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READY TO CHANGE YOUR MIND?

How much thought do you give to the way you think ?  Have you always thought the same way, or has your thinking changed as you have changed ?

I coach a large number of leaders; a lot of them are what I call ‘new’ leaders : people who are new to a leadership position, new to a business, new to a country, or new to a department within an existing organisation.

They often come to coaching with some fear. They’re not 100% confident in their skills, they know they need to cement vital relationships quickly, they need to achieve some ‘quick wins’ and vitally, they may not yet have learnt the difference between the skill sets of managing and leading.

Which brings me back to thinking about the way we think …

You see leaders and managers need different thinking styles. Now, neither role is ‘better’, and both roles can be successfully coached, but managers tend to need meaning-based coaching which results in optimal performance (because the role is about the ‘doing’) and leaders perform at their peak when they experience transformational coaching. Because a lot of leadership is about Being.

And when leaders are being genuine, creative, collaborative, fair, and congruent, there is every possibility that people will follow them.

What distinguishes a leader from a manager is the ability to envision a new future and empower those around them to turn it into reality. I worked for a boss like that over 15 years ago. She empowered an entire team of women to believe in themselves and their ability, and rewarded us handsomely when we lived up to her expectations. She did her job so well that we ran her company for her. She set the vision, communicated it to us. And we did the rest. She empowered us so well that she was my last boss. Brava !

 

Leadership is the ability to do big picture thinking. It’s necessary to be able to delve into the detail when you are managing a project, but when you need to conceive a project, the skill you need is vision and creativity. Leaders break new ground because they have developed the ability to think globally; to go places no one has been before. They do not follow established procedures but look for new ways of doing things. Visionaries ‘envision’ a different way. That’s an important word for leaders – difference. It’s about looking for the gaps, not the similarities that will give them a competitive advantage.

Great leaders have developed the skill of reflection. They do not necessarily plunge straight into action but will think about the challenge, trying on different angles, different solutions until they know which way they want to proceed.

 

And they’re ok to be wrong. They listen to their inner voice and trust it because they trust themselves. If they are wrong, they use the feedback to correct the course. – without taking it personally. They do not need permission or buy-in from anyone to know what is right for them. Leaders understand that there is only one way of winning, and that is to control their own mind and the way they think and act. They know that they certainly cannot control anyone or anything else.

So what does all of this have to do with coaching ? Simple. A great coach can help you develop flexibility of thought. He or she can help you change the way you think.

I recently coached a senior executive who believed she had to prove her worth by constantly being busy, running (yes running !) around the office, and generally growing impatient with those that weren’t ‘up to her speed’. Empowering ? Absolutely not. She was initially given feedback that she was ‘tough’ which she took as a compliment, but in effect she was scared. So scared that she did more and more and made her staff feel like what they did counted less and less. Through coaching she realized that her job was no longer ‘to do the technical work’, but to BE a leader. The result is a calm, more productive team who feel like their leader is on their side and no longer in competition with them, but is there to support them.

And in turn, she has the breathing space to reflect, relook, envision, strategise and empower. And as a result, revenue is up 30% this quarter. Not bad in these times, and all because she decided to change her mind.

Let me know when YOU are ready – janine.daniels@lead.com.co

OPENING UP TO MORE

We’ve just got back from a magical holiday in Bali. And on Saturday as I lay in the sun watching the kites flying high in Bali’s big blue sky, I started thinking …

But first, let me tell you about the kites. The Balinese are known for their kite-making and flying, and even hold a kite flying festival. These kites are magnificent – think elaborate ships, colourful butterflies and exotic birds up to 30 square metres in size. And they fly really high – to the point where they are potentially dangerous to air traffic.

Anyhow, as I was watching these kites, it struck me that they are a perfect metaphor for Bali – highly spiritual, yet fun and playful too. For those of you who have never been to Bali (and forgive me if you know it well), it is an extraordinary place. The Balinese practice Hinduism and you literally cannot walk down the road without seeing a shrine, or stepping over an offering or smelling incense. There are even offerings placed on the beach. Restaurant and villa staff stop what they are doing at specific times of the day to make offerings. Yet – as you walk down the tiny higgledy-piggledy roads, stepping over offerings and pointing out temples and shrines, people spill out of bars and restaurants onto the pavements, the music pumps and the place literally rocks. It’s both a spiritual and a party place – and for those of you who know me well, you know that’s just my kinda place to be.

