Tag Archives: developing leaders

Creating Life Balance in 2014

Life Balance should be judged over a year. Not over a day. Not over a week and not over a month!

Hopefully you are using the festive time of the year to take stock and re-energise. Reflect on your successes, achievements and challenges from 2013 and then look ahead to 2014 and beyond.

14No doubt many of you have created New Year Resolutions. If creating more Life Balance is one of those, here are a few tips to help you achieve that goal.

1. Understand that in creating Life Balance you have many periods of being ‘out of balance’
When you judge your Life Balance over a year you will be okay with the fact that at various stages you will be ‘out of balance’ for periods of time. If you have been in a job for a while, or are studying then you will know the peak periods for your work or study. During these periods going on holidays is out of the question and your social life may take a backward step too. This is okay. Take note of when those ‘busy’ periods will be occurring and plan for them. In doing so you can be proactive with your friends and let them know that you may be hard to catch for the time that you have identified.

2. Book and pay for holidays in advance
I learned this tactic back in the late 1990s when I was suffering from overwork and fatigue. At that time of my life I used to wear my unused holidays as a badge of honour. “Look everyone. I work so hard I haven’t taken holidays for years!” As it turned out it was a silly view of the world to have as I was tired and lacked the energy to do my job properly. A good friend explained to me how he managed his energy by booking for and paying for his holidays in advance. That way both he and his family had something to look forward to throughout the year and because the holiday had already been paid for, it actually happened!

In activating this tactic I also learned that amazing deals are on offer providing you book and pay during the Xmas – New Year period (your holiday doesn’t have to be during this period, you just have to have booked it for some time during the year and have paid for it). This has literally saved me thousands of dollars – which contributes to the financial aspect of my Life Balance too!

3. Set physical goals

Lots of people set weight loss goals at this time of year. Unfortunately most people don’t get anywhere near their target weight because a specific weight is the wrong goal to have as your main goal. It is far better to set a goal that involves the achievement of a physical activity such as playing a sport on a regular basis, completing a hiking holiday or  completing a 20 kilometre walk. This year I will be supporting my wife Michelle as she prepares for her third Oxfam 100 Km Trailwallker in May. As one of her training partners I will be doing a lot of walking with her.

To enhance this tactic have ‘rolling goals’. Set multiple goals that will require you to have to keep fit so that you can achieve them. This helps to cut the risk of achieving a physical goal and then slipping back into bad habits after the goal has been achieved.

Use these three tips to help you to create the Life Balance that you desire. If you would like to learn more about creating Life Balance please visit here.

Leadership and Peak Performance Insights From Steve Moneghetti Recording



Steve Moneghetti is a world-renowned marathon runner who represented Australia at the sport’s highest level over many years.

Steve MoneghettiWhilst competing at these major championships he held a number of leadership roles within the team structure.

Since retiring at the Sydney Olympics he has held management roles at the Victorian Institute of Sport (Board Chairman), Australian Commonwealth Games Association (Mayor of Melbourne Games Village and Chef de Mission of Australian Team in India) and Athletics Australia (National Selector and National Team Manager).

Steve shares his insights about Leadership, Teamwork and High Performance.

Video length: 59:24

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Leadership and Peak Performance Insights From Steve Moneghetti

Steve Moneghetti is a world-renowned marathon runner who represented Australia at the sport’s highest level over many years.

Steve MoneghettiWhilst competing at these major championships he held a number of leadership roles within the team structure.

Since retiring at the Sydney Olympics he has held management roles at the Victorian Institute of Sport (Board Chairman), Australian Commonwealth Games Association (Mayor of Melbourne Games Village and Chef de Mission of Australian Team in India) and Athletics Australia (National Selector and National Team Manager).

With a degree in Engineering and education qualifications he is now the Director of a successful sports consultancy company.

Join Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter as he interviews Steve to explore leadership and the achievement of high performance in all aspects of your life.

This is a free online event.

Date: Tuesday 17th December 2013, 10am – 10:40am (ADT GMT+11)

Register now as seats are limited.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

LinkedIn For University Students


LinkedIn isn’t just for people who have started their careers. Used correctly, LinkedIn can help university students to jump-start their careers.

