A Weekend in Vermont

This weekend I took a little road trip to Vermont! I headed north on Saturday morning and first stopped in Montpellier. Though I’ve driven though this city many times, I’ve never stopped to walk around! I’m very glad I did – the downtown area is easily covered on foot and there are a number of cute shops and restaurants to explore.

 

 

I stopped at the Knitting Studio, a local yarn store, to browse before looking for a bite to eat. Though I was quickly distracted by book stores, cooking stores and a library, I eventually found a café to grab a quick bite. This was an excellent stop, and I’d love to spend more time in Montpellier in the future.

After 45 more minutes on the road (the entire drive from Cambridge passed quickly thanks to a few Woolful podcasts) I made it to Burlington!

I was in town to visit a close friend, and we immediately sat down by her fireplace in rocking chairs and didn’t get up until we needed to get dinner supplies! It’s always great to catch up with friends.

As a light pre-dinner snack, we enjoyed a refreshing smoothie – beets, apples, kale, orange juice and bananas combined to make a very refreshing drink. For dinner we had a wonderful soup with corn, beans, potatoes and lots of spice, along with a nice glass of wine.

After dinner we decided we hadn’t had enough beets, so we made this beet cake! I’ve had several beet cakes in the past and this one was perhaps the best – so moist and light, I’d happily have this any day! We didn’t even cook the beets – blending them with the liquids gave it a lovely earthy flavor. We ended up doing cupcakes rather than two layer cakes, and it worked out perfectly.

All in all, this was my kind of evening!

 

On Sunday we went out for brunch and had fun wondering around downtown Burlington. We had fun poking in a few shops along church street and did a little shopping. The day was sunny and beautiful, so it was nice just to spend some time outside!

 

 

Before I headed home we made a nice cup of coffee and enjoyed a few episodes of Friends – a tradition when we’re together. The drive home past quickly and I was back in Cambridge before I knew it. I’m already looking forward to my next visit!

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Thinking about Leadership: Teamwork

Last week at work I was selected to participate in a leadership development program. This week I’d like to share some key takeaways from some of the primary sessions. This is partially for my own memory, but if they help others, all the better!  Check out previous posts here: XXXX, XXXX, XXXX, XXXX, XXXX

Teamwork is expensive – use it wisely. Under what conditions is teamwork necessary and profitable?

Taks needing teamwork

  • Interdependent tasks
  • Constantly changing conditions
  • Controversy

A simple model to diagnose dysfunction: “Mind the GAP”

  • G = Goals
    • Team is clear and in agreement on their goals
    • Members hold themselves mutually accountable to reach goals
  • A = Activities
    • Team approaches data gathering, analysis and decision making systematically
    • Tasks are assigned based on skills
  • P = Participation
    • All members take part in discussion and deliberation
    • Debate is vigorous, with a good balance of support and constructive criticism

If your team is aggressive or defensive, the best way to manage this is to moderate extremes

  • Challenge the dominant members to consider the downside of proposed goals
  • Requiire that roles be assigned based on skills and expertise in the team
  • Encourage balanced asssessment of recommendations

If your team is passive anddefensive – create structure

  • Push the team to define SMART goals for itself
  • Break larger pieces fo work down into clearly defined components
  • Create a structured process to ensure that all members contribute.

Thinking about Leadership: Mentorship

Last week at work I was selected to participate in a leadership development program. This week I’d like to share some key takeaways from some of the primary sessions. This is partially for my own memory, but if they help others, all the better!  Check out previous posts here: XXXX, XXXX, XXXX, XXXX

Understand what the goals are when you go into a mentoring relationship. Mentors can help in a wide array of areas. It’s important to be clear both with yourself and your mentor about what you’re hoping to get out of the engagement.

  • Career path advice
  • Marking self known to an impressive person
  • Expanding your network
  • Overcoming challenges
  • Gaining perspective
  • Building a positive name for yourself
  • Getting guidance from a person other than your manager

Be intentional about what you hope to learn from your relationship to make it a more productive use of time. How do you do this?

  • Make it easy on the mentor
  • Establish how the relationship works
  • Respect the mentor’s time
  • Establish recurring meetings – mornings are best
  • Build a standing agenda for each meeting
  • Bring an agenda to each meeting with additional details
  • Walk around, if possible
  • Meet once per month or once per quarter

Always remember to structure the meeting content. Operationalize their suggestions, and make it happen. Follow up at your next session with lessons learned/challenges encountered.

Similar to bringing up an issue with your manager, when working with a mentor bring issues and come with solutions.

Also, be able to detect the difference between coaching and mentoring. Coaching is when the mentor asks probing questions in an attempt for you to come to the expected conclusion on your own – the mentor will not explicitly tell you what they think. Alternatively, mentoring is the sharing of previous experiences in an effort to apply the lessons learned to a new situation. Be aware and open to both sorts of guidance when moving into a new mentoring relationship.

Remember, always bring value to the relationship – ask “what can I help you with?” Mentors appreciate help, too!

Thinking about Leadership: Negotiating

Last week at work I was selected to participate in a leadership development program. This week I’d like to share some key takeaways from some of the primary sessions. This is partially for my own memory, but if they help others, all the better!  Check out previous posts here: XXXX, XXXX, XXXX

The purpose of negotiation is to get the best outcome for your side. The best way to measure the outcome is against the possibility of a total failure (no gain).

