Tag Archive for: Values

Discovering Ikigai: The Art of Finding Joy and Purpose in Every Day

In the picturesque landscapes of Okinawa, Japan, a profound philosophy known as Ikigai has its roots. Ikigai, translating to “a reason for being,” is a concept that encapsulates the essence of living a fulfilled and balanced life.

It’s the secret behind the joy and longevity of the Okinawans, offering a blueprint for anyone seeking purpose, happiness, and a sense of accomplishment in their daily lives.

The Essence of Ikigai

At its core, Ikigai is about finding the sweet spot where your passions, skills, societal needs, and economic opportunities converge. It encourages a holistic approach to life, blending the personal with the professional and the spiritual with the practical. The concept revolves around four pivotal questions: What do you love? What does the world need? What are you good at? And, what can you be paid for? The intersection of these aspects reveals your Ikigai, guiding you towards a life of satisfaction and meaning.

Journeying Towards Your Ikigai

Finding your Ikigai isn’t an overnight affair; it’s a journey of self-exploration and experimentation. It starts with introspection—taking a deep dive into your interests, skills, and desires. It’s about asking yourself what brings you joy, what talents you possess, how you can contribute to the world, and how you can sustainably support yourself through your passions.

Exploring different avenues, embracing new experiences, and being open to change are crucial steps in discovering your Ikigai. It’s equally important to practice mindfulness and gratitude, cherishing the process as much as the outcomes. Building connections and engaging with your community can also provide invaluable insights and encouragement along the way.

Living with Ikigai

Understanding your Ikigai is one thing; integrating it into your daily life is another. It entails making deliberate choices that align with your purpose and values, possibly leading to changes in career, hobbies, or lifestyle. Setting clear, actionable goals and seeking a balance in all aspects of life are vital strategies for living in accordance with your Ikigai. Moreover, embracing continuous learning and seeking ways to give back to the community can enhance your journey and deepen your sense of fulfillment.

The Path Forward

Ikigai is more than just finding what makes you happy or what you’re good at; it’s about achieving a harmonious balance that nurtures your well-being while contributing to the world. It’s a dynamic, ongoing process of growth and discovery. By pursuing your Ikigai, you embark on a rewarding path that not only enriches your own life but also positively impacts those around you.

In essence, Ikigai offers a transformative approach to living, blending joy, purpose, and balance into every day. It’s a philosophy that encourages us to live intentionally, with a clear sense of direction and a heart full of gratitude. Whether you’re searching for meaning, seeking to change your life’s course, or simply wishing to deepen your understanding of yourself, Ikigai provides a timeless framework for a life well-lived.


Read more and explore the concept of Ikigai further:

Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

 


 

Different industries require subtle differences in style and how leaders impact their teams and results. As part of our occasional series chatting with industry leaders, we recently spoke with engineer and senior leader, Wes Davis. His story is an interesting one, with Wes focusing much of his time and development on the topic of leadership within engineering, rather than simply learning and applying the technical aspects.

In the last few years we’ve recognised that we probably haven’t had the opportunity to feel the benefit of many of the things that we take joy from. Covid has really challenged our opportunity to find joy in our life.

We’re really talking about those things that are present in our life already…and the opportunities exist. But, if we’re not actively looking for them, and we’re not seeking them, sometimes they can pass us by.

 

I was recently asked to speak at an Aged Care Forum on the topic of ‘Joy and its Link to Self-Care’. This is a great theme. One that we don’t speak enough about, so it was a lovely opportunity to discuss a topic that is important, yet not commonly sought out in business circles.

Listen to my thoughts below about how joy can be found anywhere and our need to actively seek it. It is not passive. Joy does not occur through blind hope. It can be discovered and created, if you take the time to be mindful of the many joyful moments that occur every day…even the small things.


Read my related blog: Your Roles, Your Time, Your Choices

Themes such as understanding the difference between an internal and external locus of control. Delving into how important socialisation, being with others and relationships are for all of us. I also discuss how perspective relates to joy. These themes and others are covered with the intention that there may be opportunity for the discovery of more joy.

