Could your organisation do with a ‘Pep’ talk?

                  Those of you who read our blogs regularly will know we’re partial to an occasional piece about sports, and how you can apply some of the things we talk about to leadership. Hopefully you’ve read these and found them useful. Well, we’re going to talk sports again. And specifically, how one man has really shown himself to be a true gamechanger with a new approach to his sport. That man is Pep Guardiola – current manager of runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City. If you’re not a follower of the beautiful game in general or a fan of the Citizens (City’s nickname), that doesn’t matter because we’re going to look at his leadership style and qualities, not how good his football team is (they’re very very good). So, let’s look at what makes Pep, as he’s known, so successful as a manager, and how you can relate what he does to your organisation. He has a philosophy and gets others to adopt it Pep has won trophies in Spain and Germany before coming to England to manage and has done so playing a particular brand of football. It’s a style he believes in and he gets his players to believe in it too. The way his teams play is usually very different from how they’ve played before and it can take a season or two to adapt. Once it does, however, it’s worth it. Sometimes you have to be prepared to not be instantly successful, while understanding you’ll get there in the long term, and bring others along for the […]
By |December 15th, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Could your organisation do with a ‘Pep’ talk?

You might be surprised by our word of the year

                  Every year the big hitters of the literary world choose their word of the year. Collins has picked ‘fake news’ (yes, we know it’s two words) for 2017 following a huge 365% uptake in usage during the year, thanks mainly to Donald Trump, who used it describe any story he didn’t like. And that was quite a lot. has gone for another word that’s been used a lot in US politics this year: ‘complicit’. As well as politics, this word could also be used about the recent scandals in Hollywood and elsewhere as it’s perfect for describing those who knew about what was happening, but chose to turn a blind eye. The Oxford Dictionary has yet to reveal its choice, but its 2016 word of the year was ‘post-truth’ – another word steeped in politics. 2017’s word is bound to be something as interesting. Now. On to our word of the year. It’s also associated with politics and current events. Just Libra’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘equality’. We’ve gone for this word as 2017 can be seen as a bit of a watershed year for equality, and it’s been put right at the centre of the nation’s consciousness thanks to the exposing of the pay gap at the BBC, where its male presenters and actors were shown to earn considerably more than their female counterparts. The story dominated the media and led to a group of high-profile female stars at the organisation writing to their bosses to demand why they were paid less. The BBC has pledged to get its house in order […]
By |December 6th, 2017|news|Comments Off on You might be surprised by our word of the year

Looking after millennials in your organisation

                    It’s thought that around 75% of the global workforce will be made up of the millennial generation (born roughly between 1980 and 1999) by 2025. That might still seem a long while off yet, but it’s actually less than a decade away, so it could be wise to start thinking about how to look after this generation in your organisation. There’s a good chance a fair number of this cohort will end up employed in your organisation, and you’ll probably already have many of the generation’s first-born already working there. This population is the first to not know what life was like before the internet and who came of age after the 2008 crash, so their expectations in the workplace are very different than the generations preceding them. If you’re thinking all you have to do to keep these workers happy is to throw a few beanbags around the place, and offer a few trendy coffees at your canteen, think again. Millennials actually care about a lot of the things other workers do, like engagement, trust and being valued. But they also like to know what a company’s values are before they join and would rather have a great working environment (think a home-from-home) than a big pay packet. It’s also important to understand how these younger workers feel about personal motivation and recognition. Having someone say thanks for a great job and to feel they’ve made a difference is just as important – if not more than […]
By |November 30th, 2017|Employee engagement, leadership|Comments Off on Looking after millennials in your organisation

