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Are you a Chameleon or a ‘True to Selfer’ type of Leader?

6th December 2017

Authentic Leadership

Are you a chameleon or a ‘true to selfer’ type of leader?

This is not a trick question. If you answered a ‘true to selfer’ than that is great news. It say’s that you are clear about who you are as a person and not trying to be someone you are not.

You’re likely to act with great personal integrity and make choices according to your values.

If you answered a chameleon then that is even better! Why do I say that? Well, it’s because you are able to adapt to your surroundings.

To be a great leader these days you have to be able to read what is going on around you and act in a way that is going to take people with you. If you walk into a room and ask “How do I need to be in this situation?” You are likely to get a better result than if you walked in without any forethought and simply reacted to what was going on around you.

Adapt and flex

This requires a degree of flexibility and you can only do this well once you are a ‘true to selfer’. It’s not about blending in so no-one can see you – which typically is what a chameleon does. It’s about blending in in style and how you behave.

For example; if you are normally a highly energetic person who takes the lead and the situation in front of you requires a more thoughtful, reflective and calm approach, you need to able to adapt and respond easily and very congruently.

Moments of conflict are the best situations to look at. Do you rush in to get your point of view across or walk away? Neither of these are great options.

Better still, do you take the time to go to where the other person is and understand their position and then discuss a way forward from there?

Being able to blend coherently is an art and requires practice, a huge degree of self awareness and awareness of others.

How can I be more like a chameleon?

To develop these skills become more playful with yourself. We have a natural tendency to criticise ourselves and beat ourselves up when we get something wrong. STOP! Instead take a playful approach and be more curious.

  • Consider some situations in the past and how you could have acted differently.
  • If there is a relationship you know needs building, consider how you can act differently.
  • If there is a regular meeting you attend and you know you have challenges with it, consider how you may show up differently.

Try it out, see what works and then adapt.

Leadership is a life long journey so keep playing and practicing.

“Adults are more likely to act their way into a new way of thinking that to think their way into a new way of thinking”

Richard Pascale

If you feel you’ve explore all your options and need some additional support email me for a free discovery call to explore how we may be able to work together.

Photo by sanjiv nayak on Unsplash

 

5 reasons why you should invest in your Personal Brand

16th November 2017
Personal Brand

What does your brand say about you?

As a leader you are on show all of the time and people are watching you, even when you think they aren’t!

Your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room, the impact you make and the qualities people see in you.

Getting to grips with your brand begins with self-awareness. It’s understanding what motivates you – your values, your strengths, how you are perceived, and then utilising these to your advantage.

It is essential that you invest time to cultivate your image – remember that others perceptions are their reality. When you take the time to understand who you are and present this definition to the public, your will reap the benefits that come with taking control of your personal brand. Being your own marketeer and PR agent!

Invest in your Personal Brand

Investing in your Personal Brand will allow you to:

  1. Positively manage your impact

When you are clear about your identity and the impact you want to create you will more consistently behave in a way that is aligned to your brand and connect with the right people.

  1. Clearly articulate who you are and what you are about

When you are clear about your brand you will be clear about your values, your purpose, your skills and the value you bring to any organisation, or team.

Identifying your values, passions, and strengths will help you realize what you need to communicate in your brand. Once you understand what you have to offer, you will create a brand that is both honest and positive. It will allow others to see you in all your glory.

  1. Connect your ability to the reputation you have/want

When you are clear about your brand you can clearly express what you are expert at. What you do best and what you are the ‘go to’ person for in terms of your experience and skills?

  1. Identify areas in which you may need to develop and/or manage yourself more effectively

When you are clear about your brand and the reputation you want to create you will easily be able to identify skills, experience and behaviours you need to develop to fulfil this on an ongoing basis.

  1. Differentiate yourself from others

When you are clear about your brand you will easily be able to differentiate yourself from your competitors. You’ll communicate what makes you unique.

