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.

 


Response-ability

May 18, 2018

“Leaders find ways to get people to believe in themselves.”

Some inspirational words on leadership. Worth 4 minutes of your day!


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.


Roll with the punches (more on feedback)

October 13, 2017

“Nick is opinionated.”

This kind of feedback is never easy to take. The offending statement came in written form about 15 years ago as part of one of those management team exercises. Again, most of what was shared with all of us was extremely positive but can I remember any of it? Hardly. The difficult stuff? Never forgotten.

Most of us have the tendency to focus on the negative aspects of ourselves and that’s not good. Building confidence based on the positive feedback we receive is really important. Discovering our strengths and developing them is a central aspect to successfully making our unique contribution to the world.

So what about the tough stuff?

That “Nick is opinionated” comment has been more useful to me than I can ever have believed possible. As I reflected on it at the time, and many times since, I began to realise that I did tend to state my opinions pretty strongly. I came to realise that this worked OK in some situations where the other would counter just as strongly and we’d enjoy a lively discussion.

But for others, that was overwhelming; it seemed dominating, arrogant even. So I learned to temper. To speak but make sure I also listened and be persuaded by others where appropriate. I became familiar with a weakness (or a strength gone too far), and over time learned to improve how I communicate and how I work with others. Still learning… but the feedback has been so valuable.

At the time I was not grateful for it. Now I can’t even remember who it came from but I am so pleased it did come.

This is why feedback is a gift. Be open. Dwell on the positives. Ponder and learn and change when you receive feedback that’s not so comfortable but when you reflect on it, there’s a ring of truth to it.

More to come on this subject…


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.


Where did that extra energy come from?

February 22, 2016

Saturday afternoon I went out running with my youngest son Jonar, who’s 8. We got a bit lost round the woods – I’m not known for my sense of direction despite a Geography degree! – and ended up going quite a bit longer than I’d planned and than I thought he would be able to manage.

Understandably he was flagging as we headed for home. Quick check on the maps app – 1.4 miles from home. It’s raining. I have a very tired and increasingly unhappy child on my hands whom I have to coax home before he gets too cold.

IMG_2609

The obligatory post-run selfie!

Something really interesting happened. A short way into that part of our run, Jonar recognised where we were. I had been saying it’s not that far and giving out all the right “You can do it” encouragement, but it wasn’t working too well.

Suddenly it all changed! When he knew where we were, he was on familiar ground, energy flowed in quite a remarkable way. We ran that last mile or so faster than I would have comfortably done it on my own! I was genuinely amazed.

Three lessons here that I think are important in how we lead ourselves and our teams in a way that galvanises that extra energy and effort that can make the difference between winning (or surviving) and not:

  • Being on familiar territory: create landmarks, familiar habits, systems and ways of operating that breed confidence even in challenging times.
  • Knowing exactly how far there is to go: define the end, or at least a definite staging post on the journey towards the end so people understand there’s an end in sight rather than just plodding on endlessly.
  • Make a big deal about getting there: celebrate small victories, take a picture, have a meal. It makes a huge difference.

Have a great week!

Nick