Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

by Richard Martin

Copyright : Nikom Twytit | 123 Stock Photo

I always advocate looking at what we’ve accomplished in order to gain a better grip on where we need to go in the future. This is crucial to learning and readiness as well as for continuing improvement and development. December is a good time to do this as it provides a natural break point for after-action review and self-development.

What were my objectives at the beginning of the year?

Have I achieve my goals in the following areas: financial, strategic, professional, leadership, personal, family, developmental, educational, motivational, volunteering?

Could I have been more focused on key goals and activities?

On the other hand, was I too focused on some areas, to the exclusion of other important goals and activities?

Did I have a strategy and overall plan? Did I adhere to them or was I flexible in adjusting to circumstances and needs as they evolved?

Did I have a good support network and employ it to its fullest?

Did I procrastinate and waste time on irrelevant activities and time fillers?

Did I exercise regularly and care for myself in body, mind, and spirit?

Have I put off important personal and professional matters because I feared the effort or consequences?

What am I most proud of having accomplished or changed during the year that is ending?

What am I least proud of? How can I avoid that in the future?

Was I opportunistic during the year so I could progress faster toward my goals and implement my strategy with greater effectiveness and efficiency?

Did I seize and maintain the initiative, or did I coast on previous gains and try to defend my position?

There are still 4 weeks in December. What are the three key things I can do, right now, to make the end of 2017 a success?

What opportunities are close at hand and that I can seize to gain/regain and/or maintain the initiative as I head into 2018?

© 2017 Alcera Consulting Inc. This article may be used for non-commercial use with proper attribution.

12 techniques to self-improvement:

  1. Adopt and maintain the growth mindset.
  2. View your successes and failures as feedback for learning.
  3. Study the objective standards of your field, profession or organization.
  4. Observe and emulate positive role models.
  5. Practise self-knowledge in order to assess your leadership against objective standards.
  6. Practise self-awareness so you can witness your behavior, thinking, and performance on a
    moment-to-moment basis and adjust these accordingly.
  7. Create a vision of how you wish to lead in the future, and then determine what competencies
    and traits you will need to achieve that vision.
  8. Assess your past performance as a leader so you can draw lessons learned for now and the
    future.
  9. Identify where you are on the learning curve for the particular competencies you need in
    leadership. Are you at the initial awareness stage, making rapid progress, reaching diminishing
    returns, plateauing, or in decline? What is needed to move to the next stage of leadership
    competence?
  10. What is the next learning curve for you? What are the most likely risks and opportunities you
    face when making the leap to the next curve?
  11. What are your top leadership strengths and your center of gravity? Develop a strategy to
    exploit your center of gravity.
  12. What are your top leadership limitations and vulnerabilities? What is your strategy to manage
    these limitations, depending on the situation and the people you are leading?

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago about how Walmart has decided to provide more training and development for its employees, especially those that are just starting out. This is a welcome development, as companies often fail to provide the most basic skills and knowledge to allow their employees to do a good job. This is particularly the case in the retail sector, and it is compounded by the high turnover.

Walmart has adopted the motto “I know. I can. I will.” This is another way of describing the three types of competencies. I know refers to the knowledge requirements of a job. I can refers to the skills requirements. I will refers to the attitudinal requirements. With my own clients, I tell them that all tasks, functions and responsibilities can be broken out into the KSA scheme that I learned in the army. Knowledge is WHAT the person needs to know to do the job or task. Skills are HOW the person will do the job or task. And Attitudes are WANTING to do the job, and do it well.

Whenever you’re confronted with the need to identify and develop competency requirements, it helps to break these out as follows: What knowledge is needed and by whom? How will the knowledge be applied in practice? What attitude is required to apply these skills and do a good job?

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Some of you may be old enough to remember Nancy Reagan’s plea to “just say no” to drugs. If only it were that easy for those who are mired in dependency. The same thing goes for strategy and other aspects of management and leadership. We often end up doing things or acquiescing to commitments that we should just turn down, or outright refuse to do. Ask yourself these questions before deciding to do something or make a commitment:

  • How does it contribute to my major goal(s)?
  • Do I even know what my major goals are?
  • Can I delegate it to someone I trust or MUST I do it myself?
  • Does it contribute to my brand, repute, mission, vision?
  • Do I believe it is useful and will actually work?
  • Am I just going through the motions?
  • Do I WANT to do it or commit to it?
  • Am I just trying to placate others?
  • Am I just trying to please others, or trying to “fit in,” or doing what I believe is expected of me?
  • Who is asking me to do it? Do I respect their judgment and opinion? If not, then I need to get another opinion or give more consideration to MY needs and values.

