Identifying one word in my leadership vernacular, beginning with X, is an absolute challenge.

There are words, yet, I can’t honestly say, I use them.

Image: The X Factor Facebook

Image: The X Factor Facebook

I thought of X-factor – some people do have the leadership X-factor which I admire – they have all the elements which we talk about being required as a leader.

Then there’s the word X-ray. Some leaders use their hindsight, have foresight and insight to cut through the BS of what’s going on in the workplace, culture and climate and make a call of what’s really going on! They start the conversation to make corrections or unearth the unspoken rules which don’t add value to the workplace.

Today, I am really keen to seek your input.

What’s your X word?

And while you’re thinking about how you express your leadership, think of your Y & Z contributions.

Rediscover the skill of DISSENT

Are you punishing the dissenter in the room? Professor Charlan Nemeth challenges us to think about how we make decisions and how we encourage decision making in the workplace. No! is a book which will polarise the workplace community as we operating in a world which wants to get along and makes decisions by consensus methods.

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What turns you on? People, Performance or Process?

What turns you on?


Do you have a natural inclination to be drawn to one of these three options?

Are you one who is accommodating and generally fueled by the interests of people?

Or, is it the outcome and in particular the performance that draws your attention?

Then there is process, are you more interested in how things work or come together?

I'm a performance person. Today I set me kids a challenge chart and they are busy building a boat at the moment. They've decided to make it a competition which excites me even more!

Whether you are a people, performance or a process driven person, you've got to understand that your communication preference doesn't work for others if you're driven by different motives. Fortunately, my two kids are excited with most challenges, so I talk in the 'performance' language - my native tongue!

With the constant change in our lives, we must be multi-lingual to ensure we maintain our relationships rather than mismanage them. Many folks are bi-lingual, they have two preference e.g. people & performance or process & people. This is more complex to interpret and many play the guessing game rather than get smart with their communications.

If you don't know the motivation language of your team or anyone who you have a vested interest in - then we need to talk ... now!

Leadership Basics


I've been working with two dynamic women who operate a small business who called for help when they realised their desired business culture wasn't being experienced.

When we first met, I listened to their issues, concerns, wants and requirements and I identified immediately their glaring need: Leadership Basics.

We take for granted that we all have some experience and understanding of leadership however I was totally surprised that the entry level of leadership was required. Their personalities appeared quite different and it was interesting to observe how they communicated with their staff and each other.

To meet their urgency of 'help' I facilitated a meeting to demonstrate how to engage, involve, set standards, provide feedback and gain commitment and accountability with their staff. Following this meeting, I wrote a personalised Leadership Basics Plan - a day by day approach of how to leverage off the meeting. Finally, I hosted a coaching session using the TotalSDI* profile tool to help them build a plan to further develop their relationship building capacity.

In our world, we're bombarded with articles, books, tweets and quotes about the latest leadership skill, quality and strength needed to be successful. So, we can be forgiven when we ignore the need to build the foundations of leadership; the basics which include: two way conversations, listening and not interrupting, being consistent in our positive behaviour, providing feedback to reinforce and correct and the need to continually review how effective we are at being a leader.


By implementing this Leadership Basics Plan, the initial request of fixing the culture crash will be a natural outcome of being consistent in their leadership (if they stick to the plan!)

*TotalSDI is the newly branded title of Strength Deployment Inventory. We're about to launch a new look and new packages. It's totally awesome.

Visit my website page Leadership Basics

Which Conversation Is Necessary?

Last week, I was work-shopping 'Coaching' with a small group of leaders and a 'problem' case study was presented by a member of the group to use as an opportunity to practise their understanding of coaching and new found knowledge. We were briefed by the leader and the group/team of coaches commenced using the GROW model to uncover the purpose of the conversation goal.

After five minutes of questioning, the group realised that they were all feeling the same, challenged by the behaviour of the 'coachee' (which was being well acted); they were unable to create a space which created a dialogue . The coachee was a 'closed shop' and their behaviour was appalling and unhelpful. 

