How are you leading online?

A square inch of screen to make an impact from the neck up!

Is your role as a leader any different today to your role in the environment we may have just left behind? If it is, how do you adjust in order to maximise your leadership impact?

We spend a lot of time thinking about and developing strategies for keeping our people, customers and suppliers engaged and productive in the current remote and virtual world. There is no shortage of good advice and guidance on the practicalities. These are all things that can be strategized, organised, provided and learned. And they really matter.

Do they matter as much as you, the leader, showing up in every virtual/remote interaction you have with those people who are important to you and your business?

And if showing up is more than broadcasting to-do lists, checking numbers and remedial actions, agreeing decisions and debating courses of action, then, as leaders, we need to look at how we show up as a person because that’s what shows up in that square inch of screen.

 Showing up is about how you demonstrate that you care about your team, their mental health and working environment.

Showing up is about being someone who empathises with the difficulties they are facing.

Showing up is about them knowing, without thinking, that you are in the bear pit with them.

How do you do all that when you are communicating as a “head and shoulders” 100% of the time in a full-on virtual world on computer, screen, or phone screen?

If celebrated TV presenters are struggling with this new world where there is no physical interaction between them and their audience, it’s not surprising that leaders can feel a bit on edge when facing the same challenges. 

I had never had formal on-screen training, especially in headshot mode, and especially being on-screen for long periods of time. So, I took a lesson from an expert in the field of professional and personal presence in the virtual world. Eye opening is an understatement. What I learned in a couple of hours has enabled me to relax, be myself, come across (I am told as the authentic person they know), be human and attract and inspire my team to come on this new journey with me.

My biggest learning ?  How you show up really matters so pay attention to it!

The tech isn’t the stress – performing online is

Being your best in the head & shoulders, full-frontal new normal is here to stay!

Even the remaining luddites in the business world are getting to grips with the tech required to keep in touch and stay ahead. Tech and tech support you can learn or you can buy. Either way, you get it and it becomes, hopefully, an invisible part of your online performance.

What you can’t delegate, as a leader, is your personal presence online. This is true irrespective of whether you are facilitating, chairing or attending an all-hands meeting, an executive leadership team meeting, a 1-2-1, a broadcast to your customer base, an important sales call or your presence in a webinar or interactive seminar and the like. How you are perceived in this new normal world is key to your success as a leader. You probably spend a lot of cash on the tech and what is required to enable you to be permanently and professionally connected. What to you spend in cash and personal time investment on how you are perceived?

Given that you have already sorted out your online environment and your tech requirements, there are three layers to how you are perceived in the online World…1) your lack of nerves and stress on camera, 2) your ability to be seen as natural and human while being most definitely the leader and, 3) your ability to make your messages stick.

As most of you know our App, Zenpower, can deal with stresses and anxieties in number (1) above and this will enable you to focus on items (2) and (3). You can find out how to use Zenpower for free at the bottom of this post.

Items (2) and (3) rely on two factors:

  • Understanding your natural abilities, and
  • Coaching and mentoring to bring the best of out of you using these natural abilities.

I’m fortunate that I have one of the best on-screen online presence and performance coaches helping me. We worked together for two hours initially and then one hour a week for 3 weeks and then we will work together for an hour a month. It is truly eye-opening. Different ways of thinking, subtle changes in tonality, speed and body language (head and shoulders – with a bit of hands 😊, that all add up to a total natural, professional and leadership presence. I thought I was OK before. I now know what good really looks and sounds like.

Please think about how important your online presence is to you as a leader the effect this might have on your company. Consider getting some professional help in this area. It is not expensive and, given the damage you can do by not doing it, it has a tremendous ROI.

Let me know if you would like to enquire as to my coach’s current availability.

Please remember that you only get a few seconds to make a lasting impression.

I hope this has been of help. Happy to help in any way I can – drop me a message.

For free use of our stress and anxiety reduction App, Zenpower, go to www.zenpower.co.uk and register. Use the company code 281270 when needed and download the app.

