September 18, 2012

CoachStation Blog

This week I attended the IQPC Customer Experience Management Conference in Sydney. I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a guest speaker during the Focus Day on Monday and many other speakers have shared their thoughts and presentations over the three days. Although the conference theme was based around Customer Experience, there have been many great quotes and comments regarding leadership, business and culture that are worth sharing. This blog highlights a few of the key points that I felt were most relevant and resonated with my own values and passions. Thank you to all the speakers for sharing! How are you choosing to challenge what has been done previously? Don’t accept the reasonable reasons from the past. Our employees want to know their leaders and what they care about. Gordon Ballantyne, Telstra ============= Leadership cannot be outsourced to HR. Be disciplined: celebrate short-term but don’t forget your ultimate goal. Dirk Hofman, Nokia ============= The empowered customer is now in control of the business relationship. 90% of effort is used collecting and collating data and 10% actually using it – it should
This week I am attending the IQPC Customer Experience Management Conference in Sydney. I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a guest speaker during the Focus Day on Monday and presented on the subject of ‘Building Customer Experience Frameworks From The Inside Out’. The comments and quotes highlight some of my key themes and concepts that I feel are most important when developing a Customer Experience philosophy and strategy: Unless your business sees Customer Experience as a culture, not a tool, then your customers will feel the pain of what is not being provided by your customer-facing employees. Leaders should create a culture of employee engagement, empowerment and buy-in that ensures your customers benefit. When we get our leadership mantra right…our employees care about their roles and our customers ‘feel’ the difference. The so-called soft-skills that differentiate management from leadership are most commonly the key to driving the change in our employees that we are looking for. Leadership is not a tick-the-box exercise. Effective leadership, relationship-building, coaching, connecting, understanding employee motivations, empowerment are all possible – but they take considerable strategy,
Richard Branson recently stated that coaching senior managers can be difficult for various reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty in finding an uninterrupted period of time to conduct and review. In Part 1 I noted the first three guidelines Richard Branson highlighted in a recent article in the Business Review Weekly magazine titled, 7 Rules For Managers, focusing on effective leadership, coaching and empowering leaders.This post concludes the guidelines, consisting of the final four points. Who’s In Charge? It’s Up To You? A good manager provides clear roles for members of his team, which enables everyone to get on with the job of running the business. Once you’ve made these choices, do not micromanage. If you make a habit of diving in and changing a major project’s direction or otherwise intervening, your employees will learn to be dependent on you, and they will not reach their full potential. CoachStation Thoughts: Setting key objectives for yourself, your team and business is important to ensure a focus on the aims and strategy is maintained. Providing context and standards allows
Sir Richard Branson at the eTalk Festival Party, during the Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Richard Branson recently stated that coaching senior managers can be difficult for various reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty in finding an uninterrupted period of time to conduct and review. Branson and his senior leaders spend time together each year at his home on Necker Island to discuss the opportunities and challenges the Virgin business group and leaders currently face. I am certain this is a great opportunity to solve the business issues, share and learn from each other, however equally sure this is only part of the development story for individuals and future of the Virgin group and other companies in general. Sharing and learning from others is one aspect of coaching and leadership development, however knowing something or having additional information about a situation or about oneself does not equate to a change in behaviour or enhanced skill in application. The purpose of this blog is to draw upon and respond to a set of guidelines Richard Branson
Gwyn has tapped into a couple of key areas that we should all be aware of – ‘keeping it real’ and making assumptions…
I recently read an outstanding article titled ‘The Why (and How) of Employee Engagement‘. It incorporates an interview with Kevin Kruse, entrepreneur and CEO of Kru Research and co-author, along with Rudy Karsan, of We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement. I am particularly interested in this topic as it is often one of the key differences between those in charge who are managing and those who are leading. Employee engagement is a large topic with many inputs. On a one-to-one level or team level the connections made form part of the engagement story. There are many interesting points made in the article, notably the need to apply the same rigor and analysis to engagement as we would any other area of management by measuring its success, holding leaders accountable and examining employees’ motivation at work. (1) The leader who is effective in their role recognises that connection between people occurs through more than just the words used. A bond is formed that can be difficult to explain, but has many benefits, both for the people involved
CoachStation: Coaching and Leadership
