Being a Brave Leader

Being a brave leader is hard! I most certainly didn’t get it right all the time. I don’t think anyone does.
 
The aim has to be to do what you think is right, and when you get it wrong, face up to it and learn from the experience.
 
You have to be prepared to accept that you won’t get it right all the time, you have to be prepared to ADMIT you got it wrong.
 
Being brave in the face of all the challenges you will face won’t come easily. At times you will want to run screaming to the hills! Don’t think you are on your own – you definitely are not!
 
So, what does great ‘brave ‘ leadership look like?
 
In my opinion it looks pretty much like you’d expect any great human to behave. It’s how you’d hope we could all treat each other. It’s about standing up for what is right, even when that feels uncomfortable. For sure, there are ways of doing this which don’t instantly get you sacked. If you keep kindness in your heart and remember these key points then you will be on the right track.
 
Loyalty
 
Stand up for your team – even when things are not going great
Hanging your team out to dry, even if things are going badly, is not the way to go. Your team need you to support them to get better and if they know you are not on their side morale will drop like a stone. Once that happens you will struggle to improve anything.
 
Trust between you and your team is vital. If your team feels that you will pay a blame game in the face of trouble, you will reduce the likelihood of your team being creative and courageous.
 
Accept failure, in yourself and your team as a stepping stone to success. Don’t talk badly of the team to others. If a peer is talking badly of your team, find out what the issue is and work to resolve it.
 
Make sure the people who stick with you know how much you appreciate them. You cannot be a success on your own. You need your team, maybe more than they need you.
 
Doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it proves you as reliable and trustworthy. Do the right thing even when no one is watching.
 
Have those difficult conversations.
 
Sometimes you are going to have to do things which are not fun. Talking to someone about their failing performance, poor attendance, or bad attitude, is not pleasant. But, you have to do it. You can’t let things drag on. And, you must treat that person with kindness, even if you are feeling very frustrated with them. The conversation is not about you, it’s about them, so don’t bring your feelings into it. You need to get to a place where they understand that the conversation is necessary, and improvement required.
 
Brave leaders are the ones who tackle issues quickly, kindly and decisively. You cannot allow for important issues to not be addressed.
 
The rest of your team have to see you taking action when action is necessary.
Respect others – and yourself
 
It always comes back to respect, not just for others but also for yourself. You need to be clear on your own values whist respecting others.
 
Listen to your team. Accept that you don’t know it all and hear what others have to say. And, see things from others perspectives.
 
You may still disagree but will be doing so from an informed position.
 
Sometimes you will have to be prepared to stand up and be counted. If you are asked to do something which does not sit well with you, even after having heard all the reasons why you should, then you may have to say no. In these cases it is always helpful if you can state what you can do, rather than what you can’t.
 
Strive for excellence over perfection
 
We work in a very uncertain world. Leaders have to be able to make bold decisions amid the uncertainty and striving for perfection will hold you back.
 
Accept the uncertainty. Plan where you can but be prepared for curve balls and the need to adapt quickly.
 
Brave leaders know that things will not always be perfect. They will accept that sometimes ‘good enough’ is enough.
 
Be striving for excellence they will have created the right environment for ‘good enough’ to be very good indeed. It is in these environments that people thrive because they stop being afraid. Imperfection is accepted and risks can be taken. Creative minds will flourish. Fear of getting things badly wrong reduce. Often this is when something magical happens.
 
 
Be prepared to accept your vulnerabilities
 
You can’t be a brave leader unless you accept your vulnerabilities and love yourself anyway.
 
We are all a ‘work in progress’ and to be your best you have to recognise this.
 
Self-awareness and self-love are the most important factors in our efforts to be human leaders.
 
But, understanding ourselves and why we react to certain things does not give us an excuse for bad behaviour. Rather, it gives us a place to focus our learning and development.
 
Is it even possible to be in a leadership role and not feel vulnerable?
 
Leadership roles require us to step up and put ourselves in uncomfortable situations. There is no certainty that we will succeed. We have to rely on and trust other people.
 
Owning our vulnerablity whilst leading takes bravery.
 
The idea that vulnerability is a weakness is outdated and extremely unhelpful.
 
Vulnerability isn’t about exposing all of our deepest fears. It’s about sharing what is appropriate in the workplace. It’s about using your vulnerabilities to develop and grow, and creating an environment where others can do the same.
If you need coaching support on any leadership issues in your role then I can help. With 30 plus years experience and a passion for helping people to increase confidence in their role I have solutions to the problems you face.
 
mandy@positivelypracticalleadership.co.uk
 
 
 
 
 

How to make sure that your time is spent fixing the right things.

How often this week has someone told you about a problem that happens ‘all the the time’?
 
When did you last get dragged into an issue because someone ‘always does’ that thing that winds up everyone else?
 
As a leader an important part of your role is to remove the barriers which are stopping your team from being their best. It may be a recurring technical problem, the actions of a team member, or ‘constantly’ being held back by something in the system. If these issues can’t be resolved at a lower level, and they are impacting on the ability of your team to deliver excellence, then they are going to land on your desk.
 