Take Action

Committing to your brand requires you to take action every day. It is about being consistent. Every interaction with your brand needs to build a sense of reliability. Taking daily action is the only way to make this happen.

Everyone has a chance to stand out. Everyone has a chance to learn, improve, and build their skills. Everyone has a chance to be a brand worthy of remark.

If you are interested in discovering your own brand with ease call me and I’ll share with you my approach to achieving this

If you would like a free copy of my Demystifying Personal Branding simply complete the sign up box at the top of the page.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernhard Shaw.

5 Myths about Personal Branding

31st October 2017

Personal Branding

When I introduce the topic of personal branding I often get blank looks, resistance or people start talking about social media.

As the conversation progresses the following objections are often revealed:

  1. Branding is only for products.

Whether you like it or not you have a brand. It’s the reputation you have. The question for you to consider is: is that reputation aligned to how I want to be known? If it’s not then there is some work to do.

You can choose to understand your brand and maximize it to achieve your aspirations; or let it manage you and wonder why the same things seem to happen to you!

If personal branding was only for products, it wouldn’t be something recruiters are interested in understanding about possible candidates.

  1. Personal Branding is inauthentic, “you can’t possibly pigeon hole people!” 

That is correct, you can’t pigeon hole people. What you can do is discover what your real assets are and how to best utilise these so you get to do the work you love. It’s more about how you stand out.

When you take the approach I do, which is to discover you from the inside out, it can only be authentic. It is being authentic to who you are that stands the test of time. This is how great brands last!

  1. Personal Branding is all about your online presence.

True. There is an element of this that will link to any online presence you have. The art is to be consistent in how you come across both online and offline.

If you appear one way online and when people meet you you’re different they will be confused and potentially suspicious.

  1. I’m too busy Personal Branding is not important right now.

Well you may be busy and it may not seem important right now, AND you are communicating a brand already! You could be doing this inconsistently so people don’t really understand what they get from working with you.

Spending time on your brand will help you focus your efforts more effectively and be noticed for what you want to be known for.

Personal Branding IS important.

  1. Personal Branding is far too difficult and I don’t have the time or money to invest in hiring a Marketing consultant.

Personal Branding doesn’t require an awful lot of investment. During the process you’ll get some valuable feedback that reinforces all the good that you do.

It doesn’t require a Marketing consultant either.

I have a process that will allow you to get to the heart of your brand within a day. Having achieved that you’ll be motivated to do more and find it VERY easy.

So… if you are ready to own your brand and stand out send me an email. We can set up a complimentary discovery call to assess how best you can move forward and be the leader you were born to be.

“Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” 

Henry David Thoreau 

 

3 Simple Steps to Emotional Mastery

18th October 2017

Emotional Mastery

Since Daniel Goleman popularised Emotional Intelligence with his book of the same name, it’s been a core part of any good leadership development initiative.

And yet, I wonder how well these programmes are executed and how seriously it is taken compared to getting the job done. I am sure you can all site emotionally charged conversations and situations in the workplace. How many of them could have been avoided if the individuals concerned were more emotionally intelligent and emotionally self-aware?

Emotional Mastery, as with all things in the leadership domain, is work in progress. We are continually faced with new situations and ‘tested’ on how we respond. After all it’s out personal impact that is assessed more than our competence!

As humans our emotions drive our behaviour and help us make sense of the experiences we are having. Because of the way our brains are wired we can also recognise emotions in others and the moment we move into a management or leadership position the focus of our work moves from the technical to the social. This requires us to be much more alert to the emotions of everyone at play.

Emotions predate thoughts in the evolution of the human species. Emotions condition our actions and our experience and define the range of possible behaviours we exhibit. Consider for a moment how you respond when you are feeling fearful, excitement or calm.

In each of these your body will react in a different way. You may sit of stand slightly differently, your breathing may change, the muscles in your face will be different and your heart rate may vary. Every emotion affects us physically.