  1. The goal of negotiation is to maximize the gain – don’t aim to ruin the other side as this could pressure future relationships
  2. Gain is primarily achieved through concessions – decide at the beginning what you can give up. Both sides must be willing to give something up, and both sides have to be able to give something up. These are two different things.
  3. Maximizing gain is dependent upon setting (aggressive) goals. Have going going into the negotiation.
  4. Concessions are valued in the eye of the receiver – understand what they want first.
  5. Willingness to negotiate is determined by the attractiveness to alternatives (BATNA). Consider the dimensions of value before the negotiation. What is the walkaway amount? The BATNA amount is the best alternative to a negotiated agreement. One should never go below the BATNA amount while negotiating, but one can walk away above that same amount.
  6. The focus of negotiation is the underlying interests, not the identified issues.

The best way to improve negotiation skills is to practice! Try negotiating with a friend to practice these techniques. Additionally, don’t overlook how frequently this skill comes up in daily life. Building negotiation skills will not just be useful in your career!

Thinking about Leadership: Influence

Last week at work I was selected to participate in a leadership development program. This week I’d like to share some key takeaways from some of the primary sessions. This is partially for my own memory, but if they help others, all the better!  Check out previous posts here: XXXX, XXXX

Influencing others is a way to control your career. Each person is able to influence how other people perceive them, and each person is able to cause change without forcing it to happen.

  • Establishing a position is establishing yourself in the eyes of others. It’s a combination of knowledge and relationships.
  • Always follow up with people after a presentation if you felt like you got a lot of value from it.
  • Always maintain a positive attitude, and sleep on major decisions. This is key to building relationships.
  • Build relationships before you need them.
  • Build a stakeholder map to understand who you want to influence in your everyday life. Include in this who you’d like to provide support for. From this, understand where you don’t have relationships before you need them.
  • Build a relationship bank! If you share a positive representation of yourself with others, this will develop into a relationship bank that you can draw from at a later time.
  • The main parts of relationships are trust, dedication, magnanimity, being humble, open, approachable, fair, assertive but not aggressive and being clear with expectations.
  • Apply for all openings that are of interest – this is a way to influence people.
  • Propose solutions to problems. If you more influence if you use this approach because the other person is susceptible. On a similar note, know your manager’s style because this will help you better communicate

During this session we also took the “As I See Myself” personality test. I’m an analyzer, and tied with my second place as either a controller or stabilizer. I appreciate direct facts, organization and time to understand all options before making a decision. It’s important to know the communication style of those with whom you frequently communicate. What are the best ways to communicate with your manager or direct reports?

Thinking about Leadership: Stakeholder Analysis and Engagement

Last week at work I was selected to participate in a leadership development program. This week I’d like to share some key takeaways from some of the primary sessions. This is partially for my own memory, but if they help others, all the better!  Check out previous posts here: XXXX

A stakeholder is a person or group who can affect, or is affected, by outcomes

What you need from them is their stake. Their attitude towards the project is their stance. Each stakeholder also has an associated sense of urgency.

A person’s stake in a project can affect success. There are three main types of stakeholders:

  • Power stakeholders – authoritative, have control over resources (people, budget)
  • Agency stakeholders – have expert advice and can help with the work
  • Constituency stakeholders – are affected by the results of the project; acceptance and compliance are key

If someone is a supporter, delegate components of the project to them. If they are undecided, persuade and influence them. Otherwise, if they’re dissenting, neutralize and limit your reliance on them.

Building a three-way matrix can help better understand how these factors all interact.

Here’s another version of that matrix:

[Source]
I’ve yet to explore doing a stakeholder analysis in depth, but feel as though this is a great way to understand your audience when doing a presentation, and an effective way to delegate tasks. Certainly something to keep in mind.

Thinking about Leadership: Emotional Intelligence

Last week at work I was selected to participate in a leadership development program. This week I’d like to share some key takeaways from some of the primary sessions. This is partially for my own memory, but if they help others, all the better! 

There are three primary components of success:

  1. Technical skill
  2. Cognitive skill
  3. Emotional intelligence

Almost all performance differences can be attributed to emotional intelligence. Clearly this is a vital part of success, and a key to developing strong leadership skills. Having high emotional intelligence is strongly correlated with career success.

There are five types of emotional intelligence:

  • Self Awareness – the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others
  • Self-regulation – the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods; the propensity to suspend judgement and to think before acting
  • Motivation – a passion for work for reasons that go beyond money or status; a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence
  • Empathy – the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people; skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions
  • Social Skill – proficiency in managing relationships and building networks; an ability to find common ground and build rapport

We did a brief self-reflection and test. These scores indicated that I was best in Empathy, Motivation and Social Competency. I was weakest in Self-Awareness, Self Confidence and Self Control.

The best ways to improve emotional intelligence is to be aware of common triggers

Having good social skills is friendliness with a purpose. Having this defined for me was so illuminating. For some reason, having permission to be friendly with purpose was extremely valuable – we all know that networking is intentional, so it’s refreshing to have it defined as such. Not sure why, but this particular fact was a big relief.

How does one track and develop these skills? Keep track of changes over time with a document that tracks feedback, goals based on that feedback, and accomplishments. At the end of each month, assign key accomplishments to a competency