But, are you spending your time trying to fix the right things?
 
Let’s be honest we can all be guilty of jumping to conclusions before we have all the information. We might listen to only one persons concerns. Or, accept the most commonly stated version of events. More often the problem is not as big as it first appears.
 
Without meaning to people exaggerate the extent of a problem. This isn’t because they aim to misinform, but simply that to them it seems like a huge problem.
 
For example, the office stapler – back in the day when we used to use such things – would ‘always’ run out of staples when I needed to use it.
 
And the photocopier ‘always’ ran out of paper when I came to copy something. Under my breath I would mutter something along the lines of ‘am I the only person who ever fills this up’!
 
Of course, it didn’t and I wasn’t!
 
In reality I just didn’t pay attention to all the times when I used them and they didn’t need filling up.
 
There is even a term for it.
 
The Texas sharpshooter fallacy is when differences in data are ignored, but similarities are overemphasized.
 
This can cause us to reach a false conclusion.
 
There is a tendency in humans to interpret patterns where none actually exist.
 
The name comes from a joke about a Texan who fires some gunshots at the side of a barn, then paints a target centered on the tightest cluster of hits and claims to be a sharpshooter.
 
It’s a very common source of unnecessary action in our work life, because we tend not to dig deep enough to understand what the real problem is. People circle the hits – or number of times a problem occurs – and ignore the number of times that it doesn’t happen.
 
Facts before action.
 
So, next time a member of your team reports a problem which ‘happens all the time’, or an issue comes up in your team meeting and everyone concurs ‘that it’s a problem for them too’. Start with some critical questions.
 
This is not because you doubt that your team are frustrated by the problem but because you need to understand how much of a problem it is. You need to know what is really going on before you can decide how best to act.
 
To mis-quote Thomas Jefferson ‘the truth has nothing to fear from enquiry’.
 
Statistics and data are important.
 
In my experience when I asked how often has this problem occurred, it would often be a lot less than ‘always’. Sometimes this question alone can cut off the need for any major action. When asked this question a team can often come to the real conclusion, that actually it is not a problem at all but a minor annoyance that they need to find a sensible approach to.
 
How often the problem has occurred over time and in relation to the number of times it hasn’t happened needs to be determined.
 
The impact of the problem needs to be understood.
 
The reason for the problem needs to be ascertained. What is actually happening the point that it occurs? What are the inter-dependent and or coincidental actions occurring around the problem.
 
These are all tasks that you can pass back to your team.
 
Only when you have some of this basic information can you start to determine what actions you need to take next.

How to chair meetings like a superstar!

Meetings are an inevitable aspect of your role. In my experience, the more senior your role, the more time you spend in them.
 
Meetings are not always valuable use of your time though.
 
It is time that you could be spending with your team, building relationships and communicating at a more personal level. Or, getting something on the ‘to do’ list done!
 
There are some things you can do to make sure you are getting the most out of them.
 
Most importantly ask yourself whether you need to be there.
 
People often cast the net wide when sending out meeting invitations. Without much thought to the purpose each attendee can bring.
 
To ensure you are using your time as carefully as possible do not accept meeting invitations automatically.
 
STOP! Consider the purpose of the meeting. What can you personally can bring of value to the meeting. Is there someone in your team who could bring equal or more value? Do you have expertise or experience which you ought to be sharing at this meeting? Is it critical, or not, to meeting yours, or the organisations goals?
 
So often I found that there was an expectation that I would be at a meeting by virtue of my job title. In fact, there was often someone in my teams would not only have more relevant, on the ground experience. That person would also gain development opportunities from attending the meeting.
 
Of course there will be lots of meetings that you have to attend. You may be the chair, or the meeting may be instigated by you as a means to driving work forward.
 
Chairing a meeting is an important skill. Get it right and you create dynamic and creative meetings which drive you towards your goals, without it feeling like hard work.
 
So long as you are clear on the PURPOSE of the meeting and you have evaluated your PLACE at the table then here are some suggestions for getting the best out of the time spent in the meeting.
 
Be clear about the agenda, and the items on it. If it’s your agenda then think out WHY an item is on the agenda and what you expect to get out of the discussion in respect of that item. 
 
PREPARE your input where you know it is required. Second guess where you can add perspective, raise questions, or share data, knowledge or experience.
 
So much time is wasted in meetings when attendees don’t prepare themselves, and wait to see what unfurls. Every item deferred to the next meeting is building in slippage time, in respect of the goal. If this is due to a lack of preparedness then it doesn’t reflect well on the individual or the group as a whole.
 
If you are the chair, then think about who you need to draw in to each agenda item. Are they clear about the fact that they will be expected in input?
 
If you have a standard agenda, then consider whether all items need equal air time.
 
Standard agendas are very useful. But, there is a danger that you will find yourselves going over old ground or talking about something for the sake of it only because it’s on the agenda. If you are chairing, take care to ensure that you move quickly through those items that don’t need so much attention this time.
 
This brings me on to PARTICIPATION. If you are chairing then making sure that there is opportunity for all to take part is one of your most important roles.
 
