LEADERSHIP RESULTS

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Successful Morning Practices

Book Review: What the most successful people do before breakfast

Do books need to be two, three, four or five hundred pages long? Is there a prerequisite?

I know that the ‘thud factor’ gives credibility – lots of pages equates to lots of knowledge printed on lots of pages. However, I fear that a big book scares off potential readers. As I near my halfway mark of reading 52 books in 52 weeks, I’ve identified how to read quickly and how to create the time and space to read.

So, I was totally surprised to find that my choice of reading this week was completed in one night. A quick purchase on my Kindle based on the title was only 50 swipes. Complete with a few key lessons – enough to reflect on for the week.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People do before Breakfast presents her findings of what others do to make the most of their day.

My daughter Jennifer was perplexed with the cover of the book, a cup of coffee. She doesn’t like the smell of coffee and concerned that she’ll be unable to be successful! So, let's get beyond the cover and I’ll share what I learnt … very quickly!

Depending on what time you rise, and the time you have breakfast, there is a space to fill with activities which some say enables them to be successful.

We all have our own routines, rituals, quirky habits and a mindful of thoughts in the morning, so here’s your opportunity to TICK off if you’re aiding or hindering your successfulness:

·        Wake at 5am – or at a time which gives you an extra 60 to 90 minutes to use wisely

·        Reflect and or Pray on a daily basis

·        Prioritise items to tackle for the day

·        Avoid social media and especially email until you’ve completed a ‘chunk’ of real work

·        Journal your thoughts

·        Exercise - Run, walk, yoga or gym work

How many ticks do you have?

We all have 168 hours in our week and ‘successful’ people use a proportion of these hours a day to nurture their career, relationships and their self.

New research (prior to 2012) identified that self-discipline is in abundance after a good night’s sleep and depletes during the day. I think we’ve already worked that out – I know I can kick off with a healthy breakfast and then arrive at the evening snacking on potato chips while I cook dinner …. 12 hours later! We lapse as the day progresses and whilst some can squeeze in exercise after work or during their lunch break … the research tells us that morning is best; we are fresh and our internal motivation is in abundance to tackle tasks which the outside world isn’t demanding.

The best morning rituals are activities that don’t have to happen and certainly don’t have to happen at a specific hour. These are activities that require internal motivation. These are generally activities which have long term benefits.

So, if you had minimal ticks a few suggestions were offered to change:

·        Tracking your time – identify what you’re doing with your 168 hours a week

·        Picture your perfect morning – visualise what it would look like to be effective in the morning

·        Think through the logistics – what can you change around you to make it work

·        Build the habit – it’s like a muscle … keep practising

·        Tune up as necessary – keep correcting and get your early morning working

This is a seriously short book, however, it’s straight to the point and very implementable. I’ve already adopted the practice of ‘no social media’ in the morning until I’m having a coffee at 10.30am. (Let me tell you, when I do it, it's magic, however, it’s very difficult to change your habits!)

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

EGO - YOUR ENEMY?

Is Ego your Enemy?

In the ‘70s, Skyhooks, an iconic Australian band, had a hit song, ‘Ego is not a dirty word’. So iconic, that the mere mention of the word “Ego” sends the Australian (of my era) mind into a lyric mode. (Am I right?)

I grew up believing that Ego wasn’t a dirty word however in recent reads, ‘ego’ has raised its head as the culprit and the demise of so many known identifies. Ego caught my eye while book browsing and this week I read Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, a New York media columnist, reformed workaholic and historian.

To be told that ego is the enemy, the reason for so much sadness, failures, and unfulfilled dreams, proved a challenging read. However, as I flicked through the pages, it proved to be an interesting, informative and I must say, influential read. If a book can change your view on a matter then it’s been a worthy read. I was really challenged by this book’s content– more so than any other book I’ve read during my self-imposed reading ‘challenge’. Ryan’s style is sophisticated, yet soothing with so many stories and his blatantly biased beliefs.

With his rich source of historical stories and fact, I found the read a most educative read – it’s saved me reading 20+ historical books – learning about his choice of individuals who have either suffered their own demise of egotism or mastered a humble life. I feel most informed about; Aristotle, Churchill, Machiavelli, General Marshall, Howard Hughes, Genghis Khan, Benjamin Franklin, Katharine Graham, Angela Merkel, Malcolm X, Steve Jobs and Adam Smith.  

