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Archive for February 2015

Driving Your Career

Driving Your Career

Nobody is driving your career but you. And if you have been coasting on auto-pilot, you are paying the price in lost opportunity. Over the years, I’ve asked hundreds of the most accomplished leaders in American business what it takes to drive a career to the top. Here’s what they said:

• A career is not a ladder, but a highway with off-ramps and on-ramps and turns that will take you to interesting places. You may want to go north, but you can get there by heading east.

• Sometimes, the way to go up is to go down. Or sideways.

• Take on projects that you can put your name on.

•Be a change agent Embrace risk.

• Don’t be afraid to take on a challenge—even if you fear you don’t know enough about it. You will learn it through your leadership of others.

• You are in charge of your own destiny. There is no pre-set path to success.

• Give yourself permission to promote yourself rather than waiting for somebody else to promote you. Don’t wait for a promotion to take on new responsibility.

• You can always go home. You can’t always reconstruct an opportunity. Have a run at it and give up later if it is necessary, but an opportunity may never come again.

• You are not always ready for a promotion. You are not the No. 1 person until you have the job. You can’t practice for it until you do it.

• Don’t be afraid to go lateral. Go for the best experiences.

• Always ask what you can do better.

• Work in an environment that has a culture that is consistent with your values.

• Merchandise your success. Don’t be humble about your results.

• It is not the responsibility of senior management to notice your results.

• You will be rewarded for your willingness to be bold and go after something.

• Speak up for yourself. Don’t always accept the immediate response. Continually push the envelope, but do it in a way that doesn’t alienate people.

• Ask your boss and boss’s boss how you are doing against your objectives. That way, they know what you are doing.

• It is okay to say no. It doesn’t mean you will never have another opportunity.

• If you stay in a demeaning situation or one that holds you back, you will become mediocre.

• Life is too short to do work that you are not passionate about.

• This is a marathon. It is not a sprint.

Fawn Germer works with organizations to drive the bottom line by getting talent out of the pipeline and into leadership. Book Fawn for speaking or coaching at

Stop Micromanaging

Stop Micromanaging

If you are conducting the orchestra, you can’t go out there and play all the instruments. Why is it that so many managers try to do that with their people? A lot of us have control issues, and it can be hard letting go. You know what you can deliver. You know you can hit a home run. But, if you stock your team with good, capable people, you also have to know that it is their turn to swing the bat and define themselves. You had your chance, so stop micromanaging.

Let your people shine. As a leader, your job is to create the vision and build the buy-in and alignment to make it become real. Your job is not todo all the work. People grow when their leader serves as a teacher and listener.

They suffocate when the “leader” is an unrelenting, domineering, know-it-all boss. You do not have to make every decision, even if you know deep down that you could do it faster or better. As your control expands, so does the need for you to let go of things so others are free to define themselves in their own roles.

Which leader is better? The one who is so brilliant, insightful and incisive that she can do everything for everyone, or the leader who has the confidence that she has chosen the right people who can handle things for themselves? It was so interesting hearing the leaders I interviewed for my books tell me that they had to silence themselves like watchful parents at the sidelines while letting subordinates make the mistakes they had to make in order to grow and develop into stronger, more reliable performers. It’s hard to do that, but if you don’t, you’ll have to hover over every single employee, directing every single move in an effort that ultimately transforms your leadership into impotence.

Fawn Germer works with organizations to drive the bottom line by getting talent out of the pipeline and into leadership. Book Fawn for speaking or coaching at

Leading by the Golden Rule

Leading By The Golden Rule

There is a Jewish version, a Christian version, a Native American version, a Buddhist version, a Shinto version, a Hindu version…

And, a corporate version—of leading by the Golden Rule.

1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…

2. Love thy neighbor as thyself…

It plays out every day with the leaders who know that the only way to create “followership” and build formidable teams is by treating people well. So many leaders told me the Golden Rule is their compass.

Think about it.

Do you enjoy being yelled at? Treated as though you are less than someone else? Micromanaged? Undermined? Do you like being second-guessed? Stretched too thin? Reminded of all your shortcomings? Do you like killing yourself to contribute, and never hearing a simple “thank you”? Do you mind being paid less than you deserve? Cheated out of the recognition or promotion you’ve got coming?

Of course not. Nobody likes any of those things.

And yet …

Managers do that stuff.

All the time.

How hard is it to realize that people are human beings and want to be treated as such?

You can set high standards, tough goals and precise objectives for your people, but you won’t get the buy-in for over-the-top performance by forcing it. If you want extra from other people, give a little extra of yourself. Become the kind of leader others naturally want to follow by treating others well—like you want to be treated. People expect and deserve your respect before they will respect you in return.

Fawn Germer works with organizations to drive the bottom line by getting talent out of the pipeline and into leadership. Book Fawn for speaking or coaching at

Succeeding Wildly at Work

Succeeding Wildly at Work

If you expect your hard work to be recognized and rewarded, you are making a huge mistake. If you are taking ownership over your career, you have to do the heavy lifting.

Here is what some of the most senior leaders in American business told me about succeeding wildly at work:

• It is a mistake to wait for the “big project.” The way to get the big project is by doing a lot of small ones very well.

• Do your absolute best work on everything you are asked to do, from the simplest assignment to the most complicated.

• Be willing to take on tough assignments.

• Overdeliver. Overdeliver. Overdeliver.

• Evaluate your progress and be flexible. It is dangerous to get so committed to what you are doing that you stop evaluating whether you are moving in the right direction.

• Don’t hesitate to raise your hand. There are opportunities to broaden your skills base and be seen as a real contributor because you are willing to say yes.

• Any leader is glad to have somebody willing to take on more so they don’t have to hire more people.

• Understand the expectations and what success looks like for every assignment, and make sure everybody who evaluates you understands what you are going to deliver.

• Don’t compete against your peers—compete against a standard. Do what differ- entiates you against the standard for excellence. Judge yourself against the very best you can be.


Fawn Germer works with organizations to drive the bottom line by getting talent out of the pipeline and into leadership. Book Fawn for speaking or coaching at