6 career goals you should meet by ages 30, 40 and 50

In most companies, every quarter — or at least twice a year — you’re tasked with setting goals for yourself. As a way to manage your responsibilities, help you prioritize the most important deliverables and keep you tracking toward something, goals are often used as benchmarks of progress. If you meet ’em, you might earn a raise, a title change or bargaining power to ask for more vacation or flexibility. If you don’t — it’s time to work on improving your performance.
That’s what makes setting personal professional goals are bit trickier — since no one is holding you accountable, it’s tough to stay on track and pushing forward. That’s why long-term aspirations are recommended by career experts since you give yourself years — and hey, even a decade — to achieve them. As career coach and author Mary Camuto explains, these targets create focus, momentum, and markers of your success.“Goals should be tangible steps towards both your short-term needs/wants and your longer-term vision for your life Time will pass quickly whether or not you have set a direction or career course,” she shares.

Here, some ideas for each decade of your career:

In your 30s

Once the day of your college graduation has come and gone, you’re running full-speed ahead toward that job you paid so much money to be qualified for. Your 20s and 30s are defined by climbing – up the ladder, up the ranks, up the SEO search pages, up, up and up. And if you’ve ever rock-climbed, you know how much strength and endurance it takes to keep pushing. What’s nice though? The semi-comfortable peak you should reach by 40, where you’ve created a name, a reputation and hopefully, a skill set that’ll propel you into the next phase of life and working.

Have a killer online — and offline — presence:

As a generation that’s redefining the metrics and requirements of working, challenging employers to think differently and more digitally, who you are online is arguably just as important as who you are face-to-face. Branding and career expert Wendi Weiner, Esq., stresses the importance of having an sharp presence in the interwebs. This pillar will help you reach where you want to be once those 40 birthday candles arrive. “Your 30’s should be spent building your network and growing your professional stature. Attend events with business cards, have a professionally written LinkedIn profile, and begin to pinpoint where you want to see yourself in 10 years,” she encourages. “Begin keeping a brag book that you can update every couple of months with key career wins and projects you are leading.”

Don’t forget to take that elbow-rubbing and quick wit offline, too. Camuto says by the time you reach the end of your 30s, you should be in a leadership position within the community or industry you’re part of. “Build and participate in at least two networking groups related to your career: join or lead a committee, volunteer at events. This goal has impact to both your current and future success in that your resources and contacts broaden as well as your professional reputation,” she explains.

Set yourself up for future success:

Money matters are difficult for most people to discuss — and even harder to do something about. Though discussing retirement in your 20s or 30s might feel way too soon, the earlier you begin prioritizing your financial health, the better off you’ll be when 65 (or 70 or 75 … ) comes. “You should plan to pay off some debt in your 30’s and open a 401K at your company to begin planning for your financial future,” she shares. The less you worry about dollars in your banking account, the more time you can spend wowing your manager.

In your 40s

For many, your 30s are a time of tremendous growth, whether it’s finally reaching a c-level title or starting and completing your family. With demands from every corner of your life, most people feel stretched thin, and well, really happy. Even so, it’s important to keep your career progressing as you inch through your 40s, navigating the process of aging mentally and physically. You never want to lose your competitive edge, considering you still have a good 20 years of work ahead of you.

Get an advanced certification:

This doesn’t mean you have to go back to school, Weiner clarifies, but it does mean having a candid and open look at your skill sets to seek areas of improvement. You might fall off track as you become further removed from those college days, but a commitment to knowledge will allow you to keep up with recent grads. She suggests finding certifications — like Google Analytics or a coding course — that add another gold star for your resume.

Take executive leadership classes:

There’s a difference between a manager and a leader: even if you have ten direct reports, if you’re not inspiring them to greatness, you’re missing the mark. Not everyone is a natural-born trailblazer, so Weiner encourages 40-something professionals to acknowledge their weakness in this department. “Consider enrolling in an executive leadership or executive management program to enhance your leadership value and skill set, and start to get clear on where you will want to be for the next decade,” she says.

