Thursday, 28 January 2010

Too Many Snouts in the Trough

Is there such a thing as a trustworthy organisation? I ask this question as an organisation is a collection of people, traditions, processes, written and unwritten rules, systems, customers, suppliers and varying voices. When we analyse and segment all these elements, we would say they are all designed for a purpose and the general intent is usually good and honest.

How then, do we find it so hard to trust business, governments and public bodies? Is the greed and avarice of a few capable of blinding and corrupting the many? Surely the Voices of the Employees, the Voices of the Customer and the Voices of the general Leadership are capable of rising up and regulating the minority malcontent and corrupters to comply through peers or self regulation. Why is it that we singularly fail to hold accountable those who breach the trust of the many? Could it be that we secretly aspire to the same breaches and are probably to frightened or coward that it is easy to allow decadence to flourish?

My request to us all, as we once again have made good promises for 2010, is that we include a little aspiration, that we root out the weeds and demonstrate that we will no longer tolerate those who know only too well how to feed off the efforts of others.

Friday, 22 January 2010

I was deeply saddened by the BBC programme Desert Island Disks and the star performer Morrissey . There was nothing positive in anything he had to say and his main focus was on the role death and suicide played in life. I often wonder why people see so little positive in life and fail to embrace the wonderful opportunities that are presented to us. His views that self destruction was honourable was delivered in such a sad way that you had to wonder how individuals in the public eye can be such poor role models. "If you reach 50 and are not at one with yourself then you're in serious trouble," he told the UK BBC Radio 4 programme. He also revealed that he'd had thoughts about suicide and death and his delivery was so morbid I was depressed by it all. I was recently talking to a young employee who had left a previous business to join one of our businesses. She did share with me the 10 years of pain she suffered from a serie of business managers who believed management was telling and correcting.

In his trademark melancholy style, Morrissey told interviewer Kirsty Young that "nothing comforts me". But he appeared to take comfort in being unconventional. "I was considered to be unbalanced, which helped me greatly, because it confirmed everything I knew. I didn't want to grow up to be anything I knew". Morrissey spent much of the interview discussing his aversion to settling down to a conventional life with a partner."I don't want to be any kind of a happy couple with a photograph on the television set. I find it embarrassing. You have to get involved with other people's relatives and great aunt Bessies and all of that and I'd rather not. I'm 50 years old now and a pattern emerges and I accept that and I don't mind at all. I would have to take the bed because going to bed is the highlight of everybody's day … we love to go to sleep. It's the brother of death."

Wow, I am glad I do not live his life! Here is a story that shows me there are still people with many faults who, despite adversity, try and do the right thing.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Are Top Sports People the same as Top CEOs?

In reading the Tiger Woods driving story, you cannot help but wonder how the ruthless drive and ambition that are part of the success of athletes and sports people, can reside so comfortably with a sedate and calm personal life. In order to be great, you must believe you are great. In solitary sports, it is not about teamwork, it is more about self-centred beliefs and ambitions. Do top CEOs need the same application of ego, ambition and drive? Do they need to exclude all others in their self-centred purpose to get to the top?

I was recently coaching a top CEO and, no matter how you analysed him, yes it was a him, he had only one purpose: work. In many of the interactions I have with top people, nobody ever really complains about work/ life balance. Is it that surprising then to see the marriages of top sport performers facing challenges and problems? There can be little room for a partner who wants an equal and fair distribution of attention, and wants their personality, their needs to be equally considered. Now don’t get me wrong, I am no holy Moses telling other people how to live their lives! I just hate those commentators who seem to delight in the misfortune of others. Some of the absolute drivel they pontificate, at times, makes my hair stand on end.

But Tiger, five on the go at one time? I think against my non- judgemental moral compass that this is taking it to the extreme. Tiger obviously considers himself powerful and, like many, believes some rules of reasonable behaviour are not applicable to him. Being powerful and famous means that others are willing to do almost anything for them. They become "intoxicated" by their power. They believe that the rules that govern other people simply don't apply to them - what philosopher Terry Price calls "exceptioning." This is why celebrities and powerful politicians believe that they should "get a pass" when breaking the law or engaging in some other sort of social violation. And this gets reinforced because the devoted followers of the rich, famous, and powerful are all too willing to do whatever it takes to please the powerful person.

Maybe some of our politicians and bankers who like to mix with the sport stars believe they too can behave in a way that is inappropriate and, in many cases, we have just stopped asking is it right or wrong, and just started believing, if it’s not illegal then, what the hell!!!!!!

Friday, 8 January 2010

A Skiing Experience

Skiing in the French Alps is an exhilarating experience with that sense of freedom, rush of wind, element of risk, stretching yourself with different terrain, building your confidence as your learning increases, the application of the right proportion of speed, control, manoeuvrability, adaptability to the underlying surface and that sense of satisfaction as you complete the challenge. For many of us who fall over frequently, pick ourselves up, and apply greater determination!

In skiing, as in life, it's the learning and application of that learning that makes you a better person. If leadership is your game, there is no silver bullet, other than that constant learning and practice.

Monday, 4 January 2010

There is humour in the air.

It is New Year 2010 and the Alps are full of snow, with a mixture of competent and incompetent skiers and boarders hitting the slopes. The sense of freedom, being in the mountains brings, and the fact that emails and blackberry connections have slowed to trickle, make this a special time of the year and a great time for reflection and re -correlation back to your key principals and beliefs.

We have seen in business and in politics in 2009 a complete lack of leadership, with some very serious people talking serious rubbish, a tightening of rules and regulations and a lack of fun in the air. Many leaders fail to understand when people are laughing, they are really listening.

As the Irish in me puts it:
When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay!

No matter what you are doing, great communicators know that a little humour goes a long way toward creating unforgettable messages. Now let’s not get carried away, and feel that by putting one of those silly PowerPoint pictures on a slide, will ever make you look cool.
Humour comes from the inside out. You must feel it, breathe it, and a little laughter at yourself goes a long way.

Here are my New Year wishes for business people and leaders:

o Humour and Comedy drive creativity and innovation: research shows that the addition of a little humour before, during and in closing meetings boosts the commitment of people to the meeting and of course builds more creativity within the meeting. Come on, laugh a little!

o Increase the bottom line results: let’s be honest. We much prefer to be around humorous individuals, and by this I don’t mean silly individuals, I am talking about people who do a serious job with a light touch. These individuals in all research experience higher employee productivity, engagement and retention.Where people are enjoying themselves money is being made!

o Putting a smiling face to the world: today, right now, smile and I bet you will feel better. So come on lift the game by smiling more. Change that daft voice mail and make yourself more humorous even when you are not there. Give us a laugh!

o Let think before we communicate: those blasted email messages, that allow us to say things, make accusations, sound pompous in a way that we would never normally behave. Change your style now. Stop reaching for the blackberry in order to give someone a piece of your mind! Lame, pathetic, and cowardly....Talk to me!

My dream for 2010 is that I can convince 3 people who will convince three people each , who will convince 3 people each etc. to laugh more. We may actually find that the world does not have to be so serious and that there are good Leaders who can make it a better place. I can only offer to do my bit. May 2010 be a bellyful of laughs for you!

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