Leadership coaching and mentoring can be the difference for managers.

Managers who are often challenged by expectations of meeting and exceeding goals; achieving KPI’s; leading teams and many other aspects of creating and sustaining successful business. Consistently, evidence and research suggests that the biggest challenge for managers is leading and influencing people. Influencing others is core to the leadership component of the role and the single greatest influence on achieving team/business goals and outcomes.

Yet, genuinely leading team members and employees remains something that is often feared and somewhat avoided.

Very few managers instinctively or innately understand all of the elements of leadership and most struggle in this space to some degree. If you have read this far, it is probably because you are relating these points to your current manager or maybe when leading others yourself. The good news; this is incredibly common.

Related: Coaching Leaders – Learning to Lead

CoachStation was created to assist in these exact scenarios. Being competent and confident to lead and manage is not ‘automatic’ just because you have been given the role and title. However, these skills, attributes and leadership capability can be learned. It starts with you.

Fearing the outcomes because you are not focusing on the inputs and things that can be controlled is both ineffective and inefficient…not to mention, stressful!

 

I have been fortunate to have assisted in the development of well over 300 clients in the last 8 years, through leadership and workplace coaching and mentoring. Very few clients cannot and do not become more effective as leaders, through focused and tailored coaching. That is the power of targeted development.

CoachStation: Leadership Is About Giving

Most recently I completed a leadership coaching and mentoring program with two managers working in the public service sector. Tanya and Steve were great coachees. They owned their actions and were keen to practice the art and science of leadership on a daily basis.

Steve and Tanya were very kind in giving me a gift to show appreciation, which was a lovely surprise. This can be seen in the photo of the framed quote above. A highly relevant statement for the nature of coaching, yet just as relevant in leadership.

Their comments and feedback provide a relevant and interesting insight into the benefits that can be gained through participating in a leadership coaching and mentoring program. They are worth reading, as coaching may be an option for you and context and insight of others can be very powerful.

The opportunity to embark on a coaching and mentoring relationship with Steve Riddle through CoachStation came at an extremely fortuitous time for me. I had been feeling overwhelmed with my work, was becoming increasingly disengaged and was struggling with aspects of my leadership role.

Working with Steve gave me an accountability for ownership of my behaviour, standards and expectations.

Steve is an extremely knowledgeable and effective coach; he listens and understands providing support, resources and guidance. It is no magic trick though, there is hard work to be done. Some of the sessions were quite challenging; as a self-proclaimed perfectionist it can be a little uncomfortable to self-assess and reflect honestly.

However the growth and development I experienced through the program is invaluable and ongoing. The process was just what I needed to re-focus and re-energise.

Under Steve’s genuine and engaging coaching style, I have worked to improve my communication as a leader, streamlined my work processes so that I am working more efficiently and I have a much deeper understanding of my personal values and their influence on my behaviour. These changes have permeated into my personal life. I also feel more assertive, organised and in control in aspects outside of work. Thank you Steve for helping me get there in such a positive and meaningful way.

If you (like me) always read the internet reviews in order to make decisions…and are wondering whether CoachStation is right for you and/or your business, I strongly encourage you to take the step.

Tanya T, Leader

The points made by Tanya about her coaching experience are just as applicable in leadership as coaching. Skills and attributes such as accountability, behaviour, setting expectations, understanding personal values and listening skills all form the core of effective leadership, just as they do when coaching. Along with the other points made, they also provide a ‘self-check’ for a leader (you?) to assess your performance.


I have worked with Steve for the last 6 months. During this time Steve has challenged me in the areas that I needed to be challenged in whilst allowing me to add growth to the areas that I felt I was already quite proficient. Steve is down to earth, has the experience to relate to the scenarios that I have raised and has provided the guidance and coaching that has allowed me to achieve the results that I set out to achieve in those situations.

After 6 sessions with Steve, I can absolutely say that I am more effective in not only my professional life but also in my home life.

Steve B, Leader

Steve mentioned being challenged during his coaching process. To be able to find the balance in challenging someone, without that becoming the focus of the moment is a useful skill.

I often refer to a ‘supported challenge’ as opposed to an ‘unsupported challenge’. When someone feels that you are focusing on them rather than the point, it can feel personal. Then there is a risk of avoidance or blame. Either way this is not an effective methodology.

Steve also mentioned that the benefits have been felt just as much in his personal life as in the workplace. This makes sense to those who have participated in coaching. It is difficult and unnecessary to separate these two aspects of our lives. The coachee is the common denominator and all parts of their lives are positively impacted through development.


Leaders can be developed. The examples and evidence are many, as with Tanya and Steve. Organisational cultures can be improved too. Targeted 1:1 leadership and management coaching is the most effective and meaningful method of development for most leaders and organisations.

If you have been thinking about developing your leadership and management skills, now may be a good time to do something about it. We are very experienced in coaching and mentoring within the workplace.

Contact CoachStation to discuss your leadership coaching and development options.

CoachStation: Leadership Development, Coaching, Consulting and Mentoring
Read other client comments and stories to see if you may be able to gain similar benefits from leadership coaching and mentoring.

 
Read related: 7 Tips for First-Time Managers: How to Succeed as a New Manager

Understanding what your employees want, who they are and what they are naturally good at provides a solid platform for success: personally, professionally and organisationally.

Helping your employees by taking the time to find out these things is good leadership.

