Tag Archives: servant leadership

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.

Continue reading How to lead a growing team

Chris Judd’s Success Lessons

Gary RyanRetiring Australian Football League (AFL) legend Chris Judd has shared two key lessons for success in his recent speeches and newspaper article. Both lessons are not your run-of the-mill lessons. They are insightful and more importantly useful. Use them to help you stay on track on your journey toward more success and life balance.

Lesson 1 – None of us are Nostradamus

When quizzed about his decision to play again in the 2015 season, Judd was asked if it was the wrong decision. Here is his response:

Playing on this year had proved to be the wrong decision for the right reasons. By that, I meant that I hadn’t persevered for money, or for personal glory, but to help the club build a culture. I have some good memories from the second half of last season, and had hoped to solidify them. They were good reasons to play on. As it turns out, I was wrong. But none of us are Nostradamus. As long as you go about the process correctly, and your intentions are pure, even if you make a wrong decision, you can sleep at night. That’s how I feel now.

None of us are perfect. Occasionally you will make wrong decisions. As Robert Louis Flood stated, “The future is unknowable“. When your intentions are honourable, and it turns out that you made a wrong decision, so be it. Learn and move on.

Lesson 2 – Enjoy the good moments when they happen

When asked for his advice to current players, Judd replied:

I think one of the main things, if I had my time over again, is just to appreciate the good moments a little bit more. I was always so ambitious and focused on what was coming next that I probably didn’t recognise as much when something special had happened.

Jeffrey Hopkins, in his translation of the Dalai Lama’s ‘How to Practise – The way to a meaningful life‘ shares that too many people cause themselves suffering because they are not present in the moment. Rather, they are stuck in the past or already focused on the future.

You share this challenge. Remembering to live in the moment when you are doing something important is a critical trait to develop.

I recall that a good friend of mine shared some excellent advice with my wife and I prior to our wedding. He said, “I encourage you to take some time out during your celebrations. Just sit by yourselves on four or five occasions and take it all in. Commit the experience to memory. The sights, the sounds, the taste of your food and drink. You won’t regret it.”

We followed his advice and 18 years later we can both remember our wedding as if it were yesterday, as I can the birth of each of my five children and many other important events in my life as a result of practising this technique.

Taking the conscious time to be present in the moment is important for success because it provides you with the experience of success that you strive so hard to achieve. It is worth following Judd’s advice – enjoy the good moments when they happen.

Gary Ryan provided leadership development services to the Richmond Tigers in 2007 and 2009, and sat on the AFL Coaches Association Board of Management from 2009 to 2014.

 

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

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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.

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

Unfortunately you have experienced more than your fair share of low quality conversations. These are ones where you walk out of the meeting and think any one of the thoughts below:

  • “Wow, that was a complete waste of time”
  • “When will people finally start to listen around here?”
  • “Why does everyone have to make my life so difficult? Why won’t they listen to me?”
  • “There’s no point saying what you really think around here because no one is going to listen anyway!”

High quality conversations are more natural than you might think. Peter Senge, author of the Fifth Discipline states,

As far as I know, no indigenous culture has yet to be found that does not have the practice of sitting in a circle and talking.

For the ancient Greeks dia logos was the ‘flow of meaning’. It was the cornerstone of civic practice. The polis was the gathering space for conversation. The purpose for the dia logos was about enabling self-government to occur. This system was the birthplace of the western world.

As time has passed the practice of dia logos has diminished. When you converse in a workplace your purpose is no longer to consider what is best for the whole. Rather, your purpose is to win. You are a master of debate. I win. You lose.

Our modern word for dia logos is dialogue. When we dialogue our purpose is not to win. It is to discover what no individual could discover on their own and it is to discover what is the best solution for the whole, not the part.

Think about the conversations that you have at work, especially the ones where everyone in the room is ‘representing‘ a specific department or unit. What is the intent that each of you bring to those conversations? Is it to do what is best for the whole organisation, or is it to defend, protect and/or promote what is best for your department or unit?

The root cause of the lack of dialogue in organisations is the lack of the practice of dialogue itself. Quite simply, well-educated and/or experienced people don’t know how to dialogue. The reverse is true. They know how to debate. It is little wonder that debate rules, but the overuse of debate lowers the overall quality of your conversations.

Debate is not bad. In fact a form of debate (known as ‘opposing’) is encouraged in the practice of dialogue. The issue with debating is that it is overused. Our conversations are out of balance. We require more use of dialogue to improve the quality of our conversations.

