Influence matters! I used to believe friends were more important than family.

Recent events have shifted my thinking.

CoachStation: Influence Story of My Life
The statement above is how our 14-year old daughter, Maddy, has started to understand the importance of influence and relationships. This year has been a big year for her. In response to this learning, a little while back Maddy wrote down her thoughts and perspective. This week Maddy shared these thoughts with me. I asked if it would be possible to publish her writing as the core elements are just as relevant for adults as they are for other 14 year olds and teens. Maddy was keen to share her ideas and hoped that other people and possibly, teenagers sharing similar experiences, may take something away from her comments and writing. We are very proud of Maddy and hope that this blog has the influence on others that it has had on us. 

I have always loved my family dearly and they are a very important part of my life. However, upon reflection I realised that I was prioritising my friends, wanting to spend more time and money on and with them. I feel like I have an insight into relationships after a number of experiences this year. I have found that friends are there for you, people who make you happy and you form life long memories with.

But, one thing I have learnt is that people change and they come and go.

Friendships are still important for all the reasons listed, but family is more important. Family members are the ones who you also create memories with. In my case, they will never ever leave my side and who will love me no matter what. That is not always the case with every relationship.
I have come to realise that people come into your life for a reason. The real challenge is understanding why and what they have taught you? Family is the most important thing you will ever have so treasure them, don’t leave them and don’t lose them. Love your family wholeheartedly, otherwise one day you may look back and regret not making the most of the opportunity. Be a role model for your siblings. Spend that precious time with your parents. Put in the effort to build a strong relationship with both your Mum and Dad.

A teacher of mine once told me that trying to meet the expectations of others was the undoing of the world…of relationships, families, self-esteem and self-belief.

I interpreted her statement as a comment on the fact that a large portion of society are living based on the expectations and standards as set by other people. As I grow up, I am discovering who I am and learning that life should be lived how you want it to be, not how others say it should be.
Recently, this thought has crossed my mind many times. I agree with the comment but feel that these expectations are more often than not formed by the media. Whether it be the news or social media platforms, I strongly believe that the majority of the expectations we have of relationships, lifestyles, work, health and body image are influenced on what the media has shown.
Sure, the people we associate with and conversations help to influence our expectations, but the media are the foundation. They influence our expectations – almost like we are being told how our lives should be lived.

Recently I have begun to really take note of the world, of what’s happening around me, peoples values, passions and the expectations of others.

Yes, before I knew what was happening in the world around me but not to the depth that I am understanding now. This has only happened recently however I have been able to realise that I am unconsciously becoming more aware. I am beginning to understand the position everyone has in society and the impact that people can have on others.
In my experiences in the last year involving friendships, school work and conversation I have come to understand the impact one choice, one word and one action can make. One text, a smile, an email, one question. I have seen and felt firsthand how people impact one another. It is interesting how a class discussion can be influenced by one question or opinion. Some of my relationships have changed through one word or lack thereof. I have been genuinely surprised by the impact words and people can have.

Have you ever considered the impact and influence you have on others?

It could be anyone – a relative, a friend or a teacher. After your next interaction with someone watch how they respond to certain words you say or even your body language. Take note of how they act afterwards. Do they smile more, laugh more, talk more?
In a recent class we discussed change in people. A point was made that the most significant time of change in someone’s life is between the ages of 12 and 16 years old. We discussed the fact that people change and grow but you can’t always see it. So, we identified different ways we can see change in others, other than physically. People may change who they hang out with, their passions and interests, how they display their emotions and their focuses. Some people start to identify their strengths and weaknesses.

This lesson was a turning point for me, when I realised it applied to me.

That I had changed…my friendships had shifted…my values and even the amount of time I now spend on social media. I have become more aware of what my strengths and weaknesses are and am working to improve my weaknesses and use my strengths in the best way possible.
Another time that I started to shift my thinking was after listening to Waleed Aly’s speech about ‘fear’ on The Project. It really struck me and made me think about the world we are living in. It highlighted the need to understand different people’s perspectives and points of view.

The main point I took away was that everyone has different opinions and perspectives.

We need to try to understand people’s motivations to understand what they do and have done. It is not an excuse for the tragedies occurring on a daily basis. However, understanding where other people are coming from will help to bring peace and less outrage about every attack or disaster that has unfortunately become the norm.
The majority of people are reacting in fear and are scared. They want to be safe but there are so many unknowns. It often comes down to understanding one another and the influence we can have. I feel like this is how most relationships fall apart. When the perspective of the other person fails to be seen.
Another experience that I have learnt from is when I was asked who my inspiration is and who I look up to. My immediate response was my parents. It may sound cliche’d but my Mum and Dad really do inspire me. The relationships between my parents and I is quite strong and is continually developing. I have become aware of the amount of hard work and effort my parents put into maintaining a happy and healthy life for our family. Seeing how loyal and committed they are to the family is incredible and I truly admire them for that.

My parents are strong advocates of values.

Not only knowing your own but also being able to recognise others values and understanding how to work with them in the most effective way. Being a 14-year-old, there have been the down times in my relationships with my parents. I know at times I have not treated them with respect, but I know that my parents love me no matter what and they trust I will learn from these moments.
As well as values, my parents are also very much about trust. One of the best lessons I have learnt from my parents is that trust is earned and takes a lot of time and effort to build, however can be broken just like that. My dad told me about a metaphor of an oak tree. It takes hundreds of years to grow but can be cut down in minutes. Despite all the warnings from my parents, that is one thing I did learn the hard way but I am grateful that I now more fully understand the importance of trust.

My main points are that we need to realise and understand our impact on others. People should think about how what they are doing, saying or typing will impact others. The need to consider your influence on relationships, both previous and current and learn from them is important.

You need to evaluate who you trust and how you have built trust?
Who has broken your trust and have you ever broken someone’s trust?
Consider how people change and how you influence?
Have you changed? Have your friends changed?
What about your other relationships?
It is important to contemplate your own values, strengths and weaknesses and how they will help you. To think before reacting, consider the other person’s perspective and motivations for the choice they have made.

Most importantly, we can all learn from everything that happens; every event; every mistake; and every achievement. These things define you, they add another piece to the puzzle that is you.