In this video Gary explains how to set up your profile, how to give and receive endorsements and recommendations, how to properly connect with people, how to use the group function effectively and how to build online to face to face business relationships.

While the video is tailored to university students, the tips and step by step guides are useful for anyone who wants to improve how they use LinkedIn to advance their career.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Do High Performing Teams Accept Unacceptable Behaviour?

Whenever I conduct leadership development or my Teams That Matter® program I ask, “Do high performing teams accept or reject unacceptable behaviour?”.

The answer arrives with a resounding chorus, “They reject it!”.

Yet how can people reject unacceptable behaviour if the team hasn’t made explicit what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable?

For example, is answering a phone in a team meeting acceptable or unacceptable behaviour? What about not speaking during team meetings? Or the leader who is always late to meetings? No doubt you may think that these behaviours are clearly unacceptable – at least from your perspective. You might hold the view that ‘everyone knows‘ that these behaviours are unacceptable.

The evidence is overwhelming that ‘everyone doesn’t know‘. The fact that these behaviours exist indicates that not everyone shares the same view that you have.

Teams need to have an explicit agreement about what behaviours are acceptable, and what behaviours are unacceptable. So how do you make these behaviours explicit?

You host a series of conversations.

First ask, “In any team of which you have been a member, what team member behaviours have really annoyed you because you believe they have detracted from the team’s performance or potential to perform?” Collect the responses and name this list ‘Hindering behaviours‘.

Young business colleagues showing unityI have never had a team not be able to answer this question! Unfortunately this indicates that people like you have experienced your fair share of annoying team member behaviours – which is why the list is so easy to create!

Next ask, “What behaviours should we adopt to help us to be the best that we can be?” Collect the responses and name this list ‘Supporting behaviours‘.

Each list usually has six to 10 behaviours.

Your last question is, “What will we do if we believe that we are seeing the unacceptable behaviours?

The power of this question is that it allows you to define the process that you will take when an issue arises. Yet, because you are having this discussion when there isn’t a ‘live’ issue it enables you to keep the emotion out of this conversation.

When you believe that you are seeing a team member do one of the hindering behaviours, it is important to keep an open mind to their side of the story. Over time I have learned that many people actually believe that they are doing a supporting behaviour when others see it as hindering behaviour. 

These conversations don’t take a lot of time to complete, yet most teams don’t conduct them. Be bold. Be different. Have the courage to make your acceptable and unacceptable behaviours explicit as they will make your challenge of creating a high performing team that much easier!

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good®.

Multi-tasking is about focus

Creating both personal and professional success requires the ability to make things happen and to get things done.

Being ineffective with your use of time is not an option. Yet there is so much that needs to be done.

Surely learning how to get more tasks completed at the same time is the most important skill that you can develop. And isn’t that what multi-tasking is all about? The truth is, it isn’t.

The most important skill that you can develop is the ability to focus on one task at a time.

iStock_000008217437SmallRecent research conducted by Michigan State University (MSU) highlights the importance of focus. This is especially true if you are performing complex tasks. The more complex the task, the larger the negative impact of letting yourself be distracted. Even small distractions as little as 2.8 seconds, such as checking a buzzing smart-phone, has dire consequences for your focus and your ability to complete complex tasks. Results indicated that error rates doubled even when these extremely short interruptions were present.

Multi-tasking is about your ability to focus on one task at a time. Then, as soon as you have completed that task or finished the time that you had allocated to that task, you quickly switch to another task and shift your focus to that task.

This means that you have to be pro-active and minimise distractions. Turn off your smart phone. Shut down your email application. Turn off your browser (unless you need it for the task you are completing) and explain to colleagues that you need a set period of uninterrupted time to focus on completing a task. If you have the option to work from home (assuming your home office provides an effective work space) complete complex tasks there, distraction free. This may be especially important if you work in an open space environment where staff interactions may generate a lot of distractions.

