What’s The Right Career for You?

What’s The Right Career for You?

Pretty crucial question, right? Also, for many of us, REALLY hard to answer. Here’s the thing though – it becomes a lot easier to answer if we accept a few crucial truths…

Firstly, finding our dream job is not something we can do by ticking a couple of boxes on a quiz and hey presto the answer comes out. It is a question that we actually have to engage in over a period of time. Some would argue, our whole lives, because often, our dream job in our 20s is very different to when we are 45.

Secondly, be patient. Discovering what you love doing may take some time. It is definitely going to take some trial and error, as well as the odd false start. See it as on on-going journey of discovery. A journey on which you are constantly gathering data, trying things and refining them to find that sweet spot in which work no longer feels like work. When you relax and accept it is a journey you are freeing yourself up to try things, lots of things, ask for lots of advice and often, dream bigger.

Finally I have a few questions I think you need to take on your journey with you – again getting the right answers to these questions may take time, so keep them front of mind and keep reviewing and refining.

  1. What are your strengths? What are you naturally good at? I’m not talking about subjects at school, I’m talking about real world talents like problem solving, organisation, inspiring others, creativity, deal making…
  2. What are you passionate about? Like really passionate about? What are the things you care about, the things you want to know more about and the things you want to get better at?
  3. What puts you in your element? This is the point at which your strengths and passions meet. When do you lose time by getting so absorbed in what you are doing?

We know this stuff isn’t easy.  In fact, choosing the right career for you is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. But taking the time to really thinking about it, to find where your strengths meet your passions, will ensure you set off on a path to extraordinary.

To get a little more help with finding your element, download our ‘Finding Your Element’ guide below. 

The leadership crisis

The leadership crisis

After months of campaigning by prospective Conservative candidates, we now have a Prime Minister who was predicted from day one.

We also have a brand-new cabinet around Boris Johnson. His choice of leaders ready to take the country forward at this crucial time were no surprise either.  They are his known supporters and have all promised to do things the way Johnson wants.

What appears to be missing are disruptive new thinkers with fresh ideas for the future. The electorate is ready for change. Yet it’s the same players who are charged with mapping out the road ahead.

We expect future leaders to follow in the footsteps of those went before them. In the current world, this tactic is failing us.

In politics, as in business, there is a very real threat that we are facing a leadership crisis. We are not feeding our talent pipeline and preparing them for the future. We are not equipping potential leaders from an early age with the skills and tools they require.

We inhabit a world of fast change but keep being given leaders suited to yesterday’s world. It doesn’t need to be this way. We need to turn traditional leadership development on its head by starting to prepare our future leaders far sooner. Instead of pushing ‘leadership behaviours’ onto an individual, help them first discover who they are and what matters to them. We need to recognise that the future requires different skills – human skills based on relationships, communication, trust, authenticity, collaboration and creativity. More than anything there needs to be humanity in the system.

As I look at our new ruling government I see little of the above. Politics may be slow to change but the organisations who oil the wheels of this country need to act now.

By connecting forward thinking leaders with emerging talent, we can inject organisations with a new energy. By giving individuals the opportunity to develop in a way that that inspires them and makes them feel valued, we can change the future. Maybe one day politics will follow.

Developing future leaders is essential but not without risks

Developing future leaders is essential but not without risks

Alex leads talent and development, with responsibility for group-wide talent acquisition, learning & development, talent and succession, inclusion and engagement. 
Electrocomponents has placed several colleagues on the Ivy House Programme.

Our future leaders need development now, in order to prepare them for future opportunities.

Across all industries, HR and Talent Directors are tackling the issue in their own, different ways.

As a speaker on the panel of the Ivy House Future Leader Challenges event, I was interested to hear the different (and similar) approaches that each company was taking. For example, Janet Tidmarsh from Sainsbury’s talked about moving away from formal programmes, towards individualized development for their future leaders.

While it’s a focus for all industries, we know there is no one size fits all approach to developing future leaders.

The work landscape is changing at an ever faster pace and we need to equip people to be more agile and adaptable.

