Go the Matilda’s – Til Its Done!

Last night my family attended the FIFA Women’s World Cup Opening Football (or soccer for the Americans) match between Australia and Ireland, wow what a night.   If you have ever been to a big sporting event you can feel the excitement and anticipation in the air.

We were lucky enough to get tickets to go and support our Aussie Matilda’s in their opening match.  We proudly wore our Australian jerseys and cheered on as the team came out on top with a win.

It got me thinking about what great coaches or leaders do to help prepare their people for something that is big.  It could be a big project, launching a new product into the market or starting a new division.  Doing something big is usually something that is out of the norm and potentially creating a risk of failure.  

I think leaders need to identify more big opportunities, big innovations and big ideas that can help to unify and inspire their people toward something more.  

Going back to the Matilda’s, it has been very interesting to watch their lead up to this massive world cup event.  Imagine the pressure that these women players have experienced leading up to a World Cup on home soil.  With the hopes and dreams of the nation riding on their shoulders this is something that they have been preparing for over the past few years.  

The Matilda’s even created a campaign that is not about winning (which will be a challenge in itself!) but about giving it everything to do their best.  The campaign is called ‘Til It’s Done.’  This approach is not just about what occurs on the pitch, but how pursuing greatness is a never-ending process that occurs on and off the pitch.  This phrase is what they are using to help them focus as they play in the World Cup and help them keep things in perspective, a very clever approach.

So what are you doing with your people to lead them toward greatness?  How are you inspiring, motivating and stretching their minds to see and believe in what is possible?  I think too often we get busy with other distractions and forget how important it is to unify and mobilise our people. 

If you are looking for me over the next few weeks, I will be with my family, huddled around the television and attending a few more FIFA Women’s World cup matches watching and cheering the Matilda’s Til it’s Done!

Why You Should Lead Like Indiana Jones

I have a confession to make, I love movies.  I think it is something about being able to take time away from the fast pace and stress in the everyday world and just escape for an hour or two (and gotta love movie popcorn!)

I recently attended the Sydney Film Festival and watched the premier of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Death.  This is the final movie instalment with Harrison Ford in the lead role.  It has plenty of plot twists, action and suspense and brought back memories of the ‘old school’ classic movie.

It also got me thinking about why leaders should lead like Indiana Jones.  I think today many leaders are becoming overwhelmed with too much information, too many options and not enough certainty.  What I am noticing is that many leaders have become complacent and are waiting too long to take action.

Here are a few things that Indiana Jones would do to lead the way forward:

Driven to Lead to Make a Difference. In all of the movies Indiana Jones is not one to sit back and let others take charge.  He actively steps up and takes action on the things that he believes in.  I believe leaders have ‘windows of time’ that require them to step up and make a difference to others, or they get left behind.

Trust His People.  In all of the films Indiana Jones has colleagues that he needs to count on to achieve his goals. This requires him to trust his people, regardless of where it may take him.  Too often leaders do not trust their people and try to do everything themselves.  

Is Afraid, but Takes Action Anyway.  For anyone who has seen one of the movies, you know that Indiana Jones hates snakes!  The writers find a way to put some snakes into each movie to show his vulnerability (after 25 years he still has a fear of them!)  I think that leaders are the same.  Many have fears and this often stops them from sharing a great idea, holding a person accountable or taking bold action that could make a massive difference.

So the next time you face some challenges as a leader, remember to ask yourself, ‘What would Indiana Jones do?’ This will give you a few practical things to help you overcome your next adventure (especially if you like the classic movies!).  

If you would like to discuss how I can work with you to take your business and people to the next level, reach out.  I would love to share some ideas or even reminisce about some great movies!

Are Your Leaders Building the Future of Leadership?

Too many things to do and not enough time.  This is a common theme that I  hear from many leaders from all areas.  With things moving faster we are looking at how to prepare for their people in the future.  Now more than ever, it is important for a Leader to be aware of their focus, their activity and their impact on those around them. 

