How to Become a Thought Leader in Your Organization

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In today’s work world, leaders need to define their areas of expertise—and stand out. I’m seeing a growing trend for individuals who are creating their own niche inside their organizations. By doing so, they are standing out as thought leaders; pioneers and advocates on particular topics, which builds their visibility, their reputation as experts, and attracts opportunities inside and outside their company.

As Daniel W. Rasmus writes, for Fast Company, “Amid the cacophony of corporate voices, those found to be additive to the dialogue, rather than distracting, can be considered thought leaders.” These thought leaders have become known for something—hopefully a passion of theirs—and this perception of them helps open doors, and provides career and job security.

“The best thought leadership helps people in an industry, or more likely, in a role within an industry, do something better or gain insight that helps them better understand their market or their job,” writes Rasmus.

I’ve been following, interviewing, and coaching internal thought leaders for a long time now and realize there are common strategies that make these leaders successful. Employing these strategies in your own life can help you ascend to the next level in your career, and become a leader yourself. “Becoming a thought leader isn’t just a process. It requires a passion for and a commitment to spreading ideas that can help others,” states Ned Ward, vice president of Sterns & Associates, in an interview with says Inc. editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan.

“Thought leadership is commonly discussed in the business world, and to the average person, it may sound like another annoying corporate buzzword,” says Nicole Fallon, of Business News Daily. “But behind the jargon is the honest and admirable ambition of being viewed as a credible industry expert, one who cuts through the “noise” and offers something worth listening to.”

How You Can Become a Thought Leader

You may be wondering how you can become a thought leader. You’re in luck. I’m sharing these special secrets in a webinar on February 9th at 11 am PST/noon MST / 2 pm EST for 60 minutes. This webinar will analyze those who have successfully become thought leaders in their organizations. It will also deliver a step-by-step guide to creating a plan for your own thought leadership.

During my webinar you will:

  • Decide on your thought leadership topic
  • Design messaging and create a brand for your subject
  • Develop a step by step plan to launch your own thought leadership campaign
  • Learn how to expand and sustain your thought leadership reach both inside and outside your company and your professional networks.
  • Discover how to leverage your network to support your topic

After this information-packed, one-hour session you’ll leave with:

  • A topic of focus, passion
  • Clear branding and messaging around your topic
  • A plan for creating broader visibility for you and your subject
  • Unique ways to promote yourself and your topic
  • Ways to speak, write and use social media to promote your topic

What do you want to be known for? How high do you want to climb in your career? The thought leadership tips and coaching you will receive in my webinar will help you answer those questions—and more.

Remember, being perceived as a thought leader is an excellent form of career insurance; one that will open doors to new levels of professional opportunities and job satisfaction. Join us for my thought leadership webinar on February 9th at 11 am PST/noon MST / 2 pm EST. Register today!

Header Image: Wesley Fryer,  CC 2.0

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Lamson is the CEO of Lamson Consulting, Founder of the highly popular leadership program for women, Advancement Strategies for Women, and creator of award-winning management programs for SpaceX, LinkedIn, and SAP. As an author, consultant, and speaker, Melissa accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing a global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross-cultural communication.  More About Melissa Lamson

 

 

An Open Letter to Men in the Workplace

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Men,

With the recent events in the media, I can imagine you’re a little confused. I feel for you. How can you authentically and naturally interact with women without concern you’ll offend? What words can you use? What actions can you take?

What does it mean when a woman asks you for “support”?

There is professional protocol in business, and most of us do our best to follow that. However, men and women interact very differently—and most of the time we’re totally unaware of that. What happens when we unintentionally slight someone, offend or hurt them? Especially in the workplace.

Here is a list of things I’d like you to consider. How often do you:

  • Thank women regularly for their contribution.
  • Praise women for their competence and a job well-done.
  • Ask open questions to understand a problem, before offering a solution.
  • Say you’ll jump in and help on something.
  • Ask if anyone needs coffee or water before a meeting starts.
  • Refer to a female colleague in a meeting as a “go-to expert.”
  • Give credit in a public forum, “Susan had a great idea when we talked last.”
  • Use names when you’re speaking about or to women.
  • Ask questions, like, “I’d like to offer specific support, what can I do?”
  • Follow through with what you say you’re going to do.

