Define YOUR Leadership Narrative in 5 Steps

Perhaps one of our greatest personal and professional assets is our own narrative. Likely there are events and experiences in our lifetime that required us to use skills and qualities we didn’t realise we had. The potential and beauty of these experiences, particularly when it comes to leadership, is the inspiration that awaits the world when, or if, we retell our story.

We learn far more about leadership by experience than we do in a classroom. In short, leadership is a journey, not a destination. We all have a narrative and a story (if not more than one) and it is important to take inventory and discover what these stories are and how to articulate them. This is not about bragging or flattering your ego – in fact it’s far from it. This is about being realistic and understanding that you are a leader and have spent years demonstrating your leadership qualities and characteristics. However, you just might not have kept tabs on the documentation. So, it is now time to conduct your leadership audit—someone, an organisation, or perhaps even your country is looking for what you have.

So let’s start with you – because it’s time to start articulating your leadership narrative.

How can you start? Here are 5 steps that can help:

1. Make a list of people who you believe are leaders (you do not have to know them personally)

2. For each of the individuals you listed above, list the qualities they each possess that inspire you to see them as leaders

3. For each leadership quality you listed, describe at least one time in your life when you exhibited that same quality

4. Come up with at least 3 additional qualities that you believe leaders possess

5. Repeat step 3

You now have specific examples of when, where, and how you demonstrated your leadership. As you begin to build your narrative and articulate your story, think about what you learned from each of the experiences you identified in the 5 step process. What changed in you? What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about leadership?

Your own experiences are a rich resource of knowledge, learning and insight. Knowing what your story is and how to tell it can not only make a difference for you, it might be exactly what someone else needs to hear. You are more capable than you know. In the workplace and in life this thing called “leadership”, that so often gets a reputation for being hard to measure, is in fact something we just are not that great at documenting.

Find out more about Mindavation’s LinkedIn Learningor perhaps your company is in need of upskilling a team. 

Please contact me if I can be of assistance to you personally or your company.

Haydn Thomas – Chief Mindavator | LinkedIn Learning Facilitator | Fierce Conversation Starter

#mindavation #training #sponsor #projectmanagement #leadership

Future Proofing the Project Professional

Mindavation recently hosted a lunch event where three wonderful panel members shared with us their views on the ‘world of project management’ today:

  • Al Zeituon: Global Business Strategist, Educator, Consultant, Futurist, and Speaker | PMI Global Board Director
  • Sarina Arcari: PMP Vice President – Enterprise Program Management Office at Amtrak
  • Natalya H. Bah: PMP, CEO Natalya H. Bah Consulting


As well as the panellists great insights, the professionals that attended shared their own insights to add to the growing body of discussion around this important topic.

I wanted to share with you some of the main ideas and relevant points that the discussion raised.

There is a growing understanding that the nature of project management is changing.  One reason for this, is in response to organizations having more complex and demanding problems to solve and at an ever-increasing rate. Often at the heart of helping with the solutions are the project professionals. However, with the growing advent of smart software and stakeholders demanding deeper and more connected relationships the skills which traditionally Project Managers needed now need to be wider and include what have sometimes been called ‘soft skills’ but I prefer the term professional skills.

Initially, the discussion focused on the ‘new’ toolkit that Project Professionals require. Here are a few that we came up with:

  • Organizational development and design
  • Operational management
  • Psychology
  • Marketing
  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Governance
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Influence and persuasion
  • Change management

I am sure that you can add to this list and please do in the comments section.

This last point (change management) was talked about in lots more detail. The conclusion being that we are all change managers because that is the nature of business and work today, and as Project Professionals, we need to be architects and leaders of the change.  Every project requires a change to occur and if we don’t become experts in learning to lead change we may find ourselves sidelined by people who do.

Alongside this discussion was how important it is that everyone who works on projects (whether you are a qualified PM or BA or work in supporting roles a key skill is the ability to influence and persuade.  You can’t ‘make’ change happen but you can influence it’s direction.  This goes back to an earlier point about stakeholder management and its importance in the success or failure of a project. If you don’t have the positional power you need personal power in the form of influence skills.