A gap exists between what employees want and what leaders deliver. So, what is this difference, between what has proven to work, what should leaders be doing and what actually happens in most organisations? Well, there are books and books covering this topic, but my experiences highlight two points:

  1. The need for focus on strengths
  2. Diversity and differences that naturally exist between people.

Most staff want to have an inclusive culture in the workplace where differences are valued and people can share their opinions. Hay’s Staff Engagement: Ideas for Action report finds 93% pf workers want to be a part of a workplace in which there is diversity in thought. Employers agree, with 87% saying it is important to them to ensure staff feel like they have a voice and can share their opinions at work, although 43% of them admit they can do more to facilitate it. (1)
Which leads to the question, what are the most important skills today’s leaders need to cultivate? They have to recognise that this is a tougher leadership challenge than ever before…you can’t fly by the seat of your pants anymore. You have to be incredibly tough-minded about standards of performance, but you also have to be incredibly tenderhearted with the people you’re working with. They have to feel like you have their back. If they feel like a victim of your leadership, they’ll go elsewhere.
The second principle is that the soft stuff is the hard stuff. Most people that derail as leaders in the corporate world, it’s not because they couldn’t do the math and calculate return on investment properly. The issues are communication and understanding. All of what typically would’ve been called the “soft stuff.” You have to be authentic. You have to be dialled into the soft stuff. Your EQ (Emotional Quotient) has to keep up with your IQ. (2)

The need for focus on strengths:

Focusing on employees’ strengths does more than engage workers and enrich their lives: it also makes good business sense. Gallup recently completed a large study of companies that have implemented strengths-based management practices…e.g. having employees complete the Clifton Strengths assessment, incorporating strengths-based developmental coaching, positioning employees to do more of what they do best every day, and the like.
The study examined the effects those interventions had on workgroup performance. It included 49,495 business units with 1.2 million employees across 22 organizations in seven industries and 45 countries. Gallup focused on six outcomes: sales, profit, customer engagement, turnover, employee engagement, and safety.
On average, workgroups that received a strengths intervention improved on all of these measures by a significant amount compared with control groups that received less-intensive interventions or none at all. Ninety percent of the workgroups that implemented a strengths intervention of any magnitude saw performance increases at or above the ranges shown below. Even at the low end, these are impressive gains.

  • 10%-19% increase in sales
  • 14%-29% increase in profit
  • 3%-7% increase in customer engagement
  • 9%-15% increase in engaged employees
  • 6- to 16-point decrease in turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 26- to 72-point decrease in turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 22%-59% decrease in safety incidents. (3)
Research shows that it is easier to develop your strengths than to develop your weaknesses. 

If you reflect on and consider this statement, it is reasonably obvious and intuitive. Yet, is it what we reinforce culturally and do in practice? Not usually!
Figures show that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to the Gallup organisation. This low number has barely budged since they began reporting engagement worldwide in 2009 – highlighting that the vast majority of workplaces have failed to engage their employees. Why isn’t engagement improving? Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement across business units.
Disengaged workforces are a global problem; and the costs are high. Companies motivate their employees with incentives and unique perks, but none of those approaches address the deeper issue of why employees are so disengaged. The answer is organisational culture and leadership. The formal and informal values, behaviors, beliefs and leadership capability present in an organisation. Very few companies intentionally focus on culture and dedicate enough time to developing effective leaders. (4)

Effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and build upon each person’s strengths. Yet, in most cases, leadership teams are a product of circumstance more than design – Tom Rath & Barrie Conchie, Strengths Based Leadership

The key is to discover what traits and talents are most natural for each of us and then build upon these, to make them strengths. We look at this another way. You cannot ignore weaknesses and areas for development. It is never the case that all of the natural talents and strengths make up all of your role requirements. But, this should not stop you working from your positions of strengths where possible. It is much more likely that you will have passion, interest and commitment working with strengths that you are more comfortable with rather than areas of less talent.

However, when assessing performance most organisations and managers focus on the 10-20% that it isn’t rather than the 80-90% that it is.

Strengths Based Leadership and Engaging EmployeesThis is particularly prevalent during annual appraisals and demonstrated by less experienced leaders in coaching and 1:1 sessions. Organisations are regularly held to ransom by their appraisal systems and the assumed conversations that occur. Unfortunately, the fact that most leaders and employees see the systems as roadblocks and necessary rather than beneficial is a poor start.
The nature of appraisal programs is that the conversations focus more on trying to explain why the employee is not a higher rating than they have been given. A few carefully placed questions and displaying care for the employee and process will shift the onus:

  • Concentrate more on what each employee is able to do well and has contributed to the business.
  • Ask your employees to self-assess and gauge their own performance before providing your thoughts and comment.
  • Blend these points with clearly set expectations and goal setting to provide context and accountability.
  • Thinking about and discussing what the next 6-12 months looks like is key to engaging and providing clarity.

The result is a greater likelihood of appraisals actually adding value.

Diversity and the differences that naturally exist between people:

There are many benefits to working collaboratively and most importantly, understanding other people. In my experience diversity is most commonly a barrier in teams. It affects relationships and is often defined as a ‘personality clash’. It is rarely that simplistic, but is more commonly based around little effort and emphasis on team mates getting to know one another.
Recognising the value each person offers can lead to greater creativity and improved business productivity. Diversity of thought is starting to gain a lot of attention since a workplace that respects and encourages a different way of thinking works more innovatively to bring new ideas to the table. Each individual possesses a range of qualities, traits and backgrounds that influences the way that they think. (1)
A lot of the principles associated with leading a large organisation are unchanged since the advent of the study of leadership. What’s changed is the environment in which people are being challenged to lead. There are two overwhelming forces that are touching everything we deal with now. The first one is the explosion of information. The speed at which business is being conducted is exponentially faster than ever before in the history of enterprise.
The other explosive change is the advent of diversity. You have gender diversity, ethnic diversity, geographic diversity, diversity of lifestyle, and probably the most profound one is the diversity of generations. We have four to five generations working right now. Those two things coming together create enormous stress. Leaders have to deal with that. (2)

Individual leaders and team’s must take the time to increase their own Emotional Intelligence, self-awareness and acknowledgment of the differences between people.
This will reduce or remove the barriers and issues that exist between team members.

The fact is that if you want to build teams or organisations capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations. Even simply being exposed to diversity can change the way you think. (5)
The challenge is that acknowledgement and action takes time and effort. Effective leaders engage their team members regularly, not just talk about it or wish it was different. When you more fully understand why others do and say things, the results are:

  • reduced assumption
  • acceptance of differences without necessarily having to agree
  • less negative judgement and more tolerance
  • a solid platform for working more effectively and openly
  • stronger relationships, that have purpose.