If you’re doing all of these things, women in your organization most likely respect you and enjoy working with you. If you’re doing some of these things, you will be seen as harmless. If you’re doing none of them, I can guarantee women have a problem with you.

Luckily, I’m offering you a complimentary webinar full of “how-to’s” to keep you from making these mistakes, and better yet, to help you turn into a superstar team player that all women will want to work with and for.

The session will explain the differences in men and women’s communications styles. The meaning behind words like “support.” You’ll learn the secrets to advocating for your female colleagues, how to work in mixed teams most effectively, how to read non-verbal signs, and what to do when women are upset.

I guarantee you’ll improve your relationships with women in all aspects of your life and work.

With respect,

Melissa

To sign up for this session click here.

A version of this post was first published on LinkedIn.

Image credit: Jose Hernandez CC 2.0

Work-Life Balance is an Outdated Concept, So What Now?

Beach chairs on the evening sea coast.

Work-life balance became a buzzword a couple of decades ago. Everywhere you turned there were presentations, articles and self-proclaimed “experts” all promising to help the overworked find a better balance.

The thing is, I’m not so sure work and life are really separate concepts anymore.

More and more, work and life are intertwined, especially when working remotely, or traveling for work. And to increase engagement, more companies are making workplaces feel like “home.” “Work-Life Integration” is probably a more accurate term today, and people work every day to try to do this well. It isn’t as much a balancing act as it is an act of acceptance that balance doesn’t exist. Something will always have to give; your time in the office, your kid’s soccer game, time with your partner, or travel abroad. If you want successful work-life integration, you will need to sacrifice something.

Sure, there are still the no-holds-barred leaders out there whose commitment to work eclipses everything else and there are those who think that’s the way it has to be if you want to be successful. Some of these people might even be happy with their life this way, who are we to judge? Many experts today still proclaim it is possible to have it all. However, what exactly does “all” mean?

As leaders, we need to become aware of what’s important to us and the individuals in our team, we need to set an example, be a role model, and help them create the right situation and strategy for themselves. In my opinion, work-life integration is about setting boundaries. If you clarify what you want, create a plan, set boundaries, and manage it well, fulfillment in one’s personal and professional lives can easily be a reality.

It’s all about boundaries.

To achieve life balance, you have to set these boundaries both in your personal life and your work life. You’ll want to make deliberate decisions about what’s going to be the priority. And it has to go both ways to work out. At work, we often have to respond instantly to crises and sudden situations. Then again, sometimes your personal life is more important—your preschooler is in a theater production, a parent is diagnosed with an illness, or your eldest is graduating from law school.

The fact is, when a situation with enough importance emerges (in business or life), we make time. And you know what? The world doesn’t end. This just shows that having boundaries and stepping away is possible. Planning is key and with proper boundaries in place, it becomes easier to give attention to all areas of your life. (Nigel Marsh has a wonderful TedTalk on boundaries.)

Here are five steps to creating excellent work-life integration for yourself and your team. Share these steps with those you manage and hold a conversation about their relevance:

Define “balance.” First, you have to know what you want out of life, then you can create a clear plan to achieve those goals. If working a lot right now is important for your career growth, then that’s ok. If spending more time with your partner is a priority for your relationship, then do that. Maybe your kids need more or less attention at this point in their lives.

Communicate proactively. In some ways, this goes hand-in-hand with the above point. Talk to your family and significant other about what’s coming up on the calendar at work and speak with your team about what types of personal situations may require your attention no matter what. This can help avoid partner, manager or team resentment when various life or work events arise.

Know your own resilience level. You may be the type who can sleep little and work a lot. Or you might require eight hours and need to let your brain rest in between productive spurts of work. Maybe you burn out without regular vacation time or maybe work gives you so much energy, you don’t need many holidays. Listen to what your body and mind need and honor that.

Walk the talk. Don’t preach work-life integration and then send emails in the middle of the night, regularly stay late at the office, and text your team members at off hours. Managers are often unaware how their own behavior unintentionally sets the standard for the team. People may feel they have to respond in the middle of the night, stay late until the boss leaves, etc.

