CoachStation: Coaching and Mentoring Pathway

Coaching and Mentoring – The Need For Accountability

  To genuinely succeed in business, leaders must know their role, continuously develop their skills and be constantly supported to achieve the best they can as a leader and employee. Finding your own development pathway takes ownership, effort and clarity. However, it is not something you need to do on your own. Whether it is developing yourself or your team, coaching and mentoring can be a powerful tool to enable change and growth, both personally and professionally. When it comes to leadership development, however, one of the keys to success is to start developing deliberately and early. It is problematic to concern yourself with focusing on developing leadership skills after they are needed. Setting up leaders to thrive through a development program both prior to and during their tenure is key to the success of your leadership team and business. Training in itself is one source of development, however this learning must be supported and reinforced in practice based on individual situations, needs, understanding and capability. Ongoing support ‘makes the learning real’ within the work environment, reinforcing the content and context provided Read more about Coaching and Mentoring – The Need For Accountability[…]

Gabrielle Dolan - Leadership

The Complexity of Business Communication

We may well be over-complicating the language of leadership and business. Poor communication leads to confusion, mixed-messages and a lack of buy-in from our employees. After attending the Future of Leadership – Workplace Culture conference in Brisbane last week I have been reflecting on the content from some of the speakers. Gabrielle Dolan, in particular, caught my imagination. Not only because she is a very compelling and funny speaker but also because her key points seem so intuitively right. Reduce complex language and jargon. Communicate messages that people understand – tailor to you audience. Be comfortable and confident in your own style. Use stories to embed the key messages. They are all very useful tips that can make a sustained difference to how your teams perform. One of the ways we can step into real leadership is to move away from corporate jargon and be prepared to share personal stories. Every time we use corporate jargon we disconnect and isolate people as opposed to personal stories that connect and engage people. (1) Many of us are guilty of over-using words, especially in Read more about The Complexity of Business Communication[…]

CoachStation: Setting Leaders Up For Success

Are We Setting Our Leaders Up For Success?

People get hired or promoted into leadership roles every day. Sadly, when they get the job they may get little or no training on how to lead a team. (1) The opportunity to develop our future leaders before placing them into leadership roles is an obvious one. Building employee skills, capability and awareness to be ready for leadership is ideal, yet is rarely applied well in practice. The first blog I wrote many years ago was titled, Falling Into Leadership. It highlighted the common practice of people being ‘thrust into’ leadership roles without development and support both prior to and during the opportunity. I have written about this topic again since as it is something that continues to challenge many organisations. In fact, the low frequency of leadership support and meaningful development was a core reason why I created my business, CoachStation, in the first place. Too often I saw people being held accountable for our own failures to set them up for leadership success and support our team members to achieve. Based on recent coaching conversations and discussions with clients, it would appear little has Read more about Are We Setting Our Leaders Up For Success?[…]

13 Challenges to the Current State of Leadership

It’s hard to identify why but there are currently major gaps in leadership, in Australia at least. Actually, it’s not that difficult to understand really. The things we want from work are not that different to what we are looking for from life in general. The difficulty is not in the knowing, it is in the application and doing. It seems that employees in the modern workplace are screaming for a certain style and capability of leadership, but current cultures are challenged in delivering it. The current state of leadership is not what is wanted nor required. This is hard to write and I am sure is difficult to read for some. We wish it wasn’t the case. However, no matter who I speak to either on a personal level or within my professional contacts, there is great frustration and disappointment with the current 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 Read more about 13 Challenges to the Current State of Leadership[…]

CoachStation: Leadership, People and Business Development

Does Leadership Intent Equal Business Success?

 Not really! The consistently large gap between behaviours, intent, desired culture and reality remains an issue. I was flying home to Brisbane last week and had the opportunity to read the latest ‘Inside HR’ magazine from cover to cover. It is always an interesting read with much that grabs my attention. However on this occasion, by the time I was towards the end of the magazine a theme had started to form in my mind. There were various articles and highlights within the content that rang alarm bells for me. Or maybe it was more that the messages were articulating many of my own recent thoughts more clearly. Let me show you what I mean through various excerpts taken from the magazine: Engaged employees are at least three and a half times more likely than disengaged employees to say their organisation is committed to bringing innovative products and services to the marketplace. Highly engaged employees are nearly six times more likely than disengaged employees to use challenging goals to improve performance, and more than seven times more likely to agree Read more about Does Leadership Intent Equal Business Success?[…]

