Stage 3: How-to Lead Teams (getting things done) when you are not the boss

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what-does-leadership-mean-to-you

How can you get things done when you are a project manager but not the line manager and you are working in a matrix organisation? How can you demand from people to change their behaviour, e.g.: deliver better results when you don’t have the formal authority to do so?

In any consulting firm, you will face situations where you need to work with others and request others to deliver their tasks without being their boss. In most cases, I have experienced that this is not an issue, as the team you are working with has a common goal: a client project or an internal project. Delivering to the client´s satisfaction is not only part of your job, but you get rewarded as part of your bonus. And you need good feedback both from your client and your colleagues to get this bonus. So, in principle, everyone should be motivated intrinsically to do their best.

However, priorities may change, and your colleague might work on a more important project or you colleague may always be below the quality that you expect.

Lateral leadership (getting things done, when you are not the boss) is about crystal clear communication, feedback and negotiation.

Crystal Clear Communication

  • Crystal clear communication means, your colleagues know exactly what your expectations are AND what the consequences are, when they are not met. E.g.: delay in the project, overtime, running out of budget. The most important element here is, that you DONT assume, they know, or everyone knows that (assumption is the mother of all fu_ _ups). If you assume, that your colleagues know or understand what your expectations are, you have the chance of minimum 50% that you are wrong. They may know something, but not, what you exactly wanted or meant, if you haven’t told them clearly.

Crystal clear communication is direct and respectful – and does not use phrases like „I am sorry to bother you, … sorry, sorry, … please do you think you might be able to do…). Better „I would like you to do …: please prepare xyz by tomorrow lunch time, else we need to communicate the client the delay…

Can we agree on a common working understanding? You could also create a project charter, where the team describes how they want to work/deliver and deal with conflicts…. – and everybody signs “. That would be a great element you then can refer to.

Giving Feedback

  • Giving constructive feedback when things don’t work as planned is absolutely crucial. You can create a respectful atmosphere and setting to allow your colleague to save his/her face. It is again important to be respectful and clear on what you want your colleague to change. Addressing clearly what went wrong and giving constructive ideas on how to improve is essential. It is also essential the everyone understand the consequences that the event/result had or is going to have if nothing changes. It helps everyone to understand „why” the change needs to happen.

Negotiating Your Way

  • Negotiating your way to your result is essential: you do this, I do that. How can I help you to do xyz. In the end, consulting is about teamwork and supporting each other in different phases provides a lot of opportunities to do favours and to request favours. Sometimes it needs the courage to as for a favour/help/support. Negotiation is about finding a good solution for everyone and sometimes it may be that you are taking a step back in one area, but also get a step forward in another.

I concluded that a lot of mistakes are based on everyone assuming things and not explaining clearly what the expectations are and what the consequences are, when these expectations are not met. People want to make a good job and want to grow and develop, in consulting. And being a good leader or a servant leader does not mean, that everything must be full of roses. Leadership is about supporting and demanding and ideally both are in balance.

Stage 5 – How-To deal with micro-managers

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Your Boss Is Micro-Managing You?

Here is a solid approach to turn the table and create your ideal working conditions.

1) How do you want to work exactly?

Having a constructive and trustful relationship with you boss makes all the difference. People join companies, but they leave bosses, they say. And there is a lot of truth in this. Money and location provides some motivation but in the end, job satisfaction is about recognition and growth.

Having a micromanager as a boss with an assertive communication style can be daunting and de-motivating as it doesn’t allow you to be creative and thrive.

Let’s take a step back

  1. Do you know exactly what you want? – And this might not be the opposite of what you don’t want. Reflect on your situation and describe as detailed as possible how you want your work-life to be. You could for example write down in details your perfect work day from getting up to going to bed. Try to use all your senses in describing what are you doing. What are you working on. Who are you meeting. What is your boss saying? How is she behaving. What kind of relationship do you have with her?

Now that you know what you want, lets step into the shoes of your boss

2) Who is your boss? What keeps her awake at night?

Try to step into the shoes of your boss and try to understand why she is behaving the way she is.