The ability to influence is integral to effective leadership and strong relationships. As is developing trust. I often write and discuss the importance of building strong and meaningful connections at home and in the workplace. Some people interpret this as needing to become good friends and share time out of the work with others, which is not really the point. Relationships and leadership are more than that. In part, it is the ability to reflect on what is happening, honest assessment and the emotional intelligence to understand perspectives and react accordingly.
Some of these traits are innate. A few can be learned or enhanced. Either way, the first step is acknowledgment. Developing yourself and learning about leadership can be learned at any age. Seeking deeper understanding and the impact you can and do have on others provides an excellent platform for self-acceptance, influence and leading people.
What have you learned about yourself and your relationships recently?

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.

(1) Work Culture, Cara Jenkin: Courier Mail, Saturday 3/9/16


Know your ‘why’.

Values and gaining an understanding of your key drivers and motivations matter. I know this because people keep telling me. 

Maybe not in specific values-related language, but certainly when they describe how they feel and what is happening at that time.

CoachStation: Leadership, Pupose, Values and Your Why

Knowing your core purpose, why we make certain decisions and the influence of values impacts lives. They affect how we feel about our job, relationships and life in general. What is satisfying at work? What is frustrating? How relationships are going? The joys of a new friendship…or an old. Your ‘why’ influences all of these questions.
It is when values align and we develop understanding of self and our motivations that genuine satisfaction and comfort is felt. Conversely, we are often at our most vulnerable and emotional when core values are being breached. Or, challenged when asked to compromise the things that matter the most.

  1. the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
  2. a person’s sense of resolve or determination.


  1. the importance, worth, or usefulness of something
  2. principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life.

When developing, maintaining and growing my business, I have focused heavily on the ‘why’. Similarly, during coaching and mentoring sessions with clients, I find myself delving into the same theme. Not everyone can answer these questions about themselves 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 assist to drive your future goals and direction. (1)

Values and purpose are often downplayed, both in concept and understanding.

Core values are the guiding principles that dictate behaviour and action. Values facilitate self-awareness and help people to know what is right from wrong. They can help organisations to determine their direction and align business goals. They also create a sustained, unwavering and unchanging guide.
It is this degree of self-awareness and self-acceptance that is central to personal and professional development. Taking time to reflect and understand what your purpose is, may be one way that you can learn to describe better influence and connect with others. Ensure that your team members, colleagues and friends can understand your perspective and decisions.
Whether it is your boss, members of your team, spouse or peers, the opportunity to delve, understand and explain has great power. This type of conversation goes some way to breaking down the barriers that exist when we allow others to assume what is most important to us. Be clear about your purpose and ‘why’ and share this detail with those who matter most.
Diversity and points of difference between people can be one of the most important drivers of individual and team success. But, only when the time is taken to improve self-awareness, learn more about other people and the best ways to work together. This rarely occurs without appropriate effort and focus.
I have developed and facilitated workshops focusing on the theme of diversity, specifically the differences that naturally exist between people. Diversity has quickly become one of CoachStation’s most popular themes/programs, when working at group level or with individual clients being coached and mentored. Developing a core purpose, why and set of meaningful values is as important for teams as individuals.

People lose their way when they lose their why – Michael Hyatt

Articulating beliefs and reflective thoughts to people creates a potential common ground of words and language. It certainly provides clarity and opportunity for deeper and more authentic connection. Knowing your values connects with a deeper set of motivations. They help to understand why you make certain decisions, choices and drive your actions.
What we know about people at work is that at the end of the day, they want to matter, to feel significant. They want to be respected, heard, honored, and supported; they want to win, learn, grow, and do their best. What we need are cultures that recognize this principle, and lead accordingly. By creating a leadership culture where people feel they matter, everything else the business needs to do will happen—productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, and profitability. (2)

Help people to help you by providing details about your purpose, values, beliefs and motivations.
 The alternative is to foster ambiguity and allow people to make assumptions about what matters most to you. Which would you prefer?

Watch the CoachStation video clip below to learn more about values and their influence on your life.


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.


It’s hard to identify why but there are currently major gaps in leadership, in Australia at least.

Actually, it’s not that difficult to understand really. The things we want from work are not that different to what we are looking for from life in general. The difficulty is not in the knowing, it is in the application and doing. It seems that employees in the modern workplace are screaming for a certain style and capability of leadership, but current cultures are challenged in delivering it.

CoachStation: 13 Challenges to the Current State of Leadership
The current state of leadership is not what is wanted nor required.

This is hard to write and I am sure is difficult to read for some. We wish it wasn’t the case. However, no matter who I speak to either on a personal level or within my professional contacts, there is great frustration and disappointment with the current application of leadership in business. In fact, there is considerable angst about leadership being portrayed in most areas including government at all levels. Statements and feelings referring to disengagement; indifference; self-interest; ego; fear; incompetence; and no time to focus on people are common issues, amongst others.
In a strange way I feel that this is the most important blog I have ever written. It encapsulates so much of what is missing, yet is most important and required to rectify the existing glut of good, effective leadership and relationships that impact business and personal success.
Recent conversations have highlighted the similarities in what employees want from leaders. Consistency in the need for change, themes and discussions, no matter the person, industry or organisation is prominent. I have been speaking about  similar themes and topics with various people. Different discussions, different people, same inputs and outcomes! It is in moments such as these that I reflect on what matters most to my clients and customers.

The key leadership challenges across industries are remarkably consistent.

Although referencing a survey incorporating employees from the U.S. a recent HBR Interact/Harris poll highlighted some of the existing challenges related to communication and leadership. None of these work in isolation or silos, with one or more issues/traits influencing at least one other. In their entirety they create a powerful ‘check-list’ of skills and potential actions. Depth of understanding can make you more effective in communicating and ultimately, becoming a more informed and influential leader.
Employees called out the kind of management offenses that point to a striking lack of emotional intelligence among business leaders, including micromanaging, bullying, narcissism, indecisiveness, and more. In rank order, the following were the top communication issues people said were preventing business leaders from being effective (1):
The Current State of Leadership: Communication Issues that Prevent Effective Leadership

I am work with many organisations in various capacities. Within these existing organisations and the dozens I have been engaged by in recent years, a very defined and clear message is being delivered. The discrepancy between what is wanted and what is being provided by leaders remains too substantial – and it is widening. Although a leaders ability and willingness to communicate with their team members is key, it is not the only aspect of effective leadership. Failure to understand self and others is a key contributor amongst other relevant points.
Why is this so? In some cases it is intentional and conscious, political and full of self-interest. In some others it relates to self-awareness, honesty or people not knowing what they stand for and what drives them.
For some it is an unconscious set of decisions and influences built up over time and from previous experience and role-models. Whatever the input or cause, there is a need for change.

