Are you mentoring or rescuing?

leadership mentoring Jul 28, 2020

A very well-meaning leader wanted some advice this week on how to advise an excellent young employee that the way she dressed and responded to situations was potentially holding her back. 

This leader cared a lot and wanted so much to be able to help this young woman to see her potential.  

He was struggling with the right words to say to her to address this very personal issue.

My suggestion was to try a completely different tack. What if you let her work out what she wants to do and how she is going to get there?  Ultimately she needs to work this out herself; this is her lesson to learn.  You can’t 'fix' this situation. 

We often end up 'rescuing' people because we can see their potential or we can see a way to correct a situation.  In those moments we are not mentoring people, we are not empowering them, we are 'saving' them from themselves.  Which means, and it’s hard to hear, that we are acting as though we are superior to...

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I have an addictive personality

anxiety stress Jul 28, 2020

For a long time, I managed my anxiety with a mix of too much alcohol (particularly red wine) and poor food choices.  

I drank so much red wine my skin went red and I would use green make-up to try and reduce the redness of my skin.  I was really embarrassed about the colour of my skin colour; but not so much that I would stop drinking.

I often ate bad food to counter the yucky feeling of being hungover.  So it would be of no surprise that by age 50 I weighed more than 100 kg (162 cm in height) and I could barely move because I rarely exercised. I also criticised anyone who didn’t drink alcohol and people wearing lycra! I was on fire. 

Good news: I nearly died - and eventually I got the memo!

So the benefit of having an addictive personality is that I retrained it.  I have now become obsessed with exercise and healthy food. Winning!

Then came the summer of 2020.  Huge bushfires that raged for weeks and then COVID-19.  My anxiety kicked in...

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It’s not her fault

management Jul 28, 2020

Well, she can’t take all of the blame. 

Graham and I run/walk to a cafe every weekend for a breakfast date.  We have our favourites, the cafes we go back to over and over again and sometimes we are daring and try a new cafe. 

One morning we tried out a new cafe. We went to this particular cafe because it had a good reputation and it opened at 8 am on a Sunday. Yay for the win!

So we were dutifully waiting outside at 8 am ready and willing to try their breakfast delights.  The lights were on and there was a woman working behind the bar.  The main door to the cafe was blocked with a table; so it looked to us that the cafe wasn’t open yet.  So we didn’t check the door but waited patiently for her to be ready to open up.  It got to about 8:06 am and Graham started to wave at the person inside and she gestured that he should pull on the door handle.  Turns out it was open. Doh!

We went in and said, “oh, we thought you...

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Don't make someone else break the rules

Uncategorized Jul 07, 2020

The other day I was driving along a road near my house and the car in front of me stopped with their indicator on to turn right into a side street.  

There was a car waiting at that intersection which wanted to turn right into the street I was on and the person in the car in front of me waived this person to turn right before they made their turn.  That is, the driver in front of me deliberately told the person in the other car to break to the rules and not give way. GAH!

They did this because they wanted to do a U-turn at the intersection and this other car was making that maneuver a bit difficult. 

BUT if one of them changed their mind, then there would have been an accident and the person who was asked to break the law would have been in the wrong. 

I think it is incredibly unfair to expect someone to break the rules for your personal benefit.  

I sometimes see this happen in workplaces; e.g. someone wants to change the roster against the wishes...

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Managing expectations

Uncategorized Jul 07, 2020

 

My grand-daughter, Sadie, is a two-and-a-half-year-old ballerina. 

She has been a ballerina for about 12 months.  She’s keen on the outfit, the ballet shoes, the routine and the fun of ballet lessons. 

But COVID put a sudden halt to Sadie’s career expectations of being a ballerina.  With a moment’s notice ballet became an online activity.  Sadie persisted, sort of. She would happily dress for the occasion but very quickly she would lose interest and choose to sit out the class preferring to watch the other children dance and float around.  It just wasn’t the same. It’s hard to be a virtual ballerina. 

Then excitedly ballet lessons in person were back on.  Sadie was up early. Dressed in all her ballet gear, and she was sure that her career was back on track. 

