Continuous Learning and Development Articles for People and Business

The Foundation of Career Development- Personal Values

Posted on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 @ 11:09 AM

Let us suppose that we were asked for one all-purpose bit of advice for management, one truth that we were able to distill from the excellent companies research. We might be tempted to reply, "Figure out your values system. Decide what your company stands for."

- Thomas J. Peters & Robert H. Waterman, Jr.

In Search of Excellence


Personal values are the foundation of career development, corporate values and personal values, corporate culture, business ethics and career developmentIn their classic book, McKinsey consultants and management gurus, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman devote a chapter in the book, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best Run Companies, to values and their critical importance to the success of companies. Values are the foundation upon which all of the rest of a business's objectives, strategies and structures rest. Regardless of a company's products, services, management structure, or strategies, values fundamentally are the deciding factor in a company's success or failure.  Yes, a business needs to offer what the market desires at an appropriate price. However without living its values in every decision it makes a business will ultimately decline or cease to exist.

The same is true of your career, the Business of You. Your values reflect how you make every decision you make, whether you invest in yourself or not, whether you give your all at work every day or not. When we look at successful people we so often look at what they are doing and miss the critical point about how values formed the foundation for that success. We often only notice values in their role in the collapse of individuals' careers and business. The fact that a failure of values shows up so significantly in failures also belies their importance.

Examples of corporate failure to live their values and fail as a consequence abound. In these cases while corporate values existed, the behavior of executives and employees was simply not consistent with these values. In essence these companies lost their way and suffered as a result. 

When Barclays appointed a new CEO, Antony Jenkins, he said as much as when it became clear that Barclay's had been rigging the LIBOR interest rates. One of his first actions as CEO was to establish a new set of values and enforce the importance by evaluating all employees in their annual reviews on how well they are living the values. He also made it explicitly clear that if you don't share these values that Barclays has then Barclays in not an appropriate place for you to work. By both holding everyone accountable for living the Barclays values and inviting employees to stay or go Jenkins is taking these foundational vales to the next step to create a successful corporate culture based on these values.

When Tiger Woods failed to live up to his personal, both his game and his personal brand collapsed. He has not been the consistent Number 1 performer he was. Corporate sponsors abandoned him and endorsement deals dried up. His failure to live up to the values that made him a loved and respected sports icon cost him dearly both personally and professionally.

Do such high profile examples of the importance of personal values relate to you? Absolutely. Everyone one of us is faced with decisions every day that affect our careers and the companies we work for. Generally the failures of most people to live up to their values are not newsworthy, so we don't hear about them. Nor are the cases where people who follow and live their values to success. In Leadership Development, Personal Integrity and Two Car Accidents, I discuss two stories with different outcomes both involving a common event that could happen to anyone, a car accident in the parking lot at work. Both stories start out similar with a car accident; however, they both end differently based on each person's values based response under stress. One chose to proactively inform a security officer, the other when confronted lied. One earned the respect of senior management at the company he worked for; the other was arrested and lost his job. Both made decisions based on their values. Neither was a bad person, but they ultimately had different decision making processes.

Most people don't give much thought about their values in a deliberate way that a company does. There is a great advantage to you and your career if you take this corporate practice and apply it to yourself.

Learn about the other critical steps in building your career in our free e-book by clicking the button below!

7 Secrets to Career Success, Career Development, Success  

Topics: Professional Development, Self Discovery, Character and Ethics, Personal Values

Leadership Development, Personal Integrity and Two Car Accidents

Posted on Mon, Feb 06, 2012 @ 12:02 PM

Leadership Development, Personal Integrity, tale of two car accidents, career development, leadership habits

As a follow up to Leadership Development: Integrity - Is Doing Right Really High Risk?, today I'd like to share with you two true stories of people who were involved in car accidents in the parking lots where they worked. There are a number of similarities in the circumstances, though the actions of both drivers after the accident and the consequences were strikingly different.

In both cases the driver hit a parked car, one while attempting to leave the lot and the other when entering the lot. Both drivers weren't sure what to do next and so found a place to park and when back in.

In the first accident "Bob" went about his work as usual. Entered the building, passed security and went to work. In the second case, "Tom", after parking when to get information about the car he hit because he didn't have a pen and paper at the time. However by the time he got there, the car was gone. He went in to the building and reported to security that he had hit a car and done some damage but was unsure of the details of the car. Tom left his name and number.