Do your flowers smell?

Not if you don’t smell them!

The saying I use often with my business coaching clients is “It’s always later than you think – so please smell the flowers along the way”. Even though I press this home, sometimes it’s hard to take my own advice. Smelling the flowers along the way has become so much more important to me over the past few months.

If the current crisis has taught me anything, it’s the absolute reinforcement, first and foremost, of the priority of family, friends and being human. Being a Human Being and not a Human Doing!

Being someone in the total lock down category, I am so grateful for all the support offered from people I do not know. We have seen the sacrifices being made by our first responder NHS workforce, our police and fire brigade and other critical workers. I have witnessed personally the selflessness of neighbours helping with shopping and supporting people they didn’t know ten days ago.

We have seen some of the worst side of people as they ignore the lock down rules and jeopardise the elderly, frail and vulnerable in their families and communities. Thankfully, these are few and far between.

A vast majority of us are having our humanity tested and we are proving worthy.

I have always tried to “smell the flowers along the way” and I’ve not always been successful at it. However, I have been a lot more successful than many of the business leaders I coach and, for this, I am grateful. I’m not a believer in a work-life balance which, by its definition separates work from life. It also assumes a pivot point in order to balance. So, you are one side or the other. I find this a difficult concept to believe in. I have always thought of it as a blend or a meld of life priorities. Not a linear time bound system but a universe of infinite possibilities where time is not a dominant factor.

I am finding it energising to have more time than normal to enjoy three elements of my life than matter greatly to me.

1.     To focus on my family, making sure everyone is safe and well, and thinking about what our future priorities are and what we want the future to hold for us.

2.     To be able to continue to offer my help, guidance, coaching and mentoring support to business leaders who are having every ounce of their resolve and resilience tested to the extremes.

3.     How I can continue to fully deliver on my objectives for both 1 and 2 above, without sacrificing either for the other at any point in time going forward. Having time to work on me is a great benefit here.

My focus is now moving towards what, as a family, we want to decide are our priorities.

Let me know what has the current situation taught you about how you want to be as a human being going forward? What’s really important to you and how are you going to blend your life so that you can create a life of meaning, gratefulness and value? A life that allows you and your loved ones to smell the flowers along the way? I wish you a safe and healthy passage through these strange and troubled times.

Steve

Self-leadership in Your Brave New World


Free image from Google

Have you ever tried holding a serious business conversation whilst answering the front door when you are holding a crying child and the other youngster is absconding from the middle of a home-schooling lesson? Meanwhile your partner, who now holds the absconded child, needs you to listen while they talk about how the house needs redesigning to fit the new working and living arrangements? A colleague of mine, Chris Dyson, explained this scenario to me and brought this into sharp focus for me on a video conference this morning.

In 2002, I left the corporate world to develop programs and techniques whereby serious businesspeople could leave the stresses and strains of business at the workplace and not take them into the home environment. My rationale being that…if we can eliminate stress, anxiety and fear in the workplace, we can reduce its negative effects in the family home and thereby give our kids a better place to grow up.

Now…the business world and family world and social world and personal world and, for a lot, the spiritual world is focused solely in one place – the family home. Bringing all these elements together can be stressful, anxious, fearful and traumatic experience for all involved. It can be, if handled correctly and sensitively, a joyous experience in connectivity and shared experiences. The question is…how do we manage to reduce the trauma and increase the joy?

The first thing we must do is to be aware of the worries and concerns of all involved. We must understand each other’s daily objectives, goals and requirements (including personal space & time), we must set up a way of identifying when we are getting edgy, anxious or stressed and have a way of rapidly reducing this. We must work on our openness and caring feedback. We must work on our patience, vulnerability and compassion in this new situation. We absolutely must recognize our own isolation issues when removed from the business hub and we must maintain our connection with the business tribe. The technical stuff will work itself out at some point.