This can be tricky. No one likes the creeping death of ‘going round the room’ for everyone’s thoughts! Some people need time to process and assimilate their thoughts. Others will fill the air because ‘someone has to’. Most are spending more time trying to think up something unique to say rather than listening to anyone else!
 
As chair, you need to be sensitive and alert enough to notice when someone wants to input but are not getting the opportunity to do so.
 
Also consider whether everyone needs to be at the meeting for the whole time? If parts of the agenda are going to be irrelevant to some participants then let them go. They will thank you for it. No one wants to sit through a discussion which they are of no part and to which they cannot add any value. This will feel like wasted time to them and will undermine the value they felt had brought.
 
There has to be safe space for REFLECTION. What is going well? What is not? What needs to be done? Allow for some open discussion and ability for everyone to chip in with potential solutions. Only by creating a safe environment will people start to open up. Allow for creative thinking and for ideas to form through discussion about problems.
 
Shutting down dialogue too quickly will make others reluctant to engage.
 
TIMING of the meeting is important. Yes, you want to stick to time, and avoid meetings over running as much as possible. When structuring the agenda or managing the meeting you need to be conscious of which discussion to allow to run and which can be taken forward outside of the meeting by a smaller group of participants.
 
Make sure you have scheduled enough time. 
Start on time. Waiting for latecomers is extremely frustrating for those on time. Give an extra minute or two at most but then crack on. Unless people have a very reasonable excuse for being late then starting on time will ensure they know that promptness is necessary and expected.
Don’t be afraid to end the meeting early if there is no need to drag it out.
 
Don’t start the meeting by giving the impression that you are too busy for the meeting! Making people aware of the timescale for the meeting can be helpful. But, not when it is delivered in such a way that participants know that discussion is not welcomed. Opening a meeting with comments such as: ‘time is money’; ‘we all have other/better things to be getting on with’; or ‘I only have an hour to give to this’; are rarely conducive to productive dynamic meetings.
Finally, unless people leave the meeting feeling there has been PROGRESS, as a result of the meeting, then it has failedLet’s be honest, not everyone will feel like every minute of the meeting was invaluable to them. But, everyone should leave with a clear idea of what the next steps will be, and the part they need to play in those. Check in with everyone to ensure they have got what they needed out of the meeting, and that they know what is expected of them as a result.
THANK everyone – for their time and input.
REASSURE the group if it has been a difficult meeting. Help them leave with a positive feeling whenever possible and if there are only challenges ahead remind them that they can do difficult.
.
 
If you need coaching support on any leadership issues in your role then I can help. With 30 plus years experience and a passion for helping people to increase confidence in their role I have solutions to the problems you face.
 
mandy@positivelypracticalleadership.co.uk
 
 
 
 

Been promoted? Top tips for what you should be prioritising

So, you have been promoted and you face the challenge of taking over a team which has been working together for some time.

It’s daunting! Either you are coming in from outside and you have no real clue how the team operates. Or, you have been promoted from within and you know everyone but as a colleague rather than as their team leader.

No matter how confident you are about your skills and the role you can play it is easy to mess up at the start. If you do it can take a long time to get back on track.

You can be successful from day one if you remember these five priorities.

1. Engage

2. Build Trust and Rapport

3. Understand

4. Plan for change

5. Act

1. ENGAGE

Engaging with your new team is your first task.

You need to do this with respect and dignity. Your new team are human beings and so should be treated with dignity regardless. But, also they have been on their own journey. Where they are right now is as a result of their personal journey and you must respect that.

Create a mutual sense of worth and show respect for their views, whilst engaging with your team collectively and as individuals.

Talk to people, find out what make them tick. Get to know what is important to them individually.

Be clear about what people can expect from YOU, as well as what you expect from them.

2. BUILD TRUST AND RAPPORT

Building trust is vital. Your new team needs to know that you have their backs.

Forget your assumptions. If you are coming into the organisation from outside, forget what you think you know about the people, their drivers, their strengths and weaknesses. Find out for yourself.

Remember, if you have been promoted from within you may have seen a side of them that they would not normally share with their team leader. Respect that.

Make sure the team know what you won’t do as well as what you will. Help them to understand where you are coming from.

Trust that your team know what they are doing. Assume the best of them.

3. UNDERSTAND YOUR NEW TEAM

Observe, learn, question — be curious. Get to understand the team as a collective and as individuals.

Spend some time in their work world. Sit alongside them and see what barriers they face, where things work well and where they don’t. Understand their individual working and learning styles

Find out what is important to the people in your team.

Identify the development opportunities and where skills are being under utilised.

4. PLAN FOR CHANGE

You are more than likely going to want to make a few changes. To do that successfully you need to have a plan and build the case for the change.

Help your new team to see your vision — to see where you are going and WHY.

Change for change sake is morale destroying and takes up the team’s energy. You don’t need to implement change to ‘put your stamp on things’.

Acknowledge the team’s history and each individual’s place in that history. Show respect for decisions made by your predecessors.

Explain the reasons for change and the consequences of not making it. Outline the opportunities for individuals as well as the team as a whole.

