Category Archives: People Development

My Last Blog…On This Site!

I enjoy writing blogs. I thoroughly enjoy making a difference too – in fact it is one of my core values!

It is because of these passions that I continue to write and support the work I do with my CoachStation clients helping leaders to become as efficient, capable and effective as possible. I have sometimes been asked to write for other sites and publications such as Linked2Leadership and Christina Lattimer’s outstanding eMile People Development and Leadership Magazine.

However, having a separate blog-site under coachstationsteve.com / Lead In, Lead On is watering down my efforts and I find that sometimes I feel pressure to write for each of my blogs and external sites regularly. As a result, after nearly 70 blogs on this site I am consolidating my blog writing and publishing to my CoachStation website solely as of today.

If you remain keen to continue to follow me, I am in the process of moving the existing subscriber list across to CoachStation over the next few days. My hope in doing so is that I am not being too presumptuous. We are all aware of the excessive number of emails received on any day. My hope as always is to add value to your knowledge and thought processes, not to bombard. Of course, if you wish to unsubscribe, this can be done at any time.

In the meantime I will continue to provide my thoughts and ideas around leadership, people development, organisational culture, coaching and similar themes on a regular basis via my CoachStation Blog.

To those who have subscribed to my blog in the past, thank you for your support. If you are a new reader…welcome! I hope you feel the benefit of reading my content and potentially subscribing to receive my future blogs.

If you wish to extend our contact, I am a regular contributor on Twitter and/or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Steve Riddle

I have a career spanning over 25 years, primarily in leadership roles across various industries. Prior to forming my businesses and within consulting roles since, I have dedicated over 15 years to driving business improvement, transformational and cultural change within various organisations mainly based around people development and its relationship to results. Roles have included National Customer Experience Leader for GE Capital and Head of Customer Service and Complaints for Toyota Finance Australia.

CoachStation focuses on people, outcomes and results influenced specifically through leadership capability, personal qualities and effectiveness. Experience has taught me that the people aspect of business is the most critical, yet is often the most difficult to ‘get right’. Leadership and its impact on organisational culture and change management are vital to business success, the ability to evolve and improve results. The CoachStation vision, values and related development programs are dedicated to solving these problems, through tailored leadership and people development solutions. I created CoachStation to dedicate attention to improving business results employing my expertise and experience in:

Leadership Development        Coaching & Mentoring        Facilitation & Training

Business Consulting and Development         High Performance Teams

1 Comment

Filed under Leadership, People Development, Values

One Man’s Leadership Journey

The traits I believe good leaders must possess are people skills, ability to implement, strategic focus and commitment to the ongoing improvement of technical and knowledge skills.

Work Smart! The work force is not intrinsically fair. Ability alone will not guarantee a successful career.

CoachStation: LeadI have had the pleasure of working with Gary Leonard at Toyota Finance Australia (TFA) for the past 2 years. Coincidentally my contracted tenure with TFA finishes later in November, as does Gary’s 28 years with the company.

As I have spent time with and got to know Gary I realise that his success as a senior leader has not been driven by circumstance, but rather who he is and how he operates as a person and as a leader. The statements in the first few sentences of this blog highlight two of the many elements of his beliefs regarding leadership and business culture.

I felt it would be appropriate and do justice to Gary’s career to interview him and provide a few pearls of wisdom as Gary has seen his roles, philosophies, successes and challenges. They may well provide value in your own journey.

    What does leadership mean to you?

Walk into any bookshop and one of the most voluminous areas on any subject will be about ‘Leadership’. Many well researched and respected experts have written insightfully about this topic

I don’t think there is any silver bullet I can add that hasn’t been covered off before. However, the thing I would emphasise is the importance of integrity and honesty which are the building blocks on which all other competencies can be built on.

A leader must at all times be prepared to walk the talk. A leader must be a role model at all times for his staff, during and outside normal working hours. My favourite saying related to leadership or people is:

Real leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determination (John Seaman Garns)

I particularly like this quote as it is sits well with my view on the frequently asked question “are leaders born or can leadership be learnt?”

Clearly my view after many years in the workforce is that effective leadership can be both taught and learnt.

    What is your background and work history?

Prior to working with Toyota Finance Australia (TFA) my career could be broadly divided into finance and non- finance. This included a short time in the Commonwealth Public Service (Department of Supply) and two years as a cadet Journalist with the Daily Mirror in Sydney.

