Building Blocks of Leadership

The skills and concepts in my book, Career-ology, are the foundation of leadership. Think of a great leader and rate his or her abilities on a scale of one to ten against the following skills:

  • Professional networking
  • Business writing
  • Public speaking and presenting
  • Sales and negotiations
  • Organizational awareness
  • Creating a personal brand
  • Developing an executive presence

Chances are the leader you selected rated highly in most if not all of these skills.

You can demonstrate the qualities of a leader without having direct reports. You don’t need a title or an organizational chart either. A true leader is a person whom others will follow regardless of the authority of a title or the incentive of a paycheck. Acquiring and practicing these skills and concepts are an excellent place to begin your journey to becoming an outstanding leader.

LinkedIn Official Blog

There is no better source of information about the most important professional networking platform in the world than the LinkedIn Official Blog. If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, go right to the source. There are hundreds of blog posts arranged by topic and searchable by keyword.

Reading List: How to Really Used LinkedIn by Jan Vermeiren

 

Why read the book? This book is written for a broad audience—from the LinkedIn novice to the advanced user—and includes instruction on using the tool and detailed strategies for creating your profile, building your own professional network, and engaging with groups. You can download a full copy of the book for free and access tools, videos, webinars, and self-assessment tools.

Reading List – The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business

The Power of Habits: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business

by Charles Duhigg

Why you should read this book? You will dive deep into the science of habits and learn how to harness the power of habits to accelerate your career experience. Duhigg, an award winning business journalist, also explores institutional habits and the idea of keystone habits that can be used to turn around organizations like Alcoa, the Fortune 500 manufacturing company, or products like P&G’s Febreze air freshener.

Developing negotiation skills

There is a lot of overlap between the skills you use for sales and those you use to negotiate. Both are art forms that also include specific techniques that can be employed to track, manage, and complete the transaction (otherwise known as “close” the sale). But neither is a science with exact steps and a “one size fits all” solution. Good negotiation skills provide a great foundation for developing good sales skills.

With both sales and negotiations, remember that you will improve with practice. Like the other skills in this book, sales and negotiation skills can be learned and practiced. Basic principles for good negotiations include:

  • Fostering a win-win attitude for all parties involved.
  • Asking GOOD questions and being a GREAT listener. Taking the time necessary to intelligently consider others.
  • Being flexible and looking for compromise solutions.
  • Recognizing the negotiation styles and techniques being employed by others.
  • Understanding the cultural issues at play. Organizational cultures and personal cultures (nationality or ethnicity-based) may play a role in negotiations.

You may have had the opportunity to practice your negotiation skills as you entered the job market. ink back to when you were first interviewing. You were the product that you were trying to sell. You did your best to sell your skills and accomplishments to a prospective employer. You presented your resume and explained your past achievements. You demonstrated how you would be a valuable member of the team.

This post was adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 6: Sales and Negotiation Skills.

Using sales and negotiation skills in your own career

There are many opportunities in your career to employ the same underlying skills used by the salesperson at the car dealer or the telemarketer who tries to convince you to switch television services. If you’ve convinced yourself that you are not in “sales,” how will you recognize these opportunities as just that—opportunities? Still not convinced? Take a look at the following lists and decide how many of these situations you’re likely to encounter over your career.

Sales

  • Selling your skills in a job interview.
  • Pitching your ideas to a client.
  • Selling your work product—making the case that your report/ presentation/analysis/design is better than your colleague’s.
  • Demonstrating your organization’s potential value to an angel investor.

Negotiations

  • Justifying a salary increase.
    Seeking an internal job change.
  • Convincing your manager that you deserve a promotion.
  • Persuading your boss that you’ve earned some additional vacation.
  • Requesting access to a training program or reimbursement for a part-time MBA.
  • Making the case for you to work flexible hours.

If you are not in a formal sales function, you probably have no training in negotiations or sales skills. It’s up to you to become familiar with the basics so that you can sell yourself, your work, and your ideas or to negotiate with managers, clients, and vendors.

This post was adapted from Carer-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 6: Sales and Negotiation Skills.

How does your role relate to sales in your organization?

Do you understand how your role relates to the sales function of your organization? Remember “sales” includes the delivery of goods or services. For example, if you work for a non-profit that runs sports camps for at-risk, inner-city youth, “sales” might include the programs at the camp. If you work for a national political campaign, “sales” may include a voter-registration drive or a town hall meeting.

Even if your job function doesn’t directly involve sales, when you are a part of any business organization that sells products or delivers services, it is important to have a high-level understanding of the sales function or the way your organization delivers it’s products or services. e sales function is the engine that drives every organization. Delivering products or services to customers, clients, and constituents is at the core of the mission for every company, government agency, school, or non-profit organization.

Sometimes even the smartest new professionals don’t realize that everything they do in the workplace is related to sales or the delivery of a service.  That service may include healthcare, government regulation, entertainment, or consulting. If you’re in a marketing role, you’re providing your sales team with the materials they need to sell or market a product. If you write for a print magazine, your stories help sell your magazine’s brand to advertisers.

This post was adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career.

KNOW THE PLAYERS

Every organization is the sum total of its people. I cannot emphasize this enough. To know the people in your organization is to understand the organization. Know the players within your organization and your industry. These people will directly and in- directly influence your career. Study them. Connect with them. Learn from them.

Adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 7, Organizational Awareness

WHAT ARE THE VALUES AND CULTURE OF THE ORGANIZATION?

Discovering the values and culture of an organization is more challenging than researching its history. Values and culture are difficult to pinpoint exactly. Time spent exploring this facet of organizational awareness is well worth it. The values and culture of an organization can impact your long-term satisfaction. You are likely to be more satisfied if your organization’s values and culture are compatible with your own.

Adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 7, Organizational Awareness

What is your organization’s history?

Part of understanding your organization is to understand its his- tory, culture, and values. Researching the history of your organization is usually straightforward. Private organizations may have been covered by the print or online media, so look to those sources for historical information. Check public records for historical information about public companies with financial reporting requirements, government agencies, or other public entities. Research the organization itself and its leadership. e history of an organization is created every day, so pay particular attention to major events in the history of your organization such as a merger, buyout, bankruptcy, a scandal, legal action, natural disaster, or other major event (i.e., September 11, 2001). What impact, positive and negative, did the event have on the values and culture of the organization?

Look for trends, themes, and discrepancies between the organization’s history and its current operations. Is the organization maturing or is it stuck in the past? While the history of an organization is informative, it does not predict the future direction with 100 percent certainty.

Adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 7, Organizational Awareness