Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Can you be in Melbourne on September 5th?

If you can be in Melbourne on September 5th 2012 I would be honoured if you could join me in a never-to-be-repeated workshop.

Details of September 5th here.

If you can't be there in person on September 5th please subscribe here for the complimentary short online course. You will receive the 9 lessons every 3 weeks direct to your inbox.

As soon as you subscribe you will receive a welcome message and be able to download the PDF version of my Changing What's Normal book.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stop trying to manage people

“I hate managing people” was my client’s opening comment, before we had greeted one another in our usual friendly manner. “Great. Time to stop trying.” was my reply. My client gave me an out of character blank look. “People cannot be managed.” I said. Another blank look.

I meet so many people negatively stressed by their perceived inability to solve so called people problems. After many years of observing and interacting with people I am led to the following conclusions:

*The problem with people is that we create our own problems
*People can only solve their own problems
*We can lead people, but not manage them (Leadership is the art of inspiring people to bring everything they are to everything they do. Management is the practice of making it simple for people to bring everything they are to everything they do)
*Leadership is therefore fundamentally about people and influence. Management is therefore fundamentally about systems and processes
*People bringing everything they are to everything they do rarely have problems they can’t solve
*On the surface less than desired performance occurs through lack of skill, will, circumstances beyond our control, or a combination of all three
*The underlying reason however for unsatisfactory performance is lack of self assurance
*When we are self assured we have the will and can learn the skill.
*Self assured people never bother about circumstances beyond their control

Having said all of the above, my client says “So my real role is to be self assured and to inspire others to be the same.” “Exactly.” I said

“So what are the characteristics of self assurance?” my client asks

The following are my thoughts that I shared with my client:

Self assured people:

*Demonstrate confidence that rarely spills over into arrogance
*Are committed to life-long learning, even to changing wisdom that was previously precious
*Live their values
*Make decisions that are often unpopular and follow these decisions through
*Readily turn information into insight
*Share insight but rarely information
*Articulate insight with clarity and passion so much so that others are inspired
*Fulfill responsibilities
*Deliver on promises
*Accept responsibility for their own feelings, thoughts and actions
*Respond to what happens rarely reacting
*Never blame or shame others
*Never take critique offered by others personally
*Offer critique to others without attachment to what others may do about it
*Demonstrate commitment to continuous improvement by actually continuously improving

My client and I spent a lot of time in keen conversation about the above drawing the following conclusions:

*We are authentic when we say what we mean and mean what we say
*We must genuinely love ourselves (warts and all) as the one-of-a-kind being that each of us is
*We must accept that our primary quest is to be the best one-of-a-kind being we can be
*When workplace culture is one where everyone is on such a quest our workplaces will be the remarkable places they should be
*Such workplaces are free of people problems

Stop trying to manage people. Call it a strategy if you will. Instead be self-assured and co-create an environment where others can be self-assured.

Warning: Never ever confuse a person with a problem.

Be the difference you want to see in the world

PS If you can make it to Melbourne on September 5th I would be thrilled if you would participate in my never-to-be repeated Enhancing their gifts™ workshop.

The Enhancing Their Gifts™ system is the culmination of my life's work to make it simple for business owners and leaders who employ 20 people or more to ensure that the majority of your people are performing at their best on a consistent basis.
All the details are here.

If you can’t make it to Melbourne and want to be free of people problems?

Please subscribe to my complimentary Enhancing Their Gifts™ short online course by putting your details in the boxes here.  You will receive a welcome message and be able to download the PDF version of my Changing What's Normal book.

Just 9 lessons every 3 weeks direct to your inbox. Take action in your own way and voila performance improvement.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We must choose our words carefully and be able to succinctly explain what we mean

This weeks sparkenation.

In a LinkedIn discussion recently about community I suggest belonging to a community or tribe was in part about being able to lean on one another and I quoted from one of my many favorite songs "Lean on Me" these words in particular
"Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on"

I am somebody who can be leaned on and I need people to lean on. The crisis of leadership we have in our world has a lot to do with leaders not having others to lean on and/or not being humble enough to lean on others.

When I said the above another member in the discussion who I admire greatly thought I was talking about dependency or co-dependency.  I wasn't in any way, shape, or form.

It reminded me we must choose our words carefully and be able to succinctly explain what we mean.

It also reminded me of the drawbacks of online discussion. In person is definitely my preferred option!

Have a great week.

More sparkentations here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

We choose our thoughts and our emotions

I read a great insight in the Virgin Airlines Voyeur magazine on a flight yesterday from performance psychologist Dr. Phil Jauncey:
“There is a big misconception in sport and the corporate arena in which people think you need to get your mind right to perform, but that’s not true.