Introduce your personal life into your work life. Back in the day, talking about your personal life at work was a big no-no, but now those walls are coming down. You see more and more amusing family anecdotes or personal stop-and-think moments being integrated into presentations and speeches. The more you make your workplace feel like home (as much as your company will allow), the more balanced you’ll feel at work.

Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage says, “When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive.” The idea of work-life integration isn’t just corporate lip service anymore, but it isn’t really about having perfect balance either. It’s about creating an ideal situation for yourself – accepted at home and at work – so that you can thrive both personally and professionally.

For a workshop, webinar, or speaking engagement on How to Set Boundaries and Be Happier in Life and Work, contact Melissa.

A version of this post was first published here.

 

3 Tips for Launching Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility

As the holidays come to a close, many companies all over the world are doing two things: Reviewing their 2017 performance and selecting charities to receive their official nod to holiday generosity. It’s worth asking how many of them have connected the two in developing their 2017 strategies. Corporate philanthropy isn’t just an obligation, after all; along with helping others, corporate social responsibility (CSR) offers an opportunity to inspire employees and attract new customers.

A few decades ago, no one expected companies to play the Good Samaritan. But in today’s era of “compassionate capitalism,” it’s almost de rigueur for companies to demonstrate some level of altruism, whether it’s promoting green initiatives, improving their local community, or lending their support to a global cause. Corporate social responsibility has become so hardwired into our business culture, in fact, that enterprise brands can look stingy and uncaring if they lack a robust program.

Of course, there’s something else typical of big corporations today, and that’s global expansion. And the intersection of global market entry and CSR can be a tricky one to navigate, given the different cultural priorities regarding these programs. Leaders often follow the saying “people, planet and profit” when it comes to investing in CSR but that can be a bit too simplistic on an international scale. To launch an effective program, global leaders must consider the following factors in their approach.

Figure out which buyers care about your initiatives.

While there’s been some debate on how profoundly CSR programs influence buyers, one Neilsen report showed in Italy Millennials, and Generation Z would pay more for products that were organically grown and ethically produced – And this is the trend globally. While retail slows down in Europe and North America, consumers are looking towards those products which focus on personal wellness and sustainability. In the developing world, it is still essential to ensure research and development, manufacturing and other production considers the community’s needs. Government officials and locals can block the success of global entry if specific environmental and societal criteria are not met.

Design a strategy that will ignite your workforce.

The Gallup Report for 2017 shows only 15 percent of the workforce engaged and actively engaged— a disheartening statistic. The data states that manufacturing and production are the primary cause of a lack of morale. A Corporate social responsibility program may interest your customer base, but it could indeed act as a morale booster for your workforce. The importance of a sense of meaning at one’s job has been proven time and again – and participating in a global mission can be even more galvanizing. This sense of meaning is extraordinarily powerful for remote teams, as sharing the same purpose can deepen connections between far-flung colleagues and dispersed offices.

For instance, each region might contribute toward a different local cause, such as rebuilding from a natural disaster in a struggling community – everyone will post photos and updates to the same internal site to educate and inspire others. Another option is having everyone adopt the same internal initiatives. Going green is obviously a popular one; offices can hold contests on reducing waste and packaging materials, exchange ideas on setting up carpool systems or show off their new energy-efficient lighting. Employees in Hong Kong who ordinarily might never interact with employees in Toronto will enjoy common ground that ultimately fosters deeper engagement for everyone.

Shift from CSR to Social Impact.

Particularly in today’s political and environmental climate, we need to ensure our efforts are not abstract. In touting CSR as making a social impact, everyone can relate. Leaders become advocates; employees care about making a difference. Alice Korngold wrote, “A Better World Inc.,” where she talks about how companies can make a positive social impact where governments cannot. We’ve seen this recently with the Paris Accord Agreement where hundreds of corporations have said they will uphold its principles even during the political debate.

Sometimes companies must commit to CSR that holds a personal significance for their partners. Ultimately every global company should consider the impact of corporate social responsibility initiatives on its workforce, its customers, and its communities before making a significant investment. The wrong program can go ignored by both employees and customers.

But the right program can put a halo of appeal around a brand image, inspire your workforce—and make a real global impact at the same time.

For a list of the top 20 CSR programs in 2017 and the companies they belong to, see here

Image Copyright: trueffelpix / 123RF Stock Photo 

A version of this post was first published here.