23 September, 2010

Choose to create and not complain
I love working with strong, visionary, creative leaders. These leaders are inspiring to work with and have an amazing ability to help others work in the zone and achieve. I work with men and women who display these characteristics. I also work with men and women who do not display these characteristics. Why do we have such variation in our leaders? Surely the thousands of books on leadership and management and the thousand more leadership courses available have improved our leaders? I have recently attracted a lot of information on women in business. I have never felt being a woman a hindrance in the corporate world, if anything it is an advantage. I am extremely fortunate to work at the highest levels in corporations and lowest levels. A couple of my favourite CEOs refer to me as ‘fair but firm’ and ‘the feather coated sledge hammer’. I would love to hear the saying – ‘Women are their greatest advocates’ and never want to hear again ‘Women are their worst enemies’. As a woman or man in business I truly believe that our mindset, self confidence, capabilities and drive can take us wherever we want to go. It is ultimately our choice, something I learnt very young in my life. I am constantly reassessing and evolving my leadership role in business, family, community and society. For me remembering where I have come from and my evolutionary stages is useful in reminding me of the power of choice.

Quiet, Shy, Afraid Stage
Yes for those of you who know me this is hard to believe. For the first 12 years of my life I was quiet, conforming, studious and tried to do the ‘right thing’ all the time. The bullying I experienced at Primary school between the ages of 10 and 11 pushed me deeper into my shell. I was not even a follower, let alone a leader. I was paralyzed like a deer in headlights, too afraid to move. I would say my leadership skills were close to zero.

Awakening and Wonder Stage
I am not sure why, but when I transitioned to high school I wanted a fresh start. I was no longer a push over, I found my voice and my new teenage body was not going to take any ‘%^&#@’ from any anyone. I chose to assert myself. My awakening happened when I was 16 and a fabulous teacher took the time out to Mentor me. At 16, I thought my life was predetermined, be a good Australian/Italian girl, get married and have children. My wonderful teacher – Mr Quinn gave me the greatest gift of self awareness and choice. I could choose my life, I could have a vocation. I didn’t have to be stuck in the country. Being a woman was not a hindrance, it was a blessing in disguise. He gave me books such as I’m OK Your OK to give me tools to help process my thinking and interpret the world. I was hopeful and ready to spread my wings. I was the first Australian/Italian girl to leave my country town and go to University. I chose the big City.

Ambition and Drive Stage
I was hungry for life and wanted everything to happen as quickly as can be ( sort of sounds familiar to Y gens?). I completed my undergraduate degrees in record time, accelerated through a Graduate program and was promoted every 12 to 18 months in my first 9 years of my career. I was flying. I was married by 23, had my first home at 21. Travelled around Europe by 25. I went out and made my opportunities; I was planned, driven and rewarded. I was a very busy bee and about to embark on another week of work travel, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth when my husband had an acute asthma attack and rushed to ICU. Then my world stopped. That life changing week made me realize that I was spending very little time with my best friend – my husband. I then spent the next 18 months redesigning my life so I could spend more quality time with the people I love. I also realized what was the hurry? What am I rushing for? What am I rushing to – death? I also had a crisis of confidence, my employers and clients believed a lot in me – but was I any good at practicing what I preached, could I create my own viable business? I chose to leave the security of a full time job and take on a contract role and start our first business.

Credibility and Flexibility Stage
We formed our first business 11 years ago. Our businesses have changed and evolved, our business gives me the space to be credible and have flexibility. I choose to work with clients that are innovative, smart and have aligned values. I choose to coach and mentor others to fully utilise their potential. I choose the clients that I can best help to support and grow. I get a lot of joy in seeing clients grow personally and professionally. I love my vocation and I am continuously learning.
I also choose to be a good mum and good partner. Spending quality time with my family is joyous. I have been blessed with one daughter who teaches me a lot every day. I continue to work with my best friend who is my husband – when it is good it is amazing and when it is bad it is horrid…
I have chosen to work flexible hours to be there for my clients and my family and of course myself.

What choices are you making and what stage are you evolving from and to?

We are a product of our choices – some are quite conscious and others unconscious. We can spend our lives complaining about what is not working or we can devote that energy into making our lives better. Great leaders do this, they don’t complain they create.
Our businesses, our families, our communities and our planet need more great female and male leaders
Choose to create and not complain.

