Tag Archives: Leadership Tips

Objections to Change

 

Change is a funny thing.  When things are changing that are out of our control we often struggle against it, yet when nothing is changing we kick against that too.  Then there is the change that we enable, that we own.

What normally happens when we look to implement change and come up against resistance?  We fend our corner whilst the opposing party fends theirs, until someone eventually pulls rank.  Then, not surprisingly, the change is implemented in an often-painful manner that causes disruption and misalignment amongst teams or individuals.

What if?

What if we were to take the time to allow those whom the change effects to feed back on our proposed changes and give objections?  What if we then took the time to consider those objections and responded accordingly?  Sometimes the objections are because those affected don’t have the full picture, but sometimes those objections are valid and could save you a lot of grief later on down the line.

How many times have you come out of a train wreck of a situation only to have someone say ‘I knew that was going to happen’?  Although not particularly helpful at that stage, that feedback could have been a lifesaver if sought earlier on.

Often we avoid the objections, as we just want to get on with the changes and don’t want the delays caused by considering objections and doing the legwork involved in considering opinions.  I would argue this time would more often than not be less than the time wasted when a change is executed, only to fail.

In taking this route of considering objections, although more lengthy in the planning, you also gain buy-in from those being effected by the change, as well as their support.  In my experience, leading people through change is a whole lot more pleasant than forcing them.

 

 

Creativity Vacuums

I have not blogged for a long, long time.

Currently in a move to distance myself from all blame of procrastination, I am blaming my inability to write on the fact that my job is consuming all of my creative thought.  I have a theory around creativity and seasons… this season, according to my theory, is not good for music or blogging, apparently.

That said – I’m back with tons to blog on as a result of all the creativity that has gone in to the business I’m a part of.   New business theories, lessons, screw-ups, genius moments and other insights to impart.

But for now – Happy New Year!!  Today also marks my one year anniversary of being married to the best thing since sliced bread.  Lots of lessons there too… mainly in how not to be a pain in the ass.

Watch this space…

 

Empowered?

The term ‘empowered’ is one I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.  Why is it that we can have a position, anywhere in life, and yet not feel empowered to really hold the office of that position?

For example.  Many times I have been in a role, but not felt truly empowered by my boss, head of department, team lead, etc to really make decisions over and above others even when the decision is mine.  I’ve seen strong leaders come in and fail as they begin to question themselves when no one is following.  So does a senior leader empower a person, or do the people that you are seeking to lead?  Businesses aren’t democracies, yet those who are not accepted, even if only with fearful respect and little camaraderie, don’t seem to go very far.

When I hire someone in to a leadership position, I am empowering them to make their own decisions and lead with their own initiative.  Yet if the team don’t want to follow the individual it can be a real battle.  Or is it because I, or other senior leaders, haven’t made the accountabilities clear?

A simple solution for blurred lines of accountability is a RACI matrix.  Get your team to spend a couple hours outlining the key actions and decisions of the processes of their teams and create a RACI matrix for each of these steps.  This matrix, to be agreed with the one holding the ultimate accountability and therefore veto, allows accountability to be given to a single individual for each of the key actions and decisions, removing any blurred lines and potential ‘stepping-on of toes’.

It seems simple, but could it be that the team aren’t following simply because they either a. don’t believe the person is supported by the SMT to lead, or b. believe some of what the individual is acting on is not theirs to act on?

It’s worth a couple of hours and an excel spreadsheet to find out.

Great Expectations

I’ve been reading recently about the Pygmalian Theory, or SFP (self fulfilling prophecy).

In short, the gist is that people rise up to what you expect of them.  It works both ways – if you expect someone to be great they actually perform better and likewise if you expect them to under-perform they are far more likely to do so.

It made me think about being a parent.  As this season is still (albeit far-off) on the horizon I’m quite keen to figure out my plan before I actually need to have one – if that makes sense.  Of course it’s all theory now so may end up being absolute rubbish come the time….  but here goes.

What if I were to tell my kids that they were the smartest, the kindest, the most athletically gifted?  Rather than expect them to get good grades, perform well, (though I would hope for this!) I would set their own expectations of themselves – that they believe they can achieve all things.

Bit like the case of Roger Bannister and the 4 minute mile – once people knew the 4 minute mile could be achieved, many others then went on to reach this goal in a short time after.

What if I were to tell new starters that they were selected because they were the cream of the crop – would this set a standard of excellence in the workplace?

What if, what if.  Worth a thought though.  By just finding the best in people and setting a standard of excellence I have an opportunity to actually change my world… even if just a little bit.

Muscle Memory

I’ve been thinking a lot about muscle memory over the past while.  It can make us great, or make us old dogs in the face of new tricks.

Yesterday I had a guitar lesson (I’m determined to learn to play something more portable than a piano) and my teacher told me that in learning to play any new song, to practice it 50 times slowly.  To learn something correctly, without mistakes, creates a muscle memory that then will always lead you to the right chords.  To practice something at full speed incorrectly a 1000 times only conditions your muscle memory to reach for the wrong chords.  Apparently Rachmaninoff never played a piece full speed until the concert itself.

Interesting.

Jason Freid writes in his book Rework that those who have failed in business and wear the badge proudly actually have the same success rate with their next venture as those that are starting out for the first time, whilst those who have succeeded have a much higher success rate the second time round.