If leadership is always work in progress, and emotional intelligence is a core competency, how do we become masters of our emotions?

Toward Emotional Mastery

Here 3 simple steps of how you can become more masterful in understanding and managing your own emotions:

Self-awareness. Become more conscious how about how you are feeling at any point in time and name that emotion. You can do this at any point in the day, when you wake up, as you walk into a meeting, on the way home or after a phone call. There are endless possibilities throughout the day.

In those moments become more aware of how you are physically and the behaviours that you display. Be objective. Become an observer of yourself rather than being hi-jacked by your emotion. Name it and accept it without judgement.

Self-regulation. Be in control and regulate your impulses. Direct your emotional energy appropriately. It is not always appropriate to express how you are feeling there and then! Recognise and personally acknowledge your impulses without having them take over. Treat them as good advisors and decide when and where is the best place is to express how you are feeling.

Self-expression. Most people I know can, and will, express positive emotions however, find it more difficult to express negative emotions. This is usually because they are associated with negative experiences in the past that have caused pain. When explored these experiences often go back to when we were a child and interpreted the world differently to how we do as adults. They may well be distorted so it’s always worth exploring the stories behind how you are feeling to determine if they are true.

Healthy self-expression is a way of responding to what life throws at you both positively and negatively.

If you are still unsure about the value of negative emotions read this poem:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

Who violently sweep your house

Empty of it’s furniture,

Still, treat each guest honourably.

He may be clearing out

For some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing,

And invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent

As a guide from above.

Rumi

(taken from Conscious Business by Fred Kofman)

Where are you on your personal journey? If you feel you would like some personal support to enable you to be the best that you can be email me to set up a free discovery call and explore what might be the best next steps for you.

‘The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become.

Heracleitus

 

Personal Mastery – Becoming Intelligent about Yourself

5th October 2017

personal mastery

It’s easy to go through life comparing yourself to other people, wishing you could be like John or Ann, or criticising yourself for the way you do things, or the way you look. However, it’s not helpful.

It tends to put you in a negative loop with a focus on others rather than on yourself.

One of my fundamental beliefs is that you cannot lead and develop others until you first learn to lead and develop your self.

To do this you need to get to know yourself and understand who you are so you can play to your strengths and embrace your limitations. The more you do this the more authentic you will be and it will ooze out of you!

This is easier said than done. We are all human and none of us are perfect, so being able to recognise strengths and limitations can take time and a degree of humility. It requires a commitment to personal growth and mastering who you are.

It is worth it in the long run. You’ll feel stronger and others will recognise your inner confidence.

What does Personal Mastery mean?

Personal mastery requires you to establish an intimate understanding of who you are.

It is about learning how you operate when things are going well and how you operate when they are not going so well. It is about being clear about what is important to you, and it’s about knowing what will really fulfil you in your life.

It’s all about you!

It’s the degree to which you own your reactions and make yourself accountable for every emotion, feeling and thought you have.

A good test to how well you have developed is to consider how you handle adversity. Do you become emotional or do you pause, reflect and take everything in your stride – responding to what is best for the common good.

Deepening your self-awareness – the foundation to personal mastery

Embarking and facing into who you are can be scary. Occasionally you may not like what you see in the mirror. That’s often because you start by looking at what ‘is wrong’ or what you don’t like. If you find yourself doing this STOP!

Start by looking at all the things you like and all the things you are good at. Then, and only then, look at what is less ‘loved’ and consider how you may use that as an asset or manage it more appropriately.

The path to being the best you can be guides you to being more aware of your beliefs, attitudes and behaviour. It enables you to accept yourself and be responsible for your action, attitude, thoughts and the impact you have.

This will make you a better leader who inspires others to grow and your improvement will influence others and eventually change the world!

Learning to lead your self is an evolutionary journey. Every time you raise your self-awareness you will shift the way you handle situations.

