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Monday, 11 November 2019

Another Lousy Meeting? It Needs Purpose For Things to Happen!

I came across a maxim recently during an excellent session with speaker Mark Fritz (www.markfritzonline.com) which caused me to give some thought as to its meaning, its value, its relevance to leadership in business and also to its relevance to life in general.  It is very simple and very deep:

·      Think, Feel, Do

It has a significant similarity to the ancient Jewish mysticism of Kaballa which says, in effect, that intuition and understanding lead to knowledge.

Consider that intuition and understanding can be construed as feeling and thinking (in that order) then the acquisition of knowledge will lead to action.

Mark Fritz mentioned that someone had suggested to him that the maxim should be Feel, Think, Do in that order and there is some measure of logic about that.

However, the logic (at least, my logic) would say that we initially think about a situation and feelings about it then start to develop.

The route to action consists of thinking about the situation and then drilling down into our feeling to help us determine what to do and probably how to do it.

However, the more important question to ask ourselves is WHY do we do it?  Unless we know categorically why we take action in any circumstance then we achieve little more than activity and that can be pointless and valueless.

How many times have you been to a meeting which went on for ages, you have come out of the meeting room and wondered what the meeting had been about?

How often as a leader have you asked for a decision about something only to be told that “we just need a bit more information to be on the safe side”?

Do you, as a leader, ask your people what they FEEL about a situation rather than just what they think about it?

Ask yourself a really important question – how many meetings have you attended where the very first item on the agenda is a statement of the purpose of the meeting?  Perhaps to make a decision about capital expenditure, about marketing effectiveness or about changes which need to be made in the business?

Unless there is a stated desired outcome the meeting has no purpose other than to discuss and that in itself can be extremely frustrating.

A meeting must have a purpose, an objective which needs to be SMART:

·      Specific – the objective of the meeting must be stated with clarity
·      Measurable – the outcome must be measured against an accepted norm
·      Achievable – everyone concerned must know and accept the route to success
·      Relevant – if it isn’t relevant to the overall business, why is it being discussed?
·      Time based – no arguments, no discussion, no excuses; the objective must be delivered on time.

It is all about purpose; everything that we do in business must be allied to what outcome we intend to achieve.  Notice, the word is INTEND, not hope, not wish, not try, but INTEND.  That way there is more likely to be a positive outcome.


Ivan J Goldberg
Author, professional writer, content producer and leadership specialist.      
Email me me for a discussion via ivan.goldberg@maa-uk.co.uk


Sunday, 3 November 2019

What do Your People Want at Work? These Ideas Can Help!

One of the minor irritations in life these days is the proliferation of those tweets, updates, statuses and the like which list the “10 Ways to be a Successful.....“ or “6 Top Tips to Financial.....“ and so on.

I suppose that one of the drawbacks of regular blogging is the danger of falling into a state of imagined invincibility and I promise that I will try to avoid just that.

Even so, I recently did fall into the trap of listing some aspects of leadership that I really do consider significant and as they had originally been devised by Google, I felt that there was some valid reason for passing them on.

If followers can give an opinion of what they would like in a leader (and rightly so), why not some thoughts of what a leader looks for in the team and what would contribute to a happy, motivated and productive workforce?

So going right against my better judgement, the following are some random thoughts which would tend to improve our enjoyment and pleasure at work, and why not indeed?

Be Positive

There is nothing so depressing as being around people with a negative slant on life.  It really does drain all the energy out of a group and can be very catching.  That excellent speaker on leadership, John Cremer, uses the “Yes, and....(rather than Yes, but.....)” method which raises the energy and increases the positivity in any discussion.

Learn Constantly

There is a lovely question about experience which I heard recently: “Is it 20 years experience or is it one year’s experience repeated 20 times?”.  The fact is that unless we continue to learn and consciously, then we stultify and I strongly believe that can lead to real problems as we age.

Constant, conscious and consistent learning is vital part of business life.

Be Open

There is little worse than being with people who always seem to hide their inner feelings or, more frequently, don’t disclose what they are doing or achieving. 

It may be a defence mechanism at work but it contributes to a lack of trust.  Openness and transparency in business is essential even in difficult times when being honest and bringing people together can help in a tough situation.

Participate

Don’t just stand there – join in!  The very act of joining in a project or being part of a team generates job satisfaction while hovering on the outskirts of the scrum without taking part brands you as an outsider.  Taking part enthusiastically in what is happening increases the enjoyment of the process and builds confidence.

Find Meaning

Someone once questioned three artisans who were working on the construction of a cathedral and asked the fist “What are you doing?” to receive the reply “I’m laying bricks and that is my job”.  The next one replied “I’m constructing a wall for the outside of the building”.

The third person said: “I am building a cathedral to the glory of G-d”.

That is a perfect example of what it is to have purpose and meaning in what we are doing.

Respect

Whatever we do, whomsoever we deal with, all needs to be done with respect to their feelings, to their needs and aspirations and to their abilities.   Everyone has something to offer, to a greater or lesser extent, and accepting that fact requires respect.

We can’t demand respect; it has to be earned.

That is the end of the philosophical debate for today and, I promise, the end of the “How to do” or “How to be” lists from me. 

Sure, this is just a GBO (Glimpse of the Blindingly Obvious with thanks to sadly missed speaker, Ray Wilshire) but it isn’t a bad idea to mull it over from time to time.


Ivan J Goldberg
Author, professional writer, content producer and leadership specialist.      
Email me for a discussion via ivan.goldberg@maa-uk.co.uk


Sunday, 27 October 2019

Unsure, Uncertain, Can't Decide? Trust Your Memory Bank and Make a Decision!