The invitation to expand on and share my thoughts with such a large group of attendees was appreciated. The possibility that one or more participants might apply some of their learning in practice is exciting. You may also find value in the key points highlighted. This may lead to more joy for you and others…and that’s never a bad thing.

 


Additional Resources:

Brett Ledbetter: Finding Your Inner Coach, Ted Talk

10 Keys To Happier Living

 

Engagement at work matters. Employee discretionary effort and focus are being challenged for many reasons, including the labour market and working from home.

People are finding it easy to find jobs and unemployment is at a record low. It won’t always be like this, however.

Developing the skills to engage team members is important. Maybe, no more so than right now. In years to come, when equilibrium between employers and employees normalises, the investment in these skills now will be returned in spades.

 

The Reserve Bank of Australia believes that the unemployment rate is heading to 3.25% by the end of this year. They then speculate unemployment will rise to 4% by 2024 in the wake of the economic slowdown influenced by rate hikes. The risk of not getting leadership and culture ‘right’ are significant.

Where we work has rarely provided more options. What we do at work and how we do it is changing. We spend 81,396 hours of our lives working, on average.

The question begs to be asked and answered then: If we spend so much of life at work, how is life at work going?

 

According to the world’s workers, not well. Gallup finds 60% of people are emotionally detached at work and 19% are miserable. (1) The levels of engagement continue to be alarming for Executive Leaders…or at least, they should be. Yet, these results have barely shifted in many years. Why are people not engaged and can something be done about it?

 

As a leader you are obligated to develop your skills to influence and support each and every team member. Your goal must be to ensure your team members are regularly performing work that they are good at and care about.

 

Every employee has to own their development and situation too. Choice and effort influence engagement. This blog addresses 4 key skills and areas to focus on that contribute to employee engagement. One of the most exciting aspects of developing these skills further, is that you the leader, will also see a significant uplift in your own engagement as a result of being more effective in your role.

It’s about understanding how important leadership and engagement are.

 

None of these points are theories. Yet, too often managers see them as negotiable. It is firstly important to recognise that we all have choices. We can choose to work somewhere or not. The feeling of being ‘stuck’ is one of the most crippling feelings. You have options. We all do.

Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement across business units. When Gallup asked managers why they thought their company hired them for their current role, managers commonly said the organisation promoted them because of their success in a previous non-managerial role, or cited their tenure in their company or field. Unfortunately, these criteria miss a crucial element: the right talent to succeed as a manager and leader.

 

Gallup research shows that only about one in 10 people naturally possess high talent to manage, and organisations name the wrong person as manager about 80% of the time.

 

We’ve also learned that one in two employees have left a job to get away from a manager and improve their overall life at some point in their career. At CoachStation, we believe this figure to be much higher, in fact, more like 2 in 3 employees. Given the troubling state of employee engagement in companies worldwide, it follows that most managers aren’t creating environments in which employees feel engaged — or involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.

We have seen little evidence that the situation is any different or better in Australia, until very recently. In fact, the focus on themes such as strengths, personal values and coaching have been occurring in the U.S for a longer period. This has provided a solid platform for personal and professional development that is still relatively new in Australia. Thankfully, this attitude and openness to leadership and personal growth is improving. The fact that you are taking the time to read this blog is a positive example.

What’s more, companies that fail to engage their employees are missing out on the powerful results that come from engagement. Gallup’s latest employee engagement meta-analysis shows that business units in the top quartile are 17% more productive, experience 70% fewer safety incidents, experience 41% less absenteeism, have 10% better customer ratings and are 21% more profitable compared with business units in the bottom quartile. (5)

 

Business units with engaged workers have 23% higher profit compared with business units with miserable workers.

 

Additionally, teams with thriving workers also see higher customer loyalty. The point is: Wellbeing at work isn’t at odds with anyone’s agenda. Executives everywhere should want the world’s workers to thrive. And helping the world’s workers thrive starts with listening to them.

