Thursday, August 25, 2016

Want to be a Better Leader? First, Become a Better Follower

Leaders need the support of professionals to help them achieve organizational success. These followers, in turn, require specific aptitudes and skills to best serve their leaders. Followers need leaders as well. Moreover, everyone must have the skills to transition from followership to leadership roles and vice-versa. 

Like leadership, followership skills can be taught. To that end I’ve developed a workshop to introduce critical success factors for followers. Through individual activities, small group work, case studies, and discussion, program participants will learn to:

  • Debunk myths and embrace realities about the importance of followership for leadership; 
  • Identify followership styles; 
  • Determine how personality, work style, career goals, and organizational issues shape followership attitudes and behaviors; 
  • Identify key attributes of effective followers;
  • Assess their own followership style;
  • List daily activities to foster a mutually productive relationship with their supervisor (“manage their boss,” in other words); and 
  • Develop a personal improvement plan to cultivate followership skills.

I tailor the material to meet the needs of participants and their organization. This followership workshop can be presented online or in-person. 

For more information on bringing this workshop on followership skills to your organization, contact me at 415-517-5756 or dr.mitchell.friedman (at) 

Monday, August 22, 2016

5 Guiding Principles for Managing Talent As If People Really Mattered

“No matter how you treat people they’re going to complain. You might as well treat them badly.” My boss at the time made this matter-of-fact utterance to no one in particular for a reason I can’t recall. But I remember it 25 years later. That speaks to how these words captured what I felt was the core belief of that employer and future ones.

That boss swore and yelled at staff. Another was a micromanager; the next did all of the talking but none of the listening. Finally, there was the narcissist. 

In retrospect I see how I barely survived these work experiences. My emotional intelligence at the time was no match for the toxicity I encountered. Yet I did survive. I made mistakes but I learned from each experience. 

All the while, I longed for a true work-based community—one where employees were treated ethically and fairly. At the same time they worked tirelessly to fulfill the organization’s mission. This organization is one where people really do matter. The workplace is comfortable, safe, and conducive to getting things done. People like to be there. Employees enjoy interactions with each other and management. In-fighting and office politics are minimal. Conflict is seen as an opportunity for learning and is embraced, not avoided. Authenticity is cherished. 
Five guiding principles inspire how this organization manages its talent. They are as follows:

  1. Everyone in the organization acts as a person first and an employee second. Job titles don’t excuse illegal, inappropriate, or unprofessional behavior. Moreover, personal issues take precedence over professional ones. That means employees can tend to significant life events without fear of retaliation.  
  2. Employers and employees thrive in a mutually beneficial relationship. It’s based on trust, respect, and accountability.  
  3. Work provides a vehicle for employees to maximize their potential.
  4. It’s a priority for employers to help employees to succeed. When employees succeed, the employer succeeds. 
  5. Employees receive regular feedback on their performance. Changes in roles or responsibilities are not surprises. They’ve been addressed in previous conversations.   

I’m describing an organization that places a premium on communication and collaboration. I recognize these concepts are easier to embrace in good times. Yet they’re especially critical when something does not go according to plan. Managers and employees in this organization will respond with a solutions-oriented mindset. They’ll forgo the need to throw someone under the bus or make him/her a scapegoat. Individual and/or group responsibility, if any, can be addressed when the situation has stabilized. 

You may consider my perspectives outlined here idealistic if not na├»ve. I nonetheless remain committed to find or otherwise manifest such an organization. It’s where I wish to devote my professional energies in the not-too-distant future. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Three Keys for 21st Century Networking Courtesy of Tom Poser

I believe that in the rush to master the latest social media tools a lot has been lost.  Potential access to a worldwide market is one thing. The opportunity to build deep, long lasting personal relationships is an entirely separate matter. There’s an investment of time and energy required in the non-digital world. That’s not to say that online relationships are less valuable than those offline. It’s just that they’re fundamentally different and for many people less satisfying.

That’s the background to my introduction of Tom Poser, the subject of this blog post (and who's in the accompanying photo). He’s a commercial real estate broker with Jones Lang LaSalle in San Francisco. I’ve gotten to know him over the last four years, first when I was employed at Presidio Graduate School and more recently in my work as a career coach and employee development consultant. 

