Category Archive: Career Development

May 15

Review – The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs

The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Prithe Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success Nciples for Breakthrough SuccessThe Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Prithe Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success Nciples for Breakthrough Success by Carmine Gallo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this book, Carmine provides seven principles for unleashing innovation. The principles are supported by examples from various industries, which helps to understand how to apply the principles within different scenarios. I recommend the book to those seeking new perspectives about the concept of innovation.

View all my reviews

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Nov 26

17 – The Law of Priorities

Leaders Understand that Activity is not Necessarily Accomplishment

In John C. Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (2007), John shares the law of priorities.

We all have 24 hours in our day. Yet, some people seem to accomplish so much more than others. For some, their accomplishment is at the expense of their families. Others recognize the importance of life-balance and accomplish much while ensuring that they do not forget the other important areas in their life. So how do those leaders complete this feat, while other people seem to wonder aimlessly through life?

Most leaders establish clear priorities for the next phase in their life. Creating a one-year plan is a good first step. Others with a clear vision of the future, may even create a five-year plan. Envisioning your future, creating your plan, and executing that plan is crucial for establishing the focus needed to create your success, regardless of your definition of success.

John suggests considering the following three questions during your planning phase.

Priority Planning Questions

  1. What is required?
  2. What gives the greatest return?
  3. What brings the greatest reward?

The first question addresses the areas of your life that are needed to fulfill your commitments and responsibilities. Maintaining one’s most important relationships comes to mind immediately. Far too many people push this area to the back burner as they pursue their definition of success, only to discover later that failing to maintain those important relationships results in relationships that are damaged beyond repair. I have met people that achieved their definition of success then looked around only to discover their spouse and children are no where to be found. They quickly learned that achieving success was much more costly than ever imagined. All of the perceived benefits of success were minimized because of failing to consider the necessary balance required for a fulfilling life.

The second question focuses on identifying those priority areas with the greatest return. Leaders recognize that Law of Prioritiesactivity is not a one-to-one correlation with results. People that prioritize their efforts to align with high-value returns often recognize greater levels of success than those that get lured into low-value activity. The 80/20 rule comes into play when setting priorities. The 80/20 rule implies that completing the top 20% of the activity returns 80% of the value. Consciously evaluating priorities and applying effort to the high-value items leads to higher levels of success.

The third question focuses on areas that return a high-level of personal satisfaction. Keep in mind that maintaining balance is necessary during the planning of priorities. Items that return a high-level of personal satisfaction energize you to tackle tasks leading to other accomplishments. Everyone needs a time to recharge. This area of planning ensures that your plans incorporate time to recharge. This might include something like golf or attending a seminar. Include whatever you find recharges you to face new challenges.

An important step is to write down the outcomes of your priority planning session because the urgent things in our daily lives tend to overwhelm what is truly important in life. I like to use mind maps to capture the outcomes of my personal planning sessions. Mind maps provide a good visual reminder for me and are easily shared across my electronic devices for referencing and review. The mind map also allows as much detail as necessary for your planning. One of my major goals this year is authoring a book about my family’s caregiving experience for a family member that battled brain cancer for nearly four years. My planning mind map contains an entry for that goal. A more detailed mind map contains the information and steps for completing that goal.

Creating a regular routine for reviewing your priorities and setting goals that align with your priorities is a critical step to maximizing the 24 hours you have in your day.

I would love to hear how you prioritize your goals to accomplish your definition of success.

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Jun 30

Improve your Capacity with Effective Delegation

Busy ManIn the article, 8 – The Law of Intuition, I discussed the importance of delegation to improve your capacity to get things done, improve your leadership, and to grow the leadership ability of other people. This article provides additional detail about this critical leadership skill.

Delegation is a vital managerial tool that increases productivity and builds employees. Numerous authors provide several common techniques for accomplishing successful delegation. The techniques are easily traced to the four fundamentals of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Implicit in the techniques are keys skills that underlie the success. This article provides some insight on delegation and some tips to increase your delegation effectiveness.

The Chartered Management Institute (2000) states, “Delegation is about entrusting others with appropriate responsibility and authority for the operation and/or accomplishment of certain activities.” Many companies believe in the development of employees especially when an employee shows promise as a future leader. Many employers develop employees in several ways such as providing educational assistance, on-the-job training, and challenging job assignments. One method for providing challenging job assignments is to delegate managerial responsibilities.