To achieve productivity, teams require an environment that reduces feelings of disconnection and maximises collaboration, connection and engagement amongst all involved.
To be an effective and useful leader requires clear focus and action. This focus can be enhanced by learning what is important to each employee, understanding their strengths and acknowledging that the differences between people can be an advantage.

References:
(1) Work Culture, Cara Jenkin: Courier Mail, Saturday 3/9/16
(2) http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-25/conant-what-derails-most-ceos-is-the-soft-stuff
(3) https://hbr.org/2016/09/developing-employees-strengths-boosts-sales-profit-and-engagement
(4) http://www.gallup.com
(4) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/

Values continue to be an important part of our lives.

But do you know what your core personal values are and understand how they impact you and those closest to you?

Personal values continue to be important for many reasons, both at work and at home. It is more relevant than ever to continue to elaborate on this core aspect of your motivations, decision-making process and behaviours.

I have written about values beforeUnderstanding your own set of personal values can be a powerful tool. Increased self-awareness and knowledge of what is most important to you can help to identify how you act. They also help you to discover what motivations drive you and why you react to particular events or situations more than others.

CoachStation: Personal Values and Leadership Development

Picture Source: Verne Ho, Unsplash

 

Situations, leaders and cultures sometimes challenge your values. Often in the workplace and in relationships we are asked to compromise on those things that matter most to us.

Too much compromise however, can make you feel as though something fundamental is amiss.

Your personal values are a central part of who you are – and who you want to be. By becoming more aware of these important factors in your life, you can use them as a guide to make the best choice in any situation. Some of life’s decisions are really about determining what you value most.

They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.

When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you’re satisfied and content. But when these don’t align with your personal values, that’s when things feel… wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness. This is why making a conscious effort to identify your values is so important. (1)

Watch our latest CoachStation Leadership video below to learn more about personal values…

References:

(1) What Are Your Values?: MindTools

Why do you do what you do?
Understanding your purpose, what motivates you and most importantly using this knowledge to advantage is key to your success, both professionally and personally.
 CoachStation: Reflection on Purpose

My eldest daughter, Maddy, is currently in year 9. One of her elective subjects this year is Business and as part of the curriculum Maddy was asked to interview a business owner to better understand why, how and what was required to set up the business. I am proud that she chose our business for many reasons.

Firstly, it is an opportunity for Maddy to fully understand what I do and why I do it. This is important for any parent and child but possibly even more so as I work from home and I do sometimes wonder if our daughters find what I do a bit of a mystery! This has provided an opportunity for us to spend time together with purpose, but with a different context than much of the rest of our relationship, which has been fun. Finally, it has forced me to think about and clearly articulate answers to the excellent questions that Maddy had developed.

The process had other benefits. It encouraged additional reflection on my purpose, both personally and through my business, CoachStation, while both answering the questions and in the few weeks since. It provided the opportunity to delve more deeply into my initial answers on the importance of knowing why I do what I do and how that influences my direction and future focus – a process I encourage you to do too!

If you have not had the opportunity to view or read any of Simon Sinek’s material regarding marketing and to ‘Start with Why‘, I highly recommend you spend a few minutes doing so. Interestingly though, I have found that his key concept has as much bearing on how we see ourselves as it does with tangible things such as businesses. Knowing your purpose and why we do what we do matters…both in business and in our personal lives.

What does that even mean? To explain this concept, Sinek has developed what he calls the “Golden Circle,”. The golden circle has three layers:

  1. Why – This is the core belief of the business. It’s why the business exists.
  2. How – This is how the business fulfills that core belief.
  3. What – This is what the company does to fulfill that core belief.

Sounds simple, but what Sinek found is that most companies do their marketing backwards. They start with their “what” and then move to “how” they do it. Most of these companies neglect to even mention why they do what they do. More alarmingly, many of them don’t even know why they do what they do! (1)

When developing, maintaining and growing my business, I have focused heavily on the ‘why’. Similarly, during my coaching and mentoring sessions with clients, I find myself asking the same questions. Not everyone can answer these easily, however. Understanding your passions, why you do what you do and your core beliefs will help you understand not only who you are, but help to drive your future goals and direction.

It is my story that I would like to share via an abbreviated version of Maddy’s case study questions and my answers. When working with my clients it is this type of understanding that comes from increasing self-awareness and honesty with self that is the baseline for development and growth. Possibly through answering the same questions, there may be a similar opportunity for greater knowledge of yourself and your purpose.

Knowing why CoachStation exists has been paramount to my success to date. I am sure it will be in the future also. As is always the case when writing my blogs, I hope that this information inspires you to think more about not only what you do but why you do it. Let me know how you go.

     Could you summarise what CoachStation offers and does in a few sentences?                         

CoachStation helps people and businesses to become more effective and efficient in what they do. We do this by developing awareness, skills and capability at an individual, business and organisation level. CoachStation provides consulting and business advisory, coaching / mentoring and human resource related offerings. Ultimately, CoachStation focuses on the people side of business.

     When did CoachStation start?

I started building CoachStation (website, social media etc.) in 2010 and started full time work in the business in 2012. However, the real creation of the concept was being developed throughout the previous 14-15 years as I became more aware of my capability, passions and the need to develop more effective leaders. I often feel like it has been a 25 year apprenticeship to this point.

     What roles have you previously been in that have added to your expertise that allowed you to set up CoachStation?

I have been a leader throughout my whole career which started in late teens when I was fortunate enough to be provided with an opportunity to participate in a two-year supervisor traineeship with a large retailer in Adelaide. This meant from a young age I knew that leading, not just managing and working with people was something I would always pursue. My career from that point has almost always been in leadership roles within the retail, hospitality, finance and contact centre industries in Australia and overseas. My last two senior roles were as National Customer Experience Leader with GE Money and Head of Customer Service for Toyota Finance Australia.

