Tag Archives: Engagement

Are You An Accountable Person…and Leader?

Over the past 12 months I have noticed a trend within my circles of influence about the importance of accountability. Particularly in reference to leadership.

As a result when asked earlier this year to contribute to the e.Mile People Development Magazine by owner, Christina Lattimer, I jumped at the chance to write an article about this topic. I recently wrote a separate, yet related blog on accountability however wanted to bring to attention the importance of accountability and where it is ‘falling down’ in some quarters. By the responses received to the blogs, it is definitely striking a chord with many.

In my 25 plus years of working as an employee, consultant and leadership coach there have been several themes that continue to recur when working with senior leaders, many linked to being an accountable leader.

Earlier in my career it was initially surprising to me how many senior leaders were genuinely stressed and deeply concerned about their capability to lead others, regularly questioning whether they have earned the right to lead. In some cases they were losing sleep and living unhealthy lifestyles due to the real or perceived pressure of their roles.

I now recognise that much of this angst and lack of self-belief has been developed over time based on habitual, intrinsic and external influences, both perceived and real. Excitingly, for the same reasons, these skills and attributes can be grown to turn the negative aspects into positives.

Read More here…Be Accountable To Be A Leader

 

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Developing and Empowering Leaders – Richard Branson (Part 2)

Richard Branson in South Africa, 2004 - Leadership, Coaching and EmpowermentRichard Branson recently stated that coaching senior managers can be difficult for various reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty in finding an uninterrupted period of time to conduct and review.

In Part 1 I noted the first three guidelines Richard Branson highlighted in a recent article in the Business Review Weekly magazine titled, 7 Rules For Managers, focusing on effective leadership, coaching and empowering leaders.This post concludes the guidelines, consisting of the final four points.

Who’s In Charge? It’s Up To You?

A good manager provides clear roles for members of his team, which enables everyone to get on with the job of running the business. Once you’ve made these choices, do not micromanage. If you make a habit of diving in and changing a major project’s direction or otherwise intervening, your employees will learn to be dependent on you, and they will not reach their full potential.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Setting key objectives for yourself, your team and business is important to ensure a focus on the aims and strategy is maintained. Providing context and standards allows your team member to understand where they fit in and ensure they work within the ‘rules’ and expectations. However, flexing between providing enough context and suitable parameters without constricting performance and innovation is a balance that must be established. Responsibility, accountability and empowerment are only ‘buzz-words’ when they are not applied or unfamiliar – there is power in their application. I wrote more about expectations in an earlier post: Expectation Setting – Who Cares?

Champion Your Employees’ Ideas

When your team makes a judgment call, you need to follow through with conviction. If you cast doubt and let their project languish, your team will not have the impetus or confidence to take the next steps. If you insist on making every big decision yourself, you will create a terrible log jam. Do not fall into the trap of asking for further reports in order to justify moving forward. It is always better to act; it is debilitating to dither.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Employ the right people, support and develop them and give them the freedom to make their own mistakes and revel in successes.

Learn From Your Mistakes and Move On

It is impossible to get every decision right. When things go wrong, review with your team what happened and learn from it together. But don’t linger – dust yourself off and tackle the next challenge.

It is important not to keep tinkering with a project in hopes of delaying its end. At Virgin, we have not always got this right – for instance, we hung onto our Megastores longer than we should have.

CoachStation Thoughts:

We all make decisions every day – none of us get it right all the time. Holding people accountable is key to development and building trust. Looking for or portraying perfectionism, for example, has little benefit, however the ability to provide and receive feedback reflects well on you as a leader and the rapport you have with your team. Learn from mistakes because they are not insurmountable – ignore them and they will continue.

Celebrate Successes Every Day

When someone on your team has a big success, celebrate it and tell others. This is something that should be part of your everyday work – you should try to catch your team doing something right.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Developing a team and employee brand can be enhanced through supporting and advocating, when earned. Catching your team doing something right is not always a natural or easily applied trait for many leaders. It is a very powerful relationship-builder when applied well.

As stated, Richard Branson claimed that these guidelines hold true in almost any situation. Do you agree?

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, whilst possibly providing your own guidelines you believe are key in leadership.

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Filed under Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership, People Development, Strategy

Leadership, The Coach and Coaching

I was fortunate to attend an evening hosted by one of my local football clubs on Friday night. The guest speaker was Ange Postecoglou, head coach of our local nationally based football (soccer) side, the Brisbane Roar. Ange has represented Australia playing football and has successfully transitioned into coaching ranks.

Ange was able to offer significant insight into his own style and the great success his club has had in recent seasons. TheBrisbane Roar FCre were several points about leadership and team culture that particularly resonated for me. A selection of the key points raised by Ange are highlighted below, followed by my own thoughts about how they translate to the business environment.

Point 1: The team exists because of the players and their ability to perform and follow the team plan. All other people in the club, including the coach, CEO and other staff are there because of the players and they should be served accordingly.

My Thoughts: This is as true in business as in sport. As conveyed by Ken Blanchard and other thought leaders, the ability and willingness to serve your team as individual’s and a unit is one of the great leadership mindsets. You are there for your team, not the other way around.