CoachStation: Contact Centre Case Study

Steve Riddle was engaged in early 2013 to provide consulting, leadership and people development services and produce a report summarising the strengths and areas for improvement that existed at that time. The approach to undertake this review, prepare the report and provide recommendations was to engage stakeholders at all levels of the business including the contact centre, hardship, complaints teams and relevant people external to the centre. The original consultation period and subsequent review occurred between April and June 2013. A highly consultative and holistic approach was taken to review and examine various areas of the business, as highlighted in this document. Background The contact centre industry has been a key focus and part of business structure for many medium and large organisations for over 30 years. When designed and functioning correctly the centre acts as a hub for existing customers and potential clients to seek additional information; purchase or apply for new business; seek clarification regarding existing products; and often most importantly, act as a single point of customer contact, in an efficient and cost-effective manner. In recent years Read more about CoachStation: Contact Centre Case Study[…]

CoachStation: Customer 360 Symposium

Customer 360 Symposium: Leadership and Your Customers

Under the remit of my current contracted role as Head of Customer Service for Toyota Finance Australia, I recently attended an event in the Hunter Valley in Australia organised by Ashton Media titled Customer 360 Symposium. The opportunity to mingle and share ideas with like-minded professionals and customer focussed providers was genuinely excellent. There were many takeaways, some of which I felt it relevant to share via my blog as there are key points that relate to culture, leadership and creating an environment that encourages outstanding customer service. I will present much of this as a series of questions, in some cases adding my own thoughts and comments indented in blue font in reply, as applicable. A core benefit of this type of event and my notes below, is the opportunity to be challenged and force reflection regarding our existing processes, practices and beliefs. Hopefully you will also be similarly stimulated. Dr Melis Senova – Huddle Design Has our leadership evolved as fast as our thinking? I am not sure that the issue is how quickly our leadership has evolved Read more about Customer 360 Symposium: Leadership and Your Customers[…]

Personality and Character: CoachStation

Character and Personality Contribute to Leadership

Is a strong personality an asset or a hindrance in leadership and how does it compare to character? As is the case when dealing with people, there is no clear-cut right or wrong ‘type’ of personality. The ability to flex styles and meet the needs of various situations is an asset however we all have ingrained preferences, beliefs, characteristics and personalities. A ‘strong’ personality in itself is also neither good nor bad. However when an individual possesses too dominant or overbearing a personality it can certainly challenge relationships in and out of the workplace. I like to think of personality and character as related, yet with significant differences. An online definition of personality references character as if they are the same, or at least heavily influenced by the other. per-son-al-i-ty: noun 1. the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others: He has a pleasing personality. 2. a person as an embodiment of a collection of qualities: He is a curious personality. 3. Psychology: a. the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual; Read more about Character and Personality Contribute to Leadership[…]

CoachStation: Leadership In 2014

Leadership This Year…and Next

This time of year is often associated with resolutions or the idea that changes to what has been the past are required. For me, the idea that a nominal date such as January 1st should be the trigger for self-review and improvement is somewhat skewed. The concept of self-awareness and subsequent desire to be as capable and self-aware as possible is an ongoing effort, or at least, it should be. When it comes to leadership, this ideal is as relevant as ever. As individuals and employees we should feel comfortable with this concept, although I recognise the reality is often somewhat different. Now is a good time to have a look at leadership in general and specifically review how you as a leader are performing against current benchmarks and needs, not those rooted in the past.  What has altered in leadership for 2014? The point that culture and society is evolving means that we as leaders need to keep abreast of cultural, societal, organisational behaviour and workplace adjustments. We are judged on many things including our ability to relate to Read more about Leadership This Year…and Next[…]

CoachStation: Leadership & Managing Redundancies

Leadership and Managing Redundancies

These are challenging times! It seems that, at least in Australia, we are yet to fully recover the confidence levels that existed before the financial crisis of a few years ago. This has led to less certainty in sentiment and in some cases, reductions in the workforce. Leadership is imperative at any time, however our recent global and local economic plight brings the importance of leading well to the fore even more starkly. This is no more apparent than when the unfortunate situation arises where members of your team have to be let go, not based on performance but from a financial situation for the company involved. Redundancies are rarely pleasant however, when managed well, the impact for all parties involved can be minimised. Unfortunately, the worst thing to happen to these organisations isn’t the fact that these redundancies take place, it’s the poor leadership which follows the redundancies. Consequences such as reduced productivity and engagement can linger for many months, or even years, especially when the process has not been handled gracefully. (1) I have personally been involved in Read more about Leadership and Managing Redundancies[…]