     Do you think that your previous work history had a significant role in your thought processes leading up to the setting up of CoachStation?

Yes. As I mentioned previously, the work and experience gained from over 25 years of employment led me to this point. Certainly as with all of my roles, each opportunity honed my skills, provided exposure and built acumen. Although it may have taken a different form, I believe that coaching and consulting was always the ‘end game’ and I would have still have ended up here. Being exposed to the business environment helped to drive me and you only have to speak to most employees to know that there is genuine opportunity to develop more effective leaders in most industries. Whether managers are prepared to acknowledge this is another point altogether!

     Why does CoachStation exist?

Purpose = Building Success, Making a difference.

Vision = To make the world better, one leader at a time.

Mission = Through developing trust and strong relationships, we use our skills and resources to help people and organisations be the best they can be.

     What are the most important CoachStation values?

We have 7 core values and they are all important. Any member of my team and frankly, my friends, share these values.

  • Fun and Enjoyment
  • Optimism and Hope
  • Respect
  • Learning and Growth
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Values-Driven
  • Leadership in Practice

     Can you give a brief summary of CoachStation’s work in the past 12 months?

Primarily our work is based in Queensland and New South Wales, however that has been rapidly changing. Industries we have worked within include finance, architecture, recruitment, health, government and local council. CoachStation is currently in a significant growth phase with a team of business partners joining us recently to extend our reach and influence. I am so very excited at this opportunity as I have been able to align the people who mean the most to me, their individual values and the CoachStation purpose and values. This means that we will be able to continue to grow, assist others and make a difference without compromising on what matters most to us and our clients.

     Why are the current members of the CoachStation team involved? How did they become involved?

As mentioned, they are long term relationships and friendships based on a shared belief in values, doing the right thing, giving natures and of course highly capable and skilled people. I am passionate about helping those who have assisted me in my career and life and are authentic in all they do, not just when it is convenient.

     Why did you decide to start your own business as opposed to being employed?

There are many reasons. Primarily, I wanted to have the opportunity to be responsible and accountable for my own success; increase the level of flexibility and autonomy in my own and my family’s life; and use my skills and capability to best effect (I  have choice, control and options to work with who I want to, when and how). Interestingly, it is because I started to truly understand my purpose that made this transition so much easier and obvious, to me at least. People have sometimes commented about how ‘brave’ I was in doing what I did. To me it was a greater risk to keep moving down the path I was on than to make the leap into running my own business. I recognise it is not for everyone, however.

     How do you stay motivated to continue to do your best?

By seeing the difference that we are making with and for others in reality; developing myself and my team; whilst also continually developing new relationships and product offerings.

     What separates you or makes you different to your competitors?

Genuine desire and ability to make a real difference in people’s lives – making it more than a tick box exercise and following through on our purpose and values is feedback we receive consistently as a key differentiator.

     What benefit do you believe having experienced business partners has opposed to people who are new to this field of work?

It’s critical in the work CoachStation does. The ability to make a genuine difference and help people can only occur when you have deep capability to relate to different types of people, use various experiences and history and provide solutions to their problems. Credibility is core to making this happen, as ongoing work and recommendations are all critical to our ongoing success.

     What products and programs do you use within your workshops and meetings?

We have created most of our own original workshop material; coaching models; assessment tools etc. I am also an accredited DiSC behavioural assessment facilitator and uses other tools such as Gallup StrengthsFinder and the Real Deal Values assessment. Having said that however, these tools are simply that…tools. It is how you use the information that the resources, assessments etc. generate, along with the increased self-awareness that makes the real difference. I often say, “you need a hammer to build a house, but it is not the only tool”, meaning that it is a part of the story but you cannot rely on the tool itself to generate change.

     How do you use social media to your advantage?

It’s massive! The modern business marketing and technological opportunity that social media provides is one of the greatest marketing tools for any business, particularly small start-ups. It is cheap, accessible and dominant all over the world. Whilst I understand the negative aspects of social media, I am still a little surprised by the polarising nature and reactions of many senior leaders when it is mentioned in business circles. Like anything, there are good and poor ways to apply a system or tool.

     How do you show ethical values i.e. honesty and fairness, non-discrimination?

Personally and professionally I am influenced heavily by my ethics and standards. I believe that anyone who knows me understands this. Too often I see managers, and people generally, who display integrity and are ethical mostly, but pick and choose those times on occasion. In my world it is one of the few genuinely black and white areas. Ethical standards are also shown by always following through, earning trust and being trusting. Our actions show genuine commitment to clients and caring about improvement through the results. It’s about delivering and always giving more than expected, which relates back to my earlier point about the need to provide more than a tick box exercise.

 

(1) http://blog.hubspot.com/customers/3-takeaways-from-start-with-why

One of the biggest challenges for any manager or leader is the relationship they have with their team members.

We often read about the need for leaders to be open, self-aware, honest and possess similar traits.

But what about the employee? What is their responsibility?

Managing people and teams is challenging, there is no doubt. Understanding why people do what they do and behave in certain ways can reduce the challenge and assist in managing situations as they arise.
The responsibility to influence outputs amongst different roles may vary, however the level of responsibility and commitment required from a manager or employee remains the same. It is the context of the role and associated tasks that differ, not the degree of ownership that is required. I remain certain that this is not how accountability and ownership is presented and reinforced in most organisations. I sometimes see employees manipulating, displaying passive-aggressive behaviours and generally playing games to get what they want or influence their peers.
CoachStation: Leadership Development, Coaching, Consulting and Mentoring
Passive-aggressive behaviour is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, stubbornness, sullen behaviour, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.(1) This is not always the employees ‘fault’. As organisations and leaders we are required to clearly establish the standards, expectations, culture and support to give the best opportunity for success of the individual and business.
When coaching and consulting, I encourage my clients to first look at themselves and the world they have created to see if that is in fact, the reason why an employee is ‘misbehaving’. The risk is that we hold others accountable for things that were not clearly established or understood in the first place. In my experience, very few people wake up in the morning with the attitude that they intend to ruin everyone’s day.
As leaders we need to be able to comfortably acknowledge that we have created the best chance to get the best out of every employee. Looking at ourselves first is important, however ultimately these behaviours are a choice and often reflect character flaws and sometimes other, larger issues.