By doing this, you will be more qualified to go for keynote speaking sessions — or at least some sort of panel or conference — that adds more overall value to your brand. As Camuto explains, having a public image that others follow “not only impacts your recognition and success at your current organization but also lead you to a new path/new goals.”

In your 50s

As you reach mid-life, you’re probably going through a period of transition. Your children are getting older — as are you — and you could worry the best days of your life are behind you. Or more to the point: the most exciting times of your career have passed. Looking down the eye of retirement can produce a slew of emotions, but before you allow yourself to get carried away, remember there are still many years to shape your performance. Since most won’t retire until at least 65, discounting the last decade and some pennies will shortchange your career.

Strategize your retirement exit:

You can’t go over it, can’t go around it — you must go through it … with a plan in mind. Weiner says strategizing your exit will rest your angst and also put you in the best possible situation once your final working hour closes. So go on, ask yourself: where do you want to be — and who do you want to be — when that day arrives? Probably not over-exhausted to your bones, but in a happy place of balance and accomplishment. “You might be looking for a big shift in your career and where you want it to take you on the tail end of your final decade of work. By now, you are practicing more work-life balance and also realizing the importance of vacation days and time away to travel,” she says. Sit with your investment advisor and with your family, and determine your timeline so you stay the course—sans fear.

Serve as a mentor:

Workplace expert and industrial-organizational psychology practitioner Amy Cooper Hakim, Ph.D. says professionals in their 50s will reap rewards (and hey, some karma) from giving back to budding workers. Not only will you be an important figure in their career, but it might ignite a renewed sense of optimism and creativity in yours. “One of the biggest gifts you can give to your field and community is to help those who are in need of mentoring. As you teach a mentee the tricks of the trade, you may even be inspired by your mentee’s enthusiasm and overall interest,” she explains.

By Lindsay Tigar for www.theladders.com

Understanding the Important Distinction Between Community Association Managers and Property Managers

By John Ganoe, CAE, CAMICB Executive Director

A common mistake in state legislatures considering community association manager licensing – and among the general public – is to lump community association managers and property managers into the same bucket. While both are very important roles, they are distinctly different professions with functions, skill sets and responsibilities specific to each.

A community association manager can manage every type of community: condominium associations, homeowner associations, resort communities and commercial tenant associations.  A community association manager works directly with prcommunity-property-managementoperty owners and homeowners.

Property managers oversee individual rental units or a group of rental units, such as an apartment complex. They’re responsible for managing the entire property while community association managers are responsible for common areas – not individually owned properties.

“From a legislative standpoint, this incorrect categorization occurs because state legislators misunderstand the nature of community association management,” said Matthew Green, Director, State Affairs for the Community Associations Institute (CAI).  “They believe that community association management skills are identical to those of a property manager without recognizing the vastly different responsibilities of these two positions.”

This misunderstanding of the two professions often bleeds into more general conversations occurring in this space. Compounding this is the reality that there’s a slight overlap in a couple of the duties performed. For example, both property managers and community association managers supervise certain maintenance activities, such as swimming pool upkeep and trash removal. But it’s important to understand that community association managers oversee and direct all aspects of running the business operation. This means, they authorize payment for association services; develop budgets and present association financial reports to Board members; direct the enforcement of restrictive covenants; perform site inspections; solicit, evaluate and assist in insurance purchases; and, even supervise the design and delivery of association recreational programs.

Property managers are responsible for managing the actual property and therefore handle the physical assets of the unit at the owner’s request. Property managers generally oversee rental units and leases. Their responsibilities might include finding or evicting tenants, collecting rent and responding to tenant complaints or specific requests. If a property manager is responsible for a vacation or second home, he or she may arrange for services such as house sitting or local sub-contracting necessary to maintain that property.  Alternatively, an owner may opt to delegate specific tasks to a property manager and choose to handle other duties directly.

