50 Ways you can make a difference as a leader for 2014 – Join the leadership challenge!

I would like to invite you to a leadership challenge.

Don’t worry there is no work required from you during this leadership challenge.  You can simply read,  observe, catch up if that is what you would like to do.  Alternatively, if something inspires you, then please join in, submit relevant articles, news, insights, contributions or even experiences.  Whatever you choose, its up to you, the only commitment is to sign up and receive the weekly updates directly to your mailbox.

You are a leader.   I know I am like a parrot repeating this to you again and again, but you are a leader to someone, from being prominent on the world stage to simply being your own inner leader, you are a leader to your employees, your kids, your family your friends and yourself.  You can lead on the world stage or simply in your own day to day routine.   Join our leadereship challenge and improve your leadership mindset!

At this stage in 2014, you are either feeling great because your New Year promises to yourself are being kept, or you once more have lapsed into the same old habits.  If the latter is the case, my only advice to you is to forgive yourself and wherever you are, I’d ask maybe to consider a slightly different approach to 2014.

Why not make 2014 a year when you concentrate on how you are leading yourself and others and your life. It’s about quality, not quantity – content, not form.  It’s about how and not what; give and not take. Join our leadership challenge.  It costs nothing!

What these following practices in the leadership challenge actually help you do is change mind-set – your own and others.  How do I know this? Because over a 30 year span of managing and leading others, these are some of the things I learned along the way and which I know if applied can change the way you lead and manage for good.

The truth is, what you give out, you get back. Newton’s 3rd Law, “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions”, while centred on physical actions and reactions, it is the same with mental and attitudinal energy too.

So come with me on a journey.  Each week of the leadership challenge,  I will expand on the suggestions below, one by one, week by week.  Updates might include a new article, related articles, research, videos or a relevant quote.  You need do nothing, but simply consider the suggestion and read the material.  If you are hoping to change the way you lead yourself, simply substitute “others or them” for “you or yourself”. If you are inspired, then I invite you to submit your articles, experiences, quotes or other relevant material for each weekly topic.  You can do this by commenting, submitting material to me in advance or providing links on the commentry. If you aren’t inspired to do so, simply sit back and enjoy.

You will know some of this, maybe a lot, and some of it might simply be a refresher or even could be new.   My hope is that the journey on the leadership challenge will be an interactive one, where we can share perceptions, views and ideas as we progress through the year.

So if you’d like to join me on the leadership challenge  journey, then sign up here and let’s get started!

50 Ways to Make a Difference As  A leader

Leadership Challenge Part One

Developing Self Awareness to Benefit Yourself and Others

  1. Remembering It’s a Journey not a Destination
  2. Accepting the power of your mind
  3. Tapping into your right-mindedness
  4. Dealing with your inner critic
  5. Understand your own personality type
  6. How to forgive yourself and give up guilt for good
  7. Developing self-trust and trust in others
  8. Practice “honest” thinking, not just positive thinking
  9. How to change limiting beliefs
  10. Understanding, you don’t know what you don’t know

Leadership Challenge Part Two

Creating A Compelling Future

  1. Developing a clear vision
  2. Communicating and engaging with others about your vision
  3. Bridging the gap between the here and now and the future
  4. Understanding the power and limitations of planning
  5. Practice Letting Go
  6. Developing resilience
  7. Developing patience and trust
  8. Keeping an open mind to opportunities
  9. Living in the present while creating your future
  10. Dealing with doubt positively

Leadership Challenge Part Three

Engaging and Motivating Others

  1. Help others feel connected to something bigger than themselves
  2. Help others feel they are part of making a significant difference
  3. Help others feel good about their positives
  4. Help others feel good about the challenging parts of themselves
  5. Demonstrate the power of giving
  6. Practice acceptance of themselves and others
  7. Practice non-judgement
  8. Practice discernment
  9. Develop new thinking skills
  10. Develop new ways to raise awareness of the impact of emotions

Leadership Challenge Part Four

Interaction and Communication

  1. Demonstrate congruent communication
  2. Make decisions with integrity
  3. Use “toward and away” motivation in your interactions with integrity
  4. Raise your awareness of how people tick
  5. Be inclusive
  6. Be visible
  7. Understand how to ask the right questions
  8. Use logical levels to increase understanding
  9. Use Carl Jung’s personality types to aid understanding
  10. True listening

Leadership Challenge Part Five

 Relationship is everything

  1. Another way of looking at relationships
  2. Giving up specialness to gain everything
  3. Dealing with difficult people
  4. Preventing conflict
  5. Responding not reacting
  6. It’s either love or fear
  7. The boomerang effect
  8. The role of gratitude
  9. Myths about others
  10. The central relationship lesson
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A Creative Look At Routine – 5 Steps To Transform Your Routine Processes or Tasks

Are you creative in your routine?

A human myth is that there are creative people and people who simply aren’t.  The truth is that we are all creating.   Some of us simply create more routine in our lives than others.  Some create a more adventurous lifestyle, hone artistic qualities or even can create much drama in their lives.   One of the determinants of how you will use your creative skills will be based on your personality preferences.

MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), is based on the psychology of Carl Jung, where he identified eight distinct personality functions which can strongly influence the way we create our world, our creative approach will differ depending on our type preference.