Who is managing who? Remember, a manager is an employee too – we are all part of a team. These behaviours are not restricted to entry-level employees only!

A recent Forbes article highlights ways to manage these situations through your own awareness and development. I learned how to “control the controllable” and not get side-tracked by other people’s agendas that could have thrown my career off-course. Instead, I disciplined myself to invest in my own development and associated myself with people that I could trust and build momentum around. You must have wide-angle vision in today’s new workplace to avoid the traps that may hinder your path towards career success…you may not be able to always avoid them, but you can always learn to navigate through them along your journey.(2)

I am certain that most of you reading this can associate with and have observed people behaving in these ways. Understanding why people are making these choices can help you to know how to manage through the challenge. Some of the behaviours and related triggers in my experience are:

  1. Fear: the fear of the unknown; risk of losing a job; risk of not being given a pay-rise or bonus; pride and many similar triggers for fear drive the behaviours of us all, not just your team members. Taking the time to understand what people are feeling and why offers the opportunity to reduce or allay their fears. It might seem a simple approach and even obvious, yet what we know is not always what we do!
  2. Resistance to change: managing the beliefs and reasons why change remains predominantly a negative aspect of business is a core leadership task. Apart form the strong link to point 4 below (clarity and context), it is also often about finding a trigger for individuals and teams that helps them to see the reasons why the change is of benefit.
  3. Just plain nasty: although it is rare, some people are quite simply not wired correctly and inherently create and look for trouble. Sometimes this is sociopathic behaviour and no matter what you do, little will change. Don’t allow yourself to overstate how common this type of person and behaviour is, however, as it can be one way that people let themselves off the hook by attributing their own flaws or blaming others for their own failures.
  4. Lack of clarity and context: providing background information and helping your team members understand how what they do contributes to something bigger really does matter.
  5. Mental health issues: genuine issues can exist that require external counselling and support. As a leader your role is to understand people and recommend assistance elsewhere if it is required. Having a good Employee Assistance Program is a great benefit and has helped many people.
  6. Earn the right: in all relationships, both in and out of work, the effort and desire must exist to truly get to know people. Along with trust, empathy and other attributes detailed in this blog and my other writing, you must ‘earn the right’ to have whatever conversation is required. This cannot be achieved by meeting with someone once every 3 months, for example!

The responsibility to own development sits with each of us individually. Hopefully you work for a leader and organisation who genuinely supports your development goals and sees the obvious benefits of investing in you and how that assists everyone involved. If not, this should not stop you from taking your own steps towards developing yourself, both personally and professionally.
Looking at this another way, if you don’t take the initiative to develop yourself, who do you expect will?
Let me know your thoughts.

References:
(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive-aggressive_behavior
(2) http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/10/21/5-fears-employees-have-about-their-careers/#58e8d4e6ac96

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.
CoachStation: Setting Leaders Up For Success
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 changed regarding leadership development in the years since. 

It is timely to revisit the message and challenge ourselves as business leaders to ensure we provide the most promising base for our leaders and managers to succeed.
In practice few businesses truly succeed at maximising the opportunity for their new leaders, not to mention the existing leadership team. 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, based on each individual. It is worth taking a moment to consider where your organisation succeeds or fails in this area. Take stock and make adjustment where required. (2)
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 leadership traits can be learned and enhanced through proper coaching and development, however it takes focus and effort.

Because no one tells them (leaders) how to lead, how to communicate with their team members or how to inspire people, they are left with the mistaken idea that their principal job is to get the highest level of output from their team mates — and that’s all! (1)

That is only part of the story. Maybe you can relate to the following scenario I originally presented in 2012.

You started in a company at a lower level. Opportunity presented itself in the form of a chance to step-up temporarily 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 much higher expectation…that of others and yourself.
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 way through the issues on your own” is a common thought and action at this stage.
Your boss didn’t spend much time developing you or even working with you day to day. You were mostly left to yourself. In discussions, your boss commented that you were trusted and you should be able to do what’s required without the need to be ‘micro-managed’. This response rarely felt appropriate and in fact is a serious form of avoidance and reflects poorly on your boss but you wondered, what you could do to influence the situation? In some ways this autonomy had its benefits, but also plenty of downside. You were often stressed, tried to please everyone and in so doing often pleased few people, including yourself.

Longer hours and pressure meant that you regularly wanted something different but didn’t know how to achieve it or even what that difference looked or felt like.

However, after a while further opportunity presented itself. Another step onwards and upwards. You reflected on why you were being considered as you had not felt you were particularly effective in your current role, but people seemed to like you and you occasionally received some good feedback, however insincere it may have felt. You knew in your heart that you were not ready for more responsibility…more pressure…and you wondered, “can I fake it until I make it at an even higher level of management?” After all, your annual review (which is one of the few formal meetings you had with your boss) went fairly well, even though it lacked real depth and was a relatively ‘safe’ discussion with little meaning or opportunity for improvement.
So, you took on the new role because it was expected of you, or it offered greater prestige, salary or some other perceived or real benefit. You did not want to let others down and certainly the benefits outweighed the negatives…you’re leading people!
You are now responsible for your team, a process and regular input into projects and other ad-hoc work requiring your expertise, skills and knowledge. You were not only accountable for yourself but leading, developing, coaching and inspiring others. You often asked yourself whether you were ready to lead. If not, the impact would be felt by many.

Effective leadership can have a significant benefit on a team or business culture, personnel satisfaction, attrition, sickness levels and the bottom line. Ineffective leadership has exactly the opposite impact. Now, how does that pressure feel for you?

