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The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Living and Leading in Turbulent Times

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?

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Communicating with Impact Cultural Interpersonal Effectiveness General Leadership The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Three nodes of goodness

Making silk purses out of sows’ ears

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.

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Communicating with Impact Developing Strategic Relationships Executive Disposition General Leadership Leadership Influencing The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

In Pursuit of Happiness and Success

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 Success from these publications?

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Building Positive Working Relationships Change Leadership Coaching for Performance Nurture and Grow Prepare the Ground Team Development The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Audi Alteram Partem (Listen to the other side).

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.

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Building Positive Working Relationships General Leadership The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Needing Direction

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.

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Coaching for Performance Coaching for Performance Every Leader a Coach Leader of Others Leadership Coaching Nurture and Grow Team Development The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Vive La Difference

My Grandmother, may she rest in peace, had a saying: “If everybody liked the same thing, everybody would have fancied your Grandad!”

I mention this only because I’m struck by the continuing belief that in order to be a great leader you must treat all your people the same – and a fear that if you don’t you’ll be castigated in the name of equality.

This was brought sharply into focus for me recently whilst watching a training session where the group was asked if it was ever acceptable to discriminate in the workplace. After a slightly awkward silence the group responded dutifully that it was not – only to be told by (the fantastic) Chrissi McCarthy, of Constructing Equality, who was leading the session that, not only is it okay, but that they’re already doing it…

The shock was palpable…clearly this was some kind of mistake. This was a group of seasoned professionals with many years’ experience and a great deal of success under their belts. We wouldn’t – we couldn’t – possibly discriminate…except that we do. As professionals we are paid to make discernements and differentiations all the time.

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General Leadership The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Flummoxed

A favourite word of a US-based friend and business associated is “flummoxed”.  I rather like the word myself.  If you are as old as I am, you may recall a Monty Python sketch in which they attributed the characteristic of “woodiness” to certain words.  The was a positive appellation.  Flummoxed is a woody word.

I am flummoxed with what I see going on around me.  Although I am a Liverpudlian by birth, I will avoid our natural inclination to ignore the golden rule not to speak about politics and religion.  I am not going to slam-dunk popularism, nationalism or any other contemporary “-ism”, which suffix immediately makes a word “tinny” (see http://montypython.50webs.com/scripts/Series_4/23.htm).

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Communicating with Impact Leadership Influencing The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Gesture: Authenticity and Consistency in the Age of President Trump

As President Trump, as he is now called, took centre stage on Friday 20th January I watched his inauguration speech I was struck again by his hand gestures. Earlier in the campaign Trump’s hands were the subject of attack from his opponents but like so much with this Teflon-coated politician, the bad stuff doesn’t seem to stick. Things that reduce other candidates to rubble, Trump somehow survives.

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Building Organisational Talent Cultural Interpersonal Effectiveness The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Leadership is a contact sport

I came across the statement forming the title of this post towards the end of 2016.  It is attributed to Marshall Goldsmith, who is an American leadership coach.  I have paired it with another quotation, which was made by President Eisenhower, “You don’t lead people by hitting them over the head.  That is assault, not leadership.”

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Building Positive Working Relationships Executive Disposition Team Development The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Trust: The Underrated Enabler

my-brothers

I was traveling from Cape Town to Panama to attend my mother’s funeral and my brothers agreed that I would speak at the ceremony. I was sitting on the plane trying to think what to write since she has been a huge influencer in my personal and professional life. It was an impossible task to fit it all in one speech. Then I decided to just focus in one word that will define her greatest legacy in my life. After hours of thinking that the perfect word was ‘trust’. She trusted me to do well, always. It didn’t matter how much I failed in something, she will always be there to cheer for me.