Stephanie Durner, CMCA, AMS, who is the Director of Community Management at River Landing, a private gated golf course community in Wallace, NC, views the distinction this way,

“While property managers are generally charged with overseeing physical structures that are used by people who are not the owners of the property, association managers represent the property owners themselves and are involved in just about every aspect of the overall community. For instance, if a garage door is broken at a rental house, the tenant would call a property manager or owner/landlord. But if there’s a pothole that needs repair or if a neighbor’s dog is running loose through the neighborhood, that’s a task for the community association manager who both maintains the common areas and upholds the governing rules. To me, community association management is a more holistic approach that contributes to the overall quality of life for all the owners in a community.”

Green emphasized, “While some job responsibilities are similar, community association managers have additional functions. It’s critical that community association management be recognized as distinct from property management, because association management requires a wider variety of knowledge and skills.”

“Because of this, the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB) offers and maintains the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential, the only international certification program designed exclusively for managers of homeowner and condominium associations and cooperatives,” added Sara Duginske, MS, CAMICB’s Director of Credentialing Services. “Earning the CMCA credential means an individual has taken and passed the rigorous CMCA examination, proving they have a solid understanding of the business operations involved in being a community association manager.”

For community association managers, the bottom line is they understand and are experienced and knowledgeable in the many facets of running a business operation, assuring they provide the best possible service to the associations for which they are responsible.

CAMICB was established in 1995 to develop and administer the CMCA program. CAMICB insists on high ethical standards for community association managers because it not only strengthens the CMCA program, but protects consumers and associations that hire community association managers.

Check Your Budget Blindspots

If you only look directly ahead while planning next year’s expenses and revenue, you’ll miss what’s running alongside you or gaining from behind. And staffers sometimes ignore red flags. Being candid about the numbers and setting up guardrails can improve the process and the outcome.

Budgeting is a necessary part of an association’s life, but it also involves reconciling an inherent contradiction: trying to predict the future, and then attaching hard numbers to the prediction. Add to that challenge department managers who have ample expertise in their disciplines but who aren’t necessarily association finance wizards, and it’s no surprise that budgeting becomes a headache for many organizations.

Staffing, technology, and especially meetings are a few of the major areas where associations often miss the mark on budgeting. But beyond departmental issues, executives and finance experts say, the biggest finance blind spots often involve a failure to think broadly about budget lines. Who takes responsibility for a project that touches multiple departments? Are you properly integrating internal

resources, beyond hard expenses, into project costs? And are you considering the association’s broader financial goals when you’re drawing up next year’s plan?

“Not as much as you ought to” is the general consensus in response to those questions, and a cavalier budgeting approach can have stifling consequences, says Lee Klumpp, director, national assurance, nonprofit and education practice, at BDO.

“People will say, ‘You came in $20,000 over budget. That’s all right.’ Problem is, that’s $20,000 worth of resources that could’ve been used some other way, that wasn’t budgeted for and wasn’t approved,” he says. “But nobody’s been held accountable for it.”

Luckily, some forethought and common sense can go a long way to helping an association budget more accurately.

Our goal is to do better [financially], but we cannot budget on wishes and good intentions.

Zero-Based Budgeting

One of the most common mistakes that many staffers make is to simply plug last year’s numbers into next year’s budget. But even though a project or program may repeat from year to year, conditions that affect what it costs often change.

Meetings are unquestionably the biggest bugbear. Craig Silverio, CAE, vice president, finance, at PMMI, a trade association for the packaging and processing industries, points out that association events are rife with wild cards. Locating a meeting in a different venue every year can affect travel costs, attendance, facility rentals, food and beverage, and more.

“Inevitably, those meetings change in structure,” Silverio says. “Are the same amount of people going to be there? Is it in the same geographic location? What are the costs in the city? Are we going to have the same types of speakers, or are we going for more high-powered ones? Are we going to have more customer panels where we have to pay people? What type of volunteer speakers are we working with?”

To account for such shifts, Silverio advocates for zero-based budgeting: building each project budget annually out of a fresh cost and revenue analysis, rather than carrying prior numbers forward. In the case of meetings, he instructs staff to deliver a budget based on the costs specific to upcoming events’ venues, using their lists of food and beverage costs (and those pesky service charges).

“After the event, we go back and reconcile guarantees, minimums, and actual plated meals so that we can do a better job next time,” he says.