Bob's day started off ok until the police showed up. Someone had reported seeing Bob hit the car and drive away and was able to report his license plate number. When the police showed up to Bob's desk they asked "Did anything unusual happen this morning?" Bob replied with a simple "No". After asking a few more times, the police asked if Bob had any trouble parking that morning. Again, Bob replied "No." At that point Bob was arrested.

Tom went two days before he received a call from one of the senior vice presidents of the company he worked for, a division head, asking Tom to come to his office. Tom didn't know what it was about and went to the office. The SVP said, "I understand you hit a car in the parking lot a couple of days ago. Do you know what kind of car it was?" Tom described what he remembered and where the car was parked. The SVP said, "Yes, that was my car." Tom started to get nervous. The SVP then told Tom the damage was $500, and asked if he could pay it. Tom said, "Yes, of course I'll pay it."

Bob and Tom handled their similar situations very differently. In each case, how they responded spoke volumes about their leadership and their personal integrity. Bob was afraid of admitting his mistake, even when it became obvious that others knew about it. Tom could probably have gotten away with it, yet did what was right, and legally required, as best he could.

Within two days Bob was fired. The reason - the repeated ethical lapses could not be tolerated by someone in his position. The lies undermined the trust of the leaders in his area to trust him with sensitive information. It was too bad because they would have been understanding about a car accident. These things happen. Repeatedly lying to the police, as well as failing to report the accident to security and his supervisor showed a profound lack of judgment and leadership.

Tom, on-the-other-hand, gained the respect of the SVP and was called upon to take on roles of responsibility. The SVP tore up his check after receiving it. He wanted to see if Tom would keep his word. The SVP knew the payment was a bigger sacrifice for Tom than it would be for him. However he learned something valuable about someone on his staff. Someone he knew he could count on when the going got tough.

One of the key differences between Bob and Tom is the habit of personal integrity that each one developed through their lifetimes of experience. In Bob's case, he always chose the "easy" way out, avoiding conflict, covering things up. In Tom's case he made little decisions all the time and owned up to them when they didn't work. As a result, it was much easier for Tom to own up to what happened. And, in this case, we can see the bigger risk is in failing to maintain your integrity.

Topics: Career Development, Personal Development, Character and Ethics, Personal Values

Preparing for Thanksgiving: A Time For Giving Thanks for Your Success

Posted on Mon, Nov 21, 2011 @ 12:11 PM

Giving thanks, Thanksgiving, Career Success, positive thinking, professional development,It's that time again in the U.S. when we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. Inspired by the story of the Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620 and struggled for several years to survive the harsh New England climate, Thanksgiving recalls that day several years later when the Pilgrims and Native American's sat down together to share in celebrating the bounty of their harvest and all that they were grateful for from having a safe home to surviving the harsh winters, epidemics and all of the other challenges they had building a life in the "New World".

It's a great time also to pause from the busyness of our lives and think about all that we do have, rather than focusing on what we do not yet have. It's very easy for many of us to get caught up in our ambitions, focusing on what we don't have and striving to attain it that we often forget to look around us and be grateful for and appreciate what we do in fact have.

Let me share a personal story about how you can choose what to focus on and be grateful for. As many of you know earlier this year I lost my mother to cancer and 3 months later my father to an unexpected heart attack. It would be easy and natural to focus on the loss. However one of the great things about being a human being is that we can experience different, and even conflicting, emotions. So not only can I feel that loss, I can also feel tremendous gratitude for all my parents have done for me, for the honor of knowing the as long as I did. I am also grateful that my son had the opportunity to develop a relationship with each of them and create in himself a connect to them that will last a lifetime and who knows how it will influence him.

What's important is to make a genuine, emotional connection to both feelings at the appropriate time. Avoid the temptation to feel guilty for feeling good about the opportunities that come from whatever loss you feel or challenge you face. Having an Energy Leadership coach can help get you through these tough times and help you uncover the benefit of your experience. While no one wishes for hardship in the life, life often does bring it. The question is how will you respond when your next challenge comes?

Whether you have had a great year or a year of challenges, what benefits can you see from the challenges you've faced? Can you allow yourself to feel the frustration of the challenge and the desire the opportunities the challenge brings?

What are you thankful for this year? 

PS: For more on feeling grateful, read last year's Thanksgiving article:

Giving Thanks: A Time to Express Gratitude For Your Career Success

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Topics: Self Discovery, Leadership, Character and Ethics

Is Personal Branding Important, Fake Or Just A Fad?