Before we go any further it’s worth making sure we all understand the definitions of employee engagement. The Gallup organisation provides an excellent summary: Employee engagement reflects the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace. Gallup categorises an organisation’s employees as engaged, not engaged or actively disengaged.

 

Employees become engaged when their basic needs are met and when they have a chance to contribute, a sense of belonging, and opportunities to learn and grow.

 

Engaged employees are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. They are psychological “owners,” drive performance and innovation, and move the organisation forward.

Not engaged employees are psychologically unattached to their work and company. Because their engagement needs are not being fully met, they’re putting time — but not energy or passion — into their work.

Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work — they are resentful that their needs aren’t being met and are acting out their unhappiness.

 

Every day, these workers potentially undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish.

 

In one of the largest studies of burnout, Gallup found the biggest source was “unfair treatment at work.” That was followed by an unmanageable workload, unclear communication from managers, lack of manager support and unreasonable time pressure. Those five causes have one thing in common: your boss. Get a bad one and you are almost guaranteed to hate your job. A bad boss will ignore you, disrespect you and never support you. Environments like that can make anyone miserable.

 

A manager’s effect on a workplace is so significant that Gallup can predict 70% of the variance in team engagement just by getting to know the boss. (1)

 

The McKinsey group recently published an excellent resource regarding attrition and the reasons why people leave organisations. This data is current and it is real, being consistent with what many of my clients are telling me. To navigate this new playing field successfully, hiring managers can look beyond the current imbalance in labor supply and demand and consider what different segments of workers want and how best to engage them. To do this, employers should understand the common themes that reveal what people most value, or most dislike, about a job.

 

For instance, it cannot be overstated just how influential a bad boss can be in causing people to leave.

 

And while in the past an attractive salary could keep people in a job despite a bad boss, that is much less true now than it was before the pandemic. Our survey shows that uncaring and uninspiring leaders are a big part of why people left their jobs, along with a lack of career development. Flexibility, on the other hand, is a top motivator and reason for staying. (2)

Exiting workers told us that relationships in their workplace were sources of tension and that they didn’t feel that their organisations and managers cared about them.

 

In this latest round, respondents again cited uncaring leaders (35 percent listed it as one of their top three reasons for leaving), but they added a new range of top motivators, including inadequate compensation, a lack of career advancement, and the absence of meaningful work.

In other words, plenty of employees say that they see no room for professional or personal growth, believe that there is better money to be made elsewhere, and think that leaders don’t care enough about them. Tried-and-true reasons for disgruntlement, to be sure, but ones that are now being acted upon broadly. (2) The data provided in the graphic below is compelling. 

 

There is no room for complacency. In the recently published State of the Global Workplace report, 45% of employees said now is a good time to find a job.

 

This is up slightly from last year, but less than the record 55% in 2019. The regional outlier for this item is the United States and Canada, which leads the world at 71%, up 44 percentage points from the previous year. The next closest regions are Australia and New Zealand at 59% and South Asia at 50%. (1) Reading the language and results in the McKinsey graphic highlights a few key themes.

 

Namely, that the top reasons for quitting closely align to fulffilling work; engagement; and relationships.

 

Engagement and wellbeing interact with each other in powerful ways. We often think of engagement as something that happens at work and wellbeing as something that happens outside of work, but Gallup’s analysis suggests that’s a false dichotomy.

  • How people experience work influences their lives outside of work. Employees who consistently experience high levels of burnout at work say their job makes it difficult to fulfill their family responsibilities. They are also 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.
  • Overall wellbeing influences life at work. Employees who are engaged at work but not thriving have a 61% higher likelihood of ongoing burnout than those who are engaged and thriving.

When leaders take responsibility for the wellbeing of their workers, the result is not only productive organisations, but thriving individuals, families and communities. (1)


The majority of the coaching and mentoring themes that I employ relate to communication to some degree.