Estimating how many people will attend can be equally tricky and often depends on the venue. Douglas M. Kleine, CAE, president of Professional Association Services, prefers to estimate based on a three-year rolling average. “Yes, our goal is to do better [financially], but we cannot budget on wishes and good intentions,” he says.

Art of Anticipation

Strong policies and procedures can help rein in budget lines that may otherwise run amok. A key is anticipating future needs before they arise.

Consider technology, which at large organizations can become complicated and expensive. Klumpp prescribes breaking out technology budgets into an operating budget for day-to-day IT matters and a capital expenditure budget to handle new servers, phone systems, and so on, that rotate out every few years. To encourage IT departments to better budget for those expenses, he recommends that any variances of greater than a specified dollar amount or percentage require board approval.

Dave Zepponi, president and CEO of the California Association of Community Managers, has seen that struggle at the ground level at small associations he’s worked with. Software can be cheap on the front end, he says, but associations often don’t anticipate how much extra they’ll be paying in support costs. He now makes sure those costs are built into his budgets.

“The number-one issue is: How much customization are we going to have to do?” he says. “Once you get the software, reality will hit. We make sure we have a certain percentage set aside for technology investment.”

Keeping Staff Accountable

Accountability can be straightforward when it comes to laptops and software—that’s IT’s job. But who owns, say, e-learning, which touches not just technology but education, credentialing, publications, and more?

For complex projects, Klumpp recommends that one person take responsibility for budgeting on a per-project basis, rather than have various participants chime in. “Anything that’s done by committee might turn out really well, but when it comes to finance and budget by committee, it usually doesn’t,” he says. “Either somebody’s really a stickler on the costs, or they don’t care, [thinking,] ‘We’re building the best mousetrap we can, regardless of costs.’”

Anything that’s done by committee might turn out really well, but when it comes to finance and budget by committee, it usually doesn’t.

Another issue is ensuring that department heads are watching not just dollars spent on a project but time spent by employees as well. “In the association world, time can be 60 to 70 percent of our costs,” Zepponi says. “If somebody is riding a sacred cow and they don’t want to let go of it, it’s pretty easy to make it look really good if you’re not allocating properly for that product area. Your accounting system has to support that.”

Staffers can also stumble when it comes to budgeting appropriately for travel. “You’ll have people who will put a budget together and say, ‘This activity is going to be five travel days, and there’s going to be three people going,’” says PMMI’s Silverio. “Next thing you know, [the activity has] 180 travel days, which is ridiculous. People can sometimes wear rose-colored glasses about all the things they’re planning to do.”

The Big Picture

But just as individual staffers need to take ownership of budgets for specific projects, an association’s leadership needs to help direct those staffers to keep the organization’s broader strategy in mind. Patrick Nichols, president of Transition Leadership International, says C-suite executives too often fail to present the broad strokes of a financial plan to the people doing the front-line budgeting.

“Leadership should draw specific implications for budgeting,” he says. For example, “‘This plan suggests that we will spend significantly more on X, where we have to make investments. That means that, without significant revenue growth, we must spend significantly less on Y and Z.’ When budgets are submitted by departments, they should provide a brief narrative explaining how this budget reflects the requirements of the plan.”

Tim Schaffer, executive director at the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers, argues for an iterative approach to budgeting, performing weekly updates on revenue drivers such as attendance and membership and comparing the numbers to prior years. That not only helps with future projections but also allows the association to make cost-saving moves on the fly.

“It gives you time to adjust in case you see numbers lagging,” Schaffer says. “Or it saves you from wasting money on extra mailings or other promotion expenses if you see the numbers growing at a good pace.”

In all cases, the key to effective budgeting is precision and research. Staffers can be inattentive when they recycle dollar figures. But, Silverio says, they can be just as unfocused when they shoot for the moon with revenue projections that have little basis in reality.

“You’ll see budget initiatives where people say, ‘We’re going to go from $50,000 to $100,000 in revenue.’ It’s great that you feel that way, but why don’t we go from 50 to 70—add 40 percent. If you hit 100 you’ll be a hero, but if you don’t, you’re going to look like you underperformed, even if you had 40 percent growth.”

