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

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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If listening is not the most important skill in a leader's toolbox - what is it? (Listening - part 1)

If listening is not the most important skill in a leader's toolbox - what is it? (Listening - part 1)

Despite what so many would have us believe, listening is not the most important skill in a great leaders toolbox.

Don’t get me wrong – listening is essential. Richard Branson frequently points to listening as an absolutely critical factor in the success of Virgin.

But we don’t need Richard Branson to tell us this – look back over all the bosses you’ve ever had and split them into two columns – in the right column write the names of those who really listened to you, made sure they were interested in what you had to say and gave you a chance to say it, and in the left column put everyone else. Spot the pattern? I guarantee that your best bosses are on the right hand side. Nobody’s perfect, but we believe listening is one of the biggest factors when it comes to sorting the wheat from the chaff.   Why? Because leaders who listen get the most important principle of leadership – it’s not about them! They have the wisdom to shut up and listen and so their teams open up and deliver.

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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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