Brian Cranston won this year’s Best Actor Olivier Award for his role of Howard Beale in Network. In recognition, I thought his infamous mantra, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” should fire us up not to accept poor customer service. Otherwise, you have to bite your tongue and meekly walk away.
Rant and rave
Not long after his appointment as CEO of Barclays Bank, the “Montreal Marauder” to give Matthew Barrett his sobriquet, remarked in an interview with the Independent newspaper in August 2001, “The consumer, whatever they are buying, is long suffering. A service revolution is a little overdue. I find the legendary politeness of the English to be not in their self-interest. I think they should be ranting and raving at the service they get, wherever they are getting it, banks included. The consumer cuts business too much slack in this country.”
Why did Matt mention only the English? Why didn’t he include the other home nations? From Scotland, if speaking today, he could have chosen the Simpsons characterisation of a Scot in the form of Orkney-born “Groundskeeper Willie”.
Alternatively, that of Robert Carlyle’s foul-mouthed, violent Begbie in Trainspotting. I’ll leave you to search Google for comparable examples from Wales and Northern Ireland.
A couple of weeks ago I offered a playful connection between physics and communication. In this post, I intend to offer some insight into how to use Space and Time to improve the quality of our communication.
Before I do, though, it’s worth mentioning that this is tsp-uk’s one hundredth blog. In little over 18 months this community has produced a phenomenal range of content and insight. From the philosophical to the highly practical this space continues to be a dynamic and exciting forum to share ideas. Here’s to the next 100!
Now back to the topic in hand. My intention is not to give a class here, or offer some “top tips” but to explain how these concepts relate to my work and a couple of the ways I apply them in my practise.
What is it that gives other people confidence in you?
What is it that defines you as a credible, confident, authoritative communicator of ideas and vision? Gives you gravitas? Says to people that they should take you seriously?
It’s pretty simple really. It’s all about space and time.
In (not quite) the same way physics brings space and time together to form the space-time continuum, so it is that how we bring together our personal relationship to space and time will define our impact as communicators. A Communication Continuum, if you like.
Employee Engagement – how do you go about it? Is it an annual event or integrated part of your culture?
Gallup recently published a report stating that only 15% of the global workforce is engaged.
‘Worldwide, the percentage of adults who work full time for an employer and are engaged at work — they are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace — is just 15%. Though engagement levels vary considerably by country and region, in no country does the proportion of the employed residents who are engaged in their job exceed about four in 10.’
It is undoubtedly a very alarming finding. So, who is responsible to raise Employee Engagement? The common answer is the manager. I do, however, agree about it partially. To me, it is a team effort. Everyone holds responsibility in it and following are my reasons.
My recent period of turbulent times started innocently enough – with a neighbour giving us a bunch of wilting Sweet Pea plants (Lathyrus odoratus). The plants were not showing much sign of life, so I decided to save them. What then followed were a series of challenging events which, taken in the whole, have provided some valuable lessons for life. But this is not a horticultural blog so what I’ve looked for is how life informs leadership, and vice versa.
Now that I’m almost freed from the shackles of daily commercial endeavour, I find I take more valuable time to reflect on the lessons that life throws at me. My friend and Guest Author Domingos Silva put it so well in his recent Blog article: “I never lose. I either win or learn”. Domingos in turn was quoting from Nelson Mandela.
What were my challenging events – my turbulent times – and what were the lessons for life and leadership?
Recent articles from me have concerned values and being “flummoxed” at what I see happening around me. Combined, I feel even greater disquiet at the accelerating pace by which our world appears to be catapulting itself in a hand cart into hell. Contextually, this is the “sow’s ear”.
I thought I should try and find something positive to say in this contribution to remind myself that there are decent and honourable people in our world who are doing superb work. So, let me tell you about a few people, i.e. the “silk purses”, I know. I respect and admire them for their positive endeavour, driving change and celebrating success. In some ways, this is an advertorial for their work.
There are books, poems and articles that stay with you throughout your adult life. In my case I can cite one of each and recall the person – in all cases A family member – who originally brought them to my attention. When I look back I realise these were the people that influenced me in my early years. They set me on a path in pursuit of happiness and success.
A Book. As far as books go for me it has been ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie that set me on my path. I have a 1977 paperback edition. The subtitle on the front cover says: ‘The phenomenal bestseller that is helping millions find success and happiness’. It’s well used, marked up with pencil and has post-it notes sticking out to draw me back to things I must have thought were important to me in the 1970s and beyond. I was introduced to this book by my late father-in-law Ken Smith. What’s even more exciting for me is that I now have Ken’s 1936 hardback imprint of the same book. And it has his pencil marks ups, which give me a great insight to what was important to him in the 1940s and 50s as he started out on his path to happiness and success in his life and in his career. The inside front cover of Ken’s book quotes Carnegie’s ‘Twelve things this book will help you achieve‘.
A Poem. The poem that influenced me was ‘If‘ by Rudyard Kipling which my mother Peggy sent me in 1968 when I had left home to go to University. I believe at that time she was offering me a pattern for my future life.
An Article. We have to wait until the new millennium for the article that has influenced both my wife and I ever since that time. It was my father-in-law Ken again who sent us a clipping from The Sunday Times of 30 January 2000 entitled ‘How to be Happy’. It was an article by Gyles Brandreth in which he interviewed the eminent Irish psychiatrist Dr Anthony Clare who offered his seven point plan for happiness. We have followed Dr Clare’s prescription ever since. And just last month my wife Sue introduced me to a new article in the Independent about a ten year research programme by ‘Happiness Expert’ Eric Barker. In the article the Indy’s lifestyle writer Kashmira Gander summarises “Eric Barker has spent almost a decade uncovering why some people seem more happy and successful than others, but his findings don’t always make for comfortable reading“.
There is a surprising fourth source of inspiration from a family member – a Document of State – but more of that later!
What can we learn about the Pursuit of Happiness and Successfrom these publications?
In common law, Audi Alteram Partem is a Latin phrase meaning “listen to the other side”, or “let the other side be heard as well”. It is the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against them. It is a fundamental principle of English common law that a decision-maker should listen to, and take into account, both sides of an argument. This principle is encapsulated in the Latin phrase Audi Alteram Partem, or ‘Let the other side be heard as well’.
Audi Alteram Partem in leadership & project management.
The context I want to bring here is our ability to listen to the two sides of our brain. I am not a specialist on the topic (or any topic) and will share my personal views based on both, readings and work life experience.
As it relates to me, listening to both sides of our brain all the time is not something natural to everyone. We need to practice it. In my case, it took while before I started thinking of it. All of us born with different aptitudes, abilities, and talents. Some people use more the right side of the brain and others the left. If you are not familiar with this at all, i found this short definition about the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Continue reading “Audi Alteram Partem (Listen to the other side).”
It’s been a while since I’ve directed a play. I miss it. I miss the freedom to be creative, I miss watching something take form, I miss seeing other people create performances around me. I miss realising a vision.
This last point is one that really interests me. Directing a play is about the most immediate and swift creation of a product I can think of.