 

It is a common gap in skills and capability for many and has a direct influence on engagement levels. Organisations often assume that these skills exist in their managers, yet rarely meaningfully focus on developing newer leaders to build on this capability.

 

Let’s be honest, it’s not like all senior managers regularly role model these behaviours and provide effective communication either.

 

I recognise this is a generalised statement. Yet, I am confident that many people reading this blog, no matter what level they work at, would genuinely question how effectively their immediate manager communicates with them and their team mates.

It appears that communication at all levels could be improved. The great news; these are skills that can be developed by most people – if they put in the effort! A study of managers by Interact Studio and Harris Poll revealed that communicating is not only an employee issue.

 

This study showed that 69% of managers are just as afraid of communication as their team members.

 

CoachStation: Why managers are uncomfortable giving feedback

 

If both sides are afraid to have tough conversations, these conversations will be avoided. Managers must have the courage and confidence to communicate with their team, no matter what the message is. Comfort and skills can be improved if there is a focus on communication.

In recent years I have developed a tool regarding communication effectiveness. It highlights the need for depth in conversation. To verbally communicate well provides meaning and purpose. It allows for understanding and often, clarity and context. Purpose influences action and improvement.

 

Unfortunately, many managers do not develop this skill to the level required.

 

Essentially, we can communicate at various levels of depth. However, most business communication (and that at home too!) often occurs at a moderate and superficial level, at best. I would describe this as a level 1 or 2 type of communication.

 

CoachStation_Levels of Effective Communication and Leadership

 

The goal is to develop your communication skills to at least Level 3. The diagram above extends this concept. The 5 levels of effective communication highlighted are described in further detail in the following blog: Communicate Effectively to Influence and Lead

Outside of company all-hands meetings and occasional corporate-wide memos, a manager is an employee’s strongest connection to company leadership day in and day out. Their communication (or lack thereof) is what keeps an employee feeling connected to the purpose of their work, and in the loop on what they need to know.

When communication breaks down somewhere in the leadership hierarchy, everyone suffers. This is when people feel out of the loop. It’s also when they get frustrated by putting their efforts into work that doesn’t matter.

It’s the job of every manager to help with the flow of information up and down the organisation. When people express frustration with leadership, it’s usually due to a failure in that flow.

 


Developing trusted relationships; establishing clear expectations; and, making accountability a cultural norm in the team all influence engagement levels.

 

One of the biggest challenges for managers who are learning to lead is developing the ability to set expectations and standards. Accountability is the outcome of holding your employees to these standards and expectations. It is also about the employees accountability to themselves.

 

Understanding the benefits and why to apply a model such as our REOWM model can make a real difference. However, application, consistency and follow-through can be a challenge for many. The 5 stages of the model create a structured process for leading and coaching your team members, focused mostly on clarity, context and accountability. I have found that resources such as these can help leaders to understand not only what needs to be developed, but importantly, also how to do so.

CoachStation: REOWM Coaching, Leadership and Accountability Model

 

Often leaders are wary of providing their own view as it is seen as subjective. Don’t be frightened to seek and provide this detail as (particularly when respect and trust exist) a simple acknowledgement or recognition of progress can be the difference between an engaged and disengaged employee.

The opportunity to provide greater context and clarity for people is one that I regularly see could be improved in most organisations. Depth and substance in coaching and 1:1 sessions is critical and a tool such as this can make a real and sustained difference when applied. Each step is important and has its own need. Practice the art and science of effective leadership by using tools such as this.

The REOWM model is described in further detail in the following page of the CoachStation website: Accountability and Expectations – REOWM Model

 


Leaders are under pressure. Behaviours and integrity can be challenged in these environments. I am aware of various situations at the moment where managers are avoiding managing a toxic employee through fear of them leaving the organisation. In a few cases I am hearing the message, “I can’t afford to manage them and risk attrition. We are a team of 9 and I am already 2 staff down. We have been looking to replace them for 10 months, with no success and I can’t afford to lose anyone else”. 

I would argue, it depends on how you measure success! I understand the concern, the final statement about losing team members and managing workloads.

