I'll never forget this one particular meeting I went to about 5 years ago. It was something to do with the upcoming Insurance accounting standard and so the room was full of accountants and actuaries. Read: pale, male and stale. Not only was I still new to the life insurance industry, but I physically stuck out like a sore thumb. It was easy for my insecurities to rise: 'little me' on my shoulder whispering in my ear, "they're all probably smarter than me. Life insurance is 'soooo' technical....I've only just come into this insurance world, so I possibly don't even belong here. I mean, look at me?"
Does that sound familiar, Alena? Women in finance and financial services are still so few and far between, especially at the senior leader level. I felt really alone and exposed in that meeting, so I didn't ask any questions. I didn't have anyone around me that I felt was just like me. So I rode out the meeting, nodding my head and smiling thoughtfully.
The challenge I want to cover this week is kind of a time management issue, but it's first and foremost a 'getting results' issue. So if you're looking to get massive results in 2020, then what I'm about to cover is for you.
The feeling, "I've got no one to help" is a problem
You can't do it alone. That in itself is really just a maths equation: amount of work > amount of time. Always. Find someone that has enough time to do all the work on their plate, and I'll show you someone that is caught up in the misery of mediocrity. That's not for you, Alena. But I understand, in your reality, there will never be enough time to do it by yourself.
So if you ever have the thought, "if only I had a good 2IC" or "I wish my team could pick this up" or "I wish I could bounce this off someone without them thinking I'm stupid", you need to work on your powerbase. Because if you try to do everything, you'll miss your deadlines and you won't do a good job. You'll be exhausted and resentful about everything and everyone you work with. But make no mistake of it, you will be the one holding yourself back from unlocking the potential within yourself. You will be your greatest roadblock. And women in finance are very good at keeping their problems close, for fear of impact to their reputation and credibility that they've spent so much time building.
You will not achieve great results if you try to do it alone.
Solve the problem...engage a powerbase
No one is going to give you extra headcount, train your 2IC or team for you and many of your challenges won't be appropriate to share with them or your boss. But that's okay. You don't have to look within your team, or within your function or even organisation for that matter.
When you have a powerbase - a network of like-minded people who will help you, support you, and will have your back - you are a far better leader. Having a solid powerbase, you can achieve more. You have someone to:
• Delegate to Learn from
• Bounce ideas off
• Open doors for you
• Troubleshoot with Vent to Build new ideas with Challenge
• you Sense check your conclusions
• Keep you accountable
When you have a strong powerbase you:
• Lean in to challenges
• Speak up in meetings
• Are confident to ask questions
• Are presented with new opportunities
In fact, when you have a strong powerbase, you're actually a better person. Because work becomes really manageable and you focus on opportunities, not consequences. A fundamental shift happens to your mindset so the baggage you walk in the front door with when you get home is a lot lighter.
You 2.0 in 2020
If this is the year that you intend to make a step change to your leadership and career, then you need a solid powerbase. A rockstar powerbase should include a combination of connectors, teachers, sponsors, supporters, mentors and balancers. Think about it like the trivial pursuit pieces - when you have all segments filled in your piece, you win. When you have a complete powerbase pie, you form a wheel of opportunity and you're ready to 'up' your game.
Click here to access an extract of my book, Meaning Matters: Results Beyond the Numbers, where I define each role within the powerbase pie.
When you have a full powerbase pie, you create a wheel of opportunity that exponentially elevates your ability to lead and perform...both at work and in your life.
In short, having a rockstar powerbase will increase the volume and velocity of your opportunity flow, i.e. greater opportunities are provided to you at a faster pace....with less effort.
Be front of mind with the right people
We make assumptions that the people in our world who like us, respect us and value our contribution to the world will also advocate for us when the opportunity arises. And no doubt, they'd love to. But unless they know that we'd like them to advocate for us, unless we're front of mind for them, the opportunity will rise....and pass again just as quickly.
An explicit conversation with them initially helps. Having executive presence with your powerbase ensures you're front of mind when it counts and is where the rubber hits the road.
I was working with my client, Michelle, on this in the second half of last year. We identified the key people in her powerbase and the actions that she could take now in order to increase her opportunity flow (ie create more opportunities) for her career growth later. In the 2 weeks between our sessions, her opportunity flow was flooding!! She said to me, 'the opportunity flow is magic!'
It wasn't magic, she'd just done the work - and the strategic thinking that sits behind it - to create the opportunities for her.
What opportunities do you need to create for yourself this year to achieve your 2020 vision?
I invite you to shift your possibilities this year.
Amplify your Influence.
PS: If you think your powerbase needs some work, download this extremely simple powerbase audit to see where you might need some help.
Strategic thinking starts with clarity of outcomes
You cannot think strategically if you don't have a strategy. And a strategy has an outcome. Know your outcome at every level of the game:What outcome does your industry want (your industry objectives)?What outcome does your organisation want (your company's mission)?What outcome does your team want (your team's purpose)?What outcome do you want (your vision)?Then...when you are asked to do something at work, what is the desired outcome for that person or piece of work? How does that align with your vision, your team's purpose, your company's mission, your industry objectives, etc?
This is why my model above has the lines running parallel to each other. The reason why this approach works is that it keeps the desired result front of mind. This reduces distraction, increases motivation, therefore increases overall effectiveness. It keeps your team focused on what matters, and what doesn't, thus encouraging more productive and constructive conversations to happen between team members and their leader.
There needs to be this conscious and very intentional alignment. Without this, you're just shooting in the dark.
Strategic thinking is ultimately about making meaning
When you can connect the dots between the tasks you perform and the bigger vision and objectives for you and your organisation, what you do takes on greater levels of meaning, thus enabling you to produce even better results. When you can make those connections quickly, it also means that you can deliver those results more efficiently.
Less time, better results. Strategic thinking is the key.
Because meaning matters.
I invite you to make 2020 count.
Amplify your Impact
This article is part of the AMPLIFY series. A 12 month program specifically designed for finance leaders who want to create amplified success for themselves. The program focuses on the mindset, behaviours and capabilities essential to increase finance leaders' individual impact, team leadership and stakeholder influence.
Get this complimentary program delivered directly to your inbox each week, along with the tools and templates designed to make implementation of this 'done with you' program easy.
Sign up here.