Momentum Shift

April 5, 2016

Sometimes things are going just fine, maybe even great, which is lovely. Showing up each day is relatively easy and the whole place has a positive vibe.

Sometimes, the opposite might be true.

Sales you expected didn’t materialise, exciting new projects got shelved, company share price is falling, valued staff members handing in their notice, EU referendum (I refuse to say Brexit!) fear is slowing everything down… Whatever it might be, it can be tough going.

tools-15539_1280What can be done in such times?

Look for small victories. Seek out a momentum shift.

Whether it’s for your whole organisation and hundreds of people or just you personally, working at home and feeling somewhat discouraged, one small (or big) victory can make the whole world feel like a brighter universe to inhabit and that can be just the fuel needed to keep going and turn things around.

When you haven’t been running for months, one 10-minute jog at half the pace you used to do…and you’re running again.

When you haven’t done proper home cooking since 2009, one simple pasta dish with a few chopped peppers and mushrooms…it’s no Delia or Jamie…but you made it and you’re cooking again.

In the same way after a barren period, find one new customer – no matter how small the transaction – and you’ve got the small, green shoots of growth and possibility again.

One successfully solved customer complaint. Hurray!

One LinkedIn recommendation from a delighted client – someone appreciates what you do!

Set one clear goal that’s exciting and everyone can get behind & can be reached this week.

Do something, no matter how small, to create a momentum shift. Achieve and celebrate one small victory. Success fuels motivation. Motivation generates more success.

Sometimes these momentum shift moments come our way suddenly, unexpectedly and joyously . Sometimes they don’t. That’s when we have to go out and make them happen.


Learning from Sir Terry

February 2, 2016

It was sad to hear of the death of Sir Terry Wogan last Sunday. Often someone in the public eye passes on and I find that their undoubtedly significant contribution to the world somehow passed me by. Not so with Sir Terry.

Memorable Eurovision nights, not for the songs, but for the genius commentary! I got into Radio 2 well before my time, entirely down to the breakfast show host, Mr Wogan.

As I listened to and read the many tributes earlier this week, one thing stood out to me and is extremely insightful when it comes to leadership.

Everyone said Terry would brighten a room. His cheerful demeanour. His humour. His self-deprecation. His genuine interest in people. All these made him a delight to have around and person of significant influence.

It’s a simple but profound lesson. Learning from Sir Terry the simple truth that leaders who foster a cheerful, positive and humorous presence – not taking themselves too seriously – will have a hugely positive impact upon the feel of the entire workplace, group, team or company. Work is serious, but not everything needs to be taken seriously!


Too many chiefs?

March 3, 2015

A quick reflection on what I heard loads over various media outlets last weekend. You may have heard it too if you’re into sports, or just happen to have the radio or TV on at the wrong time! The lament is a familiar one:

“This team needs more leaders!”

One pundit was going on about how when England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, that was a team full of leaders. Another was adamant that the current England cricket team was ‘sadly lacking leaders’.

On the one hand, no team needs a whole load of ‘classic’ leaders – multiple people trying to set the direction, establish rules, assert their opinions above others. That’s where we get the common refrain “Too many chiefs….”. Too many people wanting things their way and not enough people being team players.

So what do we mean when we say that more leaders are required? It is something right at the heart of my work with organisations and core to the LMI philosophy. We assert that:

“The best organisations develop every person to become a leader. Leadership is not a position. It is a way of thinking, believing and behaving.”

This, and what I think the sports pundits are getting at, is about the attitude and character displayed by team members. Leaders take responsibility. They roll their sleeves up and put a shift in when the odds are stacked against them. They handle disappointment well and can maintain a positive outlook. They make it their role to encourage their teammates. They find solutions to problems rather than complain. They innovate. The do what it takes to get results. They are great people to be around.

Every team does, in fact, need more of these kind of leaders! This is Personal Leadership. It’s not the role you play. It’s the person you are.


One hour: massive change

December 16, 2014

There’s a problem, a challenge, an issue – something is not right.

It may be a relationship issue with a colleague or a client, a friend or partner. Often it’s a member of our team, or the boss! It may be a process issue, perhaps a ‘how can we get more of xxxxxx?’ or ‘how can we make sure less xxxxx happens?’ question.