Of course no discussion would be complete without the topic turning to the techniques of  Project Management such as Agile, waterfall, scrum etc.  Differing opinions were put forward ranging from they clashed with ‘traditional’ PM techniques

They were complementary to traditional PM techniques

That different tools and techniques are required depending on the nature of the project, the client and the environment and that this is part of becoming a seasoned Project Professional.

Why You Need Cybersecurity Skills in Your Tool-kit?

Why you need cybersecurity skills in your tool-kit?

We recently attended the 5th Annual FireEye Cyber Threat Intelligence Summit in Washington DC, to find out what we, as project professionals, need to know about cybersecurity.

The good news is that there will always be a security gap and therefore there will always be people needed who possess cyber security skills. The bad news is that there will always be a security gap which means our projects are always under threat. There has been a recent influx of catastrophic cybersecurity attacks (WannaCry, NotPetya, Equifax) and as project professional, we need to be concerned.

We found out at the summit that there are over 60,000 incidences of malware that go undetected each year and 40% of all criminal incidents are now cybercrime (National Office of Statistics).

What this means for us is that the demand for cleared and experienced program and project management professionals with cybersecurity experience is on the rise.  However, those who possess the skills are in short supply which means there is an opportunity to gain cybersecurity skills now that the market is going to need.

At the summit, it became obvious that organizations are having trouble finding qualified resources with the appropriate training and experience in cybersecurity. Whenever your project includes technology such as building a new CRM or working with cloud data, effective risk management of cyber threat is a critical component. Without cybersecurity knowledge, any project can open an organization to exploitation. The frightening fact is that cybersecurity factors are often given no attention in the risk planning part of a project.

Given the billions of dollars spent each year on cyber projects and programs that are classified, it is become increasingly important to invest in your professional development by attending training programs that address the unique characteristics and challenges that project professionals face when dealing with projects that have elements of cybersecurity.

If you would like more information on the knowledge you need to get you started in understanding cybersecurity please email us at



What the experts are saying – #ATD Conference Insights

What The Experts Are Saying – Key Learnings From The 2018 (75th) Association of Talent Development (ATD) Conference in San Diego.

The ATD is an organization whose members are passionate about helping people achieve their full potential by improving their knowledge, skills, and abilities in the workplace. Members go by many titles: talent development managers, trainers, instructional designers, performance consultants, frontline managers, workplace learning professionals, and more. ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in organizations of all sizes and in all industry sectors and I am proud to be a member.

If you were not able to attend, I thought you might like to read what the experts were saying as the ‘must knows’ for talent development professionals. With over 13,000 attendees, there were more opportunities that I could take advantage of, but I listed a few of the key highlights and learnings below.

One of the main highlights was hearing Barack Obama speak. He did not present a formal keynote but rather engaged in a conversation with the ATD president and CEO, Tony Bingham.

He shared the importance of:


  • Purpose


Thinking about what we can do rather than what we want to be or what title we have.  How do we define ourselves as leaders?


  • Inclusiveness


Be sure to include everyone in the discussion, not just those closest to you in your leadership team but anyone who has an idea and is willing to share. Too often as leaders, we ‘closet’ ourselves with those who are one below or one above us and we miss out on a richness of knowledge.  He called this skip-level inclusivity.


  • Values


When we are honest, kind, responsible, generous and live by our values, our leadership becomes better.  

“Values will get you through hard times and good times. They are the things that give meaning and purpose to what you do. Organizations need to help people become better performers with what is in their hearts.” – Barack Obama

In essence, the main takeaways (which were the main themes and repeated often) from the conference were:

  1. Microlearning continues to grow as a means to change behavior.

Talent development professionals are looking for the best delivery method for content. The general consensus is that people don’t have the time to attend longer programs anymore.  

The non-linear mind of the digital age WANTS short, non-linear content.

According to the Fogg Behavior Module, there are three things that enable people to change: motivation, ability, and triggers. Instead of trying to motivate people, make something easier to do. Break it down, and a task that seems insurmountable becomes doable. If someone is unmotivated, you need to make it very easy to do or at least somewhat easier.

