I was 20 years old working for a US software company in the Uk and I was lucky enough to land a boss who was keen for me to develop. He recommended a 12 week Dale Carnegie course based around the book: How to win friends and influence people. The book changed my life and my career trajectory.
I have read the book numerous times and even thought the book was written in 1936. The lessons are as relevant today as they were then.
Each chapters headings are critical leadership skills and life skills. We should teach this to children at school.
My favourite chapters of all is don’t criticise, condemn and complain, followed by seek to understand before your understood.
The book is full of real life stories, that really challenge your thinking and actions. A must read for enjoying life and really developing great friendships and rapport.
Are you in a team where you feel you belong? you loved getting out of bed every day and connecting with your peers, they inspired you, you felt safe to share your vulnerabilities, felt safe to challenge the norm and together you delivered outstanding results?
Patrick Lecioni’s story of the Five dysfunctions of a team, is about the foundations that have to be in place to be a high performing team. As a leader your role is to create a safe environment for the team to express themselves without judgement and actively encourage the team to challenge, so the team can develop and remain highly engaged.
Here are the seven steps for you as the leader to build a high performing team:
Once the strategy is in place. Reviewing progress(monthly/quarterly): what’s working and not working, is essential with the team. Celebrate every success along the way, as the motivation for the team is critical. When parts are not working; Ask the team why they think it’s not working? what should we do? Amend the strategy and don’t forget to share the learning. At the back of the book 5 dysfunctions of a team, there is a survey and action plans on each of the 5 dysfunctions, use this with your team quarterly to see which area of the 5 dysfunctions need attention.
On the bus/off the bus. If the commitment of an individual or individuals is not there, tackle the situation head on. What is the issue? Is it behavioral? Get on top of this quickly as having a detractor in the team can slow the whole team, even if they are outstanding performers. Toxic individuals can bring a whole team down.
Another lesson during Covid19, the importance of regular 30 minute check ins without an agenda. Time to catch up and share, more recently the challenges for the team in Melbourne.
Personal development plans for each team member. Tailoring to the ability and need of the individual. This is critical for motivation and development. Being able to clearly articulate the difference between average, above average and excellent with clear examples of what they need to deliver helps them understand how they can be more successful.
Work with your team members to find internal and external mentors. This is so powerful, there are many times I have had individuals looking to move into different areas of the business and I have found them a mentor in that area and within 12 months they have secured a role.
Diversity is key to the above being successful. If you have inherited a team with poor diversity, here are some additional steps that you will need to take:
1. If you are in a corporate with a graduate program, go and introduce yourself to the Graduate talent manager, find out why graduates would find coming to your part of the business interesting and become a “destination for graduates”. They really know how to shake up a culture with their drive and curiosity.
2. Find talent in other parts of the business looking for a challenge and secure them on a secondment to deliver key components of the strategy. This is a true win/win in business for the individual and for the company.
3. Ensure the minorities are well supported and take time to understand any poor behavior. In my experience where you have low diversity of age, culture, gender and LBGT, you will have behaviors that will not be acceptable.
4. Expect to take 12-24 months to fix.
There are many leaders who believe the term “high performing teams” is overused. For me it is absolutely essential as a leader to create the environment that people can thrive and deliver outstanding results and that by definition is High performing teams.
I wish you all the best with building a high performance team.
This book was given to me by one of my team. I love reading and learning, so there is no better gift.
The Challenger Spirit book written by Khurshed Dehnugara and Claire Genkai Breeze, is a book written before its time. The key to being a challenger is ‘does it have to be like this?’ https://relume.co.uk/the-challenger-spirit/
Claire starts with two lasting influences on her life ‘your work is your love made visible’ by Khalil Gibran and the 5th century Philo ‘be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle’
The book is full of gems and sections of questions to ask yourself, very thought provoking. The highlights for me:
Our sales teams are service oriented with up selling and cross sale being a spin off from a conversation rather than the purpose of the conversation.
Establishment leaders v’s Challenger Leaders: Establishment leaders have four blindfolds: Arrogance, Avoidance, Agreement and Antagonism. The book describes each one and how it shows up.
Challenger organisations and their leaders are more likely to fail when they imitate rather than disturb their establishment competitors. They fail when they default to what is already known to be successful.
