Tag: Leadership

Investigating Executive Presence

Investigating Executive Presence

The director of my department is amazing. He asks inspiring questions to enhance my work and ensure I have a robust story before advancing the progress, he occasionally walks around the building to engage with the various team members, he supports multiple recognition and youth educational outreach events, and he has a solid understanding of the multitude of projects in the department. My director does all this and still has an easy going positive attitude and great charisma. He is not the only one in my chain of leadership with such admirable qualities. Many of these leaders excel in executive presence.

I first learned about this term last fall and found it embodies the magically captivating quality in successful leaders. They inspire and accomplish many goals with exceptional confidence. Business insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/the-7-traits-of-executive-presence-2013-9) condenses the traits of executive presence into 7 C’s of the C-Suite:

  • Composure
  • Connection
  • Charisma
  • Confidence
  • Credibility
  • Clarity
  • Conciseness

These traits are all learnable and can be practiced at all levels to help advance your career. It’s kind of like the old saying, “dress for the job you want” instead it is “present yourself like you have the job you want.”

Opportunities for this kind of success lie with presentation skills. When presenting to any level, deliver the messages with these 7 C’s. Preparation and asking for feedback will give you an advantage.  Forbes also encourages feedback to find your executive voice (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/10/29/do-you-have-executive-presence/#36dc6d126358)

Improving your executive presence is like developing any personal improvement strategy that I recommend:

  1. Pick someone whose executive presence you admire
  2. Analyze what you admire about that person
  3. What skills can you practice?
Stepping back from “How to Lead” to ask “Why Lead”

Stepping back from “How to Lead” to ask “Why Lead”

I was starting some research on executive presence to gain ideas on how I can increase my influence and inspire respect. I found a beautiful definition of influence:

Influence is the art and science of aligning your objectives with another’s

Diving into where this quote came from, different forms of motivation including influence are persuasion, manipulation, and coercion. As the types of motivation ranged from positive to negative the overall goal was to align a person’s objectives with yours. I started to reflect on the many different leaders I have worked for including those that helped to develop my career and others that seemed to strive for pure dictatorship control and empire building. Stepping back from how to be a great leader and influence others I started to think about why be a leader.

Like myself my daughter wants to be a leader. She jumps at opportunities to help organize other people, which comes in handy when I need assistance with getting a dozen young cub scouts in line. She wants to be president someday. Regardless of whether or not she leads our country one day, I want her to be a great leader. But why should she lead, why should I lead?

One reason I want to lead is because it feels great to me and I know I am great at it. My style of preference is to empower others to find the best way to help our team meet the vision. In my past leadership roles I have inspired my team to use their own unique ideas on how to accomplish projects that will meet our goals. I have received great feedback that team members have been more engaged due to my leadership. I have finally reached one of my goals of working for a company that has a goal I can proudly stand behind, to create happiness. I want to inspire action to help create amazing experiences. I want to improve the offerings of my organization to increase the opportunities for the magical moments that can dearly reside in a guests heart forever. Why should you lead?

Motivation through Misery

Motivation through Misery

I sat through a safety training class a few weeks ago with several guest speakers. These speakers talked about what makes them passionate about safety related work and many of the stories were based on incidents that they were exposed to. Witnessing someone dying during their construction job or dealing with medical limitations due to exposure. There is also the recreation side of things: The runners that painfully train for a marathon that alone is a difficult journey, the gymnasts that tirelessly build their strength and flexibility, and the other sports we push ourselves through to get a sense of accomplishment.  Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, has many more examples of motivation through his research in behavioral economics.

When I tell my story as to what motivated me to enter into the field of engineering, I do talk about the exciting parts of wanting to use my creativity and be on a track of continuous learning. Although there is another aspect of my motivation, it is that I want to be able to be financially independent. I grew up babysitting for many women who were financially dependent on their husbands due to them being in a military field. These women had a difficult time sustaining their own career due to the demands of military life and regular relocations. Engineering is one of the most difficult things I could think of doing that would maximize my starting income in the shortest amount of time. I also thought through the potential of ease of transition into other areas as my career develops, which has worked well for me.

There are countless stories of people becoming doctors or researchers after witnessing hardship with their families or friends. This misery builds a fire and is a very interesting tool that is difficult to argue against due to it being so personal for building motivation. Harnessing and sharing that passion and motivation can bring out the stories in others and drive up their motivation.

