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New partnership for Liverpool Hope University and The Leaders Club

Liverpool Hope University is set to work with The Leaders Club in a bid to bring some of the UK’s best minds together to tackle social and economic challenges.

Professor Gerald Pillay, Vice Chancellor & Rector of Liverpool Hope University, Professor Ian Vandewalle, Head of the Liverpool Hope Business School, and Leaders Club Founder Stephen Fletcher met to finalise the new partnership.

The Leaders Club is a national networking organisation, whose members are encouraged to use their expertise and experience to inspire leaders of the future. The Club has 100 founder members, 450 ordinary members and has held more than 80 gatherings. Topics tackled by the network have previously included Brexit and the NHS.

Liverpool Hope University researchers will share their expertise at the network’s regular ‘Question Time’ and think-tank style meetings in Liverpool, London and Bristol. They will join panels looking at the best ways to respond to issues around health, education, social care and economic equality.

There are also plans for an annual Leadership Awards ceremony, guest lectures and mentoring. Students at the University will be invited to the events and will have the opportunity to meet and hear from members of the Leaders Club. 

Stephen Fletcher, JP FRSA, Founder of the Leaders Club said: “Liverpool Hope’s willingness to work with others, and the passion of its academics for sharing their expertise for the greater good is exemplary. The Club will benefit from access to some of the UK’s best academics, and our members in turn will use their practical expertise to inform research and help inspire students. A major part of our remit, and the University’s, is to shape and inspire the leaders of the future, and we believe that we can both benefit from doing this together.”

Professor Ian Vandewalle, Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of Liverpool Hope University’s Business School said: “We want Liverpool Hope University to become a beacon for leadership in the UK. This partnership means that our students will experience leadership and problem solving in action, as our academics will be working with the Club’s high calibre network to look seriously at challenges facing future leaders, and help offer informed solutions.”

FEEDBACK AND ADVICE

Even if the results suggest you are doing well, a great leader never rests on his laurels. Seeking 360-degree feedback from trusted friends, colleagues and mentors is essential if you are to improve and develop.

Words: Stephen Fletcher, The Leaders Club

It’s lonely at the top, isn’t it? People looking to you, at you and for you. If everything is going well then it’s wonderful; you can almost taste it. But if not, you are on your own. So, who do you turn to when times are tough? Who do you ask for advice when you’re not sure of the right direction to go in and who will be your sounding board when you need encouragement and support for a decision you’ve already made?

As a leader, you need to show authority and determination and you may be reluctant to admit to weaknesses or uncertainty, especially when you are working hard to prove yourself worthy in a new role. However, it is essential that you also understand that you can make better decisions and be a better leader by drawing on the expertise and experience of others. The continuous learning journey that we are all on relies upon the strength of our support networks and our ability to use them.

Despite this, we don’t always know where to turn or how to make the most of feedback and advice. Many of us will avoid turning to colleagues or superiors for answers, even if they are the best equipped to provide them, for fear of showing ignorance or inexperience. Instead, it is often friends and family who are the first port of call. But what do they actually know and how relevant is their experience?

LISTEN UP

It’s important to remember when looking for help on a problem or for an opinion on a solution that anyone can give advice; it won’t always be sensible, sincere or applicable in your situation and you don’t have to follow it. Strength of character is needed to seek advice and support, but also to decide whether to follow or ignore it…

Read the whole article at the League Managers Association, 10 Mar 2016

Strategies for Holding People Accountable: Helping People Take Ownership of Their Work

Have you ever heard the story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody? It’s called “That’s not my Job,” and it goes like this:

“There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.”

No one in this story took responsibility for the job. As a result, they accomplished nothing. Similar attitudes are common in companies that lack a culture of accountability.

In this article, we’ll explain what holding people accountable means, and suggest strategies you can use to encourage them to take ownership of their work.

What Does “Holding People Accountable” Mean?

Accountability boils down to one thing: responsibility.

When you hold people accountable, you make sure that they achieve the goals you have agreed, to the standards and deadlines you have set.

However, some managers aren’t comfortable with this, and give their team members extra chances to perform, so they don’t have to discipline them. They worry that if they put pressure on people to meet their targets, they may complain or even quit their jobs. Also, some leaders are more concerned about being liked than about team performance.

These managers may give poor performers’ work to stronger team members, to avoid confronting them, or they simply hope that, over time, everyone’s performance will improve.

But “burying your head in the sand” like this is not the solution. If you let poor performance slide, it can set a dangerous precedent. Your under-achievers might believe that you aren’t serious about deadlines and expectations, and your high-performers see your failure to deal with the issue and may decide they don’t need to work so hard.

The key to embracing accountability is to change your thinking from a negative, blame-focused view to a positive, performance-boosting perspective. Holding individuals accountable can improve their results, as well as those of your team.

The Pros and Cons of Accountability

When you hold your people accountable, it benefits them, your team, and your organization as a whole.

