Are you a leader others would follow?

I have a question for you, do your staff follow you because they want to or they have to?  It is a good question to ask when looking in the mirror and seeing what others see.  With the pressure to perform and make things happen with tighter and tighter deadlines (and with less staff), many managers have been buckling under the pressure.  Rather than connecting and engaging with their people, they are reacting and for some not being the leaders they want to be.

I often see this expressed in their attitude, their approach or their impact on others.  So I’ll ask again, if you did not have the title that you currently have, would your people still follow you?  Would they put in the additional hours and creativity because of their commitment to you?  What does it take to be a leader that others want to follow? 

How to be a Leader others will follow:

  • Inspire.  When a leader inspires others they create a connection that is deep and personal.  Staff admire the way that they think as well as the way that they treat others, regardless of position or title.  These leaders encourage others to be better people, not just better employees.  What are you doing to inspire your people?
  • Teach.  Leaders that take the time to teach and share their wisdom with staff are the ones that are remembered.  Taking the time to coach someone or provide them with additional support when they are doing something new (or when they make a mistake!) is key to being an effective leader.  When was the last time you taught your people?
  • Lead. Taking action as a leader is not always easy.  Sometimes there can be some difficult decisions that need to be made that some leaders shy away from.  A true leader leads by taking action and by walking the talk.  This also includes taking responsibility for mistakes and being accountable to their staff when things do not go as planned.  What can you do to show that you are leading?   

During this post COVID pandemic we need strong and engaging leaders that others will follow now more than ever before.  If you would like to learn some insights from the best leadership experts in the country, please sign up for the Future of Leadership Conference which will be held in 9 different cities from July to August.  

If you would like to organise a table at a special rate, please contact me and I can help you bring a number of your staff, your team, or your entire organisation for a day of learning and inspiration. 

The Leadership Race

As we head into May I have been hearing a common theme from most of my clients, the pace of business is frantic.  There are too many tasks to complete, too many emails to send and respond to and not enough staff to keep up!  This is creating what I call a leadership race.  

The leaders that have the ability to keep their team focused, keep them effective and keep them engaged will be the leaders that win the leadership race.  The challenge is that many leaders are currently so busy that they are being reactive and not taking the time to think or plan ahead.  This is resulting in them missing opportunities to increase their own effectiveness and that of their staff.

How Can You Win the Leadership Race:

  • Take Time to Think.  When we become reactive, we forget to think.  Leaders make short-sided decisions that can have negative consequences internally and outside the organisation.  Take the time to stop and think before just reacting, this also requires thinking at a different level to see what is beyond and what is immediately in front of you.
  • Focus & Engage Staff.  For most businesses, their success is dependent on their people’s ability to focus on completing tasks and be committed to an outcome.  Leaders need to take the time to ensure their people are focused on the vision and find ways to engage them into discussions, ideas, decisions, planning and activity.
  • Grow Your Mind. Leaders know that they need to keep growing and expanding their knowledge and their mind.  When we are really busy, it is easy to push this into the unknown future.  Resist this temptation and ensure that you are learning at least 2-3 new things every day through blogs, reading, white papers, discussions or any other learning source.  

Remember that now, as we come out of the COVID pandemic there are massive opportunities for leaders to help move their organisation forward.  If you would like to learn some insights from the best leadership experts in the country, you should sign up for the Future of Leadership Conference which will be held in 9 different cities from July to August.  

If you would like to organise a table at a special rate, please contact me and I can help you bring a number of your staff, your team, or your entire organisation for a day of learning and inspiration.  

Are you a champion?

My son Luca is heading to the Sunshine Coast, to compete in the Australian National Surf Lifesaving Championships.  He was fortunate to win the State Championships and will now compete at the next level.  It has been great to watch the hard work that he’s put in and to see him achieve some pretty incredible results so far. 