At Electrocomponents, I am responsible for the Future Shapers programme – a 12 month experience that accelerates the development and career progression for a select group of employees, and provides an opportunity to build a cohort and community of peers across the company.

If we get this right, we expect great things.

Our biggest challenge is around the need to be future focused – building our future leaders so they are ready for bigger, broader roles, while also performing at their best today. 

For millennial’s and generation Z’s, they want to experience different roles, companies and industries. They are not looking for a job for life.

We as employers need to embrace their need for purpose.

We need to get comfortable with the fact that employees may leave. As they develop and broaden their mindset and skills, they may look for something different and want to move to a new role or a new company. 

As long as they leave for the right reasons and not simply for more money.

Sometimes there is a fear that you may lose people through development, but if you don’t invest in your people, you will lose them anyway.

Ivy House is an important part of our Future Shapers programme.   One of our attendees told me it has been a transformational experience – he said it was thought provoking; took him out of his comfort zone and made him think about himself as a leader and a human.

The Ivy House programme may not be right for everyone, but if you capture people at the right stage of their career, it is a valuable experience.

The future requires new and different paths to development and I feel we’re on the right road to develop the best leaders.

Ivy House was born

Ivy House was born

In July 2013 I was sitting on the 33rd floor of a very glossy building, waiting for my coaching client to arrive. I was staring out of the sheet glass window marvelling at the mix of buildings and lives I could see going on below me and did what I always did before a coaching session. I tried to still my mind so that I could be fully there for my client. For some reason, on this day it was difficult. I became aware of a growing anxiety inside me.

Like many of my clients, he was seen to be ‘at the top of his game’. He was at the most senior level in a global organisation, earning millions of pounds a year with at least two beautiful homes that I knew of. To the outside world is life looked pretty perfect. But through our coaching, it had become very apparent that that was not the case. His marriage was falling apart, he had recently been told by the school that his daughter was self-harming, he lived in constant fear of losing his job and he had started to have chest pains on a very regular basis.

Our session began as they usually did, with him listening, with a growing sense of doom, all the things that were going wrong in his company and life, until about twenty minutes into the session he stopped talking and just stared at me.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Are you ok?”

“Me? Yes, why?” I replied.

“You’re crying.”

He was right. Tears were literally streaming down my face.

As I sat there, with the one tissue I had becoming a sodden scrap, I realised something had to change.

I was crying out of frustration. My client did not need to be this unhappy but he had never been taught to figure out who he really was, who he wanted to be and how to get there. He had never been shown the way to find an inner confidence that stayed with you whatever you faced. He had never understood the secrets to creating a truly successful life and, things had had to get pretty bad, before he had even started to look. Why the hell did no one teach us this stuff sooner? What the hell were we waiting for?

And that was the day Ivy House was born.

Do you play
the two-faced game?

Do you play
the two-faced game?

I was out to dinner the other night with my lovely husband. I hadn’t seen him for ages and, rather frustratingly for him, my attention was caught by a group at a nearby table. Picture the scene: two couples in their mid-twenties and an older lady, an aunt or mother perhaps, out for a celebration. The older lady – I imagine she’d been a war correspondent – was telling some amazing tales of her travels. But what really caught my attention was the woman sitting next to her. Going through the motions of polite listening, she made it absolutely clear to everyone else how much contempt she had for the older lady. The transparency was astounding, and the negative energy emitted was overpowering.

The game of doing the right thing on the surface, whilst at the same time making your real feelings perfectly clear, is as common as it is destructive. People do it all the time, and it really couldn’t be further away from smart, kind, respectful and authentic behaviour.

Be alert to it over the next few days. Do you, or people close to you, play this game?

PS. Depending on your disposition, you may or may not be glad to know that I didn’t follow her into the ladies and tell her what I thought of her game. My husband wouldn’t let me!

Do you tell little lies?

Do you tell little lies?

Susan regularly lied to avoid conflict or disagreement. ‘Not really lies at all. Small lies to avoid disappointing people’. She would say it wasn’t her decision when she was given feedback on an unpopular decision; she would say she had read the documents when she hadn’t; and she would say she was busy when she didn’t want to go to an afterwork drinks party.