  1. What is she working on / what keeps her awake at night?
  2. What problems is she facing, what successes does she have?
  3. How does her ideal workday look like?
  4. What is her preferred communication style? How does she want to be informed / what medium (email, personal meeting, call,….)
  5. What are the details that she needs to feel confident?

3) Turing Tables – Your Boss – Your Client

If you now think of your boss as your client – how can you help her dealing with her problems? How can you become her most trusted problem-solver?

You want to get back into the drivers seat and be a proactive communicator so that your boss is not micromanaging you – but you are micro-informing your boss pro-actively.

You are turning the tables by proactively informing her with her needed level of detail and show her, that she can trust you.

Start also writing down your achievements and send her a summary email at the end of each week with your list of accomplishments. (Don’t use achievements in this heading – just your things you completed in this week). This list is also your basis for your performance reviews. Do this for at least 6 weeks. (In sports, that’s the time period, where you see significant results after having changed a habit). Ideally, you will continue to show and communicate your achievements on a very regular basis.

4) Create your ideal working conditions

So, as you now know how you really want to work, you understand how your boss is functioning and you have turned the table and are in the driver’s seat with regards to communicating on a micro-level, it is time to get some breathing space.

  1. Schedule a meeting (at least 1hr) with your boss to discuss your working relationship “what you can do to support her better”. Remember, when you want to communicate successfully, it is always about the audience (your boss) and never about you.
  2. Really prepare well for this meeting – and maybe do a role-play with someone in advance.
  3. Pick a project where you boss was micromanaging and where you changed your behaviour in the last weeks.
  4. Ask her about her feedback on this project and whether your new work-approach was beneficial to her. You can ask her why, this detailed reporting is important to her and try to understand all her issues she is dealing with.The solution to her issues is you in your best performance.
  5. Present to her what you need in order to achieve peak performance – your ideal working style. You can explain how “micro-managing” is hindering you to help her in your best way. By micro-managing you she is actually sabotaging her own success.

Try to find a way – a first step – together, how to improve the situation for the next 3 week. You will can sit down again and assess the impact the changes had. Then you can go the next step.

So step by step you are creating your ideal working conditions.

stage 3 – haircut and impact

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Would you cut your hair to get a job?

2017 was a tough year for me. I had finished handed over the biggest and most amazing IT project of my career. My client: a very traditional German engineering company with approx. 14.000 employees. My role: project manager for a global roll-out of an IT system to the engine engineering, plant engineering and after-sales business. I loved it and my customer gave me an amazing reference.

At that time, I had long blond hair and I was super confident. Then I started searching for roles and projects in Switzerland. Not so easy, as I didn’t have a deep network. Long story short, I had two interviews where the feedback was “we don’t believe, you can deliver” and the second “we don’t think that such a tiny person can deal with our engineering people”. The later one was for a project, identical to my client, with an company half the size and in the similar industry. So copy and paste to half the size.

This feedback was devastating to me. Even more, as I met the selected project manager and he confirmed, that I had been better qualified for that role.

Too feminine for IT Roles?

On my reflection, I seamed to appear too feminine and soft with long blond hair for IT project management roles in the engineering industry. This impression was confirmed by a well-known recruitment agent (female). My light ball moment was, when I realised, that I had one this big project at my client at a time when I had short black hair. So I cut my hair short and within a few months I had an exciting senior role at a big 4 consulting firm.

I am the same person no matter what hair colour, length or style – however my impression on others is different. I believe there are a lot of unconscious bias within us on how we see people and in which kind of boxes we put them. And I have them too.

Choosing your impression with power

Becoming aware of these bias is one step. And using these different impressions we have consciously, is another.

Our clothing, style and body language are the elements that draft our first impression. They are part of the message we would like to give to the audience. And the audience can be our boss, our colleagues, a client, people at an event.

We don’t need to become masculine in our roles within management consulting. This is one of the driving motivations behind the MasterMind Program “WomenLoveConsulting”.

AND we can choose to be more masculine and or feminine whenever we feel like it. It is our choice.

Think of it as a theatre play – You have

  • the audience (boss, client, colleague,…),
  • your message you would like to get across
  • The stage (the setting or situation where you will deliver your message) and
  • All the props you would like to have to make the impact you want (clothing, body language, accessories, makeup,…)

This is your power.