Until I understood my personality type preferences I used to judge myself for “not having more attention to detail” and for preferring to spend time on my own than with friends (not always, but often!), or for having millions of ideas and not being able to finish  implementing many of them.  Realising that I had unconscious preferences to be a certain way, but I could choose to do things differently, even if that felt uncomfortable; was extremely liberating.

The relevance of all that is that while some people love routine and feel lost without it, for me I get bored very easily with routine tasks, I love starting new projects, a varied workload and trying new things.   At this time in my life I have learned enough about myself and created sufficient discipline to get the routine stuff out of the way, but I simply don’t enjoy it, procrastinate too often and look forward to the utopian day when I can afford to pay others to carry out the routine tasks to free me up to vision, imagine and create new adventures.

Setting up my new business has been a steep learning curve.  I have been self-employed in the past but simply worked as an associate and worked with many different companies.  This time, I’m actually setting up a business, which means it has to have outcomes, structure, financial plans and on and on.  Up until a few months ago I actually sang my way into the office every day.  Using my imagination to decide what I wanted to create, with real meaning and purpose has been exciting, new and adventurous.

A few months ago the social media side of the business took a remarkable positive turn which meant lots of services being delivered to new clients.  Enviable isn’t it?  Well yes it certainly is and we are counting our blessings every day.  The problem of course for me is it meant routine work increased because we simply had to deliver.  Not my strong preference!

 

Read More

 

routine

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14 Ways to Be a Great Team Player At Work

team player Follow Me on Pinterest In the new social world we now live in, the importance of teamwork in any organisation is key.  Being a collaborative team player, aligning purpose, values and effort will be the hallmarks of a great employee.

Andrew Armour sets out the need for collaborative working in Why Superteams Win In The Social Era Of Business, and asserts that 86% of senior executives surveyed in the 2011 Innovation Barometer, viewed collaboration as vital to innovate, but  only 21% had the culture and people to do so.  I believe that things have probably moved on since then, but we still have some way to go.

Being a team player at whatever level in the organisation is a skill which increasingly, organisations will view as essential., according to Mckinsey because of global talent shortages. Because the dynamics of our world are changing so rapidly and significantly, team members no longer need to sit back with frustration or without a voice.  As has been demonstrated in many incidents over the last few years, employees  have used social platforms to “out” many illicit, unfair or just plain silly practices.  Conversely, team players can be the biggest advocates and champions for their employers, as they tell glowing stories across their social media communities.

In an increasing global economy, as Mckinsey’s article points out, there might well be heavy demands on highly skilled interactive professionals:  A collaborative aligned team is going to be essential to help bridge any gaps. Change is in the air, and switched on employers are already realising that culture change is essential to meet the challenges of the social era, and the talent marketplace.   Good HR Expertise is essential.

As an employee, you will gain a distinct advantage if you understand what is going to be needed to be a valued team player.   You are going to find that respected  employers are increasingly going to be looking at how well you collaborate with others, how positively you interact in the social world, and how much you buy into their values and purpose.

How can you become the team player that good employers will be lining up to have in their team?

Having led and managed literally hundreds of employees, there are some timeless qualities I have encountered which for me make up the ideal team player.   Of course in an ideal world, you rarely get the whole set of team player ideal qualities.  We are perfect in our imperfections.  The following attitudes, traits and qualities are so good to work with,  and one’s I would certainly be looking for in any assessment, certainly for key players in my team.

As a great team player you will:

  1. Take responsibility for yourself.  This means not automatically blaming your tools, your  colleagues or management, but being self aware enough to say “perhaps I could have done something differently”.
  2. Get the big picture and understand exactly what we are trying to do together – You don’t naturally have to be a big picture thinker.  In fact some organisations may employ you because of your attention to detail, but being able to pull yourself out of the detail sometimes is a huge advantage.
  3. Have an affinity with and believe in what we are trying to achieve –  You will love our products, love what we are trying to do, and it makes you happy because you think by virtue of working with us you have been part of it all.
  4. Give a positive account of the organisation and concentrate  on what is good about it – This does not mean pretending that everything is ok and smiling when it isn’t, but realising that even though things might go wrong, there is positive intent behind the decision making.  It really is about giving others in the team whatever their role “the benefit of the doubt”.
  5. At times when it is crucial for the business, go the extra mile –  Being committed to pulling out the stops when necessary.   There is a fine line between occasionally having to put in more effort and it being expected as a matter of course, so if it’s too much, have the confidence to say so.
  6. Care about others on your team – This can be tough because team work can be a hot bed of relationship problems.  But with some determination and commitment to creating a caring environment, then concerted effort is never lost.
  7. Commit to resolving differences in an adult and win/win way – Workplaces can be the worst place to play out the parent/adult/child relationship.  A paternally based organisation is definitely becoming an old paradigm.  Becoming aware of the paradigm, is the lamp needed to dispel it.
  8. When you’re not able to fulfil your contract for any period of time for family or medical reasons, you commit to doing your best to get back to work as soon as you can because you know how crucial you are to the excellence of the business.
  9. Commit to getting the work done, on time and to the best of your ability – This is not just for the team, this helps to raise your own personal standards and improve your own energy.  It always pays dividends, and will be noticed.
  10. Trust us to make the best decisions we can with the information we have, even if you don’t like it.  With millions of decisions to make, some with consultation, some not so democratic, its a minefield, and we’re not always going to get it right.  Sometimes you aren’t going to like it, but you trust  the intention is good behind it.
  11. Understand we have a mutual contract and  we will respect your rights, and you respect ours. – if it’s not working, then, communicate, communicate, communicate until it’s right.
  12. Forgive us our mistakes, we all make them – Help to create a no-blame culture, where we know none of us are perfect, but we will learn from our mistakes, not use them to beat each other up.
  13. If you’re not happy come and tell us about it constructively, trust us to listen and do something about it – Be open to different ways of seeing things, and commit to finding a solution.  Don’t be that person who is happy being unhappy.
  14. If you can’t commit to any of the above, consider how you are contributing to the success of the organisation, and if you can’t or won’t commit then consider your position.   If we are doing everything we can to collaborate and it’s still not working then you might be simply in the wrong job.