Some years ago I went to see one of my clients for his regular one-to-one mentoring session.  He greeted me with a rather gloomy look and the odd sigh.

I took the hint and asked him what appeared to be the problem.

He said: "I am beginning to have certainties"

Knowing him to be a very collaborative and inclusive leader I could see how this would affect him.

He was anything but proscriptive (except on very rare occasions) so to have certainties implied, to him, that he was having doubts about his leadership style.

We talked it through in a lot of detail and he began to accept that there is nothing wrong in being certain of a solution in a situation.  In fact that is the precursor to a quick decision in many cases.

Even in major events the leader's responsibility is to come to a decision and if this is his/her own decision rather than one tested with others then so be it.

Time may be of the essence and a lengthy discussion with others could well pose a problem, so, yes, go ahead, make a decision based on your certainty and live with the result.

It's all a matter of balance in dealing with situations. Some need a deal of thought and some can be disposed of more quickly and effectively.  There is no right or wrong in these matters.

On the other hand, the far more difficult part of the leader's role is dealing with uncertainty.

However we define it, it can be the "we know what we don't know" problem and in that case a certainty can be exactly the wrong approach.

Being a recanted engineer my own default position is always to gather as much information as possible. That gives me a feeling of comfort that I have begun to make inroads into the "don't know" scenario.

However I also recall another of my clients who constantly complained that his Number Two, an engineer, always achieved paralysis by analysis.

The fact was that in his eyes, you could never have enough information with the consequence that he was constantly researching and seldom came to a satisfactory conclusion.

It's an attitude that can be compared to the accountant who is firmly against estimated figures and tries to produce monthly management accounts accurate to the nearest penny.

Pointless and unnecessary but it does happen even if the management accounts are six weeks late because “he didn't have all the invoices in”.

There comes a time in the life of every leader when an uncertainty pops up and the only thing to do is make a decision on what is cheerfully termed "gut instinct".

No such thing of course.  I certainly wouldn't trust my guts to make a sensible decision.

Gut instinct is a synonym for expertise based on experience and there is nothing wrong in trusting it from time to time.

A problem arises and it is something that is out of the ordinary.  However the odds are that there will be something in the situation, a felling of familiarity perhaps, that leads one to search through the database we call the subconscious and latch on to a previous and similar occasion.

It isn't instinct. Fight, flight, freeze is instinctive and comes from deep inside the brain prompted by perceived danger.

Experience leads to expertise and the more we are able to recall from the memory bank, the more likely we are to draw on a past experience.  That leads to better decision-making.

And if we can't specifically match past experience with a current issue then still trust your feelings about it.  It isn't gut instinct. Past experience always colours the present and helps you come to a decision.

A bad decision is always better than no decision.

Take a look at The Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters. It's a great and enlightening read.


Ivan J Goldberg
Author, professional writer, content producer and leadership specialist.      
Email me for a discussion via ivan.goldberg@maa-uk.co.uk



Sunday, 20 October 2019

Want to Change Someone’s Behaviour? Try a Little Acceptance Instead!

One of the things that we find difficult to accept or even understand is that everyone is unique with different talents, different attitudes, different abilities and they probably look different too.

All of this makes nonsense of generalist initiatives that make the assumption that if we treat everyone in the same way then we will get the same outcome from everyone.

I recall talking to a client some time ago when he told me that he was intending to make substantial changes to the working environment that would generate enthusiasm in the team.

He did just that and, lo and behold, there were at least 10% of the people who complained that it wasn’t as good as previously and they didn’t like the change.

For some time I have been banging on about people in the business with a poor attitude and rightly so.  They can be a toxic influence and need rapid and decisive action on the part of the leader.

However, there is the other factor of behaviour that is perhaps subtly different from that of attitude.

Recalling the Performance/Attitude matrix one very important square is that with only adequate performance but good attitude with the implication that the individual is willing to be trained in the skills that would make them into a Good Performer with Good Attitude, a very desirable state.

The fact is that as people are unique we need to examine then individually to see how and if they will adapt to change and take on board new ideas and processes.

That requires a subtle amalgam of attitude and behaviour, good attitude leading to good behaviour and vice versa.  I agree that that is a wild generalisation but like all generalisations it contains a modicum of truth somewhere.

The fact is that most people who we value in the business will still have some behavioural traits that perhaps either irritate or even actually militate against good practice.

In discussion with one of my clients recently he told me of two senior people (Directors) in the business, both of whom were good performers and had generally excellent attitude but not to each other.

In fact they were at opposite ends of the continuum that starts at ‘Quiet And Gets On With It’ and ends at ‘Noisy, Brash and Impetuous’.

At this stage we need to examine the individuals in the round and ask a few questions.

For example, how significant is the output of each person?  What is their individual contribution to the business?  Could we do without either of them?

Even though they are not wholly compatible in this case it is perhaps a matter of compromise on the part of the leader.

Provided that all the answers to the questions are positive and we want to keep both of them, then it is up to the leader to realise that people can’t be changed and at some stage we either accept the vagaries of their behaviour as well as the good contribution they make.

It is a very tough call for the leader; accepting perhaps that 20% of what someone brings to the table will irritate and annoy while happily accepting that the good outweighs the bad demands maturity and some humility.

It means getting things into perspective; realising the uniqueness of people will always result in differences some of which are acceptable and some downright impossible to live with.

There are undoubtedly some facets of behaviour that irritate. The question is, do they militate against effective performance and if not, get real and live with it.

It’s a matter of balance on the end.  Add up the positives, determine the negatives and make a decision.

Ivan J Goldberg
Author, professional writer, content producer and leadership specialist.      
Email me me for a discussion via ivan.goldberg@maa-uk.co.uk