People approach work and career very differently than they did a decade ago. How does this impact effective leadership styles in the workplace?
Coach Nils Vinje shares his insights and experience teaching leadership theories and practice in a modern and largely online setting.
If there’s any environment that has changed a lot, especially in recent times, it’s the way people work. And James wonders if that’s impacting the types of leadership in the workplace. That’s why he’s invited leadership coach Nils Vinje to offer some insight on effective leadership styles in these times.
The huge shift that’s changed leadership in the workplace
Our era has seen a monster shift – not just from the pandemic, but over the last 50 or 60 plus years. In the 1970’s, says Nils, it was completely reasonable to think that you were likely going to work for one company your entire career. Fast forward to the early 2000s, and it became more typical to work for several companies as one’s career progressed.
In the 2020s and beyond, we’re in a place where the most successful people are no longer serving a company, but rather treating themselves as their own company. They are the chief in charge of the strategic direction of their career, and no longer is it in the hands of a company. These are the people who will thrive and get the most value out of the shift in work philosophy.
This is the place Nils comes from. When he works with clients to build leadership skills, it’s all around building it inside the individual.
The company benefits, yes, but the individual is the only person you’re going to be with throughout your entire career. So you might as well work on you, and increase your value to the point where you can offer more to other people, who will then exchange more money with you.
This shift is advantageous to people who, one, recognize it, and two, realize it’s not about waiting for the company to do things for you. It’s about taking this upon yourself. In the whole professional world, there’s a relatively small portion of people who know this, and Nils wants to see that number grow over time.
Are you the CEO of your career?
Nils made the mindset shift himself because of a pivotal moment in grad school. An outside presenter came to speak to them. Looking directly at the audience, he asked, Are you the CEO of your career?
Nils, he says, was blown away. He flashed back over the decade or so of his professional career. And his realization was that he had not been the CEO. He became angry with himself, thinking of the control he was giving up to other people and to the companies he worked for. They dictated where he went, what he did, how much money he made. And it was wrong.
He made a commitment in that moment that he would never again not be the CEO of his career. And from that point on, everything, income-wise and and progression-wise, was up and to the right. After grad school he worked at tech companies and went from individual contributor to vice president in 30 months.
“You are your single greatest asset.”
Since then, Nils has been working as a coach, helping other people make that transformation, helping them recognize that they are their single greatest asset. Not their title, not their company, not even their output, but them. Their ability to solve problems lets them add more and more value and become the person everybody wants to work with.
James recalls a mechanic in his 60s, crying when he realized he actually had a choice in his career, when he had been a mechanic his entire life.
James himself experienced rapid promotion in every place he worked, because he’d read a book early on that said, even if you’re a cashier at a supermarket, be the best damn cashier they have. It’s what he tells his kids as well.
The people who want to learn with Nils
Nils has a site, learnwithnils.com. Who is his target audience, mainly? He works with managers, directors and VPs in the professional world who face leadership challenges daily. His framework covers four main pillars of leadership, and on learnwithnils.com people can register for a free leadership training that he runs.
Mostly employees, Nils’s customers seek the shift he and James talked about – to take control; or they’re chasing their next promotion, or want to save time, or want to inspire their team, but don’t know exactly how.
If you’re a leader of any kind, says Nils, be the best at it. And get the best tools you can easily integrate into your life. “We don’t need to overhaul your entire life to make you a better leader. We just need to integrate the right tools at the right time, to give you the right confidence to become the leader you’ve always wanted to be.”
Number one pillar, Nils says, is leading yourself. It’s about the psychology of who you are as a leader, and what you are committed to doing. It’s where you decide to become the CEO of your career. And if that decision hasn’t been made yet, he says, he’ll make you make that decision, because it will turn the tables.
If they can reach one person to make that choice, says Nils, the world will be a batter place. It just needs one other person taking control, not waiting for somebody else to tell them what to do, or to put limits on when they can be promoted or what projects they can take on, or what skills they can gain, or what training they can attend.
It’s a mindset to invest in yourself and to be resourceful, via books, via training programs, via lectures, whatever it is. There is more access to information today than there ever has been at any point. The question is, what are you going to learn? And what are you going to learn and then apply? Learning for learning’s sake might be a little entertaining, but it’s not going to deliver results.
Nils’s programs feature something called LTI, leadership tool integration. He developed the system in all the coaching, training and consulting work he’s done with clients, to help them progress the fastest.
Rather than take them away physically or virtually from their day-to-day to learn stuff, it starts with the premise that they’re already working with employees. If they can infuse simple-to-understand and easy-to-implement leadership tools, they can have maximum impact with minimum disruption.
One of the biggest challenges as a leader
What sorts of tools are we talking about?
In the first pillar, says Nils, it’s all about the psychology. How do you bulletproof your leadership psychology? There are a number of exercises for that.
“Time is the same for everybody. However, how you use it is the difference.”
