Saturday, September 9, 2017

Looking at Career Options? What's Your Anchor?

There are literally thousands of resources designed to help individuals figure out their career direction and the next steps they might take. One of the most popular, easiest to use and understand, and impactful is Dr. Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors questionnaire.

The Pfeiffer Career Series revised edition of Career Anchors: Discovering Your Real Values by Dr. Schein is a book "designed to help you to identify your career anchor and to think about how your values relate to your career choices...Your career anchor is a combination of perceived areas of competence, motives, and values that you would not give up; it represents your real self."

I have used Schein's questionnaire with individuals of all ages who are looking at what they are going to do in the next stage of their career. A powerful advantage of the book is that it includes the questionnaire, with the results of your answers telling you what you have said about what you would not give up. You receive answers about what your high and low scores are on the eight career anchors. You follow that by having a career anchor interview with a partner. This could be a family partner, a long-term friend; someone who knows you well and who you trust to be candid in discussing the eighteen career interview questions in the book with you. 

These questions span your career, whether it has been long or short, starting with, "What did you concentrate on in school?" The questions then move to ones like, "As you look ahead in your career, what are the things you are especially looking forward to?" The eighteenth and final question is, "As you think over the answers you have given, what patterns or themes do you see?" The patterns and themes come from the descriptions of the eight career anchors that are: Technical/Functional... General Managerial... Autonomy/Independence... Security/Stability... Entrepreneurial Creativity... Service/Dedication to a Cause... Pure Challenge... Lifestyle.

What follows are examples of how these statements of what you would not give up shaped the career decisions of two separate people to whom I was providing career coaching.

The first individual was a front-line manager at a nonprofit agency. She had been in the role for four years and was seriously questioning whether to stay in the nonprofit field. After she took the Career Anchors questionnaire she saw that her two highest scores were in Service/Dedication to a Cause and Lifestyle. She agreed with the scores, saying that she would not give up the opportunity to pursue work that achieves something of value, such as making the world a better place to live which is the definition of Service and Dedication to a Cause. She also agreed with the fact that she would not want to give up the Lifestyle that her job affords. Lifestyle involves being in a situation that permits you to balance and integrate your personal needs, your family needs, and the requirements of your career. Based on the conversation that was had about the fact that her job was really meeting her values, she talked with her boss and was able to shift some of the responsibilities that had been making her so unhappy in a way that had her feeling much more positive about her situation.

The second example involved a very bright double PhD scientist who was a Vice-President in a pharmaceutical company. His lowest score by far was on the General Managerial competence and his two highest scores were on Autonomy/Independence and Pure Challenge. It turned out that he had gotten advanced very quickly in his career because of his brilliant mind, engaging personality, the respect that his colleagues had for his work ethic and his ability to get results.

The problem and reason that he had asked for an executive coach was that he hated to manage others and only wanted to be left alone to focus on the very complex molecules that would save many lives. Based on the conversations that we had around the results of the Career Anchors questionnaire he sat down with his boss and told her that he was willing to take a pay cut and a step back in the organization so that he could focus on the research he loved. After multiple conversations, the organization allowed him to make that move without his having to take a pay cut.

To be very clear, both of these talented individuals knew about much of what the Career Anchor results showed them, but had never put those factors together in a way that allowed them to come up with a plan for moving ahead effectively with their career at their current employer.

I mentioned in the second paragraph of this article the book that provides a full program for how to gain information from completing the questionnaire to having a structured eighteen question conversation with someone who knows you and who you trust having a confidential conversation about your career that ties into the questionnaire results. If the way I have described Schein's model interests you I encourage you to purchase that book. It is the most comprehensive way to gain information about your Career Anchors.  I obviously do not receive any remuneration from the publisher if you do that.

I use Schein's model as one of multiple self-evaluation resources in a free thirty slide program I have presented to the public called How to Make the Most of Your 2nd Fifty Years. You don't have to be over fifty to gain valuable career information from viewing that program. It is free to download off my website  You will never be approached by me or anybody else if you choose to download that program.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Power of the Humble Leader

Jim Collins – -  is one of the most respected researchers on the topic of leadership and the author of the international bestseller Good to Great.  His website is an extremely rich resource into his 25 years of research into what makes good organizations tick.

Since all my articles deal with how to work, live and/or lead for the common good, defined as - any idea, plan or actual deed that will benefit a community and not just help a select few -  his work is appropriate considering what he and his team have found out about the characteristics of the most successful leader; the Level 5 leader.
That person “Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical combination of personal humility plus professional will…They were self-effacing individuals who displayed the fierce resolve to do whatever needed to be done to make the company great.  While Level 5 leaders can come in many personality packages, they are often quiet, reserved and even shy.  Every good-to-great transition in our research began with a Level 5 leader who motivated the enterprise more with inspired standards than inspiring personality." 

