Archive for category Credibility

Habits for a Successful Career – Habit #7

Develop Your People Skills

Develop Your People Skills


Habits For a Successful Career

Habit #7 – Develop Your People Skills

Is one of your top career goals to become an executive, owner or partner in a business venture, or a university president?  Then Habit #7 is a primary concern.  Is one of your near term career goals to become a team leader, project leader, supervisor or manager?  Then Habit #7 is a primary concern.  Whether your career goals shoot for the stars or are more modest, people with successful careers have people skills that are above expectations because 60%+ of their role and responsibility involves People, not human assets or resources, PEOPLE.  You lead people, and manage things.  Habit #7 has seven people skills to be developed, improved, and possibly mastered including:

Order of Importance

  1. Listening to Understand (Covey)This is the most important people skill because it sets up success for the other six skills.  Most people, like many politicians, listen to ‘respond’, not understand.  True listening means asking clarifying questions, restating what you heard and empathizing with others to really understand what they are communicating.
  2. Communicating: Speaking, Writing, Presenting – Once you have mastered listening, then improve your communication skills in conversations, writing for business and making small and large group      presentations.
  3. Selling – Many people do not think selling is an important people or career skill unless they are in ‘sales’,      but people sell ideas and actions every day with colleagues at work, and with family and friends outside of work.
  4. Negotiating – Negotiating skills are the flip side of selling skills, and are very important if you aspire to be in a leadership position in any capacity.  In addition, improving your selling and negotiation skills are prerequisites to the next skill – resolving conflicts.
  5. Resolving Conflicts – All organizations, i.e. people, have conflicts – some small and some large.  The worse thing a successful person or a person in a leadership position can do is ignore or hide from      conflicts.  Improving your skills in this area will help remediate larger conflicts and resolve other without  destroying relationships.  In fact, it can help build trust and credibility.
  6. Motivating/Energizing – As hard as some people try to improve their people skills, many of us cannot ‘master’ all seven skills.  But they cannot be ignored!  For example, as an executive, I never ‘mastered’ the art of motivating and energizing people via public speaking.  To compensate, I brought in speakers that had a great motivating and energizing presence and then I would reiterate their points and lead by example to energize people in my organization.
  7. Mentoring/Coaching – Mentoring is a skill and quality seen in the most successful people and careers.  It is not only valuable to the person being mentored, but in many ways is as valuable to the mentor.  Put some gratitude in your attitude and help others develop their skills by mentoring and coaching them.

How many people skills are you proficient or a ‘master’?













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Habits for a Successful Career – Habit #6

Understand the Business

Understand the Business










Habits of a Successful Career

Habit #6 – Understand the ‘Business’

In understanding how things operate, you need to know what makes them tick – their ‘gears’.  This analogy is the same for all organizations and business ventures.  Most people’s careers are associated with business ventures: small, medium, or large.  These ventures can be for-profit, non-profit, or public service.  No matter what your position/career, consistently successful people must have, at a minimum, a good working knowledge of the breadth and depth of their business venture.  Of course, they have a greater depth of knowledge in their chosen professional/career area, but they also know all of the business ‘gears’, and interactions with each other.  Go for breadth of knowledge, then depth, of the ‘gears’ outside of your area.  Habit #4, Passion for Learning, complements Habit #6.  Continually learn and expand your knowledge in the business areas including, but not limited to:

  • Industry and Competitors
  • Business Model and Business Units
  • Economics and Key Performance Indicators
  • Products and/or Services
  • Business Processes
  • Technology and Systems
  • Accounting, Budgeting (capital and operating), and Financials
  • Sales and Customers
  • Critical Projects and Initiatives
  • Organization Chart and Key Leaders


This knowledge will make you more valuable inside and outside of your company.





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Habits For a Successful Career – Habit #4

Passion for Learning

Passion for Learning


Habits for a Successful Career

Habit #4 – Develop a Passion for Learning

After enduring four or more years of college, most people are ecstatic to get out in the ‘real world’ – and stop studying.  Does this sound familiar?  If so, you are in for a HUGE surprise.  A successful career requires people to recognize that learning is a journey, not a destination.  A passion for learning is a prerequisite for Habit #2 – Be Proactive and Adapt to Change and Habit #3 – Build Trust and Credibility.  Continue improving/mastering knowledge and skills in a variety of areas including:


  • Current Events
  • Technology
  • Selling and Negotiation
  • Business/Industry
  • Project Management
  • Management
  • Communication
  • Leadership


Update your goals annually with at least two areas for focused, continued learning and education.  In addition, teaching others is a part of the learning experience.

