Are You Stuck in the Old Way?

Are You Stuck in the Old Way?

It was once enough, or so we thought, for leaders to lead from the front, forge ahead, direct people where to go and performance manage them if they didn't follow. 

It was once enough for leaders to get in the trenches and work beside their people, helping them do their work, sometimes finishing it for them.

What Does a Bully Look Like?

What Does a Bully Look Like?

I was called a bully once. About 13 years ago.

I’d been coaching for 7 years in some form by that time and had gone through the eye of the needle in my personal development, which just means I’d done some serious work on myself.

When that word was directed at me, I was in a support role within the public sector. I was shocked and thought the person must’ve been talking to someone else. I knew myself to be deeply heartfelt on the inside, convinced that if you cracked opened my rib cage and peered in you’d see a cluster of fluffy marshmallows.

Cultural Change - Why Wait?

Cultural Change - Why Wait?

Recently I attended a week long retreat with Dr. Joe Dispenza, lecturer in neuroscience, amongst many other fascinating things.

Joe works comprehensively with people around the world in shifting mindset to shift results (simply speaking), and also runs programs for corporations on cultural change.

Is Your Team Treading Water?

 Is Your Team Treading Water?

When I was 14 I dove into synchronised swimming. It was a sport that swam quietly under the radar back then.  I wasn't very good at it but I loved it.

A crucial skill to master was the egg-beater kick, a way to tread water that freed your upper body for other important tasks, like making fancy shapes in the air. If you've ever seen the impossibly wide smiles of a synchronised swimmer as she or he madly beats their legs under the surface, you may have concluded they were working hard for a disproportionate return.

Being a Leader of Choice.

Being a Leader of Choice.

Where in your work are you half in, half out? Committed in physical presence but uncommitted in mental and emotional attention? It might be on a project, with a particular person or a chronically missed KPI.

We all do it and if you survey your team on any given day, most of your people (Gallup tells us 76%), at some point will be half way out the back door.

How to Not Need a Coach.

How to Not Need a Coach.

The Success Continuum, by Paul J. Meyer, a pioneer in the personal development industry, tells us that the ultimate driver of our behaviour and results is the input we receive over time (see diagram below). 

Unfortunately most leaders and managers have never learned this well-researched fact and so when attempting to influence the behaviour of their people, they focus on trying to change the behaviour itself.

What Men Want.

What Men Want.

Recently I was speaking to a group of women at a women's leadership summit about how to lead through presence, authentic confidence and self-awareness. In the room of 100 women, there were also 6 men attending. Over a networking drink after the event, I asked the men what brought them here and their responses surprised me, more on this later.

EQ: The Trade of the Next Decade.

EQ: The Trade of the Next Decade.

Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur, author and speaker calls Emotional Intelligence (EQ) the trade of the next decade. So valuable that businesses won't thrive without it. In his short video, Gary talks about the importance of internal feelings. In other words, understanding our people beyond our own opinions of who they are, what they need and how they

“You Need to be More Assertive!”

“You Need to be More Assertive!”

Have you ever been told you need to be more assertive?
Or have you ever told somebody else they need to be more assertive?

Those who are told it, have likely heard it many times before. Usually from the same kind of people.

Those who tell it, have usually told it many times before. Usually to the same kind of people.

Engagement vs Commitment – Part 2.

Engagement vs Commitment – Part 2.

Have you ever been told you need to be more assertive?
Or have you ever told somebody else they need to be more assertive?

Those who are told it, have likely heard it many times before. Usually from the same kind of people.

Engagement Vs Commitment – Part 1.

Engagement Vs Commitment – Part 1.

Effective accountability conversations are near to absent in the workplace. In my experience it’s the area most leaders and managers are disempowered, no matter how experienced, intelligent or passionate they are.

One of the key reasons is that we’re trying to force a happy ending without creating a beginning, leaving everyone in hope that it will all turn out.

Your Being Is Your Brand

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I met Hannah in the women’s change rooms one morning during her first couple of weeks at the club. She was the new General Manager of the yacht club at which I’m a member. I can be pretty talkative after a salt water swim, while Hannah seemed intent on keeping to herself.