​​The extreme hours spent in the surf, swimming, paddling, beach sprinting as well as doing CPR, first aid assessment and  studying for the written test has been to say the least, a lot of work, but it is paying off.
The other thing that I realised is that many champions are surrounded by teams of people that help them compete and support them.  Luca is fortunate to have 2 great coaches. He also has one of his mates from the surf club who  achieved second place at the State, so they both are travelling to compete together (and also a chance for a couple of dads to travel up as well!)

So what does it take to be a champion in sport or in business?  The characteristics are similar,  it takes commitment, skills development, execution, belief as well as a good team. 

How Can You Be Champion:

  • Commit.  The commitment that is required to be a champion is massive.  Having the belief and unwavering commitment to dedicate your focus toward a specific goal is critical.  Too often I talk with leaders who are not clear on what their goal is or what they want their people to commit to.  
  • Develop Skills.  Practice, practice, practice is what a champion does in preparing for the competition.  Often in business, leaders do not take the time out of the day to day business to develop their skills.  When was the last time you reflected and improved your skills in the way you think, communicate, interact or lead?
  • Build a Team. Champions know the importance of a team, and leaders need to as well.  Having clearly identified roles and the leader listening and asking for advice from their team of ‘experts’ is critical to being successful.  

I believe that all of us are capable of being champions, unfortunately most will not because they lack the commitment, skills development or team to bring it to reality. 
I am not sure how Luca will go competing at the Nationals, but what I do know is that his preparation has been incredible and regardless of the result it will be an experience that he will keep for the rest of his life.  
If you would like to learn a range of strategies to increase your Leadership to help you win at mobilising your people faster, please click here for a complimentary 20 minute session.

Are you an Old School Leader?

Internal politics often stop forward progress and isolate staff. I recently spoke with a client who described how a number of managers in her organisation had been playing the ‘old school’ game of trying to keep information from others.  

This was one approach that a manager could get away with in the 1980’s and 1990’s because the pace of business and communication was also ‘old school’.  We did not have the real time internet, email, social media and SMS messaging that allow people to share information and take action faster.

In our conversation, I asked her which leaders she admired.  Without having to think she replied “the leaders that inspire, include and challenge me to perform at a higher level.”  

The issue is that we still have too many ‘old school’ leaders that are playing an analogue game in a digital world.  This is resulting in many organisations losing their effectiveness, losing their great staff and eventually losing their market share.

How Not to Get Stuck as an Old School Leader:

  • Ask Questions to Understand.  Rather than assuming that you know everything and keeping information to yourself, take the time to ask lots of questions.  Do this to understand the different viewpoints, concerns, challenges and successes of your people.  
  • Keep An Open Mind & Keep Learning.  I remember working with a very successful multimillionaire businessman that was in his 70’s.  Whilst I was facilitating a group of other very successful leaders I noticed he continually took out a small notebook and was writing things down.  During one of the breaks I asked him how he was finding the session that I was leading.  “Great” he responded and he showed me all of the notes he had taken from the session that I was running.  Although he was towards the end of his career and very successful already, he was continually learning.
  • Mentor & Stretch Your People Many leaders do not take the time to mentor their staff.  They often use the excuse of being ‘too busy.’  The leaders that truly inspire and motivate their people are the ones that take the time to check in and mentor in 1:1 situations.  Look for opportunities to share insights and wisdom and ask questions that stretch or challenge how your people view a situation.  

In this age of disruption businesses can’t afford to have ‘old school’ leaders.  The pace of change, competition, technological shifts and staff expectations all demand more of a leader.  

If you would like to learn a range of Leadership Hacks to help you mobilise your people faster, please click here for a complimentary 20 minute session.

Do You Need a Break? 

Well, we made it to the Easter Long weekend and I noticed from my recent Leadership Coaching sessions almost everyone needs a break.  The beginning of the year has been a sprint with people trying to get back to a sense of normal with the threat of COVID lockdowns.

I have noticed the pressure that is occurring between many leaders.  Sometimes we send an email forgetting to give context or forgot to check in with others and let them know we appreciate the work that they do (I know personally I have made a number of these mistakes and need a break too).

So, how are you going to recharge and refresh over the next couple of days?  Of course, many people will have the reconnection with family over the holiday and this can be a nice way to reconnect.  Although for some this can create a bit of stress.

