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    Leaders make better lovers

    Leaders love lots.

    They love their industry* – that’s where their passion comes from.

    They love their organisation – they deeply care that it succeeds and grows.

    They love their people – they want to see them grow, develop and be happy.

    They love their families – that’s why they strive for and achieve balance between their career and time for their loved ones

    They love their communities – they give back and they make sure that their organisations are good corporate citizens.

    And finally, they love themselves – they look after their physical and mental health, they challenge themselves to grow and develop and they want to be the best they can be.

    Take the leadership love challenge – how many can you tick? Where do you need to love more? What are you going to do about it?

    * PS: You may not be in love with your industry, for example you don’t have to be passionate about money to work in the finance industry, but you might at least care about the difference, for instance, that making money available to families makes. It will be harder for your leadership to surface if you really dislike the industry you work in.


    Culture lessons from the NZ All Blacks

    I read a social media post recently about how a key to the NZ All Blacks success has been the introduction of a 'no d!ckheads' policy.

    According to the original story, a d!ckhead is someone that makes everything about them, someone who puts themselves before the team, someone who thinks that they're entitled to something, or who expect the rules should be different for them.

    It's likely that you have never heard of Gilbert Enoka, but he has played a major role in the overwhelming success of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team. With back to back World Cups, they are the world's most successful sporting franchise, but Gilbert has never laced on an All Black boot. He has been their mental skills coach and custodian of the All Black culture for the last 16 years.

    “You can have all the strategies in the world, but in the end, what will enable you to overachieve – or underachieve – is your culture,” he said. “As the custodian of the culture, I make sure everyone has a sense of belonging. When you walk to the pitch, you should feel you belong to this place and that it’s fed and nourished by the people. Too many organisations focus on the vision and values when they should feed a sense of belonging instead, especially if you’re working with a myriad of cultures."

    Who is the custodian of your culture? Have you made it clear what kind of things are acceptable and not acceptable for your people? Do your people call each other out when they need to?


    The low hanging fruit of leadership

    The fruit at the top of the tree just might be the best, but if you can’t reach it, you can’t eat it. Most people know what they should be doing to be a better leader, but they may feel that it’s out of reach because it’s either too hard or too time consuming. Here are five simple, actionable things that you can do to immediately improve your leadership.

    1. Do what you say you are going to do. We make promises and give commitments. We say yes when we should say no. This results in letting people down. If we do it often enough we get a reputation as not being reliable, not trustworthy – just about the worst things we want people to think about us if we want to influence them. Follow through on your promises or don’t make them.

    2. Get in control of your time. It is a universal problem. None of us have enough time to do everything we want or need to. When we are time poor we put the non urgent, leadership stuff on the back burner. Often, we don’t get back to it and the pot has burnt dry. The answer is to better manager our time. This requires two things – a system, and there are plenty of good ones, and discipline to stick to the system.

    3. Make your expectations of people clear. Don’t expect people to be mind readers. Be clear, crystal clear about what you need them to do, write it down in less than a page and discuss it with them. No rocket science here, just clarity and communication.

    4. Stop delaying difficult conversations. We all do it. We know we should be talking about when performance doesn’t match expectation but we make excuses. It’s probably not that bad. It will blow over. I don’t want to be a nag. I want them to like me. What if there is conflict? Nobody else is noticing. You know the story, if you leave things alone they will get worse. Man up and do the right thing, even if it is difficult. It’s what leaders do.

    5. Pump people’s tyres. A powerful predictor of employee engagement, whether they care or not, is if they feel that they are valued, are being recognised and praised for their input. Praise and recognition costs you nothing. Look for opportunities to say thank you and to make people feel like they are valued.

    Becoming a better leader is simple. Not easy, but simple. Take stock of where you can improve using some or all of these, then take action. Effective leadership is not the reach that you think.



    Driving change is one of the most important responsibilities of a leader. Yet, in my view, most organisations do change really poorly. Many are confronted by and even scared of change, and as a result fail to plan and implement it well. The result is, well, failed changed and the cynicism and mistrust that follows. Here is a way of better understanding change that will lead to us being less afraid of it.

    The Force Field Analysis was developed by Kurt Lewin, a German American psychologist. It involves understanding the two opposing forces in a change. Firstly, Driving Forces are those that represent the reasons why the change should happen. Restraining Forces are the opposite - they are the reasons why there may be resistance to the change. 

    When you realise that a change needs to happen, list the driving forces. That should be easy. Now, walk around to the other side of the issue and look at it from a different perspective. How does it look now? Not so easy? List the reasons why the change might fail or where the resistance could come from.

    Now that you understand the forces involved, design the change. In the past I have been guilty, when faced with restraining or opposing forces, of simply increasing the driving forces. Why? Because I could. A smarter way might be to address and thereby reduce the power of the restraining forces, meaning the change will succeed with even less driving force, or effort.

    Perhaps taking the time to better understand change is the smart way to change?


    Ikea’s Approach To Measuring Performance

    I love IKEA. I don’t like shopping, but I love IKEA. For me, the most attractive thing about the Swedish furniture and home accessories chain is its focus on simplicity.

    I did a presentation today to the Managers and Supervisor’s of IKEA’s Customer Support Centre at its national HQ in Tempe, Sydney. I arrived early so I had the opportunity to have a quick look around the store, (and to have some of their famous meatballs!).

    On the way out of the the cafe I noticed a sign asking ‘How was your dining experience today’? As you can see in the photo above, the Happy Or Not panel has four options. No written survey that would take minutes and might have 10 or so questions, just four coloured buttons with emoji faces.

    Simple to participate in, simple to analyse the results. My guess is they get a really high participation rate due to its simplicity.

    Part of my presentation to IKEA’s managers was about how to increase employee engagement. One of my Care Factor 100 Principles is to give honest and regular feedback on performance. I reckon one of the reasons managers don’t do this is because they perceive it to be too complex (eg annual performance reviews). My theory is that if we kept it simple, really simple, we would do it more often and the effect would be better performance and better engagement.

    Imagine using the Happy or Not approach once a week with your employees? You would then follow it up with a conversation that would improve performance and increase engagement.

    What do you think? Happy or Not?