Involve the team in the plan — it needs to be their plan and not only yours. Be open to ideas and feedback.

Expect things to take longer to change than you might ideally like!

5. ACT

Your actions will speak louder than any of your words. How you behave evidences what you really mean.

As you start to understand how the team works, where changes might be necessary, where extra support is needed, you MUST take action.

Failure to follow through on your promises is the fast track to failing as a new leader.

Your team will quickly lose faith, and see through all your good words.

Rather than promise everything, establish the most important barriers the team face and work quickly to address some of those.

Where longer term plans are needed be sure to tell your team that, and how you intend to take things forward.

Celebrate successes as a team.

Accept when the change doesn’t work and be prepared to re-think.

Be open about the fact that everything may not work perfectly from day one.

Be visibly active.

Finally, be prepared to seek support for YOU. You are a human being too! At times you will doubt yourself. In your role it can be tough to cope with that because you don’t want either your boss or your team to know if you are feeling out of your depth. This isn’t unique. We all go through it. Coaching and mentoring can really help. Find someone who can support you, and I assure you your confidence will soar.

How to stop doubting yourself

We all do it from time to time! For some self doubt can be crippling. For others of us it’s something that hits us, often out of no where, on occasions. It may be triggered by something, or someone. It will almost always be due to a memory that we are holding on to from the past.

Whatever and however we struggle with self doubt it is very rarely helpful.

OK, on occasion, a bit of self doubt is useful as a way of checking ourselves. Questioning whether what we are doing or thinking is the right thing to do. That is reflection rather than doubt though, and something that we always need to do employ.

I want to talk to you today though about that crippling self doubt. The sort that is getting in your way and stopping you from achieving your total awesomeness.

That nasty negative voice on your shoulder, telling you ‘ you can’t do that’, ‘people will laugh’, ‘no one is going to take you seriously’.

My self doubt is linked to my embarrassment filter. I have always had a deep fear of being embarrassed and worried about what other people think of me. This did very little to protect me and instead held me back. Even now, I have to overcome the little voice in my head which is telling me that people will think my blogs are rubbish! (Maybe they are but I am happy with them and they might help someone which is exactly why I do them)

I used to look at others and wonder how they overcame those fears. And then I met someone who simply didn’t care about what others thought. Not in a big headed, arrogant way. This person is lovely, compassionate and caring. They simply do not preoccupy themselves with what anyone else might think of them. They do what they think is right and, if they screw it up, they apologise, if necessary and move on.

For me, this was a bit mind blowing. How can you not have that embarrassment switch? Turns out that by being comfortable with who you are, and confident in your abilities to generally do the right thing, it becomes much easier to care less about what you THINK others think of you.

Because that’s the other thing I have learnt. What you think others are thinking is very rarely right.

‘I am not offended by all the dumb blond jokes because I know I am not dumb.I also know I am not blond.’

Dolly Parton, singer, songwriter, around superstar

To achieve in life we really must stop wasting precious time worrying about what others might think of us. It is utterly pointless!

As I mention above, yes we do need to embrace a bit of reflection and these 3 questions are good ones to use when making decisions.

1. Is this something I want to do, to be, to have?

2. Is this going to take me in a direction I am happy with?

3. Is this going to negatively effect anyone else? (And this does not mean someone being a bit disappointed in you but materially impact badly on someone else.)

Of course, you care! But, caring shouldn’t also mean keeping yourself small to please others.
Of course you should listen to feedback. This will be helpful to your development.
Yes, you must take responsibility for what you say and do.
But, you are not responsible for how others react. What others think about you is on them – and they will come their conclusions based on their own filters.

So, how do you start to over come that doubting voice in your head.

Here are my top tips.

1. Ask yourself why you are about to do or say something?
Is it to people please? Is it to put someone else down because it makes you feel better? Is it to get back at someone? Is it make someone beholden to you?
Or, is it because you know it will help someone in a positive, non-conditional way? Or, because you have a legitimate calling to do it? Or, just because it will be fun and you will enjoy it without harming anyone else?

2. Do the best you can.
If you can honestly say you have done your best then your self doubting demon has no choice but to shut up! If you know you haven’t then that inner voice, telling you that you did a crap job, is partly right, and you know it. Do your best, be proud and don’t worry about anyone else’s thoughts.

3. Change your inner voice.
This is a trick I learnt many years ago and I come back to it all the time. Pick an imaginary mentor. Kids use imaginary friends to help them deal with stuff – you can do the same. Although maybe don’t talk out loud to them or set a place for them at dinner!
Chose someone that you admire. Think about what it is that they have that inspires you. Then, next time you’re in a situation where you start doubting yourself, ask ‘what would my imaginary mentor say/do’?

4. Trust your gut.
Did you know that your gut is kinda your second brain? Amazing isn’t it! There is physical and chemical connections between your gut and your brain. Millions of nerves and neurons run between your gut and brain. Neurotransmitters and other chemicals produced in your gut also affect your brain.
When people talk about a gut instinct, it is an actual real thing!
You KNOW when something doesn’t feel right? Pay attention and ask yourself some questions. This isn’t self doubt but a sensible reflection on what you are doing and why.

