Image: Red River College - CA

Image: Red River College - CA

Two three letter words is what I offer today.

Yes & You.

Saying “yes” to the challenges offered to you, saying “yes” to the opportunities to stretch you and saying “yes” when you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable is what you do to build your leadership.

I know if I had said “No” when I had said “Yes”, I wouldn’t have the leadership capability, wisdom and confidence which I had today.

In a world which is way too busy and the new ‘yes’, is a confident ‘no’, people are missing valuable experiences in life.

For women in particular, it’s saying “yes” to that leadership position in the company even though you believe you only have NINETY PERCENT  of the requirements!

Leadership isn’t about you. Whilst it’s important to focus on your leadership communication, ensuring you understand the accountability and responsibility of being a leader; leadership is about others.

As a leader, your practice of leadership is serving others. You have the goal of bringing people along with you, enabling and engaging people to feel that they belong and add value to the workplace.

You should be saying “Yes Louise”, you’re right!




When you talk about leadership, what are your go to words?

What is your ‘language of leadership’?

In a series of blogs this month, I am exploring how I see leadership and invite you to consider your choice of words and terms which describe your style of leadership.

Using the order of the English alphabet, I will share my selection of words daily and my reasoning for these choices.

letter b.png

Today the letter is B!

B is for behaviour, brand and best. There is no right or wrong in the selection of the words; the goal is to broaden your thinking about your practice of leadership.

Join me in my game, ‘the language of leadership’ and offer your ‘B’ word.

My three B words are:

Behaviour – it’s what we do and say that encapsulates your drive, beliefs, intent and purpose. People look to you and seek consistency in your leadership – how you communicate with people, how you self-motivate and regulate and how you deal with conflict and crisis. For me, the focus on behaviour is critical to moving from a good leader to being a great leader.

Focusing on your behaviour starts with analysing how you see yourself – how you think and feel your behave in a variety of situations. Secondly, it’s about auditing your analysis, by being more self-aware – is what you think, a reality? And, how satisfied are you – what changes would you like to see in the outcome of the way you behave? Maybe you need to dial it up more or dial it down.

Finally, ask for feedback about your behaviour. Ask specific questions about what you want to address and ask more broadly to capture what’s not obvious to you. For example, is there something I do which annoys the team, that possibly contradicts what I ask and expect of you/them?

You need to build your brand.

You need to build your brand.

Brand – when colleagues, the chiefs and your crew describe you, what do they say? When you’ve left the office, how do they describe your membership of the business and team. Curating your leadership brand is a strategy you can implement and possibly control if your reputation is important to you and your company.

To get you started, consider key descriptions of your style of leadership. Record these and be alert to when they show up. And, what are the situations which you live out these descriptions? If you are confident, then openly express that this is your brand. Talk yourself up and ensure you deliver.

Best – I’m a woman from the ‘80’s and we were always looking out for the best practice in service, design and delivery. My focus hasn’t changed – I am always wanting to improve my game and to update my knowledge of my leadership profession.

We also talk about ‘bringing your best self’ which is simply a pause and reflect action to clear your head and consider the voice in your head (who’s driving your bus today) and how you’re planning on behaving in your various roles. You do have a choice.

I’ve only heard myself say, they bring the worst out in me, a few times in my life and I know I’ve lost control and almost given up! What I prefer to hear is, ‘they bring the best out in me’. Find the people who help you be your best – they are the companions you want for life.

What’s your B word contribution? I’d love to hear your point of view.

And of course, tomorrow is the letter C. Join me and play the game ‘’The Language of Leadership’’.


During October 2018 I will play The Language of Leadership - working through the alphabet identifying words which are important in leadership. This first post is the letter A - three words I believe are important are: action, assumptions and attitude.

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Well-being builds your leadership. Being self-aware, you take more notice of your behaviour and how this shows up in how you lead your life.

We demonstrate five ways that we help people put their well-being centre of attention and how this will show up in leading a more effective (and happy) life.

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Your essential leadership manual for 2018 - Leadership Results guides you to take your organisation to one known for showing leadership and comprising of high performing teams.

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How can a company put its people before profit? 