Chancellor Angela Merkel is sober, when far too many leaders are intoxicated - with ego, with power, with position.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is sober, when far too many leaders are intoxicated - with ego, with power, with position.

The ego we see most commonly goes by a more casual definition: an unhealthy belief in your own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition.

The book is organised into three sections: Aspire, Success, and Failure. Purposely designed to heighten your awareness when ego will plague you, encouraging you to start your training to suppress ego and to replace the temptations and cultivate strength. In other words: be humble in our aspirations, gracious in our success and resilient in our failures.

I would expect that my many extroverted mates will be intimidated with the views scattered through the book and suspect that 51% of the population, the introverts in our world, will agree with the populated world of extroverts who are overly noisy about their passion for sharing in their egotistical manner!

WHEREVER YOU ARE, WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING, YOUR WORST ENEMY ALREADY LIVES INSIDE YOU: YOUR EGO.

I found myself sinking into thoughts of the past, using this new Ego lens to view people’s performance, behaviours and management of matters. Ego has taken the paramount place in guiding their choices and humility has been left behind.

I suspect that this book would be a great gift for that person who’s Ego needs taming or needs some training.

I’ve been following Ryan on Twitter for the past week and he shares an abundance of historical quotes.  This is evidently his style as the book is saturated with wisdom and challenging thoughts. To master our greatest opponent, our ego, let’s contemplete these thoughts:

·        Passion typically masks a weakness – it is a poor substitute for discipline, master, strength, purpose and perseverance.

·        We tend to think that ego equals confidence, which is what we need to be in charge. In fact, it can have the opposite effect.

·        Pride blunts the very instrument we need to own in order to succeed: our mind.

·        Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function.

·        What is rare is not raw talent, skill or even confidence but humility, diligence and self-awareness

·        The ability to deliberately keep yourself out of the conversation and subsist without its validation. Silence is the respite of the confident and the strong.

·        Talk depletes us – while goal visualisation is important, after a certain point our mind begins to confuse it with actual progress – the same goes for verbalization.

·        The only relationship between work and chatter is that one kills the other.

·        If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.

·        Only when free of ego and baggage can anyone perform to their utmost.

·        When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real.

·        It is poise, not pose.

·        One might say that the ability to evaluate one’s own ability is the most important skill of all. Without it, improvement is impossible.

·        Don’t allow your ego’s noise to indulge in games – ignore the noise, don’t allow it to distract you. Restraint is a critical skill.

·        Man is pushed by drives but he is pulled by values.

·        Disease of Me – after a team starts to win, the simple bonds that joined the individuals begin to fray – people calculate their importance.

·        Silence the noise around you; ‘go into the wilderness and return with inspiration, a plan, perspective and an understanding of the larger picture.

·        Creativity is a matter of receptiveness and recognition. This cannot happen if you’re convinced the world revolves around you.

·        Power doesn’t so much corrupt: that’s too simple. It fragments, closes options, mesmerizes – clouds the mind precisely when it needs to be clear. Sobriety is a counterbalance, a hangover cure – or better, a prevention method.

·        Ego can’t see both sides of the issue. It can’t get better because it only sees the validation.

·        Vain men never hear anything but praise.

·        Not everyone is the best possible version of themselves.

A great metaphor is shared regarding training to master your ego. Training is like sweeping the floor. Just because we’ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day dust comes back. Every day we must sweep. (Every minute of the day and then sweep again.)

If you struggle with the discipline of changing your behaviour, it's worth considering asking for guidance. Get in contact with me to help you with your ego.

I’m looking forward to my 20th book which I found in my library – it’s by Donald Trump! 

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

The New Leadership

The New Leadership

Did you miss the news? There’s a new leadership in town!

Take a moment and consider which version or brand of leadership you are using at the moment.

Is it out of date, redundant, out of touch and not meeting the demands of your customers? Or, have your customers and people not changed in the past five, 10 or 15 years? Just think of the arrival of the Millennials – different expectations, values and focus.

