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How Strong is Your Ethical Compass?

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in the office. -Dwight D Eisenhower

As part of our leadership development course we focused on our ethical compass and how it guides our behaviour and decisions as leaders.

The Challenge

From time to time, in our personal and professional lives, we come across people and opportunities that seem engaging, exciting and worth further exploration.

Sometimes the best things in life are those we stumble upon or that seem to come quite serendipitously out of nowhere!  And indeed, explore we must.  NEW horizons and development only arise through venturing into the unknown, pushing the envelope and taking an “experimental” stance towards such invitations.

As the old saying goes, “if we do what we have always done, then we will get what we have always gotten!”

Some Probing Questions

At the same time, though, it is worth being mindful of the following questions to guide your explorations when confronted with a mixed/tempting situation: (more…)

Leadership Presence: Are you getting in your own way?

The struggle

Do you feel like you are ignored and overlooked at work considering all the effort you put in?

In a team meeting, even after you have said what you needed to get across, you feel you may as well have not been there?

You can’t help but notice that your suggestions get disregarded and yet when another team member offers the same input – good heavens!  Not only do they get acknowledged greatly but their idea also gets accepted.

Not surprisingly, you find yourself perplexed – scratching your head, wondering what happened and what it is that you are missing?

This has certainly been the experience of a few of my clients who have wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on.

If wanting ‘greater presence’ is something you would like, then read on!

What is Presence?

The Oxford Dictionary defines Presence as  “the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present.” In the business arena, we also hear the word linked with leadership, influence and executive or personal presence.

We know what presence is when we walk into a room and immediately notice someone who has this in bucket loads and this even before they open their mouths.

And how much more powerful their presence gets felt when their message and its delivery,  their non-verbals like how they hold themselves and the way they communicate all coalesce into a bulls eye potency.

So what can you do to have greater presence?  (more…)

Leadership: How to Build Trust in Teams and Relationships

A recent discussion on the importance of trust in our teams has prompted me to re-post this article:

Trust is the lifeblood of all relationship – business or personal.  It is the foundation of all mutually satisfying and sustainable long-term relationships. More than just a concept, it is also a feeling state – based on our experience of other’s behavior over time which is taken as evidence of their trustworthiness or not.

“If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a meaningful relationship.” So how do we build and grow trust?  The following eight behaviours are vital in building trust:

1)    Be your word.  As Stephen Covey puts says, “speed happens where there is trust.”  As a leader, work on building a high trust culture, brand and or organization. The quickest way to erode trust is to say things and then not follow through with your actions.  It is better to under promise and over deliver than the other way around.  As leaders, you are already in a fish bowl and are constantly being judged as to how authentic, credible and worthy of “followship” you are.  If you are unable to keep up your promise – for whatever reason –  than being upfront and transparent about this can still be a trustworthy act.

2)   Take responsibility.  Jennifer Elliot, the founder of Integrity and values powerfully coached us that we take on the mindset that everything we do has impact and therefore are responsible for the smallest of actions that we  engage in on a daily basis and the outcomes generated by this.  Taking responsibility means identifying and acknowledging when things go wrong and taking ownership.    As a leader the worst thing one can do is to not take responsibility.  Blaming, shifting responsibility, becoming defensive and or argumentative behaviours will not build trust.  In the words of another successful CEO   “share the successes around but ultimately as a leader, shoulder the blame.”

“Responsibility and Trust — these two are like Yin and Yang, together perfectly complete, and each one requiring the presence of the other.― Vera Nazarian

3)   Hold others to account. As a manager and leader, be clear about the results you expect from others and deal with issues as they arise.  Be willing to have those courageous conversations.  Leaders lose face when team members are allowed to get away with bad behavior. An example is where a direct report, who is very bright, keeps bringing in business and or producing the results, manages upwards really well but exhibits questionable behavior such as bullying, deception or total lack of collaboration with other teams or colleagues.  As their manager, if you are not tackling this, you can be sure that those in the rest of the organization will be looking up to you to take action and losing faith in you if it is not forthcoming.  You may get their time and some of their mind but you will not be getting the hearts and spirit for total engagement.

4)   Be values led.  Live, breathe and model the values that you and your organization hold dear such as respect, transparency, integrity. “Walk the talk and talk the walk!”  You are creating the culture of your organization every step of the way.  Celebrate examples of where the team has gone over and above living these values say with customers but also deal with issues and people who are not honouring the agreed upon values. Professor Mitch Kusy says that one of the best ways of dealing with people who are constantly displaying bad behavior and need managing out is through using values-based behavior as the expected standard.