Train yourself to be a disciplined multi-tasker. Mastering this skill will have those around you wondering what your secret is. You’ll know that the answer comes from mastering a skill and that it doesn’t have anything to do with secrets. Just plain old focus and a willingness to be disciplined.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Lead by giving up control

Captain David Marquet spent 12 months learning every pipe, the procedures, the people, computer programs and the layout of the USS Olympia. Two weeks before he was to be deployed he was assigned to a different submarine, the newer nuclear powered USS Santa Fe. Upon taking command of his ship he did what every good naval Captain did. He gave orders.

“Engineer, start-up the reactor.” “Aye Captain!”

iStock_000002959290Small“XO make preparations to get underway.” “Aye Captain!”.

All was as expected. He was expected to give orders and the crew expected to follow orders.

On the ships first day at sea he decided to test the technicians, so he ordered the crew to ‘fake‘ a fault that would shut the reactor down. The engineers had the task to restart the reactor as soon as possible. When this occurs the ship operates from its backup battery engine. In an effort to create urgency, Captain Marquet ordered his Navigator, the most experienced sailor on board the USS Santa Fe to, “Go ahead two-thirds.” “Aye Captain! Helmsman, ahead two-thirds!”

Such action would drain the back up batteries at a faster rate, placing time pressure on the technicians to restart the reactor so that the main engine could return to operation.

“Aye Nav!” called out the helmsman.

But nothing happened. The vessel did not increase in speed. Even Captain Marquet could tell that nothing had happened. Yet the order had been given.

Peering around the telescope at his helmsman, Captain Marquet could see his hunched shoulders, indicating something was wrong. So he walked over to his helmsman.

“Helmsman, why hasn’t the ship proceeded to two-thirds?”

“Sir, there is no two-thirds speed on this ship.”

Captain Marquet had made a mistake. As all ‘good‘ command and control leaders do in such a circumstance he covered up his mistake.

“Good job Helmsman, you passed the test!”

He then questioned the Navigator. “Did you know that this ship could not proceed at two-thirds on battery power?”

“Yes.” replied the navigator.

“So, why did you give the order?” queried Captain Marquet.

“Because you told me, Sir.” came the reply.

Here was the most experienced sailor on the ship passing on an order from the most inexperienced person aboard the ship that he knew was wrong and he did it purely because of rank. He did this even though they were aboard a nuclear submarine where the consequences for errors are potentially catastrophic.

In that moment Captain Marquet knew that something had to change if he and the crew were going to make it safely through his captaincy.

He realised that even if he had been given the USS Olympia, the complexities involved in running a nuclear powered ship were such that it was ridiculous to think that any single person could know everything there was to need to know to properly run the ship. The command and control model of leadership was flawed.

So he met with his senior crew and they discussed their dilemma. They resolved that he would no longer make any orders (although he did keep the authority to launch weapons as he felt that because they could kill people it wasn’t appropriate to pass that responsibility on to someone else).

To support this change in behaviour they changed their language. The navigator would say, “I intend to submerge.” Captain Marquet would reply, “What two questions do you think I have in my head?”

“Is it safe and is it the right thing to do? Both questions are affirmative.”

And the Navigator would submerge the ship.

Captain Marquet decided that as far as possible authority needed to be given to where the information existed. So the crew in the engine room were the best placed to know when to replace the filters because they knew the engine and they knew when the ship needed to be quiet because of what it was doing and when it was okay for it to be making more noise, which it would be doing when maintenance was taking place. For such a system to run successfully two pillars need to be present.

1. Competence. Each crew member had to be competent at what they were doing. They had to be trained and be ‘expert’ in their role.

2. Clarity. This was provided by the answer to the question, “Is this the right thing to do now?”

Upon deciding to take this action improvements were made in 24 hours. It took under three years for the culture to be fully imbedded throughout the 135 crew on board the USS Santa Fe. Their results included the highest assessment score for any naval vessel in the history of the US Navy and the highest re-enlistment score of any submarine, which meant that the sailors wanted to continue to serve in that high performing environment.

The biggest challenge that Captain Marquet faced? Himself. His own need and desire to be in control was his biggest challenge. But he managed to resist his own needs to become a better leader.