I believe that there are 3 key roles that a Leader needs to embody and build:

  1. Simplify:  Leaders Must Simplify the Way Forward.  We now live in a world that is becoming overly complex with information and options attacking people from multiple directions.  This is encouraging people to mix up their priorities and often not focus on the things that really matter. Leaders need to capture the essence of what everyone needs to focus towards and continually build and amplify this throughout all areas of the business.  When a Leader simplifies the way forward, staff know what to focus on.  
  2. Connect:  Leaders Need to Truly Connect with Staff.  Leaders need to take the time to connect with their people.  They need to be visible and interact with their staff to let them know that they are not on their own.  Too often when I’ve asked a staff member when was the last time their leader took the time to have a conversation and truly connect, they respond with two words: not enough. When people connect they become committed, which builds a key foundation in any workforce. 
  3. Empower:  Leaders Have to Empower People into Action.  Without action nothing happens.  Leaders need to mobilise their people toward results.  They have to help identify the opportunities that are available and encourage staff to take action.  Leaders need to take the time to mentor and work individually with people to guide, support and build their people. 

The Hands Group is running the Future of Leadership 1 Day Event in Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne over the next couple months.  This attracts some of the best speakers in the country, who all waiver their fees to help support the charity Hands Across the Water.  

To receive 20% off this incredible event, just click on the link below and type in SCOTTFOL20 when you book your tickets.  Please click here to book and find out more.  I will be attending the Sydney event.

Take the time to BUILD your skills and your people’s skills to be prepared for the Future of Leadership.  Feel free to reach out if I can help!

How do you become a great story teller?

My daughter Isabella is currently attending University in the US on a soccer scholarship where she is also studying film. She is currently on her summer break, so we have been spending time together attending the Sydney Film Festival.

Watching a movie with a film student provides a greater depth of understanding as we discuss and analyse it.  We’ve watched some great films, had some great discussions and ate a bunch of popcorn!

A movie is a story.  The director is the story teller and they are using film to tell the story in a way that moves the audience.  The budgets for many big films can be as big as $150million, all to help someone bring an idea to life.

This has made me start thinking more about leaders and their ability to tell stories and paint the picture for their people.  Some leaders do this really well, whilst others completely miss the mark.

So how can you become a great story teller?  Here are a few ideas:

Make it Personal.  Too many times I sit in client meetings and they present a series of PowerPoint slides that show results from the previous year.  Whilst this is OK, the challenge is that they take about 30 minutes to talk about this.  The problem is they don’t make it personal.  They don’t share or reflect on some of the challenges and some of the things that are needed to allow this to happen.  They keep it clinical – not personal.

Make Sure Your Story Has a Point.  How many times have you sat in a business meeting and someone told a story, but you did not know why?  Whenever you share a story, make sure that people understand the point that you are trying to share with them.  This may require you to be more specific about the point you are trying to make and relate it to your audience.  Just a side note, if your people can’t remember it the next day, it did not have a point! 

Share Your Story with Passion & Movement.  Some of the best leaders that I have seen tell a story are the ones that you can see are passionate about what they are sharing. They don’t just stand behind a lectern and talk at people.  They physically embody the story that they are sharing and have a way of bringing it to life to the people they are sharing it to.  Remember enthusiasm and authenticity is contagious!

So the next time you need to share an idea, remember to tell a story like a movie director.  Make sure that it engages your audience, provides insights and is memorable.   Click here to find out more about my EOFY Programs that enable you and your people to improve their communication and storytelling.

Why Is Being a Good Time Maker Important?

Recently a client came to me feeling overwhelmed and spread thin. In the midst of all their stress and worry they uttered to me something that I am sure we have all heard many times before: ‘There is never enough time to fit everything in.’  

Regardless if they are a front-line staff person, a middle level manager or a CEO, managing time seems to be a common theme. The question that I ask often surprises them, ‘How much time are you wasting?’  To which I often get the response that they don’t have any time to waste because they are too busy, which we all know is an excuse. 