This question is answered throughout Everybody Matters- a story of how a company with it's origins in the 1800s is successfully a combination of 80 acquisitions using a checklist of leadership behaviours to lead and now educate in their own university.

A must read for anyone who questions the importance of people and leadership in their business.

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Speakership is Matt Church's book which is a practical 'how to' - it builds your competence and confidence to speak publicly - the strength which most people say they wish they had or would rather die than have! If you're a leader, then you need to read this book.

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Lucy Adams disrupts the world of Human Resources. She offers solutions to turn HR on it’s head to be more about the people opposed to a focus on the policy of people.

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If you are achieving extraordinary results, I suspect you trust and are trusted by others. No matter what you are doing in life.

If you have the interest and agility to increase your results, consider the conversations you’ve had today; yesterday and the day before. If you deconstruct these conversations, what would you uncover about yourself? And, if you placed the results on a dashboard would the dial point to connected, productive or creative? Or would the dial move to the opposite side of this gauge – pointing to sceptic or resistor?

Judith E. Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence – How Great Leaders Build Trust & Get Extraordinary Results, advises her readership and clients over the past 30 years that we’re probably speaking to and from the wrong brain – the Primitive Brain. (Who would have known?!)

By using your Executive brain, you’ll notice that this connection will alter everything: the way you phrase your greeting, ask your questions and how you offer or make comments. Rather than create distrust, this newish brain will build trust. And trust is the anchor in your relationships to weather all situations.

Whilst some of us might think our conversations are powerful, we may be failing to see the impact these interactions have on others. We need to heighten our awareness and increase our use of the Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) skill which connects intentions with impact.

Judith’s goal is to help you move from operating at C-IQ ‘Level I – transactional’ (how to exchange data and information) and make the quantum leap to the learnable C-IQ ‘Level III – transformational’ (how to co-create conversations for mutual success). Put simply, change to a listener rather than a teller.

Your Conversational Dashboard ... where's your dial pointing?

Your Conversational Dashboard ... where's your dial pointing?

The new language is co-create – working together, cutting through bureaucracy, hierarchical levels, removing the need to be right all the time, in an effort to build a successful culture. This is done by influencing each other’s neurochemistry, while we express our inner thoughts and feelings to strengthen relationships while making sense of the world. Too easy!

Which brain do you operate from?

We have five brains according to the research which Judith shares liberally – each brain having an influence on our conversational ability. The Primitive brain, which hosts the fear mongering Amygdala, operates differently to our Prefrontal Cortex (Executive brain) which is activated when we feel we can trust others.



As leaders, we unconsciously drip-feed our teams with ‘conversational cocktails’; resulting in the team being drunk with happiness, excitement and enthusiasm, or, all too often, they start acting like angry animals.  The ‘cocktail’ is a mixture of biochemicals triggered by what you do and say. The chemicals, oxytocin (bonding), dopamine (when you’re right) and serotonin (happiness) are released if your conversation is at ‘Level III’ – when you and the team are working to achieve a mutually successful outcome.

When what we say, what we hear, and what we mean are not in agreement, we retreat into our heads and make up stories that help us reconcile the discrepancies.

So, when what we say, what we hear and what we mean are not in agreement, we retreat into our heads and make up stories that help us reconcile the discrepancies. We make “movies” and generally fail to connect.

If you were to replay ‘the movie’ of a recent staff meeting, what would you see and hear? Would you see the same people sitting in the same spots, hear the same people speak and see the agenda following a similar pattern? To make a change, Judith recommends commencing with a ‘Rules of Engagement’ activity which talks to the Amygdala, calming it down to be more fully engaged with the meeting intent. Similarly, when we host a workshop or conference – we break the ice with this style of activity to build trust in the group – we talk to the Amygdala!

The term ‘intelligence’ was brought alive with the advance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ); which is differentiated by Judith: “Emotional Intelligence is about self-regulation whereas conversational intelligence is about co-regulation”. I get this and it will be the EQ leader who will ease into becoming a C-IQ leader. One who will masterfully observe their inner world of desires whilst observing the impact of their actions on others.

I am currently reading Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s my 30th book. I’m a little behind with reviews as I found writing about Conversational Intelligence a challenge. I’m not totally sure why, the content isn’t new to me – it’s probably deciding what to share with you and what not to include!