If such a culture change can occur in the navy, why couldn’t it occur in your organisation? The lessons here are self-evident. Give control to where the information is; make sure your team members are competent in what they do (which includes selection and training); and make sure your people understand the ‘big picture’ so they have the ability to work out if their actions are the right thing to do at any moment.

These are powerful lessons on leadership. Give them a go. The results will astound you.

View a short video of a TEDx Talk that Captain David Marquet gave here.


Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Leaders cannot motivate employees. Period.

The most common question that I am asked when I facilitate leadership development programs is, “Gary, how do I motivate my employees?”.

The idea that a leader can motivate their employees is flawed. I cannot motivate you and you cannot motivate your employees. I cannot take my motivation and give it to you so that you can be motivated, just as you cannot take your motivation and give it to your employees so that they are motivated. Motivation is not a ‘thing’ that can be extracted, given, taken, passed on or any other action from one person to another.

Business group showing teamworkIf you are reading this article then it is because of your own motivation, not someone else’s. Even if someone put this article in front of you and demanded you read it, you could choose not to read it. Even if they held a gun to your head and said, “Read it out aloud”, you could easily read it out aloud but not take in this article.

Motivation is intrinsic. Period. Each of us, including your employees is 100% self-motivated. This is critical for leaders to understand. It is not your responsibility to motivate anybody other than yourself. Likewise it is your employees’ responsibility to motivate themselves. If you attempt to take this responsibility away from your employees then you will create a false dependency that is unsustainable.

What can leaders do?

A leader’s job is to create the conditions, to the best of her ability to enable employees to be self-motivated. They must also do everything they can to end the conditions that foster a lack of motivation in employees. They must also do everything they can to end the conditions that foster a lack of motivation in employees. What are the factors that are reducing an employee’s capacity to be self-motivated? Is it that they aren’t being paid fairly? Is it that they are being micro-managed? Is it that they aren’t being recognised for doing a good day’s work? Is it the fact that they don’t have an opportunity to develop themselves? Leaders must also talk and act in ways that support this concept to make sure that their employees are 100 responsible for their own motivation.

To enable employees to be self-motivated leaders must know what drives their employees. They must help their employees to see the alignment between their personal goals and the organisation’s goals. Maybe the alignment will come from the money they earn which allows them to continue to invest in their passion for motorbikes. Maybe the alignment will come through the opportunities that the workplace can offer that will allow the employee to progress their career or maybe the alignment will come from the employee being able to get access to time off work to attend a course they had really wanted to attend but is only offered during ‘normal’ working hours. These are just a few of the endless possibilities that relate to how a leader can create the conditions for their employees to be self-motivated.

What are you doing to enhance the self-motivation of your employees?

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

What are you feeding your mind?

Imagine a farmer has two healthy fields, side by side.

iStock_000009570322SmallIn one he plants corn. In the other he plants poison ivy.

If he nurtures both crops they will flourish. Corn will grow in one field and poison ivy in the other. The fertile field treats the corn and the poison ivy the same. Each, if nurtured will thrive and grow.

Your mind is no different to a fertile field. Whatever you plant in it and nurture will grow. If you plant seeds of success and nurture those seeds with materials that help you to learn and to create your successes, your mind will come alive with ideas and suggestions to help you on your journey.

If you plant seeds of negativity in your mind and you nurture those seeds with self-doubt, negativity and material that is designed to keep your mind occupied and not energised, your mind will fill itself with reasons why success can’t be created, excuses that caused you to fail, resent for others who are successful, blame for everything that prevented you from being successful, jealousy for those who are successful and many more dark perspectives that drain energy and stop you from creating the success you desire.

What is a simple, time effective way to nurture your mind with success?

Multiple studies have identified the benefits of mobile learning practices such as listening to audio learning programs. In Australia data suggests the average commute is 45 minutes, each way to and from work. This equates to an average 600 hours of commuter travel per year (assuming 48 weeks of work and four weeks holiday).

