Achieving the big stuff – what an 11 year old can teach us

Achieving the big stuff – what an 11 year old can teach us

I have been talking about willpower a bit lately.  And it is possibly because I am finding it harder and harder to exert it as I run to the finish line of 2014.  It is almost like I have given up on 2014 and am now focusing on 2015.  And, clearly I am not alone.  Yesterday I bailed up my daughter’s gymnastic coordinator after noticing that very little gymnastics was going on in the last half hour of the class (which is when I rocked up – I hope there was more happening before then).  The reason I actually bailed her up was that Isabella was upset in the car saying she was falling behind and needed more help to do the flips but the help she needed was not part of the sessions she was doing.  I had seen her watching the other kids flip flopping across the mat and could see a wistful expression on her face knowing that she so much wanted to be able to do the same.  So, I turned the car around and marched back into the gym. The gymnastics coordinator was most concerned that Isabella was upset and agreed that she was definitely very motivated and determined to learn.  She explained that the whole term had been a bit ‘ratty’, with a number of the kids just not being interested and distracting the coaches.  She assured me that next year would be different and proceeded to tell me all about their plans.  Far from being assured, I asked what the coordinator she was doing in the final next 4 sessions of this...
Walk the talk – Be the leader you want to see in others

Walk the talk – Be the leader you want to see in others

Walk the Talk. Be the leader you want to see in others. Leadership can be demonstrated by anyone – we know this.  This idea is referred to as distributed leadership.  But when it is needed the most, it is often the hardest to find. If ever we need leadership it is from our managers.  They set the tone of the culture – the expectations of behaviour in their teams. I recently heard of a manager who watched on as one of her staff verbally attacked another.  It is the manager who staff bump into every day, and through the manager’s actions, or in this case, their inaction, they send powerful messages about what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour. So why did this manager not step into the fray and do something about this altercation?  This would have been a perfect opportunity to model the behaviour she expected from her staff.  There are two reasons that come to mind: 1.     She was not clear herself on what is acceptable behaviour.  If the manager is not clear, then the informal leaders will step up and fill the void – as may well have been the case in this incidence.  So, managers, get clear and make clear what you expect and stand by this.  Demonstrate conviction and congruence about the behaviour you expect. 2.     She may have been clear that the behaviour was not acceptable but was afraid to say anything.  I suspect fear of losing face, friends, approval approval, or not knowing how to manage a difficult conversation rules manager’s behaviour more than they admit.  The reality is that to...
Let go: Transitioning to Manager means Letting Go of Being the Expert

Let go: Transitioning to Manager means Letting Go of Being the Expert

The Health Leader (Vol 1, Issue 1)  Australian College of Health Service Managers  The Australian College of Health Service Managers released the first issue of their new journal – The Health Leader (Vol 1, Issue 1) this month (September 2014). One of the central themes of the issue was the transition from clinician to manager, which I am passionate about. I was particularly taken with the Andrew Jeffreys’ article. Being a surgeon, he presented the following 10 tips for clinicians transitioning to a clinical manager:  1.     Be a competent clinician2.     Develop your emotional intelligence3.     Recognise when you need to be leading versus managing 4.     Develop a vital workplace5.     Don’t let too many monkeys climb on your back!6.     Get qualified: It’s a learned skill like any other.7.     Avoid the myth of the complete leader8.     Save and spend your political capital wisely9.     Develop resilience10.  Don’t expect your job to satisfy all your psychological needs – get that balance right. The Challenge: Be a Competent Clinician The challenge is the need to be a competent clinician.  The one tip that I would challenge is the need to be a competent clinician.  I agree that this is considered important in building the manager’s credibility with their clinical staff.  I think the real driver behind this perspective is that clinical staff and the manager don’t really understand the role of management – so they default to the roles they do understand and that is clinical.   A manager doing their staff’s clinical work is unsustainable – eventually, they will have to raise their focus from the health of patients, to the health of their team and...
Serendipitous Synchronisation of Worldly Events: Enabling the evolution of humanity

Serendipitous Synchronisation of Worldly Events: Enabling the evolution of humanity