So Bali and the metaphor of a kite, are for me, a beautiful example of ‘both-and’ thinking and it is a thinking pattern that can open up your world.

How so ?

Well, rather than limit thinking to ‘either this or that’, thinking along a continuum opens up the possibility of ‘both this and that’. By polarising the world into good: bad / right: wrong, all the choices in the middle disappear – and so do all the options.  This way of thinking often results in people believing their own stuff and closing their minds to learning new ways of being, new theories or listening to another way.

It closes down the opportunity for learning and development. It shuts off your growth. Continuing my example of Bali – tourists could be attracted by either the spirituality, or the fun. By employing continuum thinking, the island manages to attract visitors from both groups, thereby exponentially increasing tourism, revenue, job opportunities and the potential for economic growth.

Now, lets apply that to you – imagine you would like to double, maybe triple your opportunities. Imagine being highly successful and having ample down time, or giving a completely focussed presentation whilst being relaxed. Imagine a world of leaders who are respected and loved. Managers who are technical specialists and who trust enough to delegate. Small business owners who play safe yet believe in themselves enough to take calculated risks. Wouldn’t you love to be a student studying, playing sport, partying and travelling. Why not ? Why not have more ? Why not be more ?

Of course, continuum thinking is not appropriate thinking for life or death decision making, or in situations when a quick response is necessary, but if you are passionate about becoming more, this may be something you’d like to work on.

How do you know if you need to stretch yourself a bit in this area ? Well, have you ever caught yourself thinking “but that’s not the way it is done”, or “the rules say” or “you can’t have it all”. If so, maybe you’d like to consider that there is always another option. Life is not black and white, there are beautiful colours waiting to be explored. Give yourself permission to look for them and experience the most life has to offer.

SHIFT HAPPENS

The work I do is about change. I help facilitate internal change for people and then watch with delight as their external world changes. People who work with me want to change. And I personally embrace change as it leads to my growth and development. So I’ve often pondered the process of change.  Does it happen slowly – or in a heartbeat ?

My personal view is that it’s a combination of the two.

A couple of weeks ago two things happened to make me sit up and take notice. As I was parking my car for my first appointment of the day, I became aware of a woman whose (very new, very big) car was parked next to mine. She watched me reverse-park like a hawk (no front-first parking in Singapore), and my immediate thought was that she was so concerned I might scratch her car that she stood there protecting her precious property. Imagine my shock when she actually came over to me, did the ‘wind-the-window-down’ motion, and apologised profusely for parking so badly – and then offered to re-park her car as she had inconvenienced me. Excuse me ????

Later that same day … One of my boys was at soccer practice, and my other son had suggested we go for a walk in the Botanic Gardens. After our walk, we sat down to chat, and were deep in conversation when I heard footsteps approaching. Now, if you’ve lived in South Africa all your life, you know about listening with all your senses. And if you’re a mum, you protect with all your senses too. So, for the second time that day, I readied myself to do battle. And as I turned to see who was clearly watching us, an old man wearing a straw sunhat, smiled out from one of the kindest faces I’ve ever seen (clearly quite moved at the mother-son tableau he had witnessed), nodded his head at me – and walked on.

Message hit home. Yip. Time to revise that old frame of aggression.  Got it.

And I see this process happen in my work on a weekly basis. Clients who have been grappling for weeks with roadblocks, sabotage patterns or limiting beliefs do the hard work; they are aware, reflect, and look for patterns – and then boom – they get it.

Change may occur in a flash, but the process leading to it often takes some time, usually time that we’re not aware of. But it is in that instant when recognition comes, that we have the choice to move on and grow, or stay locked in a cycle of repetition. It is in that moment that we have the choice, and the chance to change our world.

THE LEADERSHIP GAP

During the 4 months we have lived in Asia, I have had ample opportunity to look, listen and learn from a new culture (ok, this is Singapore, so new cultures would probably be more appropriate). And as a Leadership coach, a lot of what I look at is the quality of leadership I see, hear and experience. And of course I compare it (looking for both difference AND similarity) to my experience working with highly successful people and organisations in South Africa.

So, what have I noticed …?