CoachStation: Future Leaders

Leadership, Politics and Private Enterprise

No matter your political predisposition, country of birth or current location, many of us have seen a dearth of good effective leaders in political circles.   It is not only in private enterprise that we have had the misfortune to see in recent years businesses ignore risk management, develop poor internal cultures and force us to question the value of salaries for some of the most prominent of CEO’s. Unfortunately this is apparent within politics also, particularly in Australia. This is not a blog about political allegiance but rather a side-note to the need for political parties and individual politicians to start to develop a leadership mindset that is consistent with expectations and capabilities of the best organisations. Consistent with this ideal, Labor politician Bob Carr recently made a few interesting points on the ABC Lateline tv show that are worth highlighting. I think we’ve got to take leadership training, tutoring, nurturing, more seriously than we do and every organisation in Australian society you’ve got a commitment to train, to coach, to mentor political leadership. Only the political parties think Read more about Leadership, Politics and Private Enterprise[…]

Motivation and Drive

Drive and Motivation: 360 View Leadership

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 Read more about Drive and Motivation: 360 View Leadership[…]

Leadership and Relationships – It’s the Little Things

In leadership and relationships, it is often the small gestures and words that make all the difference.     I have often been surprised at the number of times I have been reminded of my words and gestures from the past, how they have remained in people’s minds and in some cases had influence in their thinking and on their actions. To be honest, this has not always been in a positive sense, with mistakes and errors in judgment coming back to haunt me at various stages of my life as well. But this blog is more about the positive aspects of our words and gestures. In my last 6 years of full-time work for GE I had the pleasure of working with another leader, Luke, who I was able to help support, influence and develop, as he did me. We spoke about many things and subjects during this time including the importance of connecting with others. We regularly reminded each other of the content of previous conversations and the phrases used, providing opportunity to delve deeper and reflect upon Read more about Leadership and Relationships – It’s the Little Things[…]

LinkedIn Leadership Poll Nov 2012 Results Screenshot

Leadership Traits, Skills and Attributes – Poll

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, Read more about Leadership Traits, Skills and Attributes – Poll[…]

Leadership Greatest Hits: 2012 CoachStation Highlights

Like many of you, I have spent some time over the past weeks reflecting on 2012 and planning for next year. As cliche’d as it may be, the years do seem to be passing more and more quickly, although I feel this is a reflection of our lifestyles and a symptom of the modern world. It has been a year of significant change for me, as I took the step to leave full-time employment and work full time in and on my consulting and leadership development businesses, CoachStation and Telework Management. Pleasingly, I have never been so comfortable and content with my current and future work situation. Beyond my family, one of my great joys is writing and I have taken much pleasure from the blogs constructed in 2012. It dawned on me today that if our favourite music artists can take their best songs and make a compilation then there is nothing stopping me from doing the same…any excuse will do! This blog highlights some of the best ‘bits’ as highlighted by my readers and my personal favourite statements Read more about Leadership Greatest Hits: 2012 CoachStation Highlights[…]

Leading Customer Experience Management

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, Read more about Leading Customer Experience Management[…]

CoachStation: Leadership

Roles, Structure and Instinct…Be Like a Bee

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 Read more about Roles, Structure and Instinct…Be Like a Bee[…]

CoachStation: Building Leadership

The Current Challenge Of Leadership

People-oriented issues are the biggest factors impacting business success in 2012. A recent report by the business group, SixSeconds, titled The 2012 Workplace Issues Report: Insights On The People Side of Performance seeks to identify the key challenges in the workplace today. The report details the results of a global survey which explores top issues as well as employee attitudes and the role of emotional intelligence in solving those key issues. The findings collate 775 responses from leaders and employees worldwide, representing various levels of employment, industries and sectors. There are many interesting results and data-sets stemming from the survey, all providing depth to the importance of people-related leadership activities. 58% of survey respondents list ‘Leadership’ as the biggest ‘people-side’ issue in their organisation. Additionally, the survey highlights key words that identify fundamental areas of concern for business. The views of the respondents were summarised in the most frequently used words collated from the verbatim comments. In order, they were: Retention Talent Leadership Communication Fascinating results, with these trends and themes entrenched even more soundly in a few of my Read more about The Current Challenge Of Leadership[…]

At Last We’re Engaged – Leading Your Team (Part 2)

Is employee engagement relevant in today‘s workforce? Earlier this week I wrote the first part of this blog relating to Employee Engagement. In part two I examine some of the leadership themes, highlights and a few statistics supporting the relevance and importance of engaging employees. 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. This is often reflected in frequency and quality of the levels of engagement through formal and informal communication, coaching and development opportunities. There are many leadership traits and skills identified in various books and literature. However, a handful of values-based attributes are identified consistently towards the top of the ‘criticality-list‘ i.e. they are identified as a deal-breaker for many employees. Over the past 5 years I have Read more about At Last We’re Engaged – Leading Your Team (Part 2)[…]

CoachStation: Employee Engagement

At Last We're Engaged – Leading Your Team (Part 1)