Point 2: If you really believe in something, you must be prepared to make decisions and stick by them. Ultimately the buck stops with the head coach, so make sure you are in a position to make decisions and reinforce them through action.

My thoughts: Every leader has their own style. Some are more decisive, democratic, inclusive etc. however the leader should lead. This requires the ability to make decisions, align them to business and team goals and compel others to buy into the concepts because overall accountability still sits with the you as the leader and it is difficult to achieve on your own.

Point 3: Although Ange acknowledged he is ‘not a fan’ of confrontation, he is more than willing to take it on when it comes his way.

My thoughts: Although I have met very few people who enjoy confrontation (there is a difference between ability to manage confrontation and enjoying it), the skill to effectively manage confrontational situations is key to leadership. Emotional intelligence, engagement and empathy are important in my experience – reading the situation clearly by understanding the other person’s perspective and reasons why the situation has escalated help to manage confrontation.

Point 4: Not everyone will fit into your team culture, plan and goals, even if they are very good players and stalwarts of the team. (Note: when Ange took over coaching the Brisbane Roar team in 2009, he chose to release a handful of key players and the captain, which, although unpopular with supporter’s and the media at the time, have proven to be the right moves).

My thoughts: This is an interesting point. Through force of conviction, clear goals and direction, Ange was able to identify those player’s who were willing and flexible enough to transition across to the new team culture. ‘Star’ players and high performance historically does not necessarily translate to continued success within a different culture and/or set of expectations.

Point 5: Performance – it is OK to make mistakes if you are playing the team way. Be prepared to allow player’s to make mistakes, but not if they are playing as individual’s. Be brave and allow the players to express themselves, within the team guidelines.

My thoughts: Within my team and when I am facilitating leadership development sessions, I often discuss the concept of boundaries and expectations. Among other expectations, it is imperative to set clear direction and limits so that all team member’s are aware of guidelines, where they fit in, what they will be measured upon and how they are supported. Without it you are encouraging individualism, creating confusion and an environment of assumptions. I have found it is about finding the balance between expectation-setting and providing enough space to be innovative, creative and proactive.

Point 6: Ange would prefer to see the team play the team way and adhere to the team structure and lose than get a good result by not following the team plan. He was able to offer examples of games where he was happy overall with the effort, organisation and structure of the game but the result did not go the team’s way. Alternatively he has on occasion been unhappy with the team’s response even with a good result. His message was clear, how we get there is just as important, if not more so, than the end result!

My thoughts: I could not agree more with this concept. Too often I see managers rewarding and recognising employees based on the end result, with no regard as to how it was achieved. I interpreted this message as the ‘right’ journey will more often than not provide the ‘right’ result and the team culture, ethic and standard will be reinforced even further as a result. This point focuses on the ‘how’. Ultimately, the long-term culture and level of understanding benefits from this mindset.

This also relates to the belief from some that ‘the end justifies the means’, which I do not support. I have often seen greater growth and learning occur for someone through the sequences contained within the journey more so than benefits achieved from the outcome. The outcome in itself is a short-lived effect – the path to get there has many opportunities to learn and contribute. Developing a strong team brand, aligned to values and integrity will always create a team dynamic and culture that has long-term benefits, even through the challenge of staff turnover and transition periods.

Point 7: Each morning, the players have to shake the hand and acknowledge every other player, staff member and employee of the club that they come across.

My thoughts: Another interesting concept. Although it feels a little contrived, ‘forcing’ this initially may have felt unnatural to some player’s, however I see the point. Being present and engaging those in your team and beyond creates a dynamic and inclusive environment. Hopefully this becomes a natural part of the culture and ultimately more ‘real’ for those involved, however initially creating a team standard more overtly has obvious benefit. Essentially, show an interest in your people because you are actually interested not because you feel you should!

Point 8: You play for what’s on the front of the jersey (team jumper) not what’s on the back!

My thoughts: I love this point! The front of the jumper has the team logo (Brisbane Roar); national competition logo (A-League); and the sponsors logo. Ange is reinforcing that the player should respect and be proud of the club, the association that provides the opportunity to play and the sponsors who enable the team to succeed through sponsorship and funding. The back of the jumper has the player’s name and player number. The message is clear – in the Roar culture, play for yourself and you won’t fit in to his team. In business, focus on your needs only and you are missing the whole point of leadership!!

Point 9: Taking shortcuts has implications. Ownership for the team’s success must be held by the entire team. Leadership traits are the responsibility of all.

My thoughts: I am a keen advocate of developing leadership skills in people, even if they do not have direct reports. Leadership is more than a role or title – it is first and foremost an attitude, with the skills and traits that effective leaders display being able to be learned by almost anyone. It takes significant effort and time to develop though, with no silver bullet to learning and application of leadership. Of course, how well these skills are portrayed is critical, but the point that leadership within the team is the responsibility for all makes perfect sense. There is the leader and there are those who lead!

Overall, there were many interesting points raised on the night. Although the context between sports coaching, business and leadership has been written about many times, the first-hand examples and theories provided by Ange in his role as a successful coach of a national sporting team, have many parallels to business. How many can you identify with?

I am very interested in your own thoughts and comments relating to sports coaching, leadership and aligned successes.

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