Remember to take time for yourself.  Take time to reflect on the leader that you want to be.  It may also be a good time to reflect on the actions that you have been taking recently (at work and at home) and do a check to see if you are living the way you should be.  No one is perfect, however sometimes we get so busy and under pressure that we need to take a break to gain some true perspective. Here are a few things that you may want to do during this mini break: 

  1. Do Some Exercise.  Everyone knows that when we exercise endorphins are released and they make us feel better.  Take the time to get your body moving and ideally get out in the fresh air.
  2. Eat a Cherished Meal.  I love to eat (probably too much!)  One way to help recharge is to eat a cherished meal.  This is a meal that is healthy and that you know when you eat it, you get that warm feeling inside.  Preparing a meal with someone else can also be a wonderful thing.
  3. Let Someone Know You Appreciate Them.  When we are under pressure we forget to appreciate the people in our lives.  We forget the importance and value that they bring us.  Take the time over the break to let the important people in your life know that you appreciate them.  

Also many of you are wonderful supporters of Hands Across the Water and may have seen the message about us having to use some charity funds for admin for the first time.  Although this was a challenging decision, it is in the best interest of the Thai children to ensure that we can support them long term.  

Thank you to all of you who have contacted me and have shown your support.  I look forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming Future of Leadership (click her to get your ticket) or on a future ride in Thailand! 

Are You Hands On?

“Can I help Dad?”  said Luca, my fourteen year old son.  I was just about to mow the lawn when he noticed what I was up to.  As we worked together with the weed trimmer and mower I noticed a big smile across my son’s face.  We were spending time together in a “hands on” project.  It was food for the soul.

So often people get too busy that they do not take this time to share an experience with their kids, family or loved ones.  We get so caught up in other activities that we forget how important these moments are.

And it is not just at home.  In the workplace we need to create meaningful ‘hands on’ touch-points that bring people together.  I recently worked with a client in the government sector that is currently going through a structural change.  Rather than going behind closed doors to map out the future framework and structure, the Director of the division invited all of his staff to participate in a series of workshops to share their ideas on the way forward.  

Rather than talk ‘at them’, the group were asked to get ‘hands on’.  Their ideas were captured and they ranked them to identify which were the most important areas to be further clarified and explored to move the organisation forward.  At the end of the sessions, the feedback was extremely positive (whereas before there was a lot of discussion, fear and concern).  More importantly the group was engaged in the process and the culture was strengthened because people had a chance to be involved.

There are a number of ways to increase your ‘hands on’ touch-points:

  1. Make Time.  One of the best strategies is to schedule time to be ‘hands on’ with others.  This can be a scheduled appointment learning a new skill with someone else, a brainstorming strategy session or a fun relationship building activity that allows everyone to get involved. Or you could go together to the Future of Leadership 1 Day Conference and learn together.  Click here for more info.
  2. Take Time.  Look for the opportunities to check in with people ‘on the fly’.  This is not having scheduled time, however it’s about taking moments in time to reconnect with others.  It could be participating in their meeting, having a hallway conversation to get them involved with something or creating a reversal teaching moment where you get them to teach you something. 
  3. Thank Time.  Everyone knows that giving others recognition can go a long way.  One of the biggest challenges I hear is that managers are so busy that they forget to thank people.  It may be for the effort that they put in or the extra hours that they came in early to help ensure a project deadline was met.  By thanking them and giving them little surprises (or gifts) you can increase your relationship and make the bond between you even stronger.  

Review your last week.  Did you create ‘hands on’ touch-points with others?  Did you actively find a way to connect with them in a meaningful way where both of you had a sense of achievement? 

If you would like to find out how I run my hand on interactive Compression Planning sessions for teams, click here.   And don’t forget to make this happen at home. 

Are You Letting Internal Disruption Take You Off Path?

Everything is going too fast, times are changing and things are getting more complex.  We are being bombarded by more and more information and technology and it often feels like we are barely able to keep our heads above water.  This is leading many staff to hesitate and question what they are doing and this leads to disruption occurring at an individual mental level, then add COVID19 on top of this creating even more uncertainty.