Don’t over-promise once you get that top new job

                  Anyone who’s ever had a job interview anytime in their life (probably most, if not all, of you reading this) has more than likely over-egged the pudding a little bit when talking about their achievements during that interview. You know the kind of thing – exaggerating the size of team you managed or the level of responsibility you really had slightly. In some cases, you might even take the approach of ‘I’ll tell them I can do that and figure it out later.’ These kinds of small white lies are pretty-commonplace and, if they get you the job, then you can justify using them. But what about once you’ve joined your new organisation and are asked to present your strategic plan for the next 90 days, should you overpromise here too? This is a very different situation and one where underperforming matters more than it did during your interview. Here, you’ll be face-to-face with those right at the top of the organisation telling them what you’re going to do for their company, not just trying to impress someone from HR who’s scoring your answers against other candidates. Getting this pitch right is crucial. You’ll have big ideas you want to start implementing and want to impress the new boss. That’s natural. You’ve worked hard to get here and beaten other people to the job so it’s only right to feel good about yourself. The key is not to let that enthusiasm and energy get the better of you. If you’ve been asked to talk about what you’ll do for […]
By |November 22nd, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Don’t over-promise once you get that top new job

Pressing the pause button on your mouth can work wonders

                  Our mouths can get us into trouble and cause conflict if we open them without thinking. Sometimes we could do with a pause button on them. Here’s a question to think about: how many times have you put your foot in it, or created conflict with somebody in your organisation, because you’ve said something before thinking about it? If you’ve answered truthfully, it’s probably happened a good few times. We can all have a tendency to pick up on points we don’t like or agree with in meetings and make a comment without a second thought, or act defensively under pressure or we think we’re being attacked. The trouble with our mouths is that words can tumble out of them before the rational bit of the brain kicks in leaving us at the mercy of the emotional, reactionary bit that can get us into trouble. At times like these, it pays to hit the pause button on your mouth. What we mean by this is stopping for a second or two to consider what’s been said and how to answer it. It’s a technique used by lots of people in the public eye, particularly MPs, most of whom are skilled at sidestepping difficult questions. Instead of an awkward silence, many expert mouth-pausers use a few ‘erms’ and ‘ahs’ or have a stock phrase they throw out before actually talking. They also think about their body language, tone of voice and inflection when they start speaking again too. All good tips. Not engaging the pause button can lead to many things. There’s regret when you wish you’d said – or hadn’t said – something. You might also feel that you […]
By |November 15th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Pressing the pause button on your mouth can work wonders

Does your culture encourage people to speak out?

                        If there’s one thing the tidal wave of allegations that have swamped the Hollywood film industry and the FA, BBC, and Houses of Parliament closer to home have shown, it’s the importance of being able to speak out. It seems one of the key reasons people have been able to act as they have done for so long is because their victims are afraid to speak out. We don’t all work in the glamorous surroundings of Hollywood or the Palace of Westminster though, and some of these examples are very extreme. But if someone in your organisation wanted to speak out about someone or something, like their manager, a team-mate not performing properly or some of the things making the headlines, would they feel confident to do so? Would they be afraid of what might happen to them and the possible repercussions they’d face? Losing their job, being isolated and not having anyone believe them are all genuine fears stopping people speaking out whether they produce movies, play sport internationally, run the country, or work in an office or factory. As well as fear, another factor stopping people talking is futility. Too often, people keep quiet because they don’t think there’s any point. They feel they won’t be believed or it won’t make a difference so why bother? They suffer in silence and hope things get better. Creating a culture where people feel comfortable about speaking freely is one of the most difficult things to achieve. A lot of organisations claim to do it, but […]
By |November 3rd, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Does your culture encourage people to speak out?

Trump NFL trouble shows importance of choosing battles carefully

                  There’s a saying in life (as well as in business) about picking fights where it really matters, and not wasting your energy on the ones that aren’t important. It’s a saying President Trump could do well to take notice of. Not for the first time, he’s found himself involved in a war of words with a group of people he definitely shouldn’t be spending so much time worrying about. Is it really the job of the ‘world’s most powerful man’ to even offer his opinion on how some of the country’s sports stars are behaving, even if he thinks their actions are unpatriotic? Many Americans think his time would be better spent on things that are important instead of engaging in a personal spat with NFL players and owners, like helping the relief efforts in Puerto Rico and other parts of the world hit by Hurricane Irma. Great leaders are able to understand what things in organisations are worth their time and energy. They know taking on every problem can be almost impossible and it can actually undermine their authority on something really important if they concentrate too much on something relatively minor. The first thing they do is work out if they’re fighting against something because it’s one of their own pet hates – something they don’t like or agree with, but doesn’t go against organisational culture or company rules. These things can eat away at you and sap your energy if you let them. Of course, there’ll always be things worth fighting for – you just […]
By |October 25th, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Trump NFL trouble shows importance of choosing battles carefully

Who’s your critical friend when you’re at the top?