Tom’s the first commercial real estate broker I’ve known, and I admit he’s changed my impression of the profession. Many in his line of work rely on aggressive salesmanship to snare clients seeking new commercial space. It works for them, but up to a point. The cycle necessarily repeats itself as deals are closed and one’s portfolio empties. In the wake of such tactics there’s often a trail of fractured relationships as the focus on doing whatever it takes to land the business pays little attention to relationship building. 

Tom is different. You don’t get the hard sell. In fact, you don’t get a sell at all. Tom sees networking differently in a way that works for him. I think it’s the ideal approach in an increasingly noisy market for professional goods and services. 

Tom has based his networking on three key principles:

1. The relationship matters most. It’s not about individual, one-off transactions. It’s the opportunity to work with someone while forming a personal and professional connection. That’s why Tom spends time meeting with people in his network simply to catch up. He doesn’t pepper them with endless promotional emails or requests. When he needs something, he asks. I’m more than happy to help him (and vice versa).

2. Networking is a long-term process. Tom spent nearly 8 years building his business. He invested the time and energy knowing that his network would sustain him when he needed it the most. It has. In turn, you’re confident that he’ll be there to assist you even if it’s been some time since you’ve been in touch.

3. It’s all about asking, “How can I help you?” Tom organizes quarterly networking events for local architects, lawyers, financial professionals, and many others he’s gotten to know over the years. Again, there’s no hard sell. He benefits simply by having created this opportunity for others. Individuals in his network take the initiative to connect with each other for mutual benefit. 

Tom’s networking has a clear intent: “When you hear of someone looking for commercial space I hope you’ll think of me.” I know I certainly will.  I’ll also look to his example when my commitment to such principles wavers, as it inevitably will.  

Friday, July 29, 2016

My 14 Step Practice for Making the Most Out of Networking Events

I’m looking to connect meaningfully with a handful of people (at most) at any networking event. Quality of conversations always matters to me more than quantity.  To this end, I’ve cultivated a 14-step practice for how to make the most of networking events. It’s outlined below.
  1. I assemble business cards and my name badge at home in advance of the event. My handwriting is atrocious so I’ve found this name badge serves me better. It also stands out in the sea of handwritten name tags. 
  2. I confirm the event location and determine how I’ll get there. I leave. 
  3. I arrive a few minutes before the event begins or at the start.
  4. I use the restroom. I wash my hands and face. 
  5. I check in at the registration desk. 
  6. I greet people as they enter the meeting room. The effort helps me to warm up for more intensive interactions likely to occur in the event space. 
  7. I walk the entire event space. I identify the location of food and/or drink. I note the placement of equipment for a presentation if there will be one. 
  8. I scan the crowd to see if I know anyone present. If I do, I head for that person to say hello. I’m quick to introduce people I know to each other. 
  9. I get a drink. If there’s a line (and there usually is), I speak with at least one person near me. I respond enthusiastically if someone else initiates. We exchange business cards.
  10. I continue to scan arrivals to see if I know anyone. I repeat the process outlined in step 8.
  11. When I see someone standing alone I reach out to begin a discussion. We exchange business cards. 
  12. If I’m alone, I head for the food table. As I wait in line, I make conversation with at least one person. We exchange business cards. 
  13. I reach out to the hosts to introduce myself and thank them before the event ends.  We exchange business cards. 
  14. I follow up with people I met at the event by email and/or invite them to connect with me on LinkedIn.  I set up a meeting with individuals I found especially interesting.
I’ve read many outstanding books on networking that have helped me.  I recommend works by Keith FerrazziAndrea Nierenberg, and Susan RoAne. They’ll  provide insight and inspiration for your future networking efforts. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Career Coaching Roadmap

Here's a visual representation of how I work with individuals as a career coach. The process applies whether you're looking for a job, intending to change industries/professions, and/or transitioning to a new career (and stage in your life).

Can I help you address these or other career challenges? Let's set up a complimentary 15 minute phone call to discuss them.  You can reach me at +1-415-517-5756 or at dr.mitchell.friedman (at)