So there you have it, my somewhat idealistic list of a great team player.  It might sound impossible, but I have encountered such positive traits collectively along the way.  I would hope many of them are traits I displayed as a team player myself, although, I’m not sure if my past teams would agree.   I’m sure there are also many to add, what would be your ideal wish list for a great team player?

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2 Faulty Thinking Patterns Leaders Must Ditch

Faulty Thinking Follow Me on Pinterest Most progressive people in business understand only too well that the old paradigm of faulty thinking  has long gone.

Examples like “profit before values”: underhand strategies of “the end justifies the means” or  “we are important so we deserve special privileges”  have been exposed and deleted by the best organisations.   While businesses regroup and reevaluate their ethics, culture and practices to make amends, change doesn’t happen overnight.  Some two years or so on from the major scandals, there is still much to do.

Optimistically change for the better must occur, and evidence of proactive and definitive change is happening, typically illustrated by the very strong corporate statement issued by the likes of  Barclays Bank, where they set out in no uncertain terms their ethics and standards moving forward.  Other companies are positioning themselves accordingly.

Many of the problems arose, not because people involved in the scandals where inherently bad people, but because they were  victims of “faulty thinking”.  Faulty thinking taken to the extreme.   Throughout history you can see examples of faulty thinking being taken to the extreme.  Think Hitler and modern day dictatorship, terrorism, and modern day slavery.  There are lesser degrees of faulty thinking, but if adopted globally then innocently seeming “right” thinking can be catastrophic.

There are some key beliefs and thinking patterns which underlie many of the “ills” of society and of course can be evidenced on the leadership stage.  These beliefs have permeated our culture as a global society and therefore have become a paradigm which acts like a closed cell door and makes it seem difficult to get out.   Much is of course unconscious faulty thinking.   This might sound bleak, but actually by acknowledging such faulty thinking, then we are able to shine a light on this paradigm and change our beliefs and thoughts to more positive and affirming thinking which will of course create a brand new paradigm and a much brighter future.

The following set out 2 ways  we continue to exercise faulty thinking and therefore limit great changes in the world and in business.

  1.  There is not enough to go round

The economic crisis is not yet over, and there is a cacophony of voices telling us there is recovery, and others who are predicting the end of society as we know it.  Who knows?  The whole debacle has been made by ongoing and systematic faulty thinking about our collective purpose and the possessive of money in particular.

The scarcity principle is one which is one of the most prevalent traits of faulty thinking, and one which people feel most justified in bowing down to.  But it is a faulty system, borne of faulty thinking.  There is no real scarcity in the world; we have made a system where we have bankrupted the world, businesses and individuals.  There is plenty of food to eat and there are enough resources, we have sufficient intelligence to overcome the majority of problems which arise.  We just don’t do it.  Why?  Because we believe there is scarcity, on a global, collective and individual level.  The scarcity is literally all in our mind.

For a business leader, this is a difficult one because the thought and “evidence” of scarcity through downturns in economy, reduced budgets, income etc. is compelling.  The scarcity principle is one which makes people work longer for less with little hope.

The unified alternative is to find the opportunity in any situation whether reduced economy or other situation where scarcity is the fear.  Use the experience to find ways of creating more, leveraging growth and learning to challenge beliefs and assumptions and “the way things have always been done”.

This is not rocket science. Every savvy entrepreneur knows that there are always opportunities in adversity.

  1. Favoritism

There is a standing joke on the UK version of the “X Factor” involving  Louis Walsh, the long serving judge from Dublin,  who is said to favour acts from Ireland whether they have talent or not .  I think most people see it very much as harmless fun, and it always raises a laugh.   This is only a TV show, and while I’m sure some hopeful with talent might feel put out about being turned down because people with less talent have got through by virtue of their place of birth, they hopefully can get their talent recognised elsewhere.

Favouritism in other arenas and especially in the workplace has more serious connotations.   At its worst, favouritism stems from a conscious or even unconscious form of discrimination and can seem harmless, but it has far reaching effects.  At best, favouritism is simply a matter of keeping ourselves in our comfort zones, because of a fear of “difference”.