The solution is to learn dialogue together. The beauty of the learning process is that you can practice dialogue, while learning it, on real organisational issues.

In the foreword to William Isaacs’s book, ‘Dialogue and the art of thinking together‘, Peter Senge highlights that,

In almost every setting where practices of dialogue have become embedded and part of everyday routines, the ensuing changes have become irreversible, as near as I can tell.

The projects to which Senge was referring involved practical people such as line managers, executives and staff from mostly Fortune 500 companies. The improvements were clear. Improving the quality of work-place conversations improve performance.

The effort is worth it. Higher quality conversations lead to higher quality decisions which lead to higher quality actions and ultimately higher quality results and performance. Results and performance matter and so does improving the quality of conversations in your organisation.

What actions are you taking to improve the quality of conversations at your work-place?

 

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

If you would like to learn more about learning how to Dialogue, contact Gary here.

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Gallup Research: How To Increase Employee Engagement

The most recent Gallup research (conducted in the USA) on manager effectiveness has shown that seven out of ten managers are directly reducing rather than increasing employee motivation and engagement. If you are a manager, then this means that you have a 30 percent chance of being an effective manager, and a 70 percent chance that you are an ineffective one. Which one are you?

Gary RyanThe report highlights that effective, engaging managers result in a, “48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity, a 30% increase in employee engagement scores, a 17% increase in customer engagement scores and a 19% decrease in turnover.” How do your numbers compare with these?

The evidence is overwhelming. Closing the gap between ineffective and effective management matters!

What is it that effective managers do that makes such a big difference?

Firstly, they are talented. Gallup defines talent as, “… the natural capacity for excellence. People can learn skills, develop knowledge and gain experience, but they can’t acquire talent — its innate. When individuals have the right talent for their role, they’re energized by their work, rarely thinking of it as “work” at all.”

The skills required for effective management and leadership are specific. They include being able to listen, to communicate effectively, to have foresight, to be able to find employee strengths, to be able to paint a picture of success and more. Identifying people with the talent to manage is just as important as identifying people with the right talent for any job.

Next, talent is grown and not promoted. Promoting people into roles beyond their competence is one of the greatest flaws that contribute to the generally poor performance of managers. Just because someone is good at their frontline role doesn’t mean they will make a great manager. Yet that is exactly the practice that exists today. How are people promoted into management roles in your organisation?

Gallup recommends that people be paid for their performance, not their job title. This means that an employee could be paid more than their manager. Place the right talent into the right roles and pay them for their value, not their title. For most companies, this will require a structural change to how they manage their pay scales. Are people paid for the value or their title in your organisation?

Manager’s themselves need to continually improve and to further develop their strengths. Too many managers have limited opportunity to improve their management skills once they become managers, which decreases their own engagement, the ripple effect of which is to further decrease the engagement of their direct reports. Lower engagement leads to lower productivity and lower profits. Clearly this is madness, yet this vicious cycle continues to thrive.

How can these issues be resolved? Fortunately, there is a solution.

Servant Leadership is a management and leadership style that addresses these issues. Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes, shares in her book Dare To Serve the power of Servant Leadership and how it has driven the company’s turn-around since 2007 (it’s share price has risen from $12 to over $56 – how happy do you think its shareholders are about this improvement!). A clear and deliberate cultural shift to practice Servant Leadership, including changing systems and processes to make sure they are aligned with the principles and practices of Servant Leadership has driven their performance improvements.

The test for effective Servant Leadership focuses on the growth of the people you are serving.  Gallup’s recent research identifies that growing talent is what matters. Servant Leaders take action to help the people they are serving grow. The results; increased engagement, productivity and profits!

Existing management practices are not working. Companies and organisations need to adopt a completely different approach to how management roles are executed. Servant Leadership is the answer. It results in more engaged employees and customers and increases profitability. Who doesn’t want those outcomes! Make the decision today to change your management practices for the better.

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good

If you would like to learn more about Servant Leadership, contact Gary here.

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Positive Self Talk Is Not Enough

Throughout your career there are many times when you will doubt yourself. Am I worthy of a promotion? Will my boss laugh at me when I ask for a pay rise? Can I really do this project that I have never done before? Will the audience really want to listen to what I have to say? Can I manage people who are older and more experienced than me?

For over 12 years I have coached leaders and developing leaders about the power of positive self talk. In simple terms, the words that you say to yourself in your head promote an image of success or failure in your mind. This image influences your performance.

Imagine that you were asked to do a presentation to senior management on a project that you had worked on. Throughout your university degree and career you have done your best to avoid presentations because you think that you ‘suck‘ at them.

