September 18, 2012

CoachStation Blog

CoachStation: Coaching and Mentoring Pathway
To genuinely succeed in business, leaders must know their role, continuously develop their skills and be constantly supported to achieve the best they can as a leader and employee. Finding your own development pathway takes ownership, effort and clarity. However, it is not something you need to do on your own. Whether it is developing yourself or your team, coaching and mentoring can be a powerful tool to enable change and growth, both personally and professionally. When it comes to leadership development, however, one of the keys to success is to start developing deliberately and early. It is problematic to concern yourself with focusing on developing leadership skills after they are needed. Setting up leaders to thrive through a development program both prior to and during their tenure is key to the success of your leadership team and business. Training in itself is one source of development, however this learning must be supported and reinforced in practice based on individual situations, needs, understanding and capability. Ongoing support ‘makes the learning real’ within the work environment, reinforcing the content and context provided during
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Gabrielle Dolan - Leadership
We may well be over-complicating the language of leadership and business. Poor communication leads to confusion, mixed-messages and a lack of buy-in from our employees. After attending the Future of Leadership – Workplace Culture conference in Brisbane last week I have been reflecting on the content from some of the speakers. Gabrielle Dolan, in particular, caught my imagination. Not only because she is a very compelling and funny speaker but also because her key points seem so intuitively right. Reduce complex language and jargon. Communicate messages that people understand – tailor to you audience. Be comfortable and confident in your own style. Use stories to embed the key messages. They are all very useful tips that can make a sustained difference to how your teams perform. Gabrielle Dolan: The Future of Leadership Conference, Bris, Sept 2015 One of the ways we can step into real leadership is to move away from corporate jargon and be prepared to share personal stories. Every time we use corporate jargon we disconnect and isolate people as opposed to personal stories that connect and engage people.
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CoachStation: Setting Leaders Up For Success
People get hired or promoted into leadership roles every day. Sadly, when they get the job they may get little or no training on how to lead a team. (1) The opportunity to develop our future leaders before placing them into leadership roles is an obvious one. Building employee skills, capability and awareness to be ready for leadership is ideal, yet is rarely applied well in practice. The first blog I wrote many years ago was titled, Falling Into Leadership. It highlighted the common practice of people being ‘thrust into’ leadership roles without development and support both prior to and during the opportunity. I have written about this topic again since as it is something that continues to challenge many organisations. In fact, the low frequency of leadership support and meaningful development was a core reason why I created my business, CoachStation, in the first place. Too often I saw people being held accountable for our own failures to set them up for leadership success and support our team members to achieve. Based on recent coaching conversations and discussions with clients, it would appear little has
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It’s hard to identify why but there are currently major gaps in leadership, in Australia at least. Actually, it’s not that difficult to understand really. The things we want from work are not that different to what we are looking for from life in general. The difficulty is not in the knowing, it is in the application and doing. It seems that employees in the modern workplace are screaming for a certain style and capability of leadership, but current cultures are challenged in delivering it. The current state of leadership is not what is wanted nor required.   This is hard to write and I am sure is difficult to read for some. We wish it wasn’t the case however, no matter who I speak to either on a personal level or within my professional contacts, there is great frustration and disappointment with the current provision of leadership in business. In fact, there is considerable angst about leadership being portrayed in most areas including government at all levels. Statements and feelings referring to disengagement; indifference; self-interest; ego; fear; incompetence; and
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CoachStation: Leadership, People and Business Development
Not really! The consistently large gap between behaviours, intent, desired culture and reality remains an issue. I was flying home to Brisbane last week and had the opportunity to read the latest ‘Inside HR’ magazine from cover to cover. It is always an interesting read with much that grabs my attention. However on this occasion, by the time I was towards the end of the magazine a theme had started to form in my mind. There were various articles and highlights within the content that rang alarm bells for me. Or maybe it was more that the messages were articulating many of my own recent thoughts more clearly. Let me show you what I mean through various excerpts taken from the magazine: Engaged employees are at least three and a half times more likely than disengaged employees to say their organisation is committed to bringing innovative products and services to the marketplace. Highly engaged employees are nearly six times more likely than disengaged employees to use challenging goals to improve performance, and more than seven times more likely to agree
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CoachStation: Self-awareness and Leadership Development
Does self-awareness and an understanding of leadership impact really matter to organisations? Nearly all managers and people in leadership roles believe they make a difference. In some cases, this is true. In reality however, the evidence continues to demonstrate that leaders overstate their value and influence. One of the core traits observed in the best leaders I have worked with is self-awareness. This is tightly linked to a willingness to be honest with themselves as well as others. There are also points such as decision making beliefs and biases that influence our position on many topics. Our actions are also reinforced by these biases. All the more reason to take a strong position that as a leader it is important to regularly review your own performance as well as that of your team members. We overstate our performance across many fields, so anything that provides a more frank and balanced sense of self is valuable. In a survey of college professors, 94% said they did above average work. In a survey of corporate CEO’s, a whopping 92% said they were