  1. Leadership development and acumen is still a main focus for organizations

All agreed that good leadership is key to an organization’s success but there is still a way to go before we feel we have truly mastered the art of great leadership development.

  1. Emerging technology and what it means

A trend at the conference was the use of viable, computerized business simulations with key datasets. The purpose of this is to be able to diagnose, predict and visualize organizational problems before they ever happen. There was also discussion about the increased level of stress this brings and how all generations can adjust to the fast-moving pace of technology.

  1. Organizations want more proof of ROI and are putting more pressure on Human Resources and Talent Development professionals to ‘prove’ their value and the value of their services.

Organizations don’t just want a solution but a solution with high ROI. However, measuring the ROI is not easy. As talent professionals and facilitators, one way is to develop case studies and a methodology to measure the result and to collect data regarding uptake of learning and change in behavior.

  1. The use of assessments continues to grow in the global market

Although assessments are gaining popularity, the market is different globally than it is in the USA. For example, companies in China are using assessments in government-owned companies, private companies, and even higher education institutions. Interestingly, most of these companies use assessments in training instead of hiring.

  1. Learning evaluation 

Learning evaluation is popular again! Smile sheets, surveys, NPS, Kirkpatrick are some of the buzzwords related to evaluation. The key is to gather good data. The common learning evaluation methods include observations, assessments, interviews, control groups, and surveys. Always close your evaluation feedback surveys with an open-ended question to collect comments.

There are three goals in collecting evaluation data:

1) are the questions well designed?

2) are we asking questions that support the learners?

3) is the data we collect actionable?

General takeaways from the educational Sessions:

  • Develop training for the people who use the training; understand your learners’ explicit and latent (hidden) needs by involving them throughout the design and development process. (Design Thinking for the Instructional Designer)
  • “Good learning experiences aren’t just about facts, they’re about becoming a more efficient and capable person.” (Design Thinking for the Instructional Designer)
  • Everything you do should go back to what you’re passionate about so when people think of you, that is what comes to mind. Demonstrate your thought leadership, what you value, and what you learn. You always want to be adding value to your network, and that’s how you grow.
  • We are in a period of accelerated change, the speed of change itself is speeding up. This is particularly true for the field of instructional design.
  • Good eLearning needs both instructional design and informational design. It needs to combine the art and mechanics for eLearning to be successful.
  • How do you handle companies that want to cram more into a session rather than taking sufficient time to think and reflect? Let participants learn about 5-10 key topics, really think about those, understand those during the session, and then give them a handout or job aid to learn about more. All topics are covered but there is sufficient time to think and reflect on the most important ones.
  • Tools/skills are quickly acquired when they clearly aid problem-solving.
  • Brevity is a great thing when it comes to video. If you have to cover more material make sure to segment it.
  • Use the 3G framework for telling stories (topic, tell, teaching)– share the topic, tell the story, and then provide the teaching points. Many stories describe a challenge and how it was overcome; you have to be vulnerable and brave enough to tell your story.
  • Training modules should be limited to 10 – 15 minutes. Maintain simplified and limited learning goals per module for maximum impact.
  • Microsoft hollow lens could be potentially a  game changer.
  • Courses should be scenario based. Adults want to have what’s in it for me.
  • Manager support before training is a critical component of effective training.
  • Reinforce key ideas six times to move from short-term to long-term memory.
  • Learners need to be engaged every 8 minutes. Think about TV shows ━ no show goes more than 8 minutes without a commercial break. Video games have levels to build breaks into gaming. The same should be done for training. 

If you are interested in the takeaways from the keynotes (Tony Bingham, ATD President & CEO, Andrea Jung, Former CEO of Avon and Sugata Mitra, TED Prize Winner ) please let us know and we will send you a summary.

After the conference concluded, I came across a collection of curated resources from the ATD conference backchannel. This is a great resource for those who were unable to attend the conference (and those who did):

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above, please feel free to reach us at:

Louise Carter, Mindavation