Posts Tagged ‘Leader’

Why leadership programmes fail

January 16, 2014

Have you seen this latest piece of research from McKinsey on why leadership programmes fail? If not, click here, it is definitely worth a read.  The key messages are:

  1. Decide on the essential skills of your leaders and develop them (don’t drown them)
  2. Understand the science of how change actually happens – don’t get sucked in to programmes that look great on paper or have a great badge of honour but don’t actually get your leaders doing something different
  3. Understand how essential the right leadership mindset is to behavioural change and pay proper attention to it in your programme
  4. Measure the results to ensure the learning is taken really seriously in your business

Personally, I agree and I am loving the research because our Conscious Leadership approach addresses all of these pointers head on. I would of course love to tell you about it if you would like to know more, but in the meantime take 10 minutes and have a read – it is good!

Elke Edwards - Blue Sky Performance Improvement Elke@bluesky

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Show Trust to Build Trust

November 21, 2012

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Ernest Hemingway.

What does it take for you to trust me? You probably have to be able to rely on me, and to know that I will do what I say I will do. Building trust requires telling the truth and being transparent. What is the benefit of trust? When we have trust in the relationship we can work together effectively and combine both of our resources to create something bigger than we could do by ourselves. So what happens when there is no trust in a relationship? You could say that without it, little or no relationship is possible. It’s almost impossible to work effectively together without mutual respect. Much time and energy is wasted in second guessing, and speculating on the other person’s motives and intentions.

Building trust is a process that begins when one party is willing to risk being the first to ante up, being the first to show vulnerability, and being the first to let go of control. If you are a leader, the first to trust has to be you. If you, as a leader, show a willingness to trust others, your team members will be more likely to trust you. To build trust in your organisation:

  • Share information about you, who you are and what you believe in
  • Admit mistakes, none of us are perfect and people will forgive you if they see you trying to aspire to the high standards you set. We are only human and showing you are fallible will show your human face
  • Acknowledge the need for personal development
  • Seek feedback, and treat it as a gift
  • Take feedback to the source, avoid ‘corridor conversations’
  • Listen carefully to what others have to say and sometimes not saying
  • Invite interested parties to important meetings
  • Share information that is useful
  • Celebrate other people’s successes, make sure the team or individuals get the recognition for their work…don’t take credit for other people’s good work or when things go wrong, don’t let them take the fall
  • Encourage people to contribute
  • Show you are willing to change your mind when others have a good idea
  • Avoid talking negatively about others
  • Say ”we trust them” and mean it

Trustworthiness is in the eye of the beholder. To build trust your team must see that you have their best interests at heart. It means that you don’t want to see them get hurt, be embarrassed, feel harassed or suffer. You want them to be happy, fulfil their potential and succeed. This may seem like a risk….but it is one worth taking.

Some handy tips:

  • Be authentic. If there is something you are not saying and covering up, there is a good chance the other person will know you are doing that – it will leak out in your body language and tone of voice. They might not be able to put their finger on it or explain exactly why they don’t believe you are being truthful, but they will have an instinctive, intuitive feeling that they cannot trust you.
  • Don’t gossip or speculate on someone else’s motivations and intentions.  Don’t have the conversation with someone else, have the conversation with the person…take it back to the source. Show openness and consistency in your behaviour, and demonstrate a strong moral ethic.
  • If trust has been broken it can be recovered. You need to apologise for your side of where the trust got lost, be open and honest and sincerely regretful for the part you played in the relationship break down. Then explain that you are committed to this not happening again and what you will personally do in the future to avoid the situation happening again.
  • Write down a list of all your key relationships at work. Rate on a scale of 1-10 what the level of trust is like. This will help you identify which relationships you could work on.
  • Spend some time with people you might not as readily trust. Get to know them a little. Disclose some information about yourself, open up a little. This is a good way to show someone that you trust them.

To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.George MacDonald.

Sean@Bluesky

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.blue-sky.co.uk

There is no ‘I’ in team, but there is a ‘me’

September 11, 2012

Success is a great thing. We all want it, because it’s the undisputed champion in measuring our selves. We know it’s hard to get, and that’s what makes it all the more satisfying. We cherish it, because we know what it’s like to fail (because we all do). So, when it happens, when you achieve success…. there’s the part of us that feels like the cat that got the cream.  I did it! How about that! God, I’m good. Why not celebrate your success? It feels good when you get all of that praise and recognition. The praise often flies in your direction and it’s so easy to slip into ‘I know, I did a great job…thank you’.

But there’s a catch to this if you are a leader on the road to greatness. Should we take all the credit?

Probably not, as most successes are achieved as part of a team. You may have “shown them the way” (the definition of a leader), and they got there. They deserve the credit.  Yes, you played a major role.  Yes, if you weren’t involved it might not have happened at all. But they still DID it.

