Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership (8)

Thursday, 12 May 2016 18:09

5 Most Effective Ways to Mentor Your People

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You've heard how effective mentoring is.

In this post we will focus on economic methods to provide mentoring to your managers and staff.

Mentoring is defined as a long term relationship between a younger individual and a more experienced individual who can impart wisdom and knowledge to make the younger more effective. For over 50 years a persons mentor was considered to be their 'elder' boss. Today, there may be no such age differentiation and no such need for a direct reporting relationship. It only matters that the mentor has more experience in the topic of interest than the person or persons being mentored.

Gartner research suggests that 71% of all Fortune 500 companies have formal mentoring programmes and similar studies show a high rate of formal mentoring in the FTSE 100. The results of this are significant, but for smaller organisations - and that is most of us - how can this be done? It is still just as necessary as in the Fortune 500 / FTSE 100.

Choosing the most effective method for your company depends on the number of your staff and the intent of the mentoring. One of the key benefits of mentoring is the individual being mentored learns new ideas, tries them out and then critiques the results with their mentor. There is no more effective method of development, after all it is like an apprenticeship and those have been around since the time of King Solomon, perhaps earlier.

Here are the most popular models:
  • a one-to-one assignment of a staff member with a younger one within the company
  • designated mentors in an organisation available for any staff who wish to speak to them
  • a formal mentoring programme for a staff member with an external mentor - weekly or monthly
  • a pairing with an outside mentor with a specialist in the organisation - for example a supervisor or manager being prepared for a promotion
  • a less formal approach that can be effective is establishing a small group (rarely more than five people) with a diverse range of experiences and skills that act as mentors with each other through a team effort
Remember that as soon as you leave the one-to-one relationship you are entering the role of coaching rather than mentoring. Coaching is powerful too, but it tends to be for shorter periods and is much more focused on a specific topic. The key to mentoring is the relationship built between the mentor and mentee.

Most Effective Mentoring for Your Staff
How much mentoring can you afford to provide for your staff? Here are some mentoring models you may not have thought of that can be very economical, especially when compared to the value you gain from more capable and empowered staff:
  • an internal mentor assigned to an individual - basically the cost of that persons time to mentor
  • designated mentors within an organisation, used as needed - again the cost of that persons time to mentor, plus some administration time and effort
  • a mentoring company that can provide a programme for one or more of your staff; by buying a day per week for example, several staff will benefit from the continuity and the company will give better rates as the focus for the single day is your company
  • placing staff in external programmes; these range from an hourly rate through to a 90-day or 365-day programme fee and can vary considerably depending on the mentor and the level of the mentee in your organisation
No matter what method you choose, your staff will benefit from mentoring. Select the method that suits your operating model and budget most effectively. Talk to external mentoring companies to see if their mentors can design a more efficient programme for you.

As for the mentees, remember to talk as often or as infrequently as you need to achieve your goals and always be prepared for the session. Thank your mentor and don't be afraid to end the relationship when the time is right. A great mentor will take it is a compliment that you no longer need their help.

You can join our leadership mentoring programmes if you need to accomplish goals with others. Using the power of the internet, the cost is just a fraction of more traditional methods.

For a private consultation to determine the most cost effective way to develop your staff through mentoring, speak to us right away:

We also offer a free mentoring session for people in
or .
Thursday, 16 July 2015 08:14

When Teams Go Bad

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If you’re striving to achieve success in your work, it’s incredibly important to have a team around you that supports a unified vision, discipline and enthusiasm to achieve common objectives. All too often, employers report bad attitudes within a team, which they feel unable to overcome.

When teams go bad it significantly affects the running of an organisation, hindering progress and productivity at every level. This is why it has to be addressed and resolved as soon as possible.

Is it true that management is unable to overcome this situation? The team is, after all, a reflection of the leaders.

Impacts of a Dysfunctional Team
It’s no secret that teams who work well together will achieve greater results, whether it’s a joint effort to securing a large contract or having a unified approach to customer service. All these efforts of a team working in harmony will go a long way towards peak performance.

However, a team is made up of individuals, which all have unique personality traits, strengths and weaknesses, which if not handled correctly can cause a team to become dysfunctional and have a detrimental effect on team work.

It may be that you have one individual who has upset the balance in a team and is causing disruption or an entire team that is disengaged and unmotivated. The reasons for these upsets can be attributed to a number of reasons, poor leadership, a lack of team morale or a poorly run organisation. Either way the impacts can be have a drastic outcome on the working environment and the overall success of a department or company.