Please take the opportunity to read this book. It’s a definite ‘must read’ to learn how to train your brain and ultimately achieve extraordinary results in your endeavours.

I have been inundated with questions about my reading project, in particular, my ability to read so many books. Well, I do read, I don’t listen to the books and I know that I am a disciplined person who enjoys learning what others are learning. I believe you must keep ahead of the amazing information and practices which others are successfully applying in their Leadership Practices.

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!



What do you collect?

I’ve met collectors of shoes, cars, houses and recipes! I simply or crazily collect questions.

Great questions can: transform a superficial conversation into an extraordinary relationship; unlock the real you … someone whom you thought you really knew and questions can elevate your happiness (think: Will you marry me?)

I glean questions at every opportunity. I record them, highlight them in a book, send myself recorded messages when I hear questions and their answers – quite alarming when I think of it!

So, it was very exciting to be handed a book which was filled with questions. That’s a Great Question, written or should I say, collated by Greg Bustin, provides on a platter, hundreds of tried and tested provacative questions, categorized into themed chapters – handy if you’re coaching others or as I found myself, using it as a self-help coaching book. Don’t be fooled thinking it’s a one hour read!

This book is your ideal, end of year practical exercise to prepare for 2017. As Greg suggests, take yourself away from your normal space; go hiking, block out a day to work through this book. Surprisingly, I am still reading this book today (Sunday) as I have found myself continually stopping in search on the answers.

In my business this week, we completed a mini-skills session with a client – exploring a couple of models to coach staff. I am always amazed how people come to realise how powerful a conversation becomes by using great questions to dig and discover.

Greg says that using questions effectively is like a dance. I agree. It’s not a checklist. It’s a conversation which you can exercise your lead but it’s about two people committed to working together. Whilst it might not look like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers on the dancefloor, it should feel like a performance (of achievement).

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers - Courtesy of DHC Treasures

I couldn’t decide on a favourite question to share; so I’ve selected a few from a few of the thoughtfully categorised sections of the book. Use these on yourself and be surprised how time consuming it can be truthfully respond.


If our company did not exist, what would the world be missing?What gives me a sense of certainty?


What’s one principle I wished everyone practised?

Goal Setting

If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?


What am I kidding myself about?

How do I respond when I place my trust in someone and they let me down?


If a stranger walked in and asked any employee about our vision, mission and strategy, what would they hear?


Do I behave differently in the office than at home? If so, in what ways? If so, what causes my behaviour to differ from place to place?

Time Management

If I tracked my time in 30 minute increments for a month, what would I find? Is this how I should spend my time?

Talent + Teamwork

Who are five people I spend most of my time with? Are they helping me or holding me back?

What am I doing to help make this job the best job my people have ever had?

Customer + Prospects

What memorable experience are we creating with our customers?

Making Things Happen

Do we measure the things that are important to us?

Are we having fun? Am I having fun?


Whose job am I doing today? (I do like this question.)

Blue Sky

What would I do if I didn’t work?

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein


The book provides tips to help you coach others effectively, how to structure your questions, which words to never use and rules to abide by to establish a trusting relationship where private information is shared.

My greatest tip for you is to use the book on yourself first. Leadership works well when there is authentic self-awareness. Let this book be your gift to others by getting yourself ready for an awesome 2017. Alternatively, gift yourself a Coach for 2017 and get in contact with me to discover your best self.


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 Making Sense?


According to The Institute for the Future, the top skill required for 2020 is Sense-Making. This is defined as the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.

In Lynne Cazaly’s words, it’s about your thinking, connections, visualising stuff, communicating that and being able to act on it and iterate it where needed.

Too easy! Or is it?

Leaders can choose to add value by doing three things: uncomplicate matters, enable decisions to be made and help make sense of complex issues. In my world, my common client issue is distilling information to communicate to others for decisions to be made. So, it would make sense to build the capability of ‘sense making’ as it’s the entrée to decision making.

Thankfully there is a book to help managers and leaders. And when a book immediately captures your attention, you hope the author keeps flexing this style. I wasn’t disappointed and read it within 3 days. Lynne’s humour made it enjoyable and she knowingly helped us retain the information. My daughter picked up the book wanting to know why I was laughing and asked immediately “why has this book got WTF in it?” Thanks Lynne!

