Continuous Advancement and Perpetual Growth

By | Executive Assistant, Leadership, Training | No Comments

One of the strongest propositions of value a leader can give to an employee is the ability for that individual to grow perpetually in all dimensions. Obvious dimensions include professionally as well as personally, but do not overlook the importance of financial, mental, and spiritual growth as well. In nature, plants either grow or decompose. They do not stay the same. In an organization, nourishment is supplied by what is referred to as training, but a more accurate term for it is learning. What is being done within your organization to foster learning, growth, and new perspectives each week?

It is important to note that even with access and exposure to new tools and resources, not every employee is going to be open to learning. Unfortunately, organizations will always have “prisoners” in their camp or perhaps self-absorbed individuals who already think they know everything. This is a fact of life!

Therefore our focus in this article will be on the core of your office or team that is open to learning and being mentored if properly challenged. The key is to defy the old adage, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” If you limit yourself to that belief, you are limited by your current capabilities. Where you, your team, your organization is at this present moment is as far as you will go. Think of all the innovations that came about because someone was creative and resourceful enough to take something that worked well and make it just that much better. Keyless entry for vehicles, wireless mouses for computers, and the iPhone are just a few examples of modernizations that would have not been created had their inventors been okay with the status quo. Have the same outlook on your own business. Constantly evaluate what’s not working, and even with what is working, be open to how to make it just a little more effective, innovative, or differentiated.

Where to Begin

A good step is to create a one-year learning plan for yourself and everyone at your organization. It should cover all dimensions of one’s life and have elements that can be measured quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily. To summarize this continual learning process, conceptualize two things: where you are today, which is your achievement, and where you could be, which is your potential.

Even if it’s only 30 minutes per week dedicated to learning and development, that 30 minutes begins to build a bridge to get you from your current achievement all the way over to your future potential. To use an example, one of the most renowned pieces of sculpture in the world is Michelangelo’s statue of David. When Michelangelo was asked how he created the magnificent statue David from a block of stone, he replied that he did not create David from the stone, but rather he saw David in the stone and merely chipped away at the unneeded pieces until David emerged. We are the same way. Underneath all the things we currently know and do, lies an undiscovered statue in each of us. Like Michelangelo chipping away at the stone, devoting time each week to ongoing development or fostering a learning environment with your team will begin to uncover the statue underneath. Like the unveiling of David, this does not happen overnight. It takes patience, dedication, and commitment to build a bridge from current achievement to underlying potential.

Resources to Support Growth

There are numerous resources available to augment a continual learning process. Initially, poll your staff to solicit feedback in which area or areas they feel the greatest needs exist. You may find group energy surrounds subjects such as personal development, public speaking, leadership skills, technological training, or financial planning. Remember that once the desired issues have been raised, the internal team does not necessarily need to be the only solution to deliver content. The old saying “you cannot be a prophet in your own land” comes to mind. Consider seeking outside experts to speak on the subjects in which they are proficient. Creating a comprehensive year-long learning plan for an entire organization can be just as influential as empowering each employee to construct a personal learning plan.

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Video Interview Tips to Help You Land Your Dream Job

By | Career Guidance, Executive Assistant, Interviews | No Comments

Video interviews offer some significant advantages over traditional interviews, such as reducing travel expenses and making the hiring process more efficient. Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Skype are a few popular video conferencing platforms that companies use to screen candidates for c-level support positions. Some of the same phone interview tips we shared in a previous post are applicable, but video interviews add some unique challenges. Regardless of how confident you may feel about discussing your qualifications on camera, there is always room to polish these skills to ensure you are making a positive impression. Below are a few video interview tips to help you land your dream job.

Create a Professional Set Up

You don’t have to be a videographer to create a professional video setup. Just like in-person and phone interviews, there are variables you can control like technical, camera, and body-language-related factors. Prepare in advance for some of the common technical issues that could arise during video interviews, including:

  • Lighting – Be sure to give special attention to the lighting around the interview space. Natural light is recommended, but selfie ring lights can be suitable alternatives. Don’t sit with a window or light source behind you or your face will appear dark. Try to have light on either side and in front of you. You can use a combination of natural light and lamps.
  • Microphone – Receiving and sending clear information is essential. Headsets are typically preferred for quality sound and reducing background noise. A good microphone on a stand out of frame would also be a good choice. Just be sure to check your audio prior to the call.
  • Camera – Phone or tablet cameras should be used as a last resort. External webcams, laptop cameras, or desktop cameras are favored because they typically have adjustments for exposure, balance, and color.
  • Internet – Ensure that your connectivity speed is sufficient to support video and audio. Being physically connected to a router is generally a safer bet than trusting wireless hotspots.