Sometimes these things can hang around for months – years in some situations I’m aware of. Some can be very complicated and require an awful lot of work and skilled help to resolve however, an incredible amount – I’m going to make an informed guess of around 80% – of the challenges that you and I face on a day-to-day basis can be massively improved if the relevant parties can sit down, block out all interruptions, get some good coffee…AND TALK. It might take longer or shorter, but aim for an hour.

I’ve seen it with clients. I’ve experienced it myself. If you face something like this, try it. One hour: massive change.


Extra maths!

November 21, 2014

I was walking Eden, my ten year old daughter, to school this morning half an hour ahead of the rest of the family because of an 8.15am extra maths session.

Was this a punishment? A chore? A drag-your-feet, wish-you-weren’t-there experience? Nope – the absolute opposite.

Eden was bouncing along the road, and had been bouncing round the house for at least an hour before we left. She was excited….about extra maths!

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What makes this really interesting for me, and worthy of a blog, is that just a few weeks ago she was ‘rubbish at maths’ and regularly told us how much she disliked it. When it came to maths homework, motivation was seriously low.

Then it changed, literally overnight.

One day at school there came a Maths test in an area that she was ok at. She did well. She felt good. The teacher praised her. She felt encouraged. She liked that feeling and she set a goal to go one mark better (out of 20) next time. So she worked at her homework and achieved her goal. Suddenly, she loves maths, is doing loads better at it, motivation is sky high and her attitude has been transformed.

This morning’s early start was for a special invitation maths club for the super-keen!

Proud parental gushing aside (sorry about that!), this is such a lesson in how attitudes, motivation and results can be similarly transformed. Set yourself and others up for some small success, celebrate that success, set another goal. Achieve that goal…and so on.

Sounds over-simplistic I know, but it works. Sometimes it takes longer to see drastic change, but sometimes there really is an immediate impact. Either way, set goals, celebrate every small success and keep on going!


Trust me, I’m a good kid!

April 3, 2014

Yesterday evening we’re sat round the dinner table, all five of us, having a chat about the day as we often do. Eden, who is 10, has just had a couple of friends knock at the front door: “Can Eden play out?”

We’ve said yes to this a couple of times, and sometimes we’ve said no.It’s a tricky challenge for any parent. How much freedom do you give and have much do you exercise control and parental authority?

We got into a conversation about how Eden might get more freedom and have mum and dad say yes to her more often, and also extend the boundaries of her freedom so she can travel further and stay out longer.

She’s a smart kid and she got it quickly.

“If I keep to the rules when I am allowed out (get back at the agreed time…call if plans change etc), then you’ll trust me more and therefore I’ll get more freedom.”

Spot on!

It’s exactly the same in life, work and business for all of us. If we deliver on what we promise, or what is asked of us, we build trust.That gains us more credibility and ultimately responsibility. If we want to expand the scope of what we do, build trust. There’s no point saying the equivalent of “I’m a good kid, trust me!” – we have to earn it.

This is true in relationships with our customers, the teams we lead and manage, our own managers and leaders…as well as our friends and family.

A few years ago I was hosting a leadership seminar and the speaker, who was extremely experienced as a senior leader in a major corporation said something I’ve never forgotten:

“The most important thing to being an effective leader is simply to always do what you say you’re going to do.”

Challenging words. Extremely important words.


Choose confidence

October 31, 2013

Welcome back if you read the first post on confidence. If not, it’s worth looking at the previous post to put this one into context.

The headline today is a ridiculously simple one… But it’s true and it works! It seems you can choose confidence.

I’m not saying that its the very last word on the subject. I’m not in the ultra-success, ‘saying it makes it real’ camp, but choosing to adopt a more confident stance rather than accepting and allowing those feelings of lack of confidence to persist, definitely makes a difference.

I think the most important first step is to recognise situations in which we feel lacking in confidence and, rather than allowing those negative and constricting thoughts and feelings to overwhelm and control us, make a conscious choice to fight them. It’s like setting out on a journey to visit friends in a different city. We must first commit to leaving where we are and heading off in the right direction.

This is such a complex and challenging situation. If becoming super-confident was as easy as 1-2-3 then we’d all have it mastered already. Having said that, once we’ve made the choice to work on overcoming our fears, insecurities and feelings of inferiority, there are many things we can do to help that process. One key tool in the box is to develop ourselves in the area where we lack confidence. More on that in the next post.