Of course, becoming competent with communication technology, having enough broadband, establishing a proper daily routine, understanding the needs of colleagues, suppliers and customers, and knowing your needs all needs to be established and worked at. Things work a lot quicker and better in a calm and fear free environment.

Some of us will find that we have more time on our hands. What are we going to do with it? How will we use it to make the new way a joyous way for us and all around us? This is the time when we need to make great decisions.

Great decisions require awareness of the challenges and opportunities ahead, clarity on where we want to go and by when, the choices and resources we have to help us, and a conviction from us to be the person we know we can be. It’s about being a human being and not a human doing.

Jim Collins’ Stockdale Paradox story (google it 😊) teaches us that we have to understand fully the realities we are facing daily and, at the same time, maintain all our hopes for the new future we will arrive at.

We have the chance to create a truly holistic and joyous existence for all once the current threat passes. Part of this depends on how we adapt to the changes required to beat the current threat.

On a practical level, Kevin Laye and I have worked for 12 years to create a rapid stress, fear and anxiety program that is fast, effective and available to all. Zenpower the app is the result. In seven minutes or less, and including every user, the average reduction in their level of distress was over 70%. This reduction enables clarity of thought to return, enables better choices to be identified and helps better decision making. It also enables a more thoughtful and caring social environment grow and flourish.

For free use of ZenPower, please go to www.zenpower.com download the app and use the code 281270 when it asks for a company code. It’s free, it’s confidential totally and it’s anonymous.

I wish you every success in what will be Our Brave New World.

Steve

Isolation without loneliness

We know the saying “It’s lonely at the top”. Most of us business leaders, today more than ever, can empathise with that feeling. We face being physically isolated from our business, our colleagues, our customers, our suppliers and the challenges that brings. Being connected physically in the virtual world is now a key resource we have to be able to tap into. This is easier said than done for some of us. We are a hardy bunch and we will adapt as needed.

Being connected psychologically and intellectually is not so easy. For most us, we haven’t any experience of dealing with the current challenges. We are the leaders and so we believe everyone expects us to have the answers. The answers to what? If we are to lead and take ourselves, our companies and our country out of the current fog, we need to feel psychologically safe. Also, we need to be able to tap into like-minded resource to help us remain intellectually alert and curious. This is hard when we have no one that we can really talk to, confide in and lean on and who is in the deep waters with us. This is when the power of peer groups really comes to the fore.

Having a group of like-minded non-competing business leaders to interact with who are unbiased, agenda free and are there only to help each other become a better leader who makes better decisions is invaluable. The group creates a firm foundation for us leaders to investigate unknowns, create more awareness on our knowns, gain clarity of mind and uncover the best choices that will help us make the great decisions needed.

I have facilitated these forms of peer groups for nine years now and I know that now is the time we need them the most. I want you to be able to experience what this resource can do you and your business. To aid the Great British “Let’s Beat This” campaign, I’m offering to set up virtual peer groups by video conference. I will facilitate and you will contribute to them and consume what you need from them. If you would like to use this resource let me know here and I’ll send you the details. I ask only one thing…you commit to total confidentiality once you are in a group discussion.

Let’s get through this together.

Kick Start Your Calm


Do you wish you could be calm in every circumstance you find yourself in? Do you wonder sometimes why you can’t? What if you could kick start your calm whenever you wanted – when would you use it first? What difference might it make?

It is often said that the difference between top performers in stage, screen, sport, business and life is the gap between their ears. The six inches of grey matter that we all have and all use differently. What do they do differently that helps them rise above the crowd of equally talented and skilled competitors?

They know how to kick start their mindset into rational calm as and when they need it. Some call it focus and some call it “being in the zone”. What do you call it? The difference between a positive, calm and focused mindset and a negative, stressed and wide-angled mindset is two things. Firstly, it’s in how you trigger your calm response in a flight or fight situation. Top performers switch on the right electro-chemical signals that take them to that calm and focused place. They do this both mentally and physically. You can see them with their physical routines and you can feel their mental focus. Secondly, they have learned that using their trigger effectively gives them the edge they need and so the feedback loop to their trigger gets stronger and more compelling.