My experience in finance came from 8 years at Esanda and stints with AFS (an off shoot of Hambro, an English Merchant Bank) and Mercantile Credit, at that time owned by National Mutual.

I joined TFS in an operational role as NSW Regional Manager in 1986. TFS undertook a major restructure in 1994 and I was asked to take on the head office role of Personnel Manager, despite not having any prior HR experience!! In 2008 I was promoted to General Manager Business Services; a very varied portfolio which has at different times included Human Resources , Strategy , Planning , Compliance, IT, Credit , Retail Contact Centre , Wholesale Centre and Collections.

    Is there any advice you would give to newer leaders starting out in their roles today?

Work Smart! The work force is not intrinsically fair. Ability alone will not guarantee a successful career. So what does working smart really mean?

I am a great believer in people realising their full potential. I have worked for a very large company where one feels like you can get lost in the system. I have often stated to my staff that one of the big advantages of working for a smaller company is that good performance can be more readily identified. The downside is that poor performance can also be more readily identified!

Working smarter to me is closely aligned to fulfilling and maximising one’s potential. Opportunities might include:

  • Volunteering for that challenging project to demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Taking the opportunity when presenting to the Executive to ensure you are well rehearsed and professional
  • Being proactive in your career and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves
  • Keeping current in your chosen discipline, keeping abreast of technology, dressing in appropriate and professional attire, thoroughly preparing for meetings etc.
  • Maintaining a suitable work-life balance. I have not necessarily achieved this myself but it is important to have outside interests and opportunity to focus time on family, friends and non-work related activities.

Let me give you a personal example. Through research I integrated some of the life experiences of a personal hero of mind, the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, with universal leadership traits that can be applied equally well in the work force, inclusive of some poetic license you would expect from a former journalist! I prepared this into a PowerPoint and presented it initially to some of my staff.

I have since been asked to present this piece of work to a number of other internal teams including the TFS Executive leaders. I have also presented to external organisations at their request.

I put this example forward as not only a way to have hopefully added value to the Organisation but at the same time as an opportunity to raise my personal profile within the organisation i.e. work smart.

     What one leadership development tip would you give to others?

I would try to access regular 360 feedback from superiors, peers and direct reports. I know this type of feedback can be quite confronting but it can also provide tremendous development opportunities if viewed constructively. I would also add that developing strength in working with people is critical, including taking joy in the development and success of others. After all, it is the people that make the difference to an organisation.

    What aspect of your career do you look back on with the most pride?

The aspect of my career I am most proud of called for me to deploy many of the skills I had developed over the years to ensure it was a successful project.

Two of Toyota Financial Services core products, Fleet and our extended warranty product, Toyota Extra Care, had originally been administered by our sister Company Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA). Strategically it was decided these products were better suited to be managed by Toyota Finance.

To support the transfer of this business from TMCA to TFS we had to relocate approximately 50 people with specialist skills from Taren Point to Milsons Point in Sydney. Logistically most staff lived within 10 kilometres of the Taren Point office and had access to subsidised motor vehicles and ample free parking on site.

We were now asking most of these staff to travel approximately 35 kilometres each way by public transport to get to work. Not to mention that the two companies enjoyed very different cultures and the staff to be relocated worked in a heavily unionised environment.

The successful relocation of our team was essential if we were to have the necessary IP to run the two business’s seamlessly and service the needs of their respective customer bases after the relocation. These staff had the option of taking attractive redundancy packages in lieu of agreeing to such transfers.

Overall, this offered quite a challenge!

In no way did I try to downplay the challenges such a significant relocation would present to an individual. What I did however was to present to them the positives such as enhanced career opportunities which would come from working for a larger company in the rapidly expanding finance industry

Supported by a strong change management and communications plan and most importantly being available at all times to discuss any issue with our team, however small or insignificant they may heave appeared at first glance. The majority of our employees made the decision to relocate.

One of my most treasured mementos from my years at Toyota was when the team members impacted by the relocation presented me with a beautiful watch in recognition of my efforts to support them during this period of transition.

    Do you think that leadership principles and practice have changed much over your career?

I do not believe the fundamentals of leadership have really changed to any great degree over the span of my career. This is possibly best reflected in one of my favourite quotes by William E. Holler.

Just as the real basics of human nature do not change from one generation to another, so the real basics of human leadership do not change from one leader to another – from one field to the next – but remain always and everywhere the same.

The traits I believe good leaders must possess are people skills, ability to implement, strategic focus and commitment to the ongoing improvement of technical and knowledge skills.

