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Crucible Moments that shape you

It’s the admission of your mistakes as a leader that resonate most with those you lead or mentor. Of course it is inspiring to hear stories of you overcoming insurmountable odds, wisely handling conflict and winning through against evil opponents.

What is even more memorable are your crises, indecisions, uncertainties, failures, setbacks and disappointments. What did you learn and how did you recover from situations where you failed, got fired, missed promotion or had a relationship crisis?

They don’t want to work for a leadership freak; superman or woman who is robot-like and can’t be learnt from. Make yourself authentic and believably human.
Don’t pump yourself up; be a role model with humanity and humility.

Warm regards Jonathan
PS. I confess to frequent failings; coming short again and again. “Winners don’t fall down; they fall up!”

Tell Your Story

As a leader others need to find you credible.
Are you worthy of their trust?
Why should they be led by you? In the military we gave our lives following leaders and had to be certain they would not lead us to our deaths unnecessarily.

To be credible we need to know some fundamental questions:
1. What has shaped you and your values?
2. What have been your high points and low points in your life?
3. How have those “battle scars” moulded you into the woman or man you are today?

So whenever you speak, tell your authentic story.
Make it raw and make it real and ensure that you “bring your humanity to work.”
Stories are the source of information and message passing; they connect with our minds in the way nothing else does.

Become a master story teller of truth.

I wish you well in your own public speaking – as I am finding
it takes a lot of practice and continual unlearning and relearning.
However it is worth it.
You will touch people and changes lives for the better.

Warm Regards
Jonathan

Your Next Job – Give it Meaning & Purpose

Are you living your life on purpose?
If not its time to think again.
How robust and sustainable is your job?

Daniel Pink uses 3 criteria to check this:
1. Can someone else do your job cheaper and faster (in an another country eg India / China)?
2. Can a computer do your job cheaper and faster?
3. Is what I am doing (or considering doing) of value in our age of abundance?

This is why skills such as empathy are so invaluable and worth developing.
How empathetic are you?

Warm Regards
Jonathan

How Do You Bring Out The Very Best in Your Introverted Colleagues?

Watch the TED talk- Susan Cain: The power of introverts. http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html

In her book Quiet Susan talks about how to bring out the best in Introverts and not force fit 1/2 to 1/3 of your team into the world run by extroverts where they are less comfortable.

Much of what she says makes great sense.
There is a significant enhancement that she needs and that is to make use of Nancy Kline’s “Thinking Environment”. This is where people work as thinking Partners which develops far more creativity than leaving people on their own to get on with being creative.
Neuroscience research highlights that when such a partner listens without interruption then the thinker can develop their finest most creative thinking.

Good luck thinking without interruption
Warm Regards
Jonathan

Do You Really Care About Your Staff & Clients, Or Are They Just “Muppets”?

So do you really have respect for and care for your clients? Or are they really just a source for your own wealth and when they are not in the room are you disdainful, disrespectful and rude about them?

Sadly it seems that there are too many parts of corporate business, backed up by my own experience and shocking stories from some of my clients, that there are too many managers who don’t really care a fig about the best interests of their own staff or of their clients.

I include a recent article about Goldman Sachs and how some people were accused of disdainfully describing the clients as “Muppets”. Whether it is true or not I will let you draw your own conclusions. In my book inspiring leadership I explain why it is important, and makes great business sense, to love the work you do and care about your staff and the customers who you deal with.

Here’s the extract from one of the newspapers:

“Departing Goldman Sachs Banker Slams ‘Rip-Off’ Culture.

Goldman Sachs faced an unprecedented assault from one of its own on Wednesday after a banker published a withering resignation letter in the New York Times, calling the Wall Street titan a “toxic” place where managing directors referred to their own clients as “muppets.”

It was the latest blow for the investment bank. The company — dubbed a “great vampire squid” in a 2009 article in Rolling Stone Magazine — has been embroiled in the biggest-ever insider trading scandal on Wall Street. And just weeks ago, a top judge criticized Goldman for big conflicts of interest in an energy deal.
In an opinion column in Wednesday’s Times, Greg Smith, who worked in equity derivatives, said Goldman had become “as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

“It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets,’” Smith said.
In the United States “Muppet” brings to mind lovable puppets like Kermit the Frog, but in Britain, “muppet” is slang for a stupid person. (Goldman, as it happens, was at one time also the bank for the family of Muppets creator Jim Henson.)

PAST MEDIA STORMS
Goldman Sachs — fourth among investment banks last year based on fee-income rankings compiled by Thomson Reuters and Freeman Consulting — has a history of tension with client interests, experts say.
“Greg Smith refers to the last 12 years, but in fact Goldman has been doing this kind of thing since going back to the Great Depression,” author William Cohan told Reuters Insider.

“It’s not just the last 12 years; unfortunately it’s part of the firm’s DNA,” said Cohan, author of the Goldman profile “Money and Power” and a former Wall Street banker himself.
In recent years the company has faced other high-profile incidents damaging to its image after the near-collapse of the global banking system in 2008.