Many years ago I applied for a job.  Pitching up for the day of assessment and interviews, I was joined by 6 other hopefuls.  Of the seven of us there was one man.  We were collectively greeted by the CEO and his board, all men, and the day of interviews commenced.  I remember thinking they were doing really well because they must have recognised the overly masculine nature of their top team, and they had called 6 women to interview.  Surely they were committed to giving women a chance.  I don’t know indeed they may well have been.  The next day, I got a phone call to say that I had been an “exceptional candidate” and the board had been very impressed, but that they had decided to offer the job to another person.  I was fine, and was quite amused to note when they announced the appointment, it was the only male candidate, who was successful.  Now I’m not saying that they were discriminating against women, nor am I saying the male candidate didn’t have the best qualifications.  But I did wonder if they were pretty comfortable in their “all male” group.

Favours can consist of securing contracts, promoting, awarding bonuses, praising, promoting, spending time, allocating quality work etc. to others with little regard to contribution or effort but because they are in the “favoured few” circle.  It can mean employing family members even if they aren’t the best qualified.

The unified alternative is to be open to many different types of contribution and value them all.  To develop a framework of fairness, appreciation and reward open to all.   Be aware of, and guard against biases.  The underlying premise to this is of course that we are all equally of value in whatever situation.

There are many ways we  think in a faulty way, but if we solved those two we would have opened up a vista of opportunity, the like of which has never been seen before.

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The Leadership Formula – 5 Components For Transformation

leadership formula Follow Me on Pinterest Influential Leaders have several components in place, working together, which I call the leadership formula, which compels people to join in with and embrace their leadership.

The leadership formula usually involves a number of fairly simple concepts.  Yet, despite the simplicity of such concepts, there still appears to be a dearth of great leadership at a business, political and world level.   Even though there seems to be some “modest” improvements on employee engagement reported by the Hay Group 2013  Global Employee Engagement and Enablement Trends Report there is still much to be done.

In their most recent research, “Building the New Leader – Leadership 2030 report”, Hays have concluded leaders need to improve on three levels, cognitive, emotional and behavioural

[pullquote style="left" quote="dark"]Cognitive Leaders need new forms of contextual awareness, based on strong conceptual and strategic thinking capabilities.  They need to be able to conceptualize change in an unprecedented way, again based on conceptual and strategic thinking.  Leaders need to exhibit new forms of intellectual openness and curiosity.

Emotional Overall, leaders will need to be much more sensitive to different cultures, generations and genders. They will need to demonstrate higher levels of integrity and sincerity and adopt a more ethical approach to doing business. They must also tolerate far higher levels of ambiguity.

Behavioural Leaders must create a culture of trust and openness. As post-heroic leaders they must rethink old concepts such as loyalty and retention and personally create loyalty.  Collaboration – cross-generational, cross-functional and cross-company – will be their watchword. They must lead increasingly diverse teams.”[/pullquote]

While the research shows a marked progression and depth to the skill set required of a leader, and are vital components of the leadership formula, they miss out essential components of the formula.  Without these missing components, the change needed to develop our leaders for the future may well be slow and fraught with difficulties.

Expectations of our leaders are increasing   Ethical and value centred leadership seems to be the emerging priority across the globe.  The world needs leaders who can pull it from the current state of chaos.   Certainly enhanced cognitive, emotional and behavioural skills and competences will help to make that change.

According to Mike Myatt In the USA alone, it is estimated that some $170 billion has been spent on leadership development.  The danger is though,  we approach the problem and waste many more billions in misguided leadership programmes which miss important components of the leadership formula.

The missing parts in the leadership formula are the filters which our thinking, emotions and behaviours are sieved through.  These are our beliefs, and our ability to envision a future.

Cognitive, emotional and behavioural excellence is to no avail and the leadership formula is incomplete when the belief system those skills are filtered through is somewhat blinkered, limiting or biased.  Without vision, then no-one is going anywhere, and we remain at Groundhog Day, repeating the same mistakes, making the same future from yesterday and remain in our respective comfort zones.

What I have seen from people who have inspired and influenced the world, such as Ghandi, Luther King JR and Mandela for example have been some basic beliefs and a clear vision which have freeing and unifying beliefs.   These are similar to:

  • We are all equally as valuable
  • There is only love or fear of love
  • We can create our reality

Such leaders and truly successful business leaders, also have a capacity to envision a future and enable great loyalty and enthusiasm from teams and the public when their vision includes the precepts of:

  • Anything is possible
  • Our vision is for the greater good of all
  • What we can imagine we can create

If you add these two elements to cognitive, emotional and behavioural skills, then you have the ingredients for all possibilities, and a chance to shape the world; the organisation or the team anyway you want.  They are the 5 components of a successful leadership formula, which, if done well could change the world for the better.

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Burying the Hatchet on Work Place Disputes

Disputes Follow Me on Pinterest Disputes at work cost us much more than loss of productivity

As we speak I have placed myself at the centre of a dispute. Now for me this is quite a big deal because quite frankly I am against being in dispute per se. The details of the dispute are immaterial because all it really boils down to is that the other person I am in dispute with simply sees things differently to me, and they are trying to foist their perspective on me. (Conversely, I’m at it too!).

Because I know that disputes are futile egotistical diversions, which waste a lot of time and energy I usually avoid them like the plague.  That’s not to say I don’t feel strongly about certain issues, and I abhor it when my values are being dishonoured, it’s simply that I know enough to realise that everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Also life is simply too short to become embroiled.