Reflecting on the scenario above, does it sound familiar? In my experience and working with many new and experienced leaders, this is a very common journey felt by many. Most of these people felt they had few opportunities to influence their situation, develop appropriate skills and feel supported during their journey.
Progress and genuine development will only succeed if you are willing to take some risks, source someone to assist you (a coach, mentor, role-model or some other trusted person) and challenge your own beliefs, perceptions and perspectives.

Leadership development is a joint responsibility – yours and your organisations. Too many leaders wait for others to provide them with the answers…and end up waiting a long time. 

Accountability and ownership are extremely important traits in your development.

The ability to take yourself out of your comfort zone often enough to test yourself and learn, is key. Knowing when to step back into your comfort zone is also a skill linked to self-awareness and emotional intelligence. These are skills and traits that can be learned.

Employees typically don’t fail. They are failed by their leaders.

No matter what level of the organisation people are employed at, the benefits in setting up all of your employees for success are too many to list here. The opposite is also true, with the risk of not getting it right negatively impacting your organisation for years. Very few companies are actually training people. They are expected to come equipped ready to work.  The mindset is “what are you bringing to the table”? However, it’s important to set the employee up for success on the front end with:

  • A solid job description and clear expectations
  • Training and development opportunities
  • A path to grow and develop with the organization. (3)

There is no doubt that the most effective and respected leaders in any role or organisation are those who recognise that they are not in their role because they have all the answers. They are honest in their own self-assessment and seek the same of others. They are successful because they understand their own strengths and limitations, possessing the self-awareness and desire to surround themselves with a team who have supporting strengths and skill-sets that contribute to the effectiveness of the team.
Effective leaders are accountable to themselves and take on the responsibilities for their role, inputs and outcomes willingly and with purpose. This is not a one way street. Organisations must support their current and future leaders and continue to provide relevant and genuine development and growth opportunities.

To succeed as a leader, significant support is required.
Success starts before the opportunity to lead begins…or at least, it should.

Effective leadership manifests itself through many positive influences. It is our responsibility to make this good intention a reality.
Conversely, when we expect people to automatically become the leaders we want without our support and development, the risk is that we get what we deserve.

Sources:
(1) Six Things Real Leaders Don’t Do (Like Boss People Around)
(2) CoachStation: Invest In Setting Up Your Leaders to Succeed
(3) 3 Things Great Leaders Do To Set People Up For Success

Related Articles:

Falling Into Leadership

Set New Leaders Up For Success

Three Ways to Set Up New Leaders for Success

 

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 cognitive skills, mechanical skills and the link to reward and performance challenging the thinking that higher reward equals higher performance.

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.

CoachStation: Leadership and Remote Management

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 predominance of teleworking was highlighted as a key national trend and growth strategy for many organisations and the Federal Government.

Among its (the Australian Federal Government) eight digital economy goals for 2020 is the aim of doubling the number of staff who have a teleworking arrangement with their employee (from about 6 percent now), so more employers and employees can reap the social, economic and environmental benefits of remote working. Ahead of Australia’s first National Telework week in November, here are some telework tips:

  • 26 percent of professionals believe it is a right to work remotely: whether they can work anywhere, anytime, with any device, is a precondition of joining a company.
  • 52 percent of Australians would sacrifice additional salary to work where they are most productive and happy.
  • Teleworking drives different organisational behaviour – one of trust, but also tighter managerial processes and stronger leadership engagement because your workforce is distributed rather than onsite.
  • People still need company culture, so they will usually telework one or two days a week. There’s no real optimum, it depends on what your business needs.
  • Teleworking can lead to a reduction of perhaps one desk in three. It can be done quickly and inexpensively. (1)

If this expected growth comes to fruition, the skills and abilities of leaders will need to not only keep up with the plan, but remain ahead of the growth, as remote management has such specific and unique requirements. I spent several years in national leadership roles managing teams based interstate, which provided many challenges. When I review my own development timeline however, I recognise that those years spent in virtual leadership were some of the most important as they have shaped the leader I am today. I see communication and the tools applied by my team members to provide regular updates as two of the most important forums for success.

Developing systems for your team to be able to communicate their progress, update regularly and have a ‘virtual open-door’ to find a method of contact, as required, go some way to making remote work, work. The fact that the employee saves time and cost with less travel time can be offset by the challenge of working in the home. Technology, Occupational Health issues and physical attributes all need to be considered, but ultimately teleworking is about productivity, flexibility and meeting both business and personal needs.

I believe that the growth of teleworking and associated leadership impacts is so great I created a development program for leaders specifically designed to enhance remote leadership skills.

The program contains a mix of training and coaching to reinforce the key areas that are important to develop in order to effectively manage a team of remotely. Key focus areas include the ability to:

  • Understand and apply management and leadership theories, practical skills and competencies to effectively lead a remote team.
  • Recognise where the needs and situations differ between local and remote employees.
  • Understand how to relate and connect with a team member who you do not physically see every day.
  • Use technology and tools to the best advantage to minimise the impact of leading remotely and maximise the key principles of remote leadership.
  • Apply learned techniques, skill and abilities in areas such as communication, building trust, accountability, structure, measuring effectiveness and employee development.

One of the key challenges for remote workers is the lack of social interaction that would normally occur when employees are located together. This is a very real factor however some employees have stated that this can be a benefit also, where the time that is spent with their broader team-mates tends towards more focused and specific interactions, with fewer opportunities for time wastage. Clearly a remote team member has to be trusted and the critical nature of communication is enhanced in this environment. In fact, many leadership skills become heightened, or at least the need does, when managing a virtual team.

Virtual teams have added value over face to face teams in many ways. We can tap into resources that otherwise would not be accessible. Working remotely allows organisations to better access talent, knowledge and local expertise all around the world and give round the clock service to customers: synchronising people, time and opportunity.

