Back to Tintin for breakfast

Back to Tintin for breakfast

I caught up with a relative over brunch on Saturday. It was a meandering chat over porridge and coffee.

We talked about family, fashion, housing, Tintin and some reminiscing of times long past.

I’m not sure how we got onto Tintin, but we reminded ourselves that he was ageless – stayed the same over decades of stories – but the stories moved with the times.

There are lots of connections between the stories. Obvious ones that are one story in two books like Destination Moon followed by Explorers on the Moon. Others are not so direct: The Crab with the Golden Claws and The Blue Lotus, about drug runners.

Tintin is one of the first books I can remember. I borrowed them from the Christchurch Public Library, in the old brick building that once housed the Library on Cambridge Terrace near Hereford Street.

The stories are rich in meaning, thoroughly researched with events of the time depicted – fascist Europe in King Ottokar’s Sceptre – and beautifully drawn. I love the trains, cars, boats and outsize characters and never tire of reading the 62 pages in each story one more time.

My personal favourite is The Crab with the Golden Claws, a classic detective story, and where Tintin first meets Captain Haddock.

I could talk all day about Tintin. It’s been a life-long pleasure.

He’s a great investigator with a cool head and a sense of adventure like no one else.


Timeless, just like all good stories.



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.


Winning with a story of history

After the All Blacks won today’s Rugby World Cup Final there was the usual (and more) interviews with players and coaching staff. All talked of a great group of men and of playing for each other. The opposition was acknowledged.  Team-mates were acknowledged first: when Ma’a Nonu was asked about his brilliant individual Try his response was that he got a great pass from Sonny (Bill Williams).

In those answers you got a glimpse of the team culture that is about each other and not about individual heroics, although there were plenty today!

What also come through was referencing back to history. Richie McCaw referenced the 2011 tournament and what they had done to build from that. Others including Dan Carter did too.

It was a privilege to be at RWC2015
It was a privilege to be at RWC2015

It seemed to me that to make history, this team planned it from an historical moment in 2011 and drew strength, insights and learnings from that and other experiences in the past. Using Story-telling at its best and most effective I reckon.

You might not make a Rugby-mad public excited as it was today, but what can your stories do for you and your team?

Check out that link for quick tips on developing your own story.



Expecting the same

The definition of insanity is expecting a different result by doing the same each time. Or so said a business associate of mine when discussing some contracts she is involved with. It was the movies again last night for me:  Larry Crowne was a lifer at Umart who was sacked because his lack of college education meant that there was no prospect of promotion. Larry went off to university in an effort to make a step change in his life. He found a girl and you can guess what happened.

Not everyone likes a step change.  Some people want gradual change  and believe that step changes, especially if the team make-up changes dramatically, do more harm than good in the end.

Larry had originally trained as a navy chef and started courses in economics and in public speaking to make his step change. As the public speaking course progressed it looked more and more like story-telling (sorry but can’t resist putting a plug in for our brand new website at CIL!). Larry wanted to make a change by gaining a university education. In the end the biggest change he made was the people he met. And in the process he discovered that he didn’t need any theory about public speaking – all he needed was to unlock the authentic story of his life. All of that was a big step change.

The thing about change is that we never really know what the end result will be – what we do know is that when it’s started it won’t be the same again – which for Larry Crowne was the main thing.

Do you want a different result? Then you need to do something different, sometimes we won’t even know where it will end and the most important thing is that change has begun. I quite like the concept of a change from a burning platform. There’s a saying that you have one month to make a change for a significant life event. Unless you want the same, go for it!

Although it’s a predicable feel good movie, it’s funny and off the wall in places. I enjoyed it.


The story network

I watched The Social Network the other day again while in Whakatane. It’s a story of the founding and growth of Facebook. It’s got a lot of stuff in it – seizing the moment, innovation, right time right place and, not to forget, an idea that connects people. I connect with family and friends on Facebook and see photographs and snippets from those not close by and those close by that I wouldn’t necessarily see easily.

Being too busy right now, a quick look at Facebook can keep me in the loop and provide light relief at times. In facilitation of any sort I’ve noticed it’s sometimes expected that there is level of content delivered, I mean stuff that you can physically hold and take back to the office. In my ideal world we wouldn’t need any of that stuff, we would talk, gather insights, grown and practice with each other to take back to work and home. We’re getting there, Powerpoint is pretty insignificant in my faciliation now, so that’s a start.

While in Whakatane last week we worked with the local iwi. Stories are an intregal component of building relationships in Maori culture and as part of our welcome we shared stories about who we were and why we were present. It was identical in form and content to the ’rounds’ we use in our leadership work.

This week at Waitakere Estate with a leadership team we’ve built the basis of a shared vision, learned about our working preferences, played outside all of which has inevitably led to story-telling.

What I’ve started noticing since facilitating Story telling workshops is that as leaders, we can turn so much of our work into story-telling coaching opportunities. We’ve all got a story and if we can all build those in our team to develop their stories, we can create The Story Network.  And when we do that we’ll grow our organisational culture, engage those in our teams and have some fun!

Go for it!


Facilitation for leaders

At the end of a breakfast session recently where I facilitated a session on personal values I was presented with a lovely gift book on facilitation. I joked that I took the hint! I enjoy facilitation, in fact it gives me the kind of happiness that we should all try and get to at work.

Facilitating a team or workgroup is an important part of leadership. Drawing out the blocks that stop us being mindful and in the present, ensuring we’re all heard, using appreciative inquiry to help others deeply understand their issues to grow all  those present, are some of the hallmarks of great facilitation leadership.

Get ready set go!

As you do more you start to notice who’s talking about the topic and who’s talking in the topic. I’ve noticed this a lot in storytelling. Some people tell stories from the heart, others share what the story is about. There’s quite a difference and it can be that those talking about the story aren’t ready for that deep sharing that comes with authentic leadership.

But there can be another reason. So many people are in a rush – give me the bottom line, what’s the key point, we’re all busy so need to move on – you know the signals that espouse efficiency and signal impatience with real meaning.

So if someone in your team is not opening up, try time. Set aside some facilitated time, time to properly hear, be patient, ensure everyone knows not to speak until it’s their turn and you’ll be amazed what comes up. The leadership gems are available for the sake of an hour or so of time.  You’ll need to role-model the listening discipline, watch you don’t watch the watch and actively listen.

Not really that complicated, but a rare gift in our busy lives.


Stories we didn’t hear

We never heard their last moments and we didn’t even find their bodies, but the families and friends of nine people who perished in the Christchurch earthquake had their day in the coroner’s court last week. The chief coroner decided that they all died from multiple traumatic injuries and I guess some closure was brought to the families and others close to those that perished.

I just liked this photo that I took today!

They didn’t do anything special – they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time when the earth moved as it regularly does, especially in Christchurch at the moment.  Luck can be a good thing, but also a devastating thing and my thoughts are often with those that lost loved ones  in the 22 February earthquake.

Facilitating a day of storytelling workshops last week we heard some fantastic stories, from the heart. Disclosures of events long ago were made, as the group worked with each other and shared, and in the process grew. Storytelling has a practical application in developing and enhancing leadership. There is nothing more rewarding than hearing a story from years past, and the meaning that it now brings to the leader. Or so I thought. When I thought I’d uncovered all the depth that could be to discover from one participant, I asked (intending to work with how the same stories are told differently in different contexts) “So you’ve told this story before”. Answer “No, that was the first time”. Given the story, that was big and I reckon we had a very special session for all those present.

Luck can decide all sorts of things. Share your stories now. You’ll be giving a gift to everyone, including yourself. Luck put us on the planet. Don’t wait I say.