Monday 26 April 2010

Making 'Permissions' work for us

This is a great cartoon. It's the exception that proves the rule! Much of the world of today is tied up with rules and OUGHTS and HAVE TO's. I had a great English Teacher (called John Flanagan) and he gave us some neat definitions. This one remained: 'Freedom is the right to do as we ought'. You may or may not agree with the definition, that's immaterial. It does however imply 2 things. We have Choices and within that we also have Responsibilities. Therein for me, lies the understanding of Permissions. The cartoon is powerful because it portrays using parody how needless both of these positions are. If either party took responsibility for their OWN actions they would make good and adult choices. A Coaching colleague of mine (called Jackie Hogan) gave me a great way of validating my own behaviour and also a way of deciding what to do in any given situation.

Next time you're in a 'will I won't I' type of situation, ask yourself this powerful question:
"What's appropriate here..?"
Then leave a gap of 5/10 seconds and see what comes back. That usually is the correct answer. I find it works for me and many others I've offered it to have given me similar feedback. The reason why is it invites us into an ADULT space where we can have an adult conversation with...OURSELVES. Can you see how powerful and how simple this is?
If it does not work, don't worry I'll do a post on guilt and forgiveness at some point!

Monday 19 April 2010

Managing Boundaries

This truly is an Irish problem! We are quite clueless about boundaries. It's part of our National charm and part of who we are. However we all need boundaries and we need to be able to assert our rights and communicate effectively with others so they know where we stand on different issues.

In my experience most problems with boundaries do not lie with other people. They lie with us. We invite people to violate our boundaries and then get upset when it happens! How bizarre when you think about it. We don't have the skills or the courage to do something about it and yet it's all so avoidable.

When we see well behaved children, we know they don't operate from a 'be seen and not heard' place. More they know what's ok here and what's not. This has to be learned and as adults if we have not learned it, we must be taught. There is a linear continuum I believe that explains this best. It is as follows:

AGGRESSIVE -ASSERTIVE -SUBMISSIVE
If you know where you tend to default to on that continuum then how you manage boundaries will be reflected there. Let's explore the positions. People who are Aggressive tend to violate the boundaries of others either wittingly or unwittingly. This can manifest through having staff work late. Nobody leaves the office before you do. Macho values (lunch is for wimps etc).
People who tend to be Submissive can be cannon fodder for the Aggressives. They can behave like victims, always put upon and wanting things to be different but never taking a stand on important issues. Plainly such people need help to express themselves and state their own needs in a mature and consistent way. Finally there's the happy camper group. This cohort seem not to be flustered and are comfortable speaking up and challenging when they have issues. Why can't more of us be like the Assertives.?! Easier said than done. You need a strong sense of self-worth and high self-esteem to have this as a default, Yet this is where we operate best. In Coaching parlance we refer to this as Adult to Adult communication.
These positions can all be modified, learned and unlearned. If you operate on either end of the spectrum then you most likely need to get some Professional help to enable you become less aggressive or more confident. This will allow you CHOOSE Assertive as your default. Then you'll notice people treat you different. You know why..? You have BECOME different. A price well worth paying!
Have you ever noticed how positive language reflects these positions..? Strong people are referred to as 'centred' and 'grounded', 'comfortable in their own skin' and unapologetic for their opinions. That's ALL of us when we play to our true potential.
-Hope something in there helps you. This thinking has helped me enormously over the years.

Monday 12 April 2010

Capability Gaps Exposed- Poor Engagement-

Work sometimes can be a grim place! People are
treated like mugs or even worse may feel they
ARE being mugged on a daily basis! Much of what's required today's called 'engagement'. It's also referred to as 'discretionary effort'. This is the ability to get others to go the extra mile for the Team or others. Yet many people managers have little idea how to go about this. How could this be and what to do...?

  1. Many Managers don't understand the keys to Motivation
  2. They don't know their people enough to personalise it even if they did understand Motivation.
  3. They don't offer appropriate and genuine praise when it's due.

So what to do and where to start...? Yogi Berra once said "You can learn a lot just by looking". What he means is start to pay attention. Get to know your people (pay appropriate attention, develop a healthy curiosity) Nobody never got demotivated because their Boss surprised them by noticing their birthday, anniversary, great work, client feedback. Today this is called 'Employee Recognition' There are 5 simple rules:

  1. Understand what was done that deserves recognition
  2. Learn how it was done
  3. Who was involved in making this happen
  4. Who benefited by this being done
  5. Act on this quickly and in a positive way.

When you think about this, it's so easy. The choices are stark. People today expect this to happen. If you DON'T do this, you indirectly walk around with a mug like this one telling people things need to be done your way. Not very inspirational is it..?!

As more and more companies are taking Feedback/360's seriously you need to get with this programme or be seen as a dinosaur. When you do this you set yourself apart. The intangibles are great loyalty and people will want to work with you....If these principles would work for you it's safe to assume it will also for others.

Monday 5 April 2010

'Calling It'-The Elephant in the Room..!

I'm a great believer in candour. Without it the truth struggles to emerge. Yet we are all too often constrained by circumstances and refuse to speak our minds when we know we should. When Coaches talk about 'congruence' this is what is meant. The ability to be oneself in different situations. One of the things I really appreciate about my role as a Leadership Coach is the ability and necessity to sometimes just 'call it' and point to that which is obvious to most and spoken of by none. That's the elephant in the room. When you look at the picture it shows how ridiculously chained to convention and ritual we can become! One of the attractions of going into Business on your own is that this is one less thing to deal with!! We also offer others perspective by allowing them see that seeking permission may not be the only option and many times not the best one either.

Two common causes of this syndrome I find are:

- Fear and Habit

We become so accustomed to routines and ways of doing and thinking that all else is very threatening. Habit can also blind us from our actions and under pressure we may not see this is happening. Often we run patterns. That means in certain situations with certain people we tend to do certain things we are unaware of or would do differently in other circumstances.

Calling the elephant can be 'tough love' as our US brethern call it. The ability to give Feedback and tell it like it is. However if we get used to this practice we grow to rely on it and less dependent on our own limiting behaviours. So next time you're in a meeting, think about doing what many are suffering silently with and bring to attention in a polite and respectful way that perhaps all is not as it appears or could be...........You're Leadership stock will go through the roof!