Back to Tintin for breakfast

Back to Tintin for breakfast

I caught up with a relative over brunch on Saturday. It was a meandering chat over porridge and coffee.

We talked about family, fashion, housing, Tintin and some reminiscing of times long past.

I’m not sure how we got onto Tintin, but we reminded ourselves that he was ageless – stayed the same over decades of stories – but the stories moved with the times.

There are lots of connections between the stories. Obvious ones that are one story in two books like Destination Moon followed by Explorers on the Moon. Others are not so direct: The Crab with the Golden Claws and The Blue Lotus, about drug runners.

Tintin is one of the first books I can remember. I borrowed them from the Christchurch Public Library, in the old brick building that once housed the Library on Cambridge Terrace near Hereford Street.

The stories are rich in meaning, thoroughly researched with events of the time depicted – fascist Europe in King Ottokar’s Sceptre – and beautifully drawn. I love the trains, cars, boats and outsize characters and never tire of reading the 62 pages in each story one more time.

My personal favourite is The Crab with the Golden Claws, a classic detective story, and where Tintin first meets Captain Haddock.

I could talk all day about Tintin. It’s been a life-long pleasure.

He’s a great investigator with a cool head and a sense of adventure like no one else.

iStock-469196028.jpg

Timeless, just like all good stories.

Stephen

 

201

201

I appear to have picked up some more followers, or at least followers who have noticed, because I’ve blogged about walking and related adventures, such as Cornwall Park.

The most common subject I hear in the leadership world right now is about well-being. It’s a broad subject and seems to cover physical and mental health when it is referred.

We all know it’s important to be in good health, so why the increased consciousness about well-being now?

I did my 201st walk last week for 2019. I probably won’t make 400, but they’re longer now, so maybe 365 is a good goal!

iStock-950716438.jpgWell-being is really about satisfaction, happiness or contentment. You chose the word that suits.

I’m not particularly satisfied that I’ve completed 201 walks, but I am increasingly happy and content from the energy, space and health that those 201 walks have provided me with.

And you can do it almost anywhere.

Stephen

 

Sustaining development

Sustaining development

I was privileged recently to interview a number of participants of past programmes for a short video. We didn’t know what they were going to say, although it’s fair to say that if you agree to go on video you probably have positive things to say!

Be that as it may, it was amazing to hear the ongoing benefits from authentic leadership development being embedded long after the work on the programme had concluded. As I’ve said in the past, leadership development can get a bad rap for adopting a “sheep dip” and/or “break ‘em down to build them up” approach, something we do our best to avoid.

The answer is to give the development time. Time on programme, time back at work to practice and reflect, more time on programme, time to embed an ongoing reflection habit, and then allow sufficient space for participants to own the development opportunities presented to them.

iStock-1039315630.jpgOne of those I interviewed referenced the Leadership Walk as being one of the most powerful parts of her development. She didn’t call it by our anointed name, but the meaning she took out of it and then applied back at work was very gratifying to hear. Another said that the most powerful feedback moment he took was, well, about feedback. He has adjusted how and when he gives feedback to his team and said it’s made a material difference to his team leadership.

Whether we’re on a programme or just genuinely focussed on pushing our own development, giving ourselves space between learnings to reflect, try new stuff, embed and try again, is vital.

That creates a sustained leadership development journey, whether that be a formal or informal process.

Stephen

 

Bringing nothing

Bringing nothing

I recently ran the Leadership vs Management public workshop series again in Wellington and then Auckland. Don’t tell anyone, but the title is a bit of a misnomer. The workshop is more about what key leadership attributes are, with story-telling at its heart.

We don’t have a slide deck, and very minimal written resources. The few slides that there are, are laminated and affixed to the wall, mainly as prompts for a story I might tell.

It occurs to me that someone will (and should!) challenge me on the model or models of leadership that are to be learned on the workshop and then followed by the participants. At the conclusion at one of the workshops in this series we did a final round of learning nuggets. One participant, who had been reasonably quiet, said that it was a highlight that we had not come with leadership models for us to learn and apply. She expressed relief. I was somewhat relieved too – as facilitator you try your best to match everyone’s needs in the room – but you don’t always know whether you’re hitting the mark.

The thinking behind my approach is actually built on what I think it a fundamental truth of leadership moments. What you have in the room at any given moment is it. When you embrace that premise, you will gain the best of those present for any decision or leadership challenge that needs to be met. Don’t imagine that there’s a mysterious person who has the special insight, the ultimate responsibility, or the magical solution.