Lynne presents in ‘Making Sense - A Handbook for the Future of Work’ her reasoning and a collection of other ‘Thought Leaders’ of the same subject, why we need to help our people make sense, how to go about it and offer, on a platter, tools to kick-start the sense-making in your leadership capacity.

It’s a leader’s manual which should become dog-eared quickly given the number of gems included. It’s spiced up with some fair dinkum language which we all need given the amount of procrastination and inaction in this territory (that is, in Australia and the field of sense making).

Anyhow, back to the action held within the rows of text and to my delight, the pages of visuals. Yes, my inner desire of ‘please just draw a diagram of what you mean’ has been fulfilled and I get it.

Lynne creates, immediate context for the need to make sense by introducing the cute Aussie sounding acronym VUCA. It’s because of VUCA that we are in a state of panic and feeling overwhelmed.

Volatility – the unknown in an ever changing environment, in particular in organisational systems & structures

Uncertainty – when you freeze or feel you’re in a holding pattern … struck with a personal unknown feeling

Complexity – in the middle of change humans intervene and add their interpretation creating layers of information

Ambiguity – where more questions are asked to answer questions and everything is clouded



And here are some simple yet powerful points:

DON’T do these things …

Use PowerPoint – we know they are not appreciated and people make them too complex and when people ask for a copy (this means they didn’t get it)

Use bullet points – it’s an excuse for leaving out the detail which is need to make sense of what you’re communicating

Remain quiet – there is so much going on that you need to be the toddler and ask “why?” to make sense

And more importantly start doing these things …

Create a new habit– realise that making sense is a capability and a behaviour … so it has potential to become a habit

Evolve – leaders need to keep learning, changing, and taking on different experimental roles

Set standards – don’t allow clichés or wafflers in your meetings

Educate – this is learnable, teach it in schools and develop it with adults

Dots – join the dots for your team and others

Map it – like google maps, draw a route to help people find their way

Move it on – stop the folks who are stuck in the past, help them resolve their issue to enable movement

Use templates – help make it easier to make sense by drawing templates which visually make sense

Share techniques – there are 21 to experiment with, practise and share in your team

Meaningful meetings – make your gatherings and meeting meaningful and purposeful

Making sense made easy.

The crux of the book is a great model: Think, Map, Act – it simplifies what we should be doing to make sense of what’s going on. Thinking encourages visualising, mapping is creating our version of what we think and acting is practising our thought out version. And this is cyclical, it doesn’t stop with one attempt!


This is a must read and reference book for leaders.

This is a must read and reference book for leaders.

I work with teams who are experiencing conflict which is when individuals’ values are being challenged by other people’s behaviour about an issue. In Making Sense, Lynne identifies when we are aiming to make sense, we need to make sense of the wider world (it = market, industry), the outer world (others - organisation, team), and the inner world (you – your mind)

This is another great model, this time helping leaders to depersonalise conflict; using a new language to work through and make sense of what’s going on. Leaders who demonstrate leadership will guide people to minimise their feeling of conflict by making sense of what’s going on. They’ll use this handbook with its: 40 thought starters, 10 thinking tools, 32 templates and 21 techniques for making sense.

Enjoy exploring stuff, thinking about it, talking about it, mapping it and then definitely acting on it.

Don't let this linger any longer. Act on it and get help if you require guidance. Connect now.

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!


On a quick trip to the USA, I returned to my seat, after a stop in Auckland NZ, to discover that my book was missing. Feeling helpless and vulnerable (someone had invaded my space) my attentive flight attendant returned with a bundle of brand new first class magazines; this kept me busy all the way to LA!

I have retold this story for 17 years and it mirrors the impression created in the opening story of this week’s book’s first page.

Lurking in my office library, I uncovered my tenth book to review; the infamous, Moments of Truth. It’s stood the test of time, erect, although gathering dust, aging and slightly discoloured, however, it’s retained its status as the bible for anyone wanting to seek a customer driven business to compete in the service economy.

Published in 1987.