The skills and attributes below are attainable…they matter…and are important if we want to turn this around.

As highlighted in one of the points below, to develop in this space is a choice – yours, not someone else’s. There are many traits and attributes but the first step is…
1. Self awareness and knowing who you are…acceptance of self: this could be the single most important attribute of leadership. It is certainly a great place to start and incorporates emotional intelligence and honesty. When coaching leaders, self-awareness and the development of comfort in seeing things as they are, not as we would like to see them is the first, big barrier to overcome in almost every case. For some it takes longer than others and over time, if a coachee is not prepared to go down this path, then I will refuse to work with them. As an employee you often don’t have the same luxury.

However, through developing greater awareness of yourself; comfort, clarity and self-esteem builds and you are more likely and capable to manage the barriers as they arise.

2. Connections and relationships:
you cannot be an effective leader who people look up to if you don’t take the time to build relationships. This must take into account the needs of each of your team members, however some people are more interested and engaged in this space than others, so tailoring your style and communication based on individual needs adds power and opportunity.
3. Passion: caring about what you do and who you are. Similar to one of my earlier points, if you are not passionate about leadership or your role it is time to review your direction.

People feel either the benefit or the lack of YOUR passion every day.

Five indicators that a leader has true passion:

• Commit honestly – Passionate leaders genuinely believe in what they espouse. People are touched and engaged by the genuineness of their passion.
• Make a clear case without being dogmatic – They convey the power of their belief without dismissing or belittling others’ points of view.
• Invite real dialogue about their passion – Their passion is balanced with openness: they want to hear and integrate others’ points of view.
• Act in support of their passion – They walk their talk: their day-to-day behaviors support their beliefs.
• Stay committed despite adversity and setbacks – Their commitment isn’t flimsy; when difficulties arise, they hold to their principles and find a way forward. (2)

4. Be a giver, not a taker: altruism in its pure sense has merit. More specifically in leadership this relates to the caring theme in that those who are most successful are those who see their role as one of providing and giving, not removing or taking. Put another way, you exist as a leader because of your team, not the other way around! This remains one of the biggest negative influences on successful leadership and how others see you.
5. Managing outputs: an anomaly in thinking that is being practiced by many leaders during coaching, feedback and discussions with employees. If the goal, target or KPI is 80 and someone is consistently at 70, help them to find the gap. A direct or indirect challenge without support is unreasonable and unfair, but is quite common. Providing feedback only or highlighting the differential is not enough and demonstrates poor leadership. It also does very little to develop trust and engagement with your employees.

Managing outputs or numbers has little value.

Understand and influence the inputs and you will see improved results whilst bringing everyone along during the process – a true win-win. Your role as a leader is to:

• understand what is required
• why it exists
• seek understanding and views regarding what the person/people can do to close the gap
• understand what is required from you to assist
• follow up and follow-through.

6. Care: leaders can only build true connections and relationships if they have a genuine interest in others and care about them.

There is no trick to this – if you are a leader and you don’t care about your team, change it or change jobs because the angst and challenge this creates will always work against you.

7. Trust
: is the willingness to believe that someone is honest and means no harm. Not an easy concept in business until the right has been earned, both ways. Trust should not be given to another lightly but once it has been earned can create a platform for honest, frank, challenging and beneficial relationships.
8. Self-esteem: to value self and to be self-accepting is a challenge for many. How you view yourself will determine the course of your life, the choices you make and those you avoid. I previously read somewhere that when taking into account self-esteem, you will never rise above the image you have of yourself in your mind. In reality, this is very true.
9. Values: my journey has led me down many paths, yet values remain a constant. They drive much of who we are, our decisions and motivations. The alignment of values between an individual, their immediate leader and the employer/organisation is very important for sustained engagement and relationships. Values are not understood as well as they should be and have a massive impact on why employees are feeling how they are.

Learn more about your own values and then take the time to understand those of your team and friends.

10. Integrity
: how many poor examples exist of this? Privately and in the media we hear and see many situations that have, at least in part, been driven by a lack of integrity from senior leaders and CEO’s in many organisations. This lack of integrity is not the sole remit of senior leaders however, with many employees feeling the pain of this at all levels of leadership.
11. Empathy: The ability to see situations and things from someone elses perspective is a real gift. It may not mean that you relate to even agree with their position, but by positioning your view based on another perspective can be enlightening and a brilliant contributor to relationships and building connections.
12. Choice: has so many implications in our personal and professional lives. This impacts and relates to time management, prioritisation, goals and much more. Choice is also something that many of us struggle to take ownership of. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the absence of either making a choice at all or making the wrong choices is have a negative impact on leadership in principle and practice.

As with several other traits listed, choice has strong alignment to accountability and ownership, which are their own topics altogether.

13. Ego: is what I consider to be one of the major negative influences on self-awareness, growth and genuine leadership. We see this in our politicians and the decisions that leaders make across industry. Sometimes even when it is known and proven to be a wrong decision, ego and its relationship to integrity and fear continue to drive the momentum of a wrong choice. As leaders, it is most often about others. Ego always makes it about the individual.
It is not just entry level and more junior employees who feel this pain. A report on the InsideHR website notes that the issue is as relevant within leadership ranks also.

There are worryingly low engagement levels of Australia’s workers across different industries…which found that those earning between $70,000 to $150,000 are the least engaged in their work, suggesting that middle management as a collective are disengaged.

“Middle income earners are less engaged than any other type of employee,” said Andrew Marty, managing director of organisational consulting firm SACS Consulting, which conducted the Disengaged Nation study. “Middle managers have less autonomy in their decision making and more disenchantment with their work than either lower paid workers at the coalface or higher paid executives leading organisations,” he said. “This middle manager lag is no doubt dragging organisational productivity down.” (3)
There will be a tipping point in leadership competence, capability and style in coming years. This will increase the requirement for strength in communication skills and developing relationships. They are not ‘soft-skills’ that are negotiable. Ignoring the needs of others and the evidence of what people are looking for has a limited lifespan.

The need for a broader demonstration of genuine, authentic and giving styles of leadership is coming.

