CapitaPartners introduces SpringBoard, a career redesign workshop for executives

CapitaPartners announces the launch of SpringBoard, an intensive career redesign workshop for executives to help you put purpose and meaning back into your career.

Over two and a half days, a group of like-minded executives will move through a series of interactive exercises designed to bring awareness, insights, and critical thinking to their career and life plans. Our goal is for participants to learn as much from each other as from the coaches – and for the coaches to learn from the participants. This approach is grounded in concepts of adult learning, executive coaching methodologies, and 30 years of practical experience in career decision-making. Through feedback and support, you’ll come away with fresh thinking and a concrete plan that’s been validated by your coaches and peers. You’ll have a fresh mindset and a new sense of purpose. You’ll know how to retool and how to correct any gaps in skills or leadership competencies. Finally, you’ll have a strategy for writing the next chapter in your life and career.

Our first workshop will be in Santa Barbara, California, on October 15-17. Consider taking a short time-out to focus on the “why” of your career. Contact for more information, or visit our SpringBoard website.

About Michael Bekins

For 35 years I have advised and coached senior executives, particularly global executives, through career transitions big and small. Whether the encounter was formal or informal, I remember just about every one, thanks to the lasting imprint that is formed during such periods of intense human interaction. If you’ve ever experienced in-depth career coaching, you’ll know what I mean.

More recently, as an executive coach, I’ve thought deeply about how to make an impact on executives and careers in today’s world where we are, in many respects, “sole proprietors.” By leveraging LinkedIn and other networking sites to promote and monetize the unique experience, skills, networks, qualities, and passions that set us apart and add value to organizations, we author our own careers. This new reality requires us all to think about our our value to the market-place and to develop a set of skills that was once needed only by entrepreneurs.

About CapitaPartners

We partner with clients to develop global mindset in executives and to build an outstanding cadre of global executive talent. Our executive coaching and consulting offerings include Leadership Coaching, Global Mindset Workshops, Leading Across Cultures, SpringBoard (career redesign workshops for executives), Expatriate Advisory, and Transitions Coaching. CapitaPartners also works with clients to assess and recruit senior executives into global roles. Our AsiaNext platform focuses on igniting the critical leadership qualities necessary for the next generation of leaders in Asia.

Our platform has grown considerably over the past two years. Our executive coaching team focuses on a radically unique agenda – building a firm dedicated to understanding what it takes to lead successfully in challenging global markets, truly moving the dial with the clients we serve, and underpinning everything we do with evidence-based assessment tools and research.

Roads not taken: Considering the opportunity costs of career choices

Which track?

Most of my conversations with job-seekers focus more on finding jobs than on making career or life changes. This makes sense. My corporate clients are practical: they need to know if and how the candidate’s leadership skills, motivations, and competencies match the needs of the organization. Most of my candidates are not out of work; they tend to view their career as a linear trek up the ladder. They’ll ask if the opportunity provides more responsibility, challenge or pay.

And yet every step up the ladder has an opportunity cost: the road not taken. The conversation on “career changes” forces executives to ponder deeper questions relating to their basic motivations, aspirations, and dreams. What am I good at and why? What if I did follow my dreams? What are the consequences of not taking the big leap? How realistic are my aspirations? What’s blocking me from achieving them or even taking the first step?

Most of us don’t take the time to envision our future. The recent Great Recession forced many executives to re-examine their careers only after they found themselves out of a job.

When is the right time to ask these questions? Probably every year if you want to make sure your career doesn’t head off down a track you didn’t intend.

These are meaty conversations for career coaches, spouses, mentors, priests, and best friends – someone with no axe to grind, who has no other agenda than to help with your career choices and life goals. There are books written on the subject and you’ll also find links on the right side of this blog. Most of these articles or guides provide “tips” rather than start with the unique needs of the career-changer.

It wouldn’t hurt to open up to executive search consultants when you get the call – if you can find one that will care about you, the person, not you, the candidate. But the conversations need to start somewhere. If it doesn’t start here and now, then when is a better time?

Drilling down in interviews: Why do hiring managers talk instead of listen?

Research says that 64% of new executives hired from the outside fail in their new jobs, so how do we improve our selection process? Most successful leaders are taken aback when a hiring manager or recruiter tries to understand what makes them tick, and I mean try to really understand, because so few people in the corporate world try, even during a critical job interview. They’re too busy selling (as are most candidates). That’s why one of the best ways to recruit the best candidates, the hard-to-get candidates, is to drill down, understand how they got to where they are, and get to the bottom of their motivations. When you know they’re right for the job, great candidates will know it also.

Take China and Japan, two countries with critical talent needs. In Japan the danger is that interviewers, whether the hiring manager, executive search consultant or HR executive, tend to treat senior executives with the respect of an elder or become overly impressed with the executive’s track record of name brand employers which may or may not be relevant for the job. In the case of China, where everything is urgent, the short supply of talent and can lead to making the wrong trade-off decisions. Meanwhile, without better direction, the candidates themselves tend to let their status do the talking. So what should we be looking for? How do we know when the candidate has what it takes?

Successful leaders don’t just materialize out of thin air or hatch out of some top-ten business school. They somehow master their environment and emerge with a strong sense of who they are, while others come and go. So, during an interview, the executive will be taking stock of the interviewer while the interviewer does the probing. How much is shared depends on trust and the quality of the interviewer.

We would hope to hear some truths about the executive’s successes and failures, one or two watershed moments that defined his or her career. We’ll should looking for the how and why of his or her actions. This is described as ‘behavioral-based’ or ‘competency-based’ interviewing and there are books on the subject. But it’s not so easy and takes both practice and desire. Try to hear the executive’s description of the emotions around the experience: pain, humiliation, exhilaration, regret, satisfaction. You may hear about decisions or achievements, but try to learn about what matters most: how the individual mustered the wherewithal to make things work out against the odds, accept the hard lessons, and apply the learning.

You might hear about luck or good timing. But our job is to dig deeper and understand the true makings of a person’s success. Then, link these competencies to the critical needs of the job at hand. Is it that difficult to drill for the fuel that drives successful leaders? We’ve got to get better at it. Knowing that the person opposite you is taking stock, be curious, be real, and reach out.

Working with search consultants: think fit, be focused, and get familiar

Even though the U.S. economy has technically pulled out of recession, my inbox doesn’t know it. I’m still getting scores of unsolicited emails and CVs from job-seekers around the world hoping to get a new position. Conditions are still tough.

So here are a few pointers for working with executive search consultants:

  • When evaluating your fit for an opportunity, minimize aspects of the job that are new: new company, new geographic responsibility, new function, new industry. If you’re evaluating a new job, three “news” is too many and would be seen by an executive recruiter as risky. If you’re out of work, getting a job is urgent, I know, but it is more important to get the right job.
  • Don’t get into the position of being one candidate, out of many, to fill a vacancy. The odds will be against you. Work to develop relationships directly with the CEO or line manager of your target companies and try to create a role for yourself that addresses a real business need facing the CEO. You’ll have no competition for the role.
  • Never rely on search consultants to find your next job. They work for companies, not for individuals.
  • If you can get a meeting with a search consultant, you’re lucky. Most simply don’t have the time to meet job-seekers, even as a courtesy. Their time is being paid for by clients.
  • The time to develop a relationships with a search consultant is before you need them. Be forthcoming with tips; help them before you ask them to help you.
  • Keep your cover letter brief and focused, addressing the consultant by name. If your cover letter and CV hits one of our hot buttons, then we’ll respond. If it begins “Dear Sir or Madam,” we’ll delete it immediately.
  • If you can get an introduction to a search consultant from one of his or her clients, then the consultant is very likely to pursue your case.
  • Most search consultants don’t have the time, desire, or expertise to guide you through a major transformation, such as changing industries. They would prefer to put you in a box and consider you for a position when the client needs candidates in your box. To get around this focus on competencies that transcend job title.

You can check out some of my past posts on related subjects, like finding your value proposition, zig-zagging your way, and job hunting from the inside-out. What is your experience? What am I missing? Do you have any other advice to job seekers?

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