As a consumer of products and services, our service expectations have heightened in this era of instant global communication. Never before, have we bought more, ordered more ad travelled more. And boy, do we love our ‘service’ stories. We gravitate to amazing service endeavours and congregate and compete with our bad experience stories.

Today, we expect ‘moments of truth’ and have the mechanisms to communicate if we do … and if we don’t. Given the intelligence available we can be remarkably surprised and delighted. However, as Jan Carlzon, author of Moments of Truth and at the time, President of Scandinavian Airlines, reminds us that it’s the people who make the moments of truth happen for others.

Rereading this ‘service bible’ was pleasurable– following Jan’s storytelling – travelling together as he reversed the balance sheets of not only Scandinavian Airlines but two other companies. Talking to us from pages typed almost 30 years ago, how he set strategies, restructured teams and how his teams implemented changes; the why, the approach and how it all eventuated – successes and failures.

It’s a short easy read. No frills, no ego just straight to the point. (I think it’s unScandinavian to have ego and to belittle each other.)

What popularised this book when it was released is that it’s written in the days of ‘command and control, where engagement of staff was limited, and the competition was around creating the tallest organisational pyramid structures furthering the executive from the frontline, opposed to enabling the decision making by those ‘touching’ the client who demanded speed, service, decisions and delivery.

Fabulous moments in the book revolve around exploring the role of a leader ensuring that their staffs’ ideas were implemented, that women should be on the executive team, given their blend of leadership traits (different to men), that the horizontal level of management should be removed unless they were ‘on the floor’ engaging with the customer enabling the frontline team to create great service and moments of truth.

Enabling impressionable memorable moments

If you still don’t know what a ‘Moment of Truth’ (or MoT) is, it’s about memorable impressions formed and created when you come into contact with a business – this can be negative and positive. I recall doing work at the NAB, identifying with teams, all the touchpoints where impressions could be made. This in itself makes you realise that customer service is really customer intelligence!

The philosophy of Moments of Truth still has potential in 2016 and beyond. And I wonder why so many are yet to implement it. Yes, it’s ambitious and still conflicts with those ingrained views that authority and command equate to leadership however with the help of the likes of Patrick Hollingworth* who climbs mountains and focuses on flattening Business Mountains aka pyramid vertical styled organisation structures, we might see more change over the next 30 years.

I’m sure we have all created our own moments of truth but more importantly, what are you doing to enable your staff to provide these moments. Empowering them with the accountability to make decisions, using funds or their intuition to potentially save multiple funds in the long run.

This book reeks of leadership. Jan clearly articulates the responsibility of leaders and the accountability bestowed to staff to make the decisions often required of their managers to treat customers with the respect they expect and deserve ensuring they receive the service which people will talk about for 17 years.

Let me know if you choose to read this book – I’d love to discuss how to bring it to life in your business.

*I listened to Patrick Hollingworth speak at The Future of Leadership event this week – such a coincidence that I was reading MoT’s ‘Flattening the Pyramid’ chapter that same day. Check his website  

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 Practice of Adaptive Leadership is the anchor of so many practices, models, frameworks and quotes which we still here in workplaces and in the wider community when we’re calling for leadership. These three authors are to be commended in producing a practical tool for leaders - they were ahead of their time or we are slow in picking up their knowledge, experience and talent.

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Influencing The F Factor


In the pursuit of a successful career, there are a few things which can cause us to stumble, trip and sometimes fall. Being a woman, there appears to be additional manholes which we encounter:

Female – those two letters F & E, make all the difference in the life of a woman

Facebook – whether you’re the subject of discussion or the Chief Operating Officer, you’re on the back foot copping criticism more so than favouritism

Feminist – seeking equality in the workforce, let alone in life, still appears to be a dirty word

Family – being the natural caregiver doubles the workload caring for children and the home.

Sheryl Sandberg, author of the still popular bestseller, Lean In, holds no bars. In her tell-all life story, from cradle to Facebook’s COO she reveals what it’s taken to become who she is. I’ve never encountered anyone who is so open and candid about life, especially a woman holding such a prestigious position.

Sheryl has gifted us with the licence to be vulnerable and have a voice at the table. Writing this book was Sheryl being ambitious and facing her fears: picture her writing this book, possibly ‘leaning in’ at the kitchen table, after she’d shared a meal and put the children to bed.


