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One word more than any other seems to sum up what’s really important in the leadership coversations I’m having just now.
Not, ‘Here’s what I would do if I was you’
‘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.’
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.
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.
Last week Roisin and I recorded another podcast discussing all things leadership in the midst of the ongoing lockdown due to Covid-19. We hope you enjoy it.
I’m writing with a fairly heavy heart today as someone who cares about leadership and really wants our leaders to do well. Everything works better when leaders lead well and now, perhaps more than ever, we need things to be done well. We certainly can’t afford to waste time, effort, money and resources in the global fight against Covid-19.
There were two situations that arose over the weekend that saddened me. The first was the announcment by (the hugely profitable) Liverpool FC that they would furlough certain non-playing staff and claim the assistance from the government for 80% of their wages.
The criticism of this has been widespread and well-covered so no need for me to rehash the detail. I do feel extremely sorry for those who have an afiiation with that club. People want to believe in the organisation they work for, the team they support and the people they follow.
In taking this decision the leaders (owners) have caused untold damage in ways which are hard to repair. Trust, integrity, shared values, connection and community are not easily built but are quickly lost. Such a waste.
I know that other football clubs have done the same by the waym though I think that Liverpool has grated more due to its famously integral place at the heart of that community, a fondness founded in togetherness, belonging and shared values.
The second situation was that of the Scottish Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, who was forced to resign after flouting the non-essential travel rules that she herself was the media face of. She was clearly doing an important and seemingly good job and it’s such a waste of ability, as well as the time and effort of those left picking up the pieces to deal with the fall-out and organise a replacement.
I make no harsh judgement of Calderwood for who hasn’t at times facesd their own hypocrisy? This is such a stark reminder though of the imperative for leadership integrity when there is so much more at stake than just that invididual’s reputation.
Neither of these scenarious have anything to do with competence in the job. It’s all about character. Personal Leadership. The most important aspect of all leadership.
Where leaders fail the character test, there’s just so much waste. Invest in your own personal leadership. Invest in others anywhere you have influence.
…and neither does building a new habit!
My intention, as you know if you’ve read the previous couple of posts, is to write every day. It doesn’t have to be long, but it does have to be every day.
You’ll notice that I failed!
This is my first post this week and it’s Thursday morning. Thing is, writing hasn’t been a habit recently and thinking you can just start something new and stick with it is unrealistic.
It’s one of the core ideas I share almost weekly in the Foundations of Success workshop – to create lasting change you have to build a habit. To build a habit you need to change behaviour. To change behaviour you have to form new attitudes – ways of thinking – and you do this by conditioning – the practice of spaced repetition. The repeated exposure to ideas and activity that changes the way we think and behave for the long term.
To build a habit we have to build some infrastructure. I hadn’t done this. I have now. I’ve written the goal. I’ve set up a tracking sheet. ‘Writing’ now appears on my day plan ‘Must do today’ list.
As you know, none of this guarantees success, but it gives me a much better chance if I stick to the pattern.
In these days when you have to adapt and live differently, what is one new daily habit that you’d like to develop that might just change your life…or that of others? Worth thinking about.
All the best,
I haven’t got to write today but I have been speaking with my college Roisin from LMI Ireland and we recorded a new episode of the podcast. Great talking with her about all the inspiring leadership stories that are emerging in difficult times. Hope you enjoy it.
In clearing things out yesterday, as many people are doing these days, I came across this plaque that my dad received in 1986. He worked for the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) for all of my childhood, I think about 25 years in all, starting his own businesses just a couple of years before he died in 1991.
In our home I remember we had DEC towels, DEC pens, DEC bags and we went on DEC holidays! Occassionally we still come across some old DEC merchandise in an old cupboard!
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, my goal is simply to write each day, not knowing exactly where it will go but practicing the discipline and building routine. I see this post going down two distinct paths.
Firstly, the personal one. We lost my dad when I was 16, he was 49. Not ill, just gone suddenly due to undetected heart disease. There are many times over the years when I would have especially loved to be able to chat to him, this being one of them. My response it to be grateful. My family are well. We are restricted in what we can do but the five of us are well and in the same house. We can talk. Let’s make sure we do that. Live deeply. Connect. Don’t just exist in the same space and look back one day wishing we had lived deeper. The very precious gift of time and proximity is not to be unappreciated.
The second is the Leadership pathway. DEC is a tragic story in many ways, from the world’s second largest computer company when I was a kid, to rapid decline and extinction in a very short space of time. There’s a good review of the story here.
Simon Sinek also talks about the DEC decline in one of his books. I can’t remember it was Start With Why or The Infinite Game (both are excellent reads by the way). Fundamentally, it seems, that DEC leadership failed to adapt to a changing world with a clear vision of their part in the future. I would love for that company to still be around and to feel proud to own DEC stuff – a tangible connection to our family history. They had the opportunity and resource to be a key player in the new and emerging digital world, but they failed. It reminds me also of the Wright Brothers story compared to their well-funded rivals at the time to launch the first successful manned flight. Passion, purpose and commitment trumped ‘corporate wealth.’ In my business now, as with every other, as leaders we need to lead well. Be clear. Inspire. Take brave decisions. Communicate clearer than ever. Be human. Empathise. Set direction. Exude passion and purpose.
That’s all for today. More tomorrow. Have a great day.