A dysfunctional team often leads to behavioural problems within a group; with members actively looking to create a negative atmosphere or standout to demonstrate a point. Working in such a close environment, means that these negative emotions will inevitably affect the rest of the team, whether they seek to be involved or not. With the emphasis on negative emotions rather than focusing on carrying out work tasks toward the vision, this can cause a breakdown in the team dynamic, with members working individually rather than taking a unified approach. This in turn will have a knock-on effect with team motivation, performance levels and the day to day functioning of the business.

Without resolution these negative emotions can create an unworkable environment, where a team is unmotivated, unengaged and unproductive, which will seriously affect a business’s output and profit margins, as well as the overall success of a company.

Leadership and Teams

When faced with a dysfunctional team that needs to get back to peak performance, the best leaders will do the following:
  • identify people who are disrupting the team and work with them to determine if they have a valid point or not
  • if there are valid concerns in the team, address them and refocus the whole team clearly on the vision and goals
  • if the concerns are not justified, remove the team member from the team but support them in another endeavour
  • work with each team member to re-engage their passion
  • make sure the vision and goal is described well enough that all team members can see the value of it
  • reinforce good behaviours and results among team members
  • spend more time with the team until they are back on track - leaders should be visible in difficulty, and less so when things are going well
  • do all these while demonstrating the positive, supportive and engaging environment you want
Shifting the focus of the behavioural tendencies to more positive emotions and common goals will go some way to dealing with the problem, but a complete reassessment of the team dynamic, business procedures, working environment and leadership values may see a long-term resolution to a dysfunctional team.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Wednesday, 15 July 2015 06:57

The Power of Mentoring

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Have you ever wondered how effective mentoring is?

In this post we will focus on the benefits to the person being mentored.

Mentoring is defined as a long term relationship between a younger individual and a more experienced individual. In traditional cases a persons mentor was considered to be their 'elder' boss. Today, there may be no such age differentiation and no such need for a direct reporting relationship. It only matters that the mentor has more experience in the topic of interest than the person or persons being mentored.

According to Gartner research, 71% of all Fortune 500 companies have formal mentoring programmes. The results of this are significant.
  • 25% of the younger employees who were enrolled in mentoring had a grade-change in salary while only 5% of those who were not involved had similar changes
  • those receiving mentoring were promoted five times more often than those not receiving mentoring
  • the retention rate of poeple involved in mentoring was 72% higher than those not involved
  • those involved experienced higher job satisfaction, engagement and more positive job attitudes
No matter whether your organisation has a formal mentoring programme or not, everyone benefits when it occurs. This is why so many successful individuals get mentoring outside their workplace regardless of whether there is a formal programme or not.

Finding a Mentor
Just as any of the top tennis players at Wimbledon had coaches and mentors, so too do outstanding leaders in other fields. It is best to find someone who has the experience you seek, is willing to have an occasional, but long-term relationship with you to make sure you really progress. The mentor does not need to be a friend, does not need to be in the same organisation and does not need to be older. They must have had the experience you need and must want to help you achieve peak performance.

Mentors and Leadership
  • a mentor demonstrates a key trait of leadership
  • a leader who does not mentor those closest to them will find it hard to progress
  • leaders seek ways to ensure that all are being mentored by appropriate people, and not just through formal programmes
  • leaders make sure the topics being discussed are almost always pertinent to the mission
  • leaders ask for feedback on mentoring they give, and about others who are mentoring
  • leaders set the example to ensure engagement of all
No matter what your situation, you can benefit from a mentor, at work or in outside activities. If you are finding it difficult to achieve something significant, make sure you find a mentor who is willing to give you up to a year (or more) of support. Talk as often or as infrequently as you need to achieve your goals. Thank your mentor and don't be afraid to end the relationship. If it was valuable, you will achieve your goals and then you will probably need mentoring on a different topic. A great mentor will take it is a compliment that you no longer need their help.

You can join our leadership mentoring programmes if you need to accomplish goals with others. Using the power of the internet, the cost is just a fraction of more traditional methods.

We also offer a free mentoring session for people in
or .
Friday, 03 July 2015 13:17

What Mr. Bean teaches us about Leadership

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You may never have thought of Mr. Bean and leadership at the same time before, but let's take another look to see if he can show us any insights.

What can a fictional man-child from another planet show us that emulates the qualities of a leader?

Predicaments and Prejudices
We see Mr. Bean in some outwardly impossible situations. In fact we see him get into those situations through what appears to be a sequence of impossible events. But he gets into them nonetheless. Why are they impossible? Just because we know better, or know of better ways of handling a given situation than his character does. But while many of us would not choose to follow Mr. Bean into these situations, he proceeds to get out of them using some very important and powerful leadership traits which we will investigate.

