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.

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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

 

Seven years on

I visited the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial in January. It’s a reflective place. Full names on the wall with some couples’ names together. We visit a similar memorial in Auckland on the Authentic Leadership Programme. It’s dated and less impressive. But equally a reminder of those of us gone, unexpectedly. Reflective.

I re-read my thoughts at the time and three years ago today. A lot has changed in Christchurch especially in the last couple of years, and there’s a lot still to be done.

IMG_1514.jpgThose that lost loved ones will feel today very deeply. This includes quite a number of families from other countries. Their names were read out in a roll call today at the Memorial.

A moment of quiet reflection is apt today.

Stephen

 

 

Molesworth

It’s a stunning landscape, a farm, wilderness, mountains, gorges, pylons and plains. No one lives there aside from the DOC Officers and others managing the 180,000 hectare farm, New Zealand’s largest. The Pylons carry the inter-island high voltage power cables.

DSC_5632.JPGThere’s no cellphone coverage and you’re on your own. Driving through this summer was exhilarating and a far cry from the sealed expressways and highways.

Getting away and refreshing during a break takes many forms and each of us has a special place, time or experience that on occasion give us the means to see life with a different perspective. Sometimes it’s a slow burn – a fortnight at the beach – or an overseas holiday in a different culture. Other times it can be a short sharp contrast in an environment that is truly awesome.

Like Molesworth. A new perspective for a new year.

But be careful you don’t get a puncture, although that’s another story for another day!

Happy new year.

Stephen

ps we’re running a session at PwC “Managing Stress and In the Grip Behaviours with MBTI” on 11 April in Wellington and 18 April in Auckland.

 

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

 

 

Valuing a lesson from Grandma

She was born 115 years ago today, a Saturday, in Lilydale in Tasmania to parents who had emigrated from England. When she was 17 she caught a ship with a sister, Mary, to Invercargill and made a life in New Zealand, mainly in Christchurch with some time later in Auckland.

Grandma married twice, to Victor who died of cancer in his 40s, but not before they had four boys, all now in their eighties and a daughter Ruth, who died soon after she was born.

Twenty-five or so years later she married Grandad Merrick. He was  lovely man and for me was the grandfather I remembered the most. When he died at 88, Grandma was in her late seventies. I doubt any of us appreciated what Grandma Merrick SCD_0001it meant to Grandma to have someone to love and cherish after so many years alone.  Their ten years together were undoubtedly the best in many years for both of them. I am not certain Grandma ever got over the loss of Ernie, whom she so obviously loved very much.

During their time together they traveled extensively in their Datsun 120Ys, and delighted in retelling the attention the Police gave them whilst hunting for the killer of Mona Blades, apparently last seen in a similar car. They were simply a happy couple in love, enjoying their time together.

She has a special place in my heart to this day.  In her grief for Grandad Merrick she taught me that everyone values someone special.

Stephen

 

 

Year End Resilience

Year End Resilience

The end of the year is close. Feels like it can’t happen soon enough. I’m getting tired and I think lots of us are. A long winter, work pressures and lots going on including for me a house on the market (can’t skip making the bed!).

We had a taster on resilience at work recently.  Physical health, mindfulness and seeking help were some of the key messages.

Coming home this evening a sudden shower on the bike. By the time I got to the Waterview Tunnels I was quite wet, although it was warm. The tunnel was a respite from the rain. 2.8km of dry, I imagined I was on the Autostrada in northern Italy (although I wasn’t riding quite fast enough!) driving from Avignon to Florence – tunnel after tunnel.

Mindfulness is a valuable practice. It can help us to manage anxiety, achieve tasks and lead to a greater sense of worth and contentment.

Add a bit of “Golden Age thinking” to your repertoire I reckon.  A kind of mindfulness about pleasant experiences in the past.

The moments in the tunnel on the Autostrada led me to a walk after the rain – reminiscing about Paris and my favourite film, Midnight in Paris.

Didn’t feel so tired afterwards.

Stephen

Blaming leadership

Israel Egypt border fence in the Negev and Sinai desertsActually the title is an oxymoron. But we’re seeing a lot of blaming in political leadership. Trump is an obvious example. Started his campaign for US President by blaming Mexicans for real or imagined woes.  The solution was a wall. Almost daily he seems to have crises that are to be blamed on others – staff, the Democrats, the media is popular – without any sense of personal responsibility.

There’s actually two sorts of blaming that Trump is involved in. The first is blaming groups of people for societal problems. The second is blaming groups of people or individuals as the case may be, for day-to-day issues.

The former is the most serious and we owe it to ourselves to be constantly vigilant to protect our freedom and democracy. Trump justified his initial blaming of Mexicans with dubious comments about crimes they have committed.

We have a new government in New Zealand. At the heart of this government is a strong signal that immigrants and foreigners are to blame for transport congestion, house prices and struggling infrastructure. It’s an attractive scenario on the face of it. If we’ve let too many people into the country or let them own assets without properly equipping ourselves for it, then it’s got to stop.

But it’s a very slippery slope. When the Labour Party produced it’s list of Chinese-sounding names of house buyers there was an outrage. Some Chinese families have been here since the early 19th century. But more significantly, it was simply racial profiling, the likes of which we hadn’t seen from a political party since Muldoon’s Samoan overstayer crackdown in the 1970s.

Labour is now as one with NZ First in cutting immigration to fix problems that immigrants have allegedly caused. The solution is not going to be a wall, but paperwork at the border at Auckland International Airport in Mangere.

Now is the time for leaders everywhere to stay vigilant to protect those being blamed.

Stephen