16 August, 2010

Spring Growth App

Instinct or ‘gut feel’ as more commonly termed is an interesting phenomena which is underrated at work and home at times. When we have so much going on in life and work, we become distracted with the action and task at hand and lose our connection with our inner wisdom.
Malcolm Gladwell reinforced the importance of first impressions in his book Blink a refreshing reminder that no matter how easy it is to access global knowledge, lets not forget our own inner knowledge and wisdom.
It is a little ironic that we can Google anything that we are not sure about, a good eatery, best coffee place, stages of grief, comparisons between iPhone 4 and HTC Desire (just to give you a couple of my latest Google searches) and yet stopping and listening to our natural instincts can be a novel activity.
I recently experienced a rude awakening from my own body, I obviously wasn’t listening or aware of my state of being and found myself in hospital, having surgery and off my feet for a month. I pride myself on reading others so well, yet I forgot about myself. My gut feel turned from a hunch to a major ache! My intuition radar for myself was way off, I am now recalibrating it to be more aware.
My own winter remedy that I hope will be helpful to others:
• Stop and breathe and become centred
• Stop doing everything
• Take help – good help, surround yourself with people who have better skills than you and welcome them into your lives
• Create space to pause and go outdoors
• Hug someone you love
• Surround yourself with people that give you energy and joy
• Book a holiday
• Stop taking yourself so seriously, life is to be lived and not endured
• Stop the instant messaging and go for a walk in the park and reconnect with yourself
As I am getting back into my zone I know I have more clarity, clearer intentions and have less distracting noise at work and home.
I am slowly reconnecting with my inner core, holding on to this as Spring emerges will be not a challenge, but a great springboard into my favourite season abundant with new growth.
Celebrate and embrace our own inner wisdom and allow ourselves to keep this app (application) permanently switched on…maybe we should develop a widget for it?

27 April, 2010

Understanding Your S Curve

I recently read Jim Collins book – ‘How The Mighty Fall’ which was a suspiciously thin book compared to his previous classics. It was an interesting reminder of what goes wrong when companies capitulate into decline. I have worked in two organisations that experienced significant decline. I remember seeing the significant changes in technology, government support and new emerging client needs. I also remember the blindness of those companies in addressing these changes and leading indicators.

Collins highlights 5 stages of Decline:
1. Huburis Born of Success – here you are at your peak, arrogance emerges
2. Undisciplined Pursuit of More – greed
3. Denial of Risk Peril – blinkers are on and excuses emerge
4. Grasping of Salvation – clear that the business model has fundamental flaws
5. Capitulation to Irrelevance – death of the business

Collins makes an interesting observation that you do not know when you will decline, everything on the outside looks good but there is a disease forming on the inside.

Things to avoid:
-People with too much vested interest in the old ways of doing things
-Poor succession planning, leaders forget to build the capabilities of the future
- Arrogance
- Not believing in luck
-Stop learning
-Stop focusing on core strengths and capabilities
- Working in isolation to market trends
- Believing your own ‘BS’

I do believe organisations can extend their S curve lifecycles if they keep humble, open to their market, competitors and substitutes, deal with uncertainty in a constructive manner, keep learning and benchmarking their performance and develop future scenarios and contingencies. Organisations need to be prepared to stop investing in dying businesses and reinvest in future business opportunities. Keeping an active business and client portfolio is a key success factor for extending growth – companies such as Wesfarmers, Siemens, GE practice this very well.

In our own strategic planning process we religiously review external forces that impact our success and the success of our clients, suppliers and partners. The Leading Indicators that we monitor include changes to government legislation, new technologies particularly around web/social networking and connectivity, tax reforms, unemployment, % of companies experiencing bankruptcies, ageing population and implementation of carbon taxes.

In our own scenario planning we see the ageing population, energy transition/environmental impacts and healthcare needs as key areas that will impact growth and create new opportunities for us and our clients. We also anticipate X factors – things that just happen like Volcanoes, 9/11 and other natural or manmade traumas. We just don’t know what the X factors will be and in preparing for these we know we should have a cash flow base to ride us through these events.

It is OK not to know about the future, but it is not OK not to be open to it and prepared.

The reality is there is a lot of luck associated with reinventing and extending your business life. Being open and aware helps you attract and realise these opportunities.

Untold Stories

I have worked with the Lominger Leadership competencies for nearly 12 months now and there is a lot for me to learn. The comprehensive Leadership Architecture outlines the 67 ideal competencies for talent and career development. I am now accredited in the Voices360 assessment which is one of the most comprehensive 360 tools on the market.

The breadth of the research highlights a lot of untold stories such as the Big 8 competencies most Leaders struggle in and the skills required to be politically savvy, another understated competency that is essential for career development.

Insight 1: Big 8
Through Lominger’s extensive research conducted globally over the last 15 years they have discovered the Big 8 competencies that are the most challenging, less practiced and super essential. The Big 8 are - Dealing with Ambiguity, Creativity, Innovation Management, Motivating Others, Planning, Strategic Agility, Building Effective Teams and Managing Vision and Purpose. The insight I gained from this is that these big 8 are the areas that keep me most employed. I would probably add a ninth, which would be Political Savvy. Most of my clients engage me for one or more of these nine competencies and the realization that there is a world wide need in this area, highlights the great challenges and opportunities available to make a positive difference to leadership and talent management.

