Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

How much do we really want to change

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
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I attended some Rotary leadership training yesterday and experienced a very powerful exercise relating to the difficulty of personal change.  In the photo it looks like a strange seance. Maybe it was!  It was so hard to do, I wondered if there were some some supernatural forces at work.      

Exercise:

  • You can see in the photo a long piece of dowel, flat on one side.
  • Each pair had to poke out their index fingers, shot gun style.  Then they had to align them with the opposite person’s index fingers, one inside the other.  The dowel was placed on top.
  • The rule: Everyone’s index fingers must have the dowel resting on them all the time.
  •  The task: Lower the dowel as a team. (Talk about easy!)
I took the photo while I was watching this other team fail completely at the task.  ‘Heavens’, I thought.  ‘What a bunch of klutzes!’
But when it came to my turn, we could not get that dowel to lower!
On the one hand the group knew we had to lower it, so we tried bending our knees. Unfortunately, each individual team member knew they had to keep their index fingers touching the dowel, so each of us must have lightly pressed up on the dowel to achieve that. That darn piece of dowel kept going up and up and up, no matter how hard we tried to lower it.
‘Leadership’, I thought. ‘Okay, on a count of three, we will all bend our knees and lower it that way! One, two, three, bend!’… Darn thing went up.
After multiple tries, the best we managed was that one end lurched way down and the other lifted way up!
Don’t you think change is like that? We  know we need to alter some habit, but we keep sliding back into touching the easy emotional dowel of our old behaviour.
We might be told that our team behaviour has to change and we know that.  But each one of us isn’t truly committed to that because we just relax back into our usual ways.  In umpteen small lapses the change becomes more and more remote.

How to stop pressing back up into past ways of doing things?  There are some good personal tips here at: 12 Tips for Creating Lasting Change and an interesting piece on reducing resistance to change  among your employees at: Change Management Coach

I still can’t believe how hard that exercise was!

 

Mindfulness and being present

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
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A podcast today  reminded me about the need for all of us to sometimes take time to smell cialis pills the roses.

For example, before an important meeting or a presentation we think we are focusing on what we need to d,o but often all that is happening is worry. We are concerned about how the meeting will go; will our message be understood; will we make the impact we want to.  All of this worry adds to our anxiety and stress. It can lead to ‘catastrophising’.

What we need to do is refocus our thinking on being more present. We can use our senses to take 5-10 minutes to relax. For example, go outside and feel the sun (or wind!) on your face . Use your senses to be aware of your surroundings. You can practice at home while doing chores or on your way to work. In Wellington, New Zealand it is the beginning of Spring and the Tui are singing their hearts out as I walk down the road to work. Such joy in the present moment.

More and more research studies show that  being mindful can make a difference in improving our sleep. It may even stimulate brain connections and  growth of new neural connections.

Mindfulness helps executive functioning skills such as decision making and memory.  Elizabeth Blackburn’s research into the impact of mindfulness  suggests that in pre- and post- menopausal women it can increase DNA repair.

So the challenge is to ensure that when you are focusing, you are thinking positive thoughts rather than worrying. Become adept at being present for at least five minutes a day and you will be thrilled with the results. You will feel great and may find you get fewer minor ailments such as colds.

Great information on women leaders in the workplace

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
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The HBR Blog last week provides, in its own words:

‘startling glimpses into what work and leadership is like for women around the world’. The post is titled: Tell me something I didn’t know about women in the workplace.  It quotes recent research across a broad range of issues and links to a host of  HBR archives of relevant articles on those issues. There’s also a series of slides quoting very interesting data on the issues.

Go look at it and ponder! Not all of the research is depressing and some of the information provides pointers for women and talent managers in our workplaces.

 

 

Great fix to build your confidence before you speak in a group

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
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Need to speak up in a group and find the thought terrifying?  There’s a very interesting TED Talk to help you along.  Amy Cuddy  in, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, talks about the impact of body language on the hormone balance in our brains.  Apparently the use of passive body language increases the stress hormone levels in the brain. Use of ‘power’ body language increases the testosterone levels. If you take up a power body posture for two minutes before you need it, you get a wonderful rush of power hormones and will feel much more confident. I suggest you hide yourself in the bathroom while you do that! This victory image is interesting. According to Cuddy, we take up this position when we’re winning, even people who have been blind from birth still use it, though they have never seen it.   There’s a lot more to it than this, how you project makes a big difference to the audience, but Cuddy’s information is about the impact on us.  Give it a go!