Mr. Bean, the character has been placed into an alien environment and much of the antics draw amusement from this displacement. But how many times are we put into situations where the solution to a need is not obvious? That is always the case with most major problems we face as a society today. How many times do we keep offering what we 'know' as a solution instead of finding solutions that actually work?

One could argue that our prejudices - political and otherwise - stop us from being truly inquisitive in finding solutions that work. Mr. Bean is not tethered by prejudice or 'knowledge'. He just learns more about himself and his surroundings and gets the problem solved. His inquisitiveness, observation and determination find solutions that work, even if not elegantly at first. These are fine traits we should emulate and start solving some of our seemingly intractible problems.

The Need to Lead
Mr.Bean has one benefit over those of us that lead, or those that plan to lead. He is alone and does not get into situations where he needs others to help substantially. For us to be effective we need to communicate, motivate, inspire, challenge and reward others. We need to enrol others into our ideas and visions and encourage them to help us along the way. Mr. Bean has no apparent need to lead, and if he did, some considerable work on interpersonal skills and communication would be essential.

When we come up with novel ideas for solutions, are we not regarded in much the same way as the other characters deal with Mr. Bean in the show? Are we not laughed at, derided, ridiculed and sometimes just avoided and left alone? This, however, is exactly the point where we need to press ahead, find others who can see what we see and discover what is achievable.

The Power of Humour
Humour itself, in coaching and mentoring for leadership or problem solving, is often an excellent way to give negative or dissenting feedback in a respectful but poignant way. If you have a young leader who needs guidance about a trait they have that is detracting from their performance you can express it with humour and soften the blow while still getting the message across - perhaps more effectivley than delivering just another piece of feedback. It's best not to overdo its' use otherwise it might appear cynical to the receiver.

What does Mr. Bean do that a leader would too?
  • he clearly knows what he wants, sets out to get it, even if he can't express it in ways others would understand at first
  • he finds novel and makeshift solutions to problems we might solve a little differently
  • he tinkers and investigates until he can achieve his goal in ways the rest of us would not usually see
  • he is sometimes embarrassed by the situation he gets himself into, but doggedly perseveres regardless of what others think, say or do
  • he is observant and tuned into to what surrounds him that might be used to solve his predicament
  • he learns quickly and develops his understanding continuously
We can therefore see some leadership traits worthy of our attention, but not enough to choose to follow. He would not be a great leader for us as we would find it hard to communicate with him, but on his own planet, maybe so?

Get out those DVDs, or stream a rerun of "Mr. Bean" and take a look from a different perspective. You will see what we mean - if, that is, you can hold back the laughter or cringes of embarrasment over his antics.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Thursday, 02 July 2015 16:20

Why Are There No Leadership Certificates?

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Our team is often asked why there are no leadership certificates. Of course the are asking about qualification certificates, not just certificates for attending a programme.

As our vision and role is to develop leadership in people all over the world regardless of status, location or position, is this a reasonable question from our potential candidates?

Nature of Leadership
Fundamentally, there are three outcomes in leaderhsip, although you can grade people on a scale. There is no leadership ability, regular leadership ability, and outstanding or extraordinary leadership ability. Each of these must be taken in context however. If a person is the coach of a local sports team and they are a great leader of that team, that does not necessarily translate into them being a great leader in any other endeavour. An essential component of leadership is technical expertise, but only when there is a need for it. It is possible to be a leader in more than one situation, but too many concurrent situations draws away from another key leadership trait - focus. So if a person were to receive a 'certificate' for leadership ability, what would that mean?

Developing Leadership
In parts of the world where leadership development is still little more than a dream, development is often seen as a training programme to be attended, because there is no other frame of reference. The base knowledge of what traits constitute leadership is not well known, even though people do follow someone with leadership abilities. Following a leader is understood intrinsically in the human.

We spend a lot of time explaining to people that a leadership certificate would not make much sense and would look a bit out of place on a curriculum vitae or resumé. Leadership is demonstrated and it is only proven when others choose to follow. No amount of certificates will help.

The Good Outcome
This always gives us much enjoyment - to see the reactions as many of our members suddenly realise they already have some leadership potential. This is such a satisfying experience as people wake up to the possibilities of change in their lives and for their communities. We are desperately short of leaders worldwide and by growing more, we can tackle global problems more frequently and more effectively than we do today.

We explore the passions of each indiviudal we talk to and seek to understand major issues in their local community. We research the issues so can put remote mentoring into context for them. These local problems vary immensely but can be as simple (and essential) as getting enough water to a village, to improving the effectiveness of early education or gaining access to medical knowledge and supplies. As we listen to the individuals, we match their passions with local problems and coach them into action. The whole experience is highly rewarding.

