Tag Archives: leadership

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!

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.


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.

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.