Whilst we speed through life, navigating Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA – a military term), it’s a reminder that we need to be flexible in our approach to lead our relationships and interact with technology which we never dreamed of using five years ago.

We need to reinvent our leadership, learn the capabilities of being adaptive and agile according to Dr Simon Hayward, author of Connected Leadership, who skilfully turned his doctoral research into a must read. Incorporating client case studies in his capacity as CEO of Cirrus (International Leadership Consultancy) we travel the many changes which prominent world known businesses have implemented to keep customer focused, profitable and proud of their leadership brand, many of whom have adopted the Connected Leadership framework.

A connected style of leadership leverages off the learnings from previous styles, applying behaviours which meet the demands of the 21st century and departs from 20th century practices of heroic and hierarchical command and control. (Consider placement of car parking spaces – Customer vs. C suite). We need to keep adapting our leadership to keep up with change; in particular with social media, where customer experiences are often played out on the global stage with millions in the audience, exaggerating the effect of the connections.

 

Given my reading journey, navigating approximately 5000 pages in 18 weeks, I found Simon’s book will summerise what we’re expecting of our leaders in 2016. You can then delve further into content in other books which I’ve recently reviewed – think Making Sense, Adaptive Leadership and Your Leadership Edge.

Being agile, moving quickly and easily, needs a strong spine of clear purpose and direction and a strong sense of shared values with the flexile muscles of colleagues who are empowered to take decisions based on their proximity to customers and a willingness to trust and collaborate.

 So, how connected is the leadership in your company? (Spine and Muscle) You can assess your organisation by completing a simple survey in the book. This reinforces the framework helping you mentally measure components of your leadership and business practices. These are the five key factors contributing to a style of leadership suited to this connected world in which we live. Would your customers and people describe your style of leadership which incorporates:

Purpose and direction – a common understanding of why the business exists, helping people make sense of how their roles relates to the purpose of the business.

Authenticity – values, ethics and a behavioural framework are consistently followed with a high level of trust and respect is experienced

Devolved decision making – decision makers are determined on who is best placed, their proximity and relationship with the customer

Collaborative Achievement – there is open dialogue and mutual influence to focus on end to end processes to achieve efficiency, collective merit and a breakthrough of bureaucratic silos to produce new answers to old problems

Agility – fail fast and learn – full stop! Enable people to adapt to changing circumstances, share what they learn and build a culture which supports experimentation (remember continuous improvement) without blame. I contacted Simon and he mentioned that if he were to do a second edition, he’d add some Agile methodologies to help you.

To tweak your style of leadership following this five part framework, I noted in my read that you need to concentrate on these specifics leadership practices:

Sense making – help people understand the importance of what they are doing in the organisation

Storytelling – inspire with your communication to help connect colleagues with strategy

Strong moral compass – be accountable for your behaviours which are based on your values

Share power – delegate decision making to others in your business who are closer to the customer

Self-aware – seek behavioural consistency by tuning into your emotions to manage your reactions

Solicit feedback – receive feedback with good grace and look for any lessons you can take.

Amongst the lessons there were many quotes and I was drawn to - You need to have five fingers touching the factory and five touching the customer. Amancio Ortega is the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, (part of Inditex), which has been operating for over 40 years, has 6,500 stores in 88 countries. Referenced regularly in the book, it’s current and very interesting.

We all have customers in our life, maybe not as many as Zara, and interestingly, Simon’s final chapter is targeted at political leaders: tips on how they can apply the leadership framework to their role. Bravo I say – let’s encourage our local Politicians to read this book to think of their constituents as customers - maybe we should gift the book to each of our representatives.

Whilst it’s clichéd, I think all leaders and better still, those expected to demonstrate leadership, should read this book. It could well lead to aspirations of changing your organisation to becoming more agile and customer driven.

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

ARE YOU CULTURALLY AWARE?

ARE YOU CULTURALLY AWARE?

I’m a fan of the Netflix production, Suits. A key character, Louis Litt, doesn’t do many things right, however, in an episode, he prepares a tea ceremony and presents a thoughtful meaningful gift to a potential Japanese client.

I think Patti McCarthy, a Melbourne-based cultural adviser would be impressed with Louis’ planning.

