Do you use phrases like these with the people you lead? Does your manager use these with you?
“My door’s always open”
“Come and find me anytime you need help”
These are great sentiments, genuinely appreciated and, for sure, sincerely meant…but I do regularly encounter some problems with this approach. Here are three common ones:
- team members don’t seek out their leader as often as they should, wasting time and effort ‘working it out themselves’ when they could have really been helped (we don’t want people to become leader-dependent but regular effective guidance can help a lot).
- when the leader has to instigate a conversation about some kind of correction / refinement / improvement, it feels like a big deal, akin to being called into the headteacher’s office!
- opportunities to praise, encourage and recognise progress and victories are missed.
I think the last of these points is huge and is a major reason why I am a huge advocate for ‘keeping it regular’. There is so much to be gained by the simple act of setting up regular, routine communication both one-to-one and with the whole team.
And what should be first item on the agenda….every time?
- Progress & Victories
Both the team member and the leader can contribute to this agenda item. Team member shares what they think they’ve achieved, has gone well and moved things forward positively. The leader also shares from their perspective the progress and victories they’ve noticed, tangible results-wise as well as attitude and behaviour.
If you’re not already doing this, I’d urge you to try it and see what impact it has. I’ve seen many managers and leaders instigate this as a regular practice and report back staggering results in terms of trust, motivation, positivity and productivity.
If you’re the leader, make it happen. If you are the team member, suggest to your boss that you give it a go.
It doesn’t have to be hours out in meetings. 20 minutes once a fortnight might be enough!
As the New Year gets under way I have, as I’m sure you have also, been thinking about what lies in store for 2019.
There are the ‘business as usual’ things that just carry on. Wheels set in motion that need little or no extra effort to make happen. None of us begin with a completely blank canvas.
But what of the other?
There are, for sure, plenty of areas when we have scope to make changes. It may be tweaking things slightly, stopping some things completely or beginning something new.
I find it very helpful to use a simple two column format to focus my thoughts: More of… and Less of…
What happened last year that I’d like more of?
What happened last year that I’d like less of?
It’s a great way to stimulate the goal setting process. Here’s a few examples for me that may help get you started:
- more helping people achieve meaningful goals
- less time in rush-hour traffic
- more fun with my kids (especially memorable trips)
- less of the admin work involved with the management apprenticeships
- less time wasted on my phone (be a better example to my kids!)
- more discipline, especially in writing blogs/articles etc
What is it you’d like more of / less of in 2019?
Write it down. Share it with others…and if you need some help (sometimes we know the changes we want to make will require some rigorous, impartial accountability), feel free to drop me a line.
We easily get into ‘getting on with it’ mode. Days and weeks go by. Months pass in multiples. Suddenly we’re more than half way through the year, it’s nearly (or already for some) the summer holidays, then September and we rush headlong towards Christmas.
I’m in the ‘relaxed and positive’ rather than the ‘doom and gloom’ camp when it comes to the passing of time, with one caveat. Am I doing worthwhile things with all these hours or am I just busy with activity that, on review, will count for very little.
It all comes down to whether we have clear definitions of what success is and how to measure it. Answering this question is a crucial aspect of leading yourself and leading others. Once that’s done, here’s a few questions that can help keep us on track:
- What progress & victories have we achieved today / this week / this month that are in line with our definitions of success?
- What have we done that’s contributed most to those victories that we can do more of?
- What new things can we try to achieve more?
- What have we done that’s not contributed to our success that we can do less of, or stop doing entirely?
All seems a little bit simplistic when we put it like that, doesn’t it? Regardless, it works incredibly well. It’s often the simple things that do.
If it’s been a while since you reviewed what success means to you, can I strongly encourage you to do so? And not just at work or in business by the way. At home, with your family and friends, your health, your contribution to society and your giving to others. Your success needs defining for all of these. I’ve got plenty of simple tools to help you do this so please do get in touch if you need a hand getting started.