In this example you are cornered. You can’t ‘run away‘ from this presentation. You have to do it. Imagine your self talk. “I’m going to be terrible doing this presentation. The senior management team are all going to know that I’m a terrible presenter. My future here is going to be damaged. Oh my god why did this have to happen to me!“.

No matter how much practice you did, if you maintained this type of self talk you will have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Moments in to your presentation your mind will go blank. Then it will fill with the words, “See, I knew I wasn’t any good at presenting and now look at what has happened! My mind has gone blank and the senior management team now thinks that I am useless!

When your performance matches your self talk it re-enforces it which in turn re-enforces the image that you have of yourself either succeeding or failing. This can result in either a virtuous or vicious cycle that affects your performance.

The point of leverage is your self talk. You don’t have to create ‘fake‘ self talk. This is the type of self talk that even you don’t really believe. In the above example, ‘fake‘ self talk would be something like, “I’m going to be the best presenter the senior management team have ever experienced. I’m going to have them eating out of the palm of my hands.

You might have this type of self talk if you were already an accomplished presenter, but if you were coming off a low base then this type of self talk will be ‘fake’ and actually won’t help you (because you won’t really believe it!).

A more effective form of self talk is something like, “I’ll be the best presenter that I can be today. Period.” This type of self talk is believable and gives you the opportunity to see yourself as a ‘learner‘ rather than an expert. When you see yourself as a learner and you make a mistake it is far easier to recover than if you have used ‘fake‘ self talk.

However, self talk is not enough. It must be balanced with doing the right work and focus. The right work in this example relates to learning how to do an effective presentation and putting what you learn in to practice before you do your presentation to the senior management team. Focus refers to the skills and structure that support the action that you are taking. In this example your focus would relate to the core message that you want to convey, the key supporting arguments that you have for your message and the call to action that you want the senior management team to adopt.

These self talk principles can be applied to any situation.

If you aren’t doing the right work and don’t have focus, then all the positive self talk in the world will amount to nought.

How do you manage your self talk?

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

Structures Drive Poor Financial Adviser Behaviour

A recent ASIC Report that identified an “Unacceptable level of failure” by the life insurance industry was caused by conscious or unconscious systemic structures that drove the behaviour of the Financial Advisers.

Gary Ryan, Organisations That Matter, Yes For SuccessThe report goes on to say, “Our surveillance results indicate that many advisers . . . may prioritise their own interests in earning commission income ahead of the interests of the client in getting good quality advice.”

Systems Thinking teaches us that organisational structures (rules, policies, procedures and physical structures such as office layouts) influence the behaviour of the humans who operate in that system. The concept is known as Structures Drive Behaviour.

The ASIC Report found that the system provides upfront commissions for Financial Advisers in 82% of cases. The commissions could amount to around 100% of the annual premium and are therefore very lucrative. Unfortunately ASIC has discovered that 96% of the poor advice provided by Financial Advisers was when the adviser was being paid an upfront commission. There appears to be a direct link between the structure of upfront commissions and the provision of poor advice.

Leaders have a responsibility for understanding the behaviours that their structures will drive. I am not saying the leaders in the life insurance industry here in Australia understood the consequences of the structures they put in place because I don’t know.

However, as part of the characteristic of foresight, a leader should consider the intended and unintended consequences of the rules, policies and procedures that they put in place. If you work in a sales environment and you want your sales team members to share information with each other, a commission structures that is 100% based on individual performance is unlikely to drive the sort of information sharing behaviour that you desire. Instead you need to create a system (with input from your sales team members) that provides commissions for both individual and team based behaviours and performance.

Creating a service counter that is only wide enough for one person will create queues. In turn these can block thoroughfares. If you don’t want these consequences then you have to consider how you can physically design and staff your service counter to minimise queues, or you need to design a queuing system that will reduce the clogging of your thoroughfare.

A common error that leaders make is when their team members behave or perform in ways that the leader doesn’t like, the leader blames their people. Systems Thinking teaches a different perspective.

First review the structures that might be causing the behaviours and/or performance results that you don’t like. You can identify when a systemic structure is operating when you have different people come in and out of a system but the behaviours and/or performance outcomes remain the same. Often (but not always) changes to your rules, policies, procedures and/or physical structures will change the behaviours and poor performance results that you are seeing.

Of course, humans are humans and it is possible to have the best possible structures in place and humans can choose to ignore them and do their own thing. But this is a rarity compared to a norm.

