Where did that extra energy come from?

February 22, 2016

Saturday afternoon I went out running with my youngest son Jonar, who’s 8. We got a bit lost round the woods – I’m not known for my sense of direction despite a Geography degree! – and ended up going quite a bit longer than I’d planned and than I thought he would be able to manage.

Understandably he was flagging as we headed for home. Quick check on the maps app – 1.4 miles from home. It’s raining. I have a very tired and increasingly unhappy child on my hands whom I have to coax home before he gets too cold.

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The obligatory post-run selfie!

Something really interesting happened. A short way into that part of our run, Jonar recognised where we were. I had been saying it’s not that far and giving out all the right “You can do it” encouragement, but it wasn’t working too well.

Suddenly it all changed! When he knew where we were, he was on familiar ground, energy flowed in quite a remarkable way. We ran that last mile or so faster than I would have comfortably done it on my own! I was genuinely amazed.

Three lessons here that I think are important in how we lead ourselves and our teams in a way that galvanises that extra energy and effort that can make the difference between winning (or surviving) and not:

  • Being on familiar territory: create landmarks, familiar habits, systems and ways of operating that breed confidence even in challenging times.
  • Knowing exactly how far there is to go: define the end, or at least a definite staging post on the journey towards the end so people understand there’s an end in sight rather than just plodding on endlessly.
  • Make a big deal about getting there: celebrate small victories, take a picture, have a meal. It makes a huge difference.

Have a great week!

Nick

 

 


Making space for public praise

May 7, 2015

This morning I was with a company in the Midlands for the course end presentations / graduation of a group of managers and team leaders who were completing the LMI Effective Leadership Development programme.

For the last 18 weeks we have been meeting fortnightly for two hours, reviewing each set of lesson material, sharing goals, tracking progress, dealing with challenges and generally facilitating the process of attitude and behaviour change that leads to performance improvement. Some of the results shared by the participants were incredible – reports delegated that frees the manager up two hours of valuable time each week, 50% reduction in error on the production line, improved atmosphere in the warehouse that is noticeable to every visitor…I could go on but that’s not the main point of this blog.

After each participant shared their own development through the programme and gave examples of how they have applied new ideas, their line manager made some comments. It would be easy to think ‘old school’ and be worried about what your manager might say if you were in this situation. As it happens, each of the line managers present has also been through this same LMI programme and understood the power of public praise!

Their comments were incredibly affirming as each one shared how their direct report had, through the duration of the programme, made huge progress and achieved tangible, significant victories that have resulted in better performance of their teams.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, but it’s incredibly powerful when it does. Each graduate walked out feeling a hundred feet tall – it feels good to receive honest praise and affirmation – but there’s something else I’ve seen happen when this takes place….the relationship between manager and their team member is deepened, trust built and hence their ability to work together effectively and harmoniously in the future is strengthened.

I’m not saying public praise should be an everyday occurrence – but it should be regular. How can you make space for this in a meaningful way? If you do, watch the impact it will have on your team!


Too many chiefs?

March 3, 2015

A quick reflection on what I heard loads over various media outlets last weekend. You may have heard it too if you’re into sports, or just happen to have the radio or TV on at the wrong time! The lament is a familiar one:

“This team needs more leaders!”

One pundit was going on about how when England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, that was a team full of leaders. Another was adamant that the current England cricket team was ‘sadly lacking leaders’.

On the one hand, no team needs a whole load of ‘classic’ leaders – multiple people trying to set the direction, establish rules, assert their opinions above others. That’s where we get the common refrain “Too many chiefs….”. Too many people wanting things their way and not enough people being team players.

So what do we mean when we say that more leaders are required? It is something right at the heart of my work with organisations and core to the LMI philosophy. We assert that:

“The best organisations develop every person to become a leader. Leadership is not a position. It is a way of thinking, believing and behaving.”

This, and what I think the sports pundits are getting at, is about the attitude and character displayed by team members. Leaders take responsibility. They roll their sleeves up and put a shift in when the odds are stacked against them. They handle disappointment well and can maintain a positive outlook. They make it their role to encourage their teammates. They find solutions to problems rather than complain. They innovate. The do what it takes to get results. They are great people to be around.

Every team does, in fact, need more of these kind of leaders! This is Personal Leadership. It’s not the role you play. It’s the person you are.


Extra maths!

November 21, 2014

I was walking Eden, my ten year old daughter, to school this morning half an hour ahead of the rest of the family because of an 8.15am extra maths session.

Was this a punishment? A chore? A drag-your-feet, wish-you-weren’t-there experience? Nope – the absolute opposite.

Eden was bouncing along the road, and had been bouncing round the house for at least an hour before we left. She was excited….about extra maths!

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What makes this really interesting for me, and worthy of a blog, is that just a few weeks ago she was ‘rubbish at maths’ and regularly told us how much she disliked it. When it came to maths homework, motivation was seriously low.

Then it changed, literally overnight.

One day at school there came a Maths test in an area that she was ok at. She did well. She felt good. The teacher praised her. She felt encouraged. She liked that feeling and she set a goal to go one mark better (out of 20) next time. So she worked at her homework and achieved her goal. Suddenly, she loves maths, is doing loads better at it, motivation is sky high and her attitude has been transformed.

This morning’s early start was for a special invitation maths club for the super-keen!

Proud parental gushing aside (sorry about that!), this is such a lesson in how attitudes, motivation and results can be similarly transformed. Set yourself and others up for some small success, celebrate that success, set another goal. Achieve that goal…and so on.

Sounds over-simplistic I know, but it works. Sometimes it takes longer to see drastic change, but sometimes there really is an immediate impact. Either way, set goals, celebrate every small success and keep on going!


Choose confidence

October 31, 2013

Welcome back if you read the first post on confidence. If not, it’s worth looking at the previous post to put this one into context.

The headline today is a ridiculously simple one… But it’s true and it works! It seems you can choose confidence.

I’m not saying that its the very last word on the subject. I’m not in the ultra-success, ‘saying it makes it real’ camp, but choosing to adopt a more confident stance rather than accepting and allowing those feelings of lack of confidence to persist, definitely makes a difference.

I think the most important first step is to recognise situations in which we feel lacking in confidence and, rather than allowing those negative and constricting thoughts and feelings to overwhelm and control us, make a conscious choice to fight them. It’s like setting out on a journey to visit friends in a different city. We must first commit to leaving where we are and heading off in the right direction.

This is such a complex and challenging situation. If becoming super-confident was as easy as 1-2-3 then we’d all have it mastered already. Having said that, once we’ve made the choice to work on overcoming our fears, insecurities and feelings of inferiority, there are many things we can do to help that process. One key tool in the box is to develop ourselves in the area where we lack confidence. More on that in the next post.