                    The concept of the ‘critical friend’ is something that’s booming in organisations, particularly among leadership teams. It’s that person you can turn to when you need someone to be completely honest with you and look at the organisation in through different eyes. They should be neutral and, although the word critical is uses, this person isn’t there to judge you. It’s more about being truthful and challenging you. They can’t be a ‘Yes man’ who’ll simply agree with everything you say, but they have to feel comfortable enough to be able to speak out. As the head of an organisation, finding your critical friend is really important, but perhaps it’s more difficult for you than it is for others. They can always turn to someone higher up the ladder they know well or have worked with before to act as a mentor. So, if you’re at the top of the tree in an organisation, how do you go about choosing your critical friend? The simple answer is there’s no simple answer. Actual friends can sometimes make good critical friends, but be careful of the ‘Yes man’ situation mentioned earlier. There’s also a chance you might fall out eventually so maybe this is best avoided. Perhaps there’s a CEO or managing director of another organisation you can ask. Obviously avoid a direct competitor, but if there’s someone you know and trust well enough, this could be the answer. They’ll appreciate you thinking of them and like giving help and advice. […]
By |October 18th, 2017|leadership|Comments Off on Who’s your critical friend when you’re at the top?

Do you really need that meeting?

                    Most people in most organisations have suffered their way through at least one pointless meeting. You’ve probably all got examples where a meeting was over too quick and felt like a waste of time, went on too long and you lost interest, or you didn’t have a clue what the people at the meeting were on about. Even worse is when meetings are used as an excuse to procrastinate and put off what really needs doing. A meeting for meeting’s sake where everyone gathers to go over old ground and for the organiser to look like they’re doing something positive. Any of these scenarios are hugely frustrating. You’ve got work to be getting on with and your time could be better spent doing it. To add to the frustration, you might not have much time to get the work done now as the meeting cut your afternoon in half and you’ll have to work late to catch up. Meetings are a necessary evil in most organisations, and can’t be avoided totally in most cases. However, to be really effective, they need to carefully planned and thought about beforehand. What’s the meeting about? When’s the best time to have it, and where? Who needs to be there? What do people need to know before they arrive? These are all relevant questions to ask yourself. It’s all well and good sending meeting requests to people to come to this or that meeting, but make sure you give them some context with the invite. This might seem obvious, but invite the right people. If someone’s not needed […]
By |October 3rd, 2017|Employee engagement|Comments Off on Do you really need that meeting?

To see or not to see – that is the question

                          Picture the scene – it’s a familiar one in hundreds of workplaces across the UK, if not the world. The boss comes in, says morning and has a quick chat with everyone. Maybe they stop and make a cuppa or a coffee for a few of the early starters. What a brilliant boss. Then they go into their office and shut the door. A few hours later the door opens and they emerge. Off they go to a meeting, or they’re on their mobile engrossed in what sounds like a really important phone call. Then they go into their office and shut the door. This pattern repeats throughout the day. And the week. Then comes the floor meeting when the boss takes half, or maybe, even a whole hour to give everyone an update, listen to whatever concerns people have and answer a few questions. They conclude the meeting with: ‘You know where I am. You can come and talk to me any time. My door’s always open.’ Then they go into their office and shut the door. (Guess they didn’t mean it literally.) You get the picture. In a lot of organisations, some managers see having an office as a perk. They get to make it how they want and can work in peace. It’s a symbol of power and they think they’ve made it now they have an office. But the trouble is, an office can be really intimidating for anyone else in the organisation. Especially if the door’s shut. It’s about being visible and accessible, which are both really important. The boss in this instance has got a […]
By |September 27th, 2017|leadership, news|Comments Off on To see or not to see – that is the question