These feelings are not new.  Rapid change, new technology and the need to continue to adapt to new situations are things that have always happened throughout time.  It just feels this way to us because we are often limited to tunnel vision looking forward.

So what do you do?

Often when we get faced with this stress and pressure, we stop thinking.  We go into autopilot and often we stop looking for other ways to leverage our time or do things differently.  We need to get back onto our Critical Path and stop being distracted by other trivial activities that are eating up our valuable time.  This is even more important if you are a leader with a team of people that are faced with this ongoing internal disruption.

In a recent conversation with a Senior Manager, he described to me the pressure that he and his team were experiencing.  It was as if they were stuck on a treadmill that was continually speeding up, with no end in sight.  He was noticing an increase in sick leave as well as his were people becoming ‘numb’ because of the overload.

I was impressed with his solutions to get them back on track.  He changed up his team meetings and made them more of an individual check in than a typical dry reporting meeting.  He changed 2 simple things.  The first was a quick whip around at the beginning of the meeting that allowed each of his team members to share where their energy level was on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being great).  Then he asked them what he or others could do to help them improve their score.   The second thing he did occurred after the meeting.  Within 60 minutes of the meeting he made a special effort to check in with those that had scored their energy low and did something to try to help them improve.  Sometimes it included simple things like bringing them a coffee or just asking them how their kids were doing. What he noticed was that this follow up support started to decrease the internal disruption that his people were feeling.

Actions to Focus your Internal Disruption:

  1. Individually.  Take the time to map all of your current activity onto paper (or a tablet), just get it out of your head so you can identify the tasks.  Then use a prioritisation system to get back onto your critical path (there are plenty of methods out there, you just need to use them!)  Also make sure that you are consistent with your physical movement.  As human beings one of the best ways to manage our internal stress is through movement, going for a walk, jog, swim, bike ride.  
  2. With Your Team.  Take the time to check in with others.  If you notice that they are facing huge stress and internal disruption do something to let them know that you care and are there to support them.  This can be something as simple as recognising their efforts with small things (gifts, lunch, movie vouchers) or encouraging them to get moving physically.  Try having your next meeting with them whilst walking and moving during your discussion (Steve Jobs used this method and he was able to accomplish many things).

Don’t let internal disruption get you off path.  Stay focused and actively commit to your Critical Path and don’t forget to have some fun along the way.  

I have developed a new Leadership Efficiency Program 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 to organise a chat.

Could You Get More Done?

I have some questions 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?”

Regardless of how you would spend your time, what I find is that many people know that they could be more efficient and get more things done in less time.

So what stops us? Although we are still shifting out of the COVID Pandemic, most leaders and staff have all said how busy that they have been, much busier than normal.

I was talking with a leader recently who was struggling to keep up and everything felt hard. When I asked her what her strategy was to be more efficient she said quickly “I don’t have time to” which was part of the issue!

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

  • 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.
  • Look Out Shortcuts or Fast Hacks. There are plenty of book 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.
  • 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. This can be something as simple as a 90day process to help you shift your approach.

What I am finding is that many people need someone to help them identify a fast track strategy to get more things done in less time and get their people to also perform at a higher level.

I have developed a new Leadership Efficiency Program that is designed to help you get more things done and mobilise your people in a 90day format. If you would like to find out more in a free 20 minute consultation, please click on this link to sign up.

Are Your Virtual Meetings Working?

With the COVID pandemic everyone has shifted to virtual meetings to help keep communication lines open and stay connected.  The challenge that I am finding is that many leaders do not know how to make these virtual meetings work.  