Wherever you are on your leadership journey there is always something to learn as you face new situations.

Become a masterful observer of your self!

“Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.” 

Barbara Geraci

 

Get Connected!

20th September 2017

 

Connected teams

 

Can you recall a time when you were working in a team and had the feeling that everything was moving along brilliantly? The team was working well together. There was a sense of creativity and fun and you were producing great results. As you remember that time, ask yourself:

‘What were the factors that made it all happen? How did it feel like to work with this team?’

My guess is you felt connected to the moment, the challenge, the task, the team and to yourself. It might have been a big challenge and at the same time it was all manageable. Everyone felt connected!

How can you recreate the circumstances that resulted in such a successful and fulfilling work experience?

Creating the right environment 

Many leaders are waking up to the fact that the most important factor for the success of their team or organisation is culture. The way you behave together can make or break the organisation or team.

Creating the ‘right’ culture is not like installing a process or system. It is not static. It’s dynamic, something that is growing, very much like a garden. To grow a successful garden you must prepare the soil, plant the right seeds, and then maintain an environment that optimises the growth of healthy plants. For example ensure adequate water, sunlight and compost to stimulate growth root out the weeds that impede the growth of the desired plants.

This work involves everyone. You need to invest time to connect to your team. Then you must make sure that the systems you have and the structure is aligned to the environment you want to create. Most important of all is that you walk-the-talk and give recognition to positive and wanted behaviour as well as acting firmly on unacceptable behaviour.

Recognising when things are not aligned and connected

When everyone and everything is aligned things happen easily and effortlessly.

When there is little alignment the following can happen:

  • Conflict(s) within team, with customer, with Steering Committee, with the line organisation
  • Conflicting needs/demands
  • Lack of trust among stakeholders
  • Your stakeholders don’t share the same agenda
  • Different view on deliverables
  • Conflicting requirements/directives
  • Lack of aligned line management commitment
  • Team members unhappy – leave the
  • Communication problems:
    • Lack of open and honest communication
    • The team members and/or different sub-teams do not co-operate/communicate
    • Information hoarding
    • Relationship conflicts and / or political agenda leading to blame and manipulation in communication

By investing in activities that clarify our relationship issues up front and throughout the team life cycle, we will enable the team to better focus on the task and work more effectively.

Successful leaders focus on communication and empowering their teams to deliver both the long and short-term strategy.

How aligned is your team?

If you want a harvest in a year, grow a crop…

If you want a harvest in ten years, grow a tree…

If you want a harvest that will last for a life time, grow people.

-Chinese Proverb

If you feel you need some help in aligning your team and creating an environment for success email me to set up a free discovery all to see what could be done.

What great managers do to foster engagement in their teams

6th September 2017

Team Engagement

Great managers release the energy and potential of people. They do this by:

  • Selecting for talent
  • Defining the right outcomes
  • Focusing on strengths
  • When developing someone, helping them find the right fit for their future

It sounds really simple and yet most organisation don’t have great engagement results.

Gallup conducted some brilliant research 20 years ago around what it takes to engage employees and I think it stands true today. Here is a summary of what they found:

The Hierarchy of Engagement

From joining an organisation to being fully engaged is a journey, and the research identified there is a sequence that each employee goes through.

Base camp: What do I get?

When you first start a new role, your needs are about what is expected of you. How much you will earn, whether you’ll have an office etc. It’s about having the tools to do your job effectively.

Camp 1: What do I give?

As you progress your perspective changes and you start asking different questions. You want to know how you are doing and your individual contribution, so feedback is key.

Camp 2: Do I belong here?

As you progress further so does your perspective and this is when you start to ask questions around whether you belong. Is everyone else driven the same as you are?

Camp 3: How can we all grow?

When you get to this stage, you are impatient for everyone to improve, you want to make things better, to learn, to grow and innovate. All the other questions have to be satisfied before you get to this stage.

What do great managers do?