And staffers often don’t consider what their departments are actually costing the organization. Klumpp advocates budgets that differentiate between direct costs—what a department is directly invoiced for—and indirect costs, which includes items like unused office space or a salary line for an unfilled staff position. Department heads need to be challenged to recognize exactly what costs they’re responsible for, Klumpp says—especially if they’re holding off on a decision about resources.

“All things that affect the cost to run a program or a department should be built into the budget,” he says. “Our delays and inactions to address changes and variance in actual cost versus budget can hurt the organization and could be an indication that something is missed.”

Reproduced from Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives. By

Why Hiring the Wrong Employee Is One Expensive Mistake

From Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Professionals, written by Ernie Smith.

A recent survey from CareerBuilder suggests that it can cost employers thousands of dollars to make up for an employee who isn’t a good fit. Observers suggest that the problem might be with the person doing the hiring as much as the employee.

We all want to make sure we hire the right person, but sometimes that doesn’t happen—the person isn’t a fit for the role or doesn’t grasp the organization’s needs.

And when an organization gets that wrong, it can get costly—very costly. One recent survey from CareerBuilder put the cost of making a single wrong hire at $14,900 in the past year, a situation that roughly three-in-four employers have dealt with in the past.

The survey, conducted online by the pollsters at Harris, noted that many respondents felt that bad hires had affected productivity (37 percent), cost the employer precious time (32 percent), and hurt the quality of the organization’s work (31 percent).

The report noted that the most likely factors behind the failure of an employee included poor work quality (54 percent), poor attitude (53 percent), work conflicts (50 percent), and attendance problems (46 percent).

Most interestingly, skills deficiencies were a major factor in many cases: In cases when a company made a bad hire, the employee didn’t have the necessary skills (35 percent), or lied about their qualifications (33 percent). And when a worker’s skill didn’t match their claimed abilities, as was the case 45 percent of the time, it often was seen as a sign of a poor hire.

So what’s the reason for bringing on a bad hire? Often, it may lie not with the employee, but the manager, who may not have the right skills for interviewing a potential hire. Arte Nathan, a human resources advisor and founder of The Arte of Motivation, recently told the Society for Human Resource Management that it’s important to consider a person’s interviewing and hiring skills.

“Instead of blaming the person who was hired, we need to blame those who are doing the hiring,” he told SHRM. “There is an assumption that because someone is a manager, they know how to interview and hire the right person for the job. Hiring managers need to know what they are looking for [and] how to ask the right questions, discern candidate responses, and get the right person for the job.”

The recruiting firm Robert Half likewise made the case that it’s easier to hire correctly the first time around, rather than trying to fix an on-staff problem. The firm estimates that it takes 17 weeks to resolve a bad hiring decision, including nearly nine weeks to let the person go.

“The wisest hiring managers put in the time and effort on the front end to make sure they have the best available pool of applicants for every job opening,” the company explained in a blog post earlier this year. “And determine whether they have good procedures in place for evaluating candidates.”

Of course, things could always be worse: You could be replacing someone who you actually want to keep. That, according to the CareerBuilder survey, comes at a cost of $29,600 per employee this year.


What words should you never say when being interviewed for a job?

Here are a few that are considered “red flag words” by interviewers. Avoid these because these words don’t do you any favors. I’ve listed alternatives to use instead!

Perfectionist — another word for “procrastinator”

These people often put off work because they are daunted by the expectations. They begin to write a report and can’t get past the first sentence because they are paralyzed by the belief that their first draft has to be flawless. Psychiatrist Dr. Elana Miller, MD, says that perfectionists are often sensitive to criticism and need clearer guidelines so that they don’t waste time on things that are not important.

What the candidate should say instead: detail oriented

Multitasker — another word for “unfocused”

According to current neuroscience research, our brains can not focus on multiple tasks at the same time, but actually switch between tasks quickly, giving us the illusion of multitasking. Meaning, people cannot listen in a meeting and write an email at the same time – they are doing each of these tasks for a few seconds at a time while constantly switching their attention back and forth. While this sounds impressive, serious productivity is lost in both activities.