What is my learning?

  • I became aware of this bias and my impression
  • I am choosing my appearance deliberately
  • I am more assertive and speak up towards such b.s.
  • I am creating “WomenLoveConsulting” so that it will be normal to see successful women in leading roles in projects.

Stage 2 – The Power Of The Pause

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How Often Do You Listen To Your Clients?

Last week, I had an increadible experience at a client: the client is preparing to implement SAP S/4HANA and has numerouse projects in parallel. New projects are launched. There is change everywhere and it is not clear yet, when this SAP transformation will be kicked-off (where I am the designated project manager).

For the preparation of this day, we had several calls with changing priorities every time. So I had not prepared an agenda or a powerpoint (a very typical management consulting approach). My perception was “I am unprepared”. My mindset was “let’s see”.

Asking Why – 7 Times

My client, the CIO, started to explain the situation. I listend and asked a view questions “why?”, “why not?”, “I don’t understand”, “couldn’t we do xyz?”. But predominantly the CIO did the talking and the whiteboard writing.

After one hour we had a solution to an problem he was worring about for almost 2 months. The compliment I received was the most amazing one in my whole career.

What were the key success factors?

I think, it was the listening, saying nothing and allowing space to create (to think) – as well as asking “why”. Asking “why 7 times” will get you to the truth (watch this video: Ask why 7 times and then you will know the truth. With John Kuypers) .

My personal “aha” moment was at the call with my husband: I had to tell him about the compliment – even though I was not prepared. He answered: “This is not true. The last 20 years prepared you for this moment.” Well, I love the growth and development opportunities I have ahead of me.Created with

Stage 4 – Inspiration Books

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Books with impact

Vacations are around the corner and you may have the inspiration to read a book or two on self-development.

I have picked the book that made the biggest impression on me in the last years and really initiated me changing my behaviour.

As YouTube is a golden source of information, I found references for each book you can take a look at.

“Nice girls don’t get the corner office” by Louise P. Frankel

An assessment on how women behave in the workplace and how it is perceived. This is a workbook with very practical tips and aha’s.

Lois P. Frankel, author of “Nice girls don’t get the corner office”, on how to get your dream job

“You, inc” by Harry Beckwith & Christine Clifford Beckwith – the art of selling yourself;

also a eye opening practical book on demystifying sales.

You, Inc. The Art of Selling Yourself | Christine Clifford

The Wealth Chef” by Ann Wilson – great guide to get knowledgeable about managing money.

Welcome To The ‘Wealth Chef’ YouTube Channel

“The Five dysfunctions of a team” by Patrick M. Lencioni – amazing analysis of team dynamics

THE 5 DYSFUNCTIONS OF A TEAM by Patrick Lencioni | Core Message

“Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzler

CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS by K. Patterson, J. Grenny, R. Mcmillan, and A. Switzler | Core Message

“Double you business” by Cassie Parks

Episode 082: Doubling Your Business with Cassie Parks

And for diving into other worlds …. Anything Robert Ludlum or the Medici. And once I start diving, it’s hard to get me back to the surface.

Stage 3 – Vacation and Work

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Sunshine, summer, free time…. how-do you honour you

… summer vacations, at least in the northern hemisphere, are around the corner. Maybe you are travelling somewhere or have plans for some special activities in your hometown.

Maybe you recognise the situation: your clients are working on an important project and no matter how well you planned out your vacation, just in the middle of your vacation, an important milestone is happening – because of a delay in the project. Or a super important proposal just came in a day before your vacation and you must work on this pitch. There is always something very important at work – during the vacations.

I think I have worked in more than 80% of my vacations and I would not see myself as a role model in this topic. However, I think I managed to develop a very satisfying balance between vacation and recharging and focussed working segments.

It took years for me to realise, that

  1. The sun rises every morning, regardless of me I working or not
  2. Clients survive without me
  3. No-one really thanks me in the long run, if I skip recharging
  4. I have one health
  5. I have one family

For me, there a 2 corner stones:

Expectations / clear communication:

If I tell my clients and colleagues, that I will be available during my vacations, they will expect it. And if I tell my clients and colleagues, that I will be available on 1 day during my vacation, they will able to work with it too.