Great managers take aim at base camp and camp 1 and nurture people to give of their best and play to their strengths. They make it a daily/weekly event by:

  • Connecting with each employee
  • Focusing on outcomes
  • Looking to the future to get the best out of their employees.

If someone isn’t performing they identify the gap, provide the support and if that doesn’t work find a job that is right for them.

They know that the core of a strong and vibrant workforce is engagement.

If this has whet your appetite you can find out more in the book First break all the rules.

“Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.”

Peter Drucker

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness

23rd August 2017

Mindfulness

If you’re reading this at work or maybe on the bus or on the tube then you’re looking at a screen either that’s on your phone or your laptop. More than likely everyone else around you is doing the same. They’re in a world of their own, completely engrossed, not aware of anything going on around them.

So here is my question to you, how often are you actually present?

By this I mean in the moment 100%. Here, now, both physically and mentally with no thoughts or internal dialogue.

These days it’s easy to have our attention diverted from what’s happening around us by all sorts of things. At work this results in us finding difficulty focusing on the task in hand, our thoughts wander and we try to do too many things at once.

We’re pulled in many different directions, succumbing to the many demands on our time. Attention is scattered across many projects and it’s hard to ‘stay focused’. This can feel like being overloaded and leads to distractedness, confusion and poor decision-making.

Becoming more present and mindful of what is actually happening in the moment can help us. When you are really present you:

  1. Can be more flexible giving you the ability to ‘ebb and flow’ in the moment.
  2. Are more able to access your own intuition and “trust your gut.”
  3. Are more open to not knowing and takes risks.
  4. See more options to work with those around you and choose, in the moment, what is most effective.
  5. Use humour effectively to create lightness and energy.
  6. Confidently shift perspectives and experiment with new possibilities.
  7. Will be more confident in working with strong emotions without being overpowered by them.

So what is mindfulness and how do we practice it?

Mindfulness could be described as bringing your whole self into the room, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. It’s about clearing your mind and not being distracted by your own thoughts and stories and being ‘still’. It’s about being engaged in the relationship, connecting and then noticing what comes up. In this way you are more open to observe feelings and actions being transmitted by others and, pick up on what may not be being transmitted.

For me this is about being really centred and grounded so you can truly connect with the person or people you are working with.

Distraction leads us to not look deeply at situations, to stay at the superficial level. Mindfulness – being present helps us be focused on what really matters in the here and now. It can help us stay objective and make better decisions for the future.

We’re probably already practising mindfulness in our personal lives if we meditate, do yoga, or activities that promote calm thoughts and an awareness of our body. Or we might feel really ‘in the moment’ when out for a walk, enjoying the first spring sun on our face or noticing the changing colours of the autumn leaves.

What if I don’t have a mindfulness practice how do I get started? 

You can practice in many situations. I encourage people to find moments in the day to be really present e.g. walking down the street, sitting on the bus or tube, looking out of the window. Notice what’s happening around you.

Look up from the screen and try it now. There’s no time like the present!

“The answers you seek never come when the mind is busy, they come when the mind is still, when silence speaks loudest.” 

Leon Brown

 

The impact you have matters!

11th July 2017

Impact

As a leader you are on show all of the time. People notice your substance as well as your style and your job is to take people with you.

So, how are you doing on that score?

To take people with you you have to engage their hearts and minds. To do this you have to engage your own heart and mind and use them in equal proportions.

How do you get people to listen to you, remember you and act on your words?

More often than not it’s not about the content yet, that’s where most of us put our focus. It’s about the way you engage with others;

  • How you emotionally respond
  • How you listen
  • How you speak
  • How you move

This requires a great deal of self-awareness and it is my personal belief that you cannot lead others until you first learn to lead yourself.

Knowing yourself well equates to recognising your own thoughts and feelings in the moment and choosing how to respond. It means making an instant decision on how to express what your thinking and feeling and what may be appropriate.

