'Elevating the Experience'

Nina Mostafa

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Recent Posts

The human side of negotiation

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 01/03/17 10:00

How often do you think you use negotiation skills? We may not realise it but negotiation is a big part of our daily life. We negotiate various factors in our roles at work, from project timelines to resources, to parameters for our performance indicators or salaries, and even in our personal lives, with conflicting opinions, or even something as simple as where to dine. Negotiation is about reaching an agreement where both parties walk away with mutually acceptable terms. The ability to get what we want is only enhanced by our ability to negotiate effectively.

The word ‘negotiation’ has copped a bad reputation. Oftentimes, we associate the act with competition or confrontation or believe that only an all-or-nothing approach can win; the word ‘win’ supporting the act of competing.

But what if we take the notion of competing out of the equation and approach a negotiation in a more fair way?

After all, the reason you’re getting into a negotiation in the first place is either because one party wants something from another, or that both parties want something from each other. Once you each establish what is important and unimportant to each, the negotiations can begin. The questions that each person needs to ask is ‘What do I want from you?’ and ‘What can I give you in return?’

But how to do this? How exactly do you start asking those questions without sounding contentious? Let’s explore.

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Topics: opinion, Communication skills, Effective conversations, Influencing skills, negotiation

How to position yourself as a leader

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 17/02/17 14:19

In today’s competitive environment, standing out can actually be the thing that gives you an edge. For instance, if you’re positioning yourself for a leadership role or promotion, It’s important to develop a strategy to consistently demonstrate your personal leadership traits.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a peek into John’s profile. John is an inspired, hardworking and conscientious high performer. John is great at stakeholder meetings and client-facing events. He is also an empathetic listener and hands on team player.

You could say John has high potential to be a leader: he’s a HiPo, i.e. he has been identified as having the potential, ability and aspiration for succession to leadership positions within the organisation. However, John has no management experience, having never officially led a team before. Apart from his own self-confidence and what some of his peers and his manager know, John has no concrete data to make a strong case. What’s more, John works in a dynamic firm with dozens of others who could possibly be vying for the same role.

So how can John progress his career? John could start preparing for his performance review conversations by gathering data. You see, future leaders are made long before they are earmarked for success. It comes from your own desire to excel. So what steps do you take to ensure you outshine those vying for that one coveted position?

 

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Topics: management, leadership, performance management, feedback, coaching, challenging conversations

How to avoid unconscious bias in a feedback conversation

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 31/01/17 14:00

 

 

Human beings are extremely judgemental creatures. Harsh but true. We make impressions on people, events and things, often within the first fifteen seconds of coming into contact with them. We form opinions and tell ourselves stories that become reality in our minds.

We often credit this to intuition or a claim to have good judge of character. Sometimes, we are right. Sometimes we are not. Sometimes, the judgement is tainted by our experiences, fixed ideas and unconscious bias.

But it’s the opinions we form and the stories we tell ourselves that can become dangerous. Because sometimes, just sometimes, even after we have become more acquainted with the person, event or thing, these opinions and stories stick in our subconscious, even if they prove to be false. We remain wedged in the bias.

Herein lies one of the fundamental flaws of the human psyche. And the workplace is no exception to this rule.

The thing is, managers and leaders are first and foremost humans and are not exempt from this. But to be an effective and fair manager, we want to separate ourselves from this pitfall and manage, inspire and lead without bias, either conscious or unconscious. So how do we ensure we don’t get sucked into the zone of stereotyping but instead embrace attributes that promote inclusivity and diversity?

 

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Topics: management, leadership, performance management, feedback, coaching, challenging conversations

5 tips to prepare for a performance review conversation

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 10/01/17 09:16

 

It seems performance review conversations have earned a bad reputation. Many managers may dread them because they seem tedious and laborious, followed by endless amounts of paperwork and administration that need to be completed and filed. At least for another six months or so.

And you, as you sit on the other side of the desk, dread it, too. Perhaps because you can sense how arduous it is for them. So you simply want to get it over and done with. But performance review conversations are not just one-way lectures. After all, they’re conversations, not monologues.

 

After all, they’re conversations, not monologues.

 

So have you ever wondered how you can proactively make your performance review conversations richer to serve you better?

Entering a performance review conversation having prepared for one has its benefits. By preparing yourself for your performance review conversation, you set yourself up for success in various ways. You work towards ensuring mutual understanding of expectations between you and your manager, ensuring goal alignment between yourself and your role, the department and the business, highlighting your strengths for increased job satisfaction, then identifying opportunities for development and growth to feed self-fulfilment and a sense of achievement.

Whether or not you intend to strive to a leadership status, it pays to approach every performance review conversation with a view to extend and leverage your career. So let’s look at how you can do this.

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Topics: management, leadership, performance management, feedback, coaching, challenging conversations

How mindfulness builds a strong leadership presence

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 29/11/16 15:50

 

According to research conducted by Harvard University, about 47 percent of us spend our waking hours thinking about something other than what we’re doing. What this means is that we are not present or conscious in the moment to fully listen, connect and engage with events, opportunity and people around us; all vital elements to being an effective leader.

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Topics: opinion, listening, leadership, performance, influence, conflict resolution, managing nerves, leadership presence, personal brand, stress reduction

Mindfulness in the workplace

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 31/10/16 15:08

 

The words busy, dynamic and stress are so rampant in our vocabulary that we forget to stop and focus on the core elements that contribute to each day.

What if there was a way to choose how we describe our perspective simply by using other words or a different thought process? How would that assist us in making the most of our potential skills and talents without exhausting ourselves? Here’s where we could consider practising mindfulness.

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Topics: positive thinking, stress reduction, mindfulness, emotional intelligence

How to build a positive personal brand

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 19/10/16 11:33

If someone was to ask you to use three words to describe yourself, what would those words be? And if someone was to use three words to describe you, what do you think those three words would be?

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Topics: positive self talk, leadership presence, personal brand, building powerful impressions

What are the qualities of a good leader?

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 14/09/16 14:43

 
It takes courage to be a leader. To stand up and say: I can lead these people into the future with my vision. I can guide them through change. I can inspire them to want to tap into their passion and give that one hundred percent to a cause every single day.

No one said being a leader is easy. Whether you’re a person or a company, there is a certain sense of gravity and expectation that goes with the job and the title. So grave is the weight, that it caused Joseph Wambaugh to pen the words: ‘fish rots from the head’. Meaning that when an organisation or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.

So what are the qualities of a good leader? It all starts with how others perceive who you are as a leader.

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Topics: leadership, feedback, coaching, mentoring, leadership presence, inspirational leadership

Three building blocks for effective influencing conversations

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 01/09/16 14:06

 Consider someone you know who is an influencer or who has, what you believe to be, effective influencing skills. What is it about them that gets you interested, motivated, or even inspired? Are they passionate and dynamic? Perhaps. Confident? Most definitely. Knowledgeable? Certainly.

Are they a leader?

Not necessarily.

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Topics: opinion, Communication skills, Effective conversations, Influencing skills

The value of feedback and coaching conversations

Posted by Nina Mostafa on 21/07/16 16:29

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said: “I think it’s important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”

The beauty of human behaviour is that we are constantly learning. No matter how old we are, or how advanced we think we are, we never actually stop learning. And feedback and coaching conversations are a way in which we can learn. After all, how else are we meant to know if we’ve done something wrong or right and then learn or evolve from it?

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Topics: management, leadership, performance management, feedback, coaching, challenging conversations