Posted on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 @ 12:11 PM

Is personal branding fake, personal branding, rescueIs Personal Branding Important, Fake Or A Fad?

This is a great question to ask if you're not sure about personal branding or even reject the idea out right because you think that personal branding is about being fake.

Let's start with first understanding what personal branding is before looking at each of these questions.

Personal Branding is the genuine expression of you, your skills, your talents and your personality, your style, etc. to create an authentic connection with yourself and others to in order to live your purpose, execute your mission and bring your vision to life. Effective personal branding enables you first identify your ideal job and then communicate effectively with others to get that job.

Is Personal Branding Fake?

Real personal branding is genuine; nothing fake about it. Certainly you can create a false persona to get a particular kind of job and you might even be successful with it for a while. Ultimately, if you do this, you'll be unhappy and your job satisfaction will plummet rapidly. If you create a fake brand you need to be constantly living a lie, which is hard work.

Is Personal Branding A Fad?

Personal branding is as old as civilization, even if the term is relatively new and process has become more sophisticated. Personal branding used to be known as "Your Reputation". You had certain skills and talents and others knew you for them. Some

Is Personal Branding Important?

Personal branding is more imporant than ever. With more places, especially on the internet, to create and leave an impression, you are under more scrutiny than ever. And with competition for top level jobs more fierce than ever, the impression you make on employers and recruiters, even before they ever talk with you, can be the difference between getting an interview and receiving no response from a prospective employer.

Additionally, when you are working with you personal brand you are better aligned with all of your strengths, both your hard, technical skills and your soft skills. You will naturally find the right position for you, the right people for you to work with and a result you will become a top performer. You job satisfaction will sky rocket. Who know, you could even stop counting the hours until the end of the day and actually look forward to going to work each Monday morning!

Key Take Aways

Personal Branding is an extension of good business practices and personal relationship building that has been around since the beginning of civilization. More than ever you need to be aware that you are making an impression with the people you interact with as well as simply those you see you personally or your digital trail (whether on Facebook, LinkedIn, blog comments, etc.

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Topics: Career Development, Personal Branding, Self Discovery, Leadership, Job Satisfaction, Character and Ethics

Leadership Development Lesson: The Firing of Legend Joe Paterno

Posted on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 @ 12:11 PM

 "I wish I had done more."

That's what legendary football coach Joe Paterno said a day before being fired from Penn State as the most accomplished football coach in all of college football. The man was a giant on campus and beyond, whose name was practically synonymous with Penn State. He coached at Penn State for 62 years, 44 of them as head coach. His team's have won 2 national titles, Sporting News named him the 13th greatest coach of all time, he has more College Football Bowl victories than any other coach, the only coach to have won each of the 4 major Bowl games, has 5 undefeated seasons, and much more. JoePa, as he's called, is an icon. He could almost do no wrong.

Except that he let a 10-year boy down. That was the start of it. When a graduate assistant told Paterno that he had seen one of the assistant coaches sexually abuse a boy in the Penn State locker room, Joe Paterno simply reported the incident to the Athletic Director. And there it lies the problem. Joe Paterno, the legend, the man who wrote the college football playbook, didn't come out charging to find out what was going on under his watch. Didn't take the steps that he had power over to take control of the situation. He could have done more.  A lot more to protect a child. To prevent crimes from taking place in his locker room by his staff.

Should the graduate assistant have done more? He could have for sure. But what he did was turn to his leader, someone with much more experience than him and with authority over the perpetrator. And there are lessons to be learned there too.

If you are a leader, whether you are a CEO, a manager, or a football coach much is expected of you. With your authority and power people look to you for guidance in difficult situations. It is at these times that your leadership is tested. Unfortunately, events like sexual harassment, discrimination, and, as seen in this case, sexual abuse, happen in the work place. Sexual abuse in schools, the Catholic Church, and Boy Scouts, to name a few. Presidential candidate Herman Cain faces allegations. As a leader it is critical for you to step up and LEAD in these situations. Not just pass the buck to HR and let it go.

What gets in the way of leaders stepping up in these situations?  There are as many reasons as there are people who have been fired for not stepping up. Usually there is an element of fear, often of tarnishing their reputation or that of the organization. As a result the situation is ignored or, worse, covered up. Often, it comes back anyhow and you, as a leader, have a lot of explaining to do.