Children conditioned to clean their plates have a tendency to overeat for the rest of their lives.  Teenagers that binge drink tend to be more inclined to become problem drinkers.  Those active from an early age tend to stay active.

Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit.  Others have argued as much as 66 days, but either way the days are just an iota of my lifespan. Think of all the things that you could do differently in just 66 days.  Stop brushing change off with the defeatist behaviour that it’s ‘your genes’, or ‘just how things are’ or worse, ‘how you were raised’.

You can change.  It’s just a case of muscle memory.  What are you teaching yourself today?

 

Wrong is always worse

 

 

Having seen this situation recently in both a business and a relational situation, I’ve decided to categorise this post as both ‘Love’ and ‘Business’.

So often we can have the wrong person in our lives, who we know is the wrong person, but “will do for now”.  Don’t do it.  Wrong is worse than nothing.  Wrong is delaying right.  Wrong is square none – the square before square one.

That person in that role that you know isn’t the right person but will do for now?  Funny isn’t it how long now can last sometimes.  The wrong person in the wrong role isn’t helping you or them.  It can be scary removing someone when you’ve not got a replacement, but is average really what you want for your business?  Is their substandard delivery ok for your company to be producing until Mr or Ms Right comes along?  The wrong person can prove to be costly – not only in salary but in damage to your business that can last well past their departure.

That person you’re keeping around because they’re fun, because there’s no one better at the moment, because you’re lonely…  The wrong person sends signals to the right ones to stay away.  You’re potentially sowing in to your own loneliness, busying your mind and your emotions with something you know won’t last.  Or even someone if you’re anything like me that you end up really falling for and then go through the pains of a dysfunctional relationship and a messy breakup, only to look back and and think I knew at this beginning of all this they weren’t the one.

Cutting ties can seem risky.   I would suggest it’s worth the risk.

Bottlenecks & Socrates

I was recommended a book called ‘The Goal’ by Eliyahu Goldratt that has transformed how I look at our business.

Goldratt’s book takes his Theory of Constraints and winds it eloquently through a story of a man struggling to save his factory.  The book is a joy to read and comes packed with powerful lessons.

In reading the book I looked back at the business I am currently a part of and questioned not only what are the bottlenecks in our business, but also what is in front of the bottlenecks as the issue also lies there.  The book then introduces the Socratic Method for solving questions and issues, with the protagonist using these same techniques to save his marriage.  So really this is a post on both love and business, as this interesting method of solving problems in life.

If you are still searching for answers on why you can not predict or govern the output of your business, or if you simply are seeking another way to handle a troublesome relationship in any sphere of life, this book may just be for you.

Vision

 

 

There is a Proverb that says ‘People perish for a lack of Vision’.  I’m not suggesting that is always literally the case, but things most certainly fall apart.

Something in us inanely always needs to know what we are working towards, what we are aiming for.   Often this vision or goal sits in us undefined, but yet it exists.  The trouble starts when vision is never discussed or aligned.

My 1st marriage fell apart (along with a number of other reasons) when we realised we didn’t want the same things in life.  The same can happen with a company.  The obvious situations are amongst leaders, but the not-so-obvious ones are amongst team who all  – unaware to themselves and their colleagues  – are working towards different ends.

Vision exists in a person and in a company whether it is defined or not.  The difference is, if not defined you can most certainly bet your team are not all working towards the same vision.  I don’t mean vision as in how we are going to save the world – (although that would be a nice BHAG) but vision for what it is you are building, what type of company you are, what success looks like, and what the GOAL is.

Take the time to sit with your team and define your vision.  Take input.  Develop and refine your Vision, and then broadcast it.  At each turn weigh your decisions against your vision, reminding you and your team often of the common goal for best results.  Make it fun.  Print T-shirts.  Make mouse mats.  Whatever you do, define your vision before the wrong one defines you.

 

 

Fire-Fighting

 

 

 

The most common fail I’ve discovered in fire-fighting is the failure to continue to plan.

It’s easy when in a season of extreme pressure or extreme workload to focus on the now, forgoing the very meetings, processes and execution that will get you out of the hole you’re in.

Regardless of how full your day is, carve out time to plan.  Carve out time to still meet with your key influencers – the conversations may save you precious time in the revelations they bring.

Draw out processes.  Emails and back-of-fag-packets aren’t enough.  Let people visualise what ‘good’ looks like, show them light at the end of the tunnel and stick to your decisions like glue.

There’s a whole world out there.  It would be a shame to miss it.

 

Procrastination and The Big Black Box

 

 

I looked back today at a task I committed to doing for someone outside of work and was astounded to realise that it’s been 3 months and I’ve still not got my ass in to gear.

I’ve realised that the only thing standing between me and my career as a famous guitarist, author, dancer (well maybe that’s a bit rich) is the big black box that speaks so lovingly to me about crimes committed in Miami and New York, a family I’ll never meet in some made-up town and various other enthralling fairy tales.

TV is my nemesis.  I blame my weakness for procrastinating on the development of me outside of my career and role as a loving wife solely on the luring draw of Sky Plus.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post.  Maybe this is one of those rambling conversations that happens to stumble upon a revelation

 

Turn the bloody thing off.