All of us have opportunities to be more effective with our time, we just need to look for them.  I remember working with a CEO of a large multinational company who was incredible with his use of time. Whether it be at head office or out on a site visit he always managed to make things happen.  He never seemed to be stressed or complaining that he was too busy. His view was ‘All people have the same amount of time, I just make sure that I find shortcuts to maximise mine.

Here are a few strategies and shortcuts that you can use to be a time maker:

Track Your Activity and Your Time.  For 1 week, track your time.  Capture what you spend your time doing and on which task.  You will often start seeing a large amount of unproductive time.  Although this seems like a simple task, it is incredible to see how much time people waste. By focusing on this, I am able to be more productive with my activities rather than wasting time, as I can pinpoint where time has not been used effectively.

Separate Time Wasters from Time-Outs.  Many of us waste time through a range of things from checking and re-reading e-mails, to recovering conversations that don’t need to be rehashed, to getting lost on Facebook.  There are however many benefits of making time for ‘Time Outs’.  These are the small activities that may not be completely work related, however they recharge our mind and our energy.  Sometimes going on a 15-minute walk in the middle of the day can be an incredible ‘Time Out’ that recharges your battery and allows you to be more productive afterwards.  Take time for these ‘Time Outs’ that give you a boost. 

Stack Your Activity.  I recently had to travel to another city for a client meeting.  Rather than just travel down for one meeting, I focused on ‘stacking’ my day to maximise my time.  I used Google Maps to identify distances between locations and then set up meetings to allow me to minimise any down time between.  The result?  A total of 6 effective meetings in the same day (and still home for a late dinner with the family!)

So the next time you hear yourself saying that you are really busy, take a moment to reflect on the activity that you have been doing.  Ask yourself if you have been wasting your time or if you have been maximising it.  Click here if you’d like to have a chat about my EOFY Programs that enables your staff to become time makers not time wasters!

Do You Give them a Reason to Come to Work?

Recently I was working with a group of managers that were commenting about the struggle that they were having with their staff.  About half of the group complained that the younger generation were lacking the ‘work ethic’ that previous generations had.  The other half of the group were complaining that many of their older generation staff still did not want to come into the office as they wanted the flexibility to work more from home.  The consensus was that staff were now more ‘lazy’ than in the past.

The question that I asked caught them off guard, ‘When they first started were they lazy and did not want to be there, or did they show up at the beginning motivated and excited to do a good job and make a difference?’  The Senior Partner did not take long to think about it and replied, “When they first started they were totally motivated and would go above and beyond to get the job done.”  As I thought about his response, I asked him and the other managers one simple question, “What did you do or not do to them over time that has made them lose their motivation and desire to make a difference?”

Too often I hear managers complain about staff not living up to their expectations.  Managers set the tone for the entire team (and for the organisation as a whole) and often forget how important it is to create an environment to keep staff learning, stretching and growing.  Managers have the responsibility to create a culture that gives their staff a reason to come to work because they want to not because they feel they have to.

There are a range of touch-points and activities that managers can do to keep things interesting, keep staff engaged and keep them performing:  

  1. Get Personal:  1 on 1.  One of the best strategies is to make time to be ‘hands on’ with staff.  This can be a planned activity or it can be spontaneous.  Take the time to check in with them and ask them questions about their personal life and their interests (If I think about my Mentors and some of our incredible conversations, many of them were unplanned).  
  2. Make Little Things Count.  Look for the opportunities to make small gestures of your appreciation for the efforts that your staff put in.  You can use plenty of gestures from making them a cup of tea, to leaving them a sticky note on their desk that says ‘thanks’ or providing them with a copy of a book that they may enjoy.  These small gestures add up, with proactive managers getting better performance from more of their staff. 
  3. Create Shared Experiences.  Another powerful way to keep your staff engaged and get them to want to come to work is to create shared experiences.  By participating in a learning activity you can provide insights and skills in addition to support and connection.  This allows them to have a ‘break’ from the day to day busyness of their role and work ‘on’ the business and themselves.