There is a good chance that you will be confronted with an ethical, if not criminal, dilemma during your career. How you respond to it will determine your future. When you stand up, take charge, and do the right thing that will be remembered, even if you get fired for it. Others will take note. You will build your character to lead an organization and for others to put their trust in you.

How would people think differently of Joe Paterno today if instead of simply reporting the incident he stood up and made noise about his assistant coach. Fired him and reported him to the police?

There's another leadership development lesson that Mr. Paterno is showing us now too. Accepting responsibility and stepping up as a leader to influence a crow. As student's gathered outside his home, some ready to riot Here's what JoePa had to say:

"A tragedy occurred, and we all have to have patience to let the legal process proceed," he said in a statement Wednesday night. "I appreciate the outpouring of support but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value."

Joe Paterno is continuing to show us what kind of a leader he is, even when he's made a mistake and being publicly criticized and even vilified. Will he accept responsibility and the outcome or blame others or hide behind rules and laws? So far, Mr. Paterno is stepping and giving us all lesson in how to handle a highly visible failure in leadership by standing up and being a leader. 

Topics: Professional Development, Personal Branding, Leadership, Character and Ethics

Leadership Development Lesson: RIM CEO Takes Responsibility

Posted on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 @ 12:10 PM

leadership development, example of strong leadership, character and leaders, taking responsibilityGreat moments in leadership so rarely get the attention they. Today I am highlighting an example of strong leadership under duress - an apology from RIM CEO and Founder Mike  for the unprecedented service disruptions that Blackberry users experienced last week (see Millions reportedly without BlackBerry Service).  

While there are many interesting discussion topics about the outage, what I'd like to focus on here is what we can learn about a strong leader. Please watch the video below and notice both what Mr. Lazaridis says, and more importantly what he doesn't say.

Did you notice Mr. Lazaridis immediately stated his mission/goal, then took ownership of failing to meet the expecations of that mission and then apologized? He then goes on to give a description of the problem, a status update and, acknowledging the complexity of the problem admits that he doesn't know when service will be restored to normal. This last point is particularly important to acknowledge because often leaders will want to set up a new expectation and promise to deliver something that they may or may not be able to. If that leader fails to deliver again, he/she will often blame some other technical problem. Notice that Mr. Lazaridis states the facts, lays no blame and accepts responsibility. That's what a leader does when faced with a crisis.

In taking this course, Mr. Lazaridis establishes trust and sets up RIM to be viewed as trustworthy, even if they are experiencing problems. Had he tried to evade the truth of the situation by blaming others or making promises he couldn't keep RIM would undoubtedly lose even more customer.

What do you think?

Topics: Leadership, Goals, Character and Ethics

Leadership Development: Wisdom From ESRI CEO Jack Dangermond

Posted on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 @ 12:08 PM

helping others, ESRI CEO Jack Dangermond, help others be successful, Jack Dangermond wilting plant, career success, how to be a good leaderESRI CEO Jack Dangermond shared some of his wisdom with Adam Bryant for a New York Times interview. You can read the interview in the article, Cultivating His Plants, And His Company. The interview contains a lot great information for anyone interested in leadership development as well as getting promoted or hired.

Let's focus in on one particular point Mr. Dangermond makes about caring for his employees. As a teen-ager he worked on the family nursery, managing a crew taking care of the plants. Mr. Bryant writes of Mr. Dangerfield's response:

I also remember my father and I were once walking through the nursery, and one of the plants was wilting. And he said, “Did you notice something?”

I looked down and realized the plant was wilting. He said: “Don’t ever walk by a wilting plant. Get water on it right away.” Which sort of stuck with me — you inherently have responsibilities to take care of things. In a nursery, if you don’t take care of those plants, your profits get lost real quickly. You have to weed. You have to water. You have to nurture. Also, you have to take care of your employees in such a way that they do the same.

Think about that for a moment. Do you have any employees who are struggling with their work? How do you respond to them? Do you just walk by, ignoring them, hoping they will change? Do you weed them out? Do you look at them, decide what they need to thrive and give it to them? Do you give them the care and attention they need to thrive?

Are you noticing the people around you who are struggling? Do you have a rose in need of some care? What are you doing to help others succeed?