I Shouldn’t Be Here

I Shouldn’t Be Here

The imposter complex or feelings of being a fraud in a leadership role apparently occurs in the minds of many female leaders. Studies have shown that women prefer to know their chances of success before making a decision and stepping into a role.  In fact when it comes to applying for a job, most women tend to go for positions in which they meet nearly all of the requirements, while men reach for ones in which they meet about half.  While we may know we are technically competent and have good intentions, sometimes when we look at where we are, we can feel like we don’t belong.

I love my new role working as a project manager at Disney and I want to do great things. I want to understand the culture and how things work so I can make an impact and make it better.  I read about forward thinking leadership and empowering your team to extraordinary performance.  I need to change my mindset from I want to be an inspirational leader to I am an inspirational leader!  I truly am an inspirational leader, I have been told that before.  From the teams that I have led and even my colleagues.  At times I feel as if I am not ready, but other times I feel like I could do so much more.  At Disney, for me, it is more than just climbing the corporate ladder, although I would like to move to a prominent position.  At Disney, my ultimate goal is to be a part of something great, to create amazing experiences, help people make extraordinary memories, and create happiness.

So while the negativity may creep in and make me feel like I shouldn’t be here, I look around and know that through my drive, creativity, and passion I need to be here!

Perseverance Pays Off

Perseverance Pays Off

After five months of working hard and saving lives as a lifeguard at Blizzard Beach, I have been offered an opportunity with Disney’s Safety team.  After two months of showing my dedication to the company, I sat down to share my plan and goals with the leader of the Blizzard Beach water park.  Due to her ongoing support I had nearly two dozen Meet and Greets / interviews across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.  It was an amazing opportunity to learn about different business segments and expand my professional network.  Nearly every single free day I had during the week was dedicated to growing my professional influence through expanding my network, researching Disney business units and potential opportunities.  It was exhausting work and a little stressful hoping that I would connect with the Disney leaders that I had the privilege to meet.  My resume got tuned up, my response to tell me about yourself was refreshed to focus on what I could highlight about myself to be of interest to the audience, and my business professional wardrobe was extensively used (thanks again Ann Taylor for helping me dress professionally!).  Repeatedly, I have seen the formula for success, sometimes it was tweaked, but overall it follows the simple equation:

Success = (Leadership + Management) x Technical Skills x Relationships

I have recently achieved a huge success, starting yesterday I am a Disney Professional!  I proudly wear my Disney badge over my professional personal clothes, seek to better the company through managing a project for safety performance alignment, and am growing my knowledge of the workings of the company.  So far I have witnessed the emphasis the professional cast place on business relationships.  I look forward to helping drive the number one priority Safety through my new role!

Crafting a Response to Tell Me About Yourself

Crafting a Response to Tell Me About Yourself

In any networking event or interview, you should be prepared to respond to the request to “Tell me about yourself.”  They key to response is to tailor your summary to be relevant to the situation.  This request is not asking for your entire life story.  You should be prepared with a quick 30 second to 2 minute response.  In an interview situation, this is your opportunity to highlight why you would be a great candidate for the team.  Including a quick story of an achievement will help you make a memorable impression.  A recommended response includes the following three parts:

  1. Past overview, a top level highlight of career history
  2. Story of a relevant accomplishment and how it impacted your organization
  3. Your career goals

Great examples of the response are written down on many online profiles, such as the ones found on LinkedIn.  Take a look at your current colleagues, potential colleagues, teams, and leaders.

 

Examples of great response:

Transformational leader with a proven track record of successfully integrating intricate, high performing, and diverse teams to meet project milestones and exceed performance goals.

In addition to overseeing the development and implementation of program strategy, I have established teams to actively drive activities aligned with the vision and mission, provided technical leadership and have consulted for a variety of volunteer organizations.

Innovative, analytical and intuitive leader with a belief of seeking balance of team member strengths, business processes, and enabling technology.

–or–

Influential leader with a passion for process improvement. Confident and effective communicator with strong interpersonal and analytical skills, driven to achieve goals and enhance knowledge.

In addition to leading an analytics team to ensure continuous supportability, I have established common processes across a variety of programs while working with stakeholders across all levels of organizations.

Recognized professional development advocate, focusing on business etiquette, volunteerism, and educating the future.

Team Members Value Regular Recognition

Team Members Value Regular Recognition

Every day at Disney’s Blizzard Beach the lifeguards and slide operators gather together for two quick stand up meetings also known as Break Outs, one in the morning before the park opens and one in the evening after the park closes.  This is very similar to what is formally done with Software related Agile development to discuss the plan for the day as well as provide recognition, notices, and reminders.  The Blizzard Beach Coordinators are similar to the Agile Scrum Masters with the task of leading these stand up meetings and provide support throughout the day.  These roles are very effective in helping to maximize the potential of the day by setting focus items and consistently rewarding the team efforts.  The coordinators leading Break Out rotate between about a dozen individuals that have established themselves over time, generally about a year, as front line leaders.