5. Be kind to yourself .
Heck, the things we tell ourselves are so much harder than we would ever say to anyone else. If you spoke to a member of the team the way you speak to yourself at times, you’d be called up for bullying.

Be kind. You are NOT stupid. You are awesome but sometimes make a bad choice. You do not ALWAYS get things wrong. You are awesome but not perfect.

Know yourself and be more ‘Dolly’.

Top 5 Leadership Behaviours

How you behave evidences not only your commitment to good leadership, but also the standards of behaviour you expect from others.
If a leader goes around barking orders, undermining people, and making negative comments about others, then this will be seen as acceptable behaviour. Before you know it, everyone is doing it!
You can say all the right things but if your words are not backed up by your behaviour then it will not come across as sincere or believable.
There are 5 top leadership behaviours that all great leaders develop.

1. Compassion

Everyone talks about the need for empathy, and it is a critical attribute. Compassion is what will take your leadership up to the next level.
Compassion will ensure that you are in touch with your team. Having compassion means that you see situations through another person’s perspective.
Compassionate leaders take the time to consider and understand people’s stresses so they are better equipped to take the right action.
Compassion gives great leaders the ability to proactively help another person.
Having empathy is one thing, but being compassionate enough to do the right thing is a whole new level.
This means showing genuine interest in your colleagues’ success and well-being. It being understanding, and although not necessarily agreeing, being prepared to find compromises.

How to practice compassion.

  • Be self aware. Understanding your own mental well being and looking after yourself emotionally, is the first step to improving your ability to be compassionate towards others
  • Find out about your team members’ emotional well-being: Are they stressed? Feeling overworked? Is there something going on at home that will impact on them at work?
  • Be transparent and honest with people. This isn’t about sharing negativity but being open when when things are not going well
  • Learn to forgive. Holding on to grudges and going over old ground is bad for your mental health and for everyone else.

Your team will learn that you expect compassion within the team, and between colleagues.

2. Adaptability

Things change – all the time. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, your role as the leader is to support your team through change. The more adaptable you are the easy you, and everyone around you, will find the change.
Adaptable leaders establish a culture of learning and trying new things. They enjoy pushing themselves and their teams forward, and will accept that sometimes things go wrong, but that’s OK. It’s OK because an adaptable leader will see this as a learning opportunity.

How to improve your adaptability

  • Be prepared to try new things and new methods – even if it takes you out of your comfort zone.
  • Don’t always rely on the tried and trusted ways.
  • Challenge yourself each week in some small way.

Your team will see that you really mean it when you say there is a ‘no blame’ culture’ and will feel more confident to try new things.

3. Coaching

People develop well when their manager is actively involved in the process. Taking a coaching approach creates a partnership between the leader and the team member. They have a shared vision for what needs to happen and are equally invested in seeing that through.
Taking an active role in another’s development creates trust.

How to be coaching leader.

  • Focus on praising team members application of processes and how they handled specific situations.
  • If a mistake is made give feedback that enables your colleague to grow and fix the problem.
  • Delegate in a way that gives people an opportunity to develop..
  • Work with an individual to construct a developmental plan for them.
  • Always recognise effort.
  • Get to know team members as individuals. Understand what works best for them and how they learn.

Your team will see that personal development and taking responsibility for that is important.

4. Listening

Often we listen only in order that we can speak. We hear only just enough so that we can start formulating our response.
LISTEN is an anagram of SILENT.
And, to be an affective listener you need to be silent. You also have to pay attention. That means listening with all of your body.

How to be a better listener.

  • Stay silent and let the other person get out whatever they need to say.
  • Pay attention not just to WHAT is being said but also what isn’t. Pick up on hesitations, phrasing, half finished sentences. Aim to hear the meaning behind the words.
  • WATCH what people are saying. How is the body language supporting (or not) the words being used.
  • Think about how what is being said makes you FEEL. What is your gut instinct telling you? Does it raise questions that need to be answered to help you understand? What is your heart telling you? Show compassion and don’t judge.

Being a better listener will tell your team that you value them and what they have to say. They will feel more confident in their communications with you. They will also know that you expect them to offer the same level of listening to you, their colleagues and indeed their customers if they deal with them.

5. Inspiring

Being the leader puts you in the unique position of being able to motivate and inspire people. Whether it be to do their best, to develop thier skills, to pursue goals that they might otherwise feel out of thier league.
It is one of the most rewarding aspects of being the leader. You can make a huge impact on the future of others by believing in them and giving them the opportunities to grow. to do their best work and pursue projects and goals that enable them to grow.
Great leaders aim to create an inspirational work environment. They create a sense of community and belonging within there teams. They celebrate and reward achievement. They tend to have a lot of positive energy and share that with others for the benefit of all.

How to be an inspiring leader.