Close-up on discussion.What you have at that moment is it.

So in our workshops we bring very little. You have to believe that the people that attend have all the leadership insights, stories and motivations to make a great success of this particular moment in their leadership journey. And they always do.

You just have to trust.

Stephen

Acting with integrity

Acting with integrity

Last week my team shared a dinner out to celebrate promotions. We celebrated everyone there and those that were promoted were invited to say a few brief words.

Acting with Integrity is one of PwC’s stated Values and it’s critical to building trust, part of PwC’s purpose. The great thing about true values is the richness that comes bringing them to life. Psychology Today’s discusses the 7 Signs of People with Integrity which calibrated with me.

Firstly, parents who apologise to their children for over-punishment. As a parent, if you overstep the mark, then your children deserve an apology and for you to set aside your pride.

Secondly, bosses who acknowledge their team members’ achievements and downplay their own.

Thirdly, romantic partners who boycott name calling etc.  You’ll know when you’ve acted without integrity by how badly you feel if you resort to name calling to anyone actually.

Drivers who almost never drive aggressively. I’ve started extensively using adaptive cruise control even in the city. It takes almost all the stress from driving. So someone is a few kms slower in front? Breathe. It’s great for wellbeing too.

iStock-938113718.jpgPeople in positions of power apologising for keeping people waiting. It gets easier the more senior you are to keep people waiting, and sometimes it happens because of your role. But don’t get ahead of yourself – whether you’re a specialist or a manager interviewing prospective employees –  that you’re so important you don’t need any humility and humanity.

Coming in sixth is giving someone the benefit of the doubt, when the circumstances are unclear. In my forensic work this is a must. Anything else is an attack on the rule of law, whether that be the law of the land or the work rulebook.

Finally, volunteering. People with integrity help others without a need for reciprocity.

So with that criteria in mind, how do you stack up? We can challenge ourselves on these, and notice these behaviours in those around us. I think you could use some of these to see how prospective leaders stack up.

At our dinner, one of our team who was promoted only referenced the team who had worked with him, and got him to where he was. It was a sure sign of integrity and left a warm feeling all around. This frame is surely the reason why it felt good.

Stephen

 

Do we need leadership?

Do we need leadership?

It’s surely worth asking the question, especially on a leadership blog! Maybe it’s an age thing, but I find myself questioning more frequently whether I need anyone to “lead” me. I think I’m pretty good at getting on with work, life, a career and looking after myself without any sense of another person or persons leading me.

It might be a function of the lack of leadership globally right now that is part of this thinking. In the United States, past Presidents, who compared to the current incumbent, appear in hindsight to have been great leaders. But they’re mute right now.  In the United Kingdom, a Trumpish front runner looks like having a good chance of making it to the leadership of that country. Neither of these two individuals are leaders to me. Yes they might have that mantle, but if leadership is about vision, values, an ethical compass, respect and inclusion, I think we need another word for these sorts of individuals. Quite a few come to mind, but they’re not repeatable in this forum!

So, in my smug little world where I don’t think I need leadership can that be right? Probably not. Leaders around me have and continue to create the environment for me and my team’s success, with strategy, vision, purpose and an environment for personal and professional growth.

iStock-926404310.jpgSo you might not feel leadership all the time. But good leadership doesn’t need to be in your face, just providing the appropriate context is often sufficient.

Poor leadership, including ruling by division and clinging on to power at all costs, we definitely notice.

And rather than seek to just remove ourselves from the influence of such behaviour, as leaders this is the time to step up, be noticed, drive inclusion and values.

More than ever it’s needed right now.

Stephen

Only a very few things really matter

Only a very few things really matter

It might run contrary to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but I do increasingly think that only a couple of things matter – health and family – however defined by you, come to mind.

I haven’t blogged much lately because of other priorities. I’ve been walking most mornings and evening for exercise. I blogged about one walk recently through Cornwall Park.

The benefits of walking are well known and it’s helped me in many way:  working more effectively, thinking time, physical health and clothes fitting better!

Add good relationships with those that mean something to you – feels healthy and contented.

I might be overlooking Maslow in this simplistic interpretation of what’s important, which starts with physical needs (health, food) and safety, followed by belonging, esteem and self-actualisation.

My two “what matters” aren’t that high up the Hierarchy – in fact, health is a the bottom. It could be that I’ve got a fair way up Maslow’s needs and I’m heading down again.

It’s part of making life simple – walking, selling excess “things”, focussing on people that matter.

iStock-936370860.jpgA simple life, clear, clean and focussed.

Stephen