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. 

Do people 'LIKE' your reputation?

The momentum of our on-line reputation is almost immeasurable given the increased usage of social media, apps and the web to share information. Using LinkedIn to recommend a colleague or SlideShare to host useful material for the use of others is a positive move and works to everyone’s advantage.

Conversely, that drunken photo, slip of a tongue comment about the boss or feedback provided at 10.30pm on a Friday night about poor service is captured and stored – ready to be revealed at a click of a finger.  Disadvantageous!

I’m all in favour of social media, I’m actually hooked, and it was great to listen to Gerry McCusker ( talk about ‘on-line’ reputation, last night at the Glen Eira City Council Small Business seminar.  It was a long night as I then lay awake thinking of my reputation.

And to magnify the subject (and stay awake longer), our ‘in person’ reputation is just as important. The way we behave physically and emotionally when in the company of others is reputation creating & crushing – hopefully on the positive side of the ledger!  

People look at us – seeking consistency in our behaviour. If you’re in business, you’d like to think that people would refer us on to others because we’re good at what we do, but in reality, it’s easier to ‘Like’ on-line than it is to acquire a Raving Fan who proactively acts as our agent.

So, it’s time to be more aware and be totally conscious of our reputation. Let’s go out of our way to be better at what we do, take care of our potential raving fans and to embark on our quest to make it easy for people to ‘Like’ us!

Who's the sore toe in your team?

Are you the sore toe in your team?

I have a toe problem! One little toe is causing me big-time grief. It’s putting me off balance and being on my feet regularly - I'm continually focused on it! This reminds me of a person who was on my team (many years ago) who caused 90% of the office dilemmas?  Her role whilst important wasn't significant in comparison to others but if she was in a bad mood – everyone took cover!

So, off to the doctor I went and he’s unsure and requested ‘toe clippings’ to be examined! It was like a forensic show episode! However, he suggested some initial treatment until he sees the results.

How often are we focused on the problem and searching for a ‘quick fix’ due to the imposed time parameters  when what is necessary is a thorough diagnosis to totally understand the root cause of the issue?

I am guilty of providing ‘quick fix’ solutions to clients (reluctantly) as it’s that or they do nothing. However, it’s refreshing when I hear agreement to the offer of analysing the situation, observing the ‘goings on’ to really get a true picture of the issue before offering solutions.

Who’s the ‘sore toe’ in your team? Who causes the dilemmas which blow out of proportion and affect all members, productivity and service delivery? I hope it’s not you!

Stepping back and analysing and observing what’s going on is an important role of a leader. Rather than rely on ‘hear-say’ - invest some time and check it out for yourself. While you’re doing this, you might uncover other activities which are worth sharing, celebrating or changing.

Lou's Leadership Views: Thanks A Million

We’re acknowledging the many thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Volunteers around Australia this week by saying, “thanks a million”.

You hear people say, “where would our country be without Volunteers” and it’s true, but maybe we don’t understand one of the meanings associated with this quote.

Volunteerism has a ‘Win-Win-Win’ effect on society. The organisation providing help, the person/people being helped and then there is the hero, the Volunteer. They feel a sense of self-worth, they learn through the process of helping and knowing from first hand, you feel ‘a better person’.

It dawned on me yesterday that the Leadership I experienced through volunteering myself over the many years in Junior Chamber International outweighed the opportunities provided in my corporate career. Mind you, considering the hours I worked, I think I volunteered at work as well!

Do you volunteer? Considered it? Go on, try it out or maybe do more of it. I am – I’ve been a bit lazy and it’s time to give more. I’ll say “Thanks a Million” in advance!

Leaders Build The Confidence Of Others

I had to reapply my mascara this morning. I had attended my children’s whole school assembly (coffee in hand – always a long event) and we sat through the catch-up of weekly awards, special subject awards, announcements and then we were entertained by a group of 11-12 year old students singing ADELE's Rolling in the Deep. (Sorry, you'll be singing that in your head now!)