Candidates may boast that they can move quickly between tasks, but this lack of focus is actually less efficient, increases mistakes, and can be ultimately exhausting. These candidates may have an inhibiting sense of urgency which will lead to them to work hard, but not work smart.

What the candidate should say instead: organized, can work under competing deadlines

People-person — another word for “I don’t understand what this job entails”

This is an especially common word used in interviews for positions in sales, human resources, recruiting, and customer support. “People-person” is a phrase with no meaning, and is usually said by someone who doesn’t understand the demands of the job. You want the candidate to describe him or herself in a way that shows they understand the specific competencies of the job.

What the candidate should say instead: Collaborative, customer-focused, client-facing

Intelligent — another word for “I don’t have to try”

Adults who outright declare themselves as intelligent often take pride in mastering tasks quickly and ranking well among peers. This self-labeling as “intelligent” starts from a young age, as according to the groundbreaking studies by Claudia Mueller and Carol Dweck in 1998.

In a series of experiments on 5th graders, children who were constantly praised for their intelligence preferred easier tasks where they could quickly show mastery and were focused on their competitive standing among others. In contrast, children who were praised for their hard work sought out new challenges and adopted an internal sense of competition of beating their personal best.

These mentalities can follow us to the workplace, and those employees who assert that their intelligence is their greatest strength may display high competitive nature between coworkers, avoidance of unfamiliar tasks, and poor reactions to failure.

What the candidate should say instead: analytical, big-picture thinker, fast learner

By Madeline Mann. This article first appeared on Quora.

Maintaining High Ethical Standards

CMCAs’ Commitment to Following Strict Standards of Professional Conduct

An important – yet often overlooked – component of CAMICB’s Credentialing Program
requires a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) to adhere to a high standard of ethical conduct. This means Certificants must comply with the 10 CMCA Standards of Professional Conduct, which govern their professional activities.


Standards Flow Chart

These Standards of Professional Conduct, detailed at http://www.camicb.org/standards, range from understanding laws applicable to community association management, to being knowledgeable on association policies and procedures, to carrying out fiduciary responsibilities, and participating in continuing education coursework. A violation of any of these Standards of Professional Conduct may be grounds for administrative action and possible revocation of the CMCA certification by CAMICB. Abiding by these Standards of Professional Conduct help protect consumers and associations that hire or contract with community association managers.

“When a community association manager earns the CMCA, they’re pledging to uphold a strict code of professional conduct which is critical to the profession,” said Ron Perl, Esq., a Partner at Hill Wallack LLP, who leads the firm’s community association practice group. “This is more than understanding the many facets of community association management and troubleshooting challenging situations, it brings about accountability, responsibility and trust to the individuals the profession serves.” Read more …


Wanna Improve Creativity? Work Together, Then Alone

A new academic study with a Harvard Business School pedigree finds that mixing collaborative and isolated creative approaches helps improve consistency while maximizing the potential for something great.

When a project needs to get done, perhaps your instinct is to call a meeting to get stakeholders working together. Or maybe you just want to hole up in your office.

How about both? According to a new study from researchers at three Boston-area universities, you might want to try a variety of strategies when it comes to solving the big problems.

In “How Intermittent Breaks in Interaction Improve Collective Intelligence,” a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers—Harvard Business School associate professor Ethan Bernstein, Boston University business professor Jesse Shore, and Northeastern University professor David Lazer—analyzed a series of three-person groups that conducted a deep-dive into a complex task that required problem-solving skills, judging the results based on their creativity.

The groups varied in their tactics: One worked closely together on the task, a second group worked together occasionally, and a third worked in complete isolation.

The authors anticipated that the group that worked in isolation would come up with the most creative individual solutions, but the solutions wouldn’t be as consistent overall; the authors also expected that those who largely worked together in groups would produce more consistently good solutions, but that the solutions wouldn’t reach greatness. Their research matched existing findings on this front.

But what was new was the finding that mixing isolation and collaboration offered the best of both worlds; the results tended to be more consistent, but faced better odds of going above and beyond.

