The power of admitting a weakness and that you’re wrong


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The journey towards gaining respect begins the moment we recognize our mistakes and have the integrity and fortitude to admit we were wrong.

From many years of interviewing candidates, I have learned that the key answer to the questions about “qualities” are not the ones that ask candidates to name what strengths they have to do the position well, but rather are the ones that ask them about their weaknesses. How well a candidate answers the weakness question tells you a lot about who they are and what integrity and fortitude they have as it takes strength of character to admit weakness and intelligence to identify it. It is thus the case that one of the biggest strengths people can have is the capacity to understand and recognize our own weaknesses. This self reflection and honesty about difficulties and struggles we have naturally leads onto the ability to work on and improve in or make up for weaknesses, a vital skill in the work place. Ownership of weaknesses and mistakes is one of the key parts of the inside out mentality.

Recognizing ones own weaknesses is one of the biggest strengths you can have.

Continue reading “The power of admitting a weakness and that you’re wrong”

Sharpen your saw: power of renewal and striving to be better.

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Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. – Abraham Lincoln.

Two lumber jacks agree to a race to see who can cut down a tree first. Both woodcutters start furiously sawing their equally thick trees but after 5 minutes, the second woodcutter stops and disappears. The first continues his fast pace without ever stopping and goes into an early lead. The second continues taking breaks and disappearing and over time the first lumber jacks pace slows, whilst the second renews the same fast pace each time he restarts sawing.  Eventually the second woodcutter successfully cuts down his tree winning easily. The first lumberjack is amazed and asks the second: “How can you win when you spent less time sawing your tree?”, “that’s obvious” replies the second: “I spent more time sharpening my saw!”. The moral of the story that the second woodcutter benefited both from taking a break and fine tuning his skills (in form of the saw), whilst apparently obvious, is one of the most common failings of busy people. Busy people often lose track of what they are doing and bounce about from one “emergency”  to another, working in  quadrant I constantly. They spend so much time being “busy” that they fail to value self-renewal and most significantly don’t make time to think about how to do things better. Continue reading “Sharpen your saw: power of renewal and striving to be better.”

The art of selling an idea

Art of selling an idea

Great leaders present their ideas as well as they lead people.

Great modern leaders are followed rather than obeyed. The time of command and control military style leadership in the work place is well behind us. There are many reasons why staff follow a certain leader but one of the most important is the ability to convince a team that you know best. Managers who cannot sell ideas find it hard to get their team to push in the same direction as they fail to create vital value alignment and staff buy in. Convincing people that you know best is needed both with macro factors: the mission of the company and your role as leader, as well as with micro daily attitudes of staff about their daily work. Each and every day managers are selling their opinion to staff in order to enable their team to be more productive. Continue reading “The art of selling an idea”

End each day with reflection

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How you end the day determines how well you start the next.

“Tomorrow is another day” Scarlett O’Hara famously said in Gone with the Wind, committing to make tomorrow different in order to save her family farm. The same attitude of each day being better, or more productive, should apply to our work. However too many managers fall into either surviving days or just getting by. In the first “firefighter” scenario, the manager pinballs between “emergencies” and in the latter the apathetic leader fails to implement the discipline habits needed to improve. In both scenarios time is not made for reflection and analysis and each day starts as it had an ended, pin-balling or with apathy, but what great leaders should be doing is ending the day with quadrant II reflection. Continue reading “End each day with reflection”

Establish success habits

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You don’t decide your future your habits do.

It might sound obvious to say one should have good work habits, yet most of us don’t do enough to establish these for our-self, let alone push our team to develop good ones. We often do even less to break bad ones. Habits are the micro disciplined actions that determine how our work days pan out. They are the actions we repeat because they serve a purpose to us to do so. Habits at work come in 3 forms: the good ones, the bad ones and those that don’t matter and many are work and responsibility specific, rather than just being universal. Continue reading “Establish success habits”

Seek to be respected over being liked

Respected over liked

Great leaders are like great parents: they nurture and care for their team but likewise they don’t cater to all their whims.

There are many ways to commit leadership suicide but perhaps one of the most repeated by young or inexperienced managers is confusing their own personal want to be liked with leadership’s need to be respected. No manager will succeed in leading people if they are disliked and feared, the days of military style leadership in the work place, that of command and control, are well behind us. However likewise seeking popularity as an objective of leadership is just as prone to failure as it is short cut to weakness. In the short term term you will be popular but in the long term when hard decisions are required you will fail. If the currency of leadership were popularity, you would either avoid difficult decisions and difficult conversations or have the way you deal with them clouded by your own personal need to be popular or liked. As a leader you have to get your team to want to follow you but this will come from being a respected, fair and effective leader, it will not come from seeking to be liked. Continue reading “Seek to be respected over being liked”

Understanding different communication channels

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Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.— Plato

There is no more important leadership skill than being an effective communicator. However being an effective communicator is one of the most challenging things for any manager. Human beings have developed so many ways of getting their msg across. What communicationsbegan first with hands signals and pictures, developed into thousands of spoken and written languages. Communication changed even further with the development of; mail service, the telephone, the internet, social media and text messaging to name but a few. Work communication went from being mainly face to face communication in the same location to modern international companies where workers communicate with each other and colleagues via handfuls of means from various points in the world. More communication channels however does not in itself equal better communication, it rather just means we have more opportunities to get our msg across in more instant and frequent ways but we still need to learn to use them well. Continue reading “Understanding different communication channels”

Letting out creative genius

Creative genius

Developing the skill of creativity, like with any other skill, takes time…. Honor its flow and its magic. Allow it to become your Life Force. Train Creativity daily. – Nataša Nuit Pantović, Conscious Creativity; Mindfulness Meditations

In Roman religion, the genius was a spirit of divine nature that was present in every individual person, place, or thing. It was said that sometimes people’s own genius would come to visit them  – like a guardian angel – and from this interconnection between spirit and man would come great wisdom and inspiration. Later in renaissance times, the Roman genius mixed with Christian theology and it was often implied that the creative genius of artists was in some way divine, as if gifted from god himself. Whatever your opinion on the origin or existence of “genius”, what in management is important to recognize is that creative thoughts and ideas come often in “spark like moments” and hence need given the best opportunity to be let out. Continue reading “Letting out creative genius”

Active Listening: seek to understand first

Be an active listener_ seek to understand first.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. – Stephen R.Covey

“Knowledge is power” as the famous statement goes, however to gain useful knowledge we must listen properly. Listening well is not as simple as just being silent and waiting your turn to speak, it’s so much more than just hearing. Listening is an active process by which we make sense of, assess, and respond to what we hear. Being a good listener is a vital skill of a manager and it is it is not something that should be taken for granted as it is an ability that is learned and maintained with hard work.

Being a good listener is an important skill of a great manager.

Continue reading “Active Listening: seek to understand first”

Win/Win and believing in a third way

Winwin and the third way (1)

Think “Win-Win” isn’t about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration. – Stephen Covey

All great managers aim to get the best out of negotiations for all parties, to get what Covey famously called a win/win. A win/win is when both sides walk away from situation having gained, when both sides are happy enough with the outcome. The importance of striving to get a win/win is applicable to almost any scenario at work, be it: negotiations with a supplier, feedback with a staff member or disciplining a student as a teacher. For each scenario to work well, both parties needs a win. However the key thing to understand about win/win is the “win” isn’t about both sides getting what they wanted, it is rather about them getting what they needed. Continue reading “Win/Win and believing in a third way”