Look out for this new great book for leaders and teams who need to be more culturally aware.

In her book, Cultural Chemistry, Patti has captured more than I was expecting to read – it’s a feast to devour (10 chapter courses) – everything you need to do, say and how to behave, no matter which culture you want to digest. Whether it’s about food, feet placement, doing business with the French and Finnish or is flatulence acceptable; every aspect of cultural understanding is expressed in a delicious format to make these global lessons stick.

We’re introduced to smart phrases which you will recall when discussing cultural matters with your team. For example:

Cultural Cruise control – turning the control off is essential if you wish to maximise the opportunity to absorb the new culture. What works for one culture can be detrimental to another. In Australia, we casually invite people to use our Christian names whereas in Malaysia this is taboo if you’re in senior management.

Be a Sherlock - investigating every aspect of the culture to ensure there is no embarrassment, ‘loss of face’ and importantly, no loss of business.

Cultural Wavelength – deepen your relationships by tuning into ‘their’ wavelength. We know in leadership that we better engage others when we adapt to be the leader that the others need us to be.

There are many simple yet useful reminders including communication differences. ESL, English as a Second Language took me back to my five years of studying Japanese and then attempting to act as a translator. There is a politely unspoken difficulty experienced by so many when English is their Second Language; – consider the acronyms and colloquialisms we Australians populate our narrative during meetings.

 

The ability to listen is fundamental in many Asian cultures.

I really enjoyed learning more about the system of identifying global societies as either Individualist or collective. Consider this: are you one who thinks about yourself e.g. has a phone conversation on speaker on the train for all passengers to hear or do you consider creating harmony as being more important e.g. not singling out one person who’s caused a problem rather asks the team to fix it. Knowing which system you’re fitting into might enable you to quicken the relocation process.

We’re introduced to a model, the Four R’s to create a circuit breaker – enabling a cultural awareness change of personal habits as you embark into relationship building projects no matter where you find yourself in our global economy.

 

Here’s the four R’s model:

Rewards – what’s driving you to learn about this culture – what’s the benefit of increasing your understanding – what will happen if you don’t engage with the culture?

Research – at one level you can learn about the dos & don’t and at another level you can make sense of culture by learning about what is value in these countries.

Reflect – how do you feel about this new cultural information; how different is it to your beliefs, values, and your own culture; and how will you use and adapt this new intelligence to your habits and behaviours?

Reach out – how will you adapt do be able to connect with others in what can be an entirely different culture. What’s your strategy?

Patti, in a virtual capacity, coaches you at the conclusion of each chapter, asking you the 4R model questions enabling you to have a meaningful conversation with your team members, if you use this tool to be a proactive global learning team.

We know that we learn through story-telling and Cultural Chemistry has the concoction measured well with succinct stories occupying most pages – heightening your awareness of how important this information is by identifying the differences and similarities of customs, rituals, beliefs, motivations and values.

Reading Cultural Chemistry will enable you to quickly answer these questions:

Q: Which nationality expect you to have a Plan B in addition to Plan A?
Q: Where are you if you’re expected to put on plastic shoes to visit the lavatory in someone’s home?
Q: Which nationality don’t appreciate receiving clocks for introductory gifts?
Q: Which month is a bad month for Filipinos to make a decision?
Q: Which cultures (in addition to Australia) would you classify as individualistic?
Q: Where is it frowned upon to reheat leftovers and eat lunch at your desk rather than eat lunch with the team in the canteen?

Whilst we might have some idea of the etiquette, protocols and even rituals of other cultures, it’s not enough if we are serious about respectfully, ethically and indeed successfully leading and achieving the goal associated with having a new cultural relationship.

I always think of leadership as setting up staff for success; not failure. Providing guidance, coaching and the opportunity to discuss and explore solutions. This is a delightful delicacy of a read; a recipe for cultural success and a must for your leadership library.

 

I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning, and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!

All eyes are on you

Our society is becoming increasingly under video surveillance; we have cameras on all city corners, YouTube is the most watched global channel which is made up of 'home made videos' and our life is being captured on on all forms of social media and devices 24/7. 

Our life is one long play button!

Our life is one long play button!

