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

 

 

250 words, more or less

I met a friend in the airport lounge this morning. We were both headed to Wellington. We talked about life as a CEO for him, bringing all the learning, coaching and development over the years into practice at the “buck stops here” job.

There isn’t time to do lots of research when faced with leadership issues on a daily basis, and my friend said he often drew on insights from development, coaching and learnings from the past. And sometimes from my bite-sized blogs.

That’s nice I said, but getting time, oh, it’s tough. Tough to find time to write 250 words, more of less, on leadership, and just as tough, if not tougher to find time each day to focus on ourselves.

I don’t think for one minute that business or your life should be run on 140 (or similar number) characters or less. Of course,  if you find your way to my blog on Twitter that’s all good!

But a little development taken often can keep us up-to-date, and even if not on point that day, might stimulate us to recall past learning and insights.

iStock-652224642.jpgMaking time for a little leadership development often can keep us recharged, up-to-date,  help our resilience (more of very soon after a workshop on Friday), and bring back older insights.

That’s leadership of ourselves. And almost 250 words. 225 in fact.

Stephen

 

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

Nothing happens to us in the future

We’re readying ourselves for the start of another Authentic Leadership Programme. A new venue, new faces and some new ideas. An invigorated Programme.

We’ve been looking forward to this for some time and a lot of hard works has gone it to get prepared and today it arrives.

Planning is incredibly important to get us to where we want to be, and if we don’t plan and execute we can be reasonably confident we won’t get where we want to.

Slow living concept. Inspiration motivation quote Be here now.

However, in leadership development, it’s important to recognise that new insights can often be immediately put into practice and that’s what we’ll be encouraging our seventeen participants to do from today.

As a friend of mine said recently, “you don’t die in the future, it’s now”. Sobering, but a powerful reminder of taking action now, when we can.

Stephen

Mixing up Reflection and Feedback

When a team is struggling to connect, a bit of courage from everyone involved can make all the difference.

On some recent leadership development work, instead of the participants recording their reflections in private notebooks, everyone put their reflections on flipcharts in the open area.

iStock-504271344.jpg

It took courage and having courage can mean taking a risk. This new process was not without risk and even one team member not being ready could have derailed it.

But this team plainly was ready, and so we took it a step further and had the team members record feedback on each others’ flipcharts.

In doing so, a permanent and meaningful record of a crucible event was created.

I heard after the session that the team has already made great strides.

I’m calling this new process ReflectBackᵗᵐ.  I would welcome the opportunity to use it with your team to cut through challenges you’re having.  Yes, you do need to be brave and I suggest not using it without supervision.

Stephen

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Starting inside

We started another Authentic Leadership Programme this week. Eighteen senior managers with eighteen sets of unique strengths.

It was foggy during the day and quite difficult to see much into the forest. That brought our focus inside.

As we move forward throughout the rest of the Programme our managers will learn a lot more about their strengths and their unique authenticity.

Real leadership development comes from a deep understanding of self, including strengths (especially) and blindspots. It can be challenging work examining ourselves but it’s not only worth it, it’s essential for leadership development. As tempting as it can be, you can’t fake leadership development with make believe exercises to put you under momentary stress.  Examining and exploring inside yourself is real leadership development work. It can be hard work too, and things won’t necessarily be clear to begin with.

footpath in rain forest at Waitakere Ranges
The rainforest at Waitakere Ranges
With the right tools and time for deep reflection our managers have all they need to clear the fog for themselves in the coming months, and they’ve made a great start.

Later in the Programme we’ll spend some time out and about exploring the forest as our managers take their insights and learnings back to their organisation.

Stephen

PwC Authentic Leadership Programmes are run as modular programmes or in one block to suit client needs. Contact me here for more information. 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the Lead in Coaching and Developing Others

This guest post was provided by Jessica Edmondson who contributes on Leadership skills training for the University Alliance, a division of Bisk Education, Inc.

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain

In today’s competitive business settings, leaders who cultivate influence have longer-lasting effectiveness and more powerful alliances than those who simply manage with top-down authority. When a leader relaxes control and promotes team cohesion, individual and group growth can bring about stronger working relationships and increased productivity.

If you are a professional looking to grow your leadership skills, then consider mentoring other professionals in areas in which you are proficient. Sharing your knowledge with someone who appreciates and can benefit from your experience is a rewarding practice. At the same time, seeking mentoring for your own advancement can be an effective way to polish a skill set and uncover hidden opportunities.

Formal Mentoring

Many business-related organizations, such as the Professional Management Institute, offer opportunities for networking through local chapters. Participating in such events can lead to formal mentoring opportunities. In recent years, consulting firms have begun offering services to more precisely match up mentors and protégés. Additionally, through forums on LinkedIn and other networking sites, less-experienced professionals can post a question and receive feedback from other group members.

Other ways to seek out mentoring for yourself include approaching someone in your organization whose leadership style you admire. As an alternative work with your human resources contact to find a mentor in another division of the company who can teach you about a new area of interest. Taking an online course taught by a respected industry leader can also result in strong contacts for sustained mentoring.

Innovation, Inspiration and Influence

The best aspect of mentoring, either as a mentor or a protégé, is that the positive energy of a great mentoring experience can permeate your entire thought process and build you up more than any other single career development strategy. Coaching others to discover and reach their personal and professional potential feeds the entire team.

Whether as a leader or a protégé, you can reap the benefits of the synergy created when a team is enjoying frequent periods of personal development.

Organizations want to attract top talent. Gaining a reputation as a leader who fosters excellence in team members – and also seeks professional development to bring in new ideas and fresh perspectives – may provide a competitive advantage in a job search or promotion opportunity.

A Win-Win Opportunity

When Mark Twain was a newspaper columnist in Carson City, Nevada, he met humorist Artemus Ward who encouraged him to write as much of his unique brand of storytelling as time would allow. The two eventually championed each other’s work.

Everyone needs a mentor, and companies who value and promote mentoring are positioned to create a win-win environment. Tech-savvy younger professionals may be able to help older colleagues get up to speed in regards to their technological acumen. In return, more seasoned professionals can offer guidance on finessing soft skills and relating effectively in a corporate culture.

In an age where technology often insulates us from human connections, mentoring and coaching in the workplace offer great potential for innovation, insight and collective growth.