  • Set stretching goals. If you aim high, even if you don’t meet all the goals, you will achieve far more.
  • Have a clear vision. If you don’t know where you are going, how can anyone know whether it is worth following you?
  • Collaborate as much as possible with others. Share your knowledge and evidence that you are keen to take on others ideas.
  • Take the initiative and champion change. Be the one who volunteers to trial new working methods, new systems or procedures. If nothing else this gives you the opportunity to shape organisational change.

Inspiring leaders show their team that standing still is not an option, but that moving forward is full of opportunity. The team gains a strong sense of accountability.

If you want to develop your leadership skills, become a more effective leader and develop both personally and professionally I offer training programs that are designed to meet your specific needs. 30 plus years of experience in senior management and leadership roles mean that I understand the challenges you face.
Get in touch today to arrange a FREE consultation. No commitment and no hard sell. I will honestly discuss with you how I could help you to meet your aims.

How to cope with change

Do you struggle with change? If so this will make it difficult for you to lead your team through change.

I totally get you!

I have always been nervous of change. I naturally like order and find change hard to cope with because some disorder is almost inevitable.

In the past my perfectionist tendencies meant that I had to get everything back in order very quickly. This put me under lots of self generated pressure.

Plus, let’s be honest, there was a nagging voice telling me I might not be able to cope!

Once I started my leadership career I realised that no matter how I felt about change I needed to overcome that. It was my mission NOT to pass my concerns on to my team.

Over the years I have had many conversations with team members who have been gobsmacked to find out that I had been just as nervous as them. I worked hard not to show it!

As the leader your job is to help others through change. To do that you need to create a positive environment for the team.

Change is hard. It puts us in unfamiliar situations. And unfamiliar situations feel uncomfortable even when they are positive.

Very few people can honestly say that change doesn’t concern them. Often when you hear someone say this, it’s because they know that the change won’t affect them!

Here are a few suggestions for helping you, and anyone in your team to manage the fear of change.

Expect it to feel tough!
Expecting change to feel hard helps because it eases our discomfort. It allows us to assign responsibility for our discomfort to the right cause.

We can blame at least some of it on the fact that something is changing, rather than on the substance of what is changing.

This will result in questioning yourselves less. This in turn enables us to forge ahead with more courage.

Plus, when the going gets tough, we aren’t surprised. We can say to ourselves, “this is exactly what I was expecting. This is normal. I will feel better when this new situation feels more familiar. It’s just a matter of time.” And again, we feel better.

Prepare for change when possible.
If the change is planned taking some time to prepare really does help.
Think about what you can do to make it feel easier. Write down what the worst case scenarios could be and what you would do if they came to pass. Decide on your personal strategy for when things get tough.

Accept that change is happening.
The sooner we accept that change is happening, the sooner we can feel better about it. We have a tendency to hold on to the past because it is familiar. And familiar feels safe.

As long as we keep running back to the safety of the past (which often no longer exists except in our minds), we cannot move forward.
Gently accepting the fact that change is happening is helpful. Demanding that we accept it is not.

Gently accepting means facing our fears, dealing with them appropriately, and taking the time we need to deal with them. The sooner we get to a place of acceptance, the sooner we can take the next steps. The sooner we can move forward. Fighting change is tiring and pointless – put that energy into working out how to make the change feel good.

Cut yourself some slack.
When we’re going through change things go wrong. You will be coping with added pressure in managing the actual change as well as coping with the emotions of your team.

Be kind to yourself – you are a human being and not a machine. Things go wrong and you deal with them. Beating yourself up about it will only make you feel worse, and again will bring no tangible benefit.

Recognising that change is hard and making allowances for it helps. By cutting ourselves some slack, being gentle with ourselves, and giving ourselves a free pass once in a while, we are better able to make the transition.

Keep the familiar.
Change can feel jarring and can throw us off centre. The familiar feels comforting, and can re-centre us when we thrown off. So keeping what is familiar in the midst of change, sticking to a familiar routine, seeing familiar people, going to familiar places, really does helps.

Get help.
Some change is especially hard. The important thing is to get through them in the healthiest way possible. Sometimes, that means getting help from others – family, friends, colleagues, whoever. There is nothing wrong with getting help. It is the responsible and mature thing to do. Suffering silently and indefinitely when other options are available is pointless.

Find a new normal.
The familiar feels good because it feels normal. Change feels hard because it does not feel normal. As long as we keep trying to find the old normal in our changed situation, we will continue to struggle. Because the old normal no longer exists.

But a new normal is possible. When we establish new patterns for ourselves, those new patterns start to feel familiar. They become our new normal. And that new normal feels good too.

If you need help managing change, contact me to discuss how I can help you to overcome that challenge and many others. I have the experience to support you no matter what environment you work in.

Purpose, Vision, Principles – why are they so important?

Purpose

For a long while now my purpose has been to inspire others to be the best they can be and to help people reach their full potential. This has guided me well in my leadership of others. It has helped to keep me true to myself. I would always have it in the forefront of my mind when dealing with issues and question ‘was what i was doing helping others to be the best they could be?’.

Sometimes, I would have to pull back. My desire to get a job done, my pursuit of excellence could, at times, mean that I would want to take over a project. If I was going to help people reach their full potential then I had to let them make their own decisions and see what the outcomes were for themselves.

