11/12/13

Seemed like as good a day as any to return for a blog. There won’t be another date like this for quite a while. Which is a bit like every day. But some days there are patterns.

I’ve been riding my electric-assist bicycle around a lot lately. Work, friends, even going to the movies. And finding I arrive feeling very alive and, as far as getting to work goes, much much quicker. I’ve also spent quite a lot less on petrol, and using the car has become like a treat.

Riding a bike in the city streets isn’t something I’d do half asleep that’s for sure. It’s full alert, defensive driving (riding) at its height. It’s liberating, fast at peak hour (especially if you find a bus lane as I am fortunate enough to have most of the way into the office) and there’s the added exercise.

And I'm loving it!
And I’m loving it!

I was talking to some colleagues at work today about the shape of one’s career. It’s not like a square paver path where each step is laid out neatly in front, but rather it’s like crazy paving, all over the place and you won’t necessarily know the next step until it’s laid out (credit to the unknown guru on LinkedIn who wrote this recently).

So why do we imagine it should be all laid out? Watch the cyclist. Rhythmic pedalling, and probably appears to the driver, give or take, like they are traveling reasonably direct. But the cyclist knows it’s a far cry from the easy (or hard uphill) journey. It’s watching like a hawk at the parked cars, checking for doors about to be opened, scanning the side roads, checking the traffic behind, watching the road, looking for potholes, avoiding metal plates and so on. It’s tiring without even thinking about the physical effort!

Have you sometimes thought that colleagues careers are all in order, one orderly step after another? And yours is chaotic, lacking direction, even meaning?

It’s partly about perception. On the inside chaos and crazy paving. On the outside, order and direction. I’d say take heart, if as you approach Christmas, and it’s crazy busy, that is just the way it probably is for everyone, and should be for you if you’re making progress in your career. If it’s too smooth and easy, it will be, and won’t be taking you where you want to. And you won’t be nearly as alive as you could be.

So on this day where the date is so ordered, with one number after another and as neat as can be, recognise that it’s a very rare and special event.

Not your everyday experience.

Stephen

Friday night

Someone told me today that I hadn’t done enough blogs lately. It was nice to know that someone was reading. They wanted to know if my boys were comfortable getting mentioned as I do from time to time. I assured her that they were! Or that they got notified and didn’t object. It’s been another busy week ending with the farewell of Wilson Irons, CEO of the Anglican Trust for Women and Children who I have come to know over the last couple of years. As I looked around the room there was quite a bit of sadness apparent at Wilson’s departure.

What really matters then? Tom and Dad were here in Cashel Street six months ago on 22 February

When I get to Friday, if I’ve achieved something of what I had hoped for – which is never enough as it keeps growing – the end of the week is a good feeling. This time for once I’m home during daylight and it’s sunny and bright in my house as I type. I’ve been to Wellington, facilitated a workshop on the 6 month anniversary of the fatal Christchurch earthquake, got ready for another workshop on Tuesday, battled the crazy bureau as you need to do from time to time, spoke to a group of 400 prefects, run a couple of times, made some long overdue appointments for bits and pieces, scheduled a host of programmes and workshops, and promised myself that next week, I really will get through the rest of the stuff.

People spoke of Wilson’s contribution to his work, his passion for the children and the fine leadership he exhibits to his team. None of those things have gone. They all still exist and I reckon we’ll see evidence of them again soon. All of these things are the role of the leader, and if we like the role-modelling from our leader it’s our job to be the model, ready to take the role when needed. There’s some really capable people at the Trust who will do that.

What if I didn’t have to go back on Monday? Apart from the obvious annoyance from my clients to whom I have commited work to, how would I feel? There is no doubt that rewarding work gives us a sense of being and satisfaction despite the occasional or frequent irritations that go with bureaucracies and small organisations alike. I’m more than confident that I would be okay with it. Partly because I like new beginnings and the excitement, cleansing and the refresh that goes with it. Which is why I like Fridays and the promise it holds.