Insight 2: Political Savvy
Lominger’s 48th competency is Political Savvy, which is the capability to maneuver through complex political situations effectively and quietly to achieve goals. It is refreshing to see Political Savvy written down and assessed as a real competency, because in practice it is not often spoken about openly. Lominger provides tips on how to develop this skill in a very constructive and ethical manner. By combining Political Savvy (No. 48), Comfort Around Higher Management (No. 8) and Interpersonal Savvy (No. 31), suddenly you have a palette of behaviours that supports managing up and other key stakeholders. This combination of skills strongly supports effective stakeholder management and enables Leaders to know who to influence in the best way possible. I’d like to express a different take on the old phrase ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ to ‘It’s important to know what you know, who to know and how to access both expediently’.

Insight 3: Connecting Business and People
Helping others to find their light, purpose and reach their potential and their business’s potential is most motivating for me. The Lominger Competencies provides me with another colour to add to my palette of paints to share at the appropriate times with the right clients. I look forward to creating rainbows and creating greater insights to achieve sustainable personal and business results.

11 January, 2010



Having the space to read and reflect is an indulging experience for me. These holidays I was very indulgent and I immersed myself in 5 books which were sitting on my book shelf pleading with me to be opened.

My 5 books were:
Power of 2 How to Use the Most of Your Partnerships at work and life – Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller
Our Iceberg Is Melting – John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber
Coaching to the Human Soul Vol II Ontological Coaching and Deep Change – Alan Sieler
Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
The Art of the Idea – John Hunt

I also watched Ekhard Tolle’s Purpose of Your Life DVD, a deeply inspiring piece about living fully in the present.

Insight 1 Trust Your Instincts
The universe has a funny way of presenting itself; it seemed to me that all that was being presented to me was about being PRESENT. Malcolm Gladwell reinforced the importance of trusting your instinct and allowing and working from a deep inner zone where insights emerge. Gladwell, Hunt and Kotter reinforced the danger of over thinking and intellectualizing and advocated allowing insights to emerge from within. A part of me relates to this and of course my logical side wants to argue aggressively the importance of facts and data…
‘Trust your instincts, or they will Go AWAY, Logic is KRYPTONITE’ – John Hunt

Insight 2 Admired and Trusted Simpletons Catalyst for Change
John Kotter and Eckhard Tolle both reinforced the great value of ‘simpletons’ e.g. Lord of the Rings Hobbits, the little people that were not the brightest or the bravest, but had good intentions. They advocated that simple people should be entrusted with great tasks as they are easily trusted and admired by all. Simple people do not use management jargon, they speak from the heart and communicate in a way that all can relate. This was a really important reminder for me when helping organisations go through change, the change team needs a simple well admired team member who can relate to people and is admired by all and communicate stories in a simple way. Too many times we work with the high profile drivers of change only, we need to ensure the right mix of people are collaborating to implement change.
‘Embrace DIVERSITY it’ll HUG you back’ – John Hunt

Insight 3 Moods Even More Important Than Emotions
Sieler, Kotter, Hunt and Gladwell all highlighted the importance of emotions and moods and how these impact our thinking and actions. Sieler in particular reinforced the awareness of moods that can underpin our emotions and being for extended periods of time. These moods can support our effectiveness or significantly impede our effectiveness:

Resentment – opposition to the world, ‘I am treated unfairly – I want revenge’
Acceptance – accepting of the world, ‘That is how it is – I am open’
Grieving – opposition to loss,’ I do not accept my loss – Lack of engagement with the present’
Sadness – accepting of loss, ‘I accept my loss – More engaged with the present’
Resignation – opposition to possibilities, ‘Nothing will make a difference – Do nothing’
Ambition – accepting to the possibilities, ‘Things can be different – Take action to bring about a different future’
Anxiety – opposition to uncertainty, ‘The world is threatening – Avoid and withdraw’
Wonder/Curiosity – acceptance of uncertainty – ‘I’m not sure about future and interested in finding out – Exploring’

Moods impact our physicality, thinking and actions. Most people do not know their underpinning moods. When dealing with change we rarely address the underpinning emotions and moods of people, Sieler’s work is a powerful model to help effect deep change and self awareness. Moods come from a very deep place within us, probably created years ago in our childhood. The importance of helping others work in the present and acknowledge their moods and their effects can be a very empowering process to support human growth and unleashing human potential.
‘You get sunrise or sunset people and Ideas have MOODS’ – John Hunt

Insight 4 Playing to Your Strengths and Partnering with Others
Wagner and Muller reinforced that one of the key success factors of great partnerships is when people work with others who have complimentary strengths.
Understanding your own strengths and those of your team members is a fantastic way to get yourself and team performing at their best. Sporting teams, musical bands and artists have known this secret for a long time, work and corporate environments are a lot slower to engage with this principle. We like to clone people and employ people like us – very dangerous. Firstly be OK with not being the best at everything – there is only one Leonardo da Vinci. Secondly acknowledge what you are great at and get in a vocation which amplifies these strengths. Thirdly partner and align with others that compliment your strengths and let your ego off the hook, it is OK to be surrounded with people better than you, in fact this is a great way of succeeding.

2010 is the year to: TRUST our instincts, entrust Simple People to implement change, Manage Moods, Play to our strengths and partner others with complimentary strengths – and to be fully PRESENT. Happy New Year