5)   Collaborate and value diversity.  Trust builds when people feel affirmed, validated and respected. One way to do this is to be a good listener and be empathic. It is easy to fall into the quick trap of “this is the best idea” and anything else is discarded.   Team members pick up very quickly as to whether you have a listening for their contribution.  Be mindful of your own listening so your people feel heard and listened to, even if ultimately their ideas are not adopted.   Ideas can come from anywhere especially those right at the coalface be it production line, dealing with customers and or other stakeholders.  Where there is good teamwork; a zany idea can be picked up and developed upon by others in the team.  “No idea is a bad idea” can be one to play with. Trust also grows when team members are able to express doubt without feeling penalized.

“Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they’re doing it because they care about the team.” ― Patrick Lencioni

6)   Dealing with broken trust. Being human, we are almost guaranteed to stuff up from time to time. Trust takes years to build and moments to destroy. However, what is more important is how quickly we can own up to this and do whatever it takes to put things right. Most people tend to be forgiving especially where there has been no malice or a deliberate attempt to sabotage or deceive.

7)    Be open to feedback.  Trust is also demonstrated when you are able to show, ask and receive feedback. Challenging as it can be to the ego, to be told things about ourselves that are not our strengths, being able to accept this feedback and then do something about it is a mark of a true leader.  Being open to feedback requires a degree of humility.  And humility keeps us in check and fosters compassion towards ourselves and others. When team members are able to give each other open, honest and  constructive feedback, it’s a very positive signal about the organizations culture.

If you don’t have trust inside your company, then you can’t transfer it to your customers. – Roger Staubach

8)    Trust yourself. It is very hard to trust others and cultivate trusting relationships when we don’t trust ourselves. Unearthing our own relationship with trust can be quite a journey of revelation as we get challenged and come across scenarios where our own level of self trust comes into question.  However, it is at the edges that new learning and growth are waiting to be touched and embraced.  By trusting that there is some learning here and by staying with the self-inquiry – difficult as it may feel – you can come out with greater knowledge about yourself including trusting yourself more.

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

(more…)

The Leadership Journey

The Leadership Journey

Nineteen people came together as individuals – working for the same organization but not with a great deal of knowledge about each other.

In a mere two days, they had moved from individuals to three healthy, dynamic and supportive teams.  It felt good participating in and witnessing this coming together and the blossoming of something new.

The first day was setting some frameworks for how they wished their team to work together and the values they wished to live by.

They also learnt about themselves – their strengths and limiters and how significant others such as their manager, colleagues and direct reports actually saw them back in their workplace.

Feedback is never easy especially when it is tinged with what we could improve on. But these nineteen resolute and amazing team members took it in their stride.

(more…)

Leading and Living through Change

Life happens.

Things don’t always go according to plan.

No wonder John Lennon, and some wise people before him have said, “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.”

And yet when the unexpected happens, it invariably throws us and we react.

Our reactions

Depending on the nature of the surprise and the change we have to deal with, our reactions vary.

It can range from being shocked to “how did all this happen?” As a senior leader put it, “I was blindsided and did not see this one coming at all!”

Other common reactions include anger, blame and bargaining (If only…), resistance and denial to finally acceptance and hope.

Understanding the process

Early in my career, in my work as a Clinical Psychologist, I was working with people going through profound change including grief and loss.  We often drew from the wisdom of Elizabeth Kubler Ross.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.”

Getting out of the depths takes time and we need to allow our inner being to be able to do this. But this is not always easy!

Change in Organisations 

Given the VUCA world we operate in now, change is a constant.   We have barely adapted to one major organisational/industry change when other is on the way.

Actually, it is even more than this.  We are having to deal with multiple shifts and changes simultaneouly.

If I look back to the ninties working as a consultant in large scale change management projects, we used to run workshops  on “Being change ready.”

This almost seems an outdated concept now as change like our mobile phones is  almost always, ON!

SARAH Model

This popular model which we use in the business setting reminds us of the different stages of the change response:

·      Shock

·      Anger

·      Resistance

·      Acceptance, and

·      Healing/Hope

Manager/ Leader challenge

If you are a manager/leader it can be triply challenging as you deal with the change yourself and having to lead and manage teams and the organisation at the same time.

Being patient and mindful that people have different processing time and supporting people through the various stages above is vital…..whilst at the same time keeping the momentum of the required change happening!

Another leadership paradox to learn and live!

Navigating the depths

So how about you?

How do you best deal with change, especially when it is not of your making and gets imposed on you?

Can you draw on a time when you were able to come through the change even stronger?  When you thrived not just survived?

What emotionally intelligent attitude and behaviours enabled this?

I look forward to your thoughts and experience of this.

Afterthought:  A conversation between Swami Vivekanand and Ramkrishna Paramahansa
Swami Vivekanand: “In tough times, how do you stay motivated?”
Ramkrishna Paramahansa: “Always look at how far you have come rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessing, not what you are missing.”
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