Now that we are almost a year into this new way of connecting online, people are starting to get a bit of ‘zoom fatigue’ and it’s even more important to spice up your virtual meetings.  Here are a few ideas to help your virtual meetings work better:

  • Use the Right Virtual Platform.  Recently I worked with a client to assist them with their virtual training.  The national field team had  effectively adapted to MS Teams and were using it very effectively in the way they virtually interacted with staff.  However, the head office decided to use a completely different platform and roll it out nationally.  Usually, this is a good thing, unfortunately the platform that they selected did not have the full functionality that most of the current virtual meeting platforms have.  Presenters found it slow and clunky and the participants were forced to watch while the presenter talked at them sharing a powerpoint slide on the screen, it was so unstable that no one could turn on their webcams or microphones besides the presenters.  It really is a 1990’s nightmare that led to people not wanting to attend because it was not engaging.  Currently there are some great virtual meeting platforms:  Zoom, MS Teams are the most used and easiest to use (and both now secure with AES 256 bit GCM encryption) and I have also used Webex and REMO.
  • Use the Webcam View.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have the web cameras from all the participants turned on whilst everyone is on the virtual meeting.  This ensures engagement and encourages participation in the meeting.  Ideas can be discussed and the group overall feels a sense of connection.  Without the webcam, we go back to days of speaker phones where people do not really pay attention whilst they type their emails in the backgrounds, which shows that they would rather be somewhere else than in your virtual meeting.
  • Keep the Virtual Meetings Creative.  Any ongoing meeting or training session can become routine and boring over time.  If you are the presenter, ensure that you mix things up.  Share a video to the group, create a theme for the virtual presentation.  I had one client run a special morning breakfast pyjama meeting.  They had staff wear their favourite pyjamas and eat breakfast whilst they checked in on what they were doing for the weekend.  For evening meetings you could have them dress up wearing their favourite sports team clothing. 

Remember many of us are still connecting with our staff in virtual meetings.  As this is no longer new, ensure that you do something to make sure that your virtual meetings are working.  

If you would like to have a complimentary 20 minute session with me sharing insights on running your next virtual meeting, please
 click here.

What Reason Do Your Staff Have to Come to Work?

I was recently working with a client looking at the performance across a number of departments. As we were discussing some of the dynamics of work, one of them started complaining about their younger staff.  “They just don’t want to work, in fact most of them are lazy.”  I could hear his frustration as he remembered the ‘good old days’ when staff came to work because they wanted to be there and valued having a job.

The question that I asked caught him off guard,  “When they first started the job were they lazy and not wanting to be there, or did they show up at the beginning motivated and excited to do a good job and make a difference?”  

He 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 one simple question, “What did you do to them over time that 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.  Because the Managers set the tone for the entire team (and for the organisation as a whole) they often forget how important it is for them to set the tone and keep others 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 that 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 motivated:  

  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 the incredible conversations, many of them were unplanned).  Don’t always make it about work, in fact the Managers that are the most admired are the ones that have a personal relationship with their people.
  2. Make Little Things Count.  Look for the opportunities to identify and make small gestures of your appreciation for the efforts that your staff put in.  This is about creating moments in time to recognise people.  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 provide them with kind words.   Other gestures include bringing them their favourite type of chocolate or giving them a couple of movie tickets because you heard them talking about the new movie that has just been released that they want to see. These small gestures add up, because Managers can forget to make the effort to let their staff know they appreciate them. 
  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.  This is identifying activities that you can do collectively that everyone will remember and bring everyone closer together.  This can be travelling to another business to learn how they operate, having an excursion that builds a positive team environment or setting up a time for staff and their partners to gather to get to know one another and have some food together.  I remember one company I worked for in the US had an annual staff picnic for all the staff and their families.  It was the highlight of the year because all of the Managers were tasked with preparing and serving the food to their staff and families.  They also had activities for children and staff team building events like the egg toss and colouring in competitions.  This allowed staff to participate with their family in a fun environment (and allow their partners to meet the people that they spend most of their waking life working beside!) The good will and the buzz at the company lasted for weeks afterwards and always brought a smile to the staff.

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 or did you get too busy with the ‘work’ at work.  Remember when people show up for the first day in their new job they are motivated, your task as a Manager is to find ways to keep this enthusiasm occurring!  

If you would like to have a complimentary 20 minute Idea Session with Scott click here.