Are you this Authentic?


Being an authentic leader has been a very topical subject for the past ten years and Sheryl role models through every page (maybe too often for my liking) but I take my hat off to her for putting it all out there, as we do in the land of Facebook.

Given my recent read of The Wife Drought by Journalist, Anabelle Crabb, I became overly cautious reading Lean In’s lengthy Foreword by Belinda Hutchinson, Chairman of QBE Insurance Group Limited - I thought I was in for another lecture on the history of the woes of being a woman. However, I was immediately engaged with the first chapter devoted to closing the Leadership Ambition Gap, Sherly asks: WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN'T AFRAID?

Sheryl reminds us of why we fall into these manholes, exploring why women are less likely to aspire to the powerful roles, believing that ambition is a dirty word and assuming that having it all vs losing it all equates to good employee vs responsible parent.

Lean In is a call to action, hence the reason why so many women have found it uplifting and inspiring. There’s even a Lean In Facebook page which you can join upon reading the book – sharing uplifting stories of the book being acted upon.

My five favourite pearls of wisdom:

·        Women need to be relentlessly pleasant when negotiating; smiling frequently, expressing appreciation and concern, invoking common interests, emphasising larger goals and approaching negotiations as problem-solving. All this appears like crossing a minefield backwards in high heels!

·        We need to withstand criticism. The cost of speaking your mind will inevitably offend someone – so allow yourselves to react emotionally and feel whatever anger or sadness being criticised arouses in us and then we should quickly move on… just like children do.

·        When you identify a weakness, do something about it. Turn to a coach to help correct it. Trying to overcorrect a weakness is a great way to find a middle ground.

·        Get a mentor and you will excel. This is a common message for aspiring talented people.  However, flip this: Excel and you will attract a Mentor; impress others and they will want to invest in you.

·        Sharing emotions builds deeper relationships. Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about. To really care about others, we have to understand them – what they like and dislike, what they feel as well as think.


As leaders, you can exercise leadership by supporting, encouraging and role modelling the F Factors:

Fraternity – Create your own women@google to help each other out: gather a group of women, share a meal, practise boasting about your successes and then share these women’s success stories in your own circles

Fearless – rid yourself of debilitating norms and stereotypes; tell yourself that you can do a job even if you only possess 40% of the job requirements (it’s the only time that I suggest you be like a man!)

Face time – leverage off 21st century technology and stop measuring facetime but focus on the results. Which goes in hand with …

Flexibility – offer flexibility together with accountability, encourage parents to be with children, adults to be with elderly parents … allow them to work around what’s important to them and they’ll respect you

Failures - reflect, learn and see it as an opportunity as you spruik your successes

Fast – the faster we act to break the cycle of the patterns we’ve inherited from our parents e.g. doing more housework than our partners, we will reach greater equality.

Forward – look to the future, be forward and be bold.


If you haven’t kept up to date with Sheryl’s life, in May 2015, her husband Dave died suddenly while on holiday. The world of followers were in shock after Sheryl had declared her love for him in this book – in particular how reliant she was on him to continue in her successful career.

On the anniversary of his death, this year, Sheryl addressed UC Berkeley, it was her first public discussion about life after Dave – being challenged to the core, surviving through adversity, relying on your muscle of resilience and realising that we must show gratitude for the joy that there is in your life.

This YouTube, from Sheryl’s own account is a must watch, just like her book is a must read for every woman and man and our children.

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!

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!



How do people describe your leadership? Has anyone mentioned that you have a ‘leadership edge’?

What does this ‘edge’ indicate about you and your leadership? Are you different from other leaders, are you at the forefront of leadership activity or are we yet to understand what the edge of leadership really looks like?

This week’s book, Your Leadership Edge (YLE), is an elegantly styled hardcover – inviting you to open its pristine white and green pages to immerse yourself while you explore the powerful and provocative ideas and be fuelled with leadership curiosity.

I was already high on leadership when I purchased the book as I had spent a couple of hours in the company of its author, Ed O’Malley, at a Mentors function at Leadership Victoria. In his opening remarks, he captured our attention by simply saying, “Leadership rarely happens … it happens in little moments”.

