The Importance of Managing Up

By Justine EdenJustine Eden, Director

Having been in the recruitment industry for a few years now (not specifying how many because it makes me feel old!) I have been able to sit back and watch many people progress up the leadership ladder. Some more successfully than others. There can be many factors impacting on success of course, but in many instances I have seen the inability to recognize the need to manage up, lead to failure.

Managing up can sometimes bring connotations of having to “kiss arse” – excuse the language, and I would argue that if this is what you interpret as managing up you are missing a key opportunity. Many leaders can be overly consumed with managing down and depending on the profile of your team sometimes this is necessary – but you need to ensure this isn’t a long-term strategy.

You need to focus attention on managing yourself – your career, your education, your professional portfolio to ensure you remain relevant and challenged. You of course will have an element of managing down through delegation and KPI’s to ensure deliverables are met.

But – how to manage up? Be clear on who above you this could include and then determine how often and how you will need to feedback to each person. In person communication is an effective way to build rapport and trust followed by putting things in writing to protect each other.

A good executive should adopt a no surprises approach in order to have the back of the people they report to and should also be able to determine what is communicated and what is not to prevent information overload. No Board wants hundreds of pages to read through, so your ability to grasp and communicate the key issues and expand if needed, is critical.

By managing up you increase your visibility and intel because you should be privy to strategic issues and be on the front foot to ask for the opportunity to work on key projects. You will better anticipate future challenges and therefore be able to better position your team to respond. Knowledge and networks are the power base of any ambitious executive but like anything require constant work and attention!

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What Makes a Good Leader

For the last few weeks I have worked with a number of clients to make critical executive level appointments. So what makes a good leader? I am not talking about the ability to strategically influence complex agendas, but rather the key qualities every good leader should possess such as honesty, the ability to delegate, communication skills, a sense of humor, commitment, innovation, and the ability to inspire others!!

The bar needs to be high in regards to honesty. Your work unit is a reflection of you, and if you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit.

The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. If people like what they do they will be better at it, so learn to trust your team.

Being able to clearly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate what you want your team to do, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.

Things don’t always go according to plan. Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain team morale, staying calm and confident, will ensure your team feels the same.

If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality outcomes, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else.

Its important to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the business. Whether that means saying good morning or actually being interested in others’ lives, or even just an occasional wine in the office, its important to remember that everyone on your team is a person.

Decisions will not always be clear-cut and as leaders we are forced at times to deviate from the set course and make decisions on the fly. This is where innovation and the ability to think outside the box is key to success.

When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in.

Inspiring your team and ensuring everyone feels invested in the accomplishments of the business is critical. Generating enthusiasm for the hard work is so important. Remember a business is only as good as its people.

So being a good leader is one thing, but it is even more important that you emphasize these qualities to those who are making the hiring decisions.

Contact Eden Ritchie via our website and following our team on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Leading Women

Last week I had the opportunity to hear 3 amazing women speak about their rise through the ranks to be in top positions for their organisations or government departments.

  • Julieanne Alroe – CEO and Managing Director – Brisbane Airport Corporation
  • Katarina Carroll – Commissioner QLD Fire and Emergency Services and
  • Winna Brown – Partner, Assurance – Ernst and Young

It was quite inspiring to listen to them tell their stories and acknowledge and laugh with them about perceptions and barriers along the way. The story from Commissioner Carroll about when she first joined the police force in 1983 and was required to wear high heels and carry both her gun and handcuffs in her handbag, while the men wore these on their belt. This was a clear distinction between the genders. Of course now that is not the case as both male and female officers wear these plus more on their utility belts.

My biggest take from this event, was that we need to voice what we want and not be afraid to do so. Be bold and ambitious in what we want. Take the risk and don’t be afraid. If you don’t ask then you will never know.

This is further more reiterated in a book that I am reading at the moment called “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg who is the COO for Facebook. Times are changing and there are more women in leadership positions across the world then 10 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a long way to go and with the next generation of women coming through, are not afraid to speak up and ask and this will lead to more and more women will be in significant leadership roles.

The gap of inequality in leadership positions is slowly decreasing and I look forward to the day in which I see more women in senior positions.

Contact Eden Ritchie via our website and following our team on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Get On The Right Side Of History

By Justine Eden Director Eden Ritchie RecruitmentJustine Eden

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with a couple of friends who work in the legal profession. Faced with huge competition, narrowing panel services arrangements and clients shrinking legal budgets these two professional leaders were under increasing pressure to lead high performing, profitable teams.

I put the issue of market disruption to them – questioning the way they operate, and highlighted just one aspect – the perception of extremely long hours, timesheets and the lack of flexibility that they generally offer to their teams.

I pointed to a new breed of emerging firm that offers just that and appear to be attracting the best and brightest and are highly profitable. I could see their eyes glaze over and that the idea of disrupting anything (apart from a court room) for what is such a traditional industry, was out of the question.

This morning I read a related article and saw this:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-24/richard-branson-marissa-mayer-s-yahoo-work-policy-is-on-the-wrong-side-of-history

It resonated with me – few are the leaders that recognize performance based on results. And it clarified something for me as a leader that I have struggled with for a long time. I spent all of yesterday in performance reviews with my team. I heard A LOT about their great efforts – and don’t get me wrong I am big on putting in your best effort.

But when that doesn’t equate to results or tangible outcomes there is a real problem. Imagine as a business owner going to the ATO and saying, “well I tried really hard, put in my best effort – but I wont be able to pay the BAS this month”. That’s not a result the ATO are going to accept.

