This is important because…

June 24, 2020

Motivation is a really big deal.

If you can understand yourself and what motivates you then you can make choices that enable you to live with more energy, enthusiasm and happiness, as well as generally getting better results in whatever you put your hand to.

If you can understand others’ motivation, then you can help them do the same and that’s powerful.

One way to experience high levels of motivation is to be consciously connected to the value of what we’re doing.

This is important because…

If you can’t complete that statement above in a meaningful way for what you are currently doing – both from a ‘big picture’ perspective and in the nitty-gritty of your current tasks – you are most likely feeling demotivated.

This leads to two options – either there isn’t a good reason for doing it and you should stop. Or, and this is really common, there are mulitple good reasons for doing it and they’ve just been forgotten or drifted out of mind.

Here you should definitely stop and revisit the purpose that was there in the beginning.

Blank piece of paper. Big heading, “This is important because….”

It will make a world of difference.


Why everybody wants you around

June 5, 2020

Please stay with this one, even if you’re not a football fan – there’s a really interesting point here, honest!

Yesterday Southampton Football Club annouced that striker Shane Long has signed a two-year contract extention. All very normal. Except it isn’t.

He’s 33 years old. Very much at the end of his career. Most don’t get a two-year contract at a Premier League club at that age.

Shane Long is a striker. In the last four seasons (including this one) he’s scored twelve goals in the Premier League. Three per season. At one point last year he had scored each of his last four goals under four different managers. These are terrible stats by any standard.

And yet when the announcement was made I, a Southampton fan, was delighted and, judging by social media response, I was not alone.

It seems we love Shane Long.

Not just fans though. Watch/read any interview with his team-mates. They love him too. They love working with him. They love what he brings to the team. His efforts make others’ jobs easier. He helps his collegues excel.

Why is this?

Attitude. Character.

Unselfish, positive, humble, tireless, kind, helpful, caring, good fun.

These are just some of the words used to describe the way he is on a football pitch or generally around the club and, importantly, in the community.

He’s also an absolute nightmare for the opposition because he never stops running!

It’s clear the contract extension is not just about what he brings on the pitch but also his all-round contribution, his influence on younger players, his positive contribution to the whole environment.

Of course we’d love it if he scored more goals, but we would absolutely hate it if he wasn’t around.

I’m sure you have some people like that where you work. Maybe it’s you?

 


One very important word

April 24, 2020

One word more than any other seems to sum up what’s really important in the leadership coversations I’m having just now.

Empathy.

Not, ‘Here’s what I would do if I was you’

or

‘Based on my current experience of the world, I’m going to assume yours is the same, or at least similar, and treat you accordingly.’

Empathy.

Tell me about how things are for you at the moment. How can I help? Let’s agree together on the best way to organise / manage / communicate / deliver.

 


Solve the minor issues

April 22, 2020

There are plenty of big issues to think about right now. That’s always true but happens to feel especially real at the moment.

I would love to be able to fix some of those things. Top of my list, this morning at least. is the need for a more grown-up political conversation and the ability for the UK to tackle its major issues effectively rather than degenerate into the mire of partisan point-scoring. Some (definitely not all) countries do this far better than we do. That’s a thought for another time though!

There are also many other serious business and societal issues we could be giving thought to and actively working to prepare for. These are a couple of the questions that seem to me worth spending time on:

  • In society, how might the future look different because of this crisis?
  • How might my specific sector look different?
  • How can I be part of creating that future with positive intent rather than just responding to it?

However, right here, right now there will also be a myriad of minor issues that definitely can be solved and if you spend some time each day to fix some of these, the impact upon your immdiate environment and how you feel each day can be tremendously positive. It certainly works well for me.

The power of small victories should never be underestimated. When my kids were in primary school they came home nearly every day with a sticker or a certificate for some (mostly) small thing they had achieved that day. Why? Because it was all part of recognising progress and motivating them to keep going. We may be grown up but our motivation system works in pretty much the same way.

What kind of smalls things am I talking about? Well, here’s just a couple of minor fixes that I’ve done myself or seen others do over the last couple of weeks:

  • buy a more comfortable home-office chair
  • create an alternative standing workstation for long video calls
  • invest in better quality microphone for online meetings
  • learnt how to use some new video/screen recording software
  • begun using some new integrations for my CRM

Try listing a few small issues that you face, resolve at least one of them in the next 48 hours and see how that works for you. If it helps, try another. Don’t stop working on the big things, of course, but keep in mind the benefit of achieving and celebrating regular small victories.


So What About Leadership? – new podcast

September 18, 2019

I have been having some really interesting conversations with my counterpart leading the LMI organisation in Ireland…so good in fact that we decided to record them and join the podcast revolution!

It’s called So What About Leadership? and we’ve done two episode so far:

  1. Personal Productivity
  2. Personal Leadership

You can listen to both here:

 


Keeping it regular

January 25, 2019

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?

  1. 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!

 


More of….Less of…

January 3, 2019

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.

 


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.


Decide, then build.

April 4, 2018

Change is easy. Make a decision, then go do it…and keep on doing it and, hey presto, you have the change you decided you wanted.

Except we all know it’s never that simple.

Change is flippin’ hard. We decide, then we try, fail, forget and eventually move on to something else with the scar tissue of another good intention that was going to improve our business, our life, health, or relationships in some important way but ultimately never came to anything and we live with the fall-out which will make us less up for trying the next time round.

I hate it when people in my industry make out that change is easy. It’s not. We get rooted into habits, conditioned into behaviour and ways of thinking that take concerted effort to get out of.

So what’s the answer?

I don’t want to fall into the same trap of now saying I have the simple answer which will solve everything! However, there is an important step that will help massively.

Build something.

Think about the change you want to make and then build around it. Build in a fitness class to your weekly schedule. Build in accountability by signing up with a few friends. Physically build a door or a wall or something else that’s within your control if it’s about getting more focused time on your top priorities. If it’s reading more, spend some money and put a whacking-great reading chair in the corner of your lounge and always leave an open book on it ready for you to pick up!

Whatever your goal, build something into your routine, your work, your team or your family that will mean you continually stumble over that thing and it whacks you in the shins every time you try to move so that you remember why you took that decision in the first place and have a much better chance of following through on the action required to secure the change needed.

 


Fight for a fit

March 8, 2018

Fit rarely comes easy.

My right foot is slightly bigger than my left, hence finding shoes that are super comfortable for both feet can be a bit tricky. I’ve had to try on lots of pairs and discover particular brands that work for me.

Similarly, I didn’t instinctively know what kinds of work would be a good fit for me. I’ve had to try things out, take assessments and profiles (I’ve just about done them all!), consciously reflect on my experiences to identify when and where I’ve felt best about my work.

Here’s a few questions that you can ask yourself, or as a manager you can ask of your team members, to help discover their best fit:

  • What parts of your work do you enjoy most?
  • What areas of your work do you feel most enthusiastic about?
  • What do you care most about achieving?
  • What do you think you do best?
  • What do you find most stressful?
  • In what tasks do you procrastinate most?

There are plenty of others, but these are a good start.

Good fit is worth fighting for. It increases productivity, retention, motivation and morale. It reduces turnover and stress. It has a positive impact on mental and physical health.

Good fit is in everyone’s interests.