September 18, 2012

CoachStation Blog

How many of these traits are part of your own world?
Effective leadership is neither easy nor a given – it takes effort, practice, ongoing learning & persistence: Steve Riddle The rewards that stem from being an effective leader are difficult to articulate or describe to someone who has never felt them. I have recently started reading the outstanding book, The Truth About Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. The premise for the book is that the authors have identified ten ‘Truths’ that form the core elements of effective leadership identified over years of research. In the introduction Kouzes and Posner highlight that, “…as much as the context of leadership has changed, the content of leadership has not changed at all (since we first started studying leadership). The fundamental behaviors, actions, and practices of leaders have remained essentially the same since we first began researching and writing about leadership over three decades ago. Much has changed, but there’s a whole lot more that’s stayed the same”. (1) This is an interesting point, possibly an obvious one to those who have been practicing the art of leadership and attempting
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Last year I was introduced to a simple, yet powerful concept describing the breakdown of how a person in charge of people or a process (manager and/or leader) should spend their time. It is powerful in that it encourages all of us to reflect on where we are dedicating our time within our roles and possibly make a conscious decision to change, if necessary. The percentages are an indicative reflection of where the balance of time should be spent if you wish to be an effective leader. The power of this simple tool develops from each of us assessing where we actually spend our time as leaders of people. In my experience many of us spend much of our time in the first two categories i.e. ‘Doing the Job’ and ‘Managing’. In fact, one of my key coaching philosophies relates to the idea that the differences between managing and leading can be clearly delineated by understanding how much time an individual spends in the first two categories (Doing the Job and Managing) compared to the latter two (Leading and Coaching).
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An individual taking on a leadership role is often something that has ‘just happened’. Being a genuine leader does not come from the role and title designated to you but rather from your decision-making, inclusiveness, delegation skills, ability to communicate and other, well-recognised and documented traits. Many of these traits can be learned and enhanced through proper coaching. Does this story mean anything to you? You started in a company at a lower level. Opportunity presented itself in the form of a chance to step-up temporarily or permanently into a role providing more money, esteem, credibility or some other perceived benefit. You jumped at it! Of course, along with all of the benefits the role also came with much higher expectation…that of others and your self. You worked hard…things went fairly well but you didn’t really feel supported to truly excel. You wanted to be the best operator so didn’t ask many questions  – after all, asking questions shows that you were not ready for the promotion in the first place, doesn’t it? “Better to bite your tongue and work your
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I often wonder what it is about processes that many managers have a need to see as entirely separate from their people. Similarly to my previously documented thoughts regarding the key differences between leaders and managers, the ‘need’ to focus solely on the process is often due to the conscious or unconscious decision to concentrate time and energy on the simpler or more controllable part of the equation. Unfortunately for those leaders with this mindset, unless you are in a pure process driven environment (which is rarer than many people think unless/until robots take over our world!), this leaves out the core reason why these processes often fail – a focus on our people! People, Process & Culture The ability to bring individuals and team members into the process is key to project success or meaningful outcomes. Engaging the people and teams involved, communicating the context and being specific about why the process exists or change is required, will often be the deciding factor between process success and failure. Rarely will a process in itself be the difference – it
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I was recently fortunate enough to be invited to participate on a panel in my workplace focusing on work-life balance – a phrase that is possibly overused and misunderstood and a term that I have read conflicting opinions on in recent months. The panel forum consisted of a number of employees in the audience and 4 panel member’s, including myself, who each pitched out their own thoughts on the topic and then received questions from the audience. It was a very interesting exercise as I found that each of our situations was quite different. Whereas we may have been in similar roles at work, our roles and focus at home was quite varied regarding how we manage our time and the choices we make. However, there were some consistent themes that carried over between speakers. My view is that work-life balance is an extremely important facet of my life. I have significant responsibility in my role – something I take quite seriously, particularly the support, satisfaction and growth of my team. However, nothing is more important to me than my
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Why is it that people are prepared to spend time practicing learning an instrument, language, sporting skill or similar but are less willing to apply lengthy practice schedules in developing leadership skills? As part of my various roles, I often facilitate leadership training in a group setting and conduct coaching and mentoring sessions with attendees. It’s not always the case, however the one-on-one session content often refers back to the leadership training itself. This is powerful in that training rarely leads to lasting change in itself – something most of us already know. Reinforcing the knowledge gained through practice and support is a key. The opportunity to reflect internally and share with your coach or mentor adds weight to the ‘stickability’ of the training concept, content and the growth in ability for the budding leader. The age-old leadership question remains – are leaders born or taught – nature or nurture? I am not seeking to answer this today, however the question relates. If you subscribe to the theory that leadership is predominantly learned, then it is natural to assume that
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