They already exist in some areas and organisations, however clearly there is room for improvement. The data and feedback overwhelmingly reminds us that we are some way from providing leadership that resonates with the majority. It starts with each one of us. Being comfortable enough to acknowledge what is working well and what could be improved is a fine start. Doing something with this information matters more.
I am interested in your thoughts. What are your current experiences with leadership? What have you done to resolve these challenges?
Related Reading:
Three Cornerstone Leadership Skills
What Is Your Personal and Professional Brand?

 Not really! The consistently large gap between behaviours, intent, desired culture and reality remains an issue.

I was flying home to Brisbane last week and had the opportunity to read the latest ‘Inside HR’ magazine from cover to cover. It is always an interesting read with much that grabs my attention. However on this occasion, by the time I was towards the end of the magazine a theme had started to form in my mind. There were various articles and highlights within the content that rang alarm bells for me. Or maybe it was more that the messages were articulating many of my own recent thoughts more clearly.

CoachStation: Leadership, People and Business Development

Let me show you what I mean through various excerpts taken from the magazine:

Engaged employees are at least three and a half times more likely than disengaged employees to say their organisation is committed to bringing innovative products and services to the marketplace. Highly engaged employees are nearly six times more likely than disengaged employees to use challenging goals to improve performance, and more than seven times more likely to agree that their senior leadership team encourages innovation and creative ideas. (1)
The best HR teams and leaders are driving innovation across three key dimensions: achieving the next frontier of functional effectiveness  (6)
The gap is widening between what business leaders want and what HR is delivering, according to a global research report, which found that HR needs an extreme makeover driven by the need to deliver greater business impact and drive HR and business innovation. The Deloitte 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, which involved surveys and interviews with more than 3300 business and HR leaders from 106 countries, found that while CEOs and top business leaders rate talent as a key priority, only 5 per cent of survey respondents rate their organisation’s HR performance as excellent. In addition, just 11 per cent of respondents feel that their organisations provide excellent development for HR. “To put it bluntly, HR is not keeping up with the pace of change in business,” the report said. “Today, there is a yawning gap between what business leaders want and the capabilities of HR to deliver, as suggested by the capability gap our survey found across regions and in different countries.” The research report found the most significant capability gaps for HR in Australian organisations were in the areas of HR and people analytics, reinventing HR, performance management, leadership, and culture and engagement, while the smallest capability gaps were in the areas of people data, simplification of work, learning and development, and workforce capability. Other Deloitte research has found that only 30 per cent of business leaders believe that HR has a reputation for sound business decisions; only 28 per cent feel that HR is highly efficient; only 22 per cent believe that HR is adapting to the changing needs of their workforce; and only 20 per cent feel that HR can adequately plan for the company’s future talent needs. (8)
The report shows a widening capability gap in HR’s ability to deliver strong talent solutions, in the areas of:

  • Engagement and retention (the number one challenge around the world this year), HR teams are 30 per cent less ready than a year ago
  • Building leadership and filling leadership gaps (the number two challenge around the world), HR teams are only half as ready as they were a year ago
  • Delivering learning and training solutions (the number three challenge around the world), HR teams are only one-third as ready as they were a year ago.

What is going on? Why are HR organisations having such a hard time keeping up? After studying this marketplace for the last few years and talking with hundreds of clients, the answer is simple. HR today is undergoing more change than ever before, and we are on the brink of disruptive change.

The obvious theme here is that HR is not up to scratch in supporting the goals and actions required for many organisations. Although in my experience this is a genuine issue, holistically it is too easy a statement to make and glosses over the more entrenched issues organisation-wide. It is a much more difficult set of questions that requires multiple solutions owned by leadership, HR and their ability to drive action beyond mere words.
Amongst various factors, HR and its current position/reputation is a symptom of other issues that exists within organisational cultures based around competence, capability, intent, passion and desire. It is untrue to state that many people and specifically leaders do not care about their employers or employees. It is not about caring, but more about doing.

The pace of change; need for outcomes; short-termism; and skill gaps in leadership are hurting business at a time when it can least afford the challenge.
What I have learned is that good intent does not equal improvement, growth or success!

The articles highlight the ‘gap’ that exists between what business leaders want and need and what is being provided to support them and what they are providing themselves. In fact, the key points in the excerpts that struck me are the need for change yet the struggle to make this happen in reality. What do leaders and HR need to do fill the void that exists?
The opportunity to change culture by focusing on the key initiatives and measuring outcomes is something that I believe many organisations can improve. An idea in itself is not enough. What difference does or will this idea, concept, improvement etc. make to the organisation, its processes, people or customers is often discussed but not always efficiently met? The opportunity to hold team members and employees accountable is one that is missed too often with the outcomes and measurable change not highlighted as a core focus.

Most leaders would argue with this, stating that of course, the outcome and results are critical. But, few actually lead their teams with this in mind on a daily basis.
“We need to turn what we know into what we do!”

The key to this change in culture and expectations has to at least in part, be a change in mindset. Talking about leadership and its criticality to business success is not enough – no matter how success is measured. Leadership by its nature requires that you build strong and effective relationships; know and connect with your team; and influence through coaching, not telling, for example.
In the same magazine there was an excellent interview with Alex Bershinsky who highlighted the need to focus on people and that traditional strategies and tools are, in many cases, quickly becoming irrelevant.

A recent research report found that many leading organisations are moving away from viewing performance management as a once-a-year event where employees are assessed and evaluated, to a series of ongoing activities that include goal-setting and revising, managing and coaching, development planning, and rewarding and recognition. The report found that continuous coaching is becoming increasingly important, as employees want to receive individual feedback and feel valued by their organisations for their unique contributions…The focus on these conversations is less about ‘here are your four KPI’s and tell me what you’ve hit or missed’ and more about ‘how are you going, how can I help you, what are you struggling with and what do you need from me to improve?’ So, it’s a very short, regular talent conversation.
“So we’re not using ratings, but the idea is to get away from ratings, distribution curves and batch data and instead provide real-time feedback to develop the 95 percent of our people who are terrific, versus the 5 percent who aren’t performing – which is the reverse of what most performance management systems are geared to do. That’s a real cultural shift.”