Inspire - Teddy Roosevelt - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

It takes a lot of humility to step aside when the accolades come, and deflect them elsewhere. A selflessness that puts aside a certain fear – the one that thinks that unless you strut your stuff out there, it won’t be noticed by your bosses when bonus or promotion time comes.

I succumbed to that fear a few times earlier in my life. I remember a time that I really felt I was being under appreciated, deserved more recognition and probably a promotion…I was sitting in a project review meeting where we had just implemented a new IT system and found myself spouting phrases like…

 “I did that, I found that I achieved that, my system……, I solved this…… I, I, I, I, I, I …..”

I had neglected the fact that this was a huge team effort and in that moment, I wanted to bask in the glory and selfishly grab the limelight. I am sure you can imagine the impact this had on the project team. Luckily I learned, it has taken time, several great mentors, some personal reflection and painful feedback.

The other thing that convinced me once and for all that I shouldn’t take the credit was scientific fact. Jim Collins figured it all out in one of my favorite business books, Good to Great. The leaders of all the “Great” companies all had this humility – they gave the credit to someone else.  And it was researched, and documented, many times over. Because they didn’t DO it.  They just showed the way.  Collins calls them “Level 5 Leaders” – they’ve taken leadership up another very important notch.

As Teddy Roosevelt said in his famous speech at the Sorbonne in 1910:

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause”

Greatness will await you, for your team will respond to your selflessness with an even greater desire to make you proud, and start the credit cycle all over again. What will you do differently? Listen to the number of times you use the word ‘I’ in conversations this week…….

Sean@Bluesky

Sean Spugin - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Could 50 Shades of Grey help your learning stick?

July 31, 2012

It was the conversation over a coffee with friends that made me brave my local bookshop and buy the hottest book of the moment – 50 Shades of Grey.

Even my husband when he saw it in the bedroom (I’d hidden it under a copy of Infinite Jest, another novel I’m trying to get through) cried out “not you as well?!” Yes, it seems that everyone on his commuter train and beyond are mesmerized.

So it made me think ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could design and launch a learning programme that would have the same impact as 50 Shades of Grey?’ A programme that employees would clamour to sign up to and evangelize with their colleagues about the content and learning.

Perform - Handcuffs - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

I am not advocating that learning interventions should involve porn, bondage or domination, just the sentiment that we need to keep designing creative and exciting content to capture employee’s imagination to make learning stick.

And so the Blue Sky 50 Shades of Learning was born by asking our staff to email their lighthearted take on the book and the world of learning. Here are our top 10 for you to enjoy and we want to find the 40 best others from out there in the learning community to make up the 50. If you’d like to send in your contribution, please email hello@blue-sky.co.uk and the top three winners will receive a bottle of Jo Malone perfume or cologne (no handcuffs or gimmicks are involved in this offer!)

The Blue Sky Top 10 Shades of Learning

“Make me cry like I’ve never cried before!” he screamed. “Alright” I said and made him read the entire works of Tom Peters.

“I am your master and you will perform everything I say” …it was then I knew it was time to leave the CIPD.

“I’m curious” he whispered. Never had she felt so deeply probed. She felt exposed from all angles; naked, yet strangely liberated and safe. “So” she said silently to herself, “this is how 360 degree feedback works.”

Wearing my seductive skimpy schoolgirl outfit, I gazed around the room. How was I to know that that was not what they meant by classroom learning?

Once I knew his seven habits…I was disgusted.

He felt his net promoter score rise as she whispered down the phone “thank you, that’s the best customer service I’ve ever experienced”.

My heartbeat raced as I heard him suggest his embedded learning methodology would be different to anything I’d ever experienced before…

He brought a new meaning to the phrase “yes, we can plug the leak in your sales pipeline…”

His PowerPoint presentation was the longest I had ever seen. Slide after slide after slide after slide of animated ecstasy. I died a thousand deaths before I fell into a deep untroubled sleep.

She lay back, disappointed. It was all over so quickly. “Oh” she said, “that’s what you meant by accelerated learning!”

Briege@Bluesky

Briege Kearney - Director - Client Development - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Why are toilets with a cleaning checklist on the wall always dirty?

July 20, 2012

Have you noticed that the more dirty public toilets are, the more likely you are to find a cleaning checklist detailing how often the toilets should be checked and cleaned, requiring the signature of the person to be publicly responsible for having done that?

Deliver - Toilet - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

Why does this phenomenon exist?

Management = designing an efficient process, i.e. a cleaning checklist, and putting it up on a wall and expecting to get results.  When you are not there the cleaning doesn’t take place and you feel frustrated because you have people that are not up to the job.

Leadership = caring about the individual and what they want and need, inspiring them to do it either because they like you so much they want to do things for you, or you make them believe in something greater than both of you.  Like for example, their work means that every person who comes to their toilet finds it in a beautiful condition, that it slightly lifts their day. This combined with many other slight lifts in the day means they are happier. This means they are kinder to other people. This means the world is more human. Toilets get cleaned without you being there.