The thing is with disputes though; it is usually when someone else’s rules, opinions or behaviours impinge on our own personal boundaries that we can no longer turn a blind eye.

Some of the facts

At work in the UK, around 191K employment disputes were recorded in 2012/13. The introduction of payment of a fee to lodge an employment dispute to a tribunal which was introduced in July 2013, has many HR professionals and employment lawyers waiting with baited breath to see if there is a sharp downfall in claims as a result. The most recent employment tribunal statistics released by the UK Government are pretty inconclusive and the trends have certainly not been established.

But whether or not the payment of a fee helps to direct the minds of claimants whose disputes may be dubious is really a bit of a red herring. The emergence of an application to an employment tribunal is quite often the end result of a long and arduous route whereby somewhere along the line, parties to the dispute have failed to find a solution, or a meeting of minds.

Workplace conflict is extremely costly; in a study by CPP Global, it was found that resolving conflict took up, on average, one day per month for each and every worker. If you start doing the math, then you realise that the cost to businesses is pretty huge. But even then, as we all know; disputes at work have a ripple effect. Not only do they take precious time to resolve, they can create an awful atmosphere, absence from work, knotty HR issues while disputes are being solved and simply drag down the business.

Why disputes occur

There are many reasons why disputes occur, but some of the common dynamics present are;  roles of victim and victimiser, a sense of unfairness or injustice, a need to be right and the other wrong and sometimes a need to be better than or indignation at being seen as less than.

Some of the causes of disputes arise from:

  1. Rules imposed by one party have been broken by the other, but the other doesn’t agree on the rules in the first place.
  2. There is a disagreement on the facts
  3. One person is being seen as having an unfair advantage over another
  4. A person’s behaviour is,  or is seen as, unacceptable
  5. Decisions are made which don’t consider the person or their circumstances
  6. There is a personality clash
  7. Inadequate communication exists.

I’m sure there are many more, but in my experience many disputes are contained within those seven causes.

Because we are all so unique and our perspectives are so very different, conflict resolution management is not really a huge success, as can be seen by the number of disputes which have reached employment tribunal.  In fact many companies might argue that the most important HR Expertise  is being able to minimise the effects of disputes in the workplace.

A different mind set

There is no magic wand unfortunately. Human behaviour doesn’t transform instantly. A change of mind is needed, and this is not just in the workplace, but at home, in politics, in global leadership. The following mind-set shifts would produce a significant change in unhealthy disputes which simply squash the spirit, waste time and stunt creativity and innovation.  Creating dynamics of equal value, a goal of harmonious working (healthy conflict is allowed!), and respect of boundaries and understanding each other.

These can translate into possible actions such as:

  1.  Helping people who feel victimised to access their inner strength and honour themselves.
  2.  Creating a common purpose and vision when setting rules and boundaries, and when others can’t or don’t meet them, helping them as much as possible to do so.
  3. Allowing people to make an occasional mistake.
  4. Treating everyone with equal value as a person
  5.  Involving and honouring everyone when instigating change
  6. Being aware of and acknowledging when decisions are made they may have a negative impact on others and finding ways to help people when that is the case.
  7. Raising awareness of how we operate as human beings, and our impact on others.
  8. Creating congruent communication, where different styles are respected and used.

The funny thing is, when I began to get into my current dispute, a big part of me was saying, just surrender, don’t go down that route, let it go!  But my rebel sense of indignation and rightness won over. Well for a short time anyway. I think though, it might just be time to bury the hatchet!

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The Hidden Power For Leadership and Life

mindEveryone has this power, some of us just don’t realise it.

When I first began leading and managing teams, I would be irritated by negative and “play it safe” people.  My desire to get on and create great outcomes meant anyone or anything which appeared to block the team power  or create resistance was simply just a nuisance.  That was just one of the many immature attitudes I began my leadership career with.

Many years of experience later, I realised  my irritation was more to do with the fact  I wasn’t actually looking in the mirror at my own resistance and negativity and loss of power.   I’ve always seen the world as a giant classroom and what I didn’t learn via Leadership Development, I learned through reflecting on my experiences.

One of the biggest AHA moments in my life and a huge turning point for me was discovering the power of the mind. Quantum science has been showing us for some time that    “by the very act of watching, the observer affects the observed reality”.  This startling discovery profoundly changes the world that we live in, and I am not sure yet we have fully grasped the concept.  Research such as Emoto’s Water Experiment which shows how water structure changed when exposed to different thought patterns is amazing. In essence what these factors meant for me and certainly what I have experienced is this.

  • What I believed about my team was crucial to their success and secondly
  • My team always lived up to my expectations.
  • Quite often I projected the traits I did not like in myself onto my team and instead of dealing with the unwanted trait myself, I blamed others for it.

This is not a flight of fancy.  When the penny dropped and I believed my team could be dynamic, enthusiastic and creative, I focused on those aspects and not only did I encourage those behaviours, when I saw contrary behaviours; instead of getting hung up about them, I practically helped my team find solutions and develop ways to get different outcomes.

