Career planning Leadership Mentoring Personal development

7 Steps to Gravitas

Where do I start? I have had feedback from leaders I have worked with, that I smile too much, fidget, talk too much and don’t have gravitas. This has come from many sources over many years. A few years ago I went on a short course on executive presence and the teacher used examples of Gravitas and we discussed leaders such as Julie Bishop. It’s not just her dress, but its presence without words, when she speaks she holds the room.

Anjulie Bishop ex colleague of mine Marina observed my restlessness and how distracting this was. She suggested a hypnotist. I was taken back as I did not believe in hypnotherapy, determined to address this consistent feedback I went and too my surprise the process built awareness and with awareness came the ability to control my movement. I am a lot better, and if I exercise and don’t drink too much coffee all is good! I don’t smile, unless someone says something funny, hard when you are a happy person! When I speak I ensure I don’t waffle, concise and to the point. I don’t talk too much, only when needed, a challenge when you are a chatterbox!

Over a year ago I was interviewing and a lady very smartly dressed she sat down and started talking, laughing at herself in a gregarious way. I was looking in the mirror and in an instant I understood, why I did not have gravitas. The impulsive talking, need to be liked and a laugh that would scare anyone, was a far cry from gravitas. The similarities were scary and as hard as it was to concentrate on the interview, I could not get pass the impact that the characteristics had on me. It devalued the individuals capability and made it difficult for me perceive her in the way she would have hoped.

Here is the dilemma, when we are not our true self, we feel we that we lack authenticity and that can also be perceived badly. I made a decision to change my behaviors and focus on building gravitas as I do not have anything to lose and I have a lot to gain. The journey is a good one and  worth the effort. You have far more impact in business. When I prepare for a meeting with senior personnel I think of Julie Bishop.

What to practice:

  1. Sit still
  2. Smile at appropriate times
  3. Don’t transmit
  4. Leave your ego outside
  5. Answer questions,ask questions
  6. Active listening
  7. Dress the part

Key message: Practice Gravitas if you want to succeed in your career.

Leadership Mentoring Personal development

5 Lessons in transformational leadership

Transformational leadership is a key skill in today’s digitally disrupted environment. In the last two and half years I have worked with a sales team in telecom to transition from traditional telecom sales to selling cloud, managed services, applications and professional services.  When I started in the role I naively believed this would be a 12 month process, it took over 2 years. Here are some of the key lessons from my experience:

  1.  Spend time on the Why, no one is interested in the How unless they understand the Why. Ask your team in monthly town halls or all hands sessions why are we changing? It takes time for people to really understand the why.
  2. Regular transparent communications. Weekly updates on progress, recognising any small shift in behaviour, calling it out and celebrating every small change. People don’t change if they feel unsupported, create a safe learning environment.
    • run regular employee engagement surveys on how they are feeling, so you can address concerns in the regular communication
  3. Cadence is essential with any changes: Ensure any new cadence is introduced with a clear expectation of what they need to do, how they can get help to prepare and recognise every improvement they make no matter how small. Coach on the gaps.
  4. Use behavioural framework to help the team understand what is expected of them. This is relevant for cultural change. Culture is underpinned by behaviours that have been acceptable in the past and no longer serve the business. Highlight the 5-6 behaviours that need to change, work out what good, and excellent  looks like for each of the behaviours to change, then ask your leaders where they are on each one. Then coach on achieving the good and excellent.  For example: Excuse behaviour:
    • Excellent: is find solutions proactively and communicate the actions they will take to make it happen and then execute.
    • Good: comes with possible solutions not sure of right option and looks for assistance, then executes.
    • Poor: makes excuses why something cannot happen.
  5. Stakeholders. Keeping your Managers and other stakeholders updated on your plan and progress to the plan is critical. We all underestimate the time to turnaround a situation, so being clear on the plan and where you are on achieving the milestones is key.

What are your experiences?

Book Quotes Career Change Leadership Legacy Personal development

Don’t park to long or change will find you.

Julie Alexander a professional coach speaks on “Don’t park too long or change will find you”. What a great saying!  When I heard Julie deliver this it resonated on so many levels.