I found this tough. The control freak in me would be desperate to jump in. And, sometimes you have to for the great good of the organisation or project.

Always, though I had to come back to my purpose. Although my organisational purpose was to provide services which supported the wider community, I wanted to do this whilst I was also meeting my personal purpose.

Your personal purpose defines who you are, it reflects your passions and values. It helps to provide you with clarity as you set goals.
Again, organisationally I would have specific goals. Within our plans for meeting those goals I would want to ensure that my team mates were developing, learning and given their chance to sparkle.

Vision

Leadership vision is vital for focusing attention on what matters most; what you want to achieve in your life and what kind of leader you wish to be.
Your vision should address the future as well as deal with today’s realities. It represents who you are and what you stand for. So, my vision (in part) is to ‘create work places where everyone can flourish.’
For me, your vision is what helps your colleagues to understand where you are going collectively. I believe your vision should give your team a clear picture of where you are aiming for. Too vague and blurry and it will be meaningless.

Principles

Your principles motivate you do to do what seems right to YOU. A collection of sentences which set out what you believe in and HOW you will work.

People always say, ‘When I am a leader I will support people’. But, what does that really mean? Your how and what are important to nail down exactly you mean.

For example, one of my principle is ‘I will support people by making time to create quality relationships and emotional connections, in order to understand them, and the problems they face.’

This is specific and helps me to hold myself accountable. I may have other principles which also clarify how I will support people. Again vague principles are not helpful, as everyone can interpret them differently.

To help you think about your Purpose, Vision and Principles I have developed a 5 day challenge.

It is completely FREE.

It takes you through some simple exercises and you can spend as much or as little time as you want on them.

I have used these with my team leaders over many years, and have seen how powerful they can be to help nail down what is important individually.

You can access this 5 day challenge right here: https://bit.ly/5dayleadershipchallenge

Once you have signed up, I will send you your daily challenges .

How to harness the power of encouragement

Imagine the scene…..

You have spent some time on a particular task or project. You are feeling particularly pleased with what you have done. Even if you do say so yourself, you’ve done a great job. You are feeling good, right?

But, what if no one else notices? What if your manager never notices? You might be left feeling flat. Or, wondering whether what you did was good enough? No matter how many times you tell yourself that you KNOW you did a good job, a complete lack of external validation brings even the most positive and self confident of us down.

No matter what level you are at in your organisation. Whether you are the business owner, the CEO, or a first time supervisor. We all need someone to tell us that we are on the right track, doing well, getting it right.

So why do so many leaders find expressing gratitude, encouragement and praise so difficult to get right?

We have all been subjected to the “you’ve all done very well’ comment as the boss leaves the office on a Friday afternoon. Or, had a generic thank you, but you are not sure what for.

Don’t be like those people. Be nice – give others what you would hope to receive yourself. Don’t buy into that ‘it’s not our culture’ nonsense. Make it the culture in your team to make people feel great about what they are doing.

Here are a few simple suggestions for improving every day feedback to your team colleagues.

1. Be specific.
Vague praise doesn’t work and won’t make an impression. General thank you’s will not get through the chatter of insecurity that most people have going on in their heads. Say what specifically you have noticed someone do well and when. This not only shows that you care but also that you are paying attention to what happens around you.

2. Praise sincerely and realistically.
You have to mean it! And, it has to be based on reality. Detail is important, so if you have been specific you should have this one sorted. The most important thing to remember is that the person receiving praise or thanks needs to believe you.

3. Avoid offering praise and asking for a favour at the same time.
This can feel so fake and if you do it too often people won’t want your feedback as they will know it is conditional.

4. Look for something less obvious to praise
Avoid praising the same thing over and over. It loses its power. If you can, find something that your colleague hasn’t heard praised many times before.

5. Don’t hesitate to praise people who get a lot of praise already.
Everyone loves praise. Those that tell you otherwise are probably not being honest with themselves. If someone has done a good job with something then let them know. It doesn’t matter that you praised them only the day before for something else.

6. Praise people behind their backs.
This is one time when the ‘grape-vine’ is extremely useful. The person will almost always hear about your comments. Hearing from a third party that your manager thinks you did a great job is almost better than hearing it face to face.

7. Be very careful if a person asks for your honest opinion.
This can indicate that they are feeling insecure and need some reassurance. Now is the time to praise their bravery in asking for feedback. Now is the time to spend a little more time looking at the issue in question. Find and point out the good, express your gratitude, and ask them to express what they are concered about.
Then maybe set aside another time to carefully discuss anything that needs a little more attention. You can turn this into a wonderful coaching opportunity.

8. Gratitude is powerful.
Expressing your gratitude is a sure fire mechanism for getting more of the same. Show your appreciation for your colleague’s hard work and contribution. Expressing gratitude doesn’t mean you have to be happy about everything. Just that you appreciate others and the efforts they go to.

I bet we are all agreed that getting sincere and meaningful praise and thanks feels awesome.

