Category Archives: Leadership

Is the Team Leaning to the Left or Right?

Over the coming weeks I will be looking at how teams are, or aren’t, formed. I am sure most of you will know of the Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, if not I am sure I will post something about the theory in the future.

In many situations we will find ourselves having to work in teams and if we are to believe most of the commentary on the future of the workplace, we will forced into many short-term teams to deliver a specific outcome. The team will then be disbanded in order to form news teams.

Tuckman’s model works well as an academic theory but what if the team is unbalanced. Initially, I’m not looking at when one or more members of the proposed team are disengaged with the anticipated outcome this will come later. What I would like you to consider is the “sidedness” of each individual members thinking. No, not their political bias!

Is the group more left or right brain focused?

This can be described simply:

Left                              Right

A: Facts                       C: Future


B: Form                        D: Feelings

(I shall put a proper drawing in later)

If you have a team where the left is dominant then you may find that spark and creativity are stifled as there will be a reluctant to take the leap of faith required to make a significant change. Conversely, if the dominant view is right side biased the team may run away with ideas without grounding or little substance leaving the entire team in jeopardy.

Both options ultimately result in the team never reaching the desired outcome or if they do it will be after a considerable number of failures or a significant extension to the deadline as all potential risks  need to be considered be planned for. I am in no doubt that we have examples of this is our lives, projects that over run by years or are on time and deliver very little in the way of benefits.

How do you avoid being caught in the paralysis of the left-right brain struggle? First thing to do is take a step back and have a look at how the team thinks. Are they left focused or is it a right leaning team? Who has the power to within the team, is it the push forward into the future or put the brakes on as I still have questions? Remember the biggest hurdle to overcome is your own bias, if you don’t what that is yet maybe that is where you should focus your time.


Forget Users, External Customers is Where Its At.

Are you a victim of the internal customer, the one that is forever changing their mind chasing the next big thing? You spend months streamlining processes using cross functional teams delivering IT systems that provide the business outcomes you set out to achieve. Another successful project brought in on time and on budget. Yet many of these celebrated project never will fulfil their full potential as they often forget include the external customers (suppliers, paying customers, etc.).

over the years we find ourselves into serious trouble when we focus too much on the end user of the software application being designed. You tend to focus on making it an easy as possible for the internal employees to do what’s expected, the internal management team are pleased that their teams are being catered for. Don’t you want to make it easy for your external customers to deal with you, streamline the supply chain. all to often the two objectives are in direct conflict.

Creating a self-service mindset within your design processes, regardless if you’ve adopted enterprise architecture, you can offset many of the process tasks to the most practical. Purchase order progress maintained by suppliers; credit limits, overdue accounts visible to paying customers. If you start with the external view then move inward to where you have greater influence then you will stand a greater chance of delivering ‘real’ value and lasting significant benefit. Don’t rely on your internal users to hold the answers to the best solution. Obviously you need to ensure they are consulted and informed, but the drive needs to be outside in.

That’s right, no more internal-only applications. If you are looking at HR expense management, your billing systems, or revamping the inventory management systems, everything impacts your external customers. everyone needs to understand that success must be measured from multiple view points. Be brave an challenge some of the businesses practices you could save huge amounts by removing costs and building relationships with the outside world.


Getting Things Under Control

Do you ever feel like your life has gotten out of control? Some days, it’s easy to feel that way and we’ll all feel that way some days.

No matter you set goals, how hard you visualize results and affirm a positive outcomes, every once in a while your going to feel like life’s has one off the rails. Carefully laid plans in tatters. People you relied on, abandon you. A health or family crisis, a financial surprise or an earthquake puts you back to square one.  Suddenly you feel as if you’re out of control, and lost at sea.

At times like this, there are a few things it may help you to remember. First of all, no one can control every aspect of his or her life, and adversity comes to all of us, no matter how moral we are, and no matter how good our attitude is. Bad things happen to good people all the time.

Second, it’s important to realize that there is one and only one thing in life that is completely within your power to control, and that is your response to what happens to you. When you find yourself overcome with feelings of fear, helplessness, doom and gloom, you can put the brakes on these feelings by gently but firmly choosing to shift the focus of the thoughts that are running through your mind.

Your feelings are a direct result of the thoughts you think, and setting aside some time every morning and evening for positive visualization, affirmation, or guided meditation is a highly effective way of getting these thoughts back under your control again. Try it. You will be surprised at just how well it works.


The Key to Success is Simple: The Secret is…..

There is no question about it: Commitment is a key to success whether it’s in a marriage, a business, personal and professional growth, or sports.