So why are so many leaders still so hung up on their people being visible in the office?? Why are so many leaders not having honest and frank discussions with their teams about their tangible results – and letting themselves be sidetracked by conversations about how hard everyone is trying?

Giving people flexibility only works for some people and some roles – don’t get me wrong, we have tried and both succeeded and failed. In our business flexibility is offered to those (where it is applicable to their role) who have demonstrated strong results over a sustained period of time. There has to be trust and mutual respect, you have to all be on the same page and clear (VERY) about what is required.

5 Tips for Staying on Track!

By Kate BroadleyKateFINAL

Whilst many people dread the people management side of business life, I have to say I really love it.  Okay, I don’t always love those tough conversations! But over time I have improved considerably in how I do this and really relish the opportunity to have a hand in helping people stay on track!

So here are my top five tips for staying on track!!

1.  Evolve or dissolve! In order to take your life to the next level you need to reinvent yourself.  So as you increase your knowledge and your own personal awareness, you must continue to evolve… change is constant and inevitable. It is the one thing that will never go away in your life!

2.  Support your colleagues. Hold one another accountable. Continue your group meetings with those people that you resonate with most. They will inspire you and help you grow.

3.  The fortune is in the follow through.  Even if it is only a small improvement each day, the change over a year will be phenomenal.  Be consistent, show resilience and your fortune lies ahead.

 4.  Find your own leadership style and embrace that.   See yourself positivelyremember if you see yourself in a negative light, then you will follow that direction in your body language, your communication and in your life.  Be mindful of your negative self-talk.  Make the choice to think a different way, it’s amazing the difference it can make.

5.  Be Courageous! Put strategies in place to move forward. Find and use mentors.  Think carefully about what you want from them and what you can contribute back to them. Remember it is a two-way relationship!!!

It is easy to lose focus on what really counts, so I personally try and follow these five key messages to keep me focused at work, on what really matters.

What we need is new, different and better…….

By Justine Eden
Justine

In a recent article (AFR 20/3/14) Karen Stocks, Twitter’s Australian MD discussed how her male mentors made her think more aggressively about pushing herself and believing in herself.  They stated that if she aspired to be CEO she had to be more aggressive in pushing for it.  Appointed as CEO in September 2013, the article stated that Karen Stocks has an accounting background and is a mother to two teenage daughters.  I found it interesting that that aspect was subtly thrown in….

Another article in the same edition of AFR listed the statistics of women in leadership teams for the country’s top accounting, legal and investment banking firms.  At Goldman Sacs out of 54 MD’s only 4 are women, but yet 91% of support staff are women.  In the legal profession, women are equally represented at the special counsel/senior associate level but at Clayton Utz, women only represent 20% of partners.  The current debate at political level is that “gender reporting data is critical to driving change” (Helen Conway, Director Workplace Gender Equality Agency).  Maybe, but is that a simplistic approach to a systemic issue?

Maybe many women don’t buy into what it takes to get to the “top”?  Particularly at traditional “institutions” such as many of those firms dominating the legal, banking and accounting professions.  Often those firms are characterized by the level of male domination and many existing in them are determined this will continue through embedded cultures and inflexible working structures.  The subtle expectation is often that women will opt out or settle at a level because of reasons such as children.

New players challenging the status quo in these professions have the top tier firms taking note; emerging professional services firms are picking off some of their top talent.  Hive Legal, a virtual firm, was established to “challenge the status quo”  (Lawyers Weekly, 20/2/14), their team can work remotely and this “gives experienced lawyers the opportunity work more flexibly”.  Watch this space, as this firm has already picked up big name clients and talent to join their ranks.

Maybe many of us are just over the grind?  The lack of inflexibility in workplaces impacts both genders, and the politics and constant focus on revenue and cutting costs can be exhausting.  I believe it’s as multi-dimensional as we are.  Women often don’t see themselves as ready to contest the “top” job.  Workplaces and cultures need reform.  But bring on the new breed I say and do it faster!  Because what we need is a lift in engagement, productivity, flexibility and creativity….

The Election Aftermath!

Jamie Harding

So, after months of discussion, debate, confusion and uncertainty, the election has been and gone!! After months of talking about it, the “Bright New Future” we were all promised is apparently here and we are told “Australia is open for business”…..or is it?!?

Election night provided high drama and long speeches, and as a Pom experiencing my first Aussie election, I was fascinated to hear that people held Election night parties, cancelling their usual Saturday night escapades in favour of a night in front of the TV.  And so, out of sheer curiosity, I too also tuned in to watch what all the fuss was about!!

Whether or not you tuned in to Channel 9’s coverage, with an ever grinning Karl and Lisa and a huge panel complete with a lady with a bright fish patterned blouse and numerous graphics of defeated (Labour) candidates being dropped into a shark tank and eaten, or you watched the more sedate and informative ABC coverage- what unfolded was exciting and dramatic and I must admit kept me glued to the TV!

So, now the dust has settled, what does the result mean for Australia and especially families and business’ in Queensland.  The good old Sunshine State seems to have dealt its current state representatives a wake up call by bucking the national trend and supporting (predominantly) Labor.  Has the result provided clarity, green shoots of economic recovery or will it mean more money in the pocket of Australians and Queenslanders?  Only time will tell…….

Even before the new government has been sworn in, this week has seen more positive news within the mining sector, the dollar up, markets trading higher and, according to the Westpac Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment released on Wednesday, consumer confidence is at its highest since 2010.  So far, so good!!!

It is early days but what is certain is that the new administration has a big job on its hands and with Australians, and business’ watching, it will need to act quickly to show that Australia really is open for business.