OK, so I set myself this challenge in October write about my exploration of the language of leadership and today I am stuck.

It’s the day of N in the alphabet. I am struggling at identifying more than one word which I use in leadership. I need your help!

My one word is an activity which I am passionate about. I know many people who don’t do it or don’t enjoy it or I believe, don’t do it very well!

I’m an advocate for networking. I even started up my own local networking group to encourage women to get together to discuss their opportunities and challenges. I recall when we first met and discovered we all suffered from procrastination!

We forget to tap into the people and groups we know or lack confidence to meet new groups of people. And it’s more than likely we’re all experiencing the same dilemmas in their own businesses and organisations!

Genuine networking is paying it forward and connecting people. It’s listening to people and hearing for opportunities to help them or introduce them to people who have the solution to their problem.

I’ve learnt the importance of keeping in contact with people and letting them know what I’m working on. In this busy world, it’s easy to forget who we know and how they can add value to our life and business.

It’s not what you know, or who you know, it’s who knows you.
— Bill Potter - Business Maverick NZ

There’s this great saying by a cool dude in NZ: It’s not what you know, or who you know … it’s who knows you. That’s networking!

I will throw in one more important N. When I mentor leaders who are progressing into a new role, I advise that the first task is to learn everyone’s name. Yep, it’s critical. There are some great tricks I use to do this quickly which I’m happy to help you out with!!!

When people hear their name used, they are more likely to listen and they’ll quickly respect you for remembering their name. It’s what you want to achieve quickly in your practice of leadership.

Today, in particular, I need your help with your leadership language - what’s your N word?

The image above is a network map from a fabulous book, Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier. We use this map on our Driving Your Life programs.



Found this at Easy Health Options

Found this at Easy Health Options

We are travelling the alphabet exploring the language used to express our leadership.

Today is the letter H.

Which H letter words immediately come to mind?

I was surprised how quickly I came up with my H letter words. I hear myself using these three words on a daily basis: Hope, Honesty and Happiness.

Let’s begin with HOPE.

Viktor E. Frankl wrote ‘Mans Search for Meaning’, way back in the 40s and people are still reading it, including me and attributing their success as a leader to his lesson of hope.

Our ability to choose how we respond to people and situations (our behaviour) is attributed to knowing your purpose in life and the hope you have in fulfilling that purpose.

In leadership, we create the culture of the working environment which helps people fulfil their purpose; giving them hope to achieve their goals, whether that be intrinsic or extrinsic motivated.

When I work with people, as their leadership intelligence mentor, I hope that it will have a greater impact than they expected. I give them hope that they can be a better leader given our conversations and the advice provided.

This leads to HAPPINESS.

I ask this question when I host my Personality Intelligence workshops: What makes you happy?

If you immediately know what makes you happy, fabulous. Knowing what happiness looks like for your colleagues, boss and in particular, your team members (your staff) then you have the equation to create meaning and purpose in their working life. On top of that if you know this information, you can adjust your communication to talk leadership in their language.

Finally, HONESTY.

Too often I uncover in my conversations with people that they haven’t had an honest conversation with someone. Generally a team member or their boss, who hasn’t been given the honest feedback on the impact they are having on the team, the business or even the customer.

I struggle with performance management frameworks which leads to the belief that you only give feedback annually. C’mon, let get better with being honest with ourselves as a leader and honest with the people who we can influence and inspire to be better humans!

I hope you have a happy day and provide some honest feedback to the important humans in your life!

We’ve already visited A-G on the leadership alphabet. Keep reading my blogs to help you consider the words you express your leadership.



It's the F day!

We're playing The Language of Leadership.  

Think of the F words which you hear yourself say when communicating your leadership.  

I'll offer a few and I'll be interested to hear your Fs!

Feedback is over talked and underused. When you give the gift of feedback, whether that is to reinforce the positive or to identify what needs to be corrected, you are being courteous and courageous, all at the same time.

Too often we walk past or overhear language or activity which is unacceptable. We are more than likely to acknowledge great customer service and become closed lipped when someone is being rude or intimidating. This can be due to a lack of skill, lack of confidence or it may not be safe to do so.

In the workplace, feedback as a daily practice, would build a trusting, strong and ethical environment.

In all the work I do, I would help people build the skill of providing feedback, more than any other skill. What does this say about our confidence, pro activeness and accountability? I believe we have a lot more work to do in this area of communication.

This is a simple statement. Some people love facts.

It’s a great asset to have and it’s advantageous when we’re giving feedback. Facts are favorable when providing feedback. Let’s not rely on hearsay … we know what happens when we play ‘Chinese Whispers’.

Facts are useful when you’re doing your work, when applying your expertise. On the other hand, your feelings are also important. The challenge is, realising that facts and feelings are both important.

Facilitation is a skill. I’ve been working on my practice of facilitation for almost 30 years (yikes!) When you facilitate a team meeting, the outcome is illuminating. Engaging everyone in the room, setting and expecting pre-work to be completed, giving back the work and ensuring everyone has a role in the meeting (why else would they be there?) makes on time attendance the norm.

Facilitation is also about acknowledging that the answer is in the room – adults generally have the answer or know where to locate the information.

Leaders facilitate conversations – they ask questions rather than tell. They listen to responses and respond with where to find or how to develop the solution.

Do you facilitate?

It's been great to have you join the conversation sharing, your language of leadership. 




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!

Are You A Lazy Manager?

Working with many young and aspiring people in the various workshops I lead, I get to hear their view of the world - stories of the leadership and management which is occurring day in, day out. I hear a few magnificent examples of what we want to emulate in leadership however I listen to too many descriptions which would shock your pants off, descriptions of their managers' actions & in-actions.  

You would think in 2015 we would have read enough, heard enough and learnt enough about what good leadership is about - but, and it's a BIG BUT, people still don't do it - let alone do it right.

Warning: Please don't read on if you are feeling slightly anxious, you are probably OK, this is to be read by those who think they are doing swell as a leader! I want you to read this with your team/staff and allow them to provide you with feedback.

Since January, I've kept a list of the common unacceptable behaviours and actions which your people are persevering with - how guilty are you? 


1. Communicating with others using one style, your preferred style neglecting that of the team's bilingual, multi-style requirements.

2. Act as a 'parent', raising your voice, talking down to others and reprimanding in front of their peers. 

3. Don't use manners (common courtesy - saying 'thank you'), gratitude (positive praise) or proactively developing relationships with your team.

4. Hosting lengthy, meaningless meetings which don't engage and involve the attendees and generally bore the pants off everyone. 

5. Performance conversations with team members are annual, feedback from the team is only asked via anonymous 360 degree surveys and you only provide feedback about performance when things go wrong. 

The list grows as I continue to ask 'your' team about your leadership. I hope one day soon these stories cease however we all know that habits are tough to break or change. So, you're going to have to make a concerted effort to be a more effective and respected manager and leader. You probably need help!