Delegating managerial responsibilities provides two important benefits. First, delegation provides managers the opportunity to spread workload across multiple people. Sharing the workload affords the manager the option to accomplish more tasks, thereby, increasing the productivity of the department. The manager who demonstrates effective delegation exhibits true leadership. Second, delegation provides an opportunity to provide training for future leaders. When a manager effectively delegates workload, he or she teaches important leadership skills and, at the same time, instills a sense of confidence in those led.

Pollock (2003) provides seven secrets of successful delegation.
1. Delegate the right function
2. Plan the delegated job
3. Establish standard
4. Include feedback procedures
5. Pick the right person
6. Document the assignment
7. Give the assignment

These tasks include what Bateman and Snell (2004) argue are necessary for successful delegation: allocation of responsibility, authority, and accountability.

Most companies implement some form of a performance management system to document the tasks allocated to employees. During the planning cycle, the manager and employee document the task, the desired outcomes, and identify potential roadblocks. The authority delegated to the employee is often implicit in the desired outcome but rarely stated explicitly. The authority typically includes the ability to organize and use resources to accomplish the task. The best managers mentor the employees, when necessary, to ensure the employees’ success. Using the performance management system offers the opportunity to document accomplishments or provide corrections on a regular basis. The checkpoints provide a control mechanism that ensures managers communicate with employees.

Any system, when evaluated for effectiveness, has opportunities for improvement. A company’s performance management system is a tool and is only as effective as the manager and employee using it. Each manager and employee should seriously plan and document the delegated tasks. Many times the tasks are documented generically to avoid reworking effort when goals change, diminishing the overall effectiveness of the system. One of the secrets of delegation success is documenting the task (Pollock, 2003), so managers can increase delegation effectiveness by effectively using the performance management tool.

Communication and coaching are two skills that increase the effectiveness of the delegation process. The employee must understand the assigned task. The manager must possess the ability to communicate tasks unambiguously. Clearly defining the boundaries of a task, without defining the method, allows the employee some creative leeway to accomplish tasks. The coaching concept is readily visible in professional sports and is applicable in the workplace. The best managers coach their employees to peak performance. Coaches use the skills of the players and integrate those skills to accomplish the team goals. Likewise, good managers use the skills of employees and integrate those skills to accomplish organizational goals.

Delegation allows a manager the platform to build and manage an organization. Rather than trying to accomplish every task alone, successfully delegating work increases productivity and demonstrates leadership skills. Delegation allows a manager to coach employees and leverage other people’s skills to accomplish organizational goals.

What others are writing
Reasons why delegation is hard for some managers
Doing More with Less – Effective Delegation

I would love to read your comments. Please share your experiences!

Bateman, T.S., Snell, S.A., (2004). Management: The New Competitive Landscape (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill/Irwin,New York, NY
Chartered Management Institute. (2000). Successful Delegation. Retrieved 7/25/2005 from InfoTrac OneFile database.
Pollock, T. (2003). Secrets of Successful Delegation. Electric Light and Power. 81(5). Retrieved 7/25/2005 from InfoTrac OneFile Database.

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May 08

Building a Career Portfolio

CareerPortfolio The Career Portfolio Workbook: Using the Newest Tool in Your Job-Hunting Arsenal to Impress Employers and Land a great Job!


Frank Satterthwaite and Gary D’Orsi describe the importance of building a career portfolio and provide various approaches for assembling an artifact library (Master Portfolio). The master portfolio contains artifacts or evidence of your personal behaviors and characteristics that add value, experience, accomplishments, knowledge, and skills – a.k.a. P.E.A.K.S. When an opportunity arises, the master portfolio provides a library from which to create a targeted portfolio specifically designed to take advantage of the opportunity. The targeted portfolio is useful for a new job interview, a promotion, a lateral transfer, or a performance review.

Proactively creating your master portfolio helps you by avoiding the anxiety you might have when trying to prepare for the opportunity on short notice. Analyzing your master portfolio helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses and enables you to build a plan to enhance your marketability.

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