Archive Monthly Archives: December 2018

Roles of Leadership What Leaders do

What are the 6 Roles Good Leaders Need to play?

What makes a good leader?
No matter how big your team – even if you are working in a team of one – developing these six roles of leadership can boost your success. 

Few of us set out to become leaders when we launch our careers but, somehow, that’s where we have found ourselves. Whether we are leading a team of people, running a project or simply form our own team of one, we all work with others to make things happen – and, for that reason, we are fulfilling the roles of leadership. 

Let’s think a bit more about what leaders do. I often read advice for leaders, saying we should be “strategic” or should “inspire”; I don’t know about you but, when I’m sitting here at my desk, I’m not quite sure how to become inspiring!  

To me, being a leader means becoming adept at a wide range of leadership skills, which will prepare us for making all kinds of decisions in the face of new and potentially tricky situations.  

I’ve summed these up as The Six Roles of Leadership, which are: Shape, Translate, Attract, Review, Model, Establish. Yes, to make them easier to remember, they spell out STAR ME©

1. SHAPE an exciting aspirational vision that engages and challenges people to unite around it.

We all work best when we have a clear purpose for our work and one of the roles of leadership is to shape and develop that vision in a way people understand, which excites them into wanting to be part of making it happen. This is your Big Bang (Big Bold Audacious Noble Goal)... it’s what you stand for and why people should care. If you work in a team of one, you are going to shape your vision around your purpose, your reason why and the needs of your ideal clients. When working in a corporation or for someone else, you shape it around what you and your teams need to contribute to the overall business. 

The core of your vision stays the same but how you explain and share it evolves as you move towards it.

2.  TRANSLATE that vision into a well-defined strategy, give clarity on what to do and what not to do.

What leaders do next is translate that vision into a strategy, then help people develop detailed plans to achieve it. It’s not about micromanaging everything, it’s about setting parameters for people to work within so they can use their skills to make the strategy happen and bring the vision to life.

3. ATTRACT and develop the best people to make that strategy happen, reward and develop a great team, your valued workforce.

Even when you are a team of one, other people – suppliers, clients, your professional network, family and friends – make it possible for you to do your work. It can be helpful to think of all of these people as part of your team, as they all help you deliver your strategy, so having the right people doing the right things is key. How you work with them will define how effective you all are; one of the roles of leadership is not just to attract the best people for your team but to manage, motivate, develop, reward and show your appreciation for them.

4. REVIEW and relentlessly focus on the results from the strategy.  Celebrate the successes and learn from everything as you repeatedly plan, do and review.

You have the vision, the strategy and the right team in place but, unless you review regularly and focus on getting results from the strategy, how will you know if you are going to be successful? What leaders do is review regularly, looking at what is working, what is getting results and what is not, what you have learned and what you need to change, and to respond to the things happening around you and your business.  

Another thing that leaders do is to catch people doing things right and celebrate successes, which, in turn, will help you attract and develop great people and motivate everyone. You are the person who makes sure the ‘plan - do - review’ cycle happens consistently everywhere in your working world.

5. MODEL what you want to see from others, show how to lead and be your own leader. Know yourself, welcome feedback and keep developing. Manage the appropriate balance in your life. 

You’ve probably heard the expression ‘actions speak louder than words’. Well, as a leader, this is especially true. People notice what leaders do and how they do it, so it’s up to you to show people what you expect to see from them. If people hear you say that keeping commitments matter but you don’t practise what you preach, you will find they don’t keep their commitments to you or your customers either.  

Equally, your team will notice how you manage your work-life balance, how you avoid becoming overwhelmed and keep time for other things that are important to you. It’s up to you to manage that balance and not fall into the trap of focusing on work at the expense of everything else.

Developing yourself as a leader starts with knowing yourself, developing self-awareness and understanding the impact you have on others. Listen to other people’s feedback, evaluate it and then take appropriate action.  

6. ESTABLISH a working environment where people are empowered, where innovation and learning are valued, where ideas and information are freely shared.

As a leader, you have the chance to create your dream work environment, whether physical or virtual. It needs to allow people to add value and to feel valued. Think about your attitude to your people, how you show respect and appreciation and how you make sure they know what is expected of them.

One of the most important roles of leadership is to motivate your team to take ownership of their roles and deliver the results expected. It’s also about how you encourage people to share ideas and information, how you react when they do, and how you show people that learning matters.

With these clear definitions of what leaders do, your next step is to work on developing these Six Roles of Leadership, so you are well on your way to STAR ME© success, no matter where you work – in a large corporation, a team of one or somewhere in between.

Should I change jobs?

Is it time for you to change jobs?

If you find you are asking yourself ‘Should I change jobs?’, is it time to move on, or can you make changes which will help you love your job again? Here are some questions which will help you decide

From time to time, we all find ourselves wondering “should I change jobs?” It can happen when things at work are going badly, or even when they are going really well. It can happen when we see other people moving on, or when someone tells us about an exciting new opportunity. 

So when that feeling strikes, how do you decide if you should start looking and take that leap?