 

But, here’s the thing. The damage this toxic employee is bringing to the table is almost certainly greater than the impact of them leaving.

 

And, it is almost certainly negatively impacting engagement levels within the whole team. A recent Lighthouse blog highlighted a report from Harvard Business School, where Michael Housman and Dylan Minor broke down the real cost of toxic employees.

 

“In comparing the two costs, even if a firm could replace an average worker with one who performs in the top 1%; it would still be better off by replacing a toxic worker with an average worker by more than two-to-one.”

 

Toxic employees don’t just underperform compared to a great employee in the long run, they bring the entire team down with them. A good employee sees this and feels it first-hand. After a while, they can’t take it anymore. Seeing that you apparently don’t mind having an asshole around, they may decide to leave. Get rid of those toxic team members – don’t try to make these ones work.

 

Even if the employee is high-performing, they have to go, because of the negative impact they have on the rest of the team.

 

Unfortunately, even if their numbers seem great, they’re still a net negative in terms of the impact they have on the rest of your team. They have to either reform their ways, or leave. When they leave, the performance of everyone on the team will improve by their absence, so there’s really only one thing to do: let them go and reap the benefits. Don’t let a toxic team member be why good employees quit your team. (3)

As highlighted extensively in this blog, one of the key contributors to engagement is the employee’s immediate manager. This can either be a negative or positive influence. Both the manager and employee have a responsibility to own engagement. The skills and capability can be learned.

The real challenge is whether the time and effort to focus on developing these skills is a priority. If not, the results are inevitable. What environment and culture would you prefer to spend over a quarter of your life in?

 

References and Resources:

(1) State of the Global Workplace – 2022 Report: Gallup

(2) Five personas: A new way to target the employee value proposition: McKinsey

(3) 14 Reasons Why Great Employees Quit Your Team (and How to Keep a Good Employee from Quitting): GetLighthouse

(4) Why People Leave Managers not Companies (and 5 things you can do about it): Get Lighthouse

(5) Strengths-Based Employee Development: The Business Results, Bruno Zadeh, LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

 

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.
Purpose:

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

Values:

  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.

 

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?
References:
(1) https://hbr.org/2015/06/the-top-complaints-from-employees-about-their-leaders
(2) http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2012/06/11/passionate-leaders-arent-loud-theyre-deep/
(3) http://www.insidehr.com.au/how-hr-can-boost-engagement-through-2-key-levers/

In leadership and relationships, it is often the small gestures and words that make all the difference.

 

Strengthen-Relationships

 

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 during our discussions and afterwards. By talking things through and as a result of the enhanced understanding of ourselves and each other, our relationship developed.

These are some of the most meaningful conversations I have had, providing opportunity to challenge, be challenged and reflect upon afterwards. My relationship and related conversations with Luke were one of the key reasons that I sought to develop my coaching and mentoring capability. His influence and the effect of our many ‘chats’ has been profound, but not all relationships need to be this comprehensive to have an impact.

My experience taught me that it is often the seemingly small and less significant conversations that people remember. Each of us have diverse beliefs, motivations, emotional structure and needs. As a result, we respond differently to words used and conversations held, influencing our memories. This makes sense if you think about it. If you remember back to your childhood, what are some of your earliest memories? I am sure that, like most of us, you can recall some of the more poignant and meaningful moments, sometimes with amazing clarity. These points in time and subsequent memories often stem from brief comments or phrases that have stuck with you forever. Some of these may have been the sting of criticism or feelings of hurt…and many of them are positive, meaningful flashes in time.

I bet that if you approached some of the people involved in those original conversations now, they would be unlikely to remember the conversation, moment or recognise the impact the exchanges had.

In my lifetime I have been in the fortunate position to have assisted and coached many people personally and professionally, both in and out of the workplace. This has been through informal and formal coaching and mentoring, leading teams and helping friends and families, as they have assisted me. Those moments when someone refers back to our earlier conversations can be very meaningful and validate many of the approaches and styles of leadership from your past. They also provide evidence for the power of coaching and benefit of having an ‘external’ person to share relevant themes with.