A few questions that I have been recently pondering. How do you know that you have leadership credentials? What gives us the right to lead others? How do we know if our leadership is effective – how is leadership development success measured?   I had a coffee last week with Steve, someone who I was meeting with for the first time. Overall the meeting went well and we discussed many thoughts, concepts, real-life scenarios and philosophies regarding work culture and leadership. We covered background information and work history, along with discussion about values and motivations. Overall, it was a fantastic discussion and I felt a natural level of affiliation with Steve as we held many similar views. During our chat though, he asked a great question. Considering my passion for leadership development it is a great point – possibly the most relevant question to be asked and it is something that I have thought about since. What qualifications or credentials do I have that allow me to focus on leadership development? I explained that I have formal qualifications and regularly
I love my family. I am very proud of my three daughters. I am also pleased that my wife, Julie, and I (almost always!!!) share a similar view on raising our girls. Like any parents, we want our girls to be healthy, happy and able to cope with the many challenges life offers, whilst maximise the joy in their lives, now and in the future. Julie and I set high standards. We are consistent. We love our girls. We lead…and we are developing our daughter’s accordingly. Leadership is not a title…it is a series of attitudes, developed skills and related actions. Julie and I discuss values with our daughter’s, particularly as our eldest, Maddy, is about to turn 10 – I do wonder where that decade has gone? We do not take this all for granted, regularly assessing and re-assessing where we are at in our relationships and development of our girls. But we cannot do it ourselves. We are so very fortunate to have a great family support network who are always there for us and share our pains
A great summary of key points that I am sure more than one will apply to every reader. Quit and Stayed – what an excellent theme that is well worth exploring.
An excellent blog from Colleen regarding a theme that I am sure will resonate with many leaders – situational leadership, self-awareness and ability to apply.
Do you truly understand the difference between strategic and tactical thinking and application? If so, do you understand enough about the similarities and differences to create aligned goals, apply meaningful actions and ensure that one leads effortlessly to the other? Many a plan or process has failed due to a lack of clear direction and early identification of the problem to be solved, leading to a poor concept of the strategies required. The subject of strategy is vast and complex. This blog highlights that there is power in understanding what strategic thinking is and its necessary alignment to the tactical tasks and practical choices we make every day. In this instance, a useful definition of strategy is, “A word of military origin (which) refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked” (1). This is a relevant point – although business is obviously different to the military, the context of
With this evening’s win by Australia in the Asian Cup Football, it is timely to share a blog I wrote a couple of years ago after seeing and hearing Ange Postecoglou speak. He was then and is now a very inspiring leader. So much so that he has turned our national team around in a very short period…leading to tonight’s win. His thoughts and words regarding team, leadership and culture are just as relevant in business as they are in sport. I was fortunate to attend an evening hosted by one of my local football clubs on Friday night. The guest speaker was Ange Postecoglou, head coach of our local nationally based football (soccer) side, the Brisbane Roar. Ange has represented Australia playing football and has successfully transitioned into coaching ranks. Ange was able to offer significant insight into his own style and the great success his club has had in recent seasons. There were several points about leadership and team culture that particularly resonated for me. A selection of the key points raised by Ange are highlighted below, followed
Does an employee have the right to clear expectations? Or, is it the employee’s responsibility to ask if they are unclear about any aspect of their role. As leader’s should we just expect that the clarity and details will come in time – it’s not like there is an expectation of high performance on day 1..or day 10..or day…? Or, is there never an expectation of high performance? There should be! Earlier this week I read a blog on the Leaders Beacon website (thanks Colleen Sharen) providing insight into expectation setting. It got me thinking. How well do we as leaders really set clear expectations? Do we induct our new employees effectively? Is this even on the radar of leaders or central to business planning and strategy? Do we consider business requirements, measurement and regularly review these aspects for our longer-tenured team member’s? Fair questions for leaders…not so great a reality. Expectation setting is more than providing a broad brush-stroke of requirements as highlighted in a position description document. It is also not simply a high-level group of role requirements that
I have had many discussions over the years with various leaders about emotions and their place in business. For the most part we have agreed to disagree! Having emotions is being human…showing emotions is normal…being overly emotional, adds little value at work.
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
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).
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
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
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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