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Steve Riddle was engaged in early 2013 to provide consulting, leadership and people development services and produce a report summarising the strengths and areas for improvement that existed at that time. The approach to undertake this review, prepare the report and provide recommendations was to engage stakeholders at all levels of the business including the contact centre, hardship, complaints teams and relevant people external to the centre. The original consultation period and subsequent review occurred between April and June 2013. A highly consultative and holistic approach was taken to review and examine various areas of the business, as highlighted in this document. Background The contact centre industry has been a key focus and part of business structure for many medium and large organisations for over 30 years. When designed and functioning correctly the centre acts as a hub for existing customers and potential clients to seek additional information; purchase or apply for new business; seek clarification regarding existing products; and often most importantly, act as a single point of customer contact, in an efficient and cost-effective manner. In recent years
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CoachStation: Customer 360 Symposium
Under the remit of my current contracted role as Head of Customer Service for Toyota Finance Australia, I recently attended an event in the Hunter Valley in Australia organised by Ashton Media titled Customer 360 Symposium. The opportunity to mingle and share ideas with like-minded professionals and customer focussed providers was genuinely excellent. There were many takeaways, some of which I felt it relevant to share via my blog as there are key points that relate to culture, leadership and creating an environment that encourages outstanding customer service. I will present much of this as a series of questions, in some cases adding my own thoughts and comments indented in blue font in reply, as applicable. A core benefit of this type of event and my notes below, is the opportunity to be challenged and force reflection regarding our existing processes, practices and beliefs. Hopefully you will also be similarly stimulated. Dr Melis Senova – Huddle Design Has our leadership evolved as fast as our thinking? I am not sure that the issue is how quickly our leadership has evolved
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Personality and Character: CoachStation
Is a strong personality an asset or a hindrance in leadership and how does it compare to character? As is the case when dealing with people, there is no clear-cut right or wrong ‘type’ of personality. The ability to flex styles and meet the needs of various situations is an asset however we all have ingrained preferences, beliefs, characteristics and personalities. A ‘strong’ personality in itself is also neither good nor bad. However when an individual possesses too dominant or overbearing a personality it can certainly challenge relationships in and out of the workplace. I like to think of personality and character as related, yet with significant differences. An online definition of personality references character as if they are the same, or at least heavily influenced by the other. per-son-al-i-ty: noun 1. the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others: He has a pleasing personality. 2. a person as an embodiment of a collection of qualities: He is a curious personality. 3. Psychology: a. the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual;
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CoachStation: Leadership In 2014
This time of year is often associated with resolutions or the idea that changes to what has been the past are required. For me, the idea that a nominal date such as January 1st should be the trigger for self-review and improvement is somewhat skewed. The concept of self-awareness and subsequent desire to be as capable and self-aware as possible is an ongoing effort, or at least, it should be. When it comes to leadership, this ideal is as relevant as ever. As individuals and employees we should feel comfortable with this concept, although I recognise the reality is often somewhat different. Now is a good time to have a look at leadership in general and specifically review how you as a leader are performing against current benchmarks and needs, not those rooted in the past.  What has altered in leadership for 2014? The point that culture and society is evolving means that we as leaders need to keep abreast of cultural, societal, organisational behaviour and workplace adjustments. We are judged on many things including our ability to relate to
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CoachStation: Leadership & Managing Redundancies
These are challenging times! It seems that, at least in Australia, we are yet to fully recover the confidence levels that existed before the financial crisis of a few years ago. This has led to less certainty in sentiment and in some cases, reductions in the workforce. Leadership is imperative at any time, however our recent global and local economic plight brings the importance of leading well to the fore even more starkly. This is no more apparent than when the unfortunate situation arises where members of your team have to be let go, not based on performance but from a financial situation for the company involved. Redundancies are rarely pleasant however, when managed well, the impact for all parties involved can be minimised. Unfortunately, the worst thing to happen to these organisations isn’t the fact that these redundancies take place, it’s the poor leadership which follows the redundancies. Consequences such as reduced productivity and engagement can linger for many months, or even years, especially when the process has not been handled gracefully. (1) I have personally been involved in
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CoachStation: Future Leaders
No matter your political predisposition, country of birth or current location, many of us have seen a dearth of good effective leaders in political circles.   It is not only in private enterprise that we have had the misfortune to see in recent years businesses ignore risk management, develop poor internal cultures and force us to question the value of salaries for some of the most prominent of CEO’s. Unfortunately this is apparent within politics also, particularly in Australia. This is not a blog about political allegiance but rather a side-note to the need for political parties and individual politicians to start to develop a leadership mindset that is consistent with expectations and capabilities of the best organisations. Consistent with this ideal, Labor politician Bob Carr recently made a few interesting points on the ABC Lateline tv show that are worth highlighting. I think we’ve got to take leadership training, tutoring, nurturing, more seriously than we do and every organisation in Australian society you’ve got a commitment to train, to coach, to mentor political leadership. Only the political parties think
