'Mindful Monday': Waiting is not leadership

May 09, 2016


Nancy Fredericks

Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.

Companies today are experiencing chaos at an unprecedented rate, which means you are too. The restructuring, global competitiveness, acquisitions, and layoffs have stirred up anxiety in executives.

As my female clients reach out sharing all that is going on in their organization—and it is a lot—their next words are: “I’m waiting to find out what is happening with me.”

No! Uncertainty is not the time to wait. Yes. Leaders are the decision-makers, and yet you have a lot of power also.

In periods of massive chaos, there are too many moving parts to keep everything functioning smoothly without something going awry. This tumult produces an abundance of whitespace opportunities for you to expand your resume and craft your career life story rarely available under normal business circumstances. Don’t sit back and miss your chance.

There are two indispensable steps to take advantage of such times that will jumpstart your journey of empowerment no matter the circumstances.

  1. Identify your strengths and passions. Why? Because when you use your strengths every day, you are six times more likely to be engaged in your job. Gallup research reveals that merely recognizing strengths has you becoming 17 percent more productive. But that is not the least of it. You’ll have more fun, perform better, be more productive and excited to come to work every day with bells on—well, the bells part may be a bit fanciful though not the rest! Conversely, 52 percent of Americans who use their strengths for three hours a day or less are stressed out. Proactively identifying your strengths will dramatically improve your work experience… and that rests in your hands.
  2. Then explore where your passions and strengths intersect most powerfully with your organization’s bottom-line. Why? Profitability is the primary measurement of success. By positively improving your company’s earnings, you will gain more influence, respect, and rewards along with increased control over your career. So, by aligning your passions and strengths with the bottom-line profitability of your organization, you earn a wealth of career capital for yourself. The most recent McKinsey and Company research reveals how important positions tied to income are to advancement. More than half of women hold staff roles (positions in functions that support the organization like legal, human resources, and IT). In contrast, a majority of men hold line roles at every level… line roles are closer to the company’s core operations. And by the way, line positions link more directly to the company’s income, which provides a critical preparation for top roles, this disparity can impede women’s path to senior leadership.  

Remember, when everything and everyone around you are in disorder, get excited, get proactive, get creative and recognize the opportunity. Then, start focusing on areas of the business that are of interest to you. After all, why would you ever want to take on additional responsibilities unless they are integral to who you are, your strengths, and passions? Or why would you ever explore spending time or energy on a project that doesn’t enhance the bottom-line of the organization?

This two step mental model is the success formula for a long, satisfying, prosperous career in chaotic times… never waiting.