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    Tuesday
    Sep062016

    LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM THE BATTLEFIELD

    I'm not much of an historian, and certainly not a military historian, but the name of Field Marshall William Slim keeps coming up in my leadership reading. Slim commanded a British field army in Burma fighting the Japanese in the '40s. Here are some things that Slim did that made him highly effective as a leader, despite being low profile.

    1. Keep it simple. Slim regularly received 100 pages of orders when what he really needed was five. He writes in his book that the most important part of an order was the 'commander's intent'. I'd call that vision.

    2. Establish a battle rhythm. Despite spending three and a half years fighting the Japanese, when at the time an 12 month deployment was more common, Slim maintained his energy and focus by exercising, reading and sleeping. He trusted his men to handle things while he rested.

    3. Planning is everything and nothing. Slim was a mad planner and made sure of everything before going into battle. Even then, not everything went to plan and when it didn't, he was flexible about changing.

    4. Ruthlessly enforce standards.  Slim made it known exactly what he expected and ruthlessly followed through. His people responded and he achieved results. For example, malaria was rife at the time and was a major threat to his troops. He banned shorts and short sleeves to protect against mosquitos.

    Here's my favourite quote from Slim.

    "When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take, choose the bolder."
    Wednesday
    Aug312016

    WHY LEADERSHIP IS JUST LIKE THE MODERN PENTATHLON

     

    One of the best stories to come out of the Rio Olympics was the gold medal won by 24 year old Sydney woman, Chloe Esposito in the Women's Modern Pentathlon. I must admit I didn't know much about the event until I saw a video about Chloe's miraculous win. Click here to see the 4 minute video. It's worth it!

    Here are some details about the event and how it's just like leadership.

    1. Success is not determined by one thing. There are five components to the event and the winner is the one that wins the last one, which is handicapped based on results of your performance in the others. Leadership is not a sprint, it's a marathon.

    2. The five disciplines are diverse - 200 metre freestyle swimming, fencing, show jumping (that's on a horse!), and finally a 3,200 metre cross country run interspersed with four rounds of pistol shooting. Being a super star at one thing won't get you the gold medal. Leadership success comes from consistent effort across a number of disciplines.

    3. Composure under pressure. The final round called the Run and Shoot is a massive challenge as competitors are fatigued and distressed from the physical exertion of the run, but then have to compose themselves enough (mentally and physically) to hit five targets with an air pistol, as fast as possible. Oh, and they do that four times! Chloe hit her 20 targets with 21 shots! Leaders need to be calm under pressure.

    4. You can't control everything. A little known fact about the little known event is that the horse a competitor rides in the show jumping is not theirs! There is a random draw for horses so a rider has to deal with what the are given. Leaders can control some things, but not everything.

    5. It's hard. All components of the Modern Pentathlon are held on ONE day. They start early, they finish late. It is a massive challenge, both physical and mental, and a test of character and resolve. Leading is not easy.

    Well done Chloe Esposito!

    Wednesday
    Aug102016

    IS THIS THE SIMPLEST LEADERSHIP TIP EVER?

    Leadership is about positively influencing others.

    In order to influence others, you need to have a good relationship with them.

    One of the best ways to establish and strengthen relationships is for there to be trust between the parties.

    Trust comes from reliability.

    Ultimately, being reliable means that you do what you say you are going to do.

    If you want to be an effective leader, you must deliver on your promises.

    I don't think it gets simpler than that!
    Tuesday
    Jul262016

    FIVE THINGS FIRST TIME MANAGERS NEED TO KNOW

    Last week I made a presentation to a group about increasing employee engagement and improving culture. At the end I opened up for questions. "A couple of us are first time managers - what advice would you give us?" Great question! Here are five things that I think first time managers would benefit from knowing.

    1. Understand the difference between managing and leading. Many think that they mean the same thing, but there is a vast difference. The key is to understand that the challenge is that it's not either / or, but that you must do both.

    2. Be masterful at time management. This will allow you to be productive and efficient, thereby setting a good example for others, but most importantly, it will provide you with time to do the 'leadership stuff', which takes lots of time.

    3. Choose leadership over likership. We all want to be liked, but it is important to understand that being a leader will mean that you are sometimes required to make decisions and take actions that will be unpopular. Click here for a previous short video on this.

    4. Do what you say you are going to do. This will mean that you are reliable, and in turn build trust, which will help you build strong relationships. Leading others is all about relationships.

    5. It's not all about you. Leadership is about what you can do with and for others. It is about lifting their performance. You should be asking, "What can I do to help you do you job?"
     
    Come to think of it, this advice isn't only just for first time managers, but also for those of us that have been around the block a couple of times!
    Tuesday
    Jul122016

    LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PAYS

    As someone who provides leadership development programs and advice, I sometimes experience resistance to the time, cost or effort associated with building leadership capability. I was once asked by a senior executive who was considering a training proposal I had provided “What happens if I train them and they leave?”  I replied “What happens if you don’t train them, and they stay!”
     
    The largest study into leadership in Australia has just concluded and one of the key findings is that leadership development pays. The study found that investing in leadership development increases the leader’s self-confidence in their ability to lead and their leadership capabilities. It also found that organisations that have more confident, capable leaders perform at a higher level and are more innovative.

    A summary of leadership return on investment by business publisher Wiley shows that organisations that excel at leadership development perform better financially, attract and retain better people, are more agile when responding to change and are more productive.
     
    I have just finished delivering a customised, in-house leadership development for a national, ASX listed company and the evaluation showed some very positive results. 86% of participants reported that they had become better leaders as a result of the program. 78% said they felt better about working at the organisation. So, in addition to the business benefits of leadership development, there are significant engagement and cultural reasons to grow your leaders.

    In summary, leadership development pays. Let us know if we can help.