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Motivation and Drive
I recently viewed a clip that peaked my interest regarding what motivates us as individuals. On a side note, being quite visual I genuinely enjoy the RSA animate drawings aligned to the content and topic.The author and speaker, Dan Pink, discusses the science of predictability, human nature and motivation. People are not as predictable as is commonly thought. For those of us who have been in leadership roles, this probably resonates strongly, however I challenge each of us to understand how much we have influenced this through our inability or sometimes, unwillingness to truly understand what motivates our team members. Dan refers to two separate studies, one of which has a fascinating finding. It questions the premise that, if we reward something you get more of the behaviour we want and if we punish something or someone, we get less. The relationship of what is commonly understood between reward and behaviour may well be a series of misconceptions. Challenging! Our understanding of motivation and how this drives people is misunderstood, according to the theory, with other factors such as rudimentary
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CoachStation: Questions and Leadership
  The ability to ask the right questions using an approach that is trusted and accepted is one of the great leadership skills. It can lead to greater clarity, direction, understanding and comfort. I was in a Skype meeting with a colleague of mine based in Ontario earlier in the week and we were discussing many things. One of the key themes that we deliberated over was the need to ask and answer ‘the right’ questions, that leads to a result that has clarity and can direct to effective and meaningful action. Let me delve a little further to explain what I mean. As a coach and consultant I am required to help change or improve something, either for an individual client, team or organisation. This is what I do and seems quite clear. However, one of the key challenges that arise is when I am engaged for a purpose that is poorly understood and is not clearly articulated with any depth. This can sound like, “We know something needs to change, but we have not thought through how you
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In leadership and relationships, it is often the small gestures and words that make all the difference.     I have often been surprised at the number of times I have been reminded of my words and gestures from the past, how they have remained in people’s minds and in some cases had influence in their thinking and on their actions. To be honest, this has not always been in a positive sense, with mistakes and errors in judgment coming back to haunt me at various stages of my life as well. But this blog is more about the positive aspects of our words and gestures. In my last 6 years of full-time work for GE I had the pleasure of working with another leader, Luke, who I was able to help support, influence and develop, as he did me. We spoke about many things and subjects during this time including the importance of connecting with others. We regularly reminded each other of the content of previous conversations and the phrases used, providing opportunity to delve deeper and reflect upon
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LinkedIn Leadership Poll Nov 2012 Results Screenshot
Late last year I ran a poll via LinkedIn asking the question: what is the most important leadership trait, skill or attribute that you would like to see developed and improved in 2013? I was very pleased with the number of responses, receiving 226 votes. What was most satisfying was the effort many people put into the supporting comments of which 49 added to their vote with their thoughts. There are many well-balanced, thoughtful and insightful people in my network and I thank you all for taking the time to add to the discussion. I will add that the 3 or 4 foolish people who took the time to repeatedly add very little constructive thought and feel the need to use domains such as LinkedIn polls to vent and argue with each other about trivialities is disappointing and diminishes the process for others. I do not understand it, however recognise that some people really do miss the point when it comes to value-add and sharing. Thankfully they are in the minority. For the vast majority who voted and left comments,
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Like many of you, I have spent some time over the past weeks reflecting on 2012 and planning for next year. As cliche’d as it may be, the years do seem to be passing more and more quickly, although I feel this is a reflection of our lifestyles and a symptom of the modern world. It has been a year of significant change for me, as I took the step to leave full-time employment and work full time in and on my consulting and leadership development businesses, CoachStation and Telework Management. Pleasingly, I have never been so comfortable and content with my current and future work situation. Beyond my family, one of my great joys is writing and I have taken much pleasure from the blogs constructed in 2012. It dawned on me today that if our favourite music artists can take their best songs and make a compilation then there is nothing stopping me from doing the same…any excuse will do! This blog highlights some of the best ‘bits’ as highlighted by my readers and my personal favourite statements
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Do we forget how important leadership is in business?     Over the weekend I read an article in our local paper titled, Investing in the Forgotten Heroes, by Carla Jenkin. The premise for the article is the importance of the role of ‘middle-managers’ and the level of support and training they receive. Carla wrote: Middle managers are the ones that keep the cogs turning and ensure the job gets done, not the chief executive. They are often not getting the support or training required so that they can maximise operations, as more senior managers tend to get the company-sponsored education opportunities…more businesses need to look at how their middle managers can be supported if they are to effectively lead people and manage the success of operations. U.S. research reveals that only 15 percent of an organisation’s performance is because of the influence of its chief executive. Middle managers often feel the squeeze to lead and support their employees while implementing and overseeing directives from those above them in the hierarchy. They are less likely to be given training unless