There are many, many factors that are going to form part of your decision. So, instead of the broad issue of “should I change jobs?”, here are some more detailed questions that will help you work out what is best for you.

1.  What's causing me to think about changing jobs?

This question is first for a reason – its answer not only guides your decision right now, but also shapes what your next steps are going to be.

Is the way you are feeling the result of a bad day or has it been gradually building up for a while? One of my favourite ways to get to the heart of this is to consider how it feels when you think about walking into the office. Noticing how you react both physically and emotionally will give you some very valuable information on which to base your decision.

Additionally, you may want to consider how you feel about the company, what they do and how it feels to work there. How well do you get on with your colleagues and, very importantly, your boss? As leaders, we are the lens through which our teams see the company, but we also look through the lens provided by our own bosses.

Then there is your work. Does it motivate you? Are you rewarded adequately? Is your contribution recognised? Are you still learning and growing in the role?

2. What am I really looking for in my career?

Getting clear about your career motivations and aspirations will allow you to decide if your long-term future fits with the opportunities and possibilities in your current situation.

There are many ways to define and understand your career motivations, and a good place to start is to think about the times you felt best about your work. What do they have in common?   

Typically, career motivations are made up of factors such as recognition (among your peers, through fame or financial reward), social interaction, independence, creative expression, intellectual challenge, helping others, the need for stability and the need for variety. Knowing which of these motivations matter most to you will allow you to measure both your current role and any potential future roles against your ideals.

You may find you don’t need to change jobs to make that career happen; it may be possible to make some changes where you are and get everything you need. Does your organisation have the scope and space for you to grow, both now and in the future? New opportunities are easier to find in an organisation that is growing and changing.

3.  What are the practical implications of my job?

Like it or not, our careers do not operate in a vacuum. When we are deciding if we should change jobs we have to consider the practical elements of our working world. Do they work for you or do you need to make some changes?

Two of the three most commonly cited reasons for changing jobs are practical things: pay and conditions. The third is career progression, which we considered in the last question.

Where do you stand on the first two factors? Do you feel you are paid fairly for the work you do? Does your role give you the financial and other rewards you need and consider reasonable?

Do the conditions suit you? Do the hours work for you or does the work spill into the other areas of your life? Is your work commute what you consider reasonable? How does your role fit with your other life commitments, your family and your hobbies? Does your role give you the flexibility you want or need?  

Collating your answers to all these questions and noting all the things that occur to you while you do so will give you the basis to make a balanced and good decision next time you ask yourself “should I change jobs?” Do the pros of moving outweigh the cons, or would making some changes to your current role and relationships leave you loving your job again?

Answering these questions is not always straightforward but working with a leadership coach can help. Check out my Your Next Career Chapter package and book an initial free consultation.


Are you on the right career path?

Are you on the right career path? 
Here's how to work it out...

Getting yourself on the right career path is the key to feeling happy and fulfilled in our working lives. Here’s how to work out if you are heading in the right direction or if you have strayed from your chosen route. 

My two wonderful and talented nieces (OK, so I am a little biased – but only a little!) are at that stage in their education where they are expected to make decisions about their future careers and to choose courses and colleges accordingly. 

I remember it all too well. It felt like a huge decision and one which, once made, was irrevocable – so the pressure to get it right was overwhelming.

Here is the thing I wish I had known then: deciding your future is not a one-time thing.

With the benefit of many, many years’ experience, I have come to understand how careers evolve, sometimes in a linear direction and sometimes with a radical jump sideways or a plot twist worthy of the most random of storytellers. Over the course of a working lifetime, many things will change, partly as we grow and partly as the world around us changes, technology developing with it. So even those who have known from an early age what their vocation is will experience a career full of changes.

Each day we show up at work we make decisions that shape our future; they may or may not be decisions we make consciously, but they do shape our careers. When you stop for a moment and reflect, you can probably see how choosing which pieces of work to focus on has shaped what you do today.

From time to time we all find ourselves wondering if we are on the right career path or where we want to be with our business. Is what we are doing now really what we want to be doing? Are we finding it fulfilling? Does it meet our needs and fit in with the rest of our lives?

This wondering can be triggered by any number of things, from a bad day at the office to something more significant like a change in family circumstance, such as having children. Sometimes this wondering is triggered by circumstances beyond your control, such as being made redundant. It might be a really clear thought or a vague feeling that something is not quite right.

No matter what caused you to start questioning if you are on the right career path, the good news is you can do something about it.

You could choose to continue as things are, letting your career continue to evolve, or you could decide to be more proactive and make some changes. Only you will know what is right for you but, to make that decision, you need to know if you are heading in the right career direction.

So how can you work out if you are on the right career path? Answering these three questions will help to you work it out.

1. How do you feel about the work you are doing?

Do you love what you do? Do you enjoy learning more about it? Are you inspired by other people in your field?

If you are not sure, take a moment to notice how you feel about it when you are talking to someone about what you do – are you passionate and animated or are you bored and uninspired? Remember it is not how other people react to what you do, it is how you feel about it that matters here.