In addition, virtual teamwork saves costs since the need to travel decreases. The argument of sustainability – reducing the carbon footprint – also becomes more and more important for any organisation. (2)

An organisation that decides to increase its teleworking presence should also ensure that its leadership model and ongoing employee / leadership development factors in the special requirements of leading a remote team. If it doesn’t, then you may find the challenge greater than the reward!

As far as I am concerned all of us should be measured by our performance, not the number of hours we spend at work. Productivity and effectiveness are the key measurements that outline the business case, however there are a series of personal factors at play also. Telework may be a suitable alternative for you or your team but it is an individual decision. It does take additional effort, specific skills, new systems and strong communication, but remote work can add value. It is not for everyone and there are limits to numbers within an organisation that are able to work remotely, but it may be for you.

On a personal note, since taking on my business, CoachStation, in a full-time capacity earlier this year I have found it a relatively constant challenge with my three daughters who now find Daddy at home more often – I think they believe I am on a permanent holiday! I have enjoyed the flexibility and opportunities presented, but recognise that is it an ongoing effort to blend work and home life.

In fact, this is one of the greatest ‘wins’ in my mind, where I have the opportunity to work during times that suit my family and I the best. That may be in the evening or very early mornings, but the flexibility and freedom is something I genuinely cherish. The 9-5 workday is a thing of the past however I am quite strict in setting a number of hours to work each day. The difference is that I love what I am doing so much, it no longer feels like work.

What are your experiences with remote management or telework? Do you plan to take on more teleworking employees in the future? Has teleworking and/or remote management been a benefit or hindrance in your organisation?

 

(1) Out Of Office: AFR BOSS Magazine; teleworkaustralia.net.au

(2) Can Remote Leadership Skills Be Learnt:

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, technology and action is core to starting to build a culture where the customer is seen as important.

An example can be seen where greater CE focus and recent technology has meant that many organisations have identified a need to be present in the Social Media space. This is often seen as a critical aspect of understanding and managing customers, however few organisations have a purposeful strategy of how Social Media fits into the rest of the organisation and CE strategy.

In 2012 customer service will become the “killer app.” Engaging customers today requires all stakeholders within the company to be committed. It also requires that organisations redefine (or repurpose) what the brand represents—internally and externally. (1)

I  equate this to my own observations which have been confirmed through external research over the years. After working in the call centre industry for over 15 years I was regularly surprised by the apparent desire to exceed customers expectations, yet the processes and business practices would often not lend themselves to supporting the strategy. Developing a strategy and understanding of what your business is trying to achieve through the gathering of CE data and insights is important before making decisions based on the data. Key questions to ask:

  • What does success look like?
  • How do you achieve improved results?
  • How do you establish the right culture to balance employee, customer and business needs?
  • How do you use the extensive quantities of data available to real advantage?
  • How do you create employee engagement, empowerment and buy-in that means your customers feel the benefit?

Data and insights in themselves offer little value. Collating and filtering CE data into meaningful trends is essential. Businesses typically are challenged in using data to advantage – it is a real skill and should be part of your process and strategy, but is not always the case. Usually a business measures itself through internal metrics, KRA’s and KPI’s, that make sense to the managers and employees (usually!). This is no more evident that in targets, metrics and measurements. For example, traditionally the typical call centre measurements consist of Grade of Service (GOS), Time To Answer and similar call-based metrics.  All very legitimate and logical, however there is one critical point that is being missed. The question to ask is:

Are these internal measurements the same standards and  expectations that your customers feel are the most important?

The answer is often an emphatic…No!

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 front-line team members. After spending several years in Customer Experience leadership, I am convinced that engagement, morale, culture, sub-cultures and the impact of leadership on these can be felt by all customers. An effective CE strategy has a core function to gather insights and data and use this information to develop Leaders and Team Leaders, drive process improvement and clarify direction.

CoachStation: Customer Measurement in Business Model

The link between providing a high level of consistent customer service and the satisfaction of your employees has been proven. Extending this concept further, an organisation’s employees are significantly influenced by the leaders within it. In a recent blog on this subject, Adrian Swinscoe wrote that:

Many businesses will look for process, system and technology fixes and assume that more and better internal communications or more surveys will increase engagement. It might. But, I don’t think there will be any guarantees with those type of initiatives.

It is a mistake to think that more data in itself will make the difference. Very few employees, who are the people in the actual position to make the difference, are even privy to this data, let alone provided with a summarised view that is presented in a way that makes sense and is usable. It is this point that is the most remarkable.

Greater technology advances, Big Data, information flow and accessibility are all the potential positives with modern Customer Experience Management. They are also its greatest flaw!

Unless your organisation can make sense of the incredibly vast amount of information and present it in such a way that your leaders can easily decipher the key insights / trends AND the leaders are skilled to be able to provide this information in a way that their team members will care about, then CE insights and data collection has little value.

CRM is as much a marketing tool as anything, but convincing your customers of your value proposition and making commitment to improve based on customer feedback, if not followed through by your leaders and front-line staff can be quite damaging. This negative sentiment can be felt internally amongst your team. If they are aware that insights and data collection is occurring, but there are no obvious and tangible changes or application, then frustration, disappointment and other negative reactions are likely.

The most interesting part of all of this, it is no different for your customers – they will also become frustrated if feedback is sought and then commitment to change is not followed up with action.

A simple way to view this aspect of CE – if you don’t want to know the answer, then don’t ask the question. I am not advocating that any business should ignore or not actively seek the customer view. Quite the opposite, in fact. What is clear though,  is that setting up a false set of expectations either internally with your employees and/or externally with your customers, that is not followed through in a way that the stakeholders ‘feel’ the difference, is often more damaging than not asking in the first place.

Adrian Swinscoe discusses the elements that align employee engagement to the customer experience, including a list of ‘basics’ that should be adhered to.  He also asks a very pertinent question that we all should know the answer to if we are serious about our people and customers.

How can we expect employees to take care of customers if the business does not trust, recognise, support and treat them well too? Much of employee engagement is about relationships. The relationship an employee has with their job, their colleagues, their customers and their organisation. And, relationships are all art and very little science.

