Blindsided by LinkedIN

May 19, 2010 by

There I was… happily engaged in a great position that fit exactly what I wanted and needed in my career at the time. I was working with a great team of people that were passionate and excited about what they were doing and I felt I was part of something that made a difference. Plus I was part of the Pittsburgh market which was a dream come true for this Pittsburgh boy. Granted, I didn’t expect to play out the rest of my career as General Manager at LHH of Pittsburgh but I was content and looking forward to the opportunities of the new year and I certainly wasn’t looking for a new job.

However, somewhere in New York City, a job started a journey to come looking for me. A private equity firm that was in the process of buying a firm needed a new CEO to take over the company and help to drive the company into its future. Their CEO-candidate search vehicle of choice? A top-shelf executive recruiter? Nope. The recruiting offices of the finest business schools in the country? Nope. Friends/Family members/Old Cronies they knew? Nope, nope… and nope.

They chose LinkedIN.

The partners thought they might move into into other search tools if needed but why not start with LinkedIN. So they began networking on LinkedIN. They used a variety of keyword searches based on competitor names, titles, geographic locations, and specific terms of the industry and pretty quickly generated a list of about a dozen or so names. Some of this list they thought might be actual candidates; others on the list they thought might be one or two networking contacts away from actual candidates. The next step was to send out emails… or rather INMails… introducing themselves and their intent. I received one of those emails and responded (no offense to LHH but I couldn’t help but be curious).

The partners commented that they most appreciated three things about my profile (1) its detail because it helped them get a better sense for my background versus others they reviewed, (2) my recommendations because they knew they were probably the same folks that they would get in a traditional ‘reference list’ so why not read what they had to say, and (3) they found it interesting that there were more than a few intersections between their original list of 12 target contacts and my recommendation contacts. From there it became a fairly traditional interview process, mostly by phone with several different contacts and one face-to-face meeting. In fairly short order, there was an offer, a negotiation, an acceptance, a transition and a start date. It all started with LinkedIN.

The point of this story? Well, there are several… (1) LinkedIN works, (2) LinkedIN is used to source positions at all levels, (3) LinkedIN is a great tool to have work passively to advance your career, and (4) to encourage you that your efforts with LinkedIN will not be in vain, and they will pay a dividend. You may not be expecting it when they do but they will pay a dividend.

As I’ve stated in previous blogs and in the various “LinkedIN Presentations” I gave around town, LinkedIN is a “Career Tool”, not a “Job Search Tool”. Networking helps your career no matter what stage of your career you are in. In fact, LinkedIN is already (again) an integral part of my sales efforts at the new company. You just plain need to have a complete LinkedIN profile. If you need some pointers on what constitutes a ‘complete LinkedIN profile’ check out the links below. If there was ever a ‘Just do it’ for you in terms of career management, utilizing LinkedIN as far as you can take it, would certainly be one.

By the way, make no mistake, while you can take the boy out of Pittsburgh, you can’t take Pittsburgh out of the boy… Go Steelers!

Some Helpful LinkedIN Links:

LinkedIN Best Practices for Business

Improving Your LinkedIN Profile

LinkedIN Blog

Reading the minds during the Exec Staff Meeting: Wednesday, 9:10 a.m.

April 14, 2010 by

Shelly (VP HR): Here we go again! Another battle between Jack and Erik. Guess I’ll have to step in a referee one more time…

Matt: (VP Marketing): Geez, I’ve got a tee time at 10:15 and this is going nowhere.  Why don’t they just take the usual vote and get it over with?

The senior leadership team is discussing the CEO’s plan to replace the current ERP system.  There’s been heated debate between him and his top IT executive. Even the CFO seems against the move.  Jack, the CEO, doesn’t want to dictate such a significant decision but he can’t wait around forever for other people to get on board.  There are staffing and training implications that will impact the HR staff so Shelly wants to be involved in the decision.  But Matt, the top marketing officer has made it clear he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the matter. 

How this important decision will be made is one indicator of the effectiveness of the team as well as the team leader. But, contrary to popular belief, not everyone needs to even be involved.  Jon Katzenbach, expert in team dynamics, suggests, “In a real team, the right person or persons make the decisions; group consensus is not required.”[i]  

There are dozens of choices and decisions that leaders make every week and high performing teams are versatile in the approaches they take to making them.   Some leaders and organization development experts believe that top teams need to spend more time together building consensus.  Instead, the focus should be on developing versatility and efficiency in decision making. That requires teams to become more aware of the decision making process within their team and make conscious and intentional choices about who will be involved and who is ultimately going to make a decision.