Topics: Professional Development, Personal Development, Leadership, Resumes, Character and Ethics

Personal Branding: Your Promise To Clients, Managers, Staff

Posted on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 @ 12:08 PM

personal brand, personal branding, brand promise, professional reputation, career success, Success Rockets, Reach Personal Branding, Personal Branding AssessmentYour personal brand speaks to your qualities, character and skills. It's a promise to other about what they can expect from you. Are you dependable or not? Do you deliver quality products or not? Can I expect you to micromanage me? Can I count on you for help when I need it?

Whether you think about it or not, you already have a personal brand. Your reputation. Is it the brand you really want?  Most of us don't think much about it and so we act in sometimes confusing and inconsistent ways. Is your personal and professional reputation what you would like it to be? Do you know what others think your brand promise is? Is it the same as you think it is?

The 360° Reach Personal Branding Assessment is one way that you can learn about your personal brand. The assessment provides people you know the opportunity to anonymously answer a few questions about you. Once completed you and a certified Reach Personal Branding Strategist can discuss the meaning of the results, including an analysis of the difference between your perception of your personal brand and that of the people you ask.

What's your promise to the people you know?

Topics: Personal Branding, Self Discovery, Character and Ethics, Personal Values

Online Activity Defines Your Personal Brand A Career Prospects

Posted on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 @ 12:07 PM

On July 20th the New York Times published an article, Social Media History Becomes a New Job Hurdle, highlighting how what you say online can influence your career and job search. While the article doesn't specially mention personal branding, this is exactly what is at issue.  

There is a company, Social Intelligence, which will search the web for information, good and bad, about you. Photos. Videos. Postings. And so forth.

Whether you agree or disagree with the practice is not relevant in this context because employers are searching the web for you regardless. What is in your control is what you put on the web for employers to find. Are your postings showing offing your knowledge and skills or are they questioning your judgment? 

If you are living a consistent personal brand inside and outside of the workplace, this shouldn't be a problem. You want to work for an employer who accepts you for who you are. The question is: Do you really like the consequences of what goes along with that?

Knowing your personal brand helps you avoid accidental pitfalls and helps you focus on projecting the right image you want employers and everyone else to see. A good check on how well you are doing with projecting your brand is to do a 360°Reach Personal Branding Assessement, where you ask colleagues, friends, family and others to spend 5 minutes filling out an anonymous survey about you.

What are you doing for your brand today? 

Topics: Professional Development, Personal Branding, Character and Ethics

Networking and Personal Branding Success: A Personal Story

Posted on Wed, Jan 12, 2011 @ 11:01 AM

networking your next job, networking career advancement

What does the Texas Two Step have to do with a career in credit risk model development and consulting, networking and personal branding? This seemingly unlikely combination is the story of how I got my first job after finishing graduate school.

Networking can happen anywhere, anytime. When ever you are meeting someone you are networking, whether you realize it or not. You are networking when you meet another colleague at work and when to turn to the person sitting next to you at the ball game or theater. Networking goes beyond "networking meetings" and conference cocktail hours.

You are also living your personal brand as well. How you respond when you meet people in whatever circumstance you're in speaks volumes about you, your character and work ethic. Your personal brand is how you live your life, not an act for special occasions or the office.

So, how did dancing a two step lead to a career in credit risk management and consulting? I first went on the job market in Washington, DC during the government shutdowns in 1995. The shut downs sent a ripple effect throughout the DC area labor market effectively putting a hiring freeze not only on the government but the supporting private sector as well. 

It was after being unemployed for nearly 6 months after graduating that one night I went out dancing. A woman came up to me and asked me to dance so that the "octopus" that had been after her all evening would leave her alone. We danced some more, talked that night, and I explained my situation and exchanged phone numbers and emails. 

A few weeks later, she called me to see if I would be interested in talking with someone in another department in her company about a position. She didn't know if it would be the right position for me or not was happy to pass along my resume to the hiring manager if I wanted. It turns out, she was a project manager at Price Waterhouse, LLP. A couple of weeks later I was on the job building my first financial risk models. I stay there for 5 years before more "accidental" networking led me to Freddie Mac.

The point here is that you are networking all of the time with everyone you meet. You are also living your personal brand all of the time. Did I think I was networking on the dance floor? It never crossed my mind. But I was networking. Was I putting on an act to get a job? No. Simply, I was just being me. Now that's a great way to get a job! 

How have you benefited from networking? What's your story?

Topics: Personal Branding, Character and Ethics, Networking

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