As the next few weeks passed I’d see Hannah quite regularly, we continued to exchange polite hellos and then went about our days.  

Months went by and I began to notice something very interesting. Consistent improvements were being made around the club, things that although small, were making a big difference to everyone’s experience.

What was much more interesting to me though, was what people were saying about the changes and about Hannah.


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Many mornings during the after-swim coffee, members would be speaking about our new GM in inspired delight. The things that were finally getting done, how Hannah would be seen taking orders in the restaurant and helping serve. Meeting with members casually to hear what was important to them. Attending committee meetings and putting her hand up to see things through. Little by little this woman was silently, but very loudly, communicating her values, her intent and her integrity.

Whether intentionally or not (and without social media fan fare, premature announcement or expectation of recognition, approval or applause) this leader was creating her brand.

“Whether intentional or unintentional,
all leaders have a leadership brand.” Forbes

As leaders, our brand introduces us before we show up. It’s the thoughts and feelings people connect with our name when they think of us, or speak our name. It’s how they relate and how much they trust us, and whether they even want to.

Harvard Business Review asks…”You probably already have a personal leadership brand. But do you have the right one?”

Providing 5 key questions to help define your leadership brand on purpose, with my favourite question being “What do you want to be known for?”

Being known for something is more a reflection of our state of being than it is the things we do. If we are doing all the right things, but being resentful or righteous, disrespectful or impatient while we’re doing them, who we’re being will communicate much louder than the fact the job gets done.

Consider the simple distinction:

– Who we BE (our thoughts, feelings and emotions), drives
– What we DO (our words and actions) which then produces
– What we HAVE (our things).

We can choose consciously our state of being (for example our mindset and attitude, whether we feel compassionate or judgemental towards another, if we offer or withhold trust), which means we get to choose how we are known as leaders.

In workshops I love to challenge leaders, managers and team members about being the bigger person. This, to me, speaks to the heart of creating a leadership brand on purpose. 

Being the bigger person is not about doing something right or good for the sake of gaining credit. Being the bigger person is about choosing with intent who you want to be and what you want to be known for…

– courage or excuses
– congruence or inauthenticity
– curiosity or judgement
– trustworthiness or doubt.

As Hannah went about being a General Manager worthy of being spoken about with such high regard, the things she did were a natural extension of her state of being – her thoughts, her feelings and her intention.

She didn’t assist her staff in the restaurant with impatience, she didn’t attend member meetings in frustration and she didn’t listen to member complaints with disregard. She showed up as the bigger person. Bigger than her ego, bigger than any doubters and bigger than the job in front of her.

As the months roll by, Hannah continues to quietly, confidently and consistently create her brand.

Just like Hannah, we are creating our own brand in every interaction every day.

“…Everything that we do, say, and embody at work creates the brand for which we become known…” Forbes

As a leader, what brand have you been creating?
And is it what you want to be known for?


The Number 1 Team

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If I asked you which team is your number 1 team?  It’s likely you would reply “the team I’m responsible for.”  This is the common answer for a few reasons.  

1. You are responsible for the results of that team.
2. It’s likely it’s your area of expertise.
3. You may have hired some or many people in that team.

But Patrick Lencioni, management consultant, author of The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a team, would disagree with you.  

In this very short two minute video (click here), Patrick explains why…

Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”

– Patrick Lencioni

Some leadership teams remain stuck tolerating each other
for the sole purpose of getting what they need 
for the team they feel most aligned with.

Patrick’s Team Number 1 concept turns a light on for many leaders.  It’s a blind spot they don’t realise is getting in the way of sustainable higher performance.

Remembering that the people reporting to you will copy who you be and what you do, much more than they will do what you say, if you are not…

1. Role modelling personal leadership and self-awareness
2. Initiating courageous conversations, and
3. Finding a way to align to a shared vision with your leadership colleagues…

…then your people aren’t going to either. 

What this means is that rather than initiating productive collaboration and addressing issues directly with their cross-functional colleagues, your people will come to you for a problem to be resolved, to check procedure or to complain about those other teams.