Instead of projecting negativity on them, I started to project positive and affirming traits. The fact is our minds are creatively powerful.  Imagination is the creative force of the universe.  Anything which has been created was first envisaged and imagined.  When we experience outcomes we don’t want then we have mis-created, because we have focused on what we don’t want instead of what we do; it is as simple as that.   Mother Therese fully understood this phenomenon when she said, “I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me”.

Instead of anti-war; focus on peace.  Instead of diversity; focus on inclusion.  The unconscious mind doesn’t understand filler words, so if you say: I don’t want to go bankrupt, guess what you have set in motion? If you say, I am becoming successful and my business is abundant, and believe it, then that is what you will set in motion. This simple fact is hard to believe because much of our mindfulness is unconscious and it is our unconscious beliefs and tapes which are often creating our world.  Our job is to become aware of our unconscious faulty beliefs and change them with life-affirming and sustaining beliefs.

Every single one of us is creating, we just aren’t aware of it, or we have disconnected from our awareness of it, and so quite often we mis-create.  Much of leadership is about facilitating different mind-sets in order to consciously create rather than unconsciously mis-create. The mind is our creative force, and how we use it is extremely important.  Most commonly because we don’t realise or understand the creative power of the mind, we are constantly in Groundhog Day.  Our script is set, our beliefs are set in stone, our thinking patterns are habitual, we doubt our actions and our days and lives will trundle along.

Many of you will be familiar with the famous quote from Marianne Williamson “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us” The truth is whenever we are judging or blaming or denying responsibility we are in fact running from the astonishing power of our creative mind.

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10 Steps to Find Balance in the Pursuit of Excellence

excellenceFinding balance while pursuing excellence

I met with some very dear friends earlier this week, we are friends and business colleagues and so much of the topic of conversation revolves around our respective business issues.  We were recounting our progress with varying amounts of success.  One of my projects is taking much longer than I thought, and I was happily talking about the qualitative changes I felt I must make before moving forward, when one of the group suggested that perhaps I should take the approach that “just good enough”  might be the mind-set I needed right now. I immediately replied that I wasn’t prepared for “just good enough”, I wanted my product and services to be excellent.  But as usual the exchange got me thinking. Was the pursuit of excellence on my part simply a delaying tactic?

As a master procrastinator I am usually more obvious in my efforts to avoid doing things I should, the tax return filed only 7 days before the deadline, the marketing product I have been working on for weeks but I always find something else more urgent to do.  The friends I must call because I haven’t seen them for so long.

I have experienced first-hand, business owners who don’t move forward because they feel there is always more preparation to be done; when deadlines are missed because some other factor comes into play and they want to make sure everything is lined up before they move on.  Such environments simply call time on innovation, motivation and enthusiasm, because nothing ever is achieved.  My friend’s question made me think: Is this me?

Social media and globalisation has forced a pace on most businesses, not only to be active transparent and visible, but also to do things in an increasingly bigger, more connected and excellent way.  The platform is equally open to large multi-nationals as well as the small sole trader.   There is room for all, and the benchmark for excellence and the way we do business is changing rapidly.  Will Yokowicz’s article “Get Ready for the Social Network of Things” gives a vivid picture of the mind-set shift which is taking place right now.  Leadership Development  programmes must help develop appropriate mind-sets moving forward.

There is no place to hide anymore; procrastination is not going to cut it, nor is anything other than a pursuit of excellence going to be tenable.  How do we reconcile almost superhuman efforts with the fact that the vast majority of us are human?   How do we drag our fallible, procrastinating, pressurised, vulnerable selves to balance work, relationships and conflicting demands, and still achieve visible excellence?

There are a number of ways we can negotiate the path of excellence without creating unnecessary stress, pessimism or doubt.   Its vital leaders have a realistic strategy to both achieve the excellent results they need while on a daily basis recognising in what situations “just good enough” is acceptable.   Here are my top 10 steps which help navigate the way through.

1. Be committed to achieving a clear vision  

There are going to be days when achieving your vision seems like a million miles away.  When this happens just keep the vision in mind and know that the universe is conspiring to help you achieve it.

2. Setbacks are simply learning curves

If you can develop the mind-set that setbacks are simply opportunities to make improvements then you will recover much more quickly.   Not allowing despondency or doubt in, will accelerate growth.  

3. Listen to your intuition

Sometimes a lack of progress or huge resistance is a big sign that you are working on the wrong thing.  If you continually feel uninspired, stressed and pressurised then you are definitely on the wrong track.

4. Create a great team

You really can’t do it on your own.  You need help to achieve excellence whether through employees, partnerships, contractors, a support network, friends and family.

5. Look after yourself

You need to take time out to rest, connect with others and do other things.  Health is one of the biggest pre-requisites for achievement of excellence, and could be one of your biggest stumbling blocks if ill health prevails.

6. Be clear about your priorities and values

If for example a family crisis comes along and you need to delay then don’t agonise over your decision.

7. Plot small milestones  and celebrate success

It is easy to forget all the hard work and successes you have had along the way.  Sometimes you can get so focused on what’s not achieved, you don’t realise how much you have achieved.

8. Forgive yourself

When you set out on the road to achieving excellence  you put your head above the parapet.  You are not always going to feel like following your own path.  When you feel like rebelling, then forgive yourself and get away from it until as long as it takes to get back into the right mind-set.

