Merge's Blog

Category Archives: Self-development Tools

What does it (really) take to get promoted? Hint: it’s not sucking up to the boss!

So what does it really take to achieve career success in the workplace?  To get promoted?  To be recognized for both your current work and the potential you have to grow and rise in the ranks?  I’ve often heard people say that the only way to get ahead in the world of work is to “suck up” to the boss. But is it possible that what some people call “sucking up” may simply be learning how to work with your specific supervisor or manager?

In my leadership training and mentoring practice, I have had the opportunity to dialogue with tens of thousands of managers in organizations across the country, and they are unequivocal in their assertion that they can tell the “actors”; they know when their employees’ actions and behaviours are self-serving and when they are selfless. So if this is true, then “sucking up” is clearly not the reason why certain employees get ahead. Which raises the question – “What is?” And that is exactly what I address in my latest column in The Globe and Mail.  Gathered from my tens of thousands of conversations with the people who should know the answer, I list out nine specific things you can do to rise in the ranks.

What does it (really) take to get promoted?

G&M0081219

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find this column on page B8.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2Tuhg1U

So … do you agree?

So, as always, I’d love to hear about your experiences, both as an employee and as someone in a leadership position.  Do you agree with what I have found to be true, or have you observed that “sucking up” is really what it takes to get promoted? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.  Please add your comments below.

If you want to be deliberate and thoughtful about ways to position yourself for career growth and success, you may also find these links to past columns I wrote for The Globe and Mail to be helpful:

 

Eight steps to finding a mentor

You’ve heard it before: to further your career, finding a mentor to guide you is important.  Mentors are people who have experience and knowledge in your desired vocation, and who are willing and able to share what they know.  But how exactly does one go about finding a mentor?  It’s certainly not going to happen if you wait around hoping that a mentor will miraculously find you.  Successful mentoring relationships are intentional, and the impetus for action has to come from you.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, published in this morning’s print and online editions, I lay out eight important steps that will help you get the mentorship that you desire.

finding a mentor

Eight steps to finding a mentor

The above link takes you to the online version on The Globe’s website.  But if you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find it on page B7.

Occasionally, The Globe places my columns behind their paywall; if that happens, here is a link to a pdf version we have archived on our website: https://www.turningmanagersintoleaders.com/PDF/G&M_ManagementPrint_070819.pdf

I would love to hear from you!

Well?  Please don’t be shy, I’d love to hear from you.  What have you done to find mentors to help you further your career?  If you’re actively seeking mentors right now, what is working for you?  And what are your challenges?  Are you in a place in your career where you are able to mentor others?  If so, what are potential “mentees” doing right, and what are they doing wrong?  Please share your perspectives by adding your comments below.

Identify Triggers and Keep Your Cool

Picture of man pointing and yelling, showing loss of self control.

Have you ever come dangerously close to losing your composure?

We’ve all been there. Sometimes—if we can’t control ourselves—it can lead to disastrous situations and negative impacts on relationships, employees, and colleagues.

Whether it’s a frustrating employee, irritating colleague, or even an exasperating client, you know that as a leader it is crucial to stay calm, poised, and positive.

What do you do in these situations?
Continue reading

The lobster as a metaphor for continuous learning

Several times in its life, a lobster casts off its shell. When the shell begins to inhibit the lobster’s growth and development, the lobster has no choice but to discard its old shell and grow a new one. It is the same with humans.  And it offers an important lesson to leaders – in order to stay relevant, both for us and the people we lead, continuous learning is paramount.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, published in this morning’s print edition, I offer three specific ideas to embrace continuous learning, to grow your mind and develop your abilities, so that you won’t become stagnant, so that you will always be relevant, no matter what the changes are in your working environment.

continuous learning

You need to cast off your shell if you want to continue to grow

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find it on page B11.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2XhyBzl

So what are you doing?

As always, I’d love to hear from you.  What are specific things you do to ensure that you are continuously learning?  What are you doing to be a lobster?  Please share your perspectives by adding your comments below.

If you’ve been a reader of the blog for a while, you probably already know that I have a book titled Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? which published in its third edition in 2017.  In the book, I offer three more strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities, as well as 171 Ways to Be a Lobster! Scroll down the page once you click on the link.

The 5 Practices of Leadership Literacy

 

This article was originally published on November 13, 2017 and has been updated.

books in place of leader’s head symbolizing leadership literacy

 

Leaders have a responsibility: a responsibility to create an environment of trust, to guide, to create, to motivate, and transform. But to do all these things, a leader must be literate.

And by “literate”, I mean knowledgeable.

Today, information is ubiquitous. It’s found on the tips of our fingers (on the closest keyboard, tablet, or smartphone screen) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And with information so readily available, ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse.

Continue reading

Three things you can do right now to stay disciplined

say disciplinedDistractions are, unfortunately, a reality in our professional lives nowadays.  In fact, I’ve previously blogged about how often we lose focus at work by the well-known (and notorious) “squirrel” and I’ve subsequently asked you how you minimize distractions and stay disciplined.  Which is why I am thrilled to welcome our guest blogger today.  Mark Black is my professional colleague and my friend, but he was also only 24 when he found himself lying in a hospital bed clinging to life, praying for a life-saving heart and double-lung transplant. Three short years later, he was crossing the finish line of his first of four marathons.  So if anyone can give us practical advice on how to stay disciplined, manage distractions, and help us build resilience so that we can thrive in challenging times, it is Mark!