The group was stumped.

I then posed this question to the group, "Which type of conversation is necessary in this situation?"  And, is Coaching appropriate?

It was concluded that the conversation required an approach which dictated the expectations of the workplace, one which acknowledged the condoned behaviours and an agreement of the facts and the course of action required. This conversation was at the opposite end of the spectrum where coaching starts. 

We can be ineffective as leaders if we don't use our time wisely, determining the necessary conversation and the appropriate timing - rather than wasting time and that of others. The spectrum of leadership conversations is vast and ranges from:

Dialogue - to understand

Discussion - to agree or disagree based on the understanding

Decision - to chose a course of action from the agreement/disagreement

Direction - to guide movement towards achieving an action

Dictate - to confront with facts and advise the course of action

Once you've decided on the purpose of the conversation, then it's time to consider the questions and commentary to drive it. Practise makes an effective leader!

Leadership Lessons from my Half Marathon

At the conclusion of my first 'half' there was no going back! I thought I was going to collapse, I couldn't breath, talk or move! I was totally exhausted. 

Now that I've successfully completed my second 'half' I can reflect on what a great lesson these runs have had on my life. 

I have an unlikely profile which sees a interest to take on challenges and see them to conclusion. So when I set my sights on something, and there's others involved, there's no looking back.  (A word of warning if you work with me!) 

There is no such thing as 'an overnight success' - when running was first suggested - little did I realise it would take two years of hard work to get across the 21.1km Finish Line - early morning training, alcohol free weeks, black sore toes and lots of green smoothies!

From a leadership perspective there have been several lessons: 

-whilst we started with time goals, when someone is falling back, you stay with them and coach them along - finishing together is far more important than PBs (there is always another run)

-cheering star performers (the Marathon runners) helps them perform and is highly likely to tag your own internal motivation - and when one person cheers you on it is magic

-being part of the bigger movement is exciting, thrilling and contagious - you work (and run) as one

 -wellness is paramount - stretching, hydrating and snacking keeps the body functional and keeps you in a position to keep leading  

-the impact on others is quite amazing - there are many many folk watching you - every move is visible, your behaviour is critical - people openly shared how my run has inspired them to move! 

So, will I do another 'Half'? Maybe - but I'm more excited about running with a team in the City2Sea. Want to join us?




The medal collection grows ....

Red Boots

When I sat down to listen to Professor Dr Michael E Bernard talk about his subject of #Mindsets - I was immediately attracted to his Red Boots!

OK, for some, you're reacting with 'Big Deal' however I immediately engaged with this man as I built the image of a confident man who has one, got style, two, is so self aware that he's proud of himself and three, he was comfortable in his own skin (well, patent leather!)

So, being visual I kept looking at the boots, however the upside is I've been able to recall his information as I've linked it to the Red Boots. (I'll blog about the Mindsets another day.)

The key question is - What are your Red Boots? How do you help people recall your name, your information and actually remember you you are?

Do you: 

Carry an iconic item where ever you go? 

Wear flattering colouring and comfortable clothing that fits? 

Manicure your nails, style your locks and maintain your facial hair?

Wear fragrance and deodorant?

Use language which is complimentary and motivating? 

I know I'm being personal, however I meet so many people (and no doubt you do too) I need some help to remember you! Take some time and look at yourself in a full length mirror, or, better still, ask for feedback. It's all about being self aware - a must for leaders. Ask specifically "do I attract you or distract you in what I do & say" - that's a good start.  

Off I go shopping for a new work bag - something iconic! 









Are you a role model? How would you know? 

I know that when I see and hear my kids do and say things which I know I ( thankfully & unfortunately) do and say, I must be their role model.

In the workplace it's not that different. I knew at one stage in my career, when presenting to a group of people that I was being my previous manager. I could hear myself saying what he said and literally imitating some gestured movements. (In a positive manner!) 

Who are you role modelling? 