“Many top leadership challenges that constitute real team opportunities simply do not require or warrant active participation by all who have been designated as, ‘on the team.’”[ii]  Effective teams put egos, tradition, and political correctness aside.  They configure their decision making processes after weighing time, capability and capacity tradeoffs.  Otherwise, time is wasted and others in the organization are misled into believing that consensus is the goal instead of the quality of the decision.  Top teams are most productive when they make more effective use of a variety of decision making modes and membership configurations.

Team Productivity Strength #5 – Decision Making: The team has clear and efficient decision making processes.

Jane Patterson, an Executive and Team Development Coach, is an authorized Facilitator of the Team Diagnostic Assessment, a proven model that helps build the strengths for high-performing, sustainable teams. She is managing partner of Cornerstone Team Development www.cornerstonetd.com 


[i] Katzenbach, Jon R. Teams at the Top: Unleashing the Potential of Both Teams and Individual Leaders. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1998. 9. Print.

[ii] Katzenbach 133.

Listening in on the Exec Staff Meeting: Wednesday, 8:05 a.m.

April 7, 2010 by

Jack (CEO):  We disagree about moving forward with the new ERP implementation.  Let’s talk about it.

Ann (CFO):  I’m glad you brought it up.  We looked bad in front of the Board when we showed obviously different points of view. I don’t want it to look like I’m not a team player because I am!

Erik (CIO):  It doesn’t have anything to do with being a team player. This is a major decision and we need to think it through carefully before we just dump a vendor that’s been good to us.

So what’s the issue here? Is it insubordination?  A misunderstanding?  Resistance to change?  Poor leadership? Different points of view?

It’s a good sign that Jack is willing to discuss a recent, high-profile disagreement within his team.  Strong teams don’t avoid conflict and great team leaders aren’t afraid to bring important issues out into the open.  

Jack knows this organization has been through a lot of turmoil recently: a change in top leadership, the resignation of the Chief Operating Officer, and the loss of several key customers because of operational screw-ups.   Jack sees that replacing the existing ERP system is vital to improving efficiency and customer service.  But both his CFO and CIO seem to oppose this move.

Clearly this is an important issue these executives are wrestling with.  And proactive teams invite new ideas and different points of view.  In fact, they seek out contrary voices because they recognize in those voices the possibility of more creative ideas and better solutions to their problems.

The CEO knows that this team is not afraid of making changes; in fact, the team recently approved a major capital expenditure to pursue an important product redesign that would put them way ahead of their competition.  Yet, when it comes to embracing changes in technology infrastructure the team seems to be stuck in the past.  While Jack certainly respects the history the organization has had with the current vendor, he’s looking for state-of-the-art solutions and wants to encourage the team to be open-minded and flexible in exploring new options.

Jack’s challenge is to facilitate discussion so that the team explores all possibilities.  He knows that high-performing teams don’t neglect or disown the lessons they’ve learned–those lessons are invaluable. But they don’t dictate the future.  Agility is the life blood of excellent teams and his goal is to build a team that’s proactive in all areas of the business. His next step is to help the team pursue opportunities for change and to discuss the options positively and creatively.

Team Productivity Strength #4:  Teams embrace a Proactive response to change.  Members are nimble and flexible in addressing opportunities for change and respond  positively and creatively.

Jane Patterson, an Executive and Team Development Coach, is an authorized Facilitator of the Team Diagnostic Assessment, a proven model that helps build the strengths for high-performing, sustainable teams. She is managing partner of Cornerstone Team Development www.cornerstonetd.com

Evesdropping at Starbucks:Thursday, 7:35 a.m.

March 31, 2010 by

Ann (CFO):  “Who does Jack think he is, trying to ram this ERP decision down our throats?”

Erik (CIO):  “I’ll tell you one thing– I’m not going to be the fall guy when this blows up in our face!”

After yesterday’s Board of Directors meeting, Erik and Ann, two members of Jack McGuire’s executive team, are commiserating over coffee.  The recently hired CEO of the company is proposing to upgrade to a new ERP system.  Ann is concerned about the expense of one more major systems implementation this year. Erik, the CIO, agrees that it’s time to make a move but he knows that Jack wants to change vendors and he’s not in agreement with his choice.

The company is facing a tough challenge.  Beyond the expense implications, conversion to a new ERP system will involve considerable business process analysis, employee retraining, and new work procedures. The cooperation and support of the entire executive team will be needed to ensure success and to avoid the negative consequences of a failed ERP implementation. The resistance of two key executives to accept accountability for the initiative signals that problems are ahead for Jack’s first key initiative as the new leader. Other executives will be taking their lead from Ann and Erik so their behavior will send a big message inside the company.

On effective teams, there is a strong sense of co-responsibility for major initiatives and decisions.  This means that, rather than seeing themselves as responsible for their own individual areas and personal goals, high performing teams adopt the attitude that “we are all responsible for the results of the team as a whole.”  Accountability is the web that connects every member of the team. But it’s not going to happen unless Jack steps in, confronts the resistance head-on, and builds buy-in from his senior leadership team.

Make no mistake–achieving buy-in is not the same thing as consensus. According to Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team[i], “It’s about a group of intelligent, driven individuals buying into a decision precisely when they don’t naturally agree. In other words, it’s the ability to defy a lack of consensus.” Great teams embrace disagreement and have both the courage and the wisdom to explore all perspectives and possibilities.

As the team leader, Jack can make a difference in the way his team accepts accountability for this project and significantly influence how the members work together.  It seems that Jack needs to double-back and engage in a process to ensure that “all voices are heard.” A facilitated conversation focused on the topic of a new ERP system, where all members of the executive team have the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, state opinions and make recommendations, would go a long way to creating the kind of team accountability that will be necessary to make this project work.

 Team Productivity Strength #3: The team commits to the goals and is accountable for results.

Jane Patterson, an Executive and Team Development Coach, is an authorized Facilitator of the Team Diagnostic Assessment, a proven model that helps build the strengths for high-performing, sustainable teams. She is managing partner of Cornerstone Team Development www.cornerstonetd.com 


[i] Lencioni, Patrick. Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2005. 51. Print.

Overheard During Dinner: Wednesday, 7:20 p.m.

March 24, 2010 by

Jack McGuire: The place is a wreck!  Looks like I have to clean house and bring in my own people.

Laura, Jack’s Wife: Not again!  But I guess you don’t have a choice…

Does Jack have a choice?  He’s angry and frustrated by two of his top executives. Their flagrant lack of support at today’s board meeting for his proposal to upgrade the ERP system was embarrassing.  But it was just one more example of their inability to ‘get on board’ with Jack’s agenda. They and other key staff have been dragging their feet on some key initiatives.  No doubt, Jack needs his top team behind him, focusing on the same strategies and priorities. But is turnover really Jack’s best option? Are there better ways to rebuild his team and get them behind him 100% so that they can ALL be successful? 

Executive teams can be especially challenging to lead because team members tend to identify with the mission and objectives of their own individual areas, rather than on their shared accountabilities. Research by Harvard Business School Professors[i] show that if the CEO fails to manage the team properly, these high-powered executives will have difficulty pulling together to make necessary changes. Their disagreement about what constitutes the right path forward can prevent the success that the executives so desperately want.

One of the strengths of high-performing teams is a sense of shared mission and the goals to support it.  Top teams find a mission they can authentically commit to and develop clear, challenging strategies and priorities to focus their work. Often easier said than done, top teams can benefit from outside facilitation and coaching so that tough questions are asked and answered, natural conflicts are aired and resolved, accountabilities are identified and accepted, and commitments are made and honored.

Jack’s next step could be to start firing his top team.  But first, he should ask himself four vital questions:

  • What is the compelling purpose for my executive team?
  • How should I structure this team in terms of size, mix of members, personalities, abilities, and experience?
  • What operating principles, values and norms are essential?
  • What supports does this team need to function at the highest level?

The ability of his top executives to support his agenda and produce results is dependent on Jack getting his act together and building a cohesive and committed team.  No matter who sits in the corner offices, the leader must create a mission that the team can authentically commit to and hold each other accountable for.

Team Productivity Strength #2: Ability to set clear, challenging goals and strategies

Jane Patterson, an Exeutive and Team Development Coach, is an authorized Facilitator of the Team Diagnostic Assessment, a proven model that helps build the strengths for high-performing, sustainable teams. She is managing partner of Cornerstone Team Development www.cornerstonetd.com


[i] Wageman, Ruth, Debra A. Nunes, James A. Burruss, and J. Richard Hackman. Senior Leadership Teams: What it takes to make them great. Boston, MA: HBSP, 2008. Print.

Overheard in the Boardroom-Wednesday, 2:15 p.m.

March 17, 2010 by

Board Chair:  “I thought Jack was a great choice for CEO but now I’m not so sure.”

Board Member: “I know what you mean. Can’t you just feel the tension between him and the CFO?”

The Board of Directors had high hopes for Jack McGuire, the new CEO.  A rising star with extensive background in product development and marketing, a Ph.D., multiple patents, quick grasp of the financials, and amazing self-confidence, he had stood out among all the other candidates.  But after just two Board meetings, Jack’s star is now falling—fast.

Today, it was clear that neither the CFO nor the CIO supported Jack’s proposal to upgrade the ERP system. There was clear conflict as to the best strategy to streamline business processes and costs. Even though Jack made a strong case, the lack of support by several key executives prompted the Board to table the decision, delaying further action.

Is Jack in trouble? Yes!  One of Jack’s priorities is to improve operating efficiency. His apparent lack of ability to gain alignment with his team on a key strategy was obvious, shaking the Board’s confidence in his leadership. 

Effective transition to a key position requires the ability to quickly build the confidence and trust of your team.  Leaders have as short as 90 days to build credibility and establish key relationships. Alignment is key to the team’s ability to pull in the same direction—in this case—toward improved operating efficiency.

Alignment in our team development model focuses on team members’ commitment to a common, compelling mission. Without commitment there is no investment by team members and without investment, decisions are delayed, deadlines are missed, and productivity suffers.

Team Productivity Strength #1: A sense of common mission and purpose

Jane Patterson, an Exeutive and Team Development Coach, is an authorized Facilitator of the Team Diagnostic Assessment, a proven model that helps build the strengths for high-performing, sustainable teams. She is Managing Partner of Cornerstone Team Development www.cornerstonetd.com

Job Seekers: Don’t Just Ping Away!

January 29, 2010 by

There is a scene in the movie The Hunt for Red October where a naval officer is talking to Jack Ryan regarding the Soviet fleet’s search for the renegade submarine.  The exchange goes something like this:

Davenport:     They’re pinging away with their active sonar like they’re looking for something, but nobody’s listening.

Jack Ryan:    What do you mean?

Davenport:   Well, they’re moving at almost forty knots.  At that speed, they could run right over my daughter’s stereo and not hear it.

——–

I think many in job search today could be in a similar situation.  You are ‘pinging away’ but moving so fast that you are forgetting to focus on the details and make the most of every opportunity.   A successful job search is a process that depends on doing every available step to the best of your ability.   Some areas where you might want to slow down and check your execution might be:

Do you have a Written Plan?    Good things usually don’t happen by accident.  You need to have a plan of action in your job search where you identify target industries, target companies, networking goals, salary research, etc.

Training:   Are you studying and learning about improving your job search skills and strategies?  Are you moving your job search skills and knowledge from “Poor to Good to Great!”.  If you are not, just know the competition is.

Are you Really Networking?   A LinkedIN connection is not networking.  You have to have a personal connection by phone or face-to-face to be networking.  PLUS –  if you don’t have a networking strategy and specific goals for each networking meeting then you are trailing your competition on that front as well.

Adequate Follow-Up:   If you feel you had a definite chemistry in the interview, what are you doing to follow-up after the thank you note?   Even interviews that end in a rejection letter – are you following up to get feedback or additional networking contacts?

Are you Researching?   You are competing against candidates that can quote annual reports and press releases and offer valid strategic feedback on customer markets, marketing literature and positioning strategies. 

Are you Making it Personal?   How are you making them remember YOU?  A job seeker recently told me that a recruiter told him that he was so pleased with his handwritten ‘thank you’ note that he showed it around the office and called it “Old World Professionalism”.   I’m liking that candidate’s chance to make the next round.

Are you a Polished Interviewer?  Practice, Practice, Practice.  If you can’t google ‘interview questions’ or pick up a book on interviewing and be confident that you have rehearsed most questions to perfection, you are lagging the top notch competition.

Your LOOK:    First Impressions matter.  Your hair, your clothes, your glasses all tell your story before you open your mouth so make sure that story isn’t “Clueless” or “Out of Date”.  Also, networking can happen ANYWHERE… in the store, at the ball park, at the ChuckECheese with your kids… when you are in job search – you should always dress professionally.

The difference between success and failure in anything is found in the details.  Job search is no different.  In this environment, you do need to step up the “quantity” aspects of your job search but you have to keep an eye on the “quality” aspects as well.  You need to find that balance and stick to it.  Your competition is.

———– ARE YOU LOOKING TO EXPAND YOUR NETWORK?   

If so, you are welcome to join The LHH of Pittsburgh Connection Network Group on LinkedIN:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1814968&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr   (or search groups for ‘lhh pittsburgh).   This is a group dedicated to supporting Pittsburgh-area professional-level job seekers and those willing to help them.

Fueling the Fire

January 1, 2010 by

As the dawn of the new year settles in, I thought I would reflect a bit on the goals for LHH of Pittsburgh in 2010. Our office had a strong year in 2009 fueled by both sides of our business – career transition and leadership development. We grew our cadre of coaches and implemented creative programs for marquee companies in Western Pennsylvania.  Frankly, we are looking to do more of the same in 2010. Specifically, our goals include:

Continued Career Transition Leadership:  LHH of Pittsburgh has the largest certified career coaching team in the region and we offer our local clients access to the most robust online career support tools available.   We will continue to build on that momentum and continue to expand our efforts to position LHH of Pittsburgh as a “Career Networking Hub” for Pittsburgh with expanded awareness of our collection of online links, networking groups, and speaking opportunities.

Greater Coaching Solution Scalability:   The LHH of Pittsburgh team  utilizes the proven LHH coaching frameworks in developing its solutions for local customers.  In 2010, we will be incorporating two new Executive Coaches (Ian Davis and Maria Berdusco) into our programing and working to develop smaller scale “pilot” programs as well as developing  joint programs centered on business coaching tools with other local organizations.

The Fluid Workplace Series:   LHH of Pittsburgh will be continuing this series which debued in 2009.  Our plan is to hold four (4) thought leadership workshops to provide practical discussion and practical tools to support leaders and managers across all industries.  The next workshop is slated for April 2010 so stay tuned!

Committment to the Community:  Our team certainly embraced the call to make our job search expertise more availability to Pittsburgh job seekers in general.  Our team helped to found a regional job seekers support group, provided specific time and support to the Seekers and we were active meeting with various groups to discuss job search skills and strategy.  We are looking to double our efforts in 2010 and specifically look forward to being a part of the “Great Pittsburgh Networking Conference” early in the year which is combining the networking momentum of organizations like Priority Two, The Seekers, Careers in Motion, PAPEN, HOPE Ministries, and LHH of Pittsburgh.

That’s just a brief overview of our plans for 2010, please feel free to give me a call (412-580-4253) or contact any member of our team to learn more. 

Best Wishes to You in the New Year!

Leading in the Fluid Workplace 11-17-09

November 20, 2009 by

LHH of Pittsburgh and Echo Strategies launched the first in a series dedicated to“Leading in a Fluid Workplace”. You would not have guessed it was  early Tuesday morning in November by the energy of the group as we covered the realities of a Fluid Workplace. 

The demands of this new environment coupled with the 21st century worker profile, creates an undeniable urgency to lead in new ways with new tools.

Echo Strategies showcased a cultural assessment that is scalable and easily administered to gauge the culture of an organization or department;  showing the links between a strong coaching culture and financial gains.

Successful leaders are using coaching as a tool to lead more effectively in this matrixed, virtual, complex, global and fluid workplace. 

The team at LHH and Echo were also pleased to see everyone walk away with a new coaching tool in their repertoire … Ask, Don’t Tell.   The group had fun experimenting with this simple yet complex coaching tool.

Attached is the artistic visual representation of ‘notes’ recapping the event. We also invite you to download the article by Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan, “Leadership is a contact Sport” for more insights on Leadership and Coaching.

We look forward to seeing you in April 2010 for the next program in this innovative series ‘Leading in the Fluid Workforce”.        

Meeting Notes: Fluid Workplace 11-17-09

Article: Leadership is Contact Sport

Stay tuned for more……

Traditional Leadership Training is Outdated (HR Management 10-29-09)

October 29, 2009 by

Recently, a potential LHH of Pittsburgh client explained to us that after several years of traditional training, their leadership team was asking for ‘the next level’. They spoke of wanting more of a ‘laboratory’ environment to discuss and explore their leadership development needs. This is a reoccurring theme across organizations in the Pittsburgh area and it is consistent with a recent study by the Institute of Executive Development.

In an article published today on the HR Management magazine site, Isabelle Emory states:

“According to a new survey based on the opinions of senior line and HR managers within major companies, traditional leadership training is now outdated and needs to change across both Europe and the USA.

The survey, conducted by the Institute of Executive Development and leadership development specialist, Mannaz, found that 62 percent of respondents – based on 111 companies in Europe and the US – said they believe the classroom-based lecture approach would become more and more redundant over the next few years.

In its place, claim respondents, would be a shift toward both individual coaching and mentoring and to ‘leader to leader’ development, with 75 and 69 percent of respondents recognising this shift respectively.”

Read the entire article at: Traditional leadership training is outdated.

Coaching is the evolution of training. It provides for practical, individualized development through specific goals and accountability. Coaching drives sustainable behavior change and is no longer just a perk of the C-Suite.  Coaching is a development tool for all levels of an organization.