Joy

noun a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

It’s a word that’s been top of mind lately. As authentic leaders we strive to provide an environment where those we lead can perform, grow and reach their purpose, or meaning.

I have had an internal debate about whether I look for purpose or meaning. Whichever one it is I strive for, lately I’ve noticed that unless something brings joy, I’m hesitating.

A colleague and I engaged in a coaching conversation today. We challenged each other on blocks that people have to finding joy. It is the nature of the work? Is it too much work? Or is it just a mindset.

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Work won’t always bring us joy. Sometimes it’s just hard. Our personal objectives won’t always bring us joy. Getting there can be hard.

But on the way through I reckon we should be finding some joy. Not just from reaching a purpose, finding a meaning, or even reaching a goal. But on the way through.

Reminding ourselves “these are the good old days“.  Making it a daily challenge to find the mindset that brings joy to us is not easy, but worth a try for our own sense of purpose or meaning, and our teams.

 

Stephen

Would you do that?

We visited the Erebus memorial at Waikumete Cemetery yesterday on the Authentic Leadership Programme. Then we travelled back to Waitakere Estate through the beautiful Scenic Drive and watched a powerful movie of corporate greed and fraud.

Our natural instincts are that we wouldn’t get involved in that sort of activity – we wouldn’t cover up the mishandling of the flight path that might have caused a plane crash – we wouldn’t sacrifice our values and integrity for money, would we?

We’d hope not. But circumstances can make people do things that they wouldn’t think they are capable of. I know, I’ve seen it in multiple fraud cases over the years. When I was at the Serious Fraud Office, most of the people we prosecuted didn’t start out as crooks. But a combinations of circumstances (pressure or greed), opportunity (no one can see) and justification (I deserve it or it’s mine) can turn ordinary, honest men and women into criminals.

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So what to do about it? I think of my values as my valuables – I try not to leave them lying around, I protect them and I know where they are at all times. Of course there’s a lot more to it but that’s a good start.

We should also pay attention to our lies. Sound confronting? Wise leaders are intentionally clear about their communication and don’t use weasel words that allow for mis-interpretation.

As I write this the leaders on the Programme are recording those five ethical considerations that they won’t allow to be compromised. Then they’re drafting a legacy.

One goes with the other.

Stephen

A different perspective

There’s a lot going on at work right now. Probably too much and I’m sure the team agrees.

So when I booked an afternoon in another city to work and connect with others it seemed a good idea, but not so good this morning.

Nowadays a lot of work can be done anywhere – have laptop and phone – location matters less and less (more on this another day).

After a conference call which sounded like an echo chamber in the airport lounge, I was off. The man next to me was reading the flight manual for the Boeing 777.  Maybe he should have had the aisle seat.

The air was crisp and the sky blue on arrival. Bluer (is that a word?) than home.  It felt quite productive for me although I may have fired off one or two many emails with ideas, thoughts and instructions.

Then some conversations.  Different conversations giving me a different lens on issues and challenges.

IMG_1833.jpgWhen I boarded I realised I had just slightly more perspective than yesterday. A different place, different views on a vexing issue, and some introverted thinking time.  I needed that. You might too.

 

Stephen

 

Not going to plan

I thought it was the overworked muscles from the gym workout. On Tuesday I hobbled a bit, Wednesday was much better and by the time we started Module two of the Authentic Leadership Programme on Thursday the pain had gone from the legs. But it had moved. Something didn’t feel right though. But I had to keep going – stepping in, in fact – as my co-facilitator was rapidly going downhill with a virus!

By the time I got to the Doctor after the first day it was obvious that neither of us were going to make day 2.

So what to do? What will the participants think about this? And the client? What about all the plans and bookings for the next day?

iStock-639359406.jpgDoing experiential leadership development requires context. We use locations, draw on our and the participants’ experiences, and let it flow.

As in all leadership, sometimes it doesn’t go to plan and you need to be ready to move on. Fast. And make the most of what follows.

We’ll find out in a week  whether a new location and different exercises will work.

I’m pretty sure it will, especially if we don’t try too hard and be open to what flows.

Stephen

 

 

Finding peace in tragedy

I was recently honoured to be asked to read at a funeral. The death was an untimely tragedy. The reading selected by the family was an adaptation from Plato and I thought I would share it here.  Thanks for reading.

Stephen.

iStock-914867858.jpgLet us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good, for one of two things: – either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another.

Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by the sight of dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain.

For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams; and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life; and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man, I will not say (just) a private man, but even the great king, will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others.

Now if death is like this, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night.

But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives, he is delivered to this (new) world, and finds this true. Above all, I shall be able to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in that: I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not. What would not a man give to be able to examine the leaders and numberless others, men and women too! What infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions! For besides being happier in that world than in this, they will be immortal, if what is said is true.

Wherefore, be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth – that no evil can happen to a good man (or woman), either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods.  But I see clearly that to die and be released was better for me.

The look of leadership

I used to take time out from my day job once a year, suit off, and drive a truck delivering telephone books for a week. It was refreshing, great exercise, and I got to know parts of the city, especially Parnell, very well. It was slightly jolting at first to realise that your attire (and the job that went with it), had a big impact on how people treated you. “Put them over there”. Fine, and good morning to you too.

iStock-912664056.jpgFive or six years ago colleagues would check in as to whether to wear a tie. Casual Friday was once a month. It soon moved to once a week and then it was “dress for the day”.

Today you’ll see male and female colleagues in smart jeans, shirt in, shirt out, smart suits, open shirts, hoodies, and the occasional tie.

So what is the look of leadership? Is there a look of leadership? What should a leader look like?

Are there really clothing expectations of a professional leadership position? There’s some places you don’t have much choice for formal clothes – a court lawyer, or member of parliament – but almost everything else there’s a lot of flexibility. If you take it.

I do. Some days a suit, others jeans, the occasional hoodie. I’m not sure it makes much difference. Maybe I should try being a delivery person for a day and see if the world has changed!

Stephen

I see it’s New Zealand Fashion Week later this month.

It’s Captain Haddock’s!

My team decided last week that we needed some time together to have some fun,  Something away from work that we could all enjoy.  A pub quiz.

I was a little late getting there and the quiz was in full throttle. I had declared that as long as the answer was “Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart” then I could help the team get a least one answer that others might not. After all it was July.

As it turned out there were some Seinfeld (NOT Senfield for goodness sakes!) related answers that I could help out on.

We know that trust is built by being vulnerable. But it’s also built through shared connections – doing something together – not that complicated.

So when I left a bit later after the Quiz had finished and we’d scooped up second prize it was a real gift to turn around and see the whole table, smiling, waving and enjoying each other’s company. I felt pretty lucky.

iStock-979592168.jpgOh, yes, and who’s butler is this was the question.  As an aside the butler Nestor in Tintin was the butler for the Bird Brothers before he was Captain Haddock’s. Blistering Barnacles!

Stephen

ps Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart  were French Secret Service Agents convicted of the manslaughter of Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira during the bombing of the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior 33 years ago this month in Auckland.