So, let’s not sweep the art under the carpet and start getting better at it.

A focus on insights and development based on CEM has three major benefits, amongst other key points:

  1. You are able to learn about individual businesses processes, what is working well and what can be improved.
  2. Crucially, seeking Voice Of Customer and identifying themes enables you to know what your customers are thinking and saying about your business – not assuming to know how they feel.
  3. These insights can be used to design and run developmental programs at an individual and  team level, including workshops and 1:1 coaching, aligned to specific trends and customer needs.

Many of you will relate to the issues and culture described in this blog and that of Adrian’s. Some of you may even be living the experience now. But, as I have stated many times, knowing what is wrong with your business and doing something about it are not the same thing. The danger here, as with so many other critical factors in business, is that acknowledging flaws, both personally and organisationally is a difficult thing for most of us to do. The most effective leaders have developed a skillset and attitude of ongoing development and a willingness to influence culture. Part of this philosophy is the ability to see things for what they are, not what you would like it to be.

If you want to see change, you must lead for change.

If dissatisfied, speak up.

If your customers are unhappy, ask them why and what they would like to see differently – and take action to remedy.

Most importantly, don’t accept mediocrity! By actively challenging the status quo, you will take the first steps to influence change and differentiate yourself from other people and your business  from other organisations. Your employees will love your for it, and so will your customers.

References:

(1) The New Science of Rewards and Recognition: Transforming Your Business

The Link Between Customer Experience and Employee Engagement: More Art Than Science: Adrian Swinscoe

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 members unsure why they were in the meeting in the first-place.
  • Bee committees discussing outcomes like seasonal adjustments related to the weather, honey production rates and similar bee-like measurements.
  • Projects being constructed taking into account the Six-Sigma effectiveness of nectar collection and discussion about how this could be improved…and, so on.

Then how do the bees work so efficiently? How do they instinctively know their roles, understand the structure and are so effective at what they do?

Although I respect and appreciate nature, often reflecting on the miracles that occur around us every day, I am not an expert in this field. I also wonder what external influences have the most impact on the bee colonies? At another level it is also fascinating that there are so many different types of bees collecting nectar from the same bush. In fact there are over 1500 native varieties in Australia, along with the common introduced varieties. They have all learned to co-exist and in fact play a vital role in the balance of nature, especially the pollination of agricultural crops, horticultural crops and the household garden.

CoachStation: Leadership

The different bees do not appear to get in each others way, are able to amicably work together, efficiently moving from flower to flower, pollinating and collecting as they go. There are significant size differences between varieties – but this does not seem to make any difference. There is no apparent political manoeuvring, bullying, struggle for alignment or loss of effectiveness through too many bees congregating around a single flower. Bees know their roles and do it well  – how did they learn all of this?

Is there an instinctive drive to play their role or is there a learned behaviour such as replication or demonstration via senior roles or leadership within the colony?

My point is not to make light of the efficiency of nature nor that of businesses and organisations, but to delve into why we do what we do in the workplace. Understanding our roles, the structure and influences on choices we make is often taken for granted. Is this consistent with your workplace? There is value in stopping to think about your own role, that of your team and the structure we work within. This is important at any stage but no more so than with our present economic situation.

The general feel in the population is one where we are ‘holding our breath’. In Australia there are boom regions and sectors and industries and cities that are doing it tough. A high level of conservatism is prevalent – it is like businesses are on pause, waiting for a change and stimulus to occur – without knowing when or where this might come from. Retail spending and other financial measures are also reflecting this conservatism. As a result employees remain hesitant also. Possibly not feeling comfortable to look for alternatives if dissatisfied or worse, disengaged in their current role.

People are stretched in their roles, covering more work that previously may have been completed by others who have been made redundant and/or have never been replaced.

Employees are being asked to do more with less and ‘collect more nectar’, at ever-increasing rates with targets and expectations growing year-on-year. Structure, knowing your role and what is expected of you are crucial in times such as these, however these tasks and associated roles have probably changed significantly over recent years. The role of leadership, engagement and direction remains critical to team and individual success.

Good leaders ensure that they:

  1. Focus on the tasks that matter most – they may not be the tasks you are currently doing.
  2. Communicate clearly to all members of their team what is required of them, what support will be provided and how and when the objectives will be measured.
  3. Provide opportunity for their employees to have input into their roles, tasks assigned and offer solutions to existing problems.
  4. Meaningfully engage their team, as a team and as individuals, providing context and opportunity to be involved in the direction of the team and business.
  5. Revisit development plans – their own and that of their team on a regular basis – quarterly is generally a good time-frame.
  6. Challenge themselves to learn something new and substantial during the remainder of 2012.
  7. Review team structure, capability and diversity to meet current and importantly, future objectives. What can be done now to fill any gaps or remedy a potential future issue?

It is not enough to rely on history, your gut or instinct and assume that what is currently being completed is the ‘right’ piece of work. This must be clear to all involved. For  bees, their role is vital, yet simple in practice – pollinate and collect nectar. Your team member’s may not see it so clearly. They each have different expectations, beliefs, values and willingness to apply discretionary effort. Now is the time to stop, recheck what is most important to you, your family and employer. It is a great time to assume nothing!

Set yourself up to maximise the opportunities when the economic situation improves. Start to think about your goals for next year. What does success look like by December 2013?

If working on the same things day-to-day meets your needs, that is fine. But if it does not, or is inconsistent with business expectation, issues may arise. Knowing your role and how it fits into the bigger picture is important. Without making appropriate choices, taking action and setting goals, little will change. You will simply be just another bee doing the same thing and you may not reap the future rewards (honey!) if you do not choose how growth / change will occur and take appropriate steps…today.

The road to happiness lies in two simple principles: Find what it is that interests you and that you can do well, and when you find it, put your whole soul into it – every bit of energy, ambition and natural ability that you have.

(John D Rockefeller III)