If you tell your family and your partner that you need to read emails and work throughout your vacation, they might be disappointed – as they planned to spend time with you and planned to spend extra money on this vacation. And you can negotiate one day – if you really want to work – or if you think you need to work.

How-to`s:

I communicate in my out-of-office message, the date when I will check my emails and when I will be available. And I de-activate my notifications on my phone. I realised, that I tend to check my emails on my phone, if I see the number of new messages. If I de-activate them, I am more disciplined to check them at the agreed times.

These two elements are a way for me to secure my space to recharge and enjoy time with my loved ones AND I am relaxed if I also have a dedicated but small amount of time to care about my clients.

This balance works for me. I also had a time, where I was working very close with 2 colleagues on different projects. Here we were able to fully hand-over task and help each other out. This situation is in my option by far the best, because you can leave work completely.

ENJOY YOUR VACATION!

How-To Create & Boost Your Career and Dreams With Powerful Vision-Boards

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I love vision boards and I have been creating vision boards for 12 years. The first one was when I finished my NLP practitioner course. We had a huge variety of newspapers and magazines and just started creating. I then put it on the back side of the door of my office. As the door was always open, I didn’t see it often.

About 2 years later I was standing in front of this board and realised, that everything I had put on it, became real. This moment was magical.

Since then I create vision boards every one or 2 years or at significant milestones in my life.

Last weekend I created a new one, because “womenloveconsulting” is very important to me and I have the feeling and the dream, that it will change my life.

My intention was:

how do i want my life to look like? How do i want to feel? What are affirmations that will support me?

How did I go about it?

  1. I bought about 10 different magazines: basically every magazine that inspired me; that was close to my interests or sparked something in my. So I had a Flow Magazine, Elle, Cooking, Yoga, Women in Business, Law, Sport, Decoration,….
  2. Then I had a very long afternoon/evening to myself to indulge in these magazines. Read or brows through and cut out every picture or sentence that spoke to me.
  3. The next day I layed out a Din A0 paper and wrote all affirmations onto this paper.
  4. Then I glued the pictures that still inspired me onto this board.
  5. Finally I put post-its to 3 pictures and wrote down, how I will feel. Example: one pictures was about 3 exercises: I feel strong, confident, hot, content, happy, relieved

This vision board is now in front of my desk and I see it every day. Putting the feelings onto it made it more powerful and intimate than any other board before. Therefore the vision board you see is the one I created 2019.

If you are up for a guided vision boarding session (e.g.: via zoom), just let me know.

How-To Develop A Negotiation-Loving Mindset

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Dentist or Negotiation? What do you prefer? Here are some tipps to enjoy your next negotiation.

How often have you negotiated for yourself in your career? How often have you asked for a salary increase, time, trainings,…. anything. And how often have you accepted an offer without asking for more?

Would you rather negotiate for a salary increase or visit your dentist? If you prefer your dentist, then we need to talk.

You have probably heard of studies that calculate the amount of money women leave on the table, if they don’t negotiate from their first job on – and what that means for their pension. (Take a look here: https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-women-must-ask-the-right-way-negotiation-advice-from-stanfords-margaret-a-neale)

The article states, that if a women graduate starts with 100k per year and her male collegue with 107k per year (due to his negotiation skills), everything else being equal, the women would need to work 8 years more, than the man.

So, how can we make our negotiation experience more joyful (than a visit to the dentist – just joking)?

There are 3 key elements to joyful negotiations:

  1. Mindset
  2. Skills
  3. Your BANTA (Best Alternative to you Negotiation Offer)

Let’s start today with mindset. The other 2 elements will be covered in blogs to come.

  • A few weeks ago, we have already talked about “appreciation” and what you appreciate about yourself. This is one daily activity you could do to build your confidence muscle.
  • Visualising or daydreaming about how you would like your negotiation conversation should look like and how you want to feel is a second element that builds your mindset.
  • Consciously putting yourself in a positive mindset, will help you to be more creative, relaxed and confident to achieve an outcome that is valuable for both yourself and your company.