Mental toughness isn’t the ability to get your mind right before an event, it’s being able to execute when your mind is saying you can’t.”

In the article Jauncey is also quoted as saying that there are four reasons we fail under presssure:
“we don’t know what to do
we don’t know how to do it
we don’t have the ability to do it
we choose not to do it”

I agree with all of these.  We choose not to do it was the one that got me really thinking yesterday.  In my reflections I contrasted Jauncey’s insights with some great thinking in the book resilience which I referred to in my last blog.

“For most of us, emotions are things that happen to us.” Zolli and Healy say in their book.  They go on to say “Researchers who study mindfulness and attention often conceive of our emotions differently. In their view, emotions are not things that happen to us.”  My take from reading the book is that we choose our emotions just as we choose our thoughts.

What are you choosing to feel and think today?

If you don’t know what to do or how to do something you can learn.
We also need to be candid with ourselves if we simply do not have the ability to learn how to do something.

What we choose is what really matters.

What are you choosing to feel and think today?
And could you change what’s normal in your life and make better choices for your well-being and growth?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Change Your Mindset To Manage the E-Mail Overload

For many people, e-mail is the bane of their professional life. Despite the fact that it’s one of the oldest Internet technologies (it’s been around since the 1970s), many people still struggle with managing it effectively. It’s not unusual to see e-mail in-boxes with hundreds – and sometimes even thousands – of messages, which causes the owner stress, frustration and hours of lost productivity each week. Some people simply give up and declare "e-mail bankruptcy", deleting everything and starting again, assuming that if something was important, the sender will follow up anyway. However, this is only a short-term solution, and before long the empty in-box fills up again.

The most important first step to managing your e-mail is to change your mindset. Rather than seeing it as a necessary evil that’s inevitably going to harm your productivity each day, treat e-mail as a powerful communication tool that can improve your productivity.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. However, I firmly believe that the problem is not with e-mail itself; it’s with the kind of e-mail we receive, the way we perceive e-mail, and the way we manage e-mail:
  • We receive some e-mail that’s unnecessary, unwanted, inappropriate, unproductive and unimportant – and that gets in the way of the worthwhile e-mail.
  • We often perceive e-mail as being more urgent than it is, and that means we don’t get our important work done.
  • We don’t have techniques to manage it, so we feel stressed and overwhelmed by it.
If those problems sound familiar to you, start by adopting these three key principles, which will help you change your attitude towards these problems:

1. Don’t let your in-box set your priorities.

Your in-box represents other people’s priorities, not yours. So never use it to decide how you’ll plan your day. Be clear about your priorities first, and don’t vary from them unless absolutely necessary.

2. Use e-mail for important, not urgent, issues.

E-mail is a deferred communication tool, which means you shouldn’t expect others to read your e-mail immediately, and they shouldn’t expect it of you. Use it for important issues, but use other communication tools for urgent issues.

3. Treat e-mail as just one of many communication channels.

There’s no law that says you have to do everything by e-mail, and there’s no law that says a conversation that starts by e-mail has to continue that way. Be flexible and willing to switch to other communication channels as needed.

Adopting these principles means changing your attitude towards e-mail, and I hope that this immediately helps you see e-mail in a more positive light.

Interested in finding out more?

This article is a brief extract from my book "Out of Office: Using the Internet for Greater Freedom in Your Work Life".

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Of all the skills needed to thrive today I would probably pick resilience

I have been reading a book a week for nearly 40 years. A few make it to my recommended reading list.

The books that make my list are often the ones I read in one sitting, make lots of notes in my journal and keep dipping back in for several days afterwords.  The final test is the book gets added to the pile on my desk that I continually refer to.

Resilience - why things bounce back by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy is such a book.  Since I read it on an 8 hour flight last Thursday it has been my constant companion.

There is a saying that says Leaders are readers.  And today with tablets and all sorts of devices you have no excuses.  What is on your reading list this week?

You can download a list of all the books I recommend here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Are you trying to change what you can’t?

Most business owners/leaders are investing huge amounts of time and energy and/or money in trying to lift the performance of employees.

You need to stop!

You can’t change people or get them to lift their performance in a sustainable way.

Employees who are failing to bring their best to their work on a consistent basis, the majority in most workplaces, need to lift their own performance!

What you need to do is co-create the environment where accountability is possible.

Change can’t be managed

There is a lot of talk about change management.  Ignore it.  You can’t manage change.  What you can do is manage the things around change such as systems, processes etc., etc.  You can read more about this in my article Change Management is an oxymoron here.