If someone you are close to goes from your everyday world, it’s your job to take what you learned and role-model that to others. Then we all grow. And when it’s your turn to go, you can look forward to a refresh and a new beginning, knowing a lot of you is keeping others going. 

Your whanau are always there anyway, so they’ll be no escape for Tim from these pages whatever I’m doing as family is the most important thing anyway. Nothing else can compare and the six month anniversary of 22 February can remind us all. So Tim, be ready I’m on my way, we’re having dinner tonight together. Can’t wait.

Stephen

Are you expected to be 24/7?

I’ve taken a few days off to, well not to do too much, but sorting out things at home, having lunch, even some cleaning, changed a couple of light bulbs that had been staring at me, dead, for quite a while. Even cleaned the fish tank.

Recently the Auckland District Health Board announced that they were considering not employing people who smoked. If health workers are to engage patients then they need to role-model the behaviours that are expected. I must admit I feel less confident if I’m seen by a Doctor who looks like he or she might be overweight, have high blood pressure or in otherwise risky condition. Of course what do I know, but you do get a sense!

I’m still responsible for the Centre for Innovative Leadership while I’m on leave but I’m sure you’ll agree I can do my own stuff, how I like and when I like. Role-modelling in leaders is arguably the most powerful of all leadership attributes and happens whether you like or not.  I often simplify leadership to the concepts of resilience, relationships, change, teams, adversity and vision. Most things flow from a leader’s ability to exhibit positive engagement and pro-activity in these aspects of leadership.

So if you’re not in good health, a narcissist (but relax you can’t help it, just stay away!), can’t maintain relationships with those you work with, or pretend to like teamwork but really only like that there’s a team doing your work, then leadership might not be for you.

And if you work for the health board looking after the sick and injured then it’s probably a fair bet that your patients are wanting to trust what you say, as well as what you do. Smoking doesn’t really cut it in that sphere.

So you don’t need to be on full alert 24/7. Afterall, authenticity doesn’t need such vigilance, it’s authentic and natural, just like the work means. You do need the characteristics of leadership 24/7 though, otherwise you aren’t role-modelling. Which is why I’m running on my days off to keep my resilience up (and my trousers fitting too!). Not just because it’s a role-model of leadership, but because it’s who I am.

Stephen

ps And I’m determined to get in as sharp a shape as I was here for a PB!

It’s the weekend (nearly)

I’m back at the specialist at Milford this morning to complete my testing. I was already awake at 6.00am when Mum emailed to say they had another wake-up call in Canterbury this morning registering 5.1. People probably didn’t even need to check on-line, they’ve had so many they can tell the force instantly within two or three points. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers talks about 10,000 hours of experience to become truly expert at something. I wonder if 7,500 earthquakes in 10 months is getting close to qualifying for expert status. I have a sense that after this series of tests I’m going to become expert at something to do with my diet. It looks like I might be Fructose intolerant and this morning’s testing is about Lactose. The friendly man next to me is also on his third testing and we agreed that being intolerant to Lactose, living in dairy-loving NZ, wouldn’t be ideal. I’m tolerant to most things in life, except intolerance.

Sitting here for a morning is very productive and quite reflective too. I’ve one more week of a very intensive work period and I’m taking a few days off the following week to rebalance myself. So I have a sense of anticipation looking forward to some refresh time. Which is a a bit like the staff who have been arriving at the specialist rooms this morning with TGIF said in many different ways!

We like the weekend, or more particularly, we like some time away from our usual routine to recharge.  But if we’ve done the 10,000 hours there’s a good chance we’ve had more than our fair share of wake-up calls on the way through, but those experiences will have given us the resilience and experience to keep going. As we gain expertise in our area we also become more tolerant of those around us as it’s less about proving yourself, but rather enjoying the strength that comes from experience and, for leaders I hope, growing others.

So enjoy the weekend, make it a time to refresh and enjoy why we exist. To be happy. Monday will be work, but if it’s work you are passionate about, not only is that a happy place, it’s a chance to grow some more.