There are no doubt many differences, ranging from a non-compliant (how can I do things differently) outlook in SA versus a compliant (follow the rules at all cost) mindstate in Singapore, to a culture in Singapore that is extremely courteous, polite and harmonious as opposed to my beloved country’s passion and fire.  From a business perspective, one of the most interesting observations is how the Leadership Gaps differ.

I am well aware that what I am about to say is based on my personal experience, which may  be biased and generalised, and I would be delighted to hear contrary views or read some research on the issue, however here’s what I see …

Generally speaking, it appears that International / Global Organisations focus on talent. Heavy emphasis is placed on hiring people who have external evidence of their technical skills. I have seen little evidence to date of organisations’ developing their talent’s inner leadership game. The focus appears to be keeping the talent gap filled, and as a result an Inner Leadership Gap is exposed.

Conversely, locally based / home grown organisations appear to have a higher awareness of developing the inner game. Unlike their global counterparts, their Leadership Gap is often external – there are bigger gaps in their talent pipeline and external hiring is often the norm.

So, how does this affect you?

Well, we are all leaders. Yip. Every single one of us.

Whether you are the CEO of a multinational organisation who is acutely aware of developing talent, or a homemaker raising the next generation of family and community leaders or a solopreneur who needs to focus on inner leadership skills to create a bigger business, we all have gaps in our leadership profile.

So, as you read this article – ask yourself where your gaps are.

Are your gaps internal – do you have the ability and belief in yourself; do you have the drive and desire to lead? Do people follow you? Are you genuine and sincere? Do you have a solid sense of values and beliefs? Do you listen to your internal voice of authority?

Or are your gaps external – do you have the ability to envision and to motivate people?  Can you serve interests bigger than your own? Or does self preservation feature highly in your life? Will you sacrifice for the greater good?  Can you make the tough decisions and tell people the truth?  Do you innovate, and actively look for new opportunities?

As you discover where your gaps, be thankful for them – and then work on them to become more. If each of us improved the way we lead ourselves (and others), think what a difference we could make to our world.

RELOCATION 101 – LESSONS SO FAR…

The last 5 months of my life have been hell. Sheer, unadulterated, out of control, control-freak, anal-person hell. They’ve also been the reason I haven’t posted a blog for so long.

So, this is what happened … 2010 was a year of reaping rewards. My coaching practice had grown to a large enough size to be challenging time-wise, my husband James’ work was going along swimmingly, and our sons were in a phenomenal school. Like us they had awesome friends, they were active; busy with sport and social activities  …. And then the universe remembered us saying at some stage in the past, that ‘… we’d like an adventure …’

So in September 2010 we got back from a breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful barging holiday in France only for my husband to receive an invitation to look at a potential job offer in Singapore. He resigned in October. We sold our house in November. We moved to Singapore in the first week of January. The boys have been at school for 3 weeks. No blog ???  Hell no bloody time to take a breath !!!

Ok, so the objective of this blog has never been to tell my life story, but is, from a coach’s perspective, to reflect on lessons I witness and observe. So what have I learnt through this process ?

  • I’ve learnt personally, and observed objectively, that no matter how sorted you think you are, there are times you are going to need help. Ask for it.
  • People have opened their arms and homes to us, welcomed us in and helped us become part of a social structure – we’ve learnt to embrace that and be so grateful for it. I wonder how often that could have happened at ‘home’ but we never saw it because we had an established network and support group. Our eyes have become open to hands of friendship.
  • If we hadn’t all learnt this one already – here’s a repeat (and one that I’m currently battling with).  Trying to control it all makes you ill !!
  • You will get what you set your mind to if it’s really meaningful and important to you. (We’re not talking half-baked flights of fancy here). If it’s really important, you will respond to those opportunities that make your dreams your new reality.
  • Finally, and for me this is the over-riding observation because it relates to our thinking patterns.  Your experience is shaped by your filters – see the good in people, the situation or the experience – and that’s how it will be for you. Look for the negative, how it’s (bad) different, how it’s not the same. And you’ll end up yearning.

So am I yearning ?

No.

Am I missing my parents and treasured friends?  OMG.  More than words can say. But we speak regularly and I know it’s only a matter of time before we hold each other again.

But are we having an adventure?  You betcha, and it’s only just begun ….