“Stay disciplined” may not be popular, but it works!

What do you think of when you read the word “discipline? If you are like many people, it probably brings up negative emotions. When most of us think of discipline, we think of experiences from our childhood where our parents “disciplined” us. It’s no wonder then, that most of us associate it with punishment and have a negative impression of it. That’s too bad.

Discipline is actually a very positive word. If you look at its origins, the word discipline comes from the Latin word “disciplina” which means: “”instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge”. To be disciplined then, means to be someone who accepts teaching and seeks learning and knowledge. Sounds good to me. Continue reading

Six steps you can take today to work towards a leadership role tomorrow

If you aspire to be a manager or supervisor, your success in a future leadership role will depend significantly on making a critical mental shift from task management to people leadership. Let’s be clear – the two are not the same. In fact, the skills that lead to accomplishment as a “doer” of tasks are the very ones that will cause you to fail as “leader” of people. Because in a leadership role, your success no longer rests on just you; your success now depends on how well you can get things done through others.

So what do you need to do to position yourself for a future leadership role?

While still delivering results as an individual contributor, there are things you can do today to position yourself as a future leader, in the eyes of those who can help get you there.  And in my latest column for The Globe and Mail, I lay out six specific steps you can take.

Six steps to take today, toward a leadership role tomorrow

leadership role

If you get the print version of The Globe, you would have seen it on page B10 in Monday’s edition.

So these are top six ideas I share with my young (to leadership) clients.  But I’d love to hear your input.  If you’re a veteran leader, what advice would you offer?  And if you’re relatively new to leadership, what have been your experiences?  Please share by either commenting below, or if you wish, you can comment directly on The Globe’s site.

Take charge of your professional development

Your professional development is something that you need to own and champion for yourself.  Sure, good leaders should offer their employees support and direction, setting clear goals and targets, giving regular feedback, and offering concrete tools and suggestions for future growth and development.  But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.  Usually citing lack of time and other resources, the one piece that tends to slip most often is advice and emphasis on continued learning and professional development.

It’s up to you to take the wheel of your professional development

So it’s worth remembering that while your immediate manager and organization can certainly support you by providing feedback, advice, tools and resources, you are the only one behind the wheel of your future.  It’s up to you to jump in the driver’s seat and start steering for yourself.  It was with this in mind that I wrote my latest column in The Globe and Mail which published yesterday morning.

Nine easy ways to take charge of your professional development

professional development

If you get the print version of The Globe, you would have seen it on page B10.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2VhfJMb

So I’ve put forward my top nine ideas in this column.  But I’d love to know what specific actions you are taking to take control of your own continuing professional development.  Please share by commenting below.

What bungee cords are preventing you from moving forward?

moving forwardLast April, here on the blog I asked the question: What’s stopping you from moving forward?  And to answer it, I used the metaphor of paddling a kayak.  Today, I have another metaphor to address the same question.

Imagine a bungee cord

Imagine a bungee cord.  One end is attached to a fixed object and the other is hooked to the back of your belt.  As long as you stay close to the stationary end, the cord remains loose and there is no tension.  But as you walk away, the slack in the cord will begin to tighten and you’ll feel a pull on your back.  Continue to step away and you’ll find that eventually it will be a struggle to keep going. In fact, not only will the bungee cord hold you back from moving forward, but you will also be at serious risk of either losing your pants or getting smacked by a broken bungee.

All of us have bungee cords attached to us, links to the past that hold us back from moving forward.  And the more we try to get ahead, the more the stress and tension grows forcing us to stay where we are.  And often the fear of losing our pants or getting smacked by the broken bungee keeps us from continuing to try. Continue reading

Work-life balance is a myth, seek work-life blend instead

For years, nay decades, there’s been talk of work-life balance – that delicate equilibrium between the time you spend at work and that which you dedicate to family, social and leisure activities, and personal interests.  In fact, I too have often penned posts (such as this one) that seek to achieve just that.  But work-life balance is a myth, a non-achievable nirvana that few (if any) have realized. So it’s long past the time to let this obsolete idea go. Instead, it’s time to embrace work-life blend.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, I explain how the word “balance” implies that a negative – work – needs to be offset by a positive – life. But there shouldn’t be anything negative about earning a living.  Work-life blend acknowledges that trying to isolate work from life is not only impossible, but also places immense amounts of anxiety and tension on those trying to do so.

Work-life balance is a myth

work-life blend

Shifting to work-life blend doesn’t happen overnight

So what will it take to reposition from balance to blend?  That’s exactly what I address in this column which published in yesterday’s print edition of The Globe.  If you get the print version, you would have seen it on page B10.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link: https://tgam.ca/2zIvkMH

So I’ve already heard from several readers on The Globe‘s site who are not impressed with my point of view.  They believe that my suggestion of work-life blend is just another way to further reduce “life” time.  But I’d love to hear what you think as well.  Do you agree or disagree with my perspective?  Please add your thoughts below.