How do you coach an aspiring leader?
  • first, realise you don't have to be super human to try and lead (or coach)
  • identify what passions a person has - what do they enjoy, or spend most time at that they also love?
  • what opportunities exist where this person could turn their hand to change?
  • interest them in coming up with some ideas and help them set stretch goals
  • let them explain their ideas to others and see if a consensus builds
  • watch that individual open their eyes and start to realise their potential
  • provide ongoing support to them as they hit the inevitable roadblocks and detractors
Leadership is truly something that anybody with enough passion and drive can achieve. We have to recognise when and where we can, and cannot lead, where we should and should not try to lead, and always look for those around us who can be encouraged to do something greater with us.

This is why there are no certificates for leadership. Leadership is a set of traits well executed, but also requires passion and an opportunity or need to make a difference. We all have leadership capability within. We owe it to the world to develop these skills. We should encourage others to do the same. Great leaders create more great leaders.

If you have examples you would like to share, please comment below.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Wednesday, 01 July 2015 12:54

Abusive People in an Organisation

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What is the impact of conflict in an organisation when it rises to the level of emotional abuse? Highly significant of course. But do we realise how often it occurs and know what do to about it when it does?

Based on research at Columbia Univeristy Teachers College, there is a finding that shows 20,000,000 Americans are subjected to this type of abuse every day. That is 14% of the workforce. Similar research in Europe shows a lower percentage but clear evidence that it occurs and has just the same, frightening consequences. In medical terms, these percentages are an epidemic.

Bullying or Mobbing
Bullying is described by psychologists as hositle and unethical communication directed in a systematic way by one, or a few, individuals against another individual or individuals. To the extent that the organisation permits it - through inaction, uncaring, accepting (even temporarily) or even condoning - the behavior is described as "mobbing" as if the individual is being attacked by a mob. Mobbing or bullying are illegal as there is always injury as a result, and whichever you choose to name, both are unacceptable.

Common Impact
Most of the behaviours within "mobbing" are easy to recognise. They include withholding needed information, isolation, badmouthing, constant criticism, circulation of unfounded rumour, setting rumours supposedly from the person in question, ridicule, yelling, questionning character, persistent humiliation. Any reasonable person in an organisation can identify it, name it and deal with it. But how many do? There are usually two results from mobbing - either the person is forced out of their job (their choice or the organisations choice), or they stay and lose self-esteem, ending up with nervous problems and some extreme cases result in suicide. It is the high performers who usually end up leaving because they will rise above it or be fired, but those less able to rise above, or those living in a culture where mental stress is considered somewhat taboo, feel trapped and even less able to leave than they would if the behaviour was not targetting them.

What Leaders Do
Anyone leading an organisation where this type of behaviour is allowed, through ignorance, inaction or condoning needs to make a serious change to the culture. This can lead to some very prominent people being ushered out. A significant stand needs to be taken, especially when the abuse is common knowledge (as it will become so quickly, if not tackled).

What do leaders do that others won't?
  • set clear expectations on what is an acceptable communication style and what is not
  • listen and watch for employees who might be subjected to this type of behaviour
  • don't wait for employees to complain, but actively seek out such behaviour when it is suspected
  • identify perpetrators and give stern warning
  • follow up warning with sanctions if the behaviour does not cease (hit commissions, salary, force unpaid time off for them to consider their actions - something that will get their attention)
  • if sanctions do not work, let the perpetrator or perpetrators go
  • provide empathetic and real support as needed for those who have been targets
Leadership requires us to make tough choices from time to time. The cost of not making these choices for bullying or mobbing is significant legal and criminal liability exposure, determined resistance to change, active resistance to following procedures, significant hits on customer service and very poor productivity. A good book on the topic from research in America is "Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace" by Noa Zanolli, PhD et. al..

If you have examples you would like to share, please comment below.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 08:45

What a Manager Means by "Not Trusting You"

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When a manager tells an employee they need to build trust between them it can be hugely demoralising for that employee unless fully explained. Manager-employee trust is a foundational aspect of a good relationship, and of course trust is a two-way street.

Yesterday I referred to the survey from Gallup that shows only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, 63% are not engaged or lack motivation and 24% describe themselves as “actively disengaged”. So is trust, or the scarcity of it, part of this problem?

Why Would a Manager Not Trust an Employee?
A lot of time is spent hiring an employee, looking at their background and accomplishments. If a manager did not trust a candidate we would expect that person would not be hired. So unless an employee has done something to break that trust, or has not been truthful in hiring, there should be no reason not to trust that employee.

