Leading with Vulnerability – From Fake to Fearlessly Flawed

fake-to-flawedThere are so many occasions where I reflect on Brené Brown’s TedTalk on shame and vulnerability.

Brenė Brown is a social researcher, self-proclaimed storyteller and expert on social connection. She has conducted thousands of interviews to determine what lies at the root of social connection, claiming it to be vulnerability and authenticity.

Her 2010 presentation had a huge impact on me because it gave me the permission as a leader to be imperfect.

In so many teams and organisations, human connection is often missing from the workplace – especially in senior leadership positions. We are taught to keep a distance from one another and project a certain image that is often characterised by confidence, competence, control and authority.

For me, this projection became really uncomfortable early on. I began to realise that in the pursuit of projecting what I thought a leader should be, I was compromising my authenticity by covering up my vulnerabilities.

I felt there was something inherently missing from being able to take my teams from performing well, to high performing. Continue reading

Have you been conditioned or are you living authentically?

frazzled-career-womanI was chatting to a team mate recently about the choices we make in life and how our identity, self-belief and trust in others feeds our thinking and decisions.  Our thinking is developed through our childhood and is influenced by our role models and experiences.  Whilst largely unnoticed, we begin to see our responses conditioned through increased responsibilities as we move out of our teens into adulthood.

This conditioning pushes us down a path of decision making with long term impacts that we may not necessarily appreciate at the time.  We pursue roles that make us safe and give up our passions to focus on work in an inpatient effort to climb the corporate ladder. We sacrifice the things we love to spend more time with partners, buy houses and pursue a stable job.  As we get older and have kids we become more conservative in an attempt to become the perfect parent or partner. Continue reading

Putting your customer first; lessons from Walt Disney

walt-disney-world-orlando-floridaI have been travelling in the US on a family holiday.  With three young children, we have spent most of the time in Orlando, Florida visiting the various theme parks of which there are many.  Of all the theme parks, they are all operated by a few different organisations.  The major two organisations that operate the majority of the theme parks is Disney and Universal Studios.

What is fascinating when you do an intense two week period of visiting many theme parks, you start to pick up some key insights.  In particular, you notice what separates one theme park operator from another particularly in the area of being customer centric and focussed on the customer experience which Disney do in an exceptional manner. I have not seen an organisation do it as well right from the time to you buy the tickets through to the experience you have throughout the park and beyond it.  Continue reading

Why developing a personal 90-Day Plan makes sense!

90-daysWhy is it that in our work we can hold ourselves accountable, track our progress and focus on taking action that gets outstanding results, yet we can often struggle to feel like we’re achieving the same level of success in our personal lives?

As a business, BRS is highly disciplined in undertaking our quarterly business planning cycles to measure progress against our strategic plan. We ensure any incomplete items that need to be carried over to the next quarter are still relevant and aligned to our strategy, whilst also refocusing our priorities and key actions for the upcoming quarter.

So why don’t many of us apply the same discipline, purposeful action planning and energy to our personal lives? Well, we can and we should! Continue reading

Top Tips for Variation Management

variation-managmentThe word “variation” when it relates to managing service providers on infrastructure projects can elicit a wide range of emotional responses from people, depending on where in the project they sit and the current commercial state of the project. These emotions can range from joy for the possibility of additional work for a contractor, to fear and resentment from a client who unexpectedly has to fund something they think is or should already be allowed for. Whilst a well scoped tender or request for proposal goes a long (long) way towards minimising the likelihood of variations, we can’t and shouldn’t have a mindset of zero variations. Some variations are legitimate and we need to be fair and firm in our approach to managing service providers.

Recognising that unforeseen (and occasionally opportunistic) things do happen, the following tips will help you manage variations at the junctures that they do happen. Continue reading

There is accountability with being opinionated

opinion-with-accountability I often coach or work with people who are opinionated.  I love opinionated people because you know where you stand.

But what fascinates me is that all too often people who are opinionated don’t like being held accountable for their opinions.  If they say something that damages a relationship or erodes trust they act like they should have an immunity card in that they can say whatever they want without accepting the consequences.

I encourage people to have an opinion but if you ‘put it out there’ then you need to accept that some people won’t like what you say or may even want to question your intent.  Whether you like it or not we all have moments of self-interest and misunderstanding, so if your opinion is misguided then others will lose trust in you. Continue reading

Listening without jumping ahead

listeningQuite often, you can feel that yourself or others around you are trying to act quickly. Being given the information, make a decision, solve the problem and get onto the next task. Nothing is truer when you’re coming up the ranks and trying to prove yourself to colleagues and your industry.   This is also true at all stages of your career as there is always someone with more experience, or someone you are role modelling from who seems to just get it done quickly and intuitively. They just seem to get it right all the time (spoiler – they don’t!). Whilst it’s all well and good to have a crack, get a result –whether that be a good result or a fail fast result – there is a risk that you’ll fall into a trap and miss vital information. Missing this information will more often than not frustrate the person who attempted to give you this information in the first place. And if you don’t take a different approach with your response – you could find yourself stuck in the same cycle.

So what is this different approach? Well, all too often you’ll find that where someone is going wrong is from missing a very critical step. Listening. Continue reading

How united leadership builds high performing teams

united-leadershipSince joining BRS earlier this year I’ve been working with some fantastic senior leadership teams who are really driving high performance initiatives throughout their organisations.  A common theme throughout these teams has been their commitment to united leadership including the coming together to work through challenges, drive alignment on key messages and the commitment to developing close working relationships with each other based on trust and mutual respect.

Each of these teams has shown a willingness to challenge, debate and then align on strategies, plans and actions – including what needs to be communicated and how – in order to effectively convey a united approach across their organisations.  Most begin with a deep and shared commitment of the purpose, principles and objectives most commonly expressed as a vision statement, objectives, principles or a charter.   The value of these tools extends beyond the visual representation and lies in the leadership team’s ability to align, understand and communicate their importance across the organisation.   I’ve also noticed a real willingness to challenge and shift views based on the inputs, feedback and perspectives of other team members.  This ability to actively align and openly debate comes more naturally to some leadership teams than others. It’s definitely more prevalent in teams with high levels of trust where people have taken time to build relationships through open and upfront conversations. Continue reading

It doesn’t have to be a trade off

trade-offOne of the things I observe in life is the inherent belief that there is automatically a trade-off when there are two stakeholder groups at play.

In employer/employee relationships there is often a belief that if one party succeeds the other suffers.  In other words if the company makes a profit, it’s at the expense of the employees, and vice versa.

People often argue that if we spend more on services we will get a better outcome, and likewise if we spend less, we will get a worse outcome.  Why can’t we spend less and achieve better outcomes? Continue reading

Don’t wait for someone to select you, select yourself

select-yourselfPeople often make excuses or act like victims when they don’t get the opportunities they want. Whether this opportunity is the ability to work on a challenging project, get promoted or simply learn, too often we find people blaming their peers or boss for a missed opportunity.

This victimisation occurs in all areas of life particularly in sporting environments where players get upset when a coach doesn’t select them in the team.  Whilst some react to their missed selection well, others perceive that the coach has treated them harshly rather than reviewing their own inputs, work ethic and gaps in the game. Continue reading