The things I like to do are:

  • Putting on my favourite perfume (I have a special one for special occasions)
  • Putting on a red lipstick (for me, it’s the act of putting on the lipstick, that boosts my mood)
  • Listening to great music (e.g.: Robby Williams “I love my life”; Queen “Breakthrough”)
  • Doing a power pose for 2 minutes (e.g.: in the toilet right bevor the meeting) – just watch this great video: https://youtu.be/phcDQ0H_LnY

“Everything is negotiable”

I had an amazing negotiation trainer, Wies Bratby (https://womeninnegotiation.org/) : she said “it’s 80% mindset and 20% skills”. And another key phrase of hers “everything is negotiable”.

If this is the only thing, you will remember from this blog “everything is negotiable”. Everything.

How-to Build A Strong Network

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Your Network Is Your Key Asset

How would you value your network? Are you proud of it? Are you nurturing it? Are you receiving value from your network?

What I hear often from women is “oh, I am not good at networking”, “I don’t have time for networking”, “I am not good at this social networking stuff”,….

Is this you?

I hear you – I had the exact same perception of my networking skills. This perception and the lack of courage to reach out to my network for help, lead to a very critical financial situation.

A couple of years ago, I was running my own company with one major client in Denmark. When this project came to an end, I was searching for a project in Switzerland, where I was living at that time. But no one knew me there. It took me a year of cold calls, networking events, applications, job applications,… to finally have an income again. At that point, I had suddenly 3 offers at the table, where I didn’t know which one to choose. It was a fixed job where I closed down my company in the end.

I finally had the courage to reach out to 2 C-Level people to ask for their advice. Both of them where up for a conversation within less than 24hrs! I was blown away. Me asking for advice and my network responding with pleasure within no time.

Sometimes, I still wonder, what would have been possible, if I had asked for a project or job opportunity during this year within my network. I love helping, I love connecting and when someone reaches out to me, I immediately think of to whom I could connect this person. And I find it hard to ask for support for my ideas and dreams. But when I find the courage, then I am blown away by the positive and encouraging feedback.

  • YOU reading this post and maybe forwarding it to someone else, makes me feel so jubilant and hopeful I can hardly describe.

So how can you build your network?

My boss at KPMG, Thomas, gave me challenging target for my probation period: connecting to (meeting with) 20 senior people within 3 months. And he also gave me a list of recommendations, which was helpful. The core point of this exercise was: “you need to build a network within the firm fast” – “go out and do it”.

This was the first time, I had created a network with intention and within a time frame – and ever since then, this is one of my advantages.

There are 3 things, you can consider:

  1. Reason: Why do you want to build this network – and why do you want to meet this person?
    There does not need to be a mutual interest, but you need to be confident in explaining, why you want to meet this person.
  2. Research: Do a little bit of research on LinkedIn, within your corporate intranet,… to get to know the person and the interests. This helps you to have a couple of topics you can talk about.
  3. Restaurant: Thomas suggested to have business lunch with some of the partners. This didn’t work out for me. Why should a partner spend 1hrs talking to a senior manager he had not heard of before? BUT, when I invited them for a coffee – the response was very different – and very positive. A coffee can be between 15 and 30 minutes. It is less formal and everyone is up for a coffee.
    Now during covid and home office, people are even more delighted to have a virtual coffee! It is an energising, stress free conversation where people can relax and breath.

Try it out! 30 minutes for a coffee or virtual coffee is risk free. People like to share their stories and the most successful people are always looking for connecting with interesting people.

How can you maintain your network and build relationships?

  1. By showing interest in what the person is doing (it can be a simple like or even better a short comment on social media)
  2. By sending positive messages as simple as “I just read this article of your company,… I am really impressed and I just wanted to wish you a great day and a wonderful week. If you are up for a virtual coffee, just drop me a line”.
    I sent a short compliment to a client the other day, because she looked stunning on a video call. “NN what I forgot to tell you the other day, you looked stunning. Have a great weekend”.

Sending compliments, positive energy or just a simple nice message can make someone’s day. This is very little effort with huge results. The only thing you need to do: Schedule 15 minutes per week for 1 or 2 messages.

  1. Serve your network before you ask. This is building trust and building a relationship AND ask, if you need something. The worst thing, that can happen is a “No”.

If you don’t ask, you never give your network the opportunity to say YES.