The process of constant feedback and alteration in your brain only begins to slow down in your eight decade
Once you have made some positive and bold choices created your dream together and engaged people in it, the uncertainty of the environment quickly becomes much easier to navigate
The chapter on growing old disgracefully is all about staying lean and hungry. And what good looks like: say what you believe regardless of political implications. The way you deliver it is the key to success as I have learnt over the years in corporate.
I have always been a challenger, in every aspect of my life. I live by the saying “if it not scary its not worth doing’ and my purpose is all about challenging others to operate outside their comfort zones.
This book is all about how to challenge well and even when the norms of the establishment look like a better way to get on in your career, staying true to what you believe and your values is the right thing to do and always deliver the best outcome for your company.
The other side of fear is excitement and a sense of achievement.
Getting to the other side of fear is a real challenge. Growing up in England swimming was not something I enjoyed. The school had an outdoor pool that was not heated. The changing rooms, basic sheds. We got to swim outside approx 10 times a year, due to the weather and I hated it. I spent my life avoiding swimming, until I took up surfing in my late 40s. As I got more confident, there was a niggle that if my leg rope snapped my amateur breast stroke was just not going to cut it. So I started swimming lessons. I hate putting my face in the water and never wore goggles and dreaded the lessons. There were just three adults in the class and the instructor was very patient. I was determined to go and master swimming freestyle, as I knew without it my surfing would suffer.
I came across a book called “move closer stay longer” By Dr Stephanie Burns, and “move closer stay longer” became a mantra for me. A year after learning to swim, I swam 2-3 days a week, I could barely do a length in a 25m pool. I persevered and a few years later I was able to swim 50m then 500m, then last year I went to a 50m pool where I did my first 1km freestyle.
I still have the fear of putting my face in the water, but the frequency of my swimming, as meant the environment is more familiar and I feel more comfortable. I have learnt to think of other things, to distract myself. The routine is what gets you through the fear.
Before Covid19 I swam at Milson point outdoor heated saltwater pool twice a week, I not only look forward to going, but I now love swimming.
Some of the other things to consider when facing into fear:
Don’t be hard on yourself.
Don’t set unrealistic goals, accept each day and what it brings
Celebrate every success. Yes 25m was success, as was the first 50m and 1km. Now I celebrate the times I am achieving. Share your achievements with friends and family.
The fear never goes away. It fades with time, but it always there. Respect it, not give in to it.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Most of the time when I surf, if its too big out the back I go out two hours either side of low tide in the white water. I have so much fun and have met some wonderful people.
This is a life skill it applies to all you do in life.
Your a CEO of business with non execs that own the business and you are ready to move on, as you feel stifled. You love the business and you believe the business has great potential. You are restrained by the founders and owners, you are ready to do something else.
Owners who create, built and grow the business after many years decide to step back due to retirement, other business opportunities, personal circumstance and appoint CEO. The CEO is limited by the law of lid. First chapter of John Maxwell’s book on the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership https://www.amazon.com/21-Irrefutable-Laws-Leadership-Anniversary/dp/0785288376. Often the CEO is restricted in where he/she takes the business due to the founders expectations, thinking and interference in the daily business.
Over time the CEO becomes frustrated and look outside for a new career opportunity, when the answer could be to look at alternative ownership structures for the business. The owners may want to sell out, realise their investment and they are looking for exit, as CEO you can facilitate by an industry buy out, private equity sale or a management buy out.
Each needs a thorough understanding of the market and the opportunity for the buyer. It’s a time to call on your network for assistance, advice and introductions. Once you have researched the possibilities, then approach the owners for their support.
The worst that can happen is the owners are not interested in selling business, the only thing you have lost is time. On the other hand if they are keen you are now running your own business.
The alternative to leaving may very well be the best opportunity to back yourself and give back to the owners.
This book is life changing. Why? We are all on a journey, to find meaning and peace, this book is thought provoking and challenges how we live. The book really helps you understand what is important.
Life’s meaning for me, is to help people. I love helping people, whether its to realise their dreams or overcome career obstacles, setting up a business or supporting them in a transition. I feel most for-filled and at peace with myself when I support others.