Earlier this month it was accused of a major conflict of interest for advising El Paso Corp on its sale to Kinder Morgan, while being a significant shareholder in Kinder.
A lawyer representing an Australian fund in a lawsuit against Goldman over mortgage-backed securities filed in New York last year and alleging fraud and breach of contract, said he may seek Smith’s deposition to help bolster his case.

“Part of Goldman’s defense is everybody is sophisticated and everybody knew as much as we knew did,” the lawyer, Eric Lewis, said. “But if you’re calling your clients muppets — most muppets don’t have the cranial capacity of Goldman.”
Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, called the Smith piece a “reflection of the change in market mentality over the last 15, over the last 20 years” at an economics summit in Washington hosted by the Atlantic Magazine.”

Whether true or not those articles quoted above should make us all reflect on the way we treat and appreciate those we work wiht and those we serve.

Warm Regards Jonathan

Leaders Are Made, Not Born – Brain Plasticity

For years arguments have raged as to whether leaders are born or made. New research on neuroscience points strongly that our experience continually shapes our neural connections in an effect known as “brain plasticity”. Leaders in many cases can be MADE.

So you CAN teach old dogs new tricks. With repetition and commitment, new neural connections are made and leadership behaviours altered.

I have been greatly impressed by the neuroscience work of my friend Professor Paul Brown and recommend you read David Brooks (The Social Animal) and John Medina (Brain Rules).

Two simple sayings are influential:
1. “Neurons that fire together, wire together”.
2. In neural terms, “use it, or loose it”.

So there is hard neuroscience behind our soft skills. It pays to continually keep your brain active, in middle and old age, with learning new skills (helping minimise the risk of Alzheimer’s).

Work with someone to make healthy connections and learn from experience to become a better leader. It’s sometimes cheaper to learn from others mistakes. I’ve made more than my fair share!

Warm regards
Professor Jonathan Bowman-Perks MBE

You Just Ask “When?”

Your most powerful question to encourage you and others to take action is “when?”. It really nails you to avoid procrastination and reduces stress. You and they now have a date in the diary and can take it out of your “to do list” and swilling about your brain.

I enjoyed Ian Cooper’s simple but effective book “Just ask the right questions to get what you want”. Move quickly past the first slightly superficial section into the meat of the book and the tips are there to use immediately. Sound common sense which is remarkably “uncommon”.

Go on – just ask!

Warm regards
Jonathn

Are You Living Your Life “On Purpose”?

Are you interested in designing a better life?
Have you stopped to check the assumptions you are making about the job you do and the life you lead?
Are you really fulfilled and happy with the work you do and the relationships you have?

Far too many people and especially apparently successful leaders (admired and envied by others) are living lives of quiet desperation.
They compromise and suppress what they really want to do do out of a sense of duty, obligation and peer expectations.

Are you sleepwalking through your life, or are you awake to every sense and experience? Do your relationships enhance and enrich your life, or detract and diminish your spirit?

It is time for you to be frank and avoid self-denial.
What is your “True North” and just how good could your life be every minute, hour, day, week month and year?

Build some time to think and create what my friend Oliver Johnstone calls “elegant design” for your future life. You have choice and can shape it. Mundane or exciting life? I choose exciting!
How about you?

Warm regards Jonathan

Your Introversion Is An Asset

Time for Introverts to fight back! For too long the world has literally been dominated by extroverts. The introverts can’t get a word in edge ways. The loudest voices have dominated and often held sway.

However with “Time to Think” – an approach designed by Nancy Kline, as introverts you will have the space to share your views, opinions and freshest thinking. You will surprise the extroverts by sharing your voice and creative thoughts. So change the way you run meetings to unlock the potential of 50% of your talent that your organisation suppresses and discriminates against.

I enjoyed Terence Blacker’s controversial article in The Independent. He likes stirring things up like Darren Robson and to be the shark in the fish tank. So I will definitely read Susan Cain’s new book when it comes out at the end of March “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”.

I do agree that we need uninterrupted time to think to be creative. However from 32 years experience I don’t subscribe to the extrapolation of that view that collaborative team building events are less effective than solitude for producing the best results.

The way you can run team building events will make it possible to bring out the best in both introverts and extroverts and does not need to be polarised to favour one or other.

It can fundamentally change teams for the better.
There is a better way to be creative, innovate and inspire you and your team.

Warm regards Jonathan

How Do You Sack Your Friends?

Your organisation is “making cuts and managing costs”.
That means people will be “made redundant, sacked, or fired” and loose their incomes which effect their families and confidence. Since this is widescale they may not get another job easily.

What is so tough is that good leaders have built strong friendships with their direct reports. They may have played golf together, been out to dinners and drinks or had them back home for dinner. Now you have to sit some of them down and say “I’m really sorry but I’m going to have to let you go……”

This is a horrible moment. The more brutal managers say bluntly,”that is why I am distant and never build close relationships with direct reports; you can fire them without any qualms!”

I don’t subscribe to that approach; I have experienced that teams that are inspired and well lead have close trusting relationships. Such leaders also have the courage to eyeball those they lead and tell them the difficult truth about firing them. They do it with dignity and kindness and help them transition to a new role. They don’t shy away. They are often thanked later for the way in which they did it and helped them with a different career path.

Have the difficult conversations. Remember someone may be doing the same to you one day.

Warm regards Jonathan