Leadership Insights

Leadership insights from a (reasonably) normal bloke to provoke, challenge & inspire. To subscribe please click on the envelope on the right of the green bar below

The ultimate lesson of leadership - from 6th Century BC to Chocolate Hob Nobs!?!

The ultimate lesson of leadership - from 6th Century BC to Chocolate Hob Nobs!?!

More than 20 centuries of leadership wisdom condensed into less than 20 minutes. Using wisdom from the ancient world, the modern age and chocolate Hob Nobs discover there are only 2 things about leadership that you need to know - and do!

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If you allowed this to happen what kind of leader would you be?

If you allowed this to happen what kind of leader would you be?

The NHS is the best health service in the world.  Fact.  That’s not simply an opinion – last year an international panel of experts rated its care as superior to countries spending far more on health.

Today I had the privilege of running a leadership master class for NHS Scotland. They were engaged, challenging and appreciative – a pleasure to work with. Yet I couldn’t help but notice a sense of exhaustion. 

I know NHS demand far outstrips the available resource so the exhaustion is no surprise. But there was more to it than that. At the start of the day they were passionate but they weren’t proud. They were enthusiastic but not effervescent. They were interested but not inspired.

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Look after your shed!

Look after your shed!

When I have too much to do and not enough time to do it over an extended period of time my behaviour starts to shift to 'less than inspirational'!  If you are a regular human being you are probably just the same.  

At times like this make sure you look after your shed.

That's not quite as strange as it sounds.  Your shed isn't the jumbled mess at the bottom of your garden, its the most basic things to practice when times are hard so that you can be at your best - and inspire the best in others.

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Conflict has the answer

Conflict has the answer

We’ve all been there. A difficult team meeting followed by furtive ‘corridor conversations.’ But not only have we been frustrated by these secret conversations – we will almost certainly have participated in them too. These conversations do far more than vent frustration – because in effect they undermine the very fabric of the team.

For the team to function effectively everything needs to be said in the room as a team. Holding back opinions, concerns and ideas until after the meeting weakens the decisions made, weakens the commitment to them, weakens relationships and weakens the team. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the most effective teams will say what they really think in the meeting room so the team can have a full, clear picture before reaching a conclusion.

However, this takes understanding, an inclination to listen as a team, and most of all the courage to be vulnerable.

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Perfect leaders don't inspire anyone

Perfect leaders don't inspire anyone

Last time I claimed vulnerability was the crowning glory that completes a connection.

Rather than describe it simply as a concept, let me show you what I mean.

I don’t know about you, but as I read books I find myself putting the author on some sort of pedestal. After all they’ve written a book and most people who talk about writing a book do no more than talk. The more books I read the more pedestals I create, and the more pedestals I create the taller they become, until I am left looking up into the lofty heights of authordom feeling woefully inadequate. And as I attempt to write my book all sorts of thoughts run round my head. What am I doing? Who am I to write a book? I’m not a professor. I don’t even have a PhD. What am I thinking?

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The magic ingredient in brilliant team relationships

The magic ingredient in brilliant team relationships

The right seasoning can crown a delicious meal. If we want to crown our ability to connect with others we need to add the magic ingredient.

Vulnerability.

The days of the boss who had all the answers should be wisely left in the last century with Taylor’s Scientific management (see the bad smell of scientific management). He unknowingly put a massive amount of pressure on generations of managers. We have been left with the legacy of “I’m the boss – I’m supposed to have all the answers – it’s my job! If I admit that I don’t have all the answers then surely that makes me weak”

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Find out what's really going on in your organisation (Listening - part 2)

Find out what's really going on in your organisation (Listening - part 2)

 

Only a fool thinks they have all the answers.  Don't be one - make sure you listen.

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Get out of your own way

Get out of your own way

At school I was one of the tallest boys in the year – which made me something of a target for any kid who wanted to show off. I had no interest in fighting, so when these situations arose I would walk round the corner and stand in front of the staffroom window - but on the odd occasion I would find myself with no way out. The thing was, because I really didn’t want to fight half of me would end up throwing a punch – and the other half of me would be pulling it back at the same time. Not exactly the way to make an impact, and it’s safe to say none of these fights were particularly impressive!

And we can be like that at work – whether it’s an individual, team or organisational level we could save SO much time and energy simply by getting out of our own way.