So, it's disappointing when you observe a leader in action and they are sending all the wrong messages ... even before they open their mouth!

We have devices in our hands (almost attached) which provide the functionality to record these behaviours - whether that be action or sound. However, we don't proactively catch ourselves, let alone ask others to assist in collecting data for a factual conversation.

I was providing feedback to a client recently about the benefit of their need to show some emotion when they're experiencing conflict. Bottling it inside doesn't aid their health and keeping a poker face doesn't allow others to understand their thoughts and feelings about the change.

We have never been so visible - we are 'on stage' in a leadership position. ALL EYES ARE ON YOU - whether that's from admiration, respect or waiting for you to slip up.

Rolling your eyes, taking calls in the middle of a meeting, being sarcastic, making derogatory comments about team mates/colleagues/clients/managers and making deflective comments (which my 8 year old would use - " they made me do it") are totally unacceptable.

If this has touched a nerve, do yourself and in particular, your people a favor - ask for feedback from someone who will be honest or use the video app on your device to capture your body language - there really are no excuses in today's tech savvy world.

You are accountable for your leadership performance and it's possible to make small changes which will make dramatic changes to your business and importantly the people you influence. 

 

 

 

 

No news is good news!

No news is good news!

In today's tech savvy world there is no excuse for no news. If you have no news, there is an appetite to still hear or understand that there is no news, no change or no update!

Most of us are attached to our devices and reading or hearing nothing is excruciating!

Whilst I type this in jest, how many times do you look at your device to check for expected messages?

I stood quietly for 150 minutes in a NZ airport queue with not one announcement. Asking 'airport' staff politely for an update didn't provide any satisfaction so I wasn't surprised when I heard later (whilst still at the airport) that things got 'ugly'.

How easy would it be for all us to be advised to tune into a channel on our device (in our preferred language) and advised with a prerecorded or live update. Or encourage passengers to use twitter and follow the airline/airport for 5 min updates. These are two simple solutions to share any news - even 'no news'!

If leadership is about influencing, then consider yourself accountable for keeping people informed. And, give people the option on how they want to receive the news: social media, email, website or face-to-face are options.

When I ask people "how frequently does your organisation keep you updated with news?" the response is varied. One statement I've not yet heard is: I wish they would slow down, they keep us up-to-date too regularly.

Pop this thought on your radar and be more aware of keeping people connected with news. Good news and no news!

 

 

 

Leadership Performance Improvement Strategy

Golfing at the Sandhurst Golf Club in the outskirts of Melbourne. Can you spot what I'm doing incorrectly?

 I play golf. I'm not great; I'm not in the league of the great Jason Day! (Great #golf)

So, when I have the opportunity, I ask my Golf Coach (aka husband) to play a round of golf with me to enable him to observe my every move! I'm fueled by feedback - anything to improve my enjoyment of the game.

How many times have you played and wondered why you keep making the same errors?  Oh, it's so frustrating! When you play golf, in particular when you tee off, there are twenty plus considerations to ensure you're ready to hit the ball. So, by the 9th tee, I was finally getting my swing right although you'll see something wrong in my photo.  Can you spot it?

Likewise, when you lead, communicate and  be visible to your colleagues, team and clients, you need to be conscious of the consistency in the messages you are conveying - whether they are verbal or non-verbal. Any inconsistencies will be spotted and keep the grapevine and social media airwaves busy.

In my golf, a slight adjustment to the placement of my arms made a huge difference to the direction of my ball ... it went straight! The 'golf coach' reminded me three times until I was consciously aware of the required change.

We all need a leadership performance improvement strategy if we are to increase our effectiveness in our game - that game being any aspect of your business and the roles you place in life.

I specialize in leadership performance and recently I challenge my client to change her approach  to her 'Monday Morning Message'  - rather than email we've moved to the 21st Century and created videos - short, sharp, simple and stating her intent for her week. Bam! What a difference it made - people were actually watching the message and commenting.

Today is the day to consider what your Leadership Performance Improvement Strategy consists of - is it your meetings, your one-on-ones, your 'small talk' or how you provide feedback?

Drop me a line and let me know what you're focusing on. I'll hold you accountable!