Unaccompanied, except for their school pals, these five girls and one boy had all their moves, lines and tunes well arranged. Whilst there was an air of confidence, they didn't look totally comfortable – however they battled on. When 700 students started clapping when there was a purposeful pause, they paused longer and then kept on singing – so yes, the tears welled!

How many adults would get up in front of their peers and sing (let alone talk) and continue after three audience interruptions? Not many I suspect (especially without the aid of alcohol.)

And, who has a leader in their life who has encouraged them, built their confidence to tackle the impossible? Rather, so many ‘managers’ knock the confidence out of their people by limiting their gratitude, feedback and providing zero opportunities. This is a fine example of the difference between management & leadership!

I hope you’re creating leaders who’re comfortable singing solo while you cheer and sing from the side!

Bullying, Bad Behaviour & Bureaucracy

I would have thought that with all the resources & technology at our fingertips, human resource experts available and best practice case studies being broadcasted, that 'Bullying, Bad Behaviour and Bureaucracy would be prehistoric reading!

In the past week, I've had three separate conversations and they all cite similar issues in their workplace. Oh dear!

So, how do we as individuals persevere and continue to maintain our energy, focus and sanity in these types of workplaces. It takes a certain type of individual to champion the change and make things change. Today I watched a man wear the most gorgeous blue stiletto shoes, all for a good cause, but gosh, he gained attention.

Yes, I'm talking about being drastic at times and subliminal most of the time – we are quirky human beings but we are built with an ability to adapt, change, be influenced and cajoled!  You can appeal to what turns them on, make them feel important (try and find their strengths), ask them to help you in using these strengths and thank people.

It takes Leadership to STOP doing these naughty 'Bs' – it can be as simple as making a public announcement and being consistent (if it's 'the boss' - better still). Other small changes can be tackled with some fun ‘e.g. celebrate stopping' – make light of it - have a laugh and giggle – that’s a re-energising activity for the workplace!

Have a Fabulous Friday, and taking a line from Mindful in May – “take a moment to give yourself some appreciation and gratitude for the effort you’ve made so far … "

LOU'S LEADERSHIP VIEWS: The month to practise Mindfulness

There’s always a race in our home to pinch & punch first! You know the saying: A Pinch and a Punch for the First of the Month! However, this morning, it wasn’t top of mind – everyone forgot until we were in the car doing school drop-offs! Not the safest place for everyone pinching & punching!

What is at the top of mind, this month, is Mindfulness. I’ve referenced it a couple of times in my blogs and definitely in my face to face leadership programs, however, like so many of us, we often forget. So, to have a month to practise Mindfulness, it may become a habit, opposed to a subject.

As a leader, we can so easily influence the behaviours of others: typical example – hanging back late at work, makes a loud statement – ‘this is what I expect of you!’ So, to proactively practise and talk about being mindful you might want to try:

  • Taking time out to connect with yourself e.g. go for a walk and concentrate on your breathing – even it’s for 15 minutes
  • Appreciating what we have – slowing down to actually take notice of our environment
  • Sharing gratitude and acknowledging what people do and who they are – no judgements

I plan to spend the month of May understanding and practising Mindfulness. Google the term, follow #mindfulinmay on Twitter (it’s an Australian fundraiser) and if you’re curious, read about the current research on our brain – Mindfulness has a role to play! 

REFLECTION Is Not For The Faint Hearted

Reflection isn't easy; isn't practised and probably isn't encouraged enough in today’s society. 

How often do we ignore signals which our body and mind triggers – ignorant to the prospect of wondering what and why you and others reacted a certain way?

How many ‘blips’ have you had on your life’s radar or grenades thrown in your direction? Some people have had their fair share, whereas others cruise along. Big or small, ignoring or suppressing moments which are disguised opportunities to ‘make a difference’ are a leaders’ responsibility to target.