“Intermittent breaks in interaction improve collective intelligence,” the report states. “Being exposed to diverse answers boosts performance, even if the answers one sees are worse than one’s own.”

Commenting on the research in a news release, Harvard’s Bernstein suggests that the lessons on creativity apply not just to working alone and working together, but also highlight how constant notifications on smart devices can take away some of that isolation.

“As we replace those sorts of intermittent cycles with always-on technologies, we might be diminishing our capacity to solve problems well,” he stated.

The researchers add that some models worth researching in improving your own creative process include hackathons, which often mix interaction and isolation, and the approach of the design and consulting firm IDEO.

By / for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives.

10 things confident people won’t ever do

In The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda is training Luke to be a Jedi, he demonstrates the power of the Force by raising an X-wing fighter from a swamp. Luke mutters, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda replies, “That is why you fail.”

As usual, Yoda was right — and science backs him up. Numerous studies have proved that confidence is the real key to success.

Studies exploring the performance gap between men and women in math and spatial skills have found that confidence plays a huge role. Women who were asked to identify their gender before taking a spatial skills test performed more poorly than those who weren’t. Women also performed better when they were told to envision themselves as men, and both genders performed better when they were told that their gender is better at the task.

What’s even more interesting is that the gender gap practically disappeared when participants were required to answer every question. Apparently, when the women were allowed to skip questions, they did so not because of a lack of knowledge, but because of a lack of confidence.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh

True confidence is very different from egotistical swagger. When people believe in themselves and their abilities without bravado, there are certain things they simply don’t do.

If there’s one trait confident people have in spades, it’s self-efficacy — the belief that they can make things happen. It’s about having an internal locus of control rather than an external one. That’s why you won’t hear confident people blaming traffic for making them late or an unfair boss for their failure to get a promotion. Confident people don’t make excuses, because they believe they’re in control of their own lives.

They don’t quit

Confident people don’t give up the first time something goes wrong. They see both problems and failures as obstacles to overcome rather than impenetrable barriers to success. That doesn’t mean, however, that they keep trying the same thing over and over. One of the first things confident people do when something goes wrong is to figure out why it went wrong and how they can prevent it the next time.

They don’t wait for permission to act

Confident people don’t need somebody to tell them what to do or when to do it. They don’t waste time asking themselves questions like “Can I?” or “Should I?” If they ask themselves anything, it’s “Why wouldn’t I?” Whether it’s running a meeting when the chairperson doesn’t show up or going the extra mile to solve a customer’s problem, it doesn’t even occur to them to wait for somebody else to take care of it. They see what needs to be done, and they do it.

They don’t seek attention

People are turned off by those who are desperate for attention. Confident people know that being yourself is much more effective than trying to prove that you’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what, or how many, people you know. Confident people always seem to bring the right attitude. Confident people are masters of attention diffusion. When they’re receiving attention for an accomplishment, they quickly shift the focus to all the people who worked hard to help get them there. They don’t crave approval or praise because they draw their self-worth from within.

They don’t need constant praise

Have you ever been around somebody who constantly needs to hear how great he or she is? Confident people don’t do that. It goes back to that internal locus of control. They don’t think that their success is dependent on other people’s approval, and they understand that no matter how well they perform, there’s always going to be somebody out there offering nothing but criticism. Confident people also know that the kind of confidence that’s dependent on praise from other people isn’t really confidence at all; it’s narcissism.

They don’t put things off

Why do people procrastinate? Sometimes it’s simply because they’re lazy. A lot of times, though, it’s because they’re afraid — that is, afraid of change, failure, or maybe even success. Confident people don’t put things off. Because they believe in themselves and expect that their actions will lead them closer to their goals, they don’t sit around waiting for the right time or the perfect circumstances. They know that today is the only time that matters. If they think it’s not the right time, they make it the right time.

They don’t pass judgment

Confident people don’t pass judgment on others because they know that everyone has something to offer, and they don’t need to take other people down a notch in order to feel good about themselves. Comparing yourself to other people is limiting. Confident people don’t waste time sizing people up and worrying about whether or not they measure up to everyone they meet.

