Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Mood Contagion - Are You Infecting Your Team?

John did very well in his job.  As a key account exec, he exceeded targets, was positive and no task insurmountable. John was confident and ambitious to move to the next level. 
He achieved his goal and promoted to commercial director.

Fired up with drive and enthusiasm John repeatedly presented in team meetings, what he thought, were exciting objectives for the next 12 months and beyond. A member of John’s team responded: “…I’ve seen it all before, it won’t work and it won’t happen, how is this any different…?” Over time John became worn down, deflated and frustrated and with this negative attitude.

He went to his boss for support, who advised: “I brought you in to shake the tree; keep shaking it and fire anyone who isn’t on board!” Anxious to show he could do this new role John shook the tree and shook it more. His team proved unyielding and even more resistant.

John came to me for coaching to sort his team. Describing them as lazy, cynical and not thinking as he did.  He couldn’t understand their short-term attitude.

I fed back to John, his team’s behaviour and attitude reflect the organisation’s culture. What he’s experiencing is mood contagion. Mood contagion is the phenomenon of having one person's emotions and related behaviours directly trigger similar emotions and behaviours in other people. In an organisational context, the leadership, communication and behaviours set the organisation tone. 

The ‘emotion’ of the organisation becomes like a virus; it’s contagious.

John had a choice, focus on what he could control or accept the status quo.  
Didn’t that clever man Einstein have a great saying about the definition of insanity? “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”.

We started with an Emergenetics neuroscience-based psychometric profile giving John a tool to adapt his communication and behaviours with the aim to increase rapport and build relationships with every member of his team. 

Your Personality is Not an Excuse for Poor Communication

He learnt people see things differently than him and enabled him to increase engagement and understanding. 

Rather than just talk about the big picture and ‘great ideas’ he changed how he communicated. 

Sounds simple and common sense, but when we’re busy and under pressure, common sense doesn’t often prevail

As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” 

John changed how he communicated and adapted his approach. He prioritised time to spend 1-1 with each team member. Over time his team meetings became more collaborative, with healthy debate and respect for different views; engagement increased. 

John became more confident and secure in his ability to be a leader and his team performing.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

How to Build a Relationship with Your Boss


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Where are you Sabotaging Your Success?

Rob is a CEO of a medium sized organisation who has an ambitious and exciting plan for growth. When he came to me for coaching his brief was how do I get more out of my senior team? 

He had a big long list of complaints…

·         I make all the decisions
·         I solve all the problems
·         They don’t focus on the important things
·         They don’t think beyond the here and now let alone strategic thinking
·         They don’t manage poor performance
·         They micro-manage their teams
·         They’re resistance to change giving excuses of why things won’t work.

Rob was stressed, exhausted and wanted a radical shake-up. He believed the solution was to recruit an even more senior manager and put this person in charge of everyone. Beyond offering a magic wand, I needed to challenge Rob’s thinking. His way of looking at the problem was part of the problem…

Were these problems real versus Rob’s perception?

What did the senior team do well? 

On these first two questions, we needed objective feedback and utilised 360 feedback for Rob and the senior team. We got clarity on what each person should keep doing and do more of and identified their blind spots.

In our coaching, Rob discovered he had a skewed belief about his identity. 

He said he was “sitting here waiting to be found out; I don’t know how I got this role” – the dreaded imposter syndrome. He came to understand his thoughts, decisions and behaviour were led by an unconscious drive to mask a limiting belief he wasn’t good enough. 

This imposter syndrome resulted in self-sabotaging habits, with the long list of complaints above.

We challenged this self-limiting belief; identified thoughts, behaviours and actions that would be more aligned of who he truly is and wanted to be. The actions Rob took included:

·         Honest two-way feedback with his team
·         Implementing open and transparent communication
·         Willingness to be vulnerable, acknowledging he and they may not always have the answers
·         Delegate even more, enabling the senior managers to make decisions

Three months on with a few bumps along the way there is a new-found energy and motivation from Rob and the senior managers. There is increased trust, enjoyment and even fun.

So, when was the last time you held up a mirror? Where do you self-sabotage?


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Are you a Cultural Misfit?

Have you “married” the wrong organisation?

Take the example of Sue. After ten years in management with the public sector, she was ready to redefine her career and move on. She chose the charity sector where she had a passion for a cause. She set her sights high and was ready.

She landed her dream job as Head of Department with a large charity who were expanding abroad. She was committed and excited about the opportunities ahead.

Technically Sue was more than capable. She had an excellent track record in management and experience in her new sector. Sue thought everything was going well until her probationary period was extended.  Something was clearly amiss.

Although Sue received specific feedback, she became aware she didn’t fit their culture. One difference was her style of decision making. She was “too collaborative and consultative”. Sue believed her approach was right; she was aiming to increase the engagement of her team.  The organisation wanted her to be more confident, show more drive and assertion. All good leadership attributes.