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CoachStation: Employees, Strengths, Diversity and Relationships
Ask yourself: “am I particularly efficient…or am I effective in what I do and the decisions that I make?” Self-reflection, taking into account many factors is important to continue to produce improvement and awareness about what is going well and what you would like to change about who you are and what you do. In my most recent role as a national leader within a global organisation I had many responsibilities and tasks assigned to my role. I was also in the fortunate position to have a degree of flexibility and freedom in my direction and subsequently, that of my team. Last year there was a leadership change within my team, which had its pros and cons. However, I did find that I had less opportunity to genuinely contribute my ideas and felt significantly less valued and comfortable in my role as a result. My point is not to judge the leadership decisions, more of how this made me react internally and the choices I made during this period. I found great value in self-reflection (in some cases my unconscious
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I have walked that long road to freedom I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.” (Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born 1918, South African lawyer, statesman and 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner, from Mandela’s inspirational 1994 book, Long Walk to Freedom.)   Although it is hard for any of us to truly imagine what the life of Nelson Mandela must be like, I am certain that his ability to make decisions has much depth, balance and complexity. Many of these choices have been made at the expense of his own freedom and self-interest but were choices that were Nelson Mandela’s
CoachStation: HR and Administration
Teleworking, Remote Management, Virtual Leadership – no matter how it is described, the need to provide leadership outside of the traditional work environment is becoming more prevalent each year. Teleworking and the associated challenges and benefits of leading a team who may not be located in the same site, is becoming more prominent in business as a result of technology, recognised cost-savings and employee attitudes. There are many potential benefits, however it adds significantly to the requirement for leaders to be even more effective in how they operate and to continue to develop new skills within the modern work environment. Leading remotely can add to the challenge of building a team with the structural reality of many modern businesses and organisations requiring distributed or virtual teams. Technology, globalisation, organisational expectations and culture, management and leadership styles, along with many other factors must be taken into account. The leader in today’s environment should be able to strategise and connect, developing and connecting with their team in a meaningful, engaged and results-oriented manner. In a recent article titled Out Of Office, the
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Providing a level of customer experience that ensures your customers ‘feel’ the difference between your business and competitors is crucial to success. A key element to be able to make this a reality rather than a pipe-dream is how many of your employees and particularly leaders ‘live the reality’. Discussing customer experience (CE) as a core part of business culture genuinely reinforces the messages – but not if this is felt by a few, not the many. Effective business leaders should always know that they are building a culture and understanding with all employees that the customer matters. This cannot be achieved through empty words, sound bites or a shallow attempt at driving a customer-centric organisation. CE can be incredibly complex and very simple at the same time. I wonder whether the proliferation of data and new technology is being used to best advantage. Whether we accept the implications of technology and the modern version of customer experience goes a long way to building a customer-centric culture. Taking meaningful steps based on a company-wide strategy that is reinforced through leadership,
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CoachStation: Leadership
In my front garden is a small bush. As we enter the early stages of Spring, it has come into full bloom. The plant is covered in bunches of small, white, delicate flowers. I can see the bush from my office and often enjoy the view of our garden. Under my office window is a bench seat that I made last year using the original wood from a patio that we pulled down in our backyard. It is one of my favourite places to sit. One beautiful Spring day last week I was sitting on the bench watching the bees, literally hundreds of them, flitting from flower to flower. I watched them for 20 minutes or so working very studiously collecting nectar and doing what bees do….and it got me thinking. How different are our businesses and organisations, the expectations of tasks and designated roles to that required of bees? I imagine if I followed the bees back to their hives and was able to peer into the inner workings that I would not see: Ineffective meetings being held with
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CoachStation: Learning, Education and Ken Robinson
My wife sent me an email with a link to the Top 20 TedTalks since 2006, ranked by ‘views’. I watched the number 1 on the list by Sir Ken Robinson (>13m) and was so impressed and inspired I felt compelled to share with the remaining 6 billion people who are yet to watch his presentation (well, those who read my blogs may be a little lower in numbers, but it’s a start!). I must confess I had never heard of Sir Ken previously, however, quite simply, his TedTalk is a must see! His views regarding learning, children and where we are getting it wrong are unique and thought-provoking. There are many outcomes that we are seeing as adults that link back to our childhoods and early education. There are also many key statements made that we can take away and apply to our own learning and application. Effective leaders will relate to many of these points. I have also highlighted a few of the key quotes, for those who may wish to recap after viewing the talk – I
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CoachStation: Simon Sinek
I am a keen advocate of the core messages in Simon Sinek’s book and TedTalks. I am sure you will take something of value away from them too. Start with the blog by Colleen Sharen… You Gotta Read This Book: Start With Why
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