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The Q&A—Navigating Change in Your Career

Tiffany DotsonWith Liberty Mutual’s Dr. Tiffany Dotson

“Focus on improving instead of proving.”

Q: You talk about people finding their “true north” — or confidence in their ability to successfully lead and inspire change in themselves and others. How did you go about finding your true north?”

Given my multiple interests, I have tried many different things. It was important for me to get clear on what I do well with minimal preparation versus what gives me trouble (even if I am drawn to it.) Finally, I became OK with not being great at everything and instead I worked more towards amplifying my natural strengths and talents.

Q: In times as dynamic as the ones we live in, ongoing learning is certainly critical to everyone’s success. But many women already feel stretched between professional and family responsibilities. How do you recommend we apply a growth mindset and integrate learning into everything else we do?

We can always get better if we keep a growth mindset. Focus on improving instead of proving. Boost your curiosity in other’s ideas and ways of knowing instead of being critical. Look for more agreements rather than opposing point of views. Be the first to notice what’s right with someone or an idea. Think in terms of possibilities. (For example: What if? Could we? Let’s try it on!) Living and working in an era of constant iteration, most things can and will be enhanced. Products don’t have to be perfect when they go to market—and neither do we.

Q: Change is a constant in our lives and yet many people dread it. How can we get better at handling change — perhaps even get excited about it?

Everyone is for change, as long as it’s happening to someone else! To embrace change, begin by realizing that you can have a major impact on what change feels like for yourself and for those around you, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. Get more information about the change before reacting, then ask yourself how you can own it and make it work for you—and help your team see the possibilities for themselves, as well.

Q: What are some of your favorite skills that can help prepare leaders and teams to harness the power of change?

  • Be authentic about how you feel about the change. If you’re a leader, share what you can, when you can.
  • Listen to and learn from your team. Instead of just announcing the change, effective leaders bring their teams into the process so that everyone can imagine what the future will look like together.
  • Adopt a growth mindset and encourage your teams to do the same.
  • Own the reality of the change and work to re-imagine yourself thriving within the change.
  • Continuously assess yourself in situations where you are leading or experiencing change.
  • Educate yourself. Read change literature, attend seminars, learn more about navigating change across cultures.
  • As they say on airplanes, put on your oxygen mask first before helping others. Take the time to process the change first before you approach your team.
  • And, remember to celebrate progress and make adjustments where appropriate

Q: If you were to choose one quote that best describes how you try to live your life, what would it be?

“Keep your conclusions light and your curiosity ferocious.” 

Dr. Tiffany Dotson is Vice President, Global Leadership, Learning and Talent at Liberty Mutual Insurance. She has more than 20 years of experience as a scholar and practitioner in Executive Development and Leadership. 

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