It’s a very costly cultural trait.  Not only does this behaviour erode trust, create reactive employees across the organisation (because everyone’s procrastinating about raising an issue) and ultimately slow business down, it wastes your precious time that could be much better invested.

As Patrick suggests, if you are a leader or manager, then your number 1 team must be the leadership or management team you are a member of. 

Which means…you may need to find a way to work better with some people you’ve been avoiding.

 

Silent Nights

Silent Nights

Christmas Eve was always my most favourite night of the year.  The feeling of sweet anticipation and cherished time with my family.  Delivering larger-than-life Christmas stockings with my Rotarian dad, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” on high rotation in the pale green Holden station wagon.

Perfectionism vs. Influence

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Many of us like to think we’re spontaneous and dangerous, but most of us prefer to control what’s coming next.

Driving our need for control, whether we like to admit it to ourselves or not, is fear.  Fear of failure or of success, of not being good enough.  Fear of being taken advantage of or of being rejected or not living up to our own, or another’s, expectations.

Dr Michael Gervais, high performance psychologist to Olympians, military personnel and corporate leaders, calls our greatest fear –  FOPO.

Like YOLO – You Only Have One Life, or FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out, Dr Gervais cleverly captures our greatest modern day fear as FOPO – Fear of Other People’s Opinions.

Being so worried about what others think of us that we focus more on trying to get things ‘right’ than doing great things.

Whatever fear is a fit, we usually react to our fear by going in harder and analysing deeper (fight), or sticking our head in the sand and ignoring and avoiding the source (flight).

In either survival mode, our ability to influence is diminished.

Perfectionism isn’t a standard to aspire to.
In fact, it’s more a non-standard.

Contrary to what our minds would have us believe, influence is not the ability to control everything and everyone around us.  Rather, influence comes from the simple, difficult, but infinitely powerful, quality of being present.

Think about someone you’ve been in a conversation with who has been totally and completely present with you.  A rare human being who is not distracted by their phone or email, their eyes are not darting around the room looking for something more interesting, or glazed over thinking about what they need to do next.

They’re just simply there, listening, being with you, and in their presence you feel heard, gotten, acknowledged.  You walk away thinking how amazing they are and what an interesting person they must be, even though they hardly said a thing.

Presence is so compelling to us at an innate level that our natural instinct is to gravitate to this kind of energy.  We’re inspired to follow someone we can feel is present, take their advice, do what they do.

Compare that to an experience with someone who you know is not listening, who might say the right things but they’re not really there.  There’s no hurry to rush back, no strong desire to be around them.

When we are fully present with someone, we feel the power in it, how the other person leans in with us, there’s an intangible but undeniable energy of creating together in the moment.  It’s the sweet spot of true connection and unlimited co-creation.

When we are in our head, worrying about getting things right, doing multiple things at once, trying to make everything perfect, we miss the opportunity to understand where someone is really at.  We miss the nuances of language and the subtleties in what someone is sharing and how they’re sharing it.  As our mind wanders, we are instantly disconnected from our ability to influence their thoughts and actions, their approach and results.  The best option we have when we’re mentally checked out is to force, push, drive and try to control.  Exhausting and uninspiring for everyone.

It’s ironic that we try to get things right to achieve the best, yet perfectionism denies our ability to achieve any standard at all.  Rather, perfectionism is more a non-standard, setting the bar so high that we can’t possibly achieve it.

Perfectionism is actually the opposite of setting a clear and measurable outcome.  As a continually recovering perfectionist I learned long ago that when we’re striving for perfect we’re actively not committing to anything.

Being present is a skill and a moment by moment choice to silence the internal chatter, take a pause moment and choose our focus, purpose, approach and response.  It allows us access to our peripheral vision, enabling us to tune into a bigger picture, sense the lay of the land and pick up on how people are performing beyond the numbers.

When we’re courageous enough to let go our incessant control for things to be exactly how we think they should be and instead be present to what is, we tap into the power of influence we’ve been reaching for all along.