In leadership, how you make people feel is as important as what you do and say.

I am a keen follower of sport. In particular a passionate fan of the Australian Rules Football (AFL) team, Port Adelaide Power. It has been a struggle for Port in recent years, not having made the finals for some time. They have a proud history and have made many structural and personnel changes over the last 6 months to bring the results back to where the fans expect the team to be. I mention this because earlier this week, the team appointed a new captain in Travis Boak. He was brought up in country Victoria but drafted to the Power in South Australia in 2006.

In the last year or so during contract negotiations, Travis had the opportunity to return home to his family, which has a strong pull for him. He was approached by other teams and there was a real risk of Travis going to a team with a seemingly bigger upside, fan-base or budget, if reports were to be believed. But he stayed. Why?

I do not know Travis personally and have never met him but he is a great choice as captain of the Power. There would have been many reasons for him to stay and for him to leave, for that matter. However, after reading an article about his appointment, it reminded me of the importance of those little moments and the words that people use (the impact can be compelling!) that I am sure helped Travis make his decision to remain with the team. In part, the article read:

The phone call on draft day, 2006

THERE are few days as nervous as the day of the AFL national draft, where players worry about if they will be picked up, where they’ll end up if they do, and what they will do if they are overlooked. Boak had been an outstanding junior footballer, tipped to go in the first round – which he did – and needn’t have worried about being selected. But the day is still an indelible memory. Not so much for the draft itself, or the realisation that he’d have to leave Victoria, but because of the phone call from Port Adelaide captain Warren Tredrea. He still has a chuckle when he thinks back to the day. These days, Tredrea is somebody Boak will seek out for advice on being captain, a former teammate who’s now a mate. Back then, realising who was at the end of the line when he picked up his phone made his heart skip a beat. “On draft day, the thing that stood out wasn’t having my name read out but when Tredders (Tredrea) gave me a call that day,” Boak said. “It was just a great feeling when that happened. I was just an 18-year-old who had watched this superstar on TV and then you get a call from him. It was just surreal, crazy.”

All of a sudden you get a phone call from Warren Tredrea, congratulating me and saying he was looking forward to catching up with me on Monday.”

Although not privy to the conversation itself between Warren Tredrea and Travis Boak, the esteem that exists when they talk about each other and the way it made Travis feel then and even now, says something about how the discussion went. It is important to recognise these moments – in the moment if you can. It is too easy for to be oblivious to the influence the words chosen can and do have. The words, terms and expressions we use have a significant impact on others, as they did for Travis. If you have not already done so, I hope that you have the benefit of experiencing what this feels like at some point in your career and journey.

  • Respect the relationship, intention and reality of the situation – be modest in your approach in those conversations when someone reminds you of your words from the past and influence you have had.
  • You may not even remember what you said or the specific conversation, however it meant enough to this person to bring it back up and remind you…and clearly meant enough for you to share the words in the first place.
  • The moments are powerful, validating, humbling and remind us all of the importance of relationships and connecting with others.
  • Do not underestimate the power of your words – which can have both a positive and negative impact.
  • Choose your moments carefully – and the associated words to match.

It may be something as simple as remembering someone’s birthday, thanking them or recognising the impact an individual has had in your life.

Be brave, be honest and share your thoughts – the effect, inspiration and benefit is not always obvious in that moment, but the evidence continues to show us that they are worth cherishing…and repeating.

Have you experienced the ‘upside’ of earlier comments and conversations? Is there a downside? I look forward to hearing about your experiences – please share them below.

 

Related Articles

Leadership is a RelationshipMichael Ray Hopkin, Lead On Purpose

How to Build Leadership Skills When You’re Not A LeaderDavid Burkus, LDRLB: Leadership, Innovation and Strategy

Travis Boak: Why I didn’t bail on Power – Jesper Fjeldstad, Adelaide Now

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.