Over the past five to ten years our world has thrown up a myriad of cataclysmic events, all seeming to demand conflicting strategies:  the Global Financial Crisis in the mid-2000s, the myriad natural disasters, from tsunamis, wildfires, floods and droughts; aging population and popular uprisings.  The time is ripe for a seismic shift in the way work is done, and by whom.  The operation of successful businesses, how they manage their people and how we work are forever and fundamentally altered because of the serendipitous synchronization of environmental, technological, social and economic changes we have experienced over the last decade. The unsuccessful ones will not change so they won’t succeed! But the key to surviving in the turmoil requires us to let go of conventional wisdoms and embrace a paradox.  As Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism, taught in the Tao Te Ching some 2600 years ago: “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”   (Heider, 1985) Tao’s teachings are all about embracing the paradox, discovering the seed of one thing in its opposite. In our world, it means working together remotely; being afraid, but doing it anyway; acting autonomously and at the same time collaboratively. The tension is where the great stuff happens. If you are not uncomfortable – nothing is changing. If we reconcile the paradoxes, then the solutions to both the short-term budgetary crisis, medium-term population and workforce aging and long-term (or not) environmental challenges may be complementary rather than competing or opposing. It is my fervent...
The Autonomous Collaboration Paradox

The Autonomous Collaboration Paradox

In today’s world, we are faced with changes and problems that require massive action – not incremental adjustments to the way we work.  But whatever your mission impossible, make no mistake you can push through with a team of autonomous individuals working collaboratively. The Autonomous Collaboration Paradox draws together the conditions needed to enable individuals to operate at their highest levels in collaboration with others.  Like a fine Swiss timepiece, achieving autonomous collaboration requires the full integration and alignment of the individual, teams and organisation. The Autonomous Collaboration Paradox  Organisations achieve greatest individual engagement by ensuring the individual’s roles and responsibilities tap into their passions and demand full use of their strengths.  The most productive, synergistic and creative teams emerged from genuinely collaborative interactions and supported by empowering organisational structures.  But to make the transformational shifts that are needed to thrive in this new world, individuals, teams and organisations must display enormous courage.  Today is not the day to be risk averse, and sit back hoping that things will settle down. They won’t; and they never will again. The world cannot afford passengers; humanity cannot afford indecision; action is needed now.  To unlock the power the Autonomous Collaboration: 1.    Be empowering. 2.    Practice enabling management. 3.    Establish empowering organisational structures. 4.    Foster collaborative...
Girl power – Where we get it and where we lose it.

Girl power – Where we get it and where we lose it.

I was at the Australian College of Health Services Manager’s Women in Leadership Symposium yesterday.  There was a powerful array of speakers – women who had really made their mark in the world drawing from their unique strengths. Dale Fisher, (CEO of Peter Mac, former CEO of the Women’s in Melbourne), spoke with great passion of her experiences as a leader in the health industry drawing on a feminist framework. Moira Rayner (a fervent feminist and co-author with Joan Kirner of “The Women’s Power Handbook”) who presented her experience of women and power, and Jay Bonnington (Director of myriad boards, including HESTA) who provided her insights into women on Boards. These women really got me thinking about where the women in the leadership ‘ movement’ had come to and questioning whether we might do better to rethink how we as individuals approach the question of getting ahead in ‘leadership’.  The question is about power and how we as women get it and use it – no bones about it.  But when it was all said and done, I could see that the argument about what enables or inhibits women’s ability to get ahead in leadership fell into 2 distinct camps – internal and external.  And yes, it reflects your locus of control. Internal sources of power – Know Your Why Dale was awe inspiring and yet very human – a potent mix.  She reflected on a question that gave her the clarity and strength to ride the rough times (and she has had some very public rough times) and that is: “What is your guiding principle?”  This means being...
Change their minds: Change their behaviour.

Change their minds: Change their behaviour.

One of the core elements of my change management programs is a mindset. If you understand what people think of the change and the emotions the change is evoking, you can design a change program that will help them make the transition. There are a few reasons why focusing on mindset works: Making time to understand what it means to them demonstrates a genuine interest in them – we know that empathy leads to engagement. Gaining a good understanding of what they value about the current situation will tell you what evidence you need to provide to convince them that the change is worthwhile (and if you can’t find this evidence, then you might question whether in deed change is needed!)  Finding out what they are worried about will help you design strategies to deal with their concerns, providing them with the assurance they need to move forward. Their worries also provide you with great material for your risk management strategy. So how do you delve into their mindset? Here are a few ideas that have worked for me: Create a transition space. This is a regular forum that is short and can be part of an existing meeting that provides everyone with the opportunity to reflect on the change.  Engage your people in defining the problems that the change is intended to fix. This allows them to discuss what they value and what the change will need to deliver for them to get on board. Allow them to discuss their concerns and come up with strategies that will address these – put these in your risk management strategy....