INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
A very high-level executive at a Fortune 50 company recently reminded me of the importance of not being one-dimensional in times of prolonged crisis – of the need to flex opposing leadership muscles. She’s 100% right. Think about it. In such times, the best leaders are:
Confident and humble. Demanding and empathetic. Calm yet show urgency. Candid and kind. Fearless yet intentional. Courageous yet realistic. They provide hope, and reality.
Let me know if I’m missing any.
When you find yourself in times of adversity, for every action you take, ask yourself if there’s an opposing, “checks and balances” trait you need to show. It will provide your organization the balance they’ll need for the rocky days ahead.
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake many make)
I recently saw a fascinating museum exhibit on the secrets people keep. The artist collected written secrets, categorized them, and artfully displayed them for all to read. I was struck by the most common theme – a regret. Here’s two samples:
Both have to do with caving in to a fear of failure.
Fear of failure is the number one thing that 52% of all adults say has kept them from, forget realizing their dreams, has kept them from even revisiting them. I speak and write often of this most dastardly of afflictions. I come back to this. Never, ever, forget, there are only three ways to truly fail: when you quit, don’t improve, or never try. You know that pit you feel in your stomach before you try something that makes you nervous? It’s not there to scare you. It’s there to tell you that something must be worth it – or you’d be feeling nothing. Nobody will ever, on their deathbed, say, “Whew, I avoided criticism.”
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
With so many layoffs and so many talented people looking for work, I want to share the findings of a Cornell/University of Chicago study that shows the magic of saying just four words in an interview:
“I love my work.”
The study showed job candidates frequently underestimate how much recruiters want to hear this, and overestimate how much recruiters want to hear, “I’m interested in advancing my career.”
It’s not that you shouldn’t show ambition in an interview. And, of course, you have to be ready to share the “but”, i.e., “I love my work. But…” It’s about balancing ambition and what’s missing in your current work with appreciation for that current work. It’s about articulating that you’re driven intrinsically (doing something for the joy it brings and to make meaningful contributions), versus extrinsically (doing something for the material, external reward). The intrinsically motivated vibe you emit sends positive flares up for the recruiter. Show me someone who loves their work and I’ll show you someone you’ll love being around. Someone who self-sustains motivation. And if they “love their work, but…”, you can’t begrudge them for wanting still more meaning in what they do.
I can personally attest to this on two fronts. First, I was a recruiting team leader for a decade and interviewed more MBA candidates than I can possibly remember. But a consistent theme in those that stood out was a burning passion for at least elements of the job/work they did previously.
Those that articulated that their jobs allowed them to create, solve problems, work in teams, coach, and do things they were passionate about, made an impression on me. They made it easy to visualize them on my team, contributing in a high-energy, positive-minded way. If they loved their work (or aspects of it), it was more likely I loved them.
On the personal front, I’m always drawn to people who attack their jobs with gusto, no matter what they do. I’m a big-tipper for waitresses who clearly show they love their job. I always smile at that energetic, smiling traffic cop, and I really do “have a great day” when a cheery barista tells me too.
As a job candidate, why wouldn’t you want to generate that kind of transferable energy, that “I wish everyone were like that” sentiment? Why wouldn’t you want to be easy to visualize as a great addition to a culture/team?
Now of course, if the whole reason you’re interviewing is that you don’t love what you do at your current job, that’s understandable. Don’t lie in an interview. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a few things to highlight that you love about the job you’re leaving.
As for the job you’re pursuing, say things like: “The work you offer is meaningful and motivating to me,” or “I love to work hard and would love the work I’d be doing in this job because it’s meaningful to me in x, y, z ways.”
Intrinsically motivated versus extrinsically. So, in your next big job interview, remember to show that you love your work, not just that you’d love to do it from the corner office.