There are probably more questions to ask yourself, but I’m sure you can see where I going with these…

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Uber-consultant Alan Weiss, PhD, is running the Million Dollar Consulting® Conference in Atlanta in March. He already has 130 people signed up, but his “stretch goal” is 200. As a long-time member of Alan’s excellent communities I can attest to the incredible value of this opportunity. If you’re a solo consultant, coach or speaker, or if you run any kind of professional services business (e.g., accounting, legal, etc.), then this is the place you should be.

The site is below, with dates, presenters, and logistics. This is also one of the most inexpensive ways to be with Alan, as some registrants have pointed out, since he’ll be speaking and present throughout the three days. Please note that the special keynote speaker will be Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of the entire field of positive psychology. Wow!

Million Dollar Consulting Convention

Richard listed on bookaspeaker.net.

ISN Works introduces Richard Martin as one of its speakers.

I’ve been an independent consultant for eight years now. One of the deepest insights I’ve gained, from my own experience and that of helping others is the unerring value of self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the profound belief, faith even, that we are worthwhile individuals and that we have something of value to contribute to others and to the wider world. Unfortunately, many people confuse the belief in one’s unconditional worth and value with the belief that one should be beyond criticism or sheltered from opposition, difficulty, or even enmity.

An acquaintance of mine has been struggling for years with the idea of writing a book. He has—falsely in my estimation—focused on researching the topic to death and developing the ideas of others. If he had just written the book based on what he knows about the topic he would probably have published it by now and started drawing the benefits of having done so. He thinks he has a writing problem and frames his situation in that way. I’ve suggested to him that what he really has is a self-esteem issue. He thinks that he needs to rely on the ideas of others in order to be taken seriously as an author and expert on his topic of choice.

To quote Isaac Newton, we all “stand on the shoulders of giants.” That’s okay, and we should always acknowledge the sources of our ideas and contributions of others. But when that becomes an excuse to put off accomplishing what we truly want, it’s not simply a technical problem. It’s a self-esteem problem.

I’ve often been surprised in working with executives and companies that a lot of their problems stem from low self-esteem, or at least a lack of self-confidence and self-recognition of their unique value. I was doing a project with a professional service company. We were discussing ways of increasing the value—and fees—they could be charging their clients. When I broached the topic of moving from simply providing ready-made information and executing client-defined mandates, to knowledge- and wisdom-based interventions, the members of the group were visibly ill at ease.

When I inquired as to the nature of their discomfort, they told me straight out they didn’t think they could do it, and that besides their clients would never pay for that. They said they could never venture outside the beaten path of how things are done in their industry. It reminded me of the Simpsons episode when Marge washes Homer’s white shirts with the reds, and they come out pink. Marge tells Homer she thinks he looks good in pink, and that he looks different. But he tells her that he can’t risk being different because he’s not popular enough.

As my mentor, Alan Weiss, always says, “You can’t ask others to believe in your value unless you first believe it yourself.” Value is largely a psychological phenomenon. Can we honestly say a $100 thousand Mercedes is worth three times as much as a $30 thousand dollar Toyota (or whatever)? Not objectively at least. The value is in the perception and the branding. Before someone accuses me of not recognizing the workmanship and styling and performance of a Mercedes, I’ll say right away that these are objective qualities. However, there is also a unique, subjective qualitative difference. Technical know-how and proficiency are definitely a source of the Mercedes brand, but so is the self-esteem of the company, its management, and its employees. Moreover, customers acquire Mercedes’s cars because of that perception.

The exercise of sound leadership implies risk-taking and decision-making. This also entails a need for strong self-esteem. If you’re in front and leading, seeking to influence others and giving your view of things, then you will necessarily be criticized and occasionally opposed. You can’t lead if you don’t have the self-esteem to weather its inevitable ups and downs. By extension, leadership is founded on respect. We think of respect for the leader, but that also includes respect of others in general. To lead people you have to respect them enough to give them information, to explain the situation, to let them use their creativity and initiative, and to develop them so they can shine and eventually step into your shoes.

As you can see, self-esteem is not just some ethereal quality suitable only for preschoolers. If we want to take risks in life—And can we really avoid them?—then we require self-esteem. We must believe in our powers and abilities, and be willing to take a chance on them. We must have faith that others want and value our products and services and contributions. Otherwise, we get lost in the pack with no perception of difference and competitive advantage. We also fail to make our best contribution.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2014. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.

There is a famous essay by philosopher Isaiah Berlin, The Fox and the Hedgehog. In it he distinguished between authors who are “hedgehogs,” that is who see the world through one big idea, and “foxes,” who tend to see things through multiple lenses.