Collins goes on to observe, “It didn’t matter whether the company was consumer or industrial, in crisis or steady state, offered services or products.  It didn’t matter when the transition took place or how big the company.  All the good-to-great companies had Level 5 leadership at the time of transition… Given that Level 5 leadership cuts against the grain of conventional wisdom, especially the belief that we need larger-than-life saviors with big personalities to transform companies, it is important to note that Level 5 is an empirical finding, not an ideological one.”

Individuals like those described as Level 5 fit the common good definition as benefiting a community and not just helping a select few.  The four levels leading up to Level 5 are Level 1, the highly capable individual, the Level 2 contributing team member, the Level 3 competent manager, the Level 4 effective leader with Level 5 being the executive.

There was definitely an empirical focus in the research of Collins and his team.  In Good to Great his team identified companies that made the leap from good results to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years.  These eleven companies were compared to a carefully selected control group of companies that failed to make the leap, or if they did, failed to sustain it.

For those who are interested in further study regarding leadership and the Collins 5 level model will find a free Where Are You on Your Journey from Good to Great: The Good to Great Diagnostic Tool on the Collins website.

There are two Harvard Business Review articles that I have given to hundreds of leaders in all sectors as resources to help them understand and move toward being concerned about the success of those around them versus being focused totally on their own success.  Collins’ article Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve in the July-August 2005 issue of Harvard Business Review is one of those articles.  The other, Leadership That Gets Results by Dan Goleman in the March-April 2000 issue of Harvard Business Review, talks about the importance of emotional intelligence – the ability to manage ourselves and our relationships effectively.  A key point in that article, which is critically important for anybody wanting to become a Level 5 leader, is the importance of Self-Awareness.

I have found in my leadership coaching that individuals who do not have “a realistic evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses combined with an ability to read and understand their emotions as well as recognize their impact on work performance and work relationships,” the definition of self-awareness derived from the study of 3,871 executives selected for the article, do not have much chance of being a Level 5 leader.  Self-awareness is a key toward understanding if you are being humble in your actions.

There are additional resources in regarding leadership and the common good.  Forthcoming articles will focus on the importance of emotional intelligence as it relates to one’s ability to have a positive impact on those around you, whether or not you are in a leadership role.  I will be writing another article on the work of Jim Collins represented in his monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Your Ten Second Moment of Positive Impact

This column is for people of any age and background who want to have a positive impact.  It will provide very concrete and actionable ideas about how to do that.  It will focus on how to find work that allows you to have a positive impact, and how to act at work in a positive way.  It will give examples of how to live your life in a way that has a positive impact.  Finally, it will provide examples of how to lead others in a way that has a positive impact on them.  This blog is supported by the website 

We are focusing in today's blog on how to live a life that has a positive impact on others, and how a ten second action done repeatedly for the right reason can impact large numbers of people in a very positive way.

The phrase "random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty" is attributed to Anne Herbert.  The book Random Act of Kindness was published in February 1993 by The Editors of Conari Press. That book was updated in 2013 as Random Acts of Kindness Then and Now: The 20th Anniversary of a Simple Idea That Changes Lives.  Both books provide many examples of these kinds of acts.  

The two key ingredients in a random act of kindness are that it is being done spontaneously and without the thought of receiving anything in return.

The Random Acts of Kindness organization - - provides research examples that show the benefits of performing acts of kindness with people.  Here are two of the many examples they provide on their website:

-Witnessing acts of kindness produces Oxytocin, which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health.  Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we're anxious or shy in a social situation.

-Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved.  Mortality is delayed, depression is reduced and well-being and good fortune are increased.

Another valuable resource for specific examples of how kindness can increase one's mental and physical health can be found at The Greater Good Science Center -

The idea of acting kind is not some squishy do-gooder way of looking at life.  It is a way of life that has benefits for many.  It has also become a global movement.

The Australian Kindness Movement - - provides information about the World Kindness Movement that was formed during a conference in Tokyo in 1997 hosted by the Small Kindness Movement of Japan.  "The 'declaration of kindness', signed by representatives of the countries present at the 1997 conference, reads as follows:

In acknowledgment of the fundamental importance of simple human kindness as a basic condition of a satisfying and meaningful life, we hereby declare the establishment of the World Kindness Movement."

The Kindness Organization concludes with the following, "Kindness is a 'heart to heart' communication, and experience that many people hunger for.  Mother Theresa pointed out that 'there is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much.'  As the reality of being kinder to each other spreads throughout the world under the auspices of the World Kindness Movement and other kindness organizations, the character of people will change to express a more friendly and positive relationship.  The heightened sense of relating to others will help dissipate the meanness created by our competitive, greedy, and materialistic society."

In conclusion, if you are currently or decide in the future to open yourself to the power of a brief, spontaneous act of kindness as those opportunities present themselves, that way of acting has the potential to help you, the recipient and those who witness the random act of kindness to feel better and possibly be healthier