Stephen

Not our fault

A teenager died in the weekend after attending the King’s College Winter Ball. Much has and will be said about this tragedy, but three things said by leaders from King’s caught my eye: We can’t babysit the students 24 hours a day. True. We don’t need an inquiry to see how the Balls are run. Mmmm. They weren’t drunk and there were no drugs. Right.

A letter to the editor in one of the Sunday newspapers caught my eye too. The writer, a mother from Masterton, said that she didn’t try to be friends with her children when they were growing up, that she saw her parenting role to role-model behaviours that she wanted to instil into her children. Continue reading “Not our fault”

Authenticity now

It’s a special moment. We’re on day two of the Centre for Innovative Leadership’s Authentic Leadership Course. Every course we’ve run is new, fresh and builds on learnings and insights from the previous. Each one has been the best I can safely say, because it’s what the participant’s wanted and needed for them. We did some work on personality preferences this morning which is a great way to get an authentic leadership conversation going about our strengths, blindspots and how we grow and develop our teams.

When you’re on a programme like this you’ve got a gift. A gift of time for reflection, growing awareness of self and others and a chance to reconnect with your authentic self. For some that might read connect with authentic self. It’s a gift to watch it happen too.

So when you’re with us on the Authentic Leadership Course you’ll probably hear it clearly that you should take the opportunity you have. This group of people will not come together here, at this time, again. What is in the room here and now is perfect for you. This moment in your leadership journey can be defining. I say can rather than will, because at every opening there is choice. You can take it, embrace it, or you can watch it.

Watching might look like being part of, but we all know it’s not.

Our leadership coaches Richard Kerr-Bell and Jasbindar Singh working with me this week aren't waiting for next week. Nor should you.

Gathering data and information, fact and figures and processing that is a buffer for real leadership development.  You might put the folder on the shelf and feel satisfied that “I did that”. You might even feel proud to tell other people about the information your got.

It doesn’t just apply in leadership development programmes. Leadership development is a journey. Quite likely a journey you’re on if you’re reading this and there will be moments, possibly every day, that you can take for your own and define the next path for you.

To do so is authentic. Now.

If you know my personality preference you’ll know it’s not about bringing quick closer. I do know about the present. Days are limited, on the Course and on this planet. So authenticity now. Don’t wait to read the stats, or for anticipated special moment in the future.

Today is that special moment.

Stephen

Slightly excited

I’m feeling slightly excited. I ran the first module of our Innovative Leaders GM Programme last week and spent this week getting ready for the fifth run of our Authentic Leadership Course. And it all seems to be coming together (which you’d hope if you’re reading this and you’re joining the programme on Sunday!). I hope we haven’t left too much carnage on the way – my team are in really good shape (well they haven’t told me otherwise so let it rip on the comments now!) – but we have put our suppliers under pressure with so much to be done with so little time. They have all got there and I hope that as well as enjoying the business, they feel some positive energy as well as the pressure.

Energy is really important. I’ve worked in environments where the energy is not only lacking, it’s negative. Working where I do where there’s positive energy, gives me energy and I hope others feed off that. It’s like a perpetual motion machine, where the more energy you give the more you get, and so on. It’s an elusive thing this energy and some people, in an attempt to explain what they can’t explain, call it synchronicity or “the invisible force”, attaching some sort of quasi-supernatural notion to it.  It’s a reflection of what we do, how we communicate it, how open we are, how quick we can process but still reflect and whether we really want to make something happen.

A bit like leadership really.

So feeling slightly excited because we’ve done a lot, achieved what we wanted and enjoyed it (well mostly!) is a sign I think, that the team has performed. Well done I say. The team at CIL, some in the building, some out, and our suppliers.

I wasn’t sure where this was going when I started, but I started because I had some energy and ended up talking about energy in leadership and a high performing team. If that’s where your work is, I know how you feel. I don’t even want to say what it’s like not to be there, it’s so dull. Oh I just said it.

By the time you read this I will have done my running speed training in the morning. Friday’s going to be even more energetic!

Stephen

Just for laughs (especially if you’re a decorator!):