Category Archives: Professional Relationships

When did you last consider your ‘How’?

Dangerously Unaware

I was starting a new position and had heard about the General Manager’s reputation. He had grown up in his career running manufacturing facilities and had a tough-guy type of approach to leadership. In his new General Manager role, he was leading a corporate function, which required a different leadership style. I remember having that nervous-stomach feeling, not knowing what I was going to face when we met. I also remember fearing making a mistake because I didn’t know how he would react or how I should deal with him in those situations.

This tough guy leadership style permeated his subordinate and peer relationships, which began to create problems. He was not aware of the effects of his approach and had never really learned how to flex his leadership style for different situations or environments. Human Resources began to work with him to improve his interpersonal effectiveness.

Flip the Mirror

This is the time of year when managers sit down with employees to review their performance and set new goals for the coming year. Reviews include the achievement of hard goals and progress on areas of soft or technical skill development. Managers expect employees to take these reviews seriously, setting the direction for their focus and achievement during the year.

Leaders also need to take this annual review time seriously for themselves. Once they reach a certain level in their career, many leaders feel like they’ve learned all there is to learn and have it all figured out. Like making New Year’s resolutions each January, the annual review process is a good time to hit the reset button and take a fresh look in the mirror. Similar to my previous manager, many leaders are oblivious to the improvements they should make.

Most leaders work hard to meet their performance goals, the “what”, because they are rewarded on these goals. But, many often forget that the “how” also is a part of the leadership equation. “How” you lead is as important as, if not more important than, the performance goals you achieve today. Your “how” has a lasting impact on the people in the organization and their willingness and ability to contribute at their highest levels toward the success of the organization long-term. The ability to be an effective leader requires that you are aware of your natural tendencies, how to be flexible in the variety of situations you face, how to constructively influence others, and how to build a trusted and respected reputation that makes others want to follow.

Recharge Your ‘How’

The best way to recharge is to gain visibility into your areas of greatest opportunity. Make sure you’re open to feedback; nobody’s perfect. There’s always room for improvement. Be a lifelong learner.

  • Request 360° feedback from senior leaders, peers, subordinates and even external constituencies, such as customers or suppliers. Solicit feedback from people who will be honest, thoughtful, and detailed with examples. Promise that you will not retaliate, no matter what you hear. Make sure the process is objective and confidential.
  • Take advantage of assessments that provide objective insight into your behavioral style, motivations, leadership style, and business acumen. These assessments can pinpoint strengths and development areas, and suggest strategies to optimize them.
  • Thoughtfully assess yourself, but be honest. Reflect on “how” you accomplish your goals, your working relationships, your influence in the organization, and influence on subordinate or peer performance. Ask yourself, “What impact does my style have on my team’s ability to work well together and achieve our goals?”

As you review the feedback you receive, summarize the themes. What did you hear most frequently? What were people most passionate about? What surprised you?

Assessment is only the first step. The next step is to determine what actions you will take. Establish goals for the coming year that include “how” objectives and actions. Make a list of “stop”, “start”, and “continue” actions. An accountability partner, such as a mentor, can help you with specific development areas and give you objective feedback on your progress.

Time to recharge.

10 Social Media Mistakes That Can Derail Your Career

Monica was a manager for a mid-sized financial services firm. She managed a team of eight people. She was very outgoing and social, a high “I” (Influencing) on her DISC profile. She was known at work as a connector. She seemed to know everyone and was the go-to person for what was going on behind the scenes. Monica also was very active online. She liked to keep up with what her friends were doing and posted nearly every day about her personal life on the social platforms. Some of her direct reports and colleagues also were connected to her on these social networks. At times, the Monday morning chatter was about what Monica had been up to over the weekend.  As a result, the perception of Monica’s executive presence, leadership potential, and, therefore, career opportunities, began to suffer.

According to a survey by, about 70% of young professionals are unaware of the potential damage to their careers from careless online activity.* Keep in mind that your reputation will be formed from not only the perceptions about you at work, but also from outside sources. Social medial platforms can be wonderful tools for advancing your executive presence, if you use them strategically. 

10 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Executive presence is the professional and leadership capacity others see in you and is comprised of four dimensions: your Business Intelligence, Business Impact, Relationships and Reputation. Following are 10 of the most common mistakes I see professionals make on their social networks that impact each of these dimensions of executive presence, and steps you can take to avoid them. 

  • Your profile is incomplete and not up to date.  People look at your profile to get a sense of who you are. You want to put your best foot forward. Keep the information about your work experience, education, certifications and interests up to date.  
  • Your LinkedIn profile photo is not professional. Perceptions are often formed from the image projected by your photo. Select a photo that is professionally taken and represents the brand you wish to portray.  
  • Your LinkedIn profile description or experience listings don’t speak to your business impact. Make sure you include outcomes you’ve achieved. Show that you know how to get results. 
  • You don’t contribute to the community with your expertise. Don’t just read other people’s posts, share your own. Write short posts about your industry or area of expertise.  Share articles, studies, and other useful information you come across in your personal development. Others will see you as a resource and expert.  Join industry or professional association online groups. A lot of information relevant to your work is shared through these groups. You also can make important connections that could be instrumental in your work and career. 
  • You share too much. There is open access to some portions of your public profile on any platform. Balance sharing TMI (too much information) and engaging people in your life. Keep in mind there’s only so much people want to know and see of you. There also are boundaries in professional relationships. Be conscientious about what you post. What would you tell your co-workers or a prospective employer about your weekend in a conversation or interview? What you would not say is what you sometimes post and what they see. 
  • You have a small network and don’t show up as a person of influence. You don’t proactively seek out strategic connections important for building your network. If you’re not connecting, you’re missing out on gaining valuable insights and opportunities to share yours. 
  • Your network doesn’t align with the platform.  Each platform is best for different types of relationships and information sharing. Thoughtfully make connections on each platform based on the type of relationships you have or want to develop.   
  • You make comments about your employer or someone at work. When something happens at work you’re not happy with, refrain from sharing your frustrations with your social network. Defamation, sharing confidential or untrue information can cause you to lose your job.
  • Your language is sometimes less appropriate for a public forum. Be careful of what you say and especially how you say it. Without the benefit of verbal and non-verbal cues, messages can easily be taken not as you intended.
  • You’re relaxed with your grammar. You like to be informal when communicating with your friends. However, people will judge your intelligence by your spelling and grammar. You’re often simply in a hurry. But, take a minute to clean up your writing. 

Use these digital platforms thoughtfully and strategically. Consider which platforms you should use and for what purpose. Connect to individuals for each platform based on relevance for the purpose of your relationship. Post on each platform based on the purpose you’ve decided to use it for and the outcomes you wish to achieve. Remember the balance of TMI. 

*Is Social Media Helping or Hindering Young People’s Career Prospects? by Josh Hansen, Oct 11, 2017,

If you want to make sure the image you project to your professional network is a positive one, or to learn more about improving your executive presence, click here to download my guide to Troubleshoot your executive presence.