Author, Founder, Ed O'Malley, Kansas Leadership Center USA

Author, Founder, Ed O'Malley, Kansas Leadership Center USA

Leadership rarely happens is a BIG statement to make, especially if you believe you’re a darn good leader. But hold on, let me support this with YLE’s first principle:

Leadership is an activity, not a position. BOOM!

My immediate thought took me to the many aspiring leaders, who with no direct reports and a desire to lead would get this simple yet sonic statement. Being a team leader or an anointed CEO presents you with authority, however it doesn’t equate to your capability to exercise leadership to mobilise groups around what matters most.

Ed redefines leadership, encapsulating ten years of work at the Kansas Leadership Center (USA) to produce a book which shares his ideas with his goal to assist anyone who has the desire to exercise leadership and put themselves at the edge of their competence.

But wait, there’s more. To help ‘me’ recall what I’ve read and listened to, I have this neat pocket tool which identifies the five leadership principles, four leadership competencies and a long list of stimulating questions to engage conversation. Within each of the 24 behavioural chapters, an additional book is referenced for further reading and whilst neither of these two books are mentioned, I found that huge wafts of their intent were reinforced: Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence and Robert Kean & Lisa Laskow Lahey’s Immunity to Change.

Imagine having your Leadership Development Mentor living in your handbag or pocket. A voice pipes up asking you questions, sharing wisdom and stories, pushing you to the edge to experiment and practise what’s been said and shared. That Mentor lives in the pages of YLE. Here’s what you’d hear:

Adaptive challenges distinguish themselves from technical problems by simply saying there is no answer in your current repertoire. Which then introduces the notion of redefining leadership to recognise where the technical problem ends and the adaptive challenge begins. The responses you hear to “what concerns you most?” may identify an adaptive challenge in your business.

Being a good cook, I was drawn to Leadership requires attention to heat– using a metaphor of the difference between a thermometer and thermostat – the later allows you to not only tell the temperature but will move the temperature that you need to be at. Too much heat and people panic. Watching for clues about the temperature will allow you to intervene skillfully for ‘a leadership moment’ and make some progress.

Engage unusual voices – it’s the books only rule and paramount that it cannot be violated when facing an adaptive challenge. These voices don’t belong to your go-to-crew rather it’s those you seldom engage and you know ‘they’ will have influence to produce your change. Whilst it may be outside your comfort zone, it’s probably risky and you’ll have a plethora of other excuses however this rule can’t be broken.

Speak to loss – I learnt this a couple of years ago and it’s exquisitely explained – most of us don’t understand the distinction between change and loss. Change isn’t scary, it’s the loss that goes with it. People get passionate about issues that affect them and their values come into play. Leaders are generally responsible for bringing the loss and try to avoid the conversation. All the more reason to create the space for people to share what they are thinking, an opportunity to build trust and even share an example or story of your own loss, authenticating that it’s OK to feel loss.

And my favourite Give the work back - in our quest to raise the problem and solution we miss the opportunity to probe deeply enough to identify the smart risks that will lead to real progress. Giving the work back is about getting people involved, right at the beginning of diagnoses, not delegation of task. I was attracted to this behaviour as it’s one of the most difficult. When people turn to you for answers instead of taking risks or working with others that should be a sign to give the work back.

Whilst some ideas are articulated differently to what we already know, some new ideas are worth experimenting. Your investment in this read or even exploring the work which the KLC advocates is highly recommended if your edge is in the distance.

I would welcome your challenge to this claim of leadership rarely happening … however of all my observations over the many years in business, volunteer community work and in our current transparent world, I can recall very few moments of true leadership, and now using this behavioural guideline, the list diminishes.

Now, consider your leadership edge – scan your eyes over these four leadership competencies and determine if you are exercising these leadership behaviours. If yes, you’re at the edge. Onward!

Let’s connect to work on these behaviours and get you to the edge of your competence.

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, learnings and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!



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!



If ‘leader’ or ‘leadership’ is associated with your role in business or community then I recommend you take this crash course in Ethical Leadership.