This doesn’t apply to only top performers it applies to you and me; to Mums and Dads; to Teachers and Doctors; to A-Level students to the Sunday Football Under 10s Goalie; to everyone in every walk of life. We can all develop our trigger to start our calm and focused process. Use it to complain to the waiter, use it for that tough conversation at work, use it for simply feeling good about yourself.

There are many ways you can develop your trigger and there are many great books and courses on how to do this. I prefer to call it a Calm Enabler and alongside my entrepreneurial activities, I have been working for over 10 years with my buddy, Kevin Laye, to bring an easy, simple and rapid calm enabler to the general public. It can take seconds for an instant need to a few minutes for a more sustained requirement. You can find it at www.zenpower.co.uk or if you prefer a non-digital enabler, invest in one of the many courses that you can find online.

I hope you find this useful. Remember, your life is a series of choices. If you can choose to be positive or negative…why would you choose negative? Create your calm enabler today and start living the life you want for yourself and those you love.

Steve McNulty

Your 6-word purpose

Build Your Village – Love Your People

You are asked to define your life’s purpose in 6 words, what would you say? It really makes you think, doesn’t it. It has made me think for a long time. What has your efforts in life been leading you towards? Family financial security maybe? Making a difference in the lives of those you love maybe? Being the best person you can be maybe? Something material, physical, mental or spiritual?

Since my last business exit I have been focused on helping other ambitious business leaders like me and like most of you I meet regularly, and who would class themselves as just ordinary people, to do extraordinary things for their businesses, their families and their communities.

I am immensely grateful for this quest and realise over this period that joy comes from being grateful and gratefulness comes from loving what you do and who you do it with. I’m one of life’s connectors – always have been and always will be. I love teams and I thrive on building high performing teams of two to hundreds. On deeper analysis I realized that building communities was my passion and I can attribute this to my upbringing in a small village. That village contained every kind of person you could imagine and these people sustained the village through the skills, talents, services, time, attitudes and behaviours that were agreed (but not written) as acceptable in the community. The villagers always looked after their own – no matter what. Everyone was loved for who they were. Occasionally someone would step over the boundary fence of acceptability and they would be invited back in and helped to readjust. When this failed, and it did sometimes fail, the person would be sent away from the village. This could be physically or they could be ostracized. I learned quickly that exclusion from the village was the worst form on punishment anyone could inflict on anyone else.

For me, my companies and my customers’ companies are like villages. The community has to be created, written or unwritten rules have to be agreed, behaviours have to constructive, disputes need to be settled quickly and amicably, new residents need to be included quickly and they need to contribute immediately, everyone has their role and everyone protects each other’s backs. To achieve this the village elders (company leaders) need to generate belonging, exercise patience while implementing consequences for transgressions, build the village and share the spoils of success.

It took me sometime to settle on the six-word story of my life. What I sought to do was to create a sentence that encompassed all I am in everything I do whether in business, volunteering, sports, family or self development. It became “create your village, love your tribe”. Since then it has moved slightly to be more culturally and globally understandable as “Build Your Village – Love Your People”.

Everything my companies SoJedi and Oh Crikey do, from simple executive assistant services to complex digital marketing execution and chairing high performing peer groups is aimed at helping you build you village and love your people.

What’s your six word story. Let’s share our stories on here and enrich all our lives. Thanks. Steve

Trust in the digital age

I’ve not been blogging for over a year now and it’s not for lack of desire…I’ve just been seriously busy and blogging has fallen down my priority of things to get done. Elderly parent comes first, as a family we moved to San Diego a year ago and settling in here came second, work came third and blogging came after that…

However, as I’ve said for a long time now, trust is crucial in building a high-performing business through high-performing people and I’ve always believed that trust is situational. For instance, I can trust someone to complete a complex task and not trust them to do it on time. There are many better examples of where trust is strictly situational.