Basic Etiquette Still Matters

Although you might not be in the same room with the interviewer, most of the usual rules still apply during a video interview. Maintain good eye contact without overdoing it. Using just the right amount of eye contact in video is a skill that can take some time to adjust to. Five seconds of eye contact is what most professionals suggest to avoid appearing too aggressive or too meek. Next, finding the appropriate balance of smiling is important. Hiring managers might perceive too much smiling as fake enthusiasm or aloofness. It’s still important to smile to show that you are a pleasant, confident person.

We encourage candidates to prepare for video interviews much like they would an in-person meeting. Spend plenty of time practicing, mitigate any technical issues that could surface and remember to practice overall good interview etiquette.

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11 Interview Practice Questions to Help You Prepare

By | Career Guidance, Executive Assistant, Interviews | No Comments

To prepare for an interview, it’s important to practice answering both traditional and behavior-based questions. In this article we’ll cover some common questions an interviewer might ask a candidate being considered for a position at any level of an organization. Also included is an analysis of the question which may help you answer such a question in your job interview. Below are eleven interview practice questions to help you prepare.

Interview Practice Questions

1. Could you please tell me about yourself?

Although this question is broad, keep your answer focused and relevant to the job for which you’re applying. Mention the top three or four aspects of your experience, skills, interests, and personality that make you a qualified candidate for the job.

2. What are your long- and short-term career goals?

With this question the interviewer is trying to get a feel for why you want this job and how long you’re going to stick with it. The ideal answer will assure the employer that you’re worth the investment—that is, training you, introducing you to clients, entrusting you with responsibility. Your answer should assure that you’ll be around for a while—and maybe even a long time.

3. Outside of work, what are some of the things you do?

Employers know that what an applicant does for free can speak louder about his character than what he does for money. Tell the interviewer about something in your nonprofessional life that says: “Hey, I’m a good person.”

4. What strengths do you bring to this job that other candidates might not?

There’s no hidden message here. The employer is giving you the floor to sell yourself for the job. Prepare well for this answer and deliver it with confidence. After all, who knows more about why you’re suited for the job than you? Make your presentation using brief achievement stories whenever possible.

5. Why do you want to leave your current position?

The interviewer is concerned about any problems that might arise based on past experience. Be sure to use good judgment here. Don’t bad-mouth your current boss and don’t bring up anything negative.

6. Why did you leave your last job?

Sounds like the interviewer wants to know if there are any underlying problems like a lack of commitment, difficult personality, poor performance, or anything that might lead to termination. Employers don’t want to take on someone who has a record of walking out on jobs or getting fired. No matter why you left your last job, couch your response in positive terms, without lying.

7. Please explain why you have a gap in your employment history.

With this question, the employer is looking for any problems in your personal life that might become a headache if you’re hired. Explain your gaps honestly, leaning on activities that support your job objective, if that’s possible. If you don’t have anything to say that’s relevant, then talk about activities that show your strength of character and helped you know what you really want to do next: the job you’re interviewing for.

8. Of all the problems you had at your previous position, which was the hardest to deal with?

What a sneaky question! “Of all the problems. . .” Don’t fall for it. Don’t let on that you had many problems, even if you did. Instead, refer briefly to an area you—and probably the rest of the world—find challenging, and move right on to how you’ve learned to deal with it.

9. What project required you to work under pressure? What were the results?

How you respond to this question will tell the interviewer if you excel while working under pressure. Be honest and positive. All jobs bring with them a certain amount of pressure, but some have a lot more than others. Give an example in which the level of pressure was just right for you that will suggest how much pressure you’re looking for on your next job.

10. What college experience are you especially proud of?

If you haven’t been in the workforce long, this question is your opportunity to give balance to the fact that you don’t have much paid experience. Spotlight your academic and extracurricular achievements, especially the ones that are relevant to your job objective.

