A scarf

A scarf

I posted my last blog “I just wanted to hug her” at 12.48pm on 15 March, after boarding a regular flight from Wellington back home to Auckland. It talked of the events of that morning, and I felt satisfied that we’d had a good event, and that I’d been able to blog so promptly.

The doors then closed and by the time the flight landed in Auckland over 40 innocent people had been murdered at the Al Noor Mosque, and as I mounted my motorcycle to head up Highway 20A to the city, several more people were killed at the Linwood Islamic Centre.

Just over the road and around the corner at Linwood Avenue Primary School in the early seventies our class wrote to the then prime minister, Norm Kirk, to suggest that we have a holiday on his birthday. I have no idea what inspired us to write the letter, but I do recall we received a gracious reply, thanking us for the suggestion. I’m not sure what he thanked us for actually, but with the benefit of hindsight, it must have been something about his leadership that we had noticed.

Someone said to me today that because our prime minister wore a scarf while mourning with the Muslim community these last two weeks, she feels differently about Muslim women. It’s made quite a difference, she said, something she said she can’t clearly articulate but it’s been very healing for her. And she hasn’t been a fan of the prime minister at all.

I can’t remember what we saw in Norm Kirk, but my impression of him was a great leader, who sought change for good.

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Leadership is about bringing people together for a common purpose.

To me the scarf was as simple as that. Powerful.

Stephen

 

Trust in Speedy EQ

My colleague Jasbindar Singh ran a two-hour session on Emotional Intelligence for us recently. Emotional Intelligence underpins most of the work we do on Authentic Leadership and I think it’s important to slow burn the learning to ensure the learning and reflection is well embedded and plans put into action.

Jas showed us that you can do a lot in two hours and get us thinking. There are many models of EQ and we used the Genos model covering  Self Awareness, Social Awareness (of others), Authenticity, Emotional Reasoning, Self Management and Motivation (or inspiring performance).

When you talk EQ to senior people almost everyone “gets” it. Doing it takes practice, discipline and reflection on recent conduct.

Leaders who practice emotional intelligence can make significant progress quickly. And a speedy session on EQ can give a real boost.

iStock-947324402.jpgBut what gets in the way when we slip up and blame or defend instead of taking responsibility or coaching? I’ve never really had a serious argument from someone in a quiet moment that when they blamed or acted otherwise with low EQ, that there was a better way.

Trusting ourselves in the moment is what gets in the way. Trust that to coach, for example, will provide a more sustainable long term solution, than playing the blame game. So like our EQ session, it’s the ability to quickly engage in the appropriate facet of EQ.

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.

 

We once knew how to look after a refugee at Christmas

Panoramic view of  Pohutukawa red flowers blossom on DecemberThe notion of a Christmas for peace and tolerance is lacking in world affairs. What were once expressions of wise leadership are expressions about controlling others and rule by dogma, supported by special interest  groups (to put it neutrally) including white supremacists, Evangelical Christians, billionaires etc. If you were religiously minded the phrase “unholy alliance” must come to mind.

I wonder why people are voting for autocratic leaders. Leadership isn’t for everyone and for some people, even self leadership is a challenge. Which is why leaders have such a privileged position of responsibility for creating meaningful dialogue, compassion and to treat others fairly. But what happens when enough of the population votes for something else? Voting, it seems, to treat minorities whether because of poverty, religion, sexual orientation or race as exceptions to the norm who can be ignored at best, and at worst, ridiculed. Something has broken down.

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I took this in Malmo, Sweden last year

It’s complex – there’s globalisation, economic malaise for many, refugees, terrorism – but surely this is the time to call on the best that we all have and what some people say Christmas is about – tolerance, which for the Christmas story is about protecting a homeless child and caring for a new, possibly single, mother – not turning a blind eye or worse attacking those who seem “different“.

Special interest groups including religion have long held a seat at the table of power. I hope those special interest leaders use their new found power to promote tolerance, liberty and compassion. I’m not holding my breath.

It does make me realise how fortunate we are in New Zealand. It’s easy to forget. Summer too. I hope you’re having a good Christmas with those important to you.

Stephen

 

 

Geloso

It’s the Italian word for jealous. There’s something much more appealing about a jealous Italian love story than the nasty everyday variety. Or may be it’s the disconnection from such an event that makes it sound softer.

I was reading a blog over the weekend on being grateful. It’s a great topic to explore and then to remind ourselves about being grateful for what we have, as opposed to being anxious about what we don’t have, or geloso of others’ things or situations.

If you read the comments on a New Zealand on-line news article, there’s a good chance that the vast majority of contributors have something to complain about. And maybe they do. But I’m sure, like all of us, they also have plenty to be grateful for, despite injustices and unfairness.