James@Bluesky

James Hodgkinson - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

On purpose

February 23, 2012

When people ask me what I do for a living there are a variety of responses I can give them:

  • Consultant – this is the worst one.
  • Coach
  • Facilitator
  • Trainer

I work with businesses to make them perform more effectively through their people.

These all describe what I do.

Sometimes when I am working, I am connected to the purpose of what I do:

“Creating the conditions to make people’s lives happier, and helping people love each other more”.

I find that when I am doing anything in my role connected to this purpose, I am instantly happier and more peaceful; and easier to work with. Dan Pink, author of best-selling book, Drive: The Surprising Truth Behind What Motivates Us, describes an inspiring purpose as the yearning to be in service to something greater than ourselves, he cites this as one of the most important factors in human motivation. In fact, I find that I can do pretty much any task in my life, and if it’s in the service of something greater than myself, I instantly have meaning and purpose in my life.

Connect - BlueSky - Bluesky Performance Improvement

A friend of mine and ex-colleague, Bill Hutchinson used to say that it’s not the task we have to carry out that creates our experience, but the spirit in which we undertake the task. For example, when someone asks you to make a cup of tea, you have a choice. You can do it in a begrudging manner, or do it with pleasure because you want that person to be happy and have a really good cup of tea. The fact remains whichever way you choose, you will still be making the cup of tea. It’s the same as when you give money to a charity cause. The act itself will not create you to be happy or unhappy, but the spirit in which you do it will. If you do it with a mind on what benefits you will personally create for the people who receive the donation will receive, you will have one experience. If you do it because your peers will think you are mean, you will have another experience. Another way of saying this is it’s not what you do, but the context in which we operate. It’s the same work that we do, but the context and reason why we do it is different.

Why do we come to work? To make money so that we can enjoy our life outside of work, and hope at the same time that our work will be personally satisfying and fulfilling, and when it isn’t, well hey? No job is perfect.

What about if we came to work because of the reason the work existed? Because we were so compelled and inspired by the purpose of the work we were involved in, it transcended our own need for own needs to be met, and yet at the same time spurred us on to even greater personal achievements.

I find that when the context of my work is centered around me, life can be miserable.  When my job becomes about not getting what I want, not doing the kind of work I want to be doing, things not being done the way I want them to be, people not behaving the way I want them to behave or the way they should, the work not being done the way I think it should be done, things not going the way I want them to be, my boss not treating me the way that I want to be treated, work life can create all kinds of unhappiness. And when I am present to the purpose behind the work that I do, I find that work can be an incredibly satisfying and fulfilling place to be.

And what is a leader if it isn’t someone who has been able to inspire people to be present to a purpose that is greater than themselves?

So what if the places we worked in were more present to a purpose that was more important then ourselves and we were more connected with that on a day-to-day basis? Would that make a difference to our experience of the world and the individual work that we produced?

I’d love to know your thoughts….

James@Bluesky

James Hodgkinson - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement

The art of handling negative critique

August 24, 2011

Sometimes when talking with managers, a question comes up, “When I am asked to communicate a message from the company, and it’s a message that I personally don’t believe in, how do I communicate to my team, in an authentic way?”

It seems the dilemma for people is that they don’t want to be dishonest in their views and they also know that agreeing with their teams negative opinions, will lead to a spiral of negativity that will end up being de-motivating.  The temptation in this instance is often to keep the relationship with their team by agreeing that the message or company direction is not a good one. The problem is, this undermines an individual’s relationship with the organisation, and the employee’s motivation and morale.

Motivate - Saving Private Ryan (Courtesy of Dreamworks SKG-Paramount Pictures) - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

I think Tom Hanks in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ deals with this delicate situation really well.  His team do not believe in the mission they have been sent on. They respect their leader, and so they ask what his opinion of the mission is.  After listening to them, he responds that he thinks it’s an excellent mission, well worthy of their best efforts, and I think it has a positive effect on the morale of his troops. Here’s the video for reference.

It also has a nice message about how to shape your teams gripes.  Later in the film it transpires that he doesn’t believe in the mission at all.  My take on it is that he is more concerned with his team (their morale and motivation), than he is of his own opinions.

So if as a manager you can’t believe in the message or the direction the company is taking, perhaps it would be helpful to change your perspective?  Imagine that you are the person responsible for the decision or message you don’t agree with. Force yourself to take their view point and to ask yourself, “Why is it a good thing?”  What was the motivation behind it? What is the person trying to achieve with it? It’s not about positive thinking, it’s about consciously and deliberately taking a different perspective in order to help and motivate your team.

James@Bluesky

James Hodgkinson - Blue Sky Performance Improvement

www.blue-sky.co.uk

Blue Sky Performance Improvement