The right question can be the key to a person

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
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We finally made it! Most weekends we go biking in a local seaside park and then relax at a cafe. The woman at the cafe has always intrigued me because she doesn’t interact with the customers, or even make eye contact.  It’s fortunate the cafe combines a lovely environment with  great coffee, or no one would go there.  A person like this is a challenge for someone like me. I love to know what makes them tick. In this case I’ve made no progress and neither has my husband.

But last weekend – breakthrough!  In yet another attempt, I asked how she manages to take a break over winter and yeh!  Enthusiasm leapt out. My barista is also a marathon runnner, she’s off to do her 12th marathon and now what I don’t know about her running career, isn’t worth knowing.

What a buzz!  Made me think about the power of questions and the importance of enthusiasm.  Okay, she’s pretty self-absorbed, and for me,  I really didn’t care about her 12 marathons, but what I loved was the transformation in her. Enthusiasm won the day and swept me up with it too. Of course we may not still be NBFF, but I am sure there’s a chink opening up.

In your communication, seek to communicate your own enthusiasms, or better still – connect to the other person’s passions.  And never forget the power of the right question.

Is old fashioned courtesy all that's needed?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
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I often remember the basics that my grandmother was so keen on. Those old fashioned things called ‘manners’.

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They are well ingrained into my fundamental practices.

Some of the ‘rules’ are now very out of date for example a male walking on the outside of a female (I think it as to stop her gown getting splattered by mud from on coming carriages) . However some are well worth thinking about and probably putting into practice.

Many of us have changed the way we work.We are now in shared open plan spaces often ‘hot bedding’. The old idea of owning our office space where we can scatter our personal belongings is fast disappearing. Now we need to be mindful of others that are sharing office space.

For introverts the interruptions can be very irritating.For extroverts it is a welcome change.For those who love a clear desk policy having to clear a space to work is infuriating.

The conversations you have on the phone are not for sharing…if you need to have a conversation take yourself to another area where you can’t be heard.

I guess the secret of working in close proximity is to be conscious of others and be aware it’s not the big things that drive people nuts but the little things that cause havoc with working relationships.

No man is an island .We all need to work together and maybe all it takes is courtesy.

When communication goes bad

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
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The newspapers are filled with examples of communications that weren’t meant for the people reading them.  Often it’s deliberate as in whistle blowing and for others it is as the result of leaks. The result is the same -information out in the open and not for the intended viewer.

It’s a similar,if not as serious,problem for you in the office. We spend far too much time on emails rather than face to face communication.

How many of you have been cc’d into an email that is irrelevant and just takes up space.Or even worse when the sender says “You were copied in therefore I take no responsibility for you not reading it”

Have you ever sent an email in a rage? That can have serious consequences. Or have been copied in on gossip?  Emails can be a real problem

A couple of tips:

  • If you need a response urgently
  • If you have a difficult message to communicate
  • Or if you are angry or sad

Take a breathe and don’t send the email.Phone or face to face is always best!

 

Pride: An unexpected angle on for women in leadership

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
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Have you ever thought about the role of pride in executive presence?  The   HRM Online  earlier this week quoted German research in Germany showing that women who adopted a proud approach to their personal performance were seen as more willing to take the lead.

Pride has a rather negative press, but when soundly based, it can be a powerful motivator.  As we acknowledge our achievements we build our confidence and that will comes out in a multitude of subtle ways.

I suspect that NZ women find it very difficult to communicate their pride in their achievements. We’d be great at being cheerful, but unfortunately the German study shows that cheerful women are seen as less willing to lead.

Jon Katzenbach has an interesting article  in the website for The Centre for Association Leadership, titled: Instilling Pride: The Primary Motivator for Peak Performance. It is talking about pride in an organisation, but it’s comments would equally well apply to personal performance.