Is it management or leadership?

I facilitated a public session this week – Management vs. Leadership – for a diverse group including senior leaders and young women and men just starting out in their leadership roles.

We discussed what Management involved as compared to Leadership. Then we focussed on developing our authenticity through story-telling. We all have a leadership story and each participant made a start on a leadership story that I hope they can use in the future.

The clear message that came through was that most people understand the differences between management and leadership.  Words and phrases used to describe management included “ensuring deadlines are met”, “directing”, “controlling” and for leadership “inspiring”, getting others to achieve” and “future focussed”.

The exciting thing was that both senior and younger leaders understood it in much the same way.

Knowing when you need to manage and when you need to lead is the big challenge. That’s often decided (or not) in the moment.  Unless we’ve given it some deliberate thought we can quickly find ourselves inappropriately directing, when a coaching style of enquiry to team member could provide the best impetus to get the job done.

Discouraging atmosphere in the workplaceWe’ll be repeating the session in Wellington this coming week and I’m looking forward to see what the second group comes up with.

Stephen

A rage about leadership

The group I was in the other day was asked by the facilitator “are you for or against Trump?”.  Yes, I replied, I don’t think you can be benign about him. Some people feel angry, not just in America, but everywhere.

Anger creates reactions and high interest when we see it. It has a place when our ethics are seriously undermined, or behaviour around us deliberately sets to undermine us or our organisation. It can create fear and further anger if not contained. But anger is not rage which is uncontrolled, scary and shouldn’t be in our toolkit.

iStock-930597440.jpgWhat to make of Trump I often think. He seems like he’s in an uncontrolled rage much of the time, although we don’t see it directly expressed, other than in the middle-of-the-night texts. The administration he leads seems fueled by rage – rage at minorities and those that support them, at political opponents, at other countries, the FBI and Special Counsel – and so on.

You could argue that he’s standing up for what he believes in. Despite that proposition being very difficult to determine (I originally wrote laughable here!), it’s not authentic leadership by any stretch. Authentic Leadership requires empathy, a strong ethical compass, firmness when needed, and nurturing those that need support. Not abandonment and undermining.

That’s my rage about leadership!

Stephen

Back to the stars

We’re made of the same stuff as stars. In fact our bodies contain stardust from long expired stars in the Universe and we keep regenerating our bodies throughout our lives, although we will all suffer one failure too many and return to the stars. Quite soon!

iStock-498309616.jpgAnd so it was recently for my favourite scientist, Stephen Hawking. Not just a great scientist, but a great person who contributed historic insights about the nature of things despite the devastating odds of his illness.

It’s trite to say he was clever but it’s fascinating that he achieved so much so quickly, with a medical gun held to his head most of his life, so to speak.

The sense of urgency in his life has to have been a key driver I reckon and we can all learn from that. Time passes whether or not we do anything with it. Before we know it the stars will be calling.

Time to act.

Stephen

Changing Development

We’ve been running the Authentic Leadership Programme for almost a decade. It’s never stood still and if you attended one of the early programmes when I was at AUT you’d notice many changes from those days.

iStock-813786528.jpgRelevancy is a word we are increasingly using in business and leadership development must remain relevant, to be relevant.

Leadership development is a nice to have at many organisations and even though I’m in the development business, I’m not surprised.

Facilitators without any authentic leadership experience themselves, dried out old case studies straight out of a 1980s MBA, lecturing and bring ’em down to build ’em up nonsense all make potential participants question the true value.

So what changes have we been done lately? Learning conversations with senior leaders led by the participants themselves, micro-coaching sessions on the way through, location, location, location – context driven locations for learning – like on a tram for transport leaders hearing early stories of trams in Auckland.

We’re reshaped the reflection process putting it out in front of everyone with ReflectBack™, enhanced our Blueprints with time on Programme to complete, share and reflect with.  We’ve embraced client direct participation on the programme. After all, we’re not running a secret society and we’re confident enough in what we do that we’re very proud for our clients to see close up the development we’re providing for their managers.

And we’re using technology – an App to stay connected and share practical details throughout – and running in-between sessions via electronic methods sometimes.

The next edition of the Authentic Leadership Programme will be different – we try and learn as we go – keeping the Programme relevant for the new context, and at the same time providing us with new energy to try new things out.

You don’t always know where it’s going to go, but hey, that’s leadership isn’t it?

Stephen

A Leadership Word

The final session of the Authentic Leadership Programme was a round of words. What word will finish the Programme for you we asked.

iStock-685797112.jpgI didn’t capture all the words but most of them.  Whether I can make a blog out of them remains to be seen but I thought it would be good to share a very powerful session.

Cheating in Cricket wasn’t known about at the session, but Ethical Compass and Legacy have startling relevance right now. Not just in sport leadership but in our behaviours as leaders in the work place.

When the team is under pressure, our strategies for Resilience pre-prepared will need to come into play, as will our Humanity and, well just being the best Human we can be.  For me, there are times that the key strategy is Grit.  A vital attribute for any leader.

That doesn’t mean losing sight of our Emotional Intelligence recognising that tough times can lead to the best Learning.

Leaders need to be Confident with their Authenticity, show Vision, Empowerment and ask “What’s Next?“.

I got there!

Stephen

ps there’s about 5 more words from the session which I can add in if I get them

 

Tough love

Getting feedback can be tough. As leaders we welcome it, embrace it, even ask for it, sometimes via formal systems like a 360.

But sometimes it’s not easy. Working with a new team, a different boss or chair, or, unfortunately, not exhibiting the behaviours others expect of us, can lead to some unpleasant reading.

iStock-507958194.jpg

I always encourage people to prepare for written feedback by preparing for reflection, ensuring they have the context in their head, have some support available, but above all, seek to find the real “juice”. Most people who give feedback do so with the best of intentions to help us. Not everything said will calibrate, but there’s almost always something in it that you can find and own.

Yes, own. Own that feedback, return the love, thank the givers and start planning on making changes.

Stephen

 

A brief history of marriage

I often use this photograph in story-telling workshops. Dad had it as a worn 6″x4″ in his drawer for years. It was taken outside 125 Queen Street which was then, and until very recently a BNZ building, during a “meet the parents” visit by Dad to Auckland.

Mum and Dad 1952.jpgI asked a colleague with a photography degree if she would restore it, which she did, magnificently. It has held pride of place in Mum and Dad’s hallway since their 55th wedding anniversary ten years ago.

When I first went to use it as a backdrop for a story-telling exercise, the workshop was cancelling on account of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake and now that event is part of Mum and Dad’s long story together in Christchurch.

Dad’s mother was reluctant to agree to the marriage – he had to wait until he was twenty and didn’t require her consent!

Mum and Dad married in 1952 in the Christchurch Registry Office in Manchester Street, Christchurch. Dad’s brother Colin was best man and a friend of Mum, Shirley Easterbrook, was her bridesmaid.

When you’ve been married 65 years there’s a lot to talk about. In Mum and Dad’s case family, faith, study, careers, holidays, gardening, crosswords, cars and caravans come to mind in an instant. Before that there was motorcycles and tennis. Tennis is still a passion of Mums. And Dad has their garden as beautiful as it has ever been.

It’s difficult to comprehend 65 years together – few do it – the Queen and Prince Philip have done so, and another five years on top. In fact it was in 1952 that then Princess Elizabeth, became Queen.

I’m blessed to have parents, to have parents who have stayed the course, and to have parents who have always been accessible and supportive whilst letting me (and my siblings) get on with our lives.

That’s being a parent.

It’s leadership too and a perfect topic to end 2017 on I reckon.

Happy new year!

 

Stephen