Tag Archives: leadership

The Leader-Learner-Trap

Successful people regularly report they are lifelong learners. I want to think that I am a lifelong learner too.

Shayne Elliott, CEO of the ANZ Bank recently shared in a LinkedIn video post that he is “#always learning“. In it, he speaks about a book that has provided great value over many years, Execution – The discipline of getting things done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. It is a terrific book and worth the read.

The ability to learn is essential for success. I argue that today, oxygen and learning are equally important for humans. Without them you are physically dead, or your career is dead. However, are followers tolerant of leaders who are learning? I’m not sure they are, which creates a significant problem for leaders.

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High-Quality Workplace Conversations Matter

Here’s a formula.

High-quality conversations lead to high-quality decisions, which lead to high quality actions and ultimately, high-quality results and performance. The reverse is also true. Low-quality conversations eventually lead to low-quality results.

Achieving high quality results and performance are worth the effort to learn how to conduct high-quality conversations.

The point of leverage in this model is high quality conversations. But what is a high quality conversation?

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How to lead a growing team

You know how it works. You are good at what you do, so more people keep being ‘given’ to you to lead. Not only that, but you are relocated to corporate headquarters and most of the people you lead aren’t co-located with you anymore. You have more meetings than ever to attend, yet you genuinely care for the people you lead but don’t have anywhere near the time you used to to lead them.

What do you do?

This dynamic is very common for the people I coach. Flatter organisations means higher spans of control, which means more direct reports to lead. Below are three tips for leading a growing team that isn’t co-located.

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Lessons about mateship from a 7yo

This Sunday it is Father’s Day. When collecting my two youngest sons from school yesterday, my seven-year-old son, affectionately known as ‘D-Man’, was covering a paper bag with a drawing he had just completed in class.

“Dad, you can’t see what’s inside the bag because it has the presents I bought for you from the Father’s Day Stall.”

 “Okay, don’t worry I promise I won’t look.” I said.

He then went on to say, “Dad, when we get home, can you give me ten dollars?

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Workplace safety starts at home

My eldest son is 17 and is eagerly searching for his first car. We have two parameters for his search. The first is his car must have a 5 Star ANCAP Rating, and the second is our budget.

Prior to facilitating a Safety Conference for Programmed with my good friend Jock Macneish in 2011, I would have shared different criteria with you regarding a first car for my son. He was only 11yo at the time so my criteria were somewhat premature, but a story shared by Programmed’s Managing Director Chris Sutherland changed my mindset.

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Do you have any Gloria’s working with you?

When working for Commercial Services at Monash University which had 750 staff over 28 sites providing a wide range of services for the students and staff of Monash University’s nine campuses, the CEO asked me to lead a recognition and reward project called Project Grateful.

He was a fan of Disney and had previously attended the Disney Institute’s leadership programs.

He handed me a ‘Star Card’, a card the size of a business card that read, “You’re a Star!” on one side, and had room for an employee to identify a colleague and create a short hand written note to either thank them or congratulate them for doing something useful, on the other side of the card.

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Five questions for your team

Gary RyanWhen working with my clients I am constantly asked, “How do I make sure that my team is focused and doing the right things?

If you want your team to be fully engaged and successful, below are five questions that you ought to consider. It is best if your team are included in the conversation to answer the questions.
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Why Mental Models Matter

Your mental models are your theories about how the world works. They come from your life’s experiences, your education, your family, your cultural background, your work experience, your religion (or no religion if you don’t have one). For most people, your mental models are sub-conscious – they affect how you behave but you aren’t aware of the impact that they have.

For example, if you had a mental model that as a manager you should have all the appropriate knowledge of someone in that role to justify your title and the money you are earning, and a staff member asks you a question to which you do not know the answer, then you are at risk of responding with a lie. You will simply make up an answer that will re-enforce your view of yourself as a competent manager.

This short video explains this concept in more detail.

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The characteristics of a high quality conversation

It is worth reading High-Quality Workplace Conversations Matter as an introduction to this post.

Providing conversations have a purpose and stay focussed on that purpose, below are five characteristics of high quality workplace conversations.

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What NOT to do when you first become a manager

On Sunday evening, a good friend of mine received the following message from his new manager who had been in the role for less than a week:
All,
For those that did not join the hook up Friday you must join it on Monday at 11:00am even if you are on RDO we need to discuss this urgently.
Please note the time change due to another appointment at 8:30am.
Regards,
A
My friend was on leave on Friday and was also on leave for the Monday, the same day as the second ‘hook up’.

The issue that the manager urgently wanted to discuss related to a safety matter. No doubt it is important that all staff, including my friend, are made aware of the issues that relate to the safety matter, and you won’t find me arguing with you about the importance of safety.

However, given the importance of the issue, and the manager knew that other staff were on their Rostered Day Off (RDO), and my friend was on leave, don’t you think it would make sense to provide many opportunities for staff to be brought up to speed about the issue when they returned to work?

Unfortunately, by creating only two opportunities for this message to be heard, the manager has sent the following message to his direct reports:

  1. Even though I’m saying that this safety matter is urgent, it really isn’t. What I’m really doing is making sure that my manager has seen that I have taken some action to make sure that my staff are aware of the issue.
  2. I do not respect your time. I have the right to send you messages when you are not at work and I expect you to read, respond and take whatever actions I have asked you to take, even though you aren’t at work.
  3. I believe that you put the company’s needs ahead of your own personal needs which is why you will be happy to give up your leave, at short notice, to attend any calls that I arrange.

What level of engagement do you think my friend has with his new manager? Do you think this experience has made it higher or lower? How happy do you think my friend was to have this message arrive while he was at another friend’s birthday celebration and then find himself diverting his attention to decide what he’ll do the following day when he’s on leave? “Should I attend the call or not?“, became his dilemma.

I discovered that his new manager was at least 50 years old, but as far as my friend was aware, had never led a team prior to his recent appointment.

In all honesty, he ought to know better. People know when they are being respected, and they know when they are being disrespected.

If you are a new manager, do everything you can to make sure that you respect your team members. Not doing so will disengage your staff and make your job all the more difficult. Why would anyone want to do that?

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good®.