John Blakey’s book “The Trusted Executive” sets out the need for trustworthiness as the key descriptor in place of trust. Last week I was fortunate to be at the Vistage UK Executive Summit and heard Rachel Botsman talk on trust in the digital age. What an extraordinarily brilliant talk she gave. It was well design, clear, simple and powerful – with great takeaways. I’d highly recommend her book “Who Can You Trust? (How technology brought us together and why it might drive us apart).

Think about the question “Is this person trustworthy in this situation?” rather than “Can I trust this person?”. Seems not too dissimilar – doesn’t it? The effect on your thinking is immense.

 

Essentialism in a growing team

Reading Greg McKeown’s book “Essentialism” or rather listening to it on Audible, I was struck by the premise that if you only action the absolutely essential activities, you will become more productive, more successful and use less time to do it. I agree with the premise as related to your own goals. How does this work in a team environment? Who decides what is and isn’t essential? Greg makes the point that, if you don’t decide this then someone will decide for you. I believe this is inevitable in many superior/subordinate relationships. However, Greg goes on to point out that it is up to us (in a subordinate role) to influence the activation of the essential activities. The book is certainly worth a read, as is the abridged version.

I believe that multi-tasking doesn’t exist unless one of the activities (out of two total) is an unconscious habit. Those who focus on a single task to conclusion tend to a) be more successful, b) get more done and c) build better – more trusting – relationships. I also believe that performance, productivity, and strong relationships are borne out of growing conversations. Now I have a conflict between the essential activities and the non-essential relationship building activities – or do I?

My view is that it is essential in any team environment (two people or more working to a common goal) to build trust. Trust comes from many areas such as vulnerability, honesty, straightforwardness, openness and shared base core values, amongst others. I prefer to think of it more as someone shows trustworthiness in everything they do. They are trustworthy and what you see is what you get. How do we develop this? I believe through conversation that grows both parties. As Judith Glaser puts it in her book on Conversational Intelligence (another good read)…a real growing conversation is co-creational. That is, we all leave having grown and all having taken away more than we took in.

How would or do you deal with essentialism at the same time as building a trustworthy and bonded team? I’d love your thoughts – thanks.

 

Steve

 

 

Conversational Intelligence

I posted this originally in my Growing Conversations blog site. I thought it was worthy of inclusion here also…

I’m currently following Judith E. Glaser’s online course on Conversational Intelligence. I firmly believe that you can never get enough learning about any form of intelligence if you are in the people business. As coaches we need to understand all elements of our clients behaviour and be able to ask the elegant and/or challenging questions that bring awareness of themselves and how others see and react to them.

Judith has spent a lifetime studying conversation and her book “Conversational Intelligence – How Great Leaders BUILD TRUST and Get Extraordinary Results” is a really good read with many insights.

One immediate insight from the first few page is…

We all know that there are many levels of conversation dependent on who you are conversing with and what the subject and content contain together with the intended outcome. Judith simplifies this to the following (paraphrasing McNulty style)…

Level 1  Transactional – transfer of data e.g. sales to date, EBITda, name of project etc.

Level 2  Positional – instructional conversation where one person is always holding sway and decision authority e.g. discussion between leader and subordinate where the leader is deciding the outcome.

Level 3  Co-creational – where both parties to the conversation agree and work together to co-create a better future for both. Not one of the parties has authority vested for the outcome and only a win-win outcome can bring the conversation to a conclusion.

There are many variations and mixed interpretations that can be added here. However, if we take these three levels as our datum for evaluating the level of conversation we are either about to start, we are in, or we have recently completed, it enables us to understand better the conversation and adjust accordingly.

There are many more great tools, techniques, tips and case studies in Judith’s book. I will pull some out and note them down here occasionally.

Keep talking – it’s our last free interactive resource 😊

Steve

Enjoy life more – achieve more