Many so called leaders possess some of these skills but outstanding leaders possess all of these skills in equal measure. My experience is that the number of managers who possess every one of these skills is relatively few. I believe that lacking in any of these competencies has an impact on the ability to successfully deliver optimal outcomes.

Additionally, when it comes to integrity and values, they are a core requirement for any leader. Learning the ‘tricks’ of leadership is not a sustainable attitude and people see through this over time. Ensuring that integrity is how you operate and who you are not just what you know or do is critical to leadership success.

As mentioned earlier, the fact that people make the key difference in and for organisations cannot be underestimated. The advent and higher profile of leadership tools and self-development concepts such as Emotional Intelligence and its influence on leadership is a positive aspect that has changed over the years.

     So, after a very successful career and your retirement being a matter of weeks away, what does the future hold for you, Gary?

My wife organised a very enjoyable 60th birthday celebration for me during which I took the opportunity to acknowledge her patience in living with a ‘workaholic‘.

In many ways with my working life soon to be effectively behind me what I am looking forward to is having the time to pursue a number of interests that I have neglected over the years and at the same time learning some completely new skills – hopefully inclusive of spending more time with my wife!

As I approach retirement I have taken the opportunity to speak to a number of friends who have already retired and some professionals who specialise in this field.

The common theme from all these people is that every day you get out of bed you must have a plan as to what you want to accomplish that day. I am genuinely excited at this prospect and will be disappointed if I don’t have to continue to keep a diary to keep track of the many things I still want to achieve in life!

Thank you and all the best for your retirement, Gary. I hope it brings you and your family all the rewards and joy you are looking for.

Leave a comment

Filed under Leadership, People Development

Invest In Setting Up Your Leaders to Succeed

To succeed as a leader, significant support is required.

This starts before the opportunity to lead begins…or at least, it should.

CoachStation: Leadership Success

Setting up your leaders to thrive through a development program both prior to and during their tenure is key to the success of your leadership team and your business. Training in itself is one source of development, however must be supported in practice through a developmental culture, coaching and mentoring. Ongoing support ‘makes the learning real’ within the work environment, reinforcing the content and context provided during training.

How many of you support this development through an in-depth and formal induction process?

An induction is not simply an introduction to the business, its history and elements of purported culture. It should be a tailored set of tools that provide context, responsibilities, accountability and other relevant points that provide the leader with every opportunity to hit the ground running and flourish in the long-term. This should be the case no matter what level the leader is employed at. In a recent article Norah Breekveldt highlighted various points related to the investment required to ensure leaders succeed.

Businesses invest heavily in attracting and hiring the best executives the market has to offer. However, despite the best recruitment or search processes, success is by no means guaranteed and many new hires don’t make it – in fact around 40 percent of new hires derail in the first 18 months – that is, they are demoted, are fired, resigned or failed to be as successful as expected.

Can you imagine a business installing some new technology or investing in a piece of highly complex equipment and accepting a 40 percent failure rate? *

There are many reasons why a new hire fails in their role. Unfortunately, too often this is not the fault of them. Informal power bases, politicking, underestimating the challenges of the role, overestimating skills and capabilities, along with other influences are all elements that can derail an opportunity.

When leaders derail their problems can almost always be traced to complex chains of events that developed early in their appointment…Derailment emerges typically over a six to twelve month period as forces conspire against the leader and the impacts of misjudgements or poor decisions start to be realised. The consequences of these failures can be catastrophic for the individual and costly for the firm.

All new leaders require a proactive and supportive approach to their integration in order to succeed and excel. Leading firms recognise that investing in proactive support minimises the risk of outright failure, stems the potential loss of key staff and clients due to missteps that could have been avoided and ensures the new leader becomes productive and flourishes in the shortest possible time. *

The points raised above are logical and seem simple to apply. Yet, in practice few businesses truly succeed at maximising the opportunity for their new leaders, not to mention the existing leadership team.

To genuinely succeed in business, leaders must know their role, continuously develop their skills and be constantly supported to achieve the best they can as a leader, based on each individual. It is worth taking a moment to consider where your organisation succeeds or fails in this area. Take stock and make adjustment where required. The benefits will be felt by all!

 

Source:

Take Your Investment In New Executives One Step Further: Norah Breekveldt, Business First Magazine, July/August 2014 www.businessfirstmagazine.com.au

 

1 Comment

Filed under Leadership, People Development