Author, Dennis Gentilin and his research assistant Vanessa Kirby have digested every possible finding, study and research relating to ethics; analysed it rigorously and regurgitated into useful supportive information which reinforces the most important message of this book: how powerful your choice of behaviour impacts the sustainability of an ethical organisation.

If you’re accountable for organisational culture and curious if you are supporting or sabotaging this culture, then this is one hell of a read; it guarantees to confirm your thoughts and suspicions.


Leaders lost their roles in this building.

Gentilin was the courageous foreign exchange trading scandal ‘whistle-blower” at the National Australia Bank (NAB) in January 2004 which uncovered $360 million of unauthorised currency transactions resulting in the company being on the front cover of most Australian tabloids for 100 days, reporting on senior leadership sackings; dragging the NAB from its powerful company position status.

Whilst working in NAB’s Risk division at this time, I witness followers (staff) questioning their relationship with the company. We spent many months ensuring we retained our talented team whilst reviewing how authentic we were living our company values. (I now realise we were examining our ethics.)

Gentilin politely identifies what went wrong at the NAB. He summaries and describes how management behaved badly and has turned this failure into a book of lessons for leaders; applicable to all sectors and industries, not limited to those in financial services.

Four lessons resinated with me:

This is a must read for leaders.

Power: how you shape systems and create context - where your choice of actions and decisions are either supporting or sabotaging your personal and business values

Self Esteem: how the role of your ego, how you evaluate your own worth and importance, your capability to opt on and off the ‘flow of success’ have a consequence far greater than your fear of losing face

Moral compass: how your ethical vernacular is heard and how you apply it in your decision making – is it a business decision or an ethical decision – what is guiding you?

Diversity: how recruiting similar powerful attributes in teams, will deindividulise, submerging and transforming peoples’ morals and thinking

To commence your personal ethical examination, consider how you would answer these questions:

·        Is your business an incubator for ethical failures?

·        Do you represent and live the values of your business, 100% of the time?

·        What is your moral compass telling you?

·        Are you a ‘first class noticer’?

·        Do you reward ethical champions?

·        What signals do your behaviours send to others?

·        Are the choices you make aligned with your values?

·        In a business dilemma, is ethics in your vernacular?

·         Are ethics evident when you make decisions?

·        Does your business have a Chief Ethics Officer?


How did you go answering these questions? If you were able to answer these quickly, I suggest you didn’t take enough time. As Gretilin suggests, you need to take your time to reflect, to make ethical decisions.

Connect with me if you’re enjoying what you’re reading and learning. I am a specialist in Leadership Development and Performance and spend my days turning managers into leaders.

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!



My heart stopped today as my son told me how he was still upset that he didn't achieve a Leadership role in his Grade Six year (2 months on since the announcements). He and a mate have been discussing a boy, once a good mate, who had made a terrible speech (Patrick himself had shaken with nerves and very embarrassed) and that the boy didn't deserve his role because of his speech. We further explored other possible reasons and unearthed that this boy wasn't consistent in his 'integrity' - one of the school values.

I hope I made a good job with my advice (holding back tears), launching with "Leadership is not a title" - explaining the importance of influencing the best outcome, investing time in others, being proactive and always being positive - these being the leadership traits that he should be demonstrating which would make the difference at his school. Ending with, "A badge doesn't give you a superpower." (I like that one!)

Working with the world of academia last week I was being provocative by suggesting that the audience,  a group of woman, stood behind their titles of 'Professors', whereas, what they needed to do was to stand up and be known for their leadership.

Photo by Saklakova/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Saklakova/iStock / Getty Images

Unfortunately, many folk are 'awarded' or 'rewarded' with the title of Leader in their role and are still operating in a world of management. Or, they are a technical expert in their field and expected to change, overnight, into a leader of people without guidance and sadly a 'role-model' or mentor to guide them in a direction which makes a difference to the people they are responsible for in their organisation.

Leadership is not a title; it is what others observe in you, something they feel given the climate created given your presence and it's how people behave given what you do and say.

We cannot blame others for their lack of leadership, we must lead and make the difference in others' lives.

I left Patrick today with three actions: a simple affirmation of having a great day, to be great at something he studies today and he named the third action - "Mum, I'm going to be proactive."

That's my boy!!!