People who are good at this generally have that ‘je ne sais quoi’. They have gravitas, presence, that invisible ingredient that makes the difference and we can all have it. It just takes practice.

It’s about the knowledge of the mind and body working together.

It all starts with self-awareness

Start by noticing how you are walking or how you are sitting. Are your feet planted firmly on the floor. Do you feel grounded – connected to the ground? Take some time to really feel supported by the ground beneath your feet.

Now pay attention to your spine and your head. Are they straight? Are you in your full length and relaxed. There should be no tension in your torso. This will make you look confident even if it feels a little awkward at first. The awkwardness is simply because you are putting your body in a different shape.

Now take a deep breath, from your diaphragm and continue to breath from there. The Greeks said underneath the diaphragm was the somatic seat of your intellect – the mental powers key to understanding. For me it helps you tap into your intuition.

Practice walking around like this and taking this position in meetings. You’ll find your voice changes and you’ll speak a little slower.

Notice when your shape changes and what causes this and then go back to this practice of being more present.

By doing so you will enable you to:

  • Be graceful under pressure
  • Stand your ground
  • Stick to your vision
  • Be aware of others so you can blend with them and bring them on board.

There is a subtlety to taking people with you and engaging them. It’s not about ‘force’ or using your positional power. It is about using your personal power which you can only do when you are relaxed and connected to who you are.

Have fun practicing and if you want to know more please email me and I’ll set up a free discovery call.

“Practice isn’t the thing you do when you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

Malcolm Gladwell

Switching your brain into airplane mode…

15th June 2017

In a world where we are always ‘on’ it can be hard to actually switch off. This is exacerbated the fact we have so many electronic devices that can distract us both in and out of the workplace.

However, our thinking brain has a limited amount of capacity and actually needs some time to recover. We can then be at our best more of the time.

In reality, we can’t switch off our brain. If we did we’d be dead as it ensures our body is functioning. So, how do you quieten your brain and get to a place where you are relaxed and alert at the same time? Airplane mode!

You’ll all be familiar with airplane mode on your phone or tablet, whether you use it or not. When you put your phone (or tablet) on airplane mode you suspend transmission and it stops you receiving and sending calls, texts and emails. GPS, wifi, Bluetooth and location services are all switched off.

The benefits of airplane mode

What I hadn’t realised until I recently read this article, is that there are advantages to using airplane mode when you are not in the air or on a plane!! They are:

  1. You can save your battery life. On those days where you have forgotten your charger switch to airplane mode. It allows you to read files, check time and take photos while significantly reducing the background work. You can then switch off airplane when you need to make a call.
  2. You can speed up charging. When you have a limited amount of time and need to charge your phone, switching on airplane mode will speed up the process.
  3. Avoid distractions. When you know you need some quiet time or do not need any distractions switch to airplane mode. You’ll still be able to check your files or time and will not be tempted to pick up the phone to any messages coming in because you won’t be getting them!!

3 ways to Switch your brain to airplane mode

It struck me that taking some time in the day to switch off some of our own transmission would help in utilising our own brain batteries more effectively. Here are 3 simple ways to start practicing. You can do them all sitting at your desk, going for a walk, on the train and in the car.

Mindful breathing

If you are not used to doing this start be doing it for a few minutes only and gradually build from there. Pay attention to how you are breathing. The inhale, the exhale and the space in between. Focus on this and you’ll find it calms the whole body and quietens your brain.

Listen to calm music

I do mean listen. Don’t just have it on in the background, unless of course you are doing mindful breathing!

Avoid distraction

If you need 10 minutes of quiet time, actually switch off your phone, close the door and stop any interruption.

Be alert and relaxed!

I’d love to know how you get on and if you have any other ideas leave a comment below.

“Shifting from mindful to mindless work gives the brain time to process complex problems in a relaxed state and also restores the energy necessary for the next round of mindful work”

Erin Rooney Doland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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