If you are experiencing poor behaviour and/or performance results from your team, consider assessing the systemic structures that may be influencing these outcomes before blaming your people. After all, who wants to end up being named in a government report for leading an industry that generates poor outcomes for its customers?

What to do when your colleagues are annoying you

Whenever we have a meeting the table is always shaking. John seems unable to stop his leg from jittering.

Mary never puts her coffee cup away after she washes it. She leaves it on the sink for someone else to put it away. It’s so annoying!

Hun mumbles every time he speaks. I really can’t understand him. I wish he’d speak more clearly.

Every Monday morning Janet wants to tell me about the weekend achievements and dramas of her three children. When will she understand that I’m really not that interested!

Yes For Success, Life balance, plan for personal success, Gary Ryan, Organisations That MatterNo doubt you have these thoughts and feelings from time to time about your colleagues. Working with and getting along with other people is not always easy. Sometimes it is downright difficult. In fact, sometime these annoying behaviours can really drive you crazy!

Your challenge is when these little things become your focus. After a while it is all that you can see these people doing and that means that eventually you see the person as being 100% annoying. When this happens it is difficult to stay a high performing team. Group dynamics have a direct impact on team performance and your attitude toward your colleagues impacts team dynamics.

What can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

Success Magazine founder and editor Darren Hardy has a suggestion for your personal relationships when they start to become annoying and his strategy is just as useful for workplace relationships.

Use a notebook and write your colleague’s name at the top of the notebook. Each day for a month find something good about that person to write in your notebook. Train yourself to see the good things they do. Your list can contain work tasks that they do well or other contributions that they may be making around the office. As you add notes to your list, run your eye over the entire list.

Soon their ‘annoying’ behaviour won’t be all that you see when you look at this person. Your focus will have changed.

Taking this action won’t change the person’s annoying behaviour. Rather, it will help you to see that they are not 100% bad. In fact you’ll likely see more good than you have ever previously noticed. Your new insights about them will change your behaviour toward them. They will react positively to your behaviour and your workplace relationship and dynamics will improve. Most importantly you’ll be able to continue to work as a high performing team.

If you don’t believe that this strategy works then give it a go. My bet is that after only one week you will notice improvements in your workplace dynamics.

 

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

How to resolve issues caused by customers

When you raise the standards of customer service in your organisation, customer expectations also rise. This is in the context that your customers will expect your service or product to be provided at least at the same level as their most recent experience.

Fluctuating service levels equals poor service. Your performance will always be judged by your customer’s most recent experience versus the expectation they have of your service or product. It is not possible to deliver great service if your organisation is not set up to provide great service every time.

Gary Ryan, Organisations That Matter, Yes For SuccessIn order to provide consistent service experiences for your customers you need to balance the passion of your staff with the systems and processes that you have in place to support your staff.

Service recovery is what you do to correct a mistake and/or when your customers perceives that you have made a mistake (up to 33% of customer complaints are caused by the customer!). If you don’t have a service recovery system then your staff will either do nothing to resolve the error or they will make it up on the spot. The latter approach may resolve the problem but the next time the same customer experiences a service problem a different staff member may not do anything to resolve the problem. The result – fluctuating service levels!

The flip side of this example is to have a system that is so rigid that your staff have to follow a procedure even when they recognise it isn’t appropriate for the situation. When your meal arrives late at a restaurant you want an apology and a ‘fair’ offer to repair the poor service you have just experienced. You don’t want a pen (yes this is what happens when management misunderstands the principles of service recovery; a pen is offered as a fair ‘fix’ when a meal arrives late!).

Your systems and processes need to support your staff. Your staff should have a range of options at their disposal so that they can determine the fairest choices to offer their customers. By ‘choices’ I mean that from a service recovery perspective a customer should be given the power to select the fairest option from their perspective to resolve the problem. When you have a system like this in operation your staff can use their passion for service excellence to select (from their secret menu that is known to the staff) three options that are suitable for the situation. If the customer doesn’t like any of the options then your staff member can add items to the list of choices. The customer remains in control of the selection of what is fair within well thought out parameters set by the organisation. A system such as this supports the passion of your staff in creating great customer experiences.

My point is that if you don’t have these types of systems in place then your staff are left to their own devices and your service is guaranteed to fluctuate. Why? You will always have some issues that your customers have created. Remember, one third of customer complaints are caused by your customer. When you have a service recovery system that is designed to support your staff and you understand that customers get things wrong too, then you and your staff won’t freak out when a customer makes a mistake. Instead your staff will help them to resolve their issue in a way that both corrects the issue and allows your customers to save face in the process.