11. What classes or training are you planning to pursue at this point?

This one’s tricky. You want to look dedicated to developing your profession but you don’t want to appear to have so much going on that you won’t be 100 percent on the job. Make it clear that your number one priority is your job, and developing your profession is second.

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The Next Generation of Leadership

By | Leadership | No Comments

The success of any organization is largely reliant on the strength of its leadership. Conveying a vision, formulating strategy, and ultimately driving the direction of a company is no small task. Thus, having a sustained and committed leadership development program can be a key differentiator in the trajectory of a firm. Although bringing in talent from the outside has advantages including fresh ideas, competitive insights and diversification, there is nothing like a home-grown leader. Talent from inside the organization is well versed with the history, processes, systems, structure, and culture already in place. Home-grown talent is also aware of the organization’s strengths and perhaps even more importantly, weaknesses. This allows them to make better and more informed growth-oriented decisions. How does one start to identify the next generation of leadership within the firm? Instead of relying solely on tenure, keep in mind that your future leaders of your company may be hiding in plain sight. How do you bring them out into the open?

Potential vs. Performance

Quite often, raises and promotions occur based on outstanding performance and the achievement of quotas or goals. Employee performance defines ability and expertise, which is important. However, place equal weight on an individual’s aptitude, desire to grow, and overall potential.

Just because an athlete is one of the best football players of all time does not mean that individual can be an effective coach. Some individuals are not cut out to be leaders, although their performance is at the higher end of the scale. They don’t have the capacity for leadership roles, they may lack the visionary ability required, or they enjoy the spotlight so much that they will rarely redirect it to others. This is why potential should outweigh performance as a factor when zeroing in on a possible future leader.

Rules of Engagement

Be on the lookout for those employees who have a natural ability to make things happen. They gravitate towards making decisions rather than waiting to see what the status quo will be. Specifically, look for individuals who take action and can speak to how they have tried as opposed to what they think someone else could, or should, do.

A future leader will have a tendency to make suggestions for overall process improvement, rather than asking questions to clarify what is expected of them. Future leaders will take the time to be overly prepared for meetings, projects, and responsibilities. Take the time to identify individuals who take things seriously. They understand the importance of any task that has been entrusted to them, no matter how small, and seize it as an opportunity to perform.

Additionally, how does an employee act in a meeting; are they attentive and composed, or distracted and ready to “get back to work?” True leaders are too intensely focused to get restless, too engaged to be nervous, and too invested to be bored.

Necessarily Nimble

We tend to categorize multi-tasking as the ability to juggle several activities simultaneously. Think beyond multi-tasking with activities, and instead look for those who can multi-task with responsibilities. Leaders need to be agile as they can at times be relied upon to light a fire within one group while simultaneously putting out a fire with another. They must not be flustered by an abrupt change in direction or by seamlessly picking up balls that have been dropped, all while still delivering on the core functions of their role.

Put your prospective future leaders to the test and give them some extra responsibilities or perhaps an assignment with a quick turnaround time. Do not be afraid to throw them in at the deep end and keep tabs on how well they swim. Can they handle the extra tasks you have assigned, or are they finding it difficult to be nimble and adapt to the pressure? Do they have a “do whatever it takes” attitude and can stretch when pulled, perhaps even putting in extra hours or soliciting the help of others for direction and support?

Extroversion versus Emotional Intelligence

Particularly in a leadership capacity, one must have a genuine demeanor and a connection with those around them. Not all great leaders are extroverts, so do not make the mistake of gravitating to the loudest talker in the room. Instead, look for those who have a high degree of self-awareness and who take the time to interact with other employees outside of their immediate hierarchy. Future leaders will not be consumed by negative emotions such as fear or victimization, nor do they make excuses for subpar results by blaming a litany of extenuating factors that no normal human could possibly have overcome. When individuals with high emotional intelligence make a mistake and get criticized for it, it does not send them into an emotional tailspin; they view it simply as a fact to be noted, studied and corrected.

Seminary professor J. Carla Northcutt once stated, “The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves.”

A mark of a future leader is someone secure enough personally to help others advance in their careers. They are confident without being arrogant. They are humble but have a high sense of self-worth. They are comfortable in their own skin without being blasé. They are good listeners but do so with purpose and intention. They can deliver a tough message with a soft hand. They care not about wealth or fame, but about achievement and potential.

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