One of the greatest books of its time (2001) - my copy proudly sits in my office library.

One of the greatest books of its time (2001) - my copy proudly sits in my office library.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for spending one minute of your precious time to contemplate the G words in your ‘Language of Leadership’.

At the conclusion of the workshops which I facilitate, I ask everyone to individually offer words of gratitude (and sometimes a gift of chocolate) to one person who also participated. This is done  publicly and sometimes there is a pregnant pause as people grapple with the courage to kick off the exercise. However, once the group feel the warmth and sincerity of the gratitude, I can’t stop them!

We are void of gratitude and we need to take the lead to stop and say thank you, with context, to acknowledge the people who show up in your life.

The phrase, Good to Great, is a book title. It’s notoriety is synonymous with its internal terms, ‘Hedgehog Concept’ and ‘The Flywheel and the Doom Loop’. We used this language through the ‘noughties’ in the corporate world in our bid to have: a one big thing which we did globally well and an attempt to build momentum to achieve a transformation (on numerous occasions).

What has me sharing Good to Great, ever so regularly, is the statistic of the Good to Great CEO’s (13 of them) – as their uniqueness was their humility. Most of them were introverts and all but one was appointed from within the company. The key message is, leadership isn’t about bravado and ego, it’s about the company, the customer and the employee.

Our use of good to great is applying and experimenting with the practices that we know work. They are tried and tested and it’s about the will to make it work for you.

Gut. Yep, Gut. That’s my third G word!

Do you ever hear yourself say, I can feel it in my gut or others say, “trust your gut feeling”.

In my readings of neuroscience, I learnt that almost 100 years ago, neurons from the brain were discovered in the stomach – and we are still grappling with this aspect of intuition. When you can’t observe behaviour, it is difficult to believe that this can be proven. However, so many of us can honestly say that intuition guides us in our decision making!

The importance of the gut is that it links to other brains in our body (yet, there’s more than one) which we can train to help us communicate more effectively. I continue to work with, explore and learn about the power we have at our disposal and challenge you to consider your gut and how it helps you make decisions.  This research is worth investigating - Conversational Intelligence helps us communicate as leaderships should - to move from good communicators to great communicators!

What are your G words?

All eyes are on you

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

Our life is one long play button!

Our life is one long play button!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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!

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!

Power, Permission & Profit

I took a rest day yesterday to listen to other folk share their views, wisdom and thoughts on The Furture of Leadership.

I was immersed in models, metaphors, images and great stories of people's leadership experience and their equation of what's needed next.

Whilst there were no epiphanies for me I found myself taking notes about leadership stuff which I know, have experienced and observed but hearing it reframed and in a different context.

Given our headspace is at capacity, this is the reason to take time out and allow others to resort, relabel and challenge you to retry the stuff you've known. At the end of the day the information was percolating!

Some of my bold scribbles included:

POWER - you have a choice of the power you exert - soft power creates the pull: stories, tone of voice, behaviour which is supportive whereas hard power is the push - people who create noise to show control and temper with our fear

PERMISSION - when you have a team functioning with respect for each other, there is no need to ask for permission - there is a level of trust established which enables you to choose the sensible action 

PROFIT - there was no profit made at this fabulous event - all funds went directly to Hands Across the Water charity - which recently paid for Baby Gammy's heart operation.

With too many speakers to write about individually I recommend that if you're interested to discrupt your leadership status quo, take yourself to Brisbane on 14th October for the next Future of Leadership event.

Clues, Cues & Signals

Leading people, building relationships, minimising team conflict and generally surviving in a world of egos, personalities and behaviours can be challenging; to say the least. 

However, if we listen for cues, watch for signals and pick up on clues in behaviour we can make the challenge an opportunity to better understand these people better.

 Clues: This is the breakthrough for understanding people. People are creatures of habit and will give you regular clues as to what they are doing, feeling & thinking. Look for patterns and inconsistencies - get to know the behaviours of others when they are in a 'good' zone and what might push them to a 'non-productive' zone - you're literally piecing together the human puzzle.

Cues: When people talk, they generally have a break in speech especially if in conversation. Too often we are thinking about what we want to say next rather than listening, hearing the intent and waiting for the cue to add to the discussion. This alone is a great relationship building behaviour.

Signals: I run with a regular group and we work on signals to indicate direction, drink break time, increase pace etc. We can go without talking for over an hour!  What signals do you use when working with people? A smile, a thumbs up and other expressions can help others understand how you feel, what you think and want to do. Don't leave it to perception!

I help people cheat with Clues, Cues & Signals using the Strength Deployment Inventory however you can do this yourself by making a practice of becoming more aware of others - especially if you're the leader. They may follow and practise the same.

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!

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?