So why the complaining? Why the geloso (on occasion)? I’m not sure I know the answer to this any more than anyone else does. But in watching leaders and others I know, those who don’t complain and who aren’t jealous appear more content, more at peace, and happier.

You might say that those that display these characteristics don’t have so much to complain about, and you could be right.

But you could be wrong for yourself. Being grateful in my experience requires less energy, doesn’t require justification, can disarm, and give that most important of gifts to yourself. The freedom to move on without holding something that you most likely can’t change.

Many of the respondents to the blog I read “accused” the author of living a life without challenges. They could be right.

I suggest you try out being grateful next time you’re confronted with something which brings up the unfairness or jealousy gene. Just try it. Even to yourself, but even better out loud to others.

The weekend is a great place to start trying it out. It’s only 4 days away. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

Stephen

Barry White

Now that I’ve got your attention (or not!), it was almost inevitable that Barry would enter my blog world one day. I got caught out by a colleague yesterday – Barry was on the car-connected iPod – but he was fine with that. Abba’s been in the car this week too “don’t go wasting your emotion”  from the song “Lay all your love on me”.

One of my very special friends had an important birthday this last weekend.  We talked about our aspirations and what it takes to achieve them.  Change.  If you’re bothered to read this you will know that if you want to change you need to change.   It sounds so obvious of course but that simple reality cannot be ignored in making changes in our lives. But often is.

Barry White’s final album has the song Get up which asks the question about what reward you get for doing nothing. Written for idle youth it has as much relevance to us all as we aspire to be all we can.  Work can consume us (it is me right now!) but so can all sorts of activities – tv, making sure the drive is swept (again), computer games – are just some examples of ways in which is we can whittle away special time.

If we want to lead anyone we need to lead ourselves and making change, whatever that might be takes a conscious effort, giving some things up and doing something new.  And sometimes, the change required is made available right before us and we don’t even recognise it.  Who’s ended up in a new role because of an opportunity  that’s come quite informally and unexpectedly? I have and I count myself fortunate for that. And what I learned is that you need to be ready for it, and don’t expect it to come with big signage accompanying it, because the opportunity provided by a change will come subtly, if you’re ready for it, and active.

In Get up Barry’s answer is “nothing, you don’t get a damn thing”.

Stephen

p.s. Should I keep politics out of this blog?  I’ve done religion before so what the hell!  Just 5% of Democrats reckon Romney will do better than Obama in the upcoming debates.  But 18% of Republicans say Obama will do better. Authenticity might have something to do with it I think. And the Authentic Leadership Course is coming up. I’m going to enjoy being there again.  Looking forward.

These are the good old days part II!

I bounded up the stairs just now at home having returned from the movies alone. At my farewell lunch with colleagues from AUT just before Christmas I was taken to blog about the good old days. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris explores both the glorious beauty of Paris and the good old days. On his midnight strolls through Paris whilst visiting with his fiance and future in-laws, Gil Pender, a screenwriter and budding author,  travels back to the good old days. He finds himself mixing with Hemmingway, Picasso and others. Okay, so it’s not real, but hell, you don’t go to the movies for reality!

It’s a delightful romantic comedy and I can’t believe it took me so long to see it. This week I started my new role at PwC. There’s been grief from parting and finishing and wondering whether I was living in the good old days these last few years. Now I know I was for certain.

In the last year or so I’ve come to know a very special man, the poet Sam Hunt, and now be privileged to help him to find more places to perform to those that would appreciate him. He offers much to those seeking to find their grounding and understand their moral compass. Beyond Martin Seligman’s pleasant life of material pleasures, beyond the good life of maximising capability and achievement to the meaningful life characterised by connectedness to a greater whole.

I am not sure yet why I am connecting these diverse events – the good old days, Midnight in Paris, Sam Hunt and the meaningful life, but it’ll come as we continue.

I don’t always have it, but I have enough of a sense of the meaningful life to value it, want it and know that it is my key to happiness.  I’m honoured to have such a reputable firm as PwC take a chance on me to make a difference for them and add value both to them and their clients. I’ll try my best to do so.

Midnight in Paris reminded me to treasure the meaning I already have, and the meaning I am once again starting to build in a new place.  But starting new isn’t really starting new. It’s building on what exists and all the meaning I have built in leadership development, before that in investigation, and more recently connecting with Sam, is part of that base.

It was scary, but now it’s exciting and much more connected. Whatever you do, connect it with what brings meaning. Otherwise, why do it?

There’s a line: meaning for happiness. Maybe that should have been the title of the blog.

Stephen