We can easily apply this idea to management and strategy. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against gaining special expertise and skill in a particular area of endeavour. However, being a “hedgehog” can become a problem if that is one’s only way of looking at things. To develop, we have to grow beyond parochial ways of doing and seeing things. Here are some tips on doing this.

  • Look for how your specialty has principles and methods in common with other areas.
  • Apply the methods of your specialty to problems in other spheres of endeavour.
  • Learn about the origins of your field, which usually show how it grew out of a common source.
  • Look at how your field’s methods are usually nothing but a specialized application of general problem-solving methods.
  • Look for projects and tasks outside your original field of expertise.
  • Find ways to lead multi-disciplinary teams and organizations.
  • Consider the points of view of people outside your discipline and how this would impact your decisions and actions.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

When asked what they find most striking or typical in the military way of doing things, most people I’ve asked readily answer discipline, organization, or rigour. The military has a disciplined way of going about its business, and this is one of the most salient lessons from military wisdom.

But what do we mean by “discipline”? In one sense, discipline refers to punishment and correction. This is certainly true; military leaders have a range of disciplinary tools at their disposal to enforce obedience and conformity. On the other hand, discipline also refers to a way of doing things, individually and collectively.

The Latin root of “discipline” signifies “learning” and “teaching.” It can also refer to a unified body of knowledge. This is the sense that I think most people are thinking of when they say that the military has a disciplined approach. It also incorporates “organization” and “rigour.” I believe this is also what people have in mind when they say lack discipline or that Olympic athletes have herculean discipline.

My first military assignment upon joining the Canadian Army was as an officer-cadet at Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean. I studied and trained there for five years, after which I was commissioned as an infantry officer. When I arrived on my first day at military college, I was struck by the politeness of the senior cadet leaders. They were calling us Mister or Miss so-and-so. They would politely ask us to “form up” in three ranks, even though most of us had no idea what they were talking about. Then they would politely introduce themselves and address us. They would explain what they wanted us to do and then tell us or show us how to do it. Of course, they were capable of being very direct and forceful if required, but that was always a later resort, after politeness failed to have the desired effect. We were marched around everywhere to get our uniforms and go to classes. It was all quite—that’s right—disciplined, organized, and rigorous.

At one point in my military career, after I had been commissioned as an officer and I had gained some practical leadership and command experience, I realized that discipline is in fact mostly voluntary. You can try to impose it from without, but in fact it relies on the intrinsic motivation of people to adhere to a doctrine and ethos and to follow leaders and teachers willingly.

The secret to being disciplined is the willingness to learn and relentlessly apply a systematic approach and attitude to thinking and acting. In the military, and in other life-and-death disciplines such as emergency room medicine, first aid, and piloting an aircraft, the key thought processes and techniques of the discipline are reduced to drills and routines. They are applied systematically and relentlessly in analyzing problems and executing actions. No matter what the situation, there is a drill to deal with it.

For instance, in the army you learn drills to react to enemy fire, to advance and attack, to withdraw and defend, and many more. The air force and navy have analogous procedures and drills. The important thing is that everyone learns the same approach and it is applied in all situations. This philosophy goes beyond individual and collective action however. Even cognitive processes are instantiated as drills for thinking through and analyzing a situation, coming to a decision, creating a reasonable plan, and then communicating it effectively and efficiently to subordinates and colleagues. When in a pinch and under great stress, such as enemy fire, the main action is to refer to these drills and action lists and implement them.

A further characteristic of military discipline is that it is learned and applied at all levels of the organization. The only difference is the extent of detail and comprehensiveness. A general essentially uses the same cognitive and leadership tools as a corporal. This makes communications between levels and branches much simpler and enables professional development to build on previous lessons and experience, without having to inculcate completely new approaches at each level.

In essence then, military discipline is based on a rigorous set of drills and procedures, which are applied systematically at all levels and in all areas of endeavour. If there is a need for specialized drills and processes, then these are built on the basis of the common set of techniques. Furthermore, the drills and procedures are iterative, recursive, nested, and modular. This means that you apply them cyclically, over and over again as problems come up or you are given new tasks and missions. You can mix and match them as needed, and they are applied up and down the line.

I have written extensively about these types of drills and disciplined approaches in my newsletters and articles over the years. In fact, if you go through the archive of newsletters on my website, Alcera.ca, you will no doubt find procedures that can be applied in a large number of business and organizational situations. The challenge is to apply them to your reality, and also to work on creating your own disciplined and rigorous approach to thinking, deciding, and acting.

Richard Martin is a consultant, speaker, and executive coach. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.