I often get asked the question – “What is internal alignment? It sounds like a weird medical procedure?!”   No surgery is necessary.   Internal alignment is capturing the power of ‘getting out of your own way’.

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Would You Pass 'The Big Red Bus Test'?

Would You Pass 'The Big Red Bus Test'?

The ULTIMATE test of any leader is ‘the big red bus test’.

The question is - would you pass?

Impending holidays arouse mixed feelings of both relief and dread. Relief at being able to step off the hamster wheel – and dread when you think about ‘clearing the decks’ before you go or, even worse, what horrors will be waiting for you when you get back?

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Frontal Lobotomies Are Not Required

Frontal Lobotomies Are Not Required

The MBA for leadership blaggers – Part 4

In  “Beware the ‘Heathrow Airport’ school of leadership”we introduced the last centuries’ key theories on leadership: 

  •       Trait theory
  •       Behavioural theory
  •       Contingency theory
  •       Transformational theory
  •       Authentic leadership

Having looked at the first two, lets look at the last three on one final bite of potted leadership history.

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Empty office at 5pm? Maybe it's you?

Empty office at 5pm?  Maybe it's you?

John Maxwell talks about 5 levels of leadership.

Level 1 is when people work for you because you’re the boss - and for no other reason.  This is where office hours finish at 5:00pm yet every desk is clear at 4:55 pm for ‘goodbyes’ and nipping to the toilet in work time rather than after work hours!  Or five minutes before end of the shift there is already a queue at the clock machine, each one changed and poised to slide the card through the reader the moment the shift is officially at an end. 

This is where people give you their minimum, not their best.  However…

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How to unload a 747 of Jelly Beans...

How to unload a 747 of Jelly Beans...

I’ve come across some odd interview questions in my time but one or two on this list take some beating. My favourite is about unloading a 747 full of jelly beans. Answers range from ‘just say no’ and ‘sell all-you-can-eat tickets to kids’ to …. well, take a look for yourself: http://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Oddball-Interview-Questions-LST_KQ0,27.htm

And after you have taken a look, take a look at this: http://www.artofbrilliance.co.uk/events. Because once you have gorged yourself on jelly beans you will realise that Art of Brilliance's delicious buffet of opportunities would have been a far more satisfying treat.

If you would like to see some more information - please drop me a line, and remember to watch out for flying jelly beans!

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Beware the ‘Heathrow Airport’ school of leadership

Beware the ‘Heathrow Airport’ school of leadership

 The MBA for leadership blaggers – Part 3

In "It’s about the people, stupid" and The Bad Smell we whisked you through centuries of leadership thinking in two bite sized blogs.  Now let’s go for another quick spin through history, this time of the more modern variety. The big 5 theories are:

  •       Trait theory
  •       Behavioural theory
  •       Contingency theory
  •       Transformational theory
  •       Authentic leadership

Today we’ll take a look at the first two.

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Three Simple Secrets of Inspirational Leadership

Three Simple Secrets of Inspirational Leadership

What are the secrets of inspirational leadership? Is it about impassioned speeches? Is it about magnificent visions?  Is it about being lean and mean? Or is it about being fluffy?

No.   It’s about just three things:

Connection

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The Bad Smell

The Bad Smell

The MBA for Leadership Blaggers - Part 2

In “It’s about the people, stupid” we crammed 21 centuries of leadership thinking into 400 words – an MBA for leadership blaggers! 

In the last two centuries a lot more has been written on leadership.  Sadly some of it served to widen the gap between leaders and followers that Machiavelli fortified over 500 years ago.

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3 Social Media Secrets Every Leader Should Know

3 Social Media Secrets Every Leader Should Know

Mark Saxby is passionate about social media. I am passionate about leadership. Couldn’t be more different? Wrong.

His ‘Blogging for Business’ workshop was an eye opener. I didn’t know the first thing about blogging and even now my ‘L plates’ are still firmly attached. But so many of his messages I already knew – what I didn’t know was what they had to do with blogging. I thought they were about leadership. Here are just three:

Be real

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It's about the people, stupid!

It's about the people, stupid!

(The MBA for leadership blaggers - part 1)  

Image by Ulrik De Wachter  -  www.ulrik.be

What is leadership? So much has been written on leadership, most of us don’t have time to read it. So here’s 21 centuries of leadership thinking crammed into 400 words - an MBA for leadership blaggers!

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