The pace of change in the world that impacts on personal and business life is speeding up. Yet it is human nature to search out certainty. When we hold on to certainty we think we are doing the right thing for our survival, however we find our resilience is at risk, as we are not constantly adapting.

The harder we hold on to comfort, the more difficult we become for people around us to deal with, as we are resistant to the help or guidance that will ensure we make the transition.

When we challenge ourselves continually, we are happier, more fulfilled and our resilience increases.  This helps us to understand and deal with anxiety.

For me self deprecating humour is something I find really useful, as when we laugh at ourselves others connect and understand our pain and opportunities.

Today one of my team reminded me when discussing change in business of that great book “who moved my cheese?” By Dr Spencer Johnson which is all about adapting to change. A must read for anyone who is seeking comfort in a fast changing world.

The greatest skill in the 21st century is constantly adapting to the world as it evolves at a faster pace than any time in history.  When we embrace the changes we can enjoy and evolve, when we resist we become obsolete with no relevance.

Don’t park to long or change will find you.




Career Change Career planning Leadership Personal development

When do you compromise your values?

Our values are challenged everyday in the business environment.  When we cross the boundaries which we all have, we question our very existence. We become resentful of the factors that influenced the breach of values and this results in stress and poor sleep.image

Earlier in my career I did not respect my own values, I just did what was needed to get on.  Not sure if maturity has helped and/or a gap year in my forties, but I now know the price we pay for compromising our values.

When we know and understand our beliefs we can be confident about who you are and what you are.  It is the foundation for happiness and contentment.  

Have the courage and conviction to protect your values in all situations.  As a leader your team and peers will see you for who you are.

So the answer to when do you compromise your values? The answer is never. Always stay true to who you are.


Personal development

Setting precedents

How do you know you are setting up a precedent? In business we make decisions not always understanding the full consequences of our actions. We agree to an exception and then it is seen as the norm and we never anticipated the consequences of our actions.image

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you make a decision: What if someone asked me for the same thing in a weeks time? How would you feel reading it in the press?

New managers fall into this trap, so ensuring this is a early coaching conversation is really important to ensure they don’t create situations that they find hard to back track.

Examples are agreeing to a new flexible work arrangement. Once in place can you support others who will ask for the same? What are the rules you have in place to manage further requests? What are the messages you need to send to others to communicate the requirements to meet those new rules?




Career planning Leadership Mentoring Personal development

Feedback – how to interpret?

When there is no feedback positive and/or development, my perception is that my boss does not care, yet it can also be that they are concerned about how you will react. Either way not getting valuable feedback is not good for your own personal development! image

My business coach has a saying “never die wondering” in other words ask the questions.  So ask for feedback, what are my blind spots? what are the two things I can do that would make a difference?  When you ask make sure you follow up in a note and share your appreciation for sharing the feedback.

If someone cannot think of feedback or it is uncomfortable, then seek to understand, why are they uncomfortable? When you know they are uncomfortable put them at ease, so they can be more transparent with you. Use phrases I appreciate feedback as without this valuable information I cannot grow. Here are some examples of areas of self development I am working on and then explain the focus areas IE attending Toastmasters to develop public speaking, working on better coaching by asking more questions. In most cases Leaders who are uncomfortable giving feedback the reason is due to have what is in their perception is the difficult conversation.

You cannot develop if you don’t know what you need to develop. Don’t be held back from your ambitions and goals because you work for someone who is not comfortable having the frank conversations.

A great interview question for perspective employers “what are you working on for personal development right now?” “What book are you reading?”. If they don’t have an answer, they are unlikely to be able to help you.





Career Change Career planning Leadership Personal development

Do I return to study and get my MBA?

This is one of the most common question I get asked. After making the decision to go from tech start up to Corporate five years ago I spoke to a number of business women who are doing non exec roles for ASX200 Businesses, my ultimate aim from going into corporates. Understanding their perspective on what I needed to do over the next decade was critical to my success.  I met three senior non execs who told me not to leave exec leadership before 55, many women do and they have insufficient leadership experience to secure board roles on ASX200.

