Join me as we explore my latest coaching insights.

My clients and I have learned the key to managing up successfully comes from using the ladder of inference to influence what someone crucial to your career believes about you. And therefore how that person makes decisions about your progress in the organisation. In the Fifth Discipline Peter Senge wrote about the importance of basing decisions on considered reasoning and reflection – and not acting on assumptions or in haste. Senge used the ‘ladder of inference’ as the theoretical underpinning of his prescription for making wise executive and other decisions. In today’s fast-paced world there is always pressure to act now. Making quick decisions often seems more virtuous than taking the time to gather and test the relevant facts and form a measured view before acting. In other words it’s all too easy to run up the ladder of inference, form erroneous beliefs, and make poor decisions.

Whatever type of job you hold, in today’s times you have to run ‘You & Co’ as a business. Whether you feel secure as a senior executive (this not always an oxymoron), a middle manager climbing the shaky rungs of a corporate ladder, a SMB owner-manager, a partner in a professional services firm, or a freelance consultant, all the evidence points to the importance of doing your job as though you are in business for yourself. Put another way, you need to run ‘You & Co’ as a business. Bridges spine onlyAs William Bridges so aptly put in his great book JobShift, “Today the idea that You’ve got to look after your own career prospects, nobody else is going to has to be taken a step further, You had better be not only taking care of your own future, but also looking after yourself as though you were self-employed.” Writing in 1994, Bridges emphasised his own analysis with a blunt statement by an out-placement consultant: “You have to see yourself as a business”.

The common stereotype of senior executives working 60 hour weeks, not taking holidays, and enduring unhealthy levels of stress is well founded. Those fuelling this stereotype do indeed invest huge and unrelenting hours in being top performers. If you recognise yourself in this caricature, the personal price you are paying is very high. Executive life is widely and rightly regarded as tough. Witness the shortening tenures of CEOs in major corporations, the prevalence of stress and burnout, and the constant refrain “I never have enough time”. Ironically, you would be an even better performer if you invested your energy, not your time. In researching how to help a seriously stressed corporate executive, I recently dipped back into ‘The Power of Full Engagement’ by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr. Their research reveals that the old paradigm of being a better time manager is less helpful than a new way of thinking, namely managing your energy.

On 5 May the ABC 7.30 Report screened an inspiring interview that spoke volumes about being resilient and adaptable. Leigh Sales' interview with George Miller – the Australian creator of Max Max* – is worth watching to reflect on the merits of being resilient and adaptable in life and career. As an aide-memoire, I have picked out some of George Miller's observations from the interview.

Not so long ago white and blue collar workers alike enjoyed a contract with their employers that was rarely written. It was a tacit ‘social contract’ that offered both parties security and comfort. The social contract is dead – well and truly buried. Here’s what its demise means to you.

When I first heard ‘You are no longer a person; you are a brand.’ I was struck by the pith and pathos of the expression, which Tom Peters attributes to Martha Stewart in his very useful book  the brand you. Rhetorically saying to someone ‘You are no longer a person; you are a brand’ certainly grabs their attention. And for your career, so it should. It epitomises the notion of thinking about yourself and your career in contemporary marketing way.

How often has someone said to you ‘Trust your gut’? Do you? Or do you go though a logical analysis of the pros and cons of every major decision you make? Being urged to trust your gut is the same as being urged to listen to your inner voice, act on your hunch, let your intuition decide, and follow your sixth sense. These interchangeable colloquialisms refer to allowing your heart to rule your head in making decisions. I often advise my clients to do just this. Here’s why.

Happy holidays to all my clients and followers of Letting go. Stepping up; it 's a time to reflect and recharge. Have a restful and reflective break and return in 2015 to focus on those aspects of your life and career that are most important to you. In doing so, please browse some of my favourite posts of the past year.

Late yesterday Bob, one of my high-flying clients in a listed corporation, called me in a perplexed state. He was wondering about how he could influence others when making decisions. During the day he had landed in a near shouting match with his favourite direct report, and later with his boss, the chief executive, he had enjoyed ‘one of the best one-on-ones we have ever had’. In both conversations substantial decisions were scheduled for immediate action. Driving home, he couldn’t for the life of him understand why they felt so different, so he called me.

I'll call her Jess and through her story show how when one door closes you can open the next one. Jess was making her rise through the corporate ranks look easy. Her company promoted Jess ahead of her peers. Making her sales budget was a breeze for Jess who worked extraordinarily hard, often sacrificing her private life for the job. Overall, life felt good. Abruptly, all this changed.

Last month my post titled ‘It is possible to be happier, but not for the reasons you may think’ generated a good deal of interest. So much so in fact that I searched for more practical guidance on what you can do to be happier. Here's some key things we've learning about happiness through science, courtesy of Mindful newsletter columnist Stephany Tlalka (whose helpful synopsis of current research I quote and gratefully acknowledge).

Curiosity killed the cat refers in everyday parlance to the dangers of needless risk-taking and experimentation. But a lack of curiosity is what kills many an executive’s career. This is a story about Luke Potter (pseudonym) who believed the reasons for his previous success as a CEO could easily be transferred to his new role. Luke is still wondering why he failed and why he was asked to leave.

Working with a client in his late-50s I asked, “James will you live your last 20 summers to the full?” I wasn’t suggesting I was prescient about the actuarial probability of his lifespan. But I was wanting to give him a wake-up call. James had it all wrong in my opinion. I use ‘your last 20 summers’ as a metaphor for the period after you leave your full-time role in an organisation and I suggest all of us should plan to generate good income during our ‘last 20 summers’. Here’s why I think James had it wrong.

For leaders, it is important to replace your musts and shoulds with wants and wishes. Every truly effective leader senses this, yet too few recognise that this simple formula empowers them to respond and act in an emotionally intelligent way to stressful situations. When you replace your musts and shoulds with wants and wishes you avoid the traps that create stress, sap your energy and distract you from the main game.

My January 2014 post is about how to become an authentic leader. Authentic leadership is about your self-concept and the relationship between your self-concept and your actions as a leader. So I was delighted when one of my regular readers was inspired to send me this piece of wisdom from best-selling author and spiritual guide Deepak Chopra in The Soul-Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness: ‘Leaders and followers co-create each other. They form an invisible spiritual bond. Leaders exist to embody the values that followers hunger for, while followers fuel the leader’s vision from inside themselves.’

In December last year my post ‘To be an authentic leader, first be true to yourself’ caused many to write and call. How to become an authentic leader was a common theme in these conversations. This post, Construct your life story and develop as an authentic leader, shows how by constructing your life story you can develop as an authentic leader. Let me explain.