Monday 27 December 2010

A Most Uplifting and Thoughtful Festive Gift

Sometimes you come across something magical. Here's such a thing! Innocent diners in a shopping mall are treated to a real treat. It looks like people are just spontaneously getting up and singing. They are in fact there on purpose as a "thank you" to one of the stores. What a way to feel loved!

Be still, enjoy and share with others. Have a great Christmas and all the best for a great 2011.


Monday 20 December 2010

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

I've long been a fan of John C. Maxwell. This is not because of who he is (a church pastor) or what he's not (some self-professed guru) but because he has a rare and very special grasp of Leadership.

When you read his work you know there's not just passion but substance, depth and truth. I rate this as a Leadership 101 book and would encourage anyone with Leadership aspirations to not just read this work but become a student of the content and become fluent with the Laws he references. These by the way are not religious laws but laws that are based on facts and principles- in other words they endure.

The reason the book attracted me was his first Law called "The Law of the Lid". This is a great way to check if someone is a leader. Do they spend more time developing their Leadership potential than simply striving to be successful? He uses the McDonald's example. The McDonald's knew how to take their business so far. Ray Kroc (then a 52 year old man with health problems) had the vision to see what that business could become and made that happen. He was a Leader, the McDonald brothers were not. The reality is if you want things to change, grow and get better. The "Leadership Lid" will always be the limiting factor. If you work at raising the lid the effectiveness increases and things change. All things emanate from that.
He says that when you need to change things in a business, team, voluntary group the first thing you need to do is change the Leader. Why?- If the Leader could lead they would be doing it already. They may need help, time to develop, but unless you make changes at the top nothing gets better.

Would you pass the "Law of the Lid" test...?

Monday 13 December 2010

Can We Learn Anything Meaningful From TV...?

My guess is when asked most people instinctively answer "no". I don't think I've ever believed that. The problem is not that TV is that bad (though there is a lot of poor quality production) but there is also some really clever and ultra smart TV.

Let me justify my position with facts! Our daughter recently introduced us at home to "House". The problem is it's completely addictive, but then again the nights are long and we tend to be indoors. I actually believe I get smarter just by watching this. Anyone would, it's that good. Check it out for yourself.

There's a site for this programme . This is a programme ANYONE can learn from. It's also a must for anyone in any line of work. The lessons are endless. For those of you who don't know. House is based on a misfit genius doctor called Dr. Greg House, invariably known as House. He has a limp as a result of a faulty diagnosis and he is in constant pain. He's also a genius diagnostician. What I love about him most is his stunning ability to associate unrelated things and events, think laterally and never believe a problem is greater than his ability. Sure he's arrogant, selfish, indulgent, belligerent and "morally bankrupt" to use his own words, but the magic is in his genius.

What can business learn from House...? Ok, so he's not a role model for people in his interpersonal relationships but he could teach anyone how to think differently. That's his genius. He thinks in 3D. Broadly, vertically and in depth. I believe anyone in any kind of problem solving role can learn from the brilliance of this series. They say when you park your own ego it makes it compelling to work with the best. They are demanding and sometimes completely unreasonable, but we put up with that due to their brilliance. His gift to us is to look at what we see differently and be open to new and fresh interpretation. When we do that we become creative and then we become different. You can see I'm hooked. I wouldn't be if I wasn't learning.

Friday 3 December 2010

The Trouble With Conflict Is....

I've recently become involved with the Leadership of ICF (International Coaching Federation) in Ireland and it's a great organisation. In Ireland we're trying to build a community for Coaches by putting on events with practical and topical issues and high quality speakers. Recently we ran an event with some high powered speakers which had conflict as the central theme. It took my appreciation and understanding of this topic to a new level. The real insight is that each Coach should know THEIR OWN PREDISPOSITION where conflict is concerned. This informs your judgement and your interpretation of vital data when it comes up in Coaching sessions.

This far exceeded my expectations. The main reason is it really highlighted to me about my own preferences in dealing with conflict. It also gave me a perspective on how we as a Nation deal with conflict especially given the recent debacle surrounding the IMF.

There are 5 styles which are recognised as the standard in dealing with conflict. These have been described by Thomas and Kilmann, check out their website; This instrument is drawn on 2 axes one looking at Assertiveness (willingness to satisfy one's own needs) and cooperativeness (the extent to which a person tries to satisfy the other person's concerns). Why is this important? It's actually a LIFE SKILL, that's why!

If you understand how you tend to operate and you know how others might operate you can flex your style to be more effective in your communication with them. This is essence can short circuit potentially protracted conflict. As humans we're creatures of habit and as such we operate in patterns. And habits are what we repeatedly do so understanding this dynamic in you and in others makes you highly skilled and agile in dealing with a wide range of other people.

If you click on the link you'll see there are 5 styles. How is this useful in a Coaching sense? You can run a self evaluating profile and then learn about the styles of others. This makes it easier to plan how to create a "win-win". This type of thinking is highly unusual. As humans we tend to be "binary" by nature (black or white) The bizarre thing is the world is a sea of grey! Mostly we run out of creative ideas when things get tough and we give up when we fall at the first hurdle! I find if you work at this you can become instinctively creative in the moment and once you have the right framework in place this gets easier with practice.

The other real value add here is as Tom Peters once said "innovation changes everything" When you think differently you come up with different ideas. Conflict dissipates and falls away in the face of fresh thinking. It actually makes us see the positions we were invested in were old and stale. We begin to distance ourselves from them.

I have another observation and that is that most conflict is due to poor thinking. We've never been taught how to think properly and so we take a position based on part of the picture. It's like an optician writing a prescription on a faulty and incomplete diagnosis. In my experience mental laziness or indolence only leads to more pain. I prefer to think things through so as not to end up scoring what I refer to as "own goals". You penalise yourself and your team when you do this. Poor thinking leads to poor planning which in turn leads to poor outcomes ( due to defective decision-making)....Yeah, that could lead to conflict!

Go on rattle my cage and disagree...just think it through first!