Right now as England face a World Cup Quarter Final against Sweden in two days, the talk of the town is not the players – usually the focus of most of the hype when it comes to football (Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar etc) – but the England manager, Gareth Southgate. It seems that everyone loves him.
I am very firmly in that camp too – Gareth Southgate comes across as an absolutely top class man. He conducts himself with humility, grace and calmness. He doesn’t make it all about him (take note Jose Mourinho). He encourages his players to fulfil their potential. He speaks honestly. He obviously cares deeply and understands that so many others do too; whether that’s the fans in the stadium whom he takes time to acknowledge after a match, the press corps, the English public etc.
One extraordinary photo, published after England beat Colombia on penalties in the previous match, shows Gareth embracing the Colombian player who missed their crucial penalty. In light of the particularly spikey nature of the on-field contest, this is especially remarkable. Contrast this with the German coaches who invoked the wrath of the Swedish manager earlier in the tournament by celebrating their last minute winning goal wildly right in front of the Swedish bench in an act of gross unsportsmanship which saw then banned by the German Football Federation.
Who knows what will happen in the rest of the tournament but there’s no doubt that the England manager has shone as an outstanding leader and his players (those on the inside) and the rest of the country (those on the outside) are firmly behind him in wishing him every success.
Leadership is about having clear goals, vision, communication, strategy, KPIs, performance measures and the like, but (and it’s a really big but!) it’s at least as much (I would argue more) about character – being a leader others trust and will gladly follow.
It’s why Personal Leadership is step 1 in LMI’s Total Leader process – it comes before Productivity, Motivational Leadership & Strategic Leadership. Leadership is influence through relationships. It’s a people thing. Gareth has got this part of it spot on and, best of all, it seems entirely genuine. He is being authentic, true to himself rather than following some leadership playbook. All leaders take note – the world’s a much happier place and results are much more likely to be good when you have this level of goodwill towards you.
Best of luck Gareth and the team. YOU have won us over and we would be delighted to see you succeed (not sure I could have said this about your predecessor).
P.S. If you’ve not seen it yet, check out the Twitter feed #GarethSouthgateWould for some light entertainment!
A large part of my current work is with people currently on management apprenticeships. These are not the classically perceived ‘just out of school’ apprenticeship, rather people who have been with their current employer for some years, hold a management position and are undergoing some very practical management/leadership development via one of the new apprenticeship standards.
As part of this, managers have to produce a portfolio of their best work evidencing learning and application across broad areas of management – finance, operations, leading people etc. One of the best ways to evidence this learning is through reflective log. Essentially, this is a journal of experiences as they go about their work reflecting on what happened, what they’ve learned from it and perhaps what they would do differently next time. As many of us are too busy to always have time to stop and write these reflections down, a great way to record this journal is using your phone to make a quick video.
I definitely buy into the ‘lead by example’ and ‘don’t ask others to do something you’re not doing yourself’ (* perhaps with a few exceptions!) school of leadership. so thought it may be a good idea to use my blog to record my own reflective log!
It’s an issue I find myself constantly facing with my own kids, as well as in many situations with the managers and leaders I work with. Fear of failure stops people from achieving what they are capable of. We must realise that failure is inevitable if we are to learn and improve.
With my kids it often comes out as “I’m not very good at…”, or “I can’t do…” and I hate it! Of course some things will come easier to them than others but there is almost nothing that they couldn’t become really good at if they seriously wanted to and put in plenty of hard work.
I’m really enjoy Matthew Syed’s writing on this subject. First with ‘Black Box Thinking’ and then in his book for children called ‘You Are Awesome’. In this work he speaks to children about how you get really good at something. Sure there has to be a little bit of natural ability to begin with but then it’s down to practice, hard work and, most importantly, getting comfortable with the idea that to improve you have to fail. You have to try something and it not work as you’d hoped…so you try again. And again. And again.
Whether it’s a new marketing strategy or learning Italian – making friends with failure (also known as learning to get it right) is essential. Cue the Thomas Edison light bulb quote!
I find this challenging as I realise I am just as prone to to failure avoidance as my kids. Head down; keep going; keep the end in mind.