Current update for Habit #4:  Great article on “The Best Investment You Can Make” -



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Habits for a Successful Career – Habit #3


Trust and Credibility


Habits for a Successful Career

Habit #3 – Build Trust and Credibility

“I don’t trust him/her as far as I can throw him/her”.  Everyone has heard or said that phrase.  So how important is TRUST and CREDIBILITY in a successful career?  Consider this. “With high trust, success comes faster, better and at a lower cost” says David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airlines.  What professional does not want to be successful – faster, better, and fairly compensated?

I have worked in all environments – low, moderate and high trust.  When I became an C-Level executive, I knew I needed to build and cultivate trust and credibility with my people, peers and other executives.  But how does one go about building trust and establishing it as a Habit? In the 90’s I was introduced to the writings and teachings of the late Stephen R. Covey and his son Stephen R.M. Covey.  Both have written, taught and consulted on the topic of trust.  I have used their concepts and adapted them to my Life Success and Career Success Values with much success.  Many of my thoughts below are elaborations and adaptations of their writings.

Trust is not just a touchy, feely concept.  Consider this definition of trust from the Covey’s:

TRUST = One’s Character + Ones’ Competency

Trust between people is a combination of a person’s:

Character – What you say/do, How you say/do, and  Why you say/do

Competency -  What you can do, What you do and What results you get

So why is competency required to build trust?  Don’t you just need to be a ‘good person’ – high character?  Let’s look at a doctor/patient relationship.  As a patient needing open heart surgery, would you trust a doctor that had good bed side manners and high personal integrity, but was in their first year as a cardiologist, and had never performed open heart surgery?  Wouldn’t you trust a doctor more experienced/accomplished to do the surgery?  Of course!

People build trust and credibility by building ‘wealth’ in what the Covey’s call an ‘Emotional Bank Account’, EBA.  As with any bank account one can add to the account with deposits and reduce the account with withdrawals.  Here are just a few examples of deposits and withdrawals people can make.


Deposits – Thinks Straight, Talks Straight; Listens to Understand; Manages Expectations; Works to Right Wrongs; Puts Employees First, Then Customers, Then Stockholders; Promotes Win/Win Decisions

Withdrawals -  Shows Disrespect; Listens to Respond; Does Not Trust Others; Talks Behind People’s Backs; Avoids Conflict; Talks the Talk, Does Not Walk the Walk; Shows Intolerance/Inflexibility


Deposits – Is Experienced/Accomplished; Keeps Commitments; Delivers Results; Manages Risks; Solves Root Cause of Problems; Promotes Continuous Improvements; Admits When Wrong or Does Not Know; Demonstrates Leadership

Withdrawals – Does Not Hold People Accountable; Makes Excuses; Blames Others; Does Not Take Responsibility; Sells Poor Ideas; Does Not Understand the Business; Does Not Measure Success; Is Reactive versus Proactive; Does Not Align with Business

So how can you objectively measure your EBA with colleagues? I use the Trust Quotient, TQ:

TQ = EBA Deposits / (EBA Withdrawals * 2.75)

That’s right – withdrawals are more expensive than a single deposit.  So you need almost 3 deposits to make up for a single withdrawal.


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Drivers and Barriers in Establishing Business Alignment?
















Organizational Alignment 101

Before getting started with “how to” establish business alignment (BA), the champion of the effort needs to understand certain conditions exist inside organizations that are drivers or barriers for BA.  Think of drivers as conditions that make it easier, but not impossible if absent, for BA.  Barriers are conditions that may prevent BA or make it more difficult.  These evaluations will be helpful in determining a strategy for success. The most important are:


  1. Business executives and leaders understand and support BA
  2. Executives and leaders understand all parts of the business – strategy/model, processes, etc.
  3. BA a priority for business executives and organizations not in alignment
  4. All executives participate in developing business strategy, model, goals, etc
  5. Individual business MBO incentives support BA
  6. Demonstrated leadership depth and breadth
  7. Executives have track record of delivering on commitments
  8. Active process to measure BA


  1. Business units and departments are not well aligned
  2. Executives and leaders do not trust each other
  3. Business and/or  culture and decision making highly political
  4. Misaligned organization relegated to a ‘vendor’ instead of a business partner
  5. Lack of consistent and repeatable project portfolio management process
  6. Lack of consistent and repeatable project governance process
  7. Lack of consistent and repeatable service level agreement process
  8. Poor or no definition of IBA

It is imperative for executives and leaders to understand which drivers and barriers exist.  Periodically, they need to honestly evaluate drivers and barriers for each business unit, department, etc. that needs a high degree of BA.  They must take actions to create and continuously improve drivers.  For barriers, take actions to eliminate or continuously mitigate.

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