The Break Out at the end of the day at Blizzard Beach reviews prominent happenings during the day such as reminders over the importance of hydration in the intense Florida heat.  One of the Coordinators has promoted the phrase, “Hydration Starts at Home”.  The team also gets an overview of what went well and what needs improvement during this time.  Last night during break out when the Lifeguard of the Day was announced, my name came up.  It made me feel really great that my efforts were recognized after the long day in the heat while maintaining a positive attitude.  The Lifeguard of the Day becomes eligible for Lifeguard of the Week.  As Lifeguard of the Week, you can sign the official Lifeguard Tube that hangs over the Base Operations center and choose your favorite area to work on for the week.  It’s simple awards such as this that provide motivation and make team members feel appreciated.  I am proud to work for a company that finds ways to show it values it’s team.

Networking with the Disney Leaders

Networking with the Disney Leaders

Disney is a company that is built on relationships.  I have been informed by multiple people that a key to grow your career in Disney is to network.  Disney has an informal policy on meeting other cast members around the company for current cast members.  If you are a cast member you can schedule a Meet and Greet through cast members or their admins.  While it is allowed to randomly schedule meetings, it is more appropriate to get someone to introduce you and be your champion.  With a champion it is having someone recommend you and helps the people you want to meet realize that you are someone worth meeting.

Through my management chain, I have been able to meet with the proprietor of my location.  She was very excited about my skills and interests.  During that meeting, we talked about approaching meet and greets like an interview.  Dress professional, bring your resume, and be prepared to answer with your 2 minute elevator speech, “Tell me about yourself.”  It is also recommended to be prepared with questions.  Great questions to ask can reveal critical competencies of potential team members and the priorities of the team.  Don’t attempt to solve a problem during the meet and greet, but if faced with the question discuss the process of resolving the problem.  Due to the great conversation we had, she helped steer me in the direction of the engineering leaders.  She sent off emails of introduction to a couple people and I followed up with requests to meet.  These meetings have helped to consider focusing on the organizations that oversee engineering design as well as facility asset management.

I have had several meet and greets and look forward to continuing to network around the company.  Hopefully it won’t be long before I get to move forward with my dream career!

Excelling in Customer Service

Excelling in Customer Service

Horst Schulze, Chairman and CEO of Capella Hotel Group and Founding President and Former COO of The Ritz-Carlton Group, identifies to his teams three things that customers want:

  1. Defect Free
  2. Timeliness
  3. People to be nice to them a.k.a. Service

Creating an environment of striving to achieve simply customer satisfaction is not going to be enough to sustain a company throughout this competitive environment.  For Disney in the entertainment business, attracting customers is vital.  In order to transition from customer satisfaction to customer loyalty, Disney’s first step is to recognize all customers as V.I.Ps., Very Individualized People.  They are not just customers, but they are our special guests.

At the Disney Parks and Resorts, cast members are encouraged to treat each guest as if it is their first and, potentially, only time visiting.  This encouragement for the cast members will help enhance opportunities for excellent service to help create wonderful memories for the guests.  This excellent service has developed many guests to be loyal to Disney.

The key product in the entertainment industry is service.  Set the foundation for loyal guests through employees by showing the employees they are valued and remind them that they make an impact.  The empowered employee is the front line influencer on the customer, so inspire them to create excellence and watch as customers move from simply satisfied to loyal.

Admiration

Admiration

According to Fortune, The Walt Disney Company is the most admired company in the entertainment industry for 2016, ranking 5th overall.  Sallie Krawcheck, Chair of Ellevate Network and Former President of Bank of America’s Global Wealth & Investment Management understands the value of integrity, independent thinking, and admiration.  During the huge financial downturn, Sallie was identified as the Last Honest Analyst on Wall Street.  Through her struggles, she persevered while balancing work and raising children.  During the Global Leadership Summit of August 2015, Sallie stated that her children were a source of confirmation for her.  She knew that if she worked every day as if your children are watching you, she would make the most admirable decisions.

Working at Disney, I recently brought my children to see Blizzard Beach.  Their response was phenomenal and filled me with pride.  My daughter couldn’t wait to get back to school and let her teacher know that her mom worked at one of the coolest places in the world!  My kids have asked to go back nearly every day since their visit.  I am so grateful for places like Disney that inspire so much happiness and awe in people.  While Disney has the fun job of entertaining people, being admirable can be challenging.  I strive to be a great role model, to seek out my dream career and inspire my family.