A previous manager, your mother (how many times have you heard "you're just like your mother!") or your child (some people do throw Wobblies!)

Being a role model is being accountable for every single behaviour you choose to perform. The key word is 'choose'. We always choose our behaviour.

How could you be a better role model?

How about selecting a couple of people who you believe are positive role models and borrow some of their behaviours. Who do you admire, find yourself watching or listening to?  These are generally your role models.

It takes practise to borrow behaviours however it's worth it if you might influence another person by being their 'positive' role model. 

Lou's Leadership Views: DON'T SET GOALS

Oh please don't set goals, especially if you're one of the folk who have all the good intentions in the world, setting goals at the beginning of the year and then don't do anything about them! You're then the first to say “Oh Goals, they seriously don't work.”

Stop giving Goal Setting such bad press. Your failure should not be the catalyst of non-action by others who you have the opportunity to influence.

Maybe you don't realise you're on the anti-goal setting team? Let me help you identify yourself.

Here’s what I've discovered in the past few weeks working with a few people and their goal setting attempts:

Grand Plans – creating the long list or dreaming up the gargantuan goal which is seriously way too big. It’s like ordering a big steak and then shoving into your mouth and attempting to eat it! Generally we use techniques & tools (a steak knife is good) to manage the goals. I’m loving Evernote to manage my goals (and business).

No Support – attempting to go it alone and being a hero. There are people in your life who would probably like to achieve the same goals. In the workplace – tell people, involve people – there are so many ‘helpers’ around who would be ‘turned on’ by being asked. And, if your partner loves you, then get them to join you or at least be there for moral support.

Self Doubt – listening to the negative language in your head; it’s a killer. It’s the biggest enemy of Goal Setting. If you’re hearing voices say “I can't do that” or “I'll start tomorrow” then focus on controlling this before you do anything.

No Visuals – relying on your memory to recall goals and goal progress – it is almost unachievable. Help your brain by ‘posting’ your goals, targets, achievements etc in places visible to the eye – in writing or try images.   

If you're guilty of the above four then you may need some help if you want to give the Goal Setting another go! 

Or, if you've given up on Goal Setting, then encourage others by using a crafted story which identifies your mistakes and 'what not to do'. Then, shut up!  


How would you describe the culture in your workplace? Good, Great, Workable, Toxic?

‘Toxic’ is such a demonstrative adjective; it gives more clarity than other descriptors such as ‘good’ – What does good look like?

I wrote about ‘Toxic Culture’ at the height of the Australian Olympic Swimming team performance review. I wonder how their culture is progressing.

It continues to disturb me that such a label could be associated with an organisation and someone’s leadership. In the past few weeks, I've heard more organisations’ cultures being described as Toxic. Wow, that’s a tough gig to fix.

What comes to mind is how the people in the organisation operate, behave, communicate and engage. No matter how good or bad a culture is described, I find that people fall into one of four clubs in an organisation. By mentally categorizing people, I then know how to engage them, each ‘club’ needing a different approach to get them on-board the journey.

Culture Club Classification and Engagement Tips:

Change Weary Club – they tell you that any change won’t work (and hasn’t worked in the past) and resist showing interest

 -Find a positive in what they do e.g. concern for customer care – using it in your communication e.g. metaphors

Compromisers’ Club – generally the busy leadership team who are hard to pin down

-Negotiate with them individually to change specific actions & behaviours – reinforcing the need to role-model.

Connectors' Club – these people are doing the right thing without knowing they’re doing it

 -Tap into this group, ask for their help, get their ideas and make them feel important.

Champions' Club – they know they are doing it right and are known for being a leader of change

-Search them out, involve them (and any others willing & interested) and work with them to increase the club membership.

Whilst I intentionally make light of the ‘club’ language, I don’t deny the difficulty to tackle culture. However, people create culture and you’ve got to break down the challenge and engage these clubs – working internally encouraging the leaders to lead the followers.

Connect with me to identify these clubs’ traits and how to engage them in your workplace.