You can only hold others accountable if the appropriate expectations and standards have been established in the first place. Getting bogged down in ‘doing the do’ and not making time for your people will ensure that you fail to progress your business. This is relevant whether you have a formal performance management system or not. Tenets such as accountability, expectations; standards, relationships, connection, ownership and other key elements fill the void created by poor leadership, when applied. This takes effort, prioritisation, practice and planning.
As a leader, it also requires a personal strategy for assessing and measuring performance. It is not solely HR’s responsibility to drive this. Waiting for someone else to develop this strategy can only negatively affect you as a leader or employee. Taking the lead and positively impacting employee engagement in your team is a fantastic place to start.
Develop your own leadership skillset and capability. Then apply your new knowledge in positively leading your team. If Deloitte are correct in stating that employee retention, engagement and leadership are the number one and two business challenges this year, then you will be ahead of the game.
Need I mention ownership and accountability again!? Give it a try and let me know how you go.

Does self-awareness and an understanding of leadership impact really matter to organisations?

CoachStation: Self-awareness and Leadership Development

Nearly all managers and people in leadership roles believe they make a difference. In some cases, this is true. In reality however, the evidence continues to demonstrate that leaders overstate their value and influence.
One of the core traits observed in the best leaders I have worked with is self-awareness. This is tightly linked to a willingness to be honest with themselves as well as others. There are also points such as decision making beliefs and biases that influence our position on many topics. Our actions are also reinforced by these biases. All the more reason to take a strong position that as a leader it is important to regularly review your own performance as well as that of your team members. We overstate our performance across many fields, so anything that provides a more frank and balanced sense of self is valuable.

  • In a survey of college professors, 94% said they did above average work.
  • In a survey of corporate CEO’s, a whopping 92% said they were the only person who could do their job effectively. By the way, more than 50% of those corporations were losing money.
  • In an M&A involving a flailing target, the average firms pays 40+% more for the target acquisition than the current stock price. Why? Because the acquiring execs believe that they can run the acquisition more profitably. (1)

As an example, I have seen the challenge of holding yourself accountable as a leader when participating in performance appraisal calibration sessions within several organisations.
Dilbert: Honest Leadership Assessment
The discussion is often about what employees have not achieved or the reasons why they will be ‘marked down’. There are two strong points of failures with this:

  1. The disappointing attitude of some leaders that the employee underperformance is a surprise. If the leader acknowledges that an individual has underperformed, then they should be prepared to look at themselves and the failure to have made a difference for/with that person over the past 6-12 months. If it is not the leader’s responsibility to manage this, whose is it?
  2. The focus on the 10-20% of what an employee is not achieving is out of proportion with the discussion of the 80-90% of what is working well. In my experience, the vast majority of these type of discussions focus on what is isn’t, not what it is. This is particularly disheartening if there is little support and coaching provided to to turn this situation around throughout the period. I have been in situations where I have held underperforming employees accountable to the point of terminating employment after much effort to turn them around. Afterwards, during performance calibration sessions I have had other managers state that the decision to terminate is a good one as the employee has been a poor performer for years! My response will always be, “why had nothing been done about it then?” I hope you can see the irony in leadership statements such as this.

Does leadership make that much of a difference to business outcomes and success? You bet! The effort and willingness to grow and develop as a leader is the only way that this benefit can be realised, however. There is ample evidence that those organisations who focus on developing their leadership group see the benefit in many ways beyond improved employee engagement.
Organisations with the strongest leaders have nearly double the revenue growth compared to those with weaker leaders. However, most leaders lack the full complement of skills to thrive in today’s rapidly changing environment…organisations must adjust their approach to leadership and develop leaders who are able to build and enable. In order for organisations to achieve higher growth, truly differentiate themselves from competitors and maintain an edge, they must set a higher bar for their leaders, requiring them to go beyond setting strategic direction and driving execution. (2)

One of the keys to knowing whether you truly add value as a leader is through measurement, both tangible and non-financial. A key question here is, are all aspects of business measurable?

Calculating business benefits is often a complex art. As anyone who has been involved in business cases can testify, investments in ‘tangibles’ e.g. IT infrastructure, marketing spend etc. are often difficult to quantify in terms of the real monetary value they deliver. So when we start to think about investments that deliver ‘intangible’ benefits such as changes in leadership behaviour, the waters get murkier still. In too many cases, the evaluation of Leadership Development Programmes is not properly planned or budgeted for. Rather, it is seen as a tag-on, something to be put together at the very end…work needs to have clearly defined, specific and measurable objectives. So start with the end in mind:

  • What is the desired outcome of the programme?
  • What does success look like?
  • And then the killer question…what are the business metrics that we want to see impacted by this piece of work? (3)
The main point here is to ensure that you have a clearly set expectation for every employee, team and leader. You cannot hold people accountable for something that you have not set standards and expectations for in the first place. Confirming that each person understands and has the opportunity to participate in developing these expectations is also important. When combined with honest self-appraisal and subsequent action the opportunity to influence and contribute to your organisation is increased significantly.

Even more importantly, the influence on and buy-in you will receive from your team members will encourage you to continue down this developmental path and feel the effort is worthwhile. The alternative is to stagnate and continue to do what you have always done. Is that the type of leader you want to be?


(2) Inside HR – Strong Leaders Grow Revenues Twice As Fast, Issue 2, 2014: Pg 6

Late last year I ran a poll via LinkedIn asking the question: what is the most important leadership trait, skill or attribute that you would like to see developed and improved in 2013? I was very pleased with the number of responses, receiving 226 votes. What was most satisfying was the effort many people put into the supporting comments of which 49 added to their vote with their thoughts.

There are many well-balanced, thoughtful and insightful people in my network and I thank you all for taking the time to add to the discussion. I will add that the 3 or 4 foolish people who took the time to repeatedly add very little constructive thought and feel the need to use domains such as LinkedIn polls to vent and argue with each other about trivialities is disappointing and diminishes the process for others. I do not understand it, however recognise that some people really do miss the point when it comes to value-add and sharing. Thankfully they are in the minority.

For the vast majority who voted and left comments, this blog is dedicated to the excellent and thought-provoking insights. I did not initially intend to write a blog on the topic, as the poll was created for my business needs however with the high quality comments provided, when summarised and presented on one page, really do add value to the relevance and position of leadership in our world today.

CoachStation: LinkedIn Leadership Poll

Clearly, I had many options that could have been included as leadership attributes and skills, however with a limit of 5 criteria and specific reasons for including those listed, the results were quite fascinating. Interestingly, although the results were quite even it was the ‘leadership soft-skills’ and self-awareness based attributes that were deemed as most important to focus on.