However, this created a conflict for Sue. She accepted she could learn to be more assertive, but she wanted to do this without compromising her values of respecting others. The behaviours she noticed by other Heads, were aggressive and at times bordering on bullying. This approach wasn’t her style.

A few months on Sue realised she didn’t’ fit their culture, their way of doing things. Through her coaching, she learnt what she could do differently next time:

Become self-aware. What are your blind spots? How do others perceive you? Are they right? How would you know?

What are your values? Determine what’s important to you. Our values shape our identity, give us direction and affect how we make decisions.

Develop resilience. Even top performers experience setbacks. Dust yourself down, learn what you can do differently, get back up again.

Become flexible. Adapt your behaviour to ensure good communication and rapport. This isn’t about compromising your integrity, but being adaptable to different situations.

Realise sometimes there are things you just cannot influence and maybe it’s better to walk away than stay ‘married’ to the wrong organisation.

In hindsight, Sue acknowledged she could have approached her first 90 days differently, and made different decisions. 

The good news is, she has proved she is resilient and landed another Head of Department job in the charity sector and thriving!


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Newly Promoted MD wants to Establish Respect

Recently, I worked with a newly appointed Managing Director, Robert. He said he didn’t want the job and felt no-one in his senior management team liked or respected him. He was thinking of selling the business but was feeling confused on what was the right decision to take.

On exploring the problem, we were able to turn it into a desired outcome solution, or goal. Robert was clearly a competent professional, but with people, he considered himself something of a disaster. 

This ‘belief’ arose from the challenging relationship with the Operations Director who was resentful of Robert’s appointment and had a strong influence over the rest of the senior management team. Robert was feeling undermined, doubting his ability to be an effective MD.

On reframing, the problem gave Robert clarity of what he wanted. From this position, he was able to recognise his thoughts and possible decision to sell was driven by his insecurity and lack of confidence; it became an excuse, an ‘easy way out’.

The Coaching Outcome defined was to develop his identity the Managing Director. 
To be confident working with his senior management team to set and lead the direction. 
By mapping Robert’s experience, skill set, knowledge and capabilities, he was able to see he was more than capable, getting clarity of his role and responsibilities, to be the leader the business needed.

The Learning Strategies included:
  • Self-Awareness: being aware and understanding of his reluctance to manage the OD’s confrontational behaviour.
  • Communication: by utilising his psychometric profile to learn how to adapt his style of communication to increase understanding by others.
  • Relationships: develop and practice building trust, rapport and engagement.
  •  Assertiveness: through understanding his profile to flex his style of assertion to advance his opinions and decisions in a manner that constructively drives accountability.
  • Weekly Reflection: to strengthen and embed as habit his learning and continuous self-development.

Results: Robert’s key learning was that in becoming self-aware, in understanding his strengths and how his limiting beliefs had driven some unhelpful behaviours. 
Robert successfully and consistently took action. He increased trust, engagement and respect of his SMT. He gave constructive feedback to the OD. 
He became confident and self-assured. He learnt he could take a different approach and achieve the outcome both he and his father wanted.


Saturday, 7 January 2017

A Change in Paradigm to Education

Recent news of MPs calling for a ‘big stick’ approach of schools offering substandard careers advice should be downgraded in Ofsted inspections I fear will continue to place misguided advice on equipping children for the future. 

The problem lies within how we view the role of education, the current thinking driving the advice given to school leavers. If we step back for a moment and think, what is the purpose of education, surely it is to equip children, the future generation of how to take their place in the world.  

The challenge I believe lies in changing the paradigm we have about education and how we view success.  The education system we have today, in the 21st century remains largely on the original Victorian model arising from the industrial revolution, based on the belief one can only succeed with an academic based capability.

Yes, there are the fundamentals in academic subjects needed, the 3-Rs amongst other traditional subjects; however, there are many examples of “successful” academics whose certificates don their walls gathering dust who don’t go on to succeed. 

Equally, there are many examples of non-academics who do succeed, prominent examples include Sir Richard Branson (dyslexic), Lord Alan Sugar, Baroness Mone, and a new non-academic success in the making Ryan Longmuir.

If we are to equip our children for the best start to their adult life, we need to think what education will serve our children best? 

In addition to the study of traditional subject’s education also needs to include in-depth study (not one-off half-day modules) of Life Skills such as Financial Management (1 in 4 people today are in debt) and, the study of Personal Self Development to learn how to become the person you want to be and achieve the things you want to achieve.

Careers advice at school will remain woefully lacking while government led initiatives continue to reward school performance only on the number of A levels and league tables. In the main, this is what drives decisions on what career advice is given to children.

A quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, US Supreme Court Justice, from the 1800s who knew a thing or two, continues to resonate today:

“The greatest tragedy in life, (is not that you didn’t get 3 A*s) but that so many men and women go to their graves with the music still in them”.

If you were 16 today, what careers advice would help you?