Eckhart talks to the Egotistical mind and it constantly wanting more. When we control the cravings we find peace and happiness. When we give into them, we find ourselves on the treadmill always looking for the next fix.
These are three of my favourite exerts from the book:
Buddha taught that the root of suffering is to be found in our constant wanting and craving.
Carl Jung also tells the story of the Native American chief who said The whites always want something, they are always uneasy and restless. We don’t know what they want. We think they are mad.
Peace comes from controlling the egotistical mind and also mind strategies that avoid the now: when we make the present the enemy, we feel we are being taken advantage of, neglected we need to drop the negativity the mind has created around the situation or we need to stop and speak to the person concerned and express fully what you feel. One or the other, as not doing this is a huge emotional drain.
This is a book that really makes take a hard look at yourself. Life changing
There are many times in my personal and business life I have given this advice “on the grass is never greener” to others. We always look fondly at what other people have or at our past and wonder why we are not fulfilled today and the answer is that you can never be happy if you have this mindset.
The rest of the well known saying is “unless you water it” in other words work on the present.
Feeling content with what you have and keeping your ego is check is the only way to happiness. When we are constantly craving what others have we can never be happy.
A year ago an ex peer of mine landed a role that I thought was ideal, recently I spoke to her and she said the money is poor and environment not good, for a moment I had to check myself, as I really did think she was better off. The grass is never greener.
So to keep yourself in check, practice gratitude every day. You can write them down or just find 5 mins every day for reflection.
Also read Eckhart Toll The power of now for dealing with the ego. He has some top tips, which mean you live in the moment and stop craving what you dont need!
When we talk about past successes and compare with the present; where we dont feel as successful, we are in a heap of trouble. This behaviour and language can be crippling and stopping us from moving forward. I constantly reminding colleagues that I have completed three successful start ups, why because I could not reconcile why I had not achieved the same in a corporate. Apart from being completely different the whole thought process was holding me back.
In the words of Eckhart Toll, in his book the power of now, chapter named mind strategies for avoiding the now, he talks about energising the past and more likely you are to make a “self” out of it. The hanging on, drags you down as you are not in the present. This is a must read if you are constantly referring to past successes.
With a coach I was asked why do I keep referencing my past, at the time I knew it was holding on to success in the past, what I did not realise was the impact it was having on me in the present.
Let go of past success and focus on now, how can you make a difference? How do you show up? Let go of the past, because now is when you can make a difference. It really shifts your behaviour and thinking.
Our ego is our identity, without it we believe we are nothing. The reality without it we are happy people who can be present. So how does ego show up?
Eckhart Tolle uses examples and stories, that help you recognise where ego gets in the way of happiness.
Our image of ourselves is derived through where we live, the car we drive, the gym we join, telling others who we know, our celebrity encounters, what we know, our experience, qualifications and the list goes on. We believe we need these to be successful, but what is success if you get there are you are having no more fun!
“Nonresistance, nonjudgement, and non attachment are the three aspects of true freedom and enlightened living.” Summarised beautifully by Eckhart.
These are articles previously written on the topics:
Julie Alexander a professional coach speaks on “Don’t park too long or change will find you”. What a great saying! When I heard Julie deliver this it resonated on so many levels.
The pace of change in the world that impacts on personal and business life is speeding up. Yet it is human nature to search out certainty. When we hold on to certainty we think we are doing the right thing for our survival, however we find our resilience is at risk, as we are not constantly adapting.
The harder we hold on to comfort, the more difficult we become for people around us to deal with, as we are resistant to the help or guidance that will ensure we make the transition.
When we challenge ourselves continually, we are happier, more fulfilled and our resilience increases. This helps us to understand and deal with anxiety.
For me self deprecating humour is something I find really useful, as when we laugh at ourselves others connect and understand our pain and opportunities.
Today one of my team reminded me when discussing change in business of that great book “who moved my cheese?” By Dr Spencer Johnson which is all about adapting to change. A must read for anyone who is seeking comfort in a fast changing world.
The greatest skill in the 21st century is constantly adapting to the world as it evolves at a faster pace than any time in history. When we embrace the changes we can enjoy and evolve, when we resist we become obsolete with no relevance.