Giving praise and thanks will make you feel great too. It’s pretty difficult to feel down about making someone else’s day a better one. You will get an instant happiness boost – and who doesn’t like one of those?

If you have found this useful and you like my posts please share with others who might. Collectively we can make work places better through being more ‘human’ leaders. Thanks Mandy xx

How could mentoring help you?

Why mentoring can make all the difference

When I was starting out on my leadership journey the offer of a mentor wasn’t forthcoming. Even if it had of been I would have shied away from the idea. Talking to someone I didn’t really know, about work? No, thanks! Talking to one of my colleagues about what I was struggling with? No chance!

It’s only later on, looking back, that I realised I had found my own mentors early on. As my career developed my mentors changed to suit my needs. Then, later on in my career, mentoring became a more recognised tactic for supporting managers and leaders.

Mentoring is best described as a learning and development partnership between someone with experience and knowldge, and someone who wants to learn.

One person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives and careers, within agreed boundaries.

As soon as I was in a position to do so, I decided to take a mentoring approach with all my team members. I made it my mission to share my learning and experience with others – if they wanted it. I was never going to be the sort of leader who held on to the knowledge because of that old nonsense that ‘knowledge is power’.

In my experience, knowledge did not equal power, it simply meant that no one else could do my job if I wasn’t around! I quickly learnt as a team leader that sharing knowledge and experience as much as possible built resilence and improved practice.

BENEFITS

There are benefits for the mentor AND the mentee, which far outweigh the resources spent on the relationship. The added value you gain from a mentoring relationship is significant.

For the mentor there is the very tangible satisfaction of passing on your skills, learning and experience.

But, also it enhances one’s own performance by giving you time to reflect on your own practice. It helps you to develop professional relationships, and enhances peer recognition.

As a mentee, you gain impartial advice and encouragement. Your very own NON-critical friend, who will help you with problem solving, in a non-judgy way. You will have the opportunity to reflect on how you handled situations. And, what you can learn from the good, the bad and the ugly. (Don’t kid yourself that you won’t encounter all as some point!)

You have your own personal cheerleader. Someone who is on your side and will support you. Your mentor is not there to tell you what to do, but to help you work out the best way for you to do something.

You will gain self-confidence and improve your belief in yourself.

You will learn from someone who has been through the same or similar issues. It’s very rare that your problems will be new. They are just new to you.

Personal professional development is a fantastic investment in YOU and prospective future employers will recognise this.

Now, if you work in a big organisation, chances are you already have a mentoring programme in place. Which is great because all you need to do is tap into that amazing resource.

But, this won’t be the case in all organisations. Or, you might run your own small business. You may simply prefer not to bare your concerns and areas for development with someone in the same organisations as you.

PITFALLS

There are of course some potential pitfalls. 

You may not hit it off with your mentor. The relationship is important and cannot forced.

If you have an internal mentoring progamme the mentor may feel that they don’t have time to fulfill the role whilst carrying out normal duties. This may be apparent in your meetings with them.

Another possible pitfall is that the mentor may feel that the mentee is not progressing quickly enough. Or, doesn’t seem able or willing to change their approach to a problem. This can lead to frustration and again will come across in your interactions.

You may also become frustrated if you feel that you are not getting the guidance you need.

Communication is vital – if its not working then honesty is the best policy. There need not be any judgement in a decision to discontinue and find another mentor/mentee arrangement.

REVERSE MENTORING

You may be a senior manager yourself and may be unwilling to enter into a mentoring relationship for yourself. In this case, do not use out reverse mentoring.

Whilst you may not need mentoring on your leadership skills, the ever changing and fast paced world we live in can mean we quickly become  disconnected from new technology, new approaches and emerging issues on the ground.

Reverse mentoring takes theconcept of mentoring and turning it on its head.

Reverse mentoring acknowledges that the more senior person is the one who is looking for a fresh outlook. It can be a powerful mechanism for organisational culture change if the bosses are being mentored by mentors much younger and who have a very different experience of today’s world.

I know that a lot of people cannot access mentoring through work. Some cannot afford it, or are put off by the huge costs that some people charge. If you are in a leadership role having a

For that reason I am offering a 1 hour taster mentoring session for the reduced price of just £79.

In one hour we will have time to unpick at least one issue that you are struggling with. You can get a feel for whether mentoring could be the life changer I believe it to be.

I have 30 plus years experience in leadership roles. I have encountered all the monsters you might be facing. In just one hour I can help you on your journey to be the best leader you can be.

Don’t just take my word for it. These are the words of a new leader that I had the pleasure of mentoring last year.

“I have being having mentoring from Mandy … and haven’t looked back. I get a huge amount from my meetings with her and she is teaching me so much which I am utilising on a daily basis. She has given me great confidence and challenged me to push myself and believe in myself. She is really thoughtful and realistic about what is achievable and is a calming influence which has let me focus on the positives. I have left all meetings with a clearer view of what I should be doing to better manage my career and work towards meeting my long term goals. Mandy is very talented and her experience and guidance so useful.” 

To access this special offer sign up to my list here:

https://mailchi.mp/eec62317c754/pplmentoringspecialoffer