9. Don’t cling to results

You are going to get the right results at the right time.  Even if you believe they are poor, they are simply results, giving you a nudge and an indicator to say you need to look again.  A journey to excellence is about progression and constant re-evaluation.

10. Get it into perspective

In his book “An Untethered Soul” Michael Singer helps the reader get their life in perspective by saying “You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere”.  That’s not to minimise your efforts towards excellence, but realising that in this world everything ends eventually helps you to enjoy the journey much more than focusing on the destination.

Having thought through whether I should settle for “just good enough”, my resounding answer is still “No”, but I realise there are days and times when maybe I have to settle for “just good enough” rather than excellence as a temporary measure, and when I get to those times, I simply take my own advice!

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The Cornerstone of Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership Follow Me on Pinterest Authentic Leadership skills include learning from relationships.

Many years ago I worked with a client who was thinking of starting up her own business. She had many talents, and interests with lots to offer. Part of the process of finding out where she wanted to go, why and how she might do it was to explore her current employment which seemed to be causing her much angst, anger and frustration.

One of the biggest “thorns” in her workplace side was her boss. He seemed to evoke many negative emotions. She felt she was really good at what she did, but was often overlooked. She observed that her boss was quite formal and sometimes strained with her in comparison to other people who worked with him. Worse, she recounted a couple of occasions when others had got great work projects and raises, and she wasn’t even considered despite her obvious and impressive skill at what she did.

The relationship between one particular colleague and the boss made her completely see red. Her boss had a particularly great working relationship with the other lady, and even the little things like her boss saying “good morning” with gusto to this lady and sharing a laugh and anecdotes, made my client feel left out, isolated and unappreciated.

When I asked her to tell me what she thought of her boss she happily rattled away about his ability to be divisive, unfair, have favourites, unappreciative, and moody. I then asked her to put herself in her colleague’s shoes and to think about how she might describe him.  The light, even at this early stage began to dawn, when she started using words like, friendly, likable, amusing, appreciative, and many more being the opposite of her own view. I then asked her if she had ever considered that her colleague might have a more successful relationship with their boss because she saw him in a more positive light. Setting a task for her to go into work and to simply view her boss through the eyes of her colleague and to see what happened; even I was unprepared for the magical change which she experienced between that coaching session and the next.

At the next session she was simply amazed at the difference she found with him when her attitude towards him changed, even though she didn’t actually say too much to him. She said he started off smiling at her, began stopping by to have a chat now and then, and even took her into his office to tell her what a remarkable job she was doing. The penny had dropped and she learned a valuable life lesson in that our relationships are often formed by our attitudes we hold towards others. Authentic leadership is born of such understanding.

Human relationships are one of the most fertile, challenging and rewarding arenas for growth and development of self-awareness, and they are the best training ground  for authentic leadership.   Being aware of and actively improving relationships both inside and external to the workplace is the cornerstone of great leadership development,.  and authentic leadership.  Not only must relationships be evaluated and given attention and effort, they must be appreciated for the learning opportunities which they hold.

The problem is we look at relationships through the wrong lens mostly. We use relationships to gauge our own or others self-worth, or we use them as if there is a hierarchy of good and bad people (I can hear the outcry now), we use them to suffer rather than celebrate. In the workplace, the extent of our discussions about relationships is limited to those about contractual terms and conditions. These simply ignore one of the fundamental musts for authentic leadership, personal relationships, and I don’t mean romantic ones! If only we could just grasp the fact that relationships are learning opportunities which increase the opportunity for authentic leadership, then we would create a much better world and lay the way for much more effective and caring authentic leadership.

For me, some of the authentic leadership lessons, human relationships hold are:

  • Learning that love comes from within, and is not lost even when another is not around – find the love within despite what is happening outside.
  • That we hate in others the capacity or capability of that trait in ourselves – Forgive others.  and yourself if you manage to see the potential or even the behaviour in you.
  • People feel what you are thinking about them, even if they aren’t consciously aware and so honesty is vital – Examine your thought behaviours and patterns as if they were transparent.
  • We often project our own script onto others – True listening and open-mindedness is essential to hearing others and understanding who they are.
  • Fear makes us want to attack and we fear being attacked – heal the fear and learn to trust one’s own self first.
  • Everyone is equally as valuable – without exception. Yes some people do bad things and I am not minimising that, and some people do heroically brilliant things. At the heart of who we are we all have some good, some bad and the extent of the love or fear we allow in our lives dictates our behaviour.
  • Perceptions are not fixed, in any given situation they can change. How we perceive others cannot ever be wholly accurate and therefore not to be trusted as an absolute authority.
  • Withholding judgment of others doesn’t mean not getting out of harm’s way.
  • We are interdependent, no “man” is an island
  • Love is the force which we always uncover if we are open to it.

In the workplace, while relationships may not be so intensely reflected as in the above examples, the principals still hold true. Authentic leadership,  can flourish when it is know:

  • All roles in the workplace are important and everyone is valuable for the part they play. On a human level everyone is equally as valuable.
  • People of different abilities and skills will come and go in the workplace equal to the growth of the organisation. Appreciating that there should be healthy relationships for past, present and future employees are essential.
  • The quality of the way teams and individuals view and speak about each other in the workplace needs work and attention. Relationship building should be pivotal in growing and succeeding in the business.
  • People will live up to the leaders expectations of them.  When operating from authentic leadership, the best is expected.
  • Communication strategies have to be honest, authentic and two way.
  • People must be encouraged to learn about themselves and others with a view to widening understanding.