But then only two children showed up and she and the other ballerina weren’t allowed to use the props (because you know…...

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What don’t you know?

Uncategorized Jul 07, 2020

One of the best things about getting older is that you realise that you don’t know very much.  It’s such a relief.  

It’s so hard to know everything; to have an opinion on everything. 

My husband can recite poetry; which means that he is very clever.  He also has this incredible memory for interesting facts and history.  Me, not so much. My only party trick is that I am good at remembering people’s birthdays.  I can also entertain my children for hours with my interpretation of the lyrics of hits from the 70s and 80s. 

In the various workplaces that I have spent time in, I have found that many leaders often think that they need to know everything.  That to be a competent leader you have to a handle on every aspect of the organisation or the business. These leaders often spend a huge amount of time checking up on everyone and what they are doing (and they can get accused of micromanaging or interfering too much). As...

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You say Sarah and I say Sara

respect Jul 07, 2020

In a workshop that I recently ran, the team I was working with discovered that they had been mispronouncing one of the team-mate's name incorrectly since ... forever.  

The team weren't trying to be rude, but clearly this person had not felt safe or comfortable enough to speak up and tell everyone that they had been pronouncing her name incorrectly. She just put up with it, to keep the peace.  

Whenever I run a session on ‘What does respect look like in this team?’ we get a wish list of things people would like. It basically creates a list of ‘above the line’ behaviours.  

We don't have this conversation until we have created a safe space; you can't just launch into such a personal subject. But when we do, there is an instant relief that team members can raise issues that are really important to them that they haven't felt comfortable raising before.  

And everyone in that workshop now knows what respect looks like in...

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How do you hold your knife and fork?

Uncategorized Jun 12, 2020

My mother was a snob. This was despite the fact that we had no money. But she had, apparently, “come from money” and that was how she saw the world. 

My mum had a lot of rules around who was 'good' and who was not.  She liked 'old money' and was critical of 'new money' (whatever that was).  It was of great importance that you went to a 'good school'. The profession of your friends’ father was also critical.  So many rules. 

But the standout rule, the rule that proved that you were worthy of my mother’s attention was how you held your knife and fork.  If you got that part of the puzzle wrong - you were out, no further questions needed. 

To this very day, I will judge you if you hold your knife and fork 'incorrectly'. I can’t help myself. It is hardwired into me that there is only one way to hold your knife and fork and that is the correct way.  

But these days I just let that judgment come and go.  I...

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What is a virtual offsite?

leadership Apr 14, 2020

2020! What a year it has been! 

The worst drought in history, a tragic bushfire season that wrought havoc and pain across the nation and then we go into lockdown because of COVID-19! And it’s only April. 

For many people, their worlds have been turned upside down and there is this weird feeling of grief for what was, possibly incomes and opportunities lost, stress and fear about the virus (the invisible enemy) and what our world will look like in a few months time, and maybe even some relief and joy in the ability to slow down for a period of time. 

And still, the show must go on.  

If you are fortunate enough to have a team that is still able to work at this time, chances are you are either working from home or you might be in the front line dealing with high levels of stress on a daily basis. 

If your team has had to be stood down, you will still need to check in with your people on a regular basis to ensure that they are going okay and to...

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Leading with excitement

Uncategorized Mar 29, 2020

I saw a great Mel Robbins video the other day about how she doesn’t get nervous before she speaks on stage.

She said that the body’s response to nervousness is almost identical to its response to excitement; except that you can think when you are excited.

This was a real Aha Moment for me.  I do a lot of public speaking, but I often feel nervous or anxious just before I speak.

So, I tried it the other day when I gave a keynote address. I just kept telling myself that I was excited, and it worked. I felt way more confident on stage and I could think much clearer.

The reality was that I was excited. It is very exciting to be asked to speak in front of a group of people; to be invited to share my ideas and thoughts. But I can and have at times unintentionally sabotaged such experiences by getting so nervous that my brain stopped working and I would clamber for basic words or concepts.

As leaders, we can sometimes unintentionally sabotage ourselves by getting bogged...

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