Then there’s mastering your time. Time is the same for everybody. However, how you use it is the difference. So they introduce very specific tools to be able to control your time. Instead of reacting to the world and all of their demands, it’s about taking control and putting yourself in the driver’s seat and deciding where to spend your time first.
That’s one of the biggest challenges Nils has seen with clients, and something he faced as well as a leader, balancing all the things a leader has to get done.
“The most wildly unexpected paralysis that can attack an entrepreneur is this paradox of freedom and choice.”
Plus, says James, a lot of employees are boxed in and told what to spend their time on. He sees the struggle when people leave employeeship and have their own businesses. The most wildly unexpected paralysis that can attack an entrepreneur is this paradox of freedom and choice. It’s too much for some people.
What James does is help people come up with a routine, and see where it makes sense to allocate time and resource. One of his most useful tools for it is the EHR, the effective hourly rate. It’s a sort of step one filter for deciding if something’s very, very good, or very, very bad.
Core fundamental skills for leading others
Nils’s second pillar is about leading others. It’s all about the work you’re doing with the team that you’re responsible for and working with, whether it’s three people, or 300 people, or 3000 people.
This involves some fundamental skills that allowed Nils to build incredibly high-performing teams, and put him on a fast track to promotion, going quickly from IC to VP. He used those tools to get results, used them over and over, and taught people how to get the same results.
For example, he says, if someone under your leadership needs help with a problem, you have a couple of choices. Knowing the answer, you could simply tell them to do ABC. Or you could help the person discover it for themselves. They may arrive at the same solution you could have given them, but they will be 80 percent more likely to follow through and execute it than if you just told them the answer.
Such conversations happen every day, says Nils. So they simply infuse the tools into the one-on-ones, the team meetings, the email communications. And they get results.
“You get the team you created.”
If someone complains that their team can’t think for themselves, or have no initiative, it’s usually not a problem with the team, but with the leader. You get the team you created, really, depending on your management styles.
Getting the word out to an online world
Nils has made the crossover from employee to business owner, and the internet provides a strong funnel for him and his message. James wants to know, how does he approach getting his information out to people? James does know through John Lint that Nils uses 10XPRO. Can Nils give a little walkthrough of his online journey?
Before the pandemic, says Nils, he’d been a consultant for a little over five years, in a very specific niche industry called customer success, basically everything that happens post-sale in a B2B SaaS business. He was a VP and a director and a manager and an individual contributor, in that world.
He left that role, became a consultant, and did essentially the same work he had done for himself and his companies, for other people. It was a very relational business. He worked one-on-one, did bespoke one-off work. When the pandemic hit, the entire pipeline in Nils’s consulting business went to zero in about 48 hours.
Nils had a family of five to support. He decided that he needed to shift and pivot his focus from that very small niche, where he had a good reputation one-on-one, to something much bigger. And that was the leadership skills market.
Nils had been a leadership coach for a very long time and coached a lot over almost 10 years. It had always been part of his business and part of his projects, but never the focus. This was the push he needed to make it the focus. He knew it could be a repeatable business in a market of that size, in the information and expertise, which is what he had and what he did.
He committed to writing a book on May 14th of last year, signing up for a program to guide him through the process. Then the opportunity presented itself to test run 10XPRO for 60 days, for $1. It could not have come, he says, at a better time. Nils went deep into everything – writing the book, building the site and the book funnel – and launched on September 1st.
Around Thanksgiving, Nils built what he calls the 7-Week Leadership Accelerator, which is now the course that goes deeper on all the areas in his book.
So for people who love the book, or who just want to take an accelerated route through leadership, Nils has a seven-week program, which goes deep on the four pillars – leading yourself, leading others, leading with communication and leading with metrics. And the entire program, sales funnel, and delivery is set up and run through 10XPRO, in addition to the weekly trainings that he runs at learnwithnils.com.
A tool that’s as good as it sounds
Coming from a SaaS background, Nils could have some right to be critical of a course platform. How does 10XPRO measure up in terms of integration, customer experience and ease of use?
It’s literally, he says, the cornerstone of his entire online digital marketing footprint and delivery mechanism. Having used WordPress with a million plugins, he’s extremely thankful to now have 10XPRO. WP drove him bananas, he says, because nothing talked to each other. 10XPRO puts it all in one package, makes it super easy.
If you’re listening and want in on the 60-day trial, send James an email, and make sure he hooks you up.
Thoughts you’ll want to take away
Nils’s parting message for would be leaders: The leadership and becoming the leader you’ve always wanted to be is within your grasp 100 percent. All that’s standing between where you are now and where you want to be is the right leadership tools to integrate it into your life every single day. That’s it.
That’s what Nils specializes in. So check out learnwithnils.com. And you can sign up and register for a free leadership training that will be run via 10XPRO, so you can get a little taste of a webinar on the platform.
Nils’s book is a great place to start, too. It’s called 30 Day Leadership Playbook. A copy is just 10 bucks at 30dayleadership.com/playbook. It ships anywhere for free in the US, with a small additional shipping fee outside the States. It’s on Amazon as well, but Nils includes some special extra bonuses if you buy from him.
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