As the comments are in the public domain, available to all  I have kept each contributors first name with their individual comment – my favourites are:

I believe that most people issues start with their own mindset. If everyone would work harder on themselves first they would be in much better shape to lead others. As John Maxwell teaches in his newest book “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” every person needs to start with the development of their own personal and professional growth plan. We all should be on a “growth” journey and that will vastly improve our leadership abilities.  David – Voted for Self-Awareness (Honesty, Growth)

I’ve worked in too many companies where communication does not flow down to those that need to implement changes. Therefore productivity is effected when work is done that does not meet new company guidelines and time is wasted having to fix work and bring it up to the new standard. I’m not saying that the other areas are any less important but feel that as change is our constant companion in the workplace, communication skills are key to developing a happy, knowledgeable, productive workplace. Dale – Voted for Communication Skills & Ability

It is surprising how much of self-awareness (honesty/growth) is missing across key leadership level – any good literature has tonnes reported on this. Its almost like honesty/trust/growth/respect was to flow downside-up or follower-to-leader and not the other way. Call it benign oblivion or conscious side-stepping, people see through this. And question how these people made it to leadership positions in the first place. Evidently, people-who-matter are equally part of it.That said, people will not recognize us as leaders behind our backs short of this. Amit – Voted for Self-Awareness (Honesty, Growth)

I think too many leaders today lack the foresight of vision and this translates into poor communication skills. Great leaders have always been able to “see the future” and engage people into bridging the gap, no matter how large or big the obstacles may be. The problem for leaders in setting great vision is covering the massive failure that can follow, and as such leaders look to hedge their bets, to the point where there is no vision, no communication and no leadership in sight. I say give it a go, envision an outcome for yourself or for your company and start engaging people in the vision – it’s the only way I know of to create massive change. Peter – Voted for Communication Skills & Ability

Emotional Intelligence would have been my answer. Self-awareness took my vote because at least that is an element of EI. Leaders with exceptional EI can learn to coach others effectively, but you can’t coach others effectively without exceptional EI. My second choice was communication skills but only because of how self-awareness (and EI) impact our communication. Great leadership is all about how well we are able to manage relationships with those around us. And we can’t manage relationships without understanding ourselves, managing ourselves, and understanding others. I believe that all of our organizations would be remarkably better places if our collective EI was increased by 10%. Nearly every employee in the world knows what makes a great leader. So why is great leadership such an uncommon practice? The answer is that very few people understand what EI is and the impact of developing our EI competencies. The “way” we interact with others matters. And self-awareness is that first step. Mike – Voted for Self-Awareness (Honesty, Growth)

Having a high level of self awareness is a key trait to have for those in leadership roles. It enables the leader to diminish those blind spots that are often career blockers. Marcia – Voted for Self-Awareness (Honesty, Growth)

There is little benefit in being adept at all aspects without the ability to communicate your knowledge, understanding and ideas. Communication is a very broad term and its not only about what YOU think, so to be more accurate, true LISTENING is a skill that is often overlooked, a bad practitioner not only misses the boat but often leaves others feeling disregarded. Dave – Voted for Communication Skills & Ability

Until and unless a person is not able to communicate properly I don’t think he can be a good leader, without communication skills a person can be a good employee or a smart worker but to be a LEADER he/she has to be absolutely brilliant with both internal & external communication capabilities. Raheel – Voted for Communication Skills & Ability

I believe that to lead, manage, communicate appropriately and coach other people, it is fairly fundamental that a leader has a high level of self awareness about themselves and others. One must lead and self manage themselves first before you can lead other people. Employees can be taught different management, coaching and communication skill & techniques but the fundamental building block is self awareness. I don’t believe you can excel at the other areas without a high level of self awareness. Alison – Voted for Self-Awareness (Honesty, Growth)

I voted for Communication Skills & Ability because without the ability to communicate effectively, one cannot be a good coach. Good communication skills also requires honesty to be an effective communicator. Management also requires excellent communication skills as does Leadership. So, the ability to communicate effectively and concisely, allows all of the other traits/attributes to be able to grow successfully. Sharon – Voted for Communication Skills & Ability

Self awareness provides an individual a road map that promotes personal and professional growth. More importantly, this gift provides an honest self appraisal that allows an individual to learn the importance of collaboration and input from a mentor. Suzanne – Voted for Self-Awareness (Honesty, Growth)

This was insightful. I ultimately voted for the self-awareness piece. From my experience, leaders who are not aware of their own strengths, weaknesses and others’ perception of them are often unable to sound and be authentic. This translates into the questioning of their intent and motivation, which leads to mistrust at many levels. I have to understand me and my skills first before I can be influential with others. Shirley – Voted for Self-Awareness (Honesty, Growth)

Coaching potential candidates for future leadership positions to ensure organization’s continuity & prosperity is the most important trait of all great leaders. Being able to retire knowing that what you have accomplished remains in good, capable hands is vital for a distinguished leader’s peace of mind once he hands over the fort to his properly groomed successor(s). Communication skills are also important but I believe that it constitute part of good coaching as well. Without good communications coaching can not be performed well. Therefore, I find some overlap between Communications & Coaching skills. Adel – Voted for Coaching Skills & Capability

Management skills and application. I especially find applying what you know and getting others to follow suit is rather daunting to me as leader. After all the fine speeches and charts, when you get to the nuts and bolts then only you found your inadequacies may be disastrous. Michael – Voted for Management Skills & Application

I am reminded of James Collins’ “Good to Great” in which he went in length arguing that one of the key characteristics that differentiates great leaders from mere good ones is how great leaders invest in grooming their successors. It is not enough that they succeed. They also want to ensure that, when the key is turned over, the next generation can continue to thrive and lead their companies down the path of prosperity. Evan – Voted for Coaching Skills & Capability

Communications because it is the base from which the other options start. If there is anything, at any time, we could progress, it is always communication. Brad – Voted for Communication Skills & Ability

These are the comments that resonated with me the most. What are your thoughts?

No matter the input you have or your yearly goals, I hope that 2013 brings you all that you are looking for, continues to challenge you in the right way and by December you are better off for having developed your skills, capability and mindset through your choices throughout this year.

Like many of you, I have spent some time over the past weeks reflecting on 2012 and planning for next year. As cliche’d as it may be, the years do seem to be passing more and more quickly, although I feel this is a reflection of our lifestyles and a symptom of the modern world. It has been a year of significant change for me, as I took the step to leave full-time employment and work full time in and on my consulting and leadership development businesses, CoachStation and Telework Management. Pleasingly, I have never been so comfortable and content with my current and future work situation.