What made Larry Bird one of the best players in basketball? He was considered slow, and many thought he could not jump. Sometimes it almost looked like he was playing in slow motion. Or what about Shane Williams who became Wales’ best international rugby winger? Everyone thought he was just too small to play professional rugby at 5′ 7″, except an old boss of mine. OK, he is Welsh and they had completed another Grand-Slam in the 6-nations. Shane, not my boss, always looked a little out of place next the rest of the 6 foot plus team. But why did these two succeed as players: they were totally dedicated to success. They practised more, played harder, and had more mental toughness than most of their competitors and team-mates. They both got more out of his talents than almost anyone did.

“Commitment and Success”

You see, the difference in physical attributes between athletes doesn’t tell you much. It’s the level of their commitment that separates the good players from the truly great. People who are committed to success are willing to do whatever it takes; as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else, no-one should be thinking I mean extending beyond personal commitment. Everything they do reflects their commitment; focus, work hard, learn, train more, repeat until perfected.

Ask yourself the following questions and think about your answers

How strong is your commitment?

  •            To your career?
  •            Your relationships?
  •            Your personal growth?

How much of your time and energy do you give these things? Do the results you get reflect your level of commitment?”

Are you being the best you can be?

Now here the final question: How do you feel about those answers?


This article was originally published on LinkedIn



Leadership Is About Doing, Not Saying

We’ve all seen those inspirational posters that started to appear on office walls in the 90’s. We’ve heard the inspiring mottos, lovingly lambasted in films like Men in Black; “The best of the best!” I’m sure that many businesses across the western world have spent millions on agonising over the latest buzzwords, management speak and the slogans. Just imagine how much time and money has been expended morphing these stated goals to keep up with the latest trends. Businesses may start with pushing for “Customer Satisfaction” then move to “Total Customer Satisfaction”, before reaching the point of aiming for “Customer Delight”.


Organisations have taken these beautifully created phrases and words and adorned the walls of numerous offices. All of these have been designed to with the intention of modifying employees’ behaviour, as we all know when we read the mere act of reading the pronouncement of “strategy and values” will instantly change deep seated attitudes. Writing “Trust” or “Collaboration” in big letters on a poster will not change opinions towards each other and especially the organisations leaders.


Talking a Good Game

Regardless of the near obsessive focus on the words some may have, a very large problem exists: there is rarely any correlation between the words agonised over and displayed on walls and the behaviour of the organisations leaders. I don’t think I’ve heard of a company that hasn’t espoused or valued “integrity”, “respect for employees”, “quality”, “customer satisfaction”, “innovation” and so on. As, in essence, all businesses are striving for the same behavioural objectives, these slogans lose meaning with employees and customers.


Enrol is a good example. Before their very well publicised collapse in 2011, they had created a very professionally produced show-reel on Enron’s ethics and integrity. This highlighted their philanthropic activities and community work; the character of the Executive team were of particular note. Clearly Enron had spent a considerable sum on “packaging” the messages and marketing these values. In the end it didn’t have any bearing on what was to follow. As you will be away many on the top executives subsequently ended up in prison or indicted.


Leadership Development

In a study by Business Week in 2006, involving more than 11,000 managers across 8 large organisations in the USA, looked at the impact of leadership development programs in changing and shaping leaders’ behaviour. Each of the eight businesses espoused different values through very different words describing their ideal leadership behaviours.


The study discovered that the different words or phrasing made absolutely no difference in determining the behaviour of the leaders. One of the business in the study have spent thousands of hours crafting the precise words to best express its view on how their leaders should act, this appears to have been in vain. The first draft, if grammatically correct may have been just as valuable as the final polished version. The study found the deciding factor as to the effectiveness of any initiative was how seriously the participants took the feedback and training. Those who made a personal commitment to improvement and followed up with their fellow attendees became more effective. The Leaders who dutifully attended sessions, listened but took no immediate action or made no personal commitment were found to develop at the same level as those that had not attended the presentations or workshops.


Actions Speak Loudest

The businesses that that are the most successful at living up to their espoused values and produce ethical employees, including leaders, realise that the key to success – or failure- is always the people, not the words that are in the corporate literature. Rather than expending time feverously revamping the slogans and behaviour posters to find the precise words to capture the desired leadership conduct. Businesses that ensure that leaders get (and act upon) feedback from employees and customers, those who actually observe the leadership behaviours, see tangible results.


The preoccupation of modifying performance appraisal forms and scoring mechanisms was found by the study to provide little value at the higher levels of the organisation. It suggested that business leaders should focus their energy on providing coaching and learning from employees removing perceived barriers.


Ultimately, leaders’ actions will be more powerful message to employees about values and the competence of the leadership than the words used. If the actions of the leadership are clear and purposeful, the words that emblazon the walls of the offices will be of very little importance regardless of how ‘prefect’ they may be. Conversely, if the leadership actions are at odds with the wonderfully crafted words displayed the walls of the offices they will look more ridiculous.