Pragmatically, there are going to be aspects of your work you don’t love as much as others but, on balance, do you feel good about the work you do?

2. Is your career aligned with your motivational needs?

In their book, Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence, authors Tory Higgins and Heidi Grant Halvorson describe two types of motivational focus which impact how we approach our lives and careers.

  • Promotion-focused professionals are driven by a desire for advancement; they think creatively, work quickly and seize opportunities.
  • Prevention-focused professionals are driven by a need for security and maintaining the status quo; they are thoughtful analytical planners.

We probably recognise some of each of those traits in ourselves, and probably know which is the more dominant for us. How aligned to your dominant focus is your career path, your job and your industry you work?

3. Is your career meeting your needs?

How well does your career fit with the other elements of your life? Is your career path providing you with the lifestyle you would like? Are you able to be based in your chosen location? Does it allow you to do the things you want and spend time with the people you want to spend time with?

Once you have answered these questions, you will be able to decide what, if any, changes you want to make in your career.

Working with a career coach can help you get clarity about what you want to change, how to make those changes happen and get you the results you want in the most efficient and effective way. To benefit from the Your Next Career Chapter package, book a call to discuss your requirements?  

Coaching Skills for PMO

Coaching Skills for PMO Professionals - How they help everyone succeed 

Read how developing great coaching skills could set you on the path to PMO career  success and deliver great results for your business. 

Traditionally, developing your career in the PMO was based on having great technical skills but increasingly this is no longer enough. Being a great PMO professional means becoming a trusted business partner who delivers services the business values and that requires supplementing your technical skills with coaching skills.

The growing need for Coaching Skills for PMO Professionals can be seen in the increasing number of job adverts for PMO roles asking for coaching skills, and that trend is growing as Agile Project Methodologies become more prevalent.  

As I have worked with PMOs I have noticed how adding coaching skills has benefited team members at all levels, from the most junior to the PMO Leaders, and how actively developing them has boosted the team’s effectiveness and individuals’ careers.

So what do we mean by Coaching Skills for PMO Professionals?

For me, the best definition of coaching comes from Sir John Whitmore in his book Coaching for Performance, where he describes coaching as “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their performance”.

Coaching skills span a whole continuum of ways to work with someone, from telling them what to do, through teaching, consulting, mentoring and coaching.  As you move along the continuum, the focus shifts from the coach’s knowledge and agenda to that of the person being coached.

The coach uses their coaching skills and facilitates tools to improve the performance of others. The knack of finding a delicate balance of coaching which works for everyone is definitely more of an art than a science!

When I shared the continuum of coaching at a PMO Flashmob session most people found that they spent time moving up and down the scale from telling and showing to mentoring and coaching on a daily basis – and sometimes even within one meeting!

Why does having coaching skills matter in the PMO?

Last year, the AIPMO (Association of International Project Management Officers) Advisory Board published a list of seven principles for PMO practitioners, four of which relate directly to coaching skills for PMO:

  1. Sponsorship (PMO Principle 1)
    Coaching skills are not just for training your staff; you can use them to build your relationship with your sponsors using coaching skills, which is critical to your success. With an improved understanding of their agenda, and an ability to help them articulate what needs to change and why, it is easier to explain your solutions and get their buy in. The skills developed in coaching will also help you align agendas within the business. 
  2. Challenge (PMO Principle 4)
    The skilful use of coaching tools will provide objective, rational and constructive challenges as you help your stakeholders explore situations and understand the options they have. In doing so, they will also allow you to create and develop trusted partnerships.
  3. Exemplar (PMO Principle 6)
    In the course of using your coaching skills, you lead by example. A consultative coaching-based approach has consistently been shown to be the most effective at leading change. And, at the end of the day, your role is to effect change.
  4. Improvement (PMO Principle 7)
    The very definition of coaching is to facilitate improvement, which is why this is the last – but most definitely not the least important – of the principles for PMO practitioners. 

​Developing Coaching skill for PMO Professionals

As I have already mentioned, coaching skills are not just for those in PMO leadership roles; they are useful for all those working in the PMO. They can make a huge difference even at the most junior level. Imagine you have been asked to compile the minutes for a meeting. This requires listening skills, the ability to summarise and report accurately what has been said, and the ability to ask questions which clarify thinking. Holding these skills can make a huge difference to the quality of minutes being taken and their usefulness.

As your career progresses, you may find yourself training others, or switching between consulting and coaching roles. For example, one of the project leaders you are working with may hit a problem and require your help to work out how to get through it – and your coaching skills will be invaluable.

Coaching skills for PMO are beneficial to everyone working within a team, not just for those in management roles but for many different work situations and at different stages of your career. They help a project run smoothly, with better communication and greater clarity all round.  To be the best PMO professional you can be, you need to work on developing these coaching skills and keep building upon them throughout your career.

Develop coaching skills you can start using immediately, and to learn about the one-day course I run in association with PMO Learning.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have – 
just book a call