For time poor people, using this time to learn material that will help you on your journey to create Life Balance and Personal Success is an opportunity waiting to be put in to action. Imagine adding an extra 600 hours worth of focused learning material to nurture your mind! Given the research indicates that mobile learning does have benefits (it isn’t perfect, but learning benefits do exist) why not turn your commute (by car or public transport) into your very own mobile university. Buy audio books and subscribe to relevant podcasts that will enable you to feed your mind with material that will nurture it and keep it healthy.

Given an average full time university semester equals around 500 hours of learning, you could be accessing the equivalent of a full semester of academic learning if you choose to use this strategy. 

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

100 days to go

iStock_000005705584SmallSeptember 23rd is a special day for many reasons. It may be your birthday. It may be your wedding anniversary or the date you and your partner first met. It may represent the anniversary of a loved one who has passed away. While September 23rd is special for many people, it may also be just another day for the rest of you. That can change.

September 23rd has a special significance for all of us. It represents 100 days before the end of 2013.

I see this as a terrific opportunity to take stock of what you had hoped to achieve this year. On the one hand 100 days doesn’t seem like much time, but on the other hand it is 100 days! A lot can be achieved in that time.

Below are a number of suggested personal achievements or significant tasks that could be achieved over the next 100 days. Use this list to spark your imagination. Write down the achievements that you will create over the next 100 days. If you would like to go one step further and create a plan for those achievements, follow the simple steps outlined in this recent article. Use my suggestions as catalysts for your own actions but try to have at least one specific achievement that you carry out from the six categories listed below.

Health and fitness

  • Lose some weight – and keep it off!
  • Go on a vacation
  • Visit your doctor and have a complete check up – even if you aren’t sick
  • Complete a physical challenge such as a five kilometre fun run
  • Discover the power of meditation


  • Complete an online personality profile tool and share your results with someone you trust
  • Consciously put your personal values into action and ask a trusted friend to give you some feedback
  • Challenge yourself to do something that you’ve always told yourself you couldn’t do, especially if that something is something that deep down you’d really like to be able to do
  • Consciously help someone else on their journey toward greater personal success
  • Offer to take a photo for a group of tourists so that they can all be in the photo


  • Make sure that you complete your work projects and or major tasks to the best of your ability
  • Thank someone who normally doesn’t get recognised for the contribution that they are making to your workplace (cleaners are a great place to start!)
  • Set some clear goals for the conference you will be attending and make sure that you achieve them
  • Update your resume
  • Participate in three LinkedIn Group Discussions on relevent topics

Life-long learning

  • Turn your car in to a ‘mobile university’ by only listening to audio books and other educational material when you are driving (Research by the Harvard Business School indicates that the average person spends between 500 – 1000 hours traveling in their car each year. If this time was spent listening to high quality learning  material, a person could learn the equivalent of a post-graduate business degree in just one year – not bad for people who say they don’t have time to learn!)
  • Read at least one business book to help you with your career development (‘Leading on the Edge‘ is a terrific ‘how-to’ leadership book by first time Australian author Rachael Robertson, leader of the 58th Australian Antarctic Expedition)
  • Do some research on healthy cooking
  • Commence learning a musical instrument
  • Volunteer to coach a junior sports team as a deliberate strategy to start working on developing your leadership skills

Finance and wealth (please seek professional advice for any activities in this section)

  • Complete your tax submissions for the most recent financial year
  • Book in a chat with your financial advisor
  • Draft a budget for 2014
  • Review your expenditure to date for the 2013 calendar year
  • Review your retirement strategy


  • Consider the most important people in your life. Identify one thing that you could do for each of those people to let them know how much they mean to you and do it!
  • Go on a date with your partner
  • Call your friend who lives on the other side of the country or another part of the world
  • Book in a coffee with your mentor and prepare something to focus on during your conversation
  • Help cook some sausages to help your local school raise some needed funds for a specific school development project

How are you going to make the most of the last 100 days of 2013? Sometimes simple lists can act as powerful motivators. When you ‘tick’ each item off your list you feel energised and powerful. You have clear evidence that you do get things done.

It’s just 100 days. Give it a try and be amazed at what you can achieve!

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.