When we asked for feedback on her as a leader, people said they didn’t really trust her. No, she hadn’t told huge lies, and she hadn’t defrauded anyone, but every day she had whittled people’s trust away. She had neither the courage nor the skill to speak her truth, and if she wanted to be a leader that people would choose to follow, she’d have to find both.

How good are your conversations?

How good are your conversations?

If we could fix one thing in businesses and relationships, it would be the quality of conversations. More than anything else, it is the quality of conversations that impacts how we feel, what we do and the results we get. Why then are we SO bad at them? There are 3 reasons:

We show up thinking we have to win.

We don’t. We are there to come up with the best solution together. And guess what – that may not be your solution.

We don’t truly listen

If we did, we would realise that there is a lot more information out there that we could consider, and it may change our mind.

We have no process.

Sometimes we pretend we do by having an agenda. But agendas aren’t a process, they are a list of things to discuss. Processes look at how we discuss things, how we ensure that all the best ideas are brought out and developed, and how we make decisions.

Do some reading on how to have an effective conversation and you will change EVERY relationship in your life.

Change the script

Change the script

The love of your life has finished with you. They walked out the door and that’s it. Over.
What does this mean?

‘I’m ugly.’
‘No one will ever love me.’
‘I can’t go on without her.’
‘He’s in love with someone else.’

People love being right so we assume that what we tell ourselves is true. I tell myself I’m ugly, and I believe it. I tell myself I’m unlovable, and I believe it.

The thing is, it is just a script. And if the script is hurting you, if it makes you feel bad, you can rewrite it. So, what would you like to tell yourself?

What to do when it all goes to hell

What to do when it all goes to hell

Why me? Why now? Why not him? Why not her? This isn’t happening! Oh god, it’s happening!

Sound familiar? Denial, overwhelm and despair. What else is there to do when we’d rather be anywhere else but here and anyone else but us? And then there’s the guilt, the regret, the grief and the hurt that come later.

Whether we like it or not – and what’s there to like – things are not going to go our way some of the time. It’s inevitable and impossible to avoid. So, what’s there to do?

The first step in dealing with catastrophe – and the most challenging – is to stay present. We must fully accept what’s happening. Wishing things were different, and burying our head in the sand, aren’t going to change a thing. But taking the higher ground enables us to see clearly, and from that place we can find new possibilities.

Which leads to the second step – choice. We can choose the best course of action and become creative in our response to chaos. And if there’s nothing to be done, we can make a choice to accept what’s happening, and not to be a victim to it.

And the final step? Learn the lesson. The most difficult of times can be our most powerful teachers. They can open up a deeper understanding of who we are, of our inner resources, of what matters to us. Rather than becoming defeated by life’s curve balls, we can gain strength and power from them.

Experiencing this level of control, you’ll be able to say, even as hell breaks loose, ‘I’ve got this.’

Confidence is a choice you make

Confidence is a choice you make

You have no idea how often confidence comes up in coaching sessions. CEOs of major organisations, bestselling authors and hugely successful entrepreneurs all regularly let me into their guilty secret – they suffer from a lack of confidence. They talk about it as an affliction, an embarrassing part of their character, and with a certainty that it will affect their relationship, sex life, career and success. In doing so they make it huge and powerful – a monster. And they are creating a story.

Dips in confidence happen to all of us but they are not part of our personality. No one is born lacking confidence. Instead, and rather less disturbingly, it is an habitual response to 1 of 3 things or, for those professional ‘low confidencers’ maybe all three.

We have dips in confidence when we either:

(1) spend time with some thoughts that make us feel rubbish. Thoughts like, “I have nothing to contribute in this meeting”, “no one fancies me”, “I can’t present in public” would all do the job.

(2) We don’t take action to get better at the things we value – we don’t practice presenting; we don’t prepare to make a valuable contribution in a meeting; we don’t make an effort to engage with people we’re attracted to.

(3) We don’t look after our physical state. We allow ourselves to get tired; we choose food that doesn’t nourish us and we feel depressed after drinking.

The truth is low confidence happens to all of us. The question is how to respond. Do you use it as a flag to change something or do you ingest it and make it part of your story?