Relationships are one of the cornerstones of authentic leadership, badging these as “soft skills” simply isn’t tenable any longer. They are HARD, emotionally charged lessons to learn, but if we have the courage to get into that particular class, and truly learn those skills then the rewards will be huge.

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5 Characteristics of an Open-Minded Leader

open-minded leader Follow Me on Pinterest An open-minded leader can appear anywhere.

I remember when I was still in my teens listening to a most fascinating work colleague, who professed to understand how hypnotists managed to tap into someone’s subconscious and get it to take control. In the next breath he would describe his insights gained in different cultures which he had acquired in his Navy days. His range of conversation was diverse, lively and knowledgeable. I remember feeling quite boring and uninteresting comparing myself with him, (which was a pre-occupation of mine as a teen). His role wasn’t officially as a leader, but he was well respected and one of those people who you know is influential in the team, he would have certainly qualified as an open-minded leader.

He had that charismatic quality, I always admire, which in those days I called open-mindedness. Open-mindedness for me was cool in those days, and still is. I think the quality of an open-minded leader is an underrated and misunderstood characteristic. What this quality means for me is:

A thirst for learning

Of course there are many types of learning: Taking in information through reading, observing, or my favourite which is experiential learning. I remember reading somewhere that the most honest sentence we can utter is “I don’t know”. I have come to realise that true wisdom stems from exactly that, an open-minded leader has that wisdom.  It is when we are at our most convinced that we have something new to learn. Also an open-minded leader understands that the learning journey never stops.  All we can be certain of is what we have learned so far. There is a practical aspect to this too. Our minds are a little like our bodies in that what we put in, is what we get out usually. If we sit and watch soaps or low-grade TV for hours on ends, guess what our conversation and focus is about?

Curiosity

Just when did our natural curiosity about the world disappear? My grandson Charlie is just starting to ask “Why?” Like most children he is curious and wants to understand what surrounds him. But for the majority of us, our natural curiosity stops at a certain point. Why is that? Is it because our minds are made up for us by concrete explanations from our parents or teachers? I remember at 16 having some extremely rigid views about our social system. I mentioned my limited views to a friend one day and she explained to me how narrow my thinking was and bluntly showed me the error of my ways. I realised in that moment I had taken on board the thought system of my parents, who had come from a completely different experience and generation from me. How often do we do that? Open-mindedness means that instead of believing everything you are told, you find out yourself. Even when you draw conclusions, you are open to finding out more. Exploring and actively being open and curious is the key here.

An ability to see things easily from different perspectives

In the world of the open-minded leader there is only “what works” and “what doesn’t work”, rather than what is right or wrong. We live in a world of both entrenched and enlightened values at times. Part of being open-minded is being able to see another’s point of view and evaluating not whether it is right or wrong, but whether it works or not. There is also the phenomenon of paradox working here, so being able to realise two opposing truths can be real. Take Orwell’s statement for example. “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” This statement can be viewed from a myriad of perspectives which if judgment is suspended can help the reader to see the situation from many different points of view. Political leaders are very good at this!

An acceptance and respect for others beliefs and choices

This can be a tough one. I remember talking to a professional who was coaching a young entrepreneur who wanted to get into the modelling world. An A grade student, with a great start-up business, and supportive parents;  a glittering future was about to be thrown away by this young business woman who’s main desire in life was to enter the fickle and superficial world of modelling; or so my friend described.  But the truth is we never know what is good for someone else, or what path is right for someone.  I married very young and inevitably it ended in divorce.  But was it inevitable?   When my daughter decided to buy a house at age 19 with her first and only boyfriend, I was aghast.   Luckily I was wise enough by then to understand that just because things went wrong for me, didn’t mean it would for her.  All I said to her was, “Go and try it, but if it doesn’t work, then you can come home” She never has. We celebrated her wedding at the weekend after 9 years of being together.   It is the same in the workplace.  An open-minded leader  will honour other people and the choices they make.

An awareness that their own and others beliefs and filters can be limiting

Our experience in this world is made up through a filter of our beliefs, ideas, thought patterns and emotions.  Part of respecting the perspective of others shows a good understanding of this. There is a further element to this for open-minded people in that they realise;  not only does everyone come from a different perspective, but it is likely that any perspective is limited. If you’ve ever had to give up a limited belief, without having another belief in place it can feel quite frightening.  To be able to form new beliefs, you have to be able to use your imagination, and sometimes going from a limiting belief to a more expanded belief takes a leap of faith. At work this can be a problem whenever change happens, for example when a business is trying to reinvent or rebrand itself.  An open-minded leader will understand that they have to instil that faith in their employees if the changes are going to be timely and effective.

Being an open-minded leader doesn’t mean being indecisive, which can sometimes be assumed when someone is accepting and curious of the world around them. In fact, it generally means an open-minded leader can be more decisive because they understand any decision is simply based on what they know in that moment, and therefore an open-minded leader cannot make a wrong decision. Just one that works, or doesn’t.

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