Review your last week.  Did you do something to give your staff a reason to come to work?  Did you actively find a way to connect with them in a meaningful way?  If you are interested in my EOFY Team Programs to help recognise and boost your teams performance and get special pricing before July please reach out for a free 20 minute chat.

What’s Holding You Back?

I had an interesting client coaching session.  In discussion with a leader they were talking about how they have been struggling to find their rhythm since the pandemic changed things.  He was reflecting on how he felt it was harder for him to get motivated and get his staff (and himself) to keep a positive mindset and keep innovating.

This made me start thinking about what holds us back from doing the things we know we should be doing.  Have you ever had a great idea that you know would be great to implement at work, but just did not follow it through?  Why?  There are a range of reasons, often it is because we are afraid of failing, don’t believe others will support us or we just feel a bit stuck when we are trying to do things on our own.

Here are a few ideas to help you keep the forward momentum:

  1. Share Your Ideas.  One reason why we don’t implement some of the great things that we could, is that we do not share the ideas with others.  Often when we share an idea with someone else the energy around the idea picks up, which starts to create some momentum and makes it easier.
  2. Map Your Idea – Get it out of your head.  Given how busy everyone is, it can be easy to keep doing what we have been doing and not push the boundaries of what is possible.  A great idea is to capture these great ideas down on paper, tablet or laptop so we do not forget about them.  I remember working with a very, very successful 85 year old business person.  I noticed in discussions throughout the day he would take a small notebook out of his back pocket and write a few things down.  I asked him later on what he was capturing and he said ‘great ideas.’  When he explained why he attributed his success from his ability to capture and implement good ideas.  Pretty impressive given he was worth around $250million!
  3. Work with a Leadership Mentor.  Sometimes we just get stuck and need someone that will help support and challenge us to step up to the next level.  This could be a trusted friend, advisor or mentor that has wisdom to share, and the relationship to guide you in implementing your ideas.

Because so many of my clients have been struggling to get their rhythm and approach back on track, I have developed a new Leadership Efficiency Program (LEP) that is designed to help you get more things done and mobilise your people in a 90 day Format.  If you would like to find out more in a free 20 minute consultation, please click on this link and I’ll be in touch.

Are you too busy or could you get more done?

I have a question for you.  What would you do with an extra hour a day?  Would you get the exercise in?  Spend an extra hour with the kids?  Or would you make a dent in the backlog of work projects that have been piling up?

I was working with a client yesterday who said that she was so busy she couldn’t keep up and was exhausted (and a bit jaded with her role).  When I asked her if she could be working smarter, she got a bit defensive and immediately said that there is no way she could get more things done.   We started looking at her recent activity and she realised that she was working hard, but not on the right things.  

She was so busy that she had stopped thinking about what she was doing and was struggling to keep up.  Can you relate?  Regardless of how you would spend your time, what I find is that many people know that they could be more efficient if they became more clever around their approach. 

Here are a few idea you could use to help you be more efficient:

  1. Be Aware of Where You Spend Your Time.  One main reason why leaders are challenged with getting more done is that they are not aware of where they are spending their time.  Do an analysis, track your activity over a week and this will help you see what needs to change.
  2. Seek Out Shortcuts or Fast Hacks.  There are plenty of books, videos and YouTube videos that can provide you with strategies to be more efficient.  Spend 10 minutes per day stretching your mind and collecting strategies that you can use. Or if you don’t have a copy of my book Leadership Hacks, get one!
  3. Work with a Leadership Mentor.  Rather than blindly trying to be more effective, work with someone that will help you to quickly identify ways to have a bigger impact and better results.  Ideally they will provide you with great insights and be able to support and challenge you to help get more things done.

Because so many of my clients have been struggling to get their rhythm and approach back on track, I have developed a new Leadership Efficiency Program (LEP) that is designed to help you get more things done and mobilise your people in a 90 day Format.  If you would like to find out more in a free 20 minute consultation, please click on this link and I’ll be in touch soon.

