something that was actually a false conclusion.

    Without even having to ask, my boss responded with a ‘Reply All’ to that comment, as I had been liaising with her on all aspects of the event, and in a very professional and assertive manner explained the accurate details of the situation and put that staff member in their place. We later had a meeting with that staff member and we never had a miscommunication on email again.

    I know how busy employers can be, but wow did I ever feel valued as an employee that day. I was very lucky to have such open environment for communication with my boss because otherwise who knows what the outcome of that situation would have been.

    A recent article posted on www.inc.com listed ‘The 5 Qualities of Remarkable Bosses’ as the following:

    1. Develop every employee – not just reaching targets, but providing the training, mentoring and opportunities that your employees need and deserve.
    2. Deal with problems immediately – Nothing kills team morale more quickly than problems that don’t get addressed.
    3. Rescue your worst employee – Before you remove your weak link from the chain, put your full effort into trying to rescue that person instead. Find out what is going on and work together on improvement strategies.
    4. Serve others, not yourself – If it should go without saying, don’t say it. Your glory should always be reflected, never direct.
    5. Always remember where you came from – In the eyes of his or her employees, a remarkable boss is a star. Remember where you came from, and be gracious with your stardom. If an employee wants to talk about something that seems inconsequential, try not to blow them off, as they are seeking you for a reason.

    I personally like number five. Sometimes we have been in a particular role for so long that we often forget that we were once in a junior position. We forget how important it was to seek someone that we looked up to who could guide us in the right direction, especially with our future careers. How can we ever know what potential the junior staff have if we do not allow them the opportunity to seek that advice so that they can grow?

    So maybe the strongest quality of all as the boss is to be ‘human’. If employers can’t relate to their staff and are just trying to reach deadlines, more will be at a loss then what you could gain through working together. If interaction/communication is lacking, then all employees may as well be ‘robots’ in the daily grind. Fortunately, as individuals, we are much more valuable then machines.

    Haven’t had your say? Please do not hesitate to express your feedback below, otherwise I have launched our new weekly poll: Would you hire someone based on potential or experience?

    The results for this poll will be published after 10th April 2012 as I am off to New Zealand to take part in my walk for charity so stay tuned and have a wonderful Easter! If you have time this weekend, feel free to have a look at the progress of my team The Bush Ramblers.


  7. How much does positive thinking influence your outcomes?

    October 25, 2011 by Jenna

    One fine morning a few years ago, my very lovely and well-meaning neighbour thrust a DVD into my hands. It was “The Secret”. Many of you will be familiar with this title. The book spent forever at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I still remember my feeling of absolute incredulity as I viewed the film. Was I being too negative as thoughts such as “you have got to be kidding me” and “what a load of nonsense” floated through my mind? 

    “The Secret states that desirable outcomes such as health, wealth, and happiness can be attracted simply by changing one’s thoughts and feelings. For example, if a person wanted a new car, by thinking about the new car and having positive feelings about the car, the law of attraction would rearrange events to make it possible for the car to manifest in the person’s life.” [Source

    Almost 22% of respondents to last week’s online pollHow much does positive thinking influence your outcomes? – selected “Completely – exactly like the law of attraction, my thoughts attract what I want”. 

    Fascinating. 

    To gain more of an expert insight into the “positive psychology” movement and philosophy, I approached our Organisational Psychologist, Narelle Hess, for some guidance. The articles she directed me to all cautioned that “positive psychology is much more than ‘positive thinking’, and offers a vast array of insight and direction for how people can function more optimally. Positive psychology offers us added insight into how we can embrace change, feel positive about who we are, and enjoy healthy, responsible and fulfilled lives. But, like anything else the application of this knowledge and information is very important. Particularly when it comes to how we apply positive emotions.” [Source

    This reflects the feelings of 75% of our poll respondents, who agreed that positive thinking helps them “Moderately – a positive outlook helps me to approach situations, but thoughts won’t work without actions too”. One commented: “You can think as positively as you like, however, it is your actions that will determine whether your positive thoughts come to fruition”, whilst another said “the power of positive thinking is incredible and certainly helps me, but in certain situations action is required. All the positive thinking doesn’t get the job done but it certainly helps and stops procrastination.”     

    Last week, I read Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done 

    I was particularly struck by a section in which he discussed how managers can motivate staff members by giving them tasks above their current abilities and outside their comfort zone. The important thing for the manager to do was to assure their staff member that it was okay to take some time, make some mistakes, and even to fail initially. The combination of setting realistic expectations within a framework of unleashing unrealised potential created an ideal environment for growth, achievement and a new level of productivity for the staff member, and therefore the company. 

    The interplay between a positive environment and attitude, combined with a realistic set of expectations and actions, created the optimum zone. There can be no result without action, but a positive yet realistic attitude certainly helps things along. 

    As a final, neat illustration of this, the person who responded to the poll with the comment “this week’s poll is the best ever and will win me tickets” was not the winner. However, if they, and you, continue to enter the poll, they might be a future winner. 

    As my dad always says when he buys his Lotto tickets, “You’ve got to be in it to win it”.   

    Our new poll is live! Tell us: Are we relying too much on email, rather than actual conversation, to communicate? Results published in next week’s ChallengeBlog …

    ________________________________________

    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …


  8. Empowering Leadership: what does this actually mean?

    July 26, 2011 by Jenna

    This week’s blog post is by guest blogger Narelle Hess.

    “The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” Lao Tzu

     I recently attended the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA)’s leadership forum in Canberra for current and emerging leaders. During the course of the forum we examined the characteristics of leaders that had influenced our career. Our latest online poll ranked these characteristics very similarly to our group at the forum:

    #1 = Empathetic, engaging and empowering of people – 38%

    – Honest, clear and transparent communication – 31%

    – Intelligent, confident decision-making – 13%

    – Forward-thinking, proactive, innovative style – 10%

    – Dynamic, charismatic, confident demeanour – 8%

    So what does “empowering of people” actually mean?

    During the leadership forum we had the pleasure of watching Benjamin Zander’s video ‘the art of possibility’* where, on leadership, Benjamin noted that after 20 years of being a world-class conductor of an orchestra he realised he is the only the person in the orchestra who doesn’t make a sound – his power depends on his ability to make other people powerful.

    During the course of the forum, I was struck by a reflection by one of the participants which demonstrated her empowerment – “I never knew I could be a leader until I was invited to this forum”. Empowerment is about helping individuals realise a potential they didn’t even know was possible.

    Once empowered, individuals need honest, clear, and transparent communication. Employee’s capabilities often live up to a supervisor’s expectations. But did you know that this has more to do with a Supervisor’s behaviour based on these expectations, rather than an employee’s actual capabilities? When a supervisor has high expectations they are more likely to assign difficult and specific goals to employees and also provide these employees with more learning opportunities, which results in employees being more engaged in the learning opportunities and improved performance accordingly**. What expectations of performance are you communicating to your team members, what self-fulfilling prophecy are you creating? Benjamin Zander began the term by assigning each class member an A, rather than a standard to live up to, the ‘A’ became a possibility to live into.

    I have had the very good fortune of working with leaders that both empower and lead me with expectations of success. How do you ensure you are a leader who empowers – making other people powerful with expectations of success?

    * Zander, B. (2009). Classical music with shining eyes. Retrieved July 25, 2010, from www.ted.com/index.php/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html

     ** Bezuijen, X.M., van den Berg, P.T., van Dam, K. & Thierry, H. (2009).Pygmalion and employee learning: The role of leader behaviors. Journal of Management, 35, 1248-1267.




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