Beyond my family, one of my great joys is writing and I have taken much pleasure from the blogs constructed in 2012. It dawned on me today that if our favourite music artists can take their best songs and make a compilation then there is nothing stopping me from doing the same…any excuse will do! CoachStation Leadership Blog HighlightsThis blog highlights some of the best ‘bits’ as highlighted by my readers and my personal favourite statements and points gleaned from this years CoachStation blogs. My first job out of school was in a radio station in Adelaide and like other stations, our catch-cry at the time was ‘Greatest Hits and Latest Memories’…a theme I will borrow for the moment as you read through my Greatest Hits. Enjoy!

Effective leadership is neither easy nor a given – it takes effort, practice, ongoing learning & persistence. The rewards that stem from being an effective leader are difficult to articulate or describe to someone who has never felt them. Read More: Leadership: It’s About You

Every individual has different expectations of themselves, their leader and the employer. Each team member brings different skills, values, biases, desires and other personal traits to their role. It is the leaders job to understand the employee well enough to blend business needs with personal needs. Read More: Expectation Setting – Who Cares?

I see managers rewarding and recognising employees based on the end result, with no regard as to how it was achieved…the ‘right’ journey will more often than not provide the ‘right’ result and the team culture, ethic and standard will be reinforced even further as a result. This point focuses on the ‘how’. Ultimately, the long-term culture and level of understanding benefits from this mindset. Read More: Leadership, The Coach and Coaching

Effective leaders ensure that they seek to understand both the planned outcomes and how their people are going to influence and drive all of the elements within the process to achieve that outcome. I often wonder what it is about processes that many managers have a need to see as entirely separate from their people…If we are not clear about what role our team member’s play in the overall project then the entire process change will likely fail. Read More: People and Process: Aligned or Loggerheads?

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. Read More: Strategic Thinking and Leadership

The very essential elements of leadership – the measure of effectiveness, credibility and judgment that provides an answer to leadership effectiveness actually comes from those you lead! Read More: Leadership Credibility: The Right To Lead?

The leader who is effective in their role recognises that connection between people occurs through more than just the words used.  An effective leader knows this intuitively and works hard to make sure relationships exist with meaning, even when there may not be an initial strong affiliation. Read More: The Positive Impact Of Connecting

Values are critical for both individuals and businesses. Values provide a base for alignment between yourself and the business that employs you. They allow an individual to feel connected and maintain a clear view of the reasons for doing what they do. Understanding what is important to you personally and at work also assists to motivate or re-clarify, providing direction. Read More: Developing and Empowering Leaders – Richard Branson (Pt 1)

Employ the right people, support and develop them and give them the freedom to make their own mistakes and revel in successes. Read More: Developing and Empowering Leaders – Richard Branson (Pt 2)

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. So often we think business is all about making money and that customers are the most important thing. But if you don’t treat your employees well and give them a reason to come to work, they aren’t going to be motivated to give excellent service to your customers, and customers who aren’t treated well have lots of other places they can go.Read More: 11 Key Leadership and Customer Experience Mantras

How are you choosing to challenge what has been done previously? Don’t accept the reasonable reasons from the past. Read More: Leadership @ Customer Experience Management Conference

Effective leadership and employee engagement are critical factors in providing a culture where people want to work…and to provide more of what our customers want. Building a culture that is actively and meaningfully engaging both internal customers (your employees) and external customers is more easily said than done. A genuinely effective customer experience approach requires a top-down strategy based on broad and extensive cultural change. Read More: Leadership, Employee Engagement and Customer Service

Trust: being trusted and trusting others is a great base to work from. Those who influence most recognise the need for trust and understand the nuances that enable trust to be built. In a real relationship trust cannot be faked. Read More: 360 View in 360 Words: Leadership and Influence

If you do not understand what each of your team member’s core values are, you could be potentially missing the ultimate success of growing and developing your team to be the best they can be. This could be impacting the business bottom line, morale, relationships and other key elements. Read More: Personal Values – One View

The argument of nature versus nurture to me is not the key question. The bigger question, no matter where or how you obtained your role, is: how effective are you as a leader? What I do know is that not all leaders by name are leaders in practice – a title does not make you a leader. Read More: 360 View in 360 Words: Leaders Are Born AND Made

When I reflect on my development, reading has been critical in providing avenues to challenge my thinking. It is my time. A safe and rewarding opportunity. I get to challenge myself with absolute frankness and honesty. My thoughts are between the words on the page and myself. Read More: How Important is Reading to Leadership and Development?

Having worked with many varied people and business cultures and recognising the similarities and differences, it is clear to me that many managers think training and development are the same thing…Having knowledge is one thing, applying this knowledge in a practical and discernible way that makes a difference, is quite another. Read More: Development and Training – Same, Same: Maybe Not?

Self-reflection, taking into account the many factors that influence us all is important for growth. Taking time to reflect provides a platform for improvement and awareness about what is going well and what you would like to change about who you are and what you do. Read More: Efficiency and Effectiveness – Leadership Impact

An organization’s senior leadership team has a significant impact on its employees‘ overall opinions of the company and engagement levels, which have been linked to both earnings per share and total shareholder return…An employee who is fully engaged today will not necessarily be in a year‘s time, or in a month for that matter. Read More: At Last We’re Engaged – Leading Your Team (Part 1)

A leader‘s ability to consistently demonstrate and apply relational skills has a direct correlation to the level of engagement an individual may feel. Providing genuine leadership is key. There appears to be a gap between what employees state is occurring and what leaders feel they are applying in reality. Data and surveys continually reflect the discrepancy between what leaders believe is occurring and what their team members state. Read More: At Last We’re Engaged – Leading Your Team (Part 2)

Developing soft-skills (or ‘hard skills’) requires effort, focus and self-awareness amongst other elements. Is this why the leadership skills that fall under this category are often the ones that are least practiced and improved. Is it fear? If  a leader asks the question of his or her team, they may not like nor be willing to acknowledge the answer. So is there a view for some leaders, based on fear, that it is best to not ask in the first place? Read More: The Current Challenge Of Leadership