Regarding education, I only have a BSC in Business and Computing, they advised me to do the AICD Directors course as the governance and risk component of the training was invaluable. With 25 years business experience the MBA had less value.  I followed the advice.

Here are my top tips on how to decide, do I do an MBA?

1. “What do you want to do in the next 10 years?” Once you are clear on this you can plan your life backwards to what you need do.

2. Find at least 3 people who are doing what you want to be doing in 10 years time. Meet with them, explain your dilemma re:MBA. Ask them what an MBA would do for you? What value would it add to your career?

3. Always ask those three people, is there anything you can do to help them, they will appreciate that you are interested in them, you will also be surprised that they have learnt as much from you, as they have shared with you!

4. If you decide to do an MBA because you want to do it for yourself and no other reason. Do it, learning because you want to versus need to is far more pleasurable.

If you have no Tertiary education, there are many companies that will not consider you for a senior role. I started my degree part time at 24, put on hold for a decade and finally completed at 39.  My boss of 20 years could not understand why I was doing the degree when I had been the MD of European business for over 15 years, he use to say you could teach the professors.

When I did the BSC degree part time, I did it for me. To prove I was capable of doing it. What I got from the experience was far more: learn to challenge thinking, models IE Porters five forces, Boston matrix and more.  I loved it. The only time I have needed it to secure a role was when working at it was a minimum requirement. I use the models I learned on my  degree courses and reference them all the time.

Do I return to study and get my MBA?

Leadership Mentoring Personal development Work life balance

How to manage your work/life balance?

Even after 25 years in leaderships roles, I still have times when I am overwhelmed with worklowork life balancead and my work/life balance is out of sync.  When it happens you stop doing the things you love and work longer hours. The cost is your health and relationships, it is never worth it. You are also very unproductive and not good to be around.

Tips for a better work life balance:

1. Ensure you schedule time in your calendar for your daily fitness. Make sure it’s visible to others so they can respect that you need that time to look after yourself. Talk to others about what you do and inspire your teams, peers and bosses to take care of themselves.

2. Book regular time off.  I take a minimum of a long weekend 2 days plus weekend 4 times a year, so I know every 12 weeks I have a break to recharge and spend time with my Husband and Friends.  First time last year headed to a health retreat for a week. Great way to reset your life and get back to healthy living and exercise.

3. Review how you spend your time: Are you the right person to take on the task? Do you have someone who could do this? Who could take on the task/project as a stretch, to help with their development?

4. Consider sharing with your boss your challenges and asking his/her advice about what he/she has done. Being vulnerable is a great approach as they can then help you with the solution.

5. Using the words no I cannot take this on, I am to busy: the only advice I can give here is that do that too often and you are seen as difficult, what I do is say currently these are my top 3 priorities A, B and C are you ok to get to this in a weeks time? negotiate is significantly better than saying No.

How to manage your work/life balance?

Personal development

Quote of the day

You will be in the job when you make a decision when it’s not in your own best interest.

Thanks Janice Cox for this great quote

Book Quotes Leadership Mentoring Personal development

The five levels of attachment

imageJust finished reading The Five Levels of Attachment Toltec Wisdom for the Modern World with don Miguel Ruiz Jr.

Being a yogi for over 10 years, I though I understood attachment. Through the many operations I have had in the last 6 years; ear,shoulder and feet, I have learned that what I was able to do 12 months ago, I cannot expect to do for some time if ever and with this process I have learned not to be attached. I have celebrated every success in regaining postures, regardless of how minor the achievement has been.

As I said I thought I was doing well until I read this book, I realised that I have a long way to go!

The book is split in to chapters that reflect the 5 stages (See below) of attachment and uses someone attending a football game to describe the persons behaviour in relation to the game. Easy to read and understand.

Level 1: The Authentic Self.
Level 2: Preference.
Level 3: Identity.
Level 4: Internalization.
Level 5: Fanaticism

Many of the world issues today are related level 5.  Looking back on my earlier career I can see I was at level 3, what I did was my identity, I am questioning is this still the case?

Enjoy the read and more importantly the self reflection.