This morning on my way to work, I heard a personal story from a leadership coach in a vineyard. I have heard this “personal” story before by a different motivational speaker so it may be time to change it to a parable. Whatever it is identified as, the story is relevant to personal growth so here it goes:
Last summer while I was in Tuscany, I visited a vineyard to learn about the origins of fantastic wine making. Investigating the process from the starts, looking at the seed and how the grape plants take root, we discussed things like fertility of the land, appropriate times of the year to plant, and techniques for establishing a better crop. One aspect that stood out was the lack of irrigation. I asked my guide why didn’t I see an irrigation plan and the response I received struck a chord. My guide said, “We don’t plan for irrigation, we encourage the vine to find its own way. Sometimes the vine needs to struggle to establish strong, deep roots. Only then can the vine survive the varying temperatures and other challenges.”
With life, if we make it too easy for others, they will not create the foundation to learn how to overcome challenges. If everything comes too easy, it is a disadvantage. There will be limited opportunities to develop grit, a key skill in leadership.
So whether you take the struggle of the vine as a personal story, a parable, or a reason to appreciate drinking more wine. The overall idea is that through facing challenges, we increase our coping skills. It also gives us a good source of stories when trying to relay memorable messages to others.
I did it but I’m not done. I love this statement because it expresses exactly how I feel at the moment with my career. I did it I got a full-time job at the Walt Disney Company. I’m not done, I want to continue growing.
I found a great group that makes him an amazing impact on the parks and resorts. I’m going to be supporting construction management for many of the refurbishment’s around Walt Disney World. My focus will be on special projects. I get to help influence the updates to a variety of departments in this position. As a bonus there a lot of growth opportunities right now I am learning I am learning how to make the right decisions at the right time to support a schedule within budget.
There are growth opportunities in potential he being a future leader. So right now I will enjoy riding on new ground in facility asset management managing projects and making a difference.
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?
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.
It’s the end of another calendar year which could mean performance reviews for many people. Throughout my career, I have had many different performance reviews, some good and some not so good. I have even facilitated many performance reviews, also some good and some not so good. One of my leaders that I greatly admired once told me that people should not be surprised at their performance review. We need to continuously provide feedback. But now it is the time where we are getting our annual feedback, so whether or not you have been getting feedback on a more regular basis prepare for this one!
You have written your goals and have been measured against them. While some companies are discontinuing with these crazy complex things (http://qz.com/428813/ge-performance-review-strategy-shift/), they are still around in many businesses. So how can you prepare?
- First, go in to the meeting with a positive attitude.
- Be prepared to ask about how you can demonstrate better performance for the upcoming year.
- Ask for details for any generalities provided.
- Be gracious for the opportunity to have your position and work in your company.
- Finally, talk about your strategy for your career development.
Once you get to the performance review stage, your score, status, and rank have been vetted and determined by multiple layers of management, including HR. You may have an opportunity to modify your overall review, which can be permanently stored in your employee profile, but having drastic changes are unlikely. I have had my rating improved by hundredths of a point, that didn’t really change much. Employees of mine have also successfully modified terminology in their review write ups.
The best way to set yourself up for success is the strategize right now for the upcoming year. Have you established yourself as a respectable expert in your field? Does your leadership and your leadership’s leaders know who you are? Have you scheduled quarterly meetings with different leaders for mentoring (and networking) opportunities? Do you take on the higher profile projects and finish them on time and within budget? Are you making it easy to transition off the smaller jobs that can handed off to help develop newer employees so you can take the better projects?
Give yourself the gift of setting yourself up for success for this upcoming year. Create a strategy and follow through to grow your professional network and expand your reputation as an expert in your field.
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!
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!
I have been both the interviewer and the interviewee in many job placement meetings. As an interviewer, I try to set up the candidate to be comfortable to answer my questions to help me determine if they will be a valuable asset to my team. I look for potential fit with the team and myself, do they bring in any skills that is needed or adds value, do they match the passion level I am looking for with this role. I prefer to have a conversation over standard questions. Although if the conversation does not seem to flow or I have a set of skills that I need to make sure are covered, I do keep a list of questions such as:
- Tell me about yourself. Note that this should be like a 30 second elevator speech on what makes you a great candidate for this team and role. Include an actual example story of something you have done for bonus points!
- Tell me about a time you were in an (insert type of situation) situation.
- How many golf balls fit in a school bus?
As an interviewee, I do my best to prepare to impress. For the preparation:
- Research the job applied for, do you have stories of your experience for each of the job requirements?
- Learn what you can about the organization and the team members
- Know your own resume
- Make sure you wear highly professional clothes, I prefer the business formal clothes from Ann Taylor
- Research the current team members or the people interviewing you on LinkedIn if known
- Review standard interview questions and think of the most appropriate way for you to answer them (what is your greatest strength, weakness, why should I hire you?)
- Prepare questions to determine the goals, priorities, problems, challenges, expectations, team vision, and what to expect during the interview process.
Taking the time to prepare for an interview is evidence of your desire to do well and provides insight to your dedication to the job you are applying for. Prepare for the jump into a new position and set yourself up for success!
BONUS: More potential questions that I have used in interviews:
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What value would you add to the company?
- What is your work background?
- What are your hobbies?
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- What is the best idea you ever came up with to improve your business?
- How do you plan your day?
- Describe your organizational skills
- How have you dealt with conflicts, what would you change?
- How do you handle working on multiple projects/tasks?
- Tell me about a time when you had to be creative.
- Name one challenge you were faced with in a previous position.
- Describe the qualities that you have that would make you a good candidate for this position?
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!
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.