Is employee engagement relevant in today‘s workforce? I would suggest more significant than ever with the ‘war for talent‘ escalating, technology providing a seemingly endless stream of information and contact with new job opportunities being more accessible than ever. What is employee engagement? Simply, it is how well an employee is fully involved in his or her role and the desire in meeting business interests, outcomes and goals. Employee Engagement is the extent to which employee commitment, both emotional and intellectual, exists relative to accomplishing the work, mission, and vision of the organisation. Engagement can be seen as a heightened level of ownership where each employee wants to do whatever they can for the benefit of their internal and external customers, and for the success of the organization as a whole…Thus engagement is distinctively different from employee satisfaction, motivation and organisational culture. (1) Although employee engagement has strong alignment to emotional connection and the level of commitment an employee applies to their work setting, clearly there are other variables and contributors. Whilst acknowledging the myriad influences, the key focus of Read more about At Last We're Engaged – Leading Your Team (Part 1)[…]

CoachStation: Developing Leaders

Efficiency and Effectiveness – Leadership Impact

Are you efficient and effective in all that you do? I’m not, however a recent experience has taught me more about myself and the importance of these two attributes . 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. In my most recent role as a senior leader within a global organisation I had many responsibilities and tasks assigned to my position. I was also in the fortunate situation where, for most of my tenure, I had a high 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. I had been through leadership change many times before. However, in this instance I did find there was less opportunity to genuinely contribute my ideas and I felt significantly less valued and comfortable in Read more about Efficiency and Effectiveness – Leadership Impact[…]

CoachStation: Learn To Lead

Development and Training – Same, Same: Maybe Not?

Are learning, training and development the same thing? The short answer is no, however training is one avenue to learning and development. Why does defining the difference matter – aren’t I really just splitting hairs? Now, that is the interesting question!! 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. I have seen examples where a manager has sent one of their team to training to ‘rectify’ a skill gap and behaviour. Attending the training did not make the difference expected by the manager, so he sent the employee back on the 2-day training course at the next available opportunity. Of course, there was no change as a result. When this manager attempted to send the same employee a third time, I felt it necessary to intervene and ask the pertinent questions to broaden the manager’s thinking and related actions. I have written about this before, however it continues to surprise me that people in leadership roles too Read more about Development and Training – Same, Same: Maybe Not?[…]

How Important Is Reading To Development and Leadership?

In one of those coincidental yet surprisingly common situations, I have been engaged in several scenarios regarding the importance of reading in recent weeks. As a keen reader, this stimulated thought regarding my current situation and what has led me to where I am today – do I believe there is a link? I recently left permanent employment to focus my time and energy full-time on a consulting business I have been developing for the past two years. As with most small business owners, I am keen to succeed for my own reasons (making a difference, ego, challenging myself etc.) as much as external factors such as earning an income and supporting my family. I was keen to investigate how much I have learned through what I have read as opposed to what I have done. How does reading assist in people development and is there a link to leadership capability? What has led me to this point? It is certainly a timing factor, with opportunity, networks and experience all colliding this year. It has an encouragement element, with my Read more about How Important Is Reading To Development and Leadership?[…]

360 View in 360 Words: Leaders Are Born AND Made

Some months ago I read a post written by Colleen Sharen titled, Leaders Are Born, Not Made. I have continued to think through this question, particularly as I have changed my views somewhat over the years. I felt it appropriate to provide further insight into this question of leadership, based on my response to the original blog. It appears Colleen hit the right note to stimulate thought and some controversy based on the various responses from other readers that were posted in response. My belief is that leaders can be taught and developed, however there is a ‘minimum’ requirement that must exist to start with i.e. emotional intelligence, intelligence, physical, personality along with other skills, traits, behaviours and attributes. What I am interested to discover (and I continue to look for this when developing and working with newer and more experienced leaders) is to what degree is the nature versus nurture argument a reality. The follow up comments in the blog generally agreed that leaders are made and born. This is consistent with my view, however I wonder why we Read more about 360 View in 360 Words: Leaders Are Born AND Made[…]

Personal Values – One View

Understanding 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, what motivations drive you and better understand why you react to particular events or situations more than others. What are personal values? Wordnetweb defines values as beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something). Values exert major influence on the behavior of an individual and serve as broad guidelines in all situations (BusinessDictionary.com). Values can and do change over time depending on environment, parental influence, teachers/schooling, friendship groups, specific situations and many other contributing factors. Importantly, values can be shaped through both negative and positive experiences. An individual may hold a core value based on something that has happened in the past that they regret, have unhappy memories about or the same value can be important to an individual because of positive stimuli. An example I use regularly in training is the 9 year old boy (let’s call him Read more about Personal Values – One View[…]

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