Tomorrow is ANZAC Day, a public holiday gazetted in Australia – a day to reflect on the events in the past (and current) of the people who protected us, fought for our rights and many who died in doing so or worse, maimed. Whether you believe in war or not – the ability to stop and reflect allows you to do three things:

1.       Review how and what you think about a matter, maybe what you learnt allowing you to form a view and enable you to share some wisdom

2.       Identify how you feel about something and determine if that’s a positive or negative experience – one which should or shouldn’t be experimented with and discussed with those involved

3.       Decide how you might want to alter, change or reconstruct how you approach these matters/events in the future.

I read a great leadership article that quoted “Reflection is what links our performance to our potential”. Reflection disrupts the status quo,  shakes us up and hopefully pushes you to be more self-aware of your behaviours and of course, your Leadership.  (Thank you Col. Eric Kail, who wrote a six part series on Leadership Character – search it out.)

As our ANZAC folk reflect on their past, take time out (try a ten minute walk on your own) to reflect on your past – whether that was five years ago or the events of your 'yesterday'. You might be surprised what you rediscover.


PERSISTENCE – The Body Language of Leadership

It takes great leadership to persist on an issue, to see it through until you (hopefully) succeed.

'Never give up' is the language of a leader! Changing your communication medium to send the same messages, ‘doing as you’re saying’ and being clever in linking and joining activity and messages to your persistent message – all actions to help people follow you.

I have tears in my eyes watching the YouTube clip of the Marriage Bill Act amendment in NZ Parliament (17/4/13)– watching the Politicians being human and congratulating the member who was obviously the leader, moving the followers in her direction. Watch it to feel the gratitude of the persistence!

What issue have you been persistent at making people listen, hear and watch you being so focused about?

It’s not easy being persistent – but those that do, don’t tire, they may annoy others however gain respect for their tenacity, belief, values and leadership.

Today, watch the people and future leaders around you – do they have the body language of leadership?

What type of Leadership are you delivering today?

As we hear the commentary surrounding the leadership of the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher, it highlights clearly the style which she adopted and consistently deployed in her reign. Sadly, it divided the nation and her inflexibility led to her demise – well, it was 11 years!

If there was a discussion occurring about your leadership, what would people say? How would they describe your approach in the different situations which arose in your organisation?

If you haven’t thought about this, take a moment and consider the responses to these three questions:

1.Which style of leadership do I consistently deliver?
2.How effective am I at changing styles as the need arises?
3.What do I do regularly to ensure that my leadership is effective and helping others?

Taking time to reflect on your own leadership identifies how you behave in certain situations. You have the opportunity to measure and evaluate your choice and ask for feedback or help to strengthen approaches

A key question to ask yourself: Am I being the leader which is needed for the situation and for the people following in my tracks.

In the late 80’s, my nickname was Maggie Thatcher – I was leading a group of Volunteers and our goal was to double our membership. We achieved the goal and it was highlighted that my autocratic style of leadership created the shift and success. I was a novice at the time and whilst I was slightly offended by the title, it led me on a journey to practise other styles – thank heavens!

Leaders Facilitate Idea Generation

Leaders facilitate idea generation

It’s hard to imagine life without being attached to a mobile device. We've just celebrated 40 years of the mobile phone being used for the first time – with many prototypes being shelved! Linus Pauling said “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” And it was one of these ideas which stimulated the many designs of the mobile phone.

Our role and goal in life, in particular if we’re a leader is to stimulate, foster and welcome lots of ideas. Facilitating conversations, meetings and conferences which encourage the light bulbs to go on, is a healthy and exciting environment to be involved and belong to.

To create an idea generation environment, then reflect on what you, as a Leader does and doesn't do to stimulate or deflate these ideas. Consider:

      -What do you call your meetings and where are they held?
      -Who does the talking and listening when ideas are discussed?
      -What equipment and technology do you provide to people to be creative?
      -How do you capture ideas?

      Here’s an idea, have an ‘Ideas Day’ and then discuss how to keep the Ideas momentum.

      Have a Fabulous Friday.