Likewise when your staff make a mistake they won’t freak out either. Instead, they will use the system that is set up to support them to resolve the issue in a fair way that improves your customer’s experience. An interesting anecdote is that resolving customer issues/complaints actually increases customer loyalty. Who wouldn’t want that outcome!

Quote from a research participant

It really annoys me when I know that the level of service that I receive is 100% dependent upon the person who serves me. Jill is great, but the rest of them just don’t stack up to her standards. As soon as I get another realistic choice, I’m going to try another company.

How do you balance human passion with systems and processes?

Gary Ryan has led multiple award winning teams for service excellence and was awarded the honorary title of Senior Assessor for the Customer Service Institute of Australia in 2006.

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

Community sport provides an opportunity to counter global unrest

The recent arrests here in Australia about alleged threats to randomly kidnap and publicly murder an Australian member of the public has certainly brought the reality of the conflict in the Middle East to our shores. The issues and problems involved are unbelievably complex. So complex that it is easy to feel like there is nothing you can do to improve world relations.

I disagree. I believe that we can make a difference one person, one relationship at a time. And community sport is a terrific vehicle to make that difference.

iStock_000009528668MediumI have been involved in community sport for a long time. I have been a senior coach of Australian Rules Football in suburban Melbourne, I coach an Under 15 Boys cricket side for the Oakleigh Cricket Club and I have been heavily involved in assisting and supporting the coaches for my eldest son’s local junior football team. My four eldest children are all involved in sport including basketball, hockey, gymnastics, school aerobics, cricket and Australia Rules Football.

The beauty of sport is that it brings people from different cultures together. This year we had three boys of the Muslim faith play in our premiership winning Under 14 football team. One of the boys is of Afghani decent and the other two boys are of Malaysian decent. They are three of the happiest boys I have ever had the pleasure to meet and are very popular with their team mates. Their families adhere to their faith and are wonderful people. It has been a pleasure to witness how the other boys in the team have supported their Muslim team mates throughout Ramadan. The boys play and have fun together. They are one. Their differences in faith is meaningless. They love and respect each other.

This year we have a boy of Chinese decent joining our cricket club. He has never played cricket before and his family have never had anything to do with cricket. They are on a steep learning curve. But so are we. As they are learning about cricket culture we are learning about their culture. Everyone is winning and everyone is learning how to see each other as equal human beings irrespective of our religious and cultural differences.

I remember when I was a senior football coach for the Monash Gryphons in the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA). One of our team members was a student from Thailand and another was from Russia. Both boys were extremely popular because of their willingness to give our sport a go. But it was more than that. Everyone else at the club benefitted from Ott and Igor sharing their perspective on the world too. Once again we were all able to see each other as equals despite our differences.

It seems to me that the capacity to randomly murder another human being is in part born in not being able to ‘see’ that person as an equal human being. Therefore, any activities, whether they be through sport or in classrooms at school and university, where we have the opportunity to build relationships with fellow human beings who are different to ourselves ought to be where we focus our energy. If we can’t build relationships and tolerate the differences of people within our own communities, how are we going to have any real impact on the world stage?

The constant media reports that link people of the Muslim faith to terrorism have catalysed interesting conversations around our family dinner table. My children are friends with Muslims. They play sport together. My children know that their friends and families are not and will never be terrorists. My children express their concerns to me that only a very, very, very small number of Muslims are terrorists. They point out that people of other faiths are also terrorists. Despite the complexities of this topic I do feel more at ease when we have these family conversations. I am pleased that my children are friends with children of different faiths and different cultures. I am pleased that my children are exposed to their friends showing a commitment to their faith.  It is the challenge to create a society where our differences are not a difference that gives me faith that we can make the world a better place. Community sport is the perfect vehicle to facilitate that reality.

 

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

Leadership Insights Series Interview

Gary Ryan will interview his guest Ian Harvey, Co-Founder of FutureFit Studios. Ian has been State Manager for one of Australia’s largest health club chains and has put his lifelong dream into action by sacrificing literally everything to create a new model for health clubs for the industry.

FUTURE-FIT-LOGO-FINALIn a bold move FutureFit’s membership system is not based purely on time or ongoing contracts. Instead the membership system is based on … you’ll have to join us to find out!

Ian will also be sharing a further seven ‘Points of Difference’ that his new model contains compared to the existing Health Club offerings.

Upon registration you have the opportunity to submit a question that you would like Gary to ask Ian during the webinar.

Seats are limited so please register now!

Date: Thursday 9th October 1pm – 2pm (Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time)

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