Thursday, January 31, 2013

Introducing - The Leadership CLoud

    There is a perennial debate over whether leaders are born or made. However, for leadership to be born and sustained there needs to be 3 ingredients – a leader, a purpose and the circumstances that create the leadership space.  So, what comes first - the leader, the action which ‘makes’ the leader, or the thought that drives anyone to be a leader? This question has been attracting the imagination of leadership enthusiasts and researchers for a very long time.
In my article below, I have attempted to share my views on this very abstract aspect of the leadership conundrum. I have used certain ideas from the metaphysical as well as the scientific theories to create a link between the art and science of leadership.
The understanding of the concept of the Leadership Cloud took shape after I noticed some similarities in cloud computing, the way we derive our thoughts, and the manner in which men enter into the leadership voids to become Leaders.

On Cloud Computing
Cloud computing refers to the use and access of multiple server-based computational resources via a digital network ( WAN, Internet connection using the World Wide Web, etc.). Cloud users may access the server resources using a computer, netbook, pad computer, smart phone, or other device. In cloud computing, applications are provided and managed by the cloud server and data is also stored remotely in the cloud configuration. Users do not download and install applications on their own device or computer; all processing and storage is maintained by the cloud server.

The  Concept of Cloud Thinking
Computer systems and technology have only started exploring the possibilities that always existed in the human minds. Historically also, whatever the human mind had the capacity to create, got ultimately created. If man once dreamed of flying like a bird, he invented a aeroplane. If he dreamed of exploring the oceans, he invented submarines. And to think that all this was possible through only real time and physical collaboration would be incorrect.
Surely, beyond physical handover of ideas through teaching/learning, and through collaboration on projects, there has to be a creation of collective dream – or a thought cloud – which exists in the same way as a server cloud.
What if there was such a cloud present anyway? What if there was a larger mind (akin a server farm) which released the requisite thought whenever the mind with the matching bandwidth was faced with the required situation? Does this not explain the phenomenal speed with which the human race has been able to move ahead, converting dreams into reality?
I am sure many of you would have experienced this: You think of an idea for a business/solution, and while you are procrastinating over it, one fine day you see the same being implemented by some one else, and you almost scream ‘that was my idea’. If this is not an example of ‘cloud thinking’, what is?
How Thought Cloud Works
So, if there is a thought cloud, how does it work?  Surely, the power responsible for our creation has thought through this perfectly.  According to my interpretation, the thought cloud has been always there, to ensure what gets thought in a lifetime doesn't get wasted. It stays in the cloud, till the time it gets passed on to the right candidate. As humans grow, they become receivers for these thought signals as per the wavelength and frequency of their brain cells. Therefore, a person studying aeronautical engineering will tend to be a better receptor for such thoughts that match his inclination to produce better aircraft. Such signals, when received, get accepted as ideas/brainwaves/creativity, and give the opportunity to the incubator of the thought to take it forward. Since there is more than one receiver for this thought, it brings in a variety of options and hence a competition, wherein the best thought out ideas gets implemented.

Nature’s way of Carrying the Legacy Forward!
The ‘Thought Clouds’ are also the logical way of ensuring that the legacy of mankind is not only retained, but also improved upon.  Just like the next generation of computers has a better hardware configuration due to the advancement of the chip, the next generation of humans has better capacity for further growth due to the handing over of the genetic data from the earlier generation. We learnt to handle gadgets like laptops and mobiles in our 30’s, but our children are comfortable with them before turning teens. No wonder now, that the human exploration into outer space is becoming a reality and is no longer science fiction.

How the Leadership Cloud Works
The concept of leadership cloud is the same as the thought cloud, except that instead of thoughts getting receptors to further improve upon them, there are situations (which create thoughts) that awaken the collective consciousness of many. However, these situations await the right candidate(s) with the leadership abilities to translate them into actions that can have far reaching results.

Take the example of the Jan Lokpal Bill, also referred to the Citizen's Ombudsman Bill, an anti-corruption bill drafted and drawn up by civil society activists in India seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body to investigate corruption cases. The Lokpal Bill was first introduced by Shanti Bhushan in 1968 and passed the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969. But before it could be passed by Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha was dissolved and the bill lapsed. Subsequent versions were re-introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008, but none of them were passed. However, the issue was taken up by Anna Hazare as a result of his conviction that only a strong Lok Pal Bill could remove corruption from Government offices. In 2011, Hazare initiated a Satyagraha movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal bill in the Indian Parliament, which caught the entire nation’s imagination. An honest and patriotic citizen and activist with a proven track record, Hazare was perhaps the best candidate to take this ‘agenda’ from the ‘Cloud’ and make it come alive again, with his established credentials as a difference maker.

I am sure the readers will be able to recount similar examples that are contextual to them.

Credits: This is an original article on the subject, using the term ‘Leadership Cloud’ in the manner used here for the first time ever. Any subsequent references elsewhere will be automatically linked to this article.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Play the status quo against itself."

This weeks sparkenation.

"Play the status quo against itself."
Randy Gage

From Randy's great book Risky is the new safe which I have added to my recommended reading list here.

More sparkenations here.

Have a great week.  The first month of 2013 is almost gone.  Are you where you want to be?
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System - the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

You are much more than your past.

I was recently reminded how some people can’t look beyond what they (think they) know of your past and see that as a reflection of how and who you are now, and in some cases as a gauge of what your potential is in the future. What’s worse is that they may also tarnish in their own eyes any person you know simply because of your association with them.

Personally I’ve made several bad mistakes in business and I’m not too proud to admit it. As I was being reminded of how small-minded some people can be, I thought to myself, “How would I react in the same situation?”.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is widely attributed as saying that “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”, This is also a core message in the Enhancing Their Gifts System for performance leadership from Ian Berry.

Let’s take a different angle though. When dealing with professionals in the financial services industry who will manage and control our investment capital people generally accept the legal disclaimer that past performance is not a guarantee for future results. By the same token your past performance has no bearing whatsoever on what are doing now, nor can do in the future, nor who you really are.

If someone else has a problem with your past, then they are the ones with the problem. If you believe you need them in order to be able to improve your current situation, think again. They are more of a hindrance to your future than anything else.

Provided you learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same ones twice, making mistakes more than once in past business is usually a good indication that you are dealing with someone who has the fortitude to keep standing up after being knocked down repeatedly and having another go.

So my conclusion, and answer to my own question, “How would I react in the same situation?”, is that I would remain cordial at all times, and I would remove such people from any substantive interaction, or circle of influence. I suggest if you experience this behaviour in others towards you that you do the same.

Bottom line, if people are trying to put you down, most likely they see you as above them in at least some way that is significant enough to them. If they didn’t they would be above making such remarks.

About Paul J. Lange:
Paul J. Lange is a business mentor and business performance coach who helps small to medium enterprise and entrepreneurs to apply big business, enterprise disciplines and solutions to gain a competitive advantage and increase profits. 

Paul's 'Business DIET'© system has helped countless entrepreneurs and business owners around the world to launch start-ups, expand existing operations, and greatly improve bottom lines.

Paul is also one of Australia’s most connected management consultants, and leading business strategists, with a passion for helping corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners who are committed to achieving outstanding results.

Paul’s support will help you to develop strategic direction, implement it, execute and make more money. He will have you starting to work on your business, instead of in your business, right from day one; and if you have already started down this path, he will help you to complete the transition to business owner from business manager.

The Hard, Simple, and Joyfulness of Great Work

A few years ago my wife and I completed the restoration of a 100 year old property that took us several years part time.  We cried as our friends and family shared the joy of the finished product.  It was amazing to see the old house with a fresh coat of paint they said. 

What was unmentioned was the untold hours of back breaking work and the preparation to get ready to put on the finishing touches of a coat of paint on that made our home look so grand.

All great work is like this.

I meet many sales people today not making enough sales.  I know why their sales are down.  Not enough preparation in the hard work of building relationships and giving value in advance and therefore insufficient number of appointments.

I meet many people with great ideas that are unexecuted.  I know why.  It takes a lot of energy to turn information into insight into inspiration that can turn an idea into innovation.

I meet lots of business owners not grasping the great opportunties that downturns present.  I know why. These folk are doing what they have always done and therefore are being out done by those working harder and particularly wiser.

I have a crest in my office.  The Latin words underneath translate “Nothing without labour”

We believe this was the creed of our family from a very, very long time ago.  Marketing people never invented tag lines!  Whether it is our families credo or not I certainly learned the value of hard work from an early age.  Barely a teenager with my brother four years younger, we built our family home (all except the bricks and tiles on the roof) with our parents and with our bare hands.  I remember once my football coach saying to my Father  “Your boy has a great work ethic.” My father surprised at the remark simply replied “He knows the value of hard work.”

Do you really know the true value of hard work?

Working hard is the first step to success. The second is to follow a simple path.
I know none simpler than having the right intentions, overcoming resistance, having great products/services that help other people achieve what they want (thank you Zig Ziglar).

How simple is your path?

Working hard and following a simple path need to be wrapped in joy.

One of the most profound statements I have ever heard comes from the book The Radical Leap by Steven Farber.  He says “Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do”

Are you doing this?

I woke up this morning as I do every morning ready to work hard. I know that nothing of value is created or delivered without labour.  I also know life is actually simple.  We have made it complicated.  I know too that joy is in the moment.  Joy is an attitude, an intention, that we can bring to each moment. As Eckhart Tolle so wonderfully observed “Stress is caused by being 'here' but wanting to be 'there'.

Grasp your mantle right now.  Bring your best self to each moment.  When you fail, learn and go again. Work hard, follow a simple path, be joyful.

And be the difference you want to see in the world.
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System - the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Performance Leadership is Vital to Strategy Execution

Strategy is an undetailed plan of action to be implemented over a broadly defined period of time with the intention of achieving a defined (sometimes high-level) goal.  In other words, you want to move your business from A to B within X amount of time and decide you will achieve this through several high-level areas of activity.

But what about the people who will implement the strategy and perform the various activities, general and detailed, to help you achieve your goals? Where do they factor into the strategy equation? The answer is that in most businesses they don’t. The reason is because this has never been perceived nor taught as a part of business strategy, and arguably until the Enhancing Their Gifts System™, there was no framework to connect the business strategy and the chief executors of strategy, your employees.

Most, if not all, business strategy consulting focuses on the delivery of business improvement through strategic change, optimisation, and value innovation. The  key areas of focus are usually operations, leadership, growth and innovation, and finance and performance management. The people who you will need, to utilise their talents, skills and experience, to perform the work necessary, to deliver the improvement are generally bundled together with finance, a very analytical, black and white area of the business.

The traditional approach is that employees are seen as resources, similar to financial resources and computer systems, the performance of which must be measured and managed to maximise output and ROI. Their personal values, likes, dislikes and ambitions are discounted or ignored in the strategy picture, and such things are seen as extraneous to the pursuit and  achievement of the business goals and objectives. For the first time the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ enables business to give dedicated focus to talent and performance leadership as a part of strategic business growth.

Computer systems and financial resources are standardised and finite things with definable outputs on which to establish expectations and measure achievement.  They work best when they are deployed in the way that they are designed to produce maximum performance or results.  People however are unique creations, with infinite potential, each with their own personal and individual motivations, desires, aspirations and goals.
People give their best and maximum performance when they do things that will help them achieve whatever is highest on and most aligned with their values and therefore whatever is most important to them. This is as true in the workplace as it is in personal life.

Many systems talk about the need for employees to feel valued. That is a good starting point and there are many good techniques and activities that can be used to help achieve this.  There is a significant difference however between an employee feeling valued as the result of some external influence (motivation) and aligning their professional performance with what is highest on their values to create internal influence (inspiration).  The Enhancing Their Gifts System™ is the only system that I know of that makes this connection between employee business performance and the employees’ individual value system to achieve the best outcome for both the business and the person.

Business owners and leaders must come to accept that strategic change, optimisation, and value innovation is also needed in respect of the people who will execute their strategies. Performance management as an area of business strategy should  not be bundled with financial management. It should in fact be discarded entirely and businesses should establish in its place a new and separate area of talent and performance leadership. 
Enhancing Their Gifts moves the focus from performance management, as a sidebar of the overall strategy program, to talent and performance leadership, as an integral and important part of deploying a strategy and achieving the goals defined by it.

In every organisation employees are key to how well the business strategy is executed. They are the technicians and the managers at the coalface daily. Whether in customer facing roles or back-of-house, the employees are the ones to execute tactically what you as the business owner or corporate leader decided upon strategically with your employees.  Motivation will take you as the leader only so far.  Money and other financial tools like stock options are no longer the only, and in some cases no longer the most important currency in the transaction between employer and employee to elicit best performance. Key is what leads to employees feeling valued.

Phil Libin, Chief Executive of Evernote was on the mark when he said “Happy workers make better products  ….  the output we care about has everything to do with your state of mind”.  Evernote is well known for its advocacy of work-life integration and the benefits achieved by the business valuing what is important to the employee.

If you wish to achieve the maximum output from your employees, it is no longer about giving them a job, a periodical pay-rise, possibly stock options, a mobile phone, company car, portable computing device, and a health plan if you operate your business in a country without a national health scheme. It’s about understanding what is important to the individuals and finding ways to align what they do for you with what they want to do themselves.

The process is not a tactical activity down the track of strategy implementation. It is also not something for which you establish measurement tools to determine the individuals performance based on what the business wants in order to determine what level of perk or pay-rise the employee will receive.  It starts with a decision in the boardroom that acknowledges the need for work-life integration and the need to lead your employees’ talent and performance for mutual benefit rather than simply trying to manage their performance which is a hangover from the industrial revolution and not fit for purpose in the 21st century. 

About Paul J. Lange:
Paul J. Lange is a business mentor and business performance coach who helps small to medium enterprise and entrepreneurs to apply big business, enterprise disciplines and solutions to gain a competitive advantage and increase profits. 

Paul's 'Business DIET'© system has helped countless entrepreneurs and business owners around the world to launch start-ups, expand existing operations, and greatly improve bottom lines.

Paul is also one of Australia’s most connected management consultants, and leading business strategists, with a passion for helping corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners who are committed to achieving outstanding results.

Paul’s support will help you to develop strategic direction, implement it, execute and make more money. He will have you starting to work on your business, instead of in your business, right from day one; and if you have already started down this path, he will help you to complete the transition to business owner from business manager.

Will Lance Armstrong's Admissions Heighten Consumer Skepticism

Watching the Lance Armstrong interview I couldn't help but think of the classic saying, "If it seems too good to be true it probably is." This also caused me to consider how often 'sayings' seem to be accurate. Maybe it is because sayings arise from collective wisdom over time.

It is this idea of collective wisdom that then caused me to wonder about the ripple effect of Lance's admissions. Will consumers become more skeptical of corporate behaviours?

This morning I noticed this article in The Age Newspaper, Subway, where a foot is a step back.

Matt Corby's 11 inch 'footlong' sub. Photo: Facebook
Perth teenager Matt Corby posted a photo of his 'foot-long' sub on Subway's Facebook page. It clearly indicated that his sub was only 11 inches long.  That's 91.67% of a 12 inch sub. Imagine if you only received 91.67% of most things that you buy. Collective wisdom suggests to me that most people expect a Footlong Sub to be pretty close to 12 inches long. I don't know about you but I've always thought that a foot long sub meant that it was supposed to be 12 inches long. Given they also have a 'Six Inch Sub' this perception is reinforced by other items on their menu.

I quite like Subway and this article isn't about them. Rather, it's about their response and what it represents to consumers. This is what Subway Australia posted on Facebook in response to Matt's photo.

"With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong, 'Subway Footlong' is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length."

Hopefully Matt's sub is an aberration. But what if it isn't? Personally I'm not going to pull out a measuring tape every time I buy a sub and if I really think about it, 'nearly 12 inches' would be good enough. But 11 inches is not good enough. Skeptically do you think that people will be posting images of 13 inch subs? I don't think so. (Hmmm some skepticism slipping in there...)
Which brings me to my point. The Lance Armstrong admission is going to make consumers more skeptical of what they are being sold and the intentions of organisations. It will also make them more skeptical of the responses that organisations provide, such as the response provided above from Subway. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out that if your product is only 91.67% of the size that the market expects, but you are 'getting away' with selling it at the smaller size then your cost savings go straight to your bottom line. People aren't stupid. They can work these things out and social media makes it easy for them to provide this feedback.
The problem that Subway may have is that their Footlong Subs may in fact only be 11 inches long. In other words, over time their system may have been changed so that is what they produce. Despite the name being 'Footlong' they may have created a system that creates a gap between what they are marketing and what they are actually saying. These decisions may have been made a long time ago with the benefits of those changes going to Subway and not their consumers. No doubt many organisations have made similar decisions - but these decision create a Market Communication Gap. What the market perceives they are going to get is different to what it actually gets. Ultimately this creates poor service.

What are your thoughts? Will Lance Armstrong's admissions drive consumer skepticism and what does this mean for organisations?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why The World Can't Get Enough of Webinars

I remember a time not long ago when webinars were new and unfamiliar to most people. But now, individuals, small businesses and large organisations are all using webinars to promote their products and services, deliver educational material, and offer ongoing value to their clients and customers. There's a reason webinars are so popular, and why you should be using them in your business as well.

What is a webinar?

In brief, a webinar is a presentation delivered over the Internet (The word "webinar" is short for "Web seminar"). As a presenter, you sit in your home or office with your computer, microphone and PowerPoint slides; and your audience sits in their homes or offices, with their computers and speakers. It's like being there in person, except you don't have to all gather there in the same room.

Webinars save time.

In fact, that is one of the biggest benefits of webinars: you don't have to all gather in the same room. This means you don't have to spend time getting there, you don't have to waste time in traffic, and you don't have to hang around afterwards. You simply turn up at the time of the webinar, attend the webinar, and hang up.

Of course, as the webinar presenter, you do have to do extra work in preparing the webinar, promoting it, and following up after it's complete. But you would do those things anyway for any presentation. Running a webinar means you save time on the unimportant things that take up time before and after your presentation.

Another time saving from webinars is that they are usually shorter than the equivalent in-person presentation. A typical webinar is an hour long, but it can be as short as a 15-minute briefing or a 30-minute mini-presentation. You generally wouldn't have in-person presentations that are as short, because of the extra time involved getting people together. But there's no point stretching out a presentation to an hour or two just because you have a captive audience!

Webinars save money.

You don't have to book a room, pay for catering, pay travel costs, and pay for other things that happen with an in-person event.

Webinar technology does cost something, but not much. There was a time when any Internet conferences needed high-tech equipment in a custom-built studio. But that's no longer the case. If you have a reasonably modern computer and broadband Internet, that's good enough for presenting and attending webinars.

The webinar technology itself is also very affordable. You typically pay a low monthly fee for using it, and you can run as many webinars as you like. Even if you only run one webinar a month, you would usually pay far less than you would for an in-person event.

Webinars are engaging.

A webinar won't be the only part of your online platform, but it might well be the most personal interaction you have with your network - apart from one-on-one interactions.

Webinars combine visuals, audio and interaction, so they are often more engaging than written material such as newsletter articles, blog posts, e-books and media releases.

They also happen live (in the moment), so participants can interact with the present during the webinar itself, rather than having to send e-mail or comment on a blog post.

How can YOU use webinars?

If you're in business, you probably want to save time, save money and engage more with the key people in your network. If you're not already using webinars for this purpose, perhaps you should!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Leading people is wise. Trying to manage people is dumb.

This weeks sparkenation - Leading people is wise. Trying to manage people is dumb. Previous sparkenations here.

According to Wikepdia the verb manage comes from the Italian maneggiare (to handle — especially tools), which in turn derives from the Latin manus (hand). The French word mesnagement (later ménagement) influenced the development in meaning of the English word management in the 17th and 18th centuries.

How did we go from the above to trying to manage people? Good question.  I don’t know! Industrial revolution thinking and believing people can be treated like machines are part of the answer.  In the 21st century we can lead people but not manage them.  See my article Stop Trying to Manage People here.

"You manage things; you lead people."
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."
Peter Drucker

I meet many so called leaders who still feel the need to plan, organize, direct and control (manage) their people.  A better path to travel is to inspire and influence (leadership), have agreed boundaries, co-create great systems and processes (management), and let people loose.

My own definitions of leadership and management:

Leadership is the art of inspiring people to bring everything remarkable that they are to everything they do.

Leadership falters and often badly without management.

Management is the practice of making it simple for people to bring everything remarkable that they are to everything they do.

Get your leadership and management right.  It changes everything for the better in your organisation.  Leadership is fundamentally about people.  Management is fundamentally about systems and processes that are good for people in bringing their best to their work.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Leadership resilience and well-being: Integrating what you love into your life

For many busy people achieving work life balance remains elusive. The multiple demands of work, children, spouse, wider family, social and community engagements and self care all pile on each other and nag away. There are always more things to do than time, money, and other resources allow.
While there is no simple solution to the above, and everyone is different, there is a delightful ANTIDOTE to this conundrum.
Do more of what you love most and integrate this in your life as much as practicable. Do this on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and you may just be surprised at the outcome. More often than not, as we get busier, the very things that we love, that give us joy, slip through the press of time and deadlines.

Such is human psychology that if we don’t express our joy, we soon cease to feel it.
- Lin Yutang
Integrating what you love but may have ignored is what refreshes and recharges us. Integrating what you love doing most, (but may have ignored) is what refreshes and recharges your life’s battery. It is “food for the soul.” We find that “joie de vivre” returns. As positive psychology encourages, we then live a meaningful life through engaging in these activities and savouring their uplifting moments. These positive experiences become part of our ongoing emotional bank account and final legacy.

This change of activity and pace through integrating what we enjoy can be as good as a holiday. Conversely, not integrating them in our lives leads to life’s batteries running low.

The secret to life’s purpose is to be happy. In order to be truly and permanently happy , we have to fulfil our best intentions and act on them right away … even if that means we start by just giving good thoughts to them.
-Brahma Kumaris

By way of example, one of the things I enjoy is creative writing. Just making time to let the mind drift – letting thoughts and ideas emerge in whatever intuitive and random manner they do and then giving it shape is an enjoyable act for me. I love words and language. However, I noticed as things got busier this year, I let my writing go as I succumbed to other demands. Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way” puts it well, “When we don’t pursue our creativity, we find ourselves feeling restless, irritable and discontent. And when we do pursue our creativity, we find ourselves unexpectedly happy.” Having reclaimed my writing, I feel whole again.

Your personality will also have a part to play here. If you are more inclined to have an introverted preference and get energy from being by yourself with your own reflective thoughts, it is likely that you find solo activities more replenishing. On the other hand for the more extroverted personalities, activities where there is opportunity for companionship and banter may have a greater pull. Having said this, sometimes it is the opposite – where extroverts need quiet self reflective time and introverts need social contact for balance!

A consulting engineer client – quite gregarious by nature – loves to strum his guitar. As he puts it, “I trained as an engineer, I’m good at it and it’s my living, but it’s when I play my guitar I lose all sense of time. I lose all sense of any issues or problems that we all face on a daily basis.” Last year, this led him to create a band of mostly other fellow engineers who jam monthly – finding pleasure in Rock and Roll and each other’s company, followed by a big shared feed at the end. As he puts it: “This brings intense joy and pleasure not only to me, but to ALL THOSE AROUND ME.”

As we get older, doing more of what we love becomes even more critical as we are forced to contend with unforeseen mental and or physical limitations which can impact on our good intentions of “when I have time I will do this.” But time waits for no one, as we know too well.

SQ Reflections:
So how about you?
What makes your heart sing?

When you are in your ‘flow state’ what are you doing?

What is inside of you needing a voice and expression?

What is something you enjoy doing but haven’t done in a long while? What is that one thing that you absolutely must do before time runs out?

What is something you can integrate in your life on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis?

We all have many facets to us – why not express these more fully? Now!

Jasbindar Singh is a coaching psychologist, author and speaker and loves seeing people be more of their authentic self and in their groove. She is also re-discovering the joys of writing again!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why not take the simple path to performance improvement in 2013?

Traditional performance management is often hard.
The Enhancing Their Gifts System (ETGS) is simple. It's about performance leadership.

Traditional performance management systems are often hard for 5 fundamental reasons:

1) They are seen as being primarily about formal performance reviews.
2) The system or processes are seen as being cumbersome and time consuming, perceived to not actually lead to performance improvement, and therefore provoke cynicism, skepticism, frustration and even downright anger
3) A lot of people think performance management is the processes followed to let go people whose performance is less than acceptable.
4) There is a reluctance to have conversations about performance particularly when there is conflict, disagreement and/or difficulty.
5) There is a hangover from all of the above and many people are feeling and thinking this is all too hard.

1) Formal performance reviews

Formal performance reviews are hard when they are conducted infrequently.  The norm is once a year and many people still refer to the process as the annual appraisal.  Often the process and the filling out of lots of paperwork and/or online inputting is seen as something that has to be done rather than something that is integral to great work.

Formal performance reviews/appraisals are mostly done for the purposes of documenting performance perceptions and often more for legal and compliance reasons than performance improvement ones.

The exponential speed of technological change and the digitization of business processes and relationships means almost everything is fast and instantaneous and so to leave anything to a once a year exercise is a recipe for no action and the perception of being a waste of time and energy.

In fact formal performance reviews are a great idea and essential to performance improvement.  They only work well however when there has been meaningful, valued and continual informal exchanges about performance .

In the Enhancing Their Gifts System (ETGS), formal performance reviews take a few minutes and are held every 90 days. They are a positive, uplifting and productive experience because they are a moment in time capture of what’s worth celebrating and what can be better around already known and agreed performance factors.  Such conversations are possible because the focus of ETGS is on conversations about performance being integral to every day work that happen informally every day.

2) The system or processes are seen as being cumbersome and time consuming, perceived to not actually lead to performance improvement, and therefore provoke cynicism, skepticism, frustration and even downright anger

The ETGS framework means only one piece of paper is ever in use and it is completed candidly and joyfully because of everything that happens before and after it is completed.  This means any feelings of being cumbersome and time consuming are eliminated and all traces of cynicism, skepticism, frustration and anger are gone.

3) Letting people go whose performance is less than acceptable

Focusing on managing people we want in and managing those we don’t want out is a common approach in business.  This approach many have observed is like herding cats.  It’s hard! What if people can’t be managed?  See my article Stop Trying To Manage People.

The ETGS leads people and provides a framework that enables people to lead themselves which means the right people stay and those who fit somewhere else leave with dignity.

4) There is a reluctance to have conversations about performance particularly when there is conflict, disagreement and/or difficulty.

Soft skills are NOT hard to learn, especially when accompanied by an easy-to-implement model or system. Unfortunately, most people are never given the opportunity to learn the soft skills essential to effective leadership.  ETGS makes such learning possible.

ETGS is people focused. Enhancing the gifts and talents of your people is a key way to let them know that they are valued. People respond, engage more fully, go the extra mile, and do everything they can to enhance the work of your organisation.

One of the most critical soft skills of leadership is the ability to hold difficult conversations with employees about perceived performance gaps.  The ETGS and associated mentoring helps people to learn and apply such skills.  Over time the framework eliminates the two biggest reasons for human conflict - a disagreement on where we’re going and the most prevalent, a disagreement on how we will get there.

For more some great insights into soft skills I highly recommend a book by Maree Harris, an accredited mentor of ETGS.  It’s called Soft Skills The Hard Stuff of Success.  You can download the introduction and chapter 1 here.

5) There is a hangover from all the negatives about performance management and many people are feeling and thinking this is all too hard.

"Every talent management process in use today was developed half a century ago. It's time for a new model.” said Peter Cappeli in Harvard Business Review article "Talent Management for the 21st Century" (March 2008).

The ETGS is such a new model.  Rather than focusing on old style management which most performance management or talent management systems do, that of planning, organizing, directing and controlling, ETGS unleashes talent and enables people to do their own planning, organising and directing in alignment with business directions and goals.  The ETGS allows people to control their own destiny while at the same time bringing their best to their work and in so doing helping you achieve your destiny.

Why not take the simple path to performance improvement in 2013?

Begin by experiencing part of the Enhancing Their Gifts System here and then get in touch with an accredited mentor or myself.

Be remarkable

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

5 questions a differencemaker asks

In my experience, the people who make a difference, the people who are engaging leaders are people who ask a lot of thought provoking questions. These questions get people thinking and cause people to grow. So what sort of questions am I talking about? They are questions that go to the heart of what it means to be an engaging leader.

I challenge you to answer these questions in terms of what you have done this year and what you intend to do next year. You might like to give yourself a rating out of 5 . . . 1 being poor through to 5 being excellent to see where you have excelled and where you need more work. Hopefully by the end of the process you will have a few ideas on how you can increase your ability to engage not only yourself but also the people around you regardless of your position.

1. How am I growing?
This question is designed to get you thinking about your growth in the two key areas of Professional development and Personal development. What seminars, workshops and conferences you have attended; what books or journals you have read; what coaching or mentoring you have received; what projects or committees you have been involved in; what experiences have you had. It is the first question because it is the foundation for the rest, the root system that allows you to grow further.

2. How am I helping my team to grow?
Perhaps some of your personal growth has occurred as a result of helping other people to grow. Remember the famous phrase “you don’t really know something until you have to teach it to someone else”. This could be via formal or informal mentoring, coaching or training. It could be by acting as a role model for others to follow or it could simply be putting in place the conditions, and removing the barriers, that allow your team to grow naturally.

3. How am I helping my organisation to grow?
You need to think beyond your immediate team because one highly engaged team within an otherwise disengaged organisation is not going to stay engaged for very long. What is your involvement in the various committees in your workplace? Are you someone who makes suggestions and looks for ways to innovate? Do you get actively involved in change programs? How are you assisting the organisation to attract and retain good people, even outside your area of specialty? What relationships do you have with suppliers, competitors and others that might assist your organisation to grow?

4. How am I helping my industry to grow?
If you are passionate about your industry then you will want to see it prosper. Remember that the more jobs there are available in your industry, the more career options you have so playing your part in maintaining a healthy industry is in your own best interests. A good place to start is by being actively involved in the relevant industry associations that represent you or as a media commentator in your field.

5. How am I helping my occupation to grow?
Even broader than industry involvement is the desire of an engaged leader to see their occupation grow and develop. This could mean getting involved in the relevant specialist professional association or a more general association such as the Australian Institute of Management. It could also mean offering to help young people entering the occupation via teaching at University or TAFE or by offering work experience to school students considering the occupation for their own career.

Karen Schmidt from Let’s Grow! describes herself as a workplace gardener who helps organisations grow the next crop of engaging leaders. To learn more about her Budding Leaders program visit To book her to speak at your next event visit

Monday, January 14, 2013

Lead measures matter much more than lag measures

This weeks sparkenation.

"There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow...It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it."
Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

I agree with Mr. Welch however employee engagement, customer satisfaction and cash flow are outcomes or lag measures, as are energized employees.  More important, in fact vital, are what leads to these outcomes.

Please read my article Lead measures matter much more than lag measures here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The New Normal or is it really the same old stuff repackaged?

I see a lot of stuff on the web (particularly social media) about the new normal.  I even saw the phrase ‘The New Normal’ in my local newspaper yesterday in an article about interest rates! Not another buzz word I thought.

Most references to the new normal look to me usually! as the same old sh.. repackaged.

Changing what’s normal, particularly when normal (the status quo) no longer serves humanity, is another thing altogether.

The following line from Seth Godin has a permanent place on my desk.  It reminds me every day to change what I can in ways that really makes a difference.

“The status quo is no longer something we want at work or in politics or in any organisation we care about”

Forget the new normal if that means the same old stuff meaning the same old outcomes.

Instead, change what’s normal.  And begin with yourself.

PS In my Changing What’s Normal book I write about why all change is personal first.  Relationship change follows personal change.  Organisational change is a distant third.

You can buy my book or get if for free here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Get Smart: How to Get the Information You Need

The world is changing faster than ever, and your clients and audiences expect you to be current with your area of expertise. They expect you to solve their information overload problem by taking in large volumes of information, sifting through it and sharing with them what's relevant for them.

Everybody consumes information in different ways. So there's no one-size-fits-all solution for everybody. But I do have some guidelines here to help you work out the best method for you to manage your incoming information (I'll focus on just online information here). It's based on the well-known "six questions" formula: Why, What, Who, How, When and Where.

1. Why?

Look at all the information you're getting - e-mail newsletters, Facebook updates, blog posts, tweets, e-books, special reports, and so on - and re-examine why you're getting it. If it's no longer useful to you (and perhaps it never was!), get rid of it - unsubscribe, unfollow, unfriend, whatever.

Be ruthless! Don't hold on to it for fear that you might miss out on an occasional nugget of useful stuff. You're already missing out on thousands of other nuggets elsewhere on the Internet, so trying to hold on to everything is impossible anyway.

2. What?

Decide exactly what sort of information is important to you. I recommend you ask yourself three questions:

  1. What would I find useful? This is for your own reference - things like business development, new technology, and business practices.
  2. What would my clients find useful? This is for keeping current with your area of expertise.
  3. What would their clients find useful? This helps you make your material relevant to your clients, because you will understand their world, not just your own.

3. Who?

Find the right thought leaders, influencers and other experts, and follow them - through their newsletters, blog, Twitter feed, YouTube channel, podcast, whatever.

Don't follow other people - or at least, have some way to follow them at a lower priority. For example, I use Tweetdeck to read my Twitter feed, and I have a special column for the people I particularly want to follow:

I follow these people because they often share relevant articles and ideas with their followers. I'll only check other people's updates if I really have the time.

4. How?

I like reading (because I'm a fast reader) and listening to audio (because I can do it while multi-tasking), but I don't like watching video. I know other people who love video because they watch it on the treadmill or on airplanes. Know what works best for you, so you can get the information in your most preferred modes.

Whatever you choose, try to automate the incoming information, rather than having to remember to get it manually. In other words, subscribe - to blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, whatever.

5. When and Where?

Finally, determine the best time and place for you to consume this information. For example, I subscribe to a lot of blogs, so every day I receive hundreds of new blog posts. I like skimming the posts at the start of each day, but I don't spend time reading them immediately (because that would waste productive hours in my morning). Instead, I bookmark them for later reading - which I do on my phone or tablet when I'm out of my office.

Your approach might be different, depending on your most productive times, your lifestyle, your technology devices, and the type of information you consume.

What works best for you?

So those are the five factors to consider when choosing how to get your incoming information. The key idea - as I've said already - is that you should choose what's right for you, instead of just getting whatever turns up in your in-box!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The beginning of a new year is not about resolutions

The beginning of a new year is not about resolutions, rather it is about reflection, reset, and resolve and rituals.


Looking back is valuable particularly when we think about defining moments of the past year, the lessons we learned from them, and how we are living these lessons now.

My weekly sparkenations may help you to reflect.  Spend an hour checking out my 2012 short sparkenations here.  Then remember your defining moments and how you are living the lessons you learned.


Every 90 days as a part of following my Enhancing Their Gifts System in my own life and work, I write down what has been worth celebrating in the past 90 days and what could be better in my personal and business life.  I then reset my personal and business possibility plan (PPP) for the next 90 days and detail how I am going to keep doing what's worth celebrating and deal with what could be better.  I always have the long term in mind, my goals, resolutions if you will, yet my focus is only on the next 90 days.

Resolve and Rituals

My PPP is my resolve in writing.  It is what I am actually going to do.  It is also the document I share with my performance partners who will appreciate me when I follow my plan and help me to be accountable when I fail to fulfill my promises. 

Following my rituals keeps me on track.  You can download a copy of my rituals here.  Create your own rituals document and share them too with your performance partners.  We never achieve anything of real value alone.  The more we share with our performance partners the more meaningful conversations about our performance become.  A result is an increase in our ability and willingness to consistently perform at optimum levels for us.

2013 can be your best year yet. Reflect, reset and act on your resolve by following your rituals.  And enlist the support of performance partners willing to have regular and meaningful conversations about your performance with you.

Be remarkable

Friday, January 4, 2013

When are you going to stop pretending that you're not special?

I read a book a week in 2012. It's a habit I have now been following for over 30 years.  My love of books and writing is undiminished!

There were 9 standouts for me:

Abundance by Peter H. Diamandis, and Steven Kotler.

Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth by David C. Korten

Global Citizens by Mark Gerzon.

Intentionomics® the impact of your intentions on living a happy, flourishing and prosperous life by my friend and colleague David Penglase.

Resilience by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy.

The 10 Second Philosophy® by Derek Mills.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Wilful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan.

Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz.

I also re-read Do the work (twice!) by Steven Pressfield which is the book that helps me greatly to welcome, fight, and overcome resistance.

My book this week has been Seth Godin's latest The Icarus Deception - how high will you fly? which like all of Seth's work has got me thinking and further ignited my passion to bring my art to the world and to help you bring yours.

One line from Seth jumped out at me "Stop Pretending You're Not Special."

Like every person You're Special.  Will 2013 be the year you bring everything you've got to everything you do?  And why not?  Stop pretending!

May my story below inspire you.

Be remarkable

PS You can download my full recommended reading list here.