Do You Need to Hack your Leadership?

I have a question for you.  Are you getting everything done in a fast and efficient way?  Are you using Clever Shortcuts that allow you to get better results in less time?  I believe that most people are on the autopilot treadmill and they are taking the same approach they did 5 years ago today and many are struggling to keep up—especially post the pandemic!

There are some practical Leadership Hacks that we can use to get more done in less time and do it in a way that keeps our relationships with staff (and our family!) intact and strong.  We just need to identify a few clever shortcuts and implement them into our everyday way of operating.

There are 3 simple strategies that can be used to find more time and hack your current approach.

Look at Current vs Ideal Activity.  One of the best ways to find where you can have more time is to capture where you are currently spending your time.  Map out on paper (or an ipad) the current area of focus and the % of time that you are spending on each area.  Next on a new sheet of paper map out where you should be focusing your activity and the % of time.  This is an easy way to capture where you may need to shift your focus or delegate a few tasks to others. 

Limit The Email & Social Media Time Vortex.  Have you ever just quickly gone onto Facebook and you get distracted looking at posts (from friends from years ago) and then you realise that you have just lost 20 minutes of time?  Many of us have a challenge when it comes to hacking our time on our digital devices.  Next time set your timer on your phone and limit the amount of time (or use the inbuilt screen apps to track it and see how much time you are wasting!).

Delegate More.  Most leaders know that they should be delegating tasks to others, they just hold onto things.  Take the time to identify what you should be handing off to others and then set up a time to work with them to map how to achieve this task.  Most people screw up delegation because they do not take the time to work with others to jointly develop a plan of attack don’t be that person.

Everyone is busy, we just need to find ways to be a bit more clever in how we approach our tasks.  If you are interested in me running a series of 2 hour Masterclass showing your people how to hack their leadership using clever shortcuts let me know.  A number of clients are booking for next financial year and using the remainder of this year’s budget to leverage opportunity.  I would be more than happy to have a phone discussion or a cuppa to share more clever strategies, just reach out to me at [email protected].

How do your people graduate?

Last night my eldest daughter, Jasmine, graduated with her bachelors degree in Industrial Design from University of NSW.  For anyone that has attended a University graduation ceremony it is easy to see the traditions that have been carried forward.  The gown, the graduation caps and the procession of the individual students, their degree, awards and acknowledgement is wonderful to watch.

When a student graduates it is a rite of passage.  It symbolises the end of a specific course of study and the beginning of something new.  While I watched my daughter and the other graduates I could see a visible spring in their step as they walked with purpose and excitement about their future.

This makes me think about what many leaders and heads of HR miss across most organisations.  Everyone is always so busy that we have stopped taking the time to recognise and celebrate their achievements.  I think in the past 10-15 years with everything moving to a faster digital platform, the time to recognise people has slid out of sight, which is truly a shame.

With the faster pace of business too many staff are feeling the exhaustion as we move past the pandemic.  A recent report on the State of the Future of Work by the University of Melbourne showed that many staff are struggling with their current workload.  One of the key areas of concern is that staff are working harder and reporting greater exhaustion than pre-pandemic, with no end in sight to the daily treadmill that they feel stuck on.

By recognising the things that staff have completed and looking for ways to celebrate these achievements we can create a new rite of passage. It could be something that provides them with a sense of encouragement and energy as they shift from one project and begin starting the next one.  

Take a minute to think about the ceremonies or rites of passage that you could create in your workplace to make it a more positive place to be.  This could include celebrating the win of a new client, launching a new product to the market or recognising a new level of customer service that has been achieved.  Having a dinner, a celebration lunch, a staff movie night or something similar can make this stand out in a positive way.   A simple ceremony that offers some word of thanks and something to say we appreciate your efforts can go a long way.  

So what are you going to do to help your people graduate and celebrate their achievements? If you would like to have a complimentary discussion on some strategies you can use to help your people please click here.  For my daughter Jasmine, she is now starting a year of honours study at UNSW before she jumps into the full time workforce.