Everyone loves Gareth!

July 5, 2018

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!


Making friends with failure

July 3, 2018

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.

YouareAwesomeI’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.

 


Personal or Professional Development?

May 17, 2018

Most are familiar with the concept of CPD – continuous professional development – the practice of continually improving your knowledge and skills in your field of work.

I was with some colleagues yesterday and one shared the thought that whilst we mostly talk about our LMI programmes as professional development tools, the greatest impact for anyone who has the privilege of going through one or more of these programmes is always personal.

Having coached many people through LMI programmes in the last decade, I absolutely agree.

It’s how people change in attitude, confidence, motivation etc that makes the biggest difference. It’s these personal growth factors which then cause someone to implement the management and leadership behaviours that are taught within the programmes with purpose and consistency. Personal growth leads to professional impact.

This is why Personal Leadership is the foundation element of LMI’s ‘Total Leader’® Concept and the starting point of all effective leadership development initiatives.

If you want to lead, begin with leading yourself.


“Personal leadership is the most important element of institutional transformation.”   Lou Gerstner, Former CEO – IBM

“If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time leading yourself – your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct.”  Dee Hock, Founder – Visa International


Download your own Personal Leadership Self-Evaluation here and do something significant about your own professional (personal!) development.


The Gift of Feedback

October 11, 2017

I hate this title. I hate feedback.

That at least is my instinctive reaction when I receive feedback that isn’t simply ‘Nick is amazing’, or something wonderfully positive like that!

I run a lot of training courses so I am given feedback almost every day. Thankfully, most of it is very good and for that I am extremely grateful.

But then, out of nowhere (it seems!), comes something not-so-great…and it lands a withering blow to the stomach as the words, whether written or delivered verbally, find their target.

Another human being has the gall to have the opinion, much worse even, to share that opinion, that Nick Howes is not perfect. There are things about how Nick does his job that they find annoying, boring, confusing…whatever it may be.

The thing is, it’s this kind of feedback that makes us. We need it and we need it badly. The positive feedback builds our confidence and that’s crucial, but to become better, to really excel, we need those ‘would be better if….’ comments.

They are indeed a gift to us and we can learn to treasure them (even if we still hate them)!

I’ll write some more on this. Hope this has got you thinking for now.

 


Is it possible to over-encourage?

September 5, 2017

A very brief article today based on this question: “Is it possible to over-encourage people?”

Yes, you need to have the confidence to confront poor behaviour and manager under-performance through clear communication and constructive conversations. Let’s take that as ‘sorted’.

Without that accountability it’s certainly possible to create a culture that is falsely positive, where poor attitudes and slack work habits go unchallenged.

But, assuming that’s in place because you have well-trained managers (if you don’t, give me a call and let’s get them well-trained!), is it possible to over-encourage or is it the case that the more praise, encouragement and generally positive inputs to the work environment, the better?

What do you reckon?  And what will you stop doing, start doing and continue doing as a result?

I’m genuinely really interested to hear your thoughts.


#fridayfive – Your Personal L&D

June 16, 2017

This week’s Friday Five looks at your personal learning & development.

I work a lot with L&D departments – committed teams focused on providing the very best growth opportunities for staff across their business. In many ways though, it’s a thankless, hopeless task.

The reason?

Individual attitudes to learning.

No matter how good the L&D programme and support structures, the single biggest factor in the success of any investment of this type will always be the attitude of those engaged in the process.

Positive, self-motivated people with great attitudes will learn and develop themselves regardless of what the organisation does or does not provide. Here are five things to consider in the context of your own personal growth:

1. Master growth list – write down everything you can think of where learning new skills or developing a character quality would be beneficial to you in your work (& life more generally). Keep this as a master list. Add to it whenever you can.

2. Create & maintain your own PDP – lots of organisations encourage a personal development plan. In my experience, it’s the exception rather than the rule if these are current, active and influencing someone’s behaviour. Regardless of the degree to which your company helps with this, take responsibility for your own development. Own your PDP! Take the most important two or three things from your master list and make those your current growth priorities. If this is done in collaboration with your manager or coach, so much the better.

3. Set a goal – turn those priority areas into goals. Very specifically, what are you going to do and how much of it and by when exactly? Make it visual. Put it somewhere you are continually reminded of it. Best way I know to do this is the LMI Goal Planning System (if you don’t have a great system for planning & tracking your goals, drop me a line and I’ll be glad to share it with you).

4. Take systemised action – I would say ‘take action’, but it’s such a common story that we learn something (we go on a course…read a book…do some online learning etc), go away and do something as a result, which is great, but then fail to build the infrastructure around that action so that it keeps on being done. For example, a manager learns about how to have an effective one-to-one with their team members, goes away and does nine brilliant one-to-ones in month 1….and it never happens again! Systemised action means booking those meetings into the calendar as recurring appointments for the next 12 months! Learnt something new on Excel? Set a reminder every day at 9.27am to review and practice that action for as long as it takes to never forget it!

5. Review & share – the very best way that any learning and development is cemented is when you review and share it with others. Simple stuff. Rarely done.

“How was that course / book / webinar?

“Great, thanks.”

“That’s good. See ya.”

Or…

“Could we grab a coffee and take 15 minutes to review what I learned on that course, what I’m planning to do differently as a result and how best I might be able to share that with the rest of the team?”

I hope that’s prompted some useful reflection about your own learning & development. Have a great end to the week and if you have any suggestions for topics in this #fridayfive series, I’d love to hear them.


Are we still in search of leadership character?

September 28, 2016

This is the question that’s been stewing around in my head all day.

Time after time we seem to find ourselves back at the same point. People of undoubted skill, talent and charisma have risen to positions of leadership which they have subsequently been unable to maintain due to issues of character.

‘Being a character’ and ‘being a person of character’ are clearly not the same thing.

Another politician. Another football manager. Another Chief Executive. Those are just the ones we hear about. There are undoubtedly thousands more falls from grace that never make it to the news headlines, yet are equally sad and certainly devastating to friends, family and anyone who’s livelihood depends on the organisation marred by the latest leadership unravelling. Regret is such an unfriendly companion.

Easy to sit and judge. Easy to miss the lesson. Isn’t this a struggle we all face: I don’t always do what I want to do; I don’t always do what I know I should do.

“There but for the grace of God go I”, as the ancient saying goes.

How many times have I, have you, made errors of judgement and were never discovered. Or entered the murky world of half-truths. Bent the rules. Blurred the boundaries. Acted in ways which were not in keeping with our responsibilities. Not lived to our values. Let down those who look to us. (As a dad, I feel this often in respect of my kids. I’ve learned I’m not yet their perfect role model!)

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others, as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” Thomas J. Watson

Of all the areas of leadership development, nothing is so important as personal leadership. The greatest impact on our company, our team, our family, our life…will always be us. You. Me.

The more thought, care, effort and investment you give to becoming the leader – I’m talking character, not charisma – that your world needs you to be, the better for everyone, not least you.


If you are already using, or have used, personal leadership resources, great. Go back to those with renewed vigour. If not, and you’d value some assistance, Effective Personal Leadership is an indispensable part of LMI’s Total Leader Concept™. It’s a life-changing programme and I’d love to share it with you. Get in touch with me on 0800 116 4749.