I avoided a lot of things in my youth. I avoided calling up people I didn’t know. I avoided telling my teachers I didn’t understand. I avoided telling my friends I was upset by something they’d said or done. I … Continue reading
Trust is a feeling and a physical state, not an instruction. We trust those who make us feel safe in the face of danger and threat. A key function of leadership is to engender a climate of trust. Without a … Continue reading
This Christmas many of us will spend time with the most influential human system we have – our family of origin. We’re shaped by the norms and emotions around us when we grew up. One question worth pondering this Christmas might be this: “Which emotions were allowed in your family of origin and which emotions were not allowed?” As you consider this, you’ll begin to identify the so-called ‘rules of belonging’. One rule might have been ‘never be sad’ or ‘always put a brave face on it’. We bring these (often unspoken) ‘rules’ into our adult life and this is where it gets tricky. As we’re exposed to different human systems such as our partner’s family, university, workplaces, clubs etc, we come across different rules of belonging, some of which conflict with those of our family of origin. In order to grow, thrive and develop strong adult relationships, we must understand how these engrained rules help or hinder us. We can then make choices about whether we are to stay loyal to the original rules, or break the rules. In breaking the rules we risk alienation from the original system, but we also have the promise of new experiences, relationships and growth.
Take attitudes to money as an example. Continue reading
You’re now established as a successful business. Your reputation is growing beyond your early ‘niche’ customer base and enquiries are flooding in. You’re struggling to keep up with demand, trying to recruit fast but worried about losing what made you special.
Last Winter my husband and I returned to the Dolomites in Italy for a long awaited ski holiday. We’d skied a lot in the past and have experienced some good but also some very bad travel companies. We stumbled upon Mogens and his now wife Alice from Simply Dolomiti a couple of years ago. Having bought this small niche travel company a few years back, they developed their offering based on a very clear principle that travellers were not customers, but their ‘guests’. Everything they did was highly personal – Mogens picked you up personally from the airport, he spent time understanding what was important to you, and created itineraries and activities to suit. He and Alice personally led ski and walking tours, sharing their vast knowledge of the area with us. We enjoyed the personal attention, and the feeling that they enjoyed being with us and actually cared about what we wanted. Their success was in a large part down to their lovely personalities and welcoming approach.
A current client of mine whose leadership team I’m accompanying through a series of workshops has asked me to facilitate a workshop with the theme of ‘How to challenge ourselves to be even better’. This is a high-performing team yet they recognise that to stay ahead they need to continually challenge themselves to improve. It got me thinking about how we learn for high performance. What are the factors that create a strong learning environment that leads to high performance?
- Stretch people beyond their comfort zone
- Give and seek constructive feedback
- Allow for failure
- Build observational skills and grow curiosity
Stretch beyond your comfort zone.
This Harvard Business review article by Andy Molinsky reinforces the need to move out of our comfort zone in order to learn. I especially like Molinsky’s first piece of advice: “Be honest with yourself. When you turned down that opportunity to speak at a big industry conference, was it really because you didn’t have the time, or were you scared to step on a stage and present?”. Continue reading
A couple of days ago I was listening to one of the GB rowing coaches at the Rio Olympics speaking about the process for achieving high levels of performance. One thing he said struck me as incredibly relevant to teams in a business setting. He said that they no longer try to mould each rower into one ‘ideal’ model, but tap into the huge diversity of backgrounds, personalities and talents to create a uniquely brilliant team.
I come across many teams who are not tapping into their full potential because they fail to take the time and space to connect, discover more about each other and learn together.
I recently facilitated the second of a series of away-days for a leadership team that has struggled with internal conflict. The most powerful part of the session was when I invited each person to develop and then share their ‘leadership lifeline’.
I gave them a loose framework to use and they then each took a piece of A3 paper and were asked to represent their life so far in words and pictures. The emphasis was on how their life experience had shaped their attitudes and approaches to leadership. After some hesitation, and encouraged by seeing my own lifeline as an example, they spent half an hour individually working on theirs, followed by a session during which they shared the key parts of their life that had shaped their approach to leadership. I was humbled by the level of disclosure and honesty, and the respectful reaction to their colleagues’ stories.
During this short session they built a profound new understanding of each other and increased the level of trust significantly. Later on, they were amazed at how quickly they were able to come to agreement on some quite tricky business issues, something they’d never achieved before. Disclosure is an important factor in Continue reading