My contention is, all kids have tremendous talents…and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly. So, I want to talk about education and I want to talk about creativity. My contention is that creativity is now as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status…In the next 30 years, according to UNESCO, more people worldwide will be graduating through education than since the beginning of history. Read More: Sir Ken Robinson – Education, Our Kids and the Future

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. Read More: Roles, Structure and Instinct

Middle managers are the ones that keep the cogs turning and ensure the job gets done, not the chief executive. They are often not getting the support or training required so that they can maximise operations, as more senior managers tend to get the company-sponsored education opportunities…more businesses need to look at how their middle managers can be supported if they are to effectively lead people and manage the success of operations. Read More: Leadership Training of Middle Managers

…and 2 Bonus quotes from my blogs written for and appearing on the Linked2Leadership site:

This is made even more complex by the fact that human beings are quite unpredictable and are certainly not static like most business data. We have emotional and psychological needs, wants, highs, lows and complexity. There are various aspects of our world today that seemingly conspire against consistency and predictability, but that is what makes leadership so exciting. Read More: On Leadership, Management and Effectively Using Data

Your employees will not necessarily ‘buy- into’ the values and philosophies of your company just because they are presented. In fact, if your team member’s see these values, mission statements and similar as being incongruent with what they see and feel every day, these tools can prove more damaging than not creating them at all. You are setting up false standards and expectations. Effective leaders, displaying the company values, primarily aligned to their own, provide significant power to your business. Unfortunately knowing this and taking appropriate action are not the same thing. Read More: How Leadership and Culture Impact Business Profit

I hope that these blog segments provide opportunity for you to delve deeper into thinking about your own situation and challenge your thinking, especially as we move into a new year – that is the core reason why I write. Similarly, I welcome your comments and feedback. I recently moved all of my blogs onto my company website and as a consequence lost all of the Tweets, LinkedIn referrals and other Social Media references, so please feel free to forward or share with others as you see fit.

I also hope you had a wonderful year and trust that 2013 will bring just as many ‘smash hits’ for you as this year has for me.

, , Self-Awareness, Mindfulness and Decision-Making

Ask yourself: “am I particularly efficient…or am I effective in what I do and the decisions that I make?”

CoachStation: Employees, Strengths, Diversity and Relationships

Self-reflection, taking into account many factors is important to continue to produce improvement and awareness about what is going well and what you would like to change about who you are and what you do. In my most recent role as a national leader within a global organisation I had many responsibilities and tasks assigned to my role. I was also in the fortunate position to have a degree of flexibility and freedom in my direction and subsequently, that of my team.
Last year there was a leadership change within my team, which had its pros and cons. However, I did find that I had less opportunity to genuinely contribute my ideas and felt significantly less valued and comfortable in my role as a result. My point is not to judge the leadership decisions, more of how this made me react internally and the choices I made during this period.

I found great value in self-reflection (in some cases my unconscious thoughts influenced my conscious choices) and specifically spent time focusing on how efficient and effective I was being.

Were the changes impacting my team? Had my demeanor changed? Was I still as effective and efficient in my role as a leader as in the past?

Questions such as this at face value may have been instigated from self-doubt, however I found power in being able to analyse my routines, creativeness and methods of working. As someone who has focused quite a deal of time on this topic having coached and supported many leaders in similar situations, I knew this could be the make or break for my tenure, depending on the outcomes of my decisions. The journey I went on and related learning may be of value to you.
So, what did I do?  I researched the specific contexts of effectiveness, efficiency and related themes. Not so that I could define the words for the sake of it, more so as I wanted to ensure I was not assuming too much, which could skew my choices.

efficiency – The ratio of the output to the input of any system. Skillfulness in avoiding wasted time and effort; “she did the work with great efficiency”. Economy – the efficient use of resources; “economy of effort”; inefficiency – unskillfulness resulting from a lack of efficiency (1)

Was my focus on the right things – the ability to avoid wasting time and effort? Stripping back on the many tasks and focusing on the core few reaped the rewards for me that I know would add most benefit, no matter the situation.This required a level of focus and self-awareness that I had not used before. I also had to ‘let go’ or at least flex many existing thoughts and beliefs.

We often become set in our ways, accept the norms and standards that have been established for months or even years.This is very prominent in work cultures and leadership.

A willingness to firstly see these inefficient processes and desire to drive change are two different behaviours, but both are required. Knowing something and doing something are not the same thing. I knew it was imperative at that time to be as effective as possible in my decision-making and actions.

effective -a. Having an intended or expected effect. b. Producing a strong impression or response. Effectiveness relates to getting the right things done. (1)

The decisions revolved around all aspects of my life, not just work. Choices that impacted my wife, three daughters, work team, myself, friendship group and future direction were all balanced in my decision-making. I found that taking a step back and analysing my current situation allowed me to improve my future situation, as well as provide greater comfort in the moment.
It was efficient thinking – organised, less random and controlled thinking that provided the platform to make the next choice. I was not wasting time and effort at work or at home on those things that mattered less. Without going through this process my mind was jumbled, confused and I had much less ability to think clearly and take action forward. At best I was static – at worst, going backwards. A focus on efficiency allowed me to target, challenge myself on specific needs and take forward steps.

In many ways I am teaching myself to live more in the moment and practice a new concept for me – Mindfulness.

Being mindful and the related concepts has become more prominent in recent years. Mindfulness has links to psychology, Buddhism, meditation  and other spiritual themes but is popular now because it has a place in our modern, busy world.

Essentially mindfulness is: bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis,or involves paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. (2)

Being more present or in the moment allows us to make choices that somehow seem more appropriate and relevant. This framework of thinking then allowed me to more easily work towards analysing effectiveness, again measured in all aspects of my life. I needed to understand whether there was an intended or expected effect and whether I was prepared for action. The answer: No, not in all things, but I can say that the clarity and direction gave me pause for thought and my choices and decisions did change as a result.
It is now only as I reflect on this period earlier in the year do I realise the benefit of ‘breaking down’ thought processes into a structured arrangement led to the right decisions, often only proven in time.
Post-script: after 25 years of working for many large national and global organisations I left work earlier this year to focus full-time on my external consultancy, training and coaching business. I had been developing the brand and strategy for the 18 months prior. However the thought-process and my focus on what is most effective and efficient for me to be spending my time on, allowed me to leave a legacy with my previous employer and team whilst making the choice to work full-time on CoachStation. It is going very well and I have rarely been happier and more confident for our future!