Make it your practice this week to lead people and change and stop trying to manage either.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

I am getting very excited because my Enhancing their gifts™ system that enables business owners/leaders employing more than 20 people to lead change and people will soon be available to implement without my involvement.

I am conducting a never-to-be-repeated 1 day workshop in Melbourne to complete the filming of the stories, philosophies and techniques that are integral to the system.  You can find out more here.

If you can’t make it to Melbourne in September please subscribe to my complimentary Enhancing their gifts™ 9 lessons online course here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Where in your business are people missing in action?

I took the photo below at Melbourne International Airport.  The piano was playing without a person.
It didn't excite me.

Where in your business should people be that they aren't?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Differentiation and great service are closely linked

This weeks sparkenation.

"What do I see that needs to be done that nobody else is attending to. What do I need to learn to be effective in attending to it in a highly efficient and inoffensive-to-others manner?"
Dr R Buckminster Fuller (1896-1983)
Recipient of 47 Honorary Doctorates throughout his lifetime.

More sparkentations here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Where do you belong where you really don't?

This weeks sparkenation.

My thanks to the great folk at Enablers Network for the following

Where do you belong where you really don't?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why most strategies fail to get executed

There are 5 main reasons why most strategies fail to get executed.

#1. Strategy and execution plans are seen as being the same thing.

People everywhere confuse strategy and planning, two completely different disciplines. Think about the two together at your peril. Strategy is about how and planning about execution, who will do what and when. The consequences of confusing the two, or thinking about the two at the same time, are usually that great strategies never see the light of day, they get buried in massive documents that just gather dust, or worse, great strategies never get executed.

#2. Strategy is created by people too far removed from the coal face

Sadly many boards of directors are made up of old men.  Are the skills these people used to be successful in the past matching the needs of the present and the future?  Some people in these positions don’t understand the present or the future.  They think that what worked in the past, works now.  We are therefore in the vice like grip of stupidity and idiocy.

Someone said that the definition of stupidity is
“Expecting a different result by continuing to do the same old thing”

Someone else said that the definition of idiocy is
“Doing something different and still getting the same result”

#3. Strategy is driven by economics rather than interconnectedness

One of the tragedies of my lifetime is that society and the environment have become part of the economy rather than the other way around.

Europe struggles to come to terms with their debt crisis because they keep talking about economics without fixing the systems that would mean the financial world could recover from the horrible self-created mess it is in.

Bill Clinton won an election based on the strategy ‘It’s the economy stupid.’ And his strategy was proved to be right.  Now however we have become stupid about the economy!

#4.  Strategic intent and strategic thinking and feeling aren’t in alignment when we create our strategy

Most people who create strategies haven’t got their whys or hows right therefore whatever strategy they decided on is flawed.  Please read more on this in my blog here.

#5. The people responsible for executing strategy haven’t been involved in the creation of the strategy and therefore don’t understand it and/or don’t own it

This is the biggy.

Your employees are the main executors of your strategy.  How do you involve them in determining your strategy? Do they have their own execution plans?

Any fool can download a strategic planning template from the internet and fill in the blanks or hire an outside facilitator to help them fill in the blanks.  Sadly most business owners and leaders are still doing both.

It is another path altogether to actually understand what strategy actually is - the compass that is the reference point that drives our daily decision making.

And the road less traveled?  This is when each employee has their own piece of the execution plan. 

Each employee knowing and owning their piece of the execution plan that is a part of a giant quilt map is what 21st century leaders ensure.

How remarkable is your compass and your quilt map?

To learn one way to become a 21st century leader, subscribe to my complimentary 9 lessons online course Enhancing their gifts™.  You can find out all about it and subscribe here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Amazon and Apple Have Changed the Publishing Industry

Amazon.com and Apple have changed the publishing industry forever - and that's good news for authors, consultants, professional service firms, speakers, trainers and any other thought leaders.

Here's how it used to work...

Publishing a book used to be a slow, cumbersome, time-consuming process. Even if you managed to get your book accepted by a publisher (and that process could take a year or more), it didn't mean you would get it on the bookshelves quickly. On the contrary! That was just the start of the process.

When your book did finally arrive, the publisher did some initial marketing and publicity for it, but it wasn't long before they moved on to their next project. After all, their job is to sell books, not to sell your book.

When they did sell your book, you would get a royalty... usually a very small royalty. To be fair, the publisher paid for the entire production of the book, so they took all the risk. So it's not unreasonable that they would take a larger profit than you. But it did mean that most authors didn't get rich from their book royalties.

