How do you remain relevant in the workforce after the age of 55?
I was recently encouraged to share my story through Twin-Agers (https://www.twin-agers.com). The site highlights people over 55, who are as relevant today, as they were at 40.
Over the past 100 years, the average lifespan has increased by about 25 years, pension ages are gradually increasing and many of our ‘aging’ population have more to offer the workforce than ever before.
Perhaps now is the time to rethink how we use this knowledge and expertise to benefit leaders of the future and to change how we think about age and what we can do about #ageism.
Could the things your parents once told you be standing in your way of success today?
If you can’t find your voice during meetings, find it difficult to delegate, or give feedback, your discomfort may be rooted in your upbringing and the things your parents once told you.
By changing and reframing your inner narrative, you can achieve a different result.
‘Respect your elders’ and ‘Only speak when you are spoken to’, may be standing in your way of sharing your opinions. ** Reframe this narrative: You have been invited to that meeting for a reason and your advice is valued! Could withholding your opinion do more harm than good?
‘If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all’, may stand in your way of giving feedback. ** Reframe this narrative: Giving constructive feedback is like giving a gift of knowledge and development.
‘Don’t be selfish’, and ‘Think of others before yourself’ may stop you delegating because everyone is so busy. ** Reframe this narrative: By delegating you are giving someone the opportunity to grow and stretch and you can focus on the activities that will add more value for your organisation.
The next time you are in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, you may wish to consider if your past is getting in the way of your here and now and what you can change?
I am grateful for my family and friends, colleagues and clients. People who put their faith in me, as I put my faith in them.
In 2023, I will support the people I know and coach, by beating their drums when they have lost faith in themselves, cheering them on consistently and celebrating their successes.
I will continue to be kind, empathetic, and sympathetic to the needs of others whilst still asking those challenging coaching questions. The ones we’d prefer to ignore or avoid altogether.
Whether you need to collaborate on common goals, or in the case of this photo of me with two lovely friends crossing a river, which people will you surround yourself with in 2023 to ensure that you all succeed?
How will you help others in 2023 and what will your mantra be?
I learn from the people I surround myself with. When we are different, I sometimes feel uncomfortable because we have little in common. Through curiosity and questioning however, I’ve often realised that we are more similar than we think we are.
Reflecting on 2022, my wish for 2023 is that we step into it with our eyes and ears wide open and start seeing ourselves for who we truly are. Consider how you may judge someone based on your own biases, lived experience or opinions?
Learn to soften to other people’s accent, background, class, colour, disability, gender, health, ideas, opinions, preferences, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., become aware of your own discomfort and be genuinely curious about other people’s uniqueness so that you may learn to embrace difference, start to grow and erase any biases.
This topic is as relevant now as when I first wrote it 5 years ago. If you are thinking about your next career move, what do you do when you receive two ‘similar’ job offers? How do you choose between ‘good’ and ‘good’? Will you be wooed by a larger package or a more senior job title?
The Job. Ask yourself:
What do you love about your current role? Are the activities that you love, even listed in the job description?
Will you have access to senior leaders, to learn from them and be recognized for your work?
What is the new role offering you that’s new? How will it challenge you; if at all?
The People and Company. Once you have had an interview, ask yourself:
What do you like or dislike about the people who work at the new company? Remember they will not change for you!
Could these people be overselling the job and the company, to lure you to work for them? You can often find information online about companies and what it is really like to work there e.g. Glassdoor.
Are the company values aligned to your own?
Are there opportunities to grow and develop in the company?
Where is the company located? Will your travel time be acceptable?
Whatever you decide, remember that the job title, salary, and benefits package are just the start. Don’t be wooed too quickly. Take everything into consideration and if it doesn’t feel right, listen to your instincts, and carry on searching.
During a recent three-way conversation with my client, John’s manager said that John had the potential to become the CFO of a PLC in the future. During our next coaching session, I asked John how he intended to achieve that goal and when he wished to achieve it. His answer did not surprise me. He has a young family, and his life is terribly busy, so currently, he needs flexibility and work/life balance. So, I asked him what his life may look like in five years’ time, and he agreed that he would probably be a lot less busy. But what action is he taking now to set him up for success later?
Besides discussing his fears and assumptions that a bigger role would take him away from his family and his commitments, we also discussed how putting his career ‘on hold’ may not be beneficial to him when he is ready for that next big move. A few actions that he took away from our discussion were:
Find a job description of a role that he would like to have in 3-5 years.
Map the job description to the one that he has now, i.e., what would he need to learn to be taken into consideration for that aspirational CFO’s role?
Find mentors, courses, or programmes to fill any learning gaps and plan what he will learn and when he will complete it.
Create a personal development plan to hold himself accountable.
If you put your career on hold because you are busy at home, you may not be ready for that dream role when your life allows you to apply for it. Get career ready!
Today, using Boris Johnson as an example and French and Raven’s 5 forms of power, as a model, 14 senior leaders and I discussed the power that leaders have to influence others.
As a prime minister, Boris Johnson has ‘power related to his position’, i.e ‘legitimate, coercive and reward’ power. Legitimate power is linked to his title and stature, and in this role, we’ve seen Boris reward people with roles that they did not deserve, and use coercive power to punish others, by sacking them.
Leaders also have ‘personal power’, i.e expert and referent power. This power moves with you no matter what your job title is, and should allow you to have influence, albeit that people don’t report to you.
Expert power is when you have the knowledge and skills to understand a situation. Your opinions have value and others will look to you for leadership in that area.
Referent power comes from one’s likability and the respect that comes with that. Someone who is likeable but who lacks integrity may rise to power and gain an advantage however, it’s not a good strategy for any leader that wants longevity and respect. It should be combined with expert power to be successful.
When Boris Johnson started out as PM he was likeable (referent power) and many believed that he had the expertise required to run the country (expert power).
In his role, however, he has lacked integrity, honesty, and transparency, so he has not only lost the power related to his position today, as he steps down as PM but he has also lost his personal power i.e his likability, as fewer and fewer people trust him.
Needless to say, it was an interesting debate about leadership and what not to do.
As children, we quickly learn that our actions will receive either a positive or negative response from our parents. Since the brain is built for reward, we learn to avoid the reprimands from our parents and aim for praise and recognition.
With that in mind, let’s look at some advice that you may have received from your parents that may affect your performance today:
Don’t be selfish . As children we are taught to share our toys and not to be selfish.
As adults however, this advice may play out as caring for everyone in the team, before caring for yourself, so you risk burning out.
You may need to reframe the word ‘selfish’ as ‘self-care’. I advise managers to put their own oxygen masks on first, before helping others in their team. If you don’t care for yourself first, you may not have enough energy to care for your team. The healthier and happier you are, the more you can help others.
If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it. We are taught to be kind and nice to our friends and family.
As adults however, we may not be able to give critical feedback to our team members as we don’t want to offend anyone. We want to be nice.
Reframe giving any form of critical feedback as that of giving a gift. Feedback can be given kindly, yet firmly, and quite frankly, without it your team members are unable to grow and learn new ways of working, that will help them develop in the long run.
Respect your elders . As children we are told to respect our parents, grandparents, older siblings and extended family.
As an adult you may respect hierarchy and find yourself silently sitting in the boardroom. You may believe that the other, more senior people in the room need to be respected, leaving you with little or nothing to add. The way you act and react in situations today, is often the result of years of hardwiring and affects your performance.
A client related how powerless she felt to voice her opinion to senior peers, even though she was the project lead and had to offer her advice and guidance. She didn’t want to speak her mind because she didn’t want to seem disrespectful. As a child, her mother had told her she should hold her superiors in high regard.
My client was hardwired ‘not to challenge’ and to ‘act respectfully around her superiors’, albeit that she disagreed with them and knew her advice was sound.
Irrespective whether you are the youngest or least experienced person in the room, you must remember that you have been invited to the meeting for a reason. Withholding good advice can be more harmful than saying nothing at all.
A good place to start understanding why you may act and react in the way that you do is to:
Become aware of where your emotions, thoughts and feelings stem from, and challenge them.
Ask yourself ‘How does this behaviour reward me?’ Remember that there is reward in all of your behaviour, albeit that you may find it less useful today.
Reframe your old ideas into positive actions that reward you today.
When you start to understand where your natural responses stem from, you can begin to change your reactions in the moment and improve your performance.
On 24th March 2020, a number of restrictions, like we had never experienced before in the U.K., were enforced on us. Need I remind you, that we were queuing to be allowed into supermarkets where certain products were rationed, ‘non-essential’ shops and venues were closed, and the amount of time spent out of our homes, whilst wearing surgical masks, was monitored. This was a life that we quickly became accustomed to, albeit that many of us did not accept it. Wearing masks, keeping our distance, and working from home became our new normal.
Many restrictions in the UK and across Europe have been lifted, and many of us are already enjoying time with family and friends, the ability to travel and getting out and about more freely.
For many others, however, this ‘return to what we once knew as normality’ has brought with it only anxiety and dread. Many people are scared. They are scared of; returning to the office, travelling on overcrowded public transport, visiting busy hairdressers and supermarkets and that people have ditched mask wearing for open gestures of affection. People are scared of what they can, and of what they can’t see.
It took us many months to find a rhythm during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and it may take some people many, many more months to return to their old ways. The pandemic has been hard and even positive change can lead to anxiety, as it takes time to readjust to things we have not done for a while. Feelings of anxiety are likely to pass with time as we get used to the “new normal” but it’s important to do what we can to take care of our mental health.
A recognised NHS therapy website, Every mind matters, offers the following 11 tips to manage feelings of anxiety and make it easier to adjust:
1. Go at your own pace
2. Do not avoid things entirely
3. Get your information from the right sources
4. Discuss any changes with others
5. Make time to relax
6. Challenge unhelpful thoughts
7. Tell someone how you feel
8. Plan social occasions
9. Find routine where you can
10. Write down your thoughts
11. Focus on the present
You may not be feeling anxious yourself, but I would encourage you to #BeKind, to empathise and be patient with others who may be experiencing life quite differently than you are.
Reflection is one of the most underestimated, yet powerful activities that we can gift ourselves. It’s a brilliant way to become aware of what drives you, what and who triggers you, and what your standard responses and ‘bad habits’ may be. It can help you on your way to self-awareness and eventually self-care.
Today I’m sharing my own approach to Reflection, AURA.
By learning to slow down, and reflecting with the AURA approach, you start to understand where your natural responses take you. Ask yourself ‘what happened in a situation and ‘what you could have done differently? Get in touch with your feelings. How did the situation make you feel? Does a specific person ‘bring out the worst in you?
You will need to apply what you have learned, so the next time you’re in a similar situation, you will have a different response to hand, to try out. Don’t however get frustrated. Change is not easy and your brain will want to take the road most traveled and you may fall into old habits.
Without change, you stay stuck in old patterns and you will get the same result. However, understanding where your ‘programmed responses’ stem from, can help you to take a more emotionally intelligent stance in your next encounter.