I just wanted to hug her

I just wanted to hug her

When Mary spoke at our PwC Fraud Academy event this morning she shared her personal experiences of “blowing the whistle” on her boss some years back. What struck me and others in the room was the very real and powerful effects on her.

At one level she simply did the right thing, having found evidence of invoicing fraud. But it was much more than this. The sense of disbelief – could my boss have really done this? The agony of not knowing who to trust. The suspicion that others might be involved. And the fear. Fear of consequences for herself – “maybe people will think I’m involved” – or at least culpable for not having picked it up, and the fear of what her boss might do.

As it turned out, after her boss was confronted by senior management she was confronted by him: “What have you done? They’re accusing me of all manner of things“.

Nasty stuff and not things we hope we’ll ever face in the workplace.

iStock-994164986.jpgLeaders will typically prepare for crisis events: spring into action for natural disasters and man-made events. Preparing ourselves for confronting the worst aspects of the human condition requires drawing on our innermost resources and life experiences.

Mary left and we wrapped up the session with a few words about the importance of transparent and visible whistleblower services.

As our audience left one woman came up to me and asked me to ensure that we properly thanked Mary for her bravery “I just wanted to hug her” she said.

Stephen

Not all black and white

When Mum and Dad were married, the end of WWII was just seven years earlier. That’s like it had ended at the end of 2011, looking back from now. Or, if we look at the Armistice for WWI, the 100th year of which we commemorated yesterday, that was thirty-four years prior, say 1984 from today’s lens.

Photographs from that era were all black and white and the first one included in this blog is the “meet the parents” trip taken outside 125 Queen Street, Auckland.  Until recently this was the Bank of New Zealand building, the bank that Mum and Dad have been with for all that time! (although I’m pretty sure Mum has some funds hidden away elsewhere).  The photograph was taken by a street photographer and collected from the store an hour or so later on payment of a small fee.

Mum and Dad 1952.jpgIt’s tempting to look at a long marriage as a specific time period and consider it a great achievement (which it is), or a good effort (perhaps like a prison sentence – “hey it’s more than David Bain did and he was innocent!”), or assume what is there today is what was there all along.

Here’s the wedding day  – them on the right with one of Dad’s brothers as best man with the bridesmaid.

Mum and Dad Wedding

Unlike the photographs it’s not all black and white. Mum and Dad are quite colourful actually – check out the recent photograph below. They’re parents, grandparents, great grandparents, brother and sister, uncle, aunty, cousin and friends to many.

So on this day it’s a celebration of a couple who have lived together as an example of love, persistence, humour, faith and actually, the most important thing of all: just doing good. Some of that even washed onto me!

Nice. Congratulations. You’re a legendary couple.

Stephen

ps 66 years!

IMG_2047

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

 

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

 

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.

 

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

A year on two wheels

As an experiment I cancelled my permanent carpark before Christmas 2014 and put a piece of card on my garage wall to record my daily commute in 2015 with three options: Scooter, Bike or Car. I also kept a running tally of carpark costs.

My commuting bike is an e-bike – which means it’s electric assist. I can go along about 10-15 km/h quicker for the same effort than a standard bike will do. Speed is an advantage and it’s excellent in the wind and on hills. In theory you can ride it without pedaling but it doesn’t go that quickly on anything other than the flat, and in any event not for long. Another advantage for me is that I can commute in business attire and although I’m warm (and wide awake!) when I arrive at work, there’s no need for a shower.

My scooter was a 50cc moped at the beginning of the year. I found the Scooter more challenging than the bike. I found car drivers treated the scooter as simply another motor vehicle, with unrealistic expectations of acceleration and speed. On the bike, my experience has been most motorists are considerate and respectful of the cycle’s limitations and your vulnerability. Of course there are exceptions and I could write a blog or three about that!.

I recently upgraded the scooter to a much more powerful machine requiring a motorcycle licence, and now my Driver Licence is clearly marked “Learner”.

During the year the daily rate for parking went up from $13 to $17 so that had an impact on the days I took the car. Other factors included a rule that if it was raining I wouldn’t start the journey by cycle – that rule went by the wayside once I got some excellent rainproof gear from Europe – and I wouldn’t take the scooter if it was going to rain.  With the new scooter I don’t worry about the rain at all.

IMG_4810Ignoring the statistics, my recollection of the year was that the preferred form of travelling by far was the e-bike, especially with the Grafton Gully cycleway opening and more recently, Te Ara I Whiti, the Nelson Street cycleway with the striking “blood of the Totara” coloured surface. I frequently used the bike to go to clients, to personal appointments, and to do errands after work. It has a range of about 40 km on one charge, and I ran out of power once I think, quite close to home.

When I got my new scooter the e-bike took a back seat. Maybe it’s the newness, but it was first choice for the weeks before Christmas after I got it. Like the e-bike, I can use the bus lanes, generally get to the front of the traffic queue if required, and parking is free, right next to the office.

I used the car when I had to take someone somewhere, needed to go somewhere where the bike couldn’t easily go, such as over the Shore, or on occasion when I was very tired.

Not counted in the stats is the use of the car or a taxi to the airport when travelling – which accounts for many of the missing days in my tally. The other missing days are leave and public holidays.

So where did it end up?: The scooter was used for 37 commutes, the car for 50, and the e-bike for 68. I also recorded a lonely 1 for “bus”.

Overall, two wheels combined beat the car 2:1. I spent $917 on parking which was less than half the amount I would have paid for the permanent carpark. And there were other costs – charging the e-bike costs about 1.2 cents a time – yes you read that right!, and having a second vehicle costs a vehicle licence and insurance.

Reflecting on all of this, twice in the last week I’ve taken my road bike up the northwestern cycle lane next to the motorway. A great cycling route. As anyone that goes out that way will know it’s about 15km of motorway reconstruction. Some of it looks so wide it must be 10 or 12 lanes all up, which I imagine will include bus lanes. The signs promise “More lanes by 2017”.

Roading infrastructure is important and we’ve been behind in New Zealand for a long time. But there will be a limit – roads that were relatively recently expanded become jammed up and there’s little doubt that New Zealand cities are moving to more public and self transport options as priorities ie non-car!  The experience in other countries which I have seen first hand convinces me it’s the right move for a much more liveable city.

Even if you don’t consider cycling for any altruistic reason, I’m pretty confident that cycling once or twice a week will have most people smiling at the enjoyment and health of it as a commuting option.

Two things make the cycle the number one choice for me: the movement – I’ll call it that rather than exercise – the e-bike is not what I’d call a workout,  that’s what my road bike is for – and the alertness required (which also applies to the scooter). I arrive at work much more energised and connected. And with all the other friendly commuters to chat to at the lights there’s a real sense of community.

Now a final note on safety.  Mum would feel much better if I kept to the car – she’s said so. Don’t charge out up Great South Road, or Dominion Road on the first strike out. Take it easy with some trial runs on a Sunday morning and let the confidence build up. Get lights, a high-vis vest, a mirror for commuting, a horn,and assume that no-one sees you. Mum will worry less then!

Stephen