The publishing model has changed.

Some authors didn't want to wait to be picked by a publisher, so they self-published their books (After all, the "publisher" is simply the person who pays for the production of the book). Decades ago, this was called "vanity publishing", as if only authors with big egos would publish a book this way. But that's certainly not the case, and many experts chose self-publishing because it's faster, easier and more profitable than the traditional publishing route.

Of course, if you self-published a book, you paid for everything, and so you took all the risk. You get to keep all the profits, but you do take all the risk.

Not so long ago, self-publishing was an expensive and risky business, because you had to estimate how many books you could sell before you did your first print run. Many authors were too optimistic, and ended up with boxes of unsold books filling up their spare rooms!

The "print on demand" process has removed some of this risk, because it's no longer uneconomical to do a small print run. And even if you want a larger print run, you can do this offshore in places like China and India, for a very reasonable fee.

So self-publishing has become a legitimate way of getting your ideas into print. Some people still look down their nose at it, but provided you still invest in quality editing, proofreading, layout and design, a self-published book can be every bit as good as a printed book. And sometimes much better!

Now we have the e-book revolution.

Thanks to Amazon.com's Kindle and Apple's iPad, there's a new revolution in publishing: e-books.

As an author, you no longer have to go through the expensive process of printing a book on paper. You simply publish it in electronic form, upload it to Amazon.com, and it's instantly available to millions of potential customers. Amazon.com has created free Kindle apps, so that even customers without a physical Kindle device can read Kindle e-books on their iPad, iPhone, Android phone, Android tablet, Mac or PC.

An e-book might mean "electronic book", but it's much more than just the electronic equivalent of something that used to be printed. E-books can be very short or very long; they can have links to audio and video, or even have audio and video embedded in them; they can be given away as gifts to build credibility and foster loyalty; they can be shared (legally and illegally); they can be updated instantly whenever new material is available.

In short, an e-book is nothing like a book. The e-book revolution really is a revolution.

Will you be one of the revolutionaries?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Our why’s attract people to us. Our how is what keeps them with us.

I am a fan of the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek and the philosophy he articulates: People don’t buy WHAT we do, they buy WHY we do it.

It is also my belief that when our WHY's become clear, our HOW's become easy!
as I state in this blog.

How is just as important as why however.  Our why’s attract people to us.  Our how is what keeps them with us.

The LRN organisation, who have worked with more than 700 companies in over 100 countries, recently released their HOW Report: New Metrics for a New Reality: Rethinking the Source of Resiliency, Innovation, and Growth which looks at how governance, culture and leadership influence behavior and impact performance.  It is very insightful reading.  36,000 employees at all levels from 18 countries were involved.  You can download the report here.

The Governance, Culture, and Leadership Framework table on page 13 I find particularly valuable.  It looks at how we know, how we behave, how we relate, how we recognize, and how we pursue and shows a clear picture of what the most successful organisations do.

Get your why right by all means.  Making sure your how is in alignment is the key to the sustainability and thrivability of your business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with leaders to conceive and achieve highly successful change initiatives.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Are great leaders lucky?

I recently found a video from Morton Hansen from Berkeley subtitled how great leaders make their own luck and published by Harvard that makes some really interesting points about the difference between great leaders and others.

He refutes the idea that great vision distinguishes great leadership, citing the example of Bill Gates who, in leading Microsoft, wasn't the first to recognise the potential of a number of industry changes, most notably the rise of the Internet! Instead he suggests great leaders share the following personality characteristics:
  • Productive paranoia - Always worrying about what is happening
  • Fanatical discipline - Always focused on how best to achieve their goals
  • Empirical creativity - Always assessing new ideas and going with the ones that work
And he further goes on to suggest that great leaders achieve a 'higher return on luck'.  An interesting concept; surely luck is just luck?  Not so he says.  Their study showed that both successful and less successful leaders faced the same number of 'good luck' and 'bad luck' events.  They concluded that the difference is in the way in which great leaders acted; they found that great leaders take three types of action more often than others.  And that these types of action achieve better results from whatever happens:
  • They prepare for bad luck - They assume it will happen sometime and ensure they are prepared to deal with it
  • They capitalise upon good luck - They spot opportunities and seize the moment, even if it means abandoning previous plans - again he quotes Bill Gates - who abandoned his degree course to do the deal to sell MS-DOS to IBM
  • They execute brilliantly - WHen they see and seize an opportunity they make sure they make the most of it
If you're interested in hearing more, watch the video: