Managing to lead?

“Managers watch over our numbers, our time and our results. Leaders watch over us”

Simon Sinek explains the difference between management and leadership with this quote.  If you have anyone who reports to you, then you are both a manager and a leader and that means that you need to spend time focusing on the results and your people.  There are a lot of leaders who are very diligent when it comes to numbers, time and results and are not so good with the leading part.

I would suggest that the relationship between managing and leading is 50/50, so half the time is spent managing and the other half leading.  Managing things is generally a comfortable space for most leaders as they have experience here (the numbers don’t ask questions), the leading aspect takes some out of their comfort zone as they have to work with people – and we all know that people can be unpredictable.

The very best thing you can do as a leader is to let your people know you care about them, show you understand them and always, always have their back.  If you do this in a genuine and consistent manner you will find that the management side of things will take care of itself.  

So instead of managing to be a great leader, lead to be a great manager.








Your opinion matters – share it

This poem was written by Matt Church and it is a great reminder of how important it is to stand up for what you believe in

Once you lived here

It’s easy to fit in, to play it safe – don’t.
It’s easy to listen to those who won’t.

It’s easy to stay quiet when you know you should speak.
It’s easy to criticise those at their peak.

It’s easy to follow when others create.
It’s easy to say ‘they were lucky’, not great.

The true way to express why you’re here and what matters
is to stand up and share your opinion on matters.

The road will be tough and they’ll tell you ‘you can’t’.
Your thoughts will be judged and often thrown out.

Sometimes you’ll create an idea that rocks.
Sometimes you’ll publish, to learn from the knocks.

Some days you’ll wonder ‘does anyone care?’
about the thoughts and creations you frequently share.

You’ll question whether you really have what it takes
and will seriously learn from some stupid mistakes.

With 7.4 billion people on the planet today
you’ll wonder does anyone care what you have to say.

Challenge yourself to grow more in a week
than someone ten years ago knew at their peak.

One thing’s for certain, you have to be you.
Stand up, speak out and say something true!

If you do, then know this about your new found career.
The world will remember that once you lived here.



“You get what you accept”

Do you know what is acceptable to you?  Do you have a line that separates acceptable from unacceptable?  Do you find yourself making excuses for other peoples’ behaviour, even though you feel the behaviour isn’t right?  Well, you get what you accept.

Look around you – what do you see?  Are you happy with your partner, children, work, friends, life in general?  Are there areas where you have settled for less than you want?  Do people continuously treat you in a way that makes you feel less than?  If your life looks like this, the first question to ask is:

“How much of this do I own?”

Have you accepted certain behaviour from people over time so that it has become acceptable?  If you have, make a list of what is and is not acceptable to you and let people know about it.  Stand up for you because you are worth it!

If you get what you accept, and if you only accept the very best, it stands to reason that is what you will get.

This post is dedicated to two of my beautiful friends, one for giving me the quote and the other for being brave and working hard to only accept the best.

Let me ask or talk to the hand

Have you ever been told that feedback is good for you and helps you grow as a person?  If you have, I guarantee that the feedback you received didn’t make you feel very good and you probably didn’t notice how you had grown!  Comments like that are always given by the person who is sprouting the feedback because it makes them feel good to give it to you as they feel more powerful telling you where you need to improve.

I’m not knocking feedback – it can be a wonderful thing if it is solicited by the receiver and given by someone who gets who you are.  I came across this great blog post today – Chris Taylor says it so much better than I can so I encourage you to take a look and consider his words when you next receive or give feedback.

Not my “Type”

Over the years, I have become less enamored with personality profiling as a useful tool in understanding self.  Mostly because I’ve seen the tools misused in a variety of ways  – ranging from emotionally scarring an individual who challenged their type to boxing people into a certain type, often by the person themselves “I’m a 9 (Enneagram) so I don’t do conflict”

From my experience, I have never seen personality typing executed well.  Most often, the instrument is completed by the individual, their type spits out at the end and someone walks them through an explanation.  That is normally where it ends.  The result is either someone who can now put a number or a series of letters against their name (!) or someone who can justify why they cannot perform a particular task, even if it is within their role.  To this end, I heard a senior manager say (many years ago) that they could not have tough conversations because they were a type 9 and did not handle conflict well).

Or course, there is a wealth of information on the validity and reliability of such tools and sadly, many are questionable (you can Google this for yourself).  So, what do you do if you are asked to investigate profiling for your organisation?  Firstly, do some research.  You’ll find that the Big 5 Personality Traits is the most reliable and valid.  My money is on DISC because it looks at behaviour (a full report will give you both your preferred behaviour and your behaviour when you are stressed).

If you have to implement a tool, please make sure that you have a plan in place that goes beyond explaining type – look at how to utilise this information to support working within a team, with your manager, progressing your career and how to make the most of your strengths.

A final note:

Personality typing is only one tool to better understand self and it needs to be used in conjunction with a variety of information about who you are and what you are capable of.  Remember you can always behave outside your comfort zone, depending on the situation because you have the power of choice – a much more powerful tool than the outcome of any personality test.



If you drink the Kool-Aid, know the ingredients

I like to think that I am pretty good at doing a bit of background checking before I commit to most things (except shoes, if they look good, I’ll just buy them!).  So, when I recently found out that something I had accepted as being OK, is actually not OK, I realiised I had drunk the Kool Aid without knowing the ingredients.
If something is presented to you in a dynamic, inspirational way and is not backed up with any information about where it came from or what research has been undertaken to prove that it works, trust me, you need to find out for yourself.  There is no excuse for being ill informed anymore and you don’t need to accept things just because everyone else does.

I drank the Kool-Aid because everyone around me was, I got caught up in the moment and my rational thought ceased to exist – I won’t ever do it again!  Ever.

Ego IS a dirty word

We all know people with big egos. We all recognise them – they are the people who love to tell us what they have done, what their title is, who they know and how many qualifications/certifications they possess.  They have a way of making you feel smaller than you are and if they have a really big ego, and they feel threatened by you, they will do all they can to undermine you.

Here’s what I have come to believe about ego –

1. Ego masks fear

2. Ego takes a lot of effort to maintain

3. Ego is a dirty word

So, how do you interact with someone who is driven by ego?  Firstly, you need to believe in yourself and know who you are, then you need to understand that the ego is hiding a lack of self-esteem and finally you need to, very carefully, let them know that you are not buying into their egocentric ways.

I think that the key to understanding any relationship where things feel uncomfortable is to first ask yourself “How much of this do I own?”  If the answer is “very little” then you can safely say that the behaviour belongs to the other person and does not impact on who you are but rather, says a lot about them.

Ego – its ugly.

To demonise or romanticise?

Have you been watching some of the comments that are being made on gay marriage recently?  Many of them come from America, from the far right Republicans who call themselves christians.  The general theme is that if we sanction gay marriage the whole world will go to hell (except for the people who never supported it in the first place – like all good christians, they will be saved)

I’ve been thinking about this over the past few weeks, this need to demonise the “other”, to make it into something evil and perilous and to strike fear into the hearts of the average, white, right-wing fascists in the community.  As there are usually two sides to every story, let’s take a look at the other side – the bleeding hearts who are so keen to not be seen as homophobic that they place gay people on a pedestal, where they worship them as if they are some magical beings

I think we see this kind of thing with most issues that divide people, particularly with issues around culture in our own society, where you have people who are extremely racist and then others who seem to view some cultures as romantic, perfect, pristine examples of the past.  It’s an example of over compensation for the way we feel about these things.

So, what is the middle ground?  Maybe it’s something like acceptance.  The ability to see everyone as a human being, with fears, wants, beliefs and vulnerabilities.  Maybe it’s about being comfortable in our own skin first so that we can accept others on their terms.  It’s a bit like respecting everyone’s right to hold an opinion, whilst not necessarily respecting their actual opinion itself..

There is,of course, a third part to this story – the part where the demonisers and the romanticists get out-of-the-way and let the people themselves tell their story.  My wonderful friend Eliot sent me a link to the story below – it is told so beautifully, from the heart and it cuts to the sobering truth of the matter.

The next time you think about weighing in on a conversation around a sensitive issue, think about the words you read below and consider what value your voice is going to add.

Click here for the story

Living like Lance

We are outraged when one of our sports heroes behaves in a way that is unbecoming to the title of “hero”.  We are also incensed when a member of the clergy or the police force commits a crime against children or a member of the public.  It appears that we place some people on a pedestal based on their title or vocation and then expect them to behave perfectly every time.

Have you ever stopped to consider that a title or a vocation are nothing more than words we attach to people?  When you take away the title or the vocation, you are left with what really matters, a human being.  We are all aware of the variety of behaviours that humans exhibit, both outstanding and questionable. Our sports people, our clergy and our police officers are just people and they bring their values, ethics and morals to their role, just like you do.  Most times, these people stay true to and uphold the values we expect of their title. Sadly, sometimes they just behave as their miserable, unethical selves with little regard for others.

I suspect that those people we admire who behave inappropriately would do so no matter what their title or vocation.  The corrupt sports person would most probably be a corrupt cleaner or manager – that’s who they are as human beings.  I also imagine that, if given a second chance, the story would play out exactly the same as people will usually act in ways that serve themselves. The person who has no integrity does not suddenly find some and change the way they behave.

The next time that someone you know behaves in a way that misrepresents their title as friend, manager, team mate, teacher, doctor etc, remember this:

1  This is who they are as a human being, their title is just a word

2  If you can, walk away because you don’t need them in your life

3  If you can’t walk away, see them for the fraud they are and know that karma is a wonderful thing!

This blog post is from my wonderful friend and mentor Rachel Collis. Rachel provides some insight into how to effectively manage the behaviour of the people you work with and has some great advice for leaders. If you enjoy this post, please subscribe to Rachel’s blog!

Working with ACT

There is an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon trains Penny to do what he wants. He uses chocolate.

We are all constantly ‘training’ the people around us but we don’t usually use chocolates and it is rarely deliberate. Because we aren’t even aware we are doing it, we are often inadvertently rewarding behaviours that we don’t want and punishing the behaviours that we do want.

For example, imagine your new enthusiastic staff member stops taking the initiative and starts waiting to be told what to do, what could have caused the change? It might be because you criticised her whenever she didn’t follow the correct procedure and didn’t encourage her when she was proactive. Gradually, over time you shaped her behaviour.

So it seems like a good idea to become much more aware of the impact of our behaviour on others and start to more consciously reward…

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