They don’t avoid conflict

Confident people don’t see conflict as something to be avoided at all costs; they see it as something to manage effectively. They don’t go along to get along, even when that means having uncomfortable conversations or making unpleasant decisions. They know that conflict is part of life and that they can’t avoid it without cheating themselves out of the good stuff, too.

They don’t let a lack of resources get in their way

Confident people don’t get thrown off course just because they don’t have the right title, the right staff, or the money to make things happen. Either they find a way to get what they need, or they figure out how to get by without it.

They don’t get too comfortable

Confident people understand that getting too comfortable is the mortal enemy of achieving their goals. That’s because they know that comfort leads to complacency, and complacency leads to stagnation. When they start feeling comfortable, they take that as a big red flag and start pushing their boundaries again so that they can continue to grow as both a person and a professional. They understand that a little discomfort is a good thing.

Bringing it all together

Embracing the behaviors of confident people is a great way to increase your odds for success, which, in turn, will lead to more confidence. The science is clear; now you just have to decide to act on it.

By Travis Bradberry. This column first appeared on LinkedIn.


Reconsider These Leadership Mantras

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Holding on to traditional management mantras may be stopping your organization from moving forward. Also: how one nonprofit brought its event theme to life in a fresh way.

Are conventional leadership mantras holding you back from innovating? Sometimes best practices and forward thinking don’t go hand in hand.

An article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review shares several typical management mantras that need some rethinking. Take this one, for example: “We need to define the problem we are trying to solve.” The author, Polina Makievsky, argues that an innovative thinker should focus not on the problem but on the positive goal she wants to achieve.

“To conduct a productive idea-generation process and motivate employees, it’s important to define an aspirational North Star for every innovation effort,” writes Makievsky. “In human-centered design, this is called a ‘positive goal statement,’ and it articulates the person or group you seek to influence and the behavior you want to see occur.”

The need for a “big idea” is another common management mantra, but Makievsky says small ideas can deliver big results: “Instead of trying to eat the whale in one swallow, organizations should tackle smaller, incremental challenges.”

By for Associations Now, a publication of the American Society of Association Executives.

7 words that make you sound passive aggressive at work

Maintaining healthy and happy relationships with coworkers is important to an overall healthy and happy work environment. And one way to do so is by avoiding language that might make you sound passive aggressive — an adjective no one wants to be.
Refrain from using these seven stereotypically passive-aggressive words when interacting with people at work, and you can avoid unnecessary and unproductive tension in the office.

1. “Fine”

Using the word “fine” in the workplace is as obviously ingenuine as when you use it in your relationship. If you’re describing something as “fine,” your coworkers are very much aware that said situation is, in fact, not fine.

2. “Thanks in advance”

This phrase indicates that you expect someone to do something for you without them having actually accepted to do said favor. It’s a passive-aggressive way of communicating to someone that they have no choice but to complete your request.

3. “Per my last email”

On the technology side of the workplace, this phrase indicates that you believe you shouldn’t have to explain yourself because it was thoroughly explained in the last message. Someone who is genuinely confused or maybe simply missed an email or two will note this obvious insinuation.

4. “In case you missed it … “

The face-to-face version of “per my last email.” This phrase hints to coworkers that you know they heard and ignored whatever message you believe to be too important for them to ignore, and you’re (im)patiently awaiting a response.

5. “Sure”

The word “sure” communicates to coworkers that you’re technically saying “yes,” but you would rather be saying “no.” Just say “yes,” and prevent all further awkwardness and unnecessary friction.

6. “I thought you knew”

This phrase hints at simple negligence. You are assuming the other person should know something that you chose not to inform him/her of. It could also make that person feel unimportant to you, as though he/she was not worthy of your time.

7. “I hope you don’t mind”

This phrase indicates that you are already doing/have already done whatever it is you are asking for permission to do. Basically, you’re disregarding your coworker’s professional opinion on the matter and doing what you want to do anyway, which no one appreciates.

Avoiding these seven phrases can help to eliminate all hostility in the workplace while also improving relationships you have with your peers.

By Leah Thomas for http://www.theladders.com. This article first appeared on Fairygodboss.