In cases where job requirements and expectations are well laid out and understood by both, then the manager may have a concern if the employee is not delivering up to that expectation. This is a matter of performance, yet managers may say they don't 'trust' the employee to meet expectations. If that is the case, the employee should be on a performance management plan to bring them up to the required level, or let go.

But what about when an employee asks for more responsibility and is told they have to spend time developing trust? This is an all too common occurrence. Either the employee is not considered capable of the new tasks yet - and so should be told clearly - or they are. Trust has nothing to do with it and this usually means the manager is using it as an excuse for not giving the real reason - or worse there is no real reason.

The Common Causes
The most common causes of lack of trust between a manager and employee are all avoidable, though not always easily avoidable.

The first is to do with whether actions of the manager meet what was said. Too often employees are seeing managers behave in a way that they would not be allowed to, or that pronouncements about culture, mission or vision are not met by appropriate actions on a day-to-day basis. "Do what I say, not what I do" erodes trust faster than a surge tide on a sandy beach.

The second is what is now called 'spin' on communications. Always showing the 'bright' side of a situation, no matter how bad it is wears thin quickly. No employee wants to hear about layoffs for example, but when told honestly why and when, people can deal with it. The biggest problem is not with the people that had to leave, but the ones who stayed after hearing the same messages.

What Leaders Do
There are measures that we can all take to ensure trust is at the highest level possible and they are all attributes of strong leadership.
  • set clear directions and test that all employees have understood the goals
  • set clear expectations on how to work towards achieving the goals, and state what behaviour is not acceptable
  • model the behaviour you want employees to demonstrate
  • give realistic, sound reasoning for your own decisions
  • give realistic, and honest views on decisions you must implement but have little control over
  • if it's not possible to give more responsibility, say so and why
  • keep in contact with each employee to the extent each needs to ensure they feel a valued and trusted member of the team
Leadership requires us to make tough choices from time to time, but compromising the truth with spin or excuses loses the essential and valuable trust that takes years to rebuild.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Monday, 29 June 2015 09:01

Why Staff Disengage At Work

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If you have been wondering how important (and absent) leadership is at work, then this will shed light on some of the key issues.

A survey from Gallup has shown that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. It also revealed that of the remaining employees worldwide, the majority, 63% are not engaged or lack motivation, while 24% describe themselves as “actively disengaged”.

Why do Employees become Disengaged?
There are of course many reasons behind the high levels of employee disengagement; sometimes it comes from the way the organisation is managed, and sometimes from the employees themselves. The main reasons listed for disengagement among employees include problems with their employers or other workers, stress factors outside of work and depression or anxiety, created either at work or outside.

In terms of management and the top three causes, employees report most often that they disengage because they don’t consider that their efforts are rewarded adequately or they might begin to think that their job is a waste of their talents, and their efforts could be better rewarded somewhere else; secondly they just feel overwhelmed by the workload and thirdly, the role within the company does not offer them enough of challenge.

Some of the potential remedies employees seek are that employers take the effort to listen to them, leaving them more motivated to perform, and for managers to trust them more.

The Cost of Disengagement
Disengaged employees are costly to organisations for many reasons. First of all, high levels of disengagement will affect productivity, and the survey conducted by Gallup shows disengaged employees are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression.

Moreover, disengagement among employees is thought to cost the workplace billions every year. Low morale among workers means they are likely to take more time off work, and they may be less effective at dealing with customers or clients, which can also prove costly.

Motivating Employees
There are measures that we can all take to motivate employees and re-engage them, though this requires leadership.
  • create an environment where employees feel they are getting adequate support at work and that if not, they can come to you about it
  • if employees are overwhelmed by the sheer workload, they should be able to talk to you about it, after all it may just be a case of refocusing the individual on what's important and what isn't
  • create an environment where staff feel they are listened to; being able to share their ideas, even if you have to explain that an idea may not be possible, is still motivating because you have shown that sharing their idea had value in itself
  • recognise extra effort so the employees feel their hard work has been worthwhile; many companies have incentive programmes for this, but often it is just being recognised that is really needed
  • eliminate incentives where team members have to compete against each other to give their best performance, as this is an extremely effective way of demotivating employees
  • identify possible ways to alleviate the effects of their concerns outside of work and where possible, make temporary adjustments
Leadership requires us to maintain the engagement of our employees, through setting a clear vision, maintaining focus on what's important and listening to them when they have ideas to improve. It is also having empathy with them when they have issues outside of work.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click