If you can encourage them to take responsibility and hit their targets, they will likely feel more engaged with their work, which can lead to higher morale and job satisfaction, and better performance. However, if you confuse “accountability” with “control,” it can lead to them feeling micromanaged .

Holding people to account doesn’t mean that you hover over them while they are trying to work. If you become a “control freak,” you can make them feel claustrophobic, resentful and unproductive. They can begin to doubt their own abilities, and their performance can suffer as a result.

Be consistent when you set performance standards and when you measure them. Some team members may feel that they are being singled out for unfair treatment if you handle them differently to their colleagues.

Strategies for Holding People Accountable

Here are some ways you can improve accountability among your team members:

  1. Start With Yourself

Teams work hard for leaders they admire, so set a good example. If you have a positive attitude and a high level of professionalism, your people will respect you and put in extra effort. In short, if you expect your team members to perform to your expectations, you must be a good role model for them.

  1. Set Clear Expectations

Don’t assume that your people will instinctively know what you expect of them in terms of quality, deadlines or results. So, if you have specific requirements, explain them. For example, if you expect someone to check in with you at certain times, let them know.

The clearer you communicate your expectations, the better the results are likely to be. Just be careful not to lapse into micromanagement.

As part of this, make sure that your team members have a copy of their job description , and review their duties with them regularly, perhaps in one-to-ones or quarterly reviews.

  1. Establish Performance Standards

Be specific about how you intend to measure performance. That way, you can hold your team members accountable for any gaps between their progress and their goals.

Where this is appropriate, a great way to plan for success is to draw up well-defined SMART goals . These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. They give people a clear target, and give you a concrete way to assess their results.

  1. Obtain Commitment

Unless you can get people to commit to meeting the goals you set, they may fall short. Explain to them how their role ties in with the mission of your organization . You can also describe how their success could lead to greater recognition, financial rewards, or opportunities for growth.

Then, before they get started, ask your team members to agree verbally or, even better, in writing to the schedule, process and targets.

  1. Follow up, Then Follow up Again

Many people fall short of their goals because of poor follow-up. Set regular meetings to catch up on progress, actions and issues to encourage your team members to stay on track. If they know that you expect a weekly progress report, they’ll be less likely to procrastinate and more likely to hit their targets.

You can also “keep tabs” on people informally outside of any scheduled meetings. And give feedback when appropriate, as establishing a culture where feedback is the norm will make people more receptive to it.

  1. Assess Performance

Your team members should be on track with your clear game plan and regular check-ins. If they are, praise them for their diligence. If they are not, you need to step in and find out why.

If someone is falling behind, ask them to brainstorm ways that they can get back on track, working with them if necessary. However, encourage them to come up with their own ideas and take appropriate action on their own initiative.

Also, review instructions to make sure they’re clear, and, where appropriate, provide support or training to resolve any issues

If, despite your best efforts, they still don’t achieve their goals, you need to show them, and the rest of your team, that you are serious about improving performance. But do so in a way that stresses it is an opportunity for personal growth, and is not intended as a punishment.

Part of this may involve drawing up a performance agreement . These are written, signed plans that set reasonable expectations, create milestones, and establish consequences for failure. Prepare these agreements in collaboration with your team members, so you can avoid future doubts or misunderstandings.

If there is still no improvement despite your support and coaching, you may need to resort to disciplinary measures. Consult with your HR department on this.

Tips

Tip 1:

If people are not going to hit key goals, they need to have told you about this well in advance, so you can take appropriate action to bring the project back on course or manage expectations yourself. Make sure that your people know you expect this, and take appropriate action if they let you down!

Tip 2:

It’s old advice, but it’s good advice: if people are having problems or are falling behind, expect them to come to you with possible solutions, rather than just with the problems themselves. Expect them to have thought about how to solve the problems before they present them to you.

Tip 3:

Some people may subconsciously seek to avoid being held accountable by being vague about their commitments or by throwing up a “smokescreen” of complexity around what they are doing. Take the time to cut through this, agree clear SMART goals with them, and make sure you follow up on these goals.

Key Points

Holding your team members accountable means that you require them to answer for their actions. By doing so, you encourage them to improve their performance.

Accountability is built on clear expectations. Without this foundation, you won’t be able to monitor their progress or evaluate their results.

Have regular conversations with your team members about their progress and performance. Praise them for good results and coach them when they fall short. If their performance does not improve, address this with meaningful consequences.

Apply This to Your Life

As a manager, accountability starts with you. Hold yourself accountable for your team’s performance. If you want to create a culture of positive accountability, check in frequently with them, even when things are going well.

Good communication can help build a trusting relationship, and your team members won’t want to disappoint you. You can also show that you are committed to accountability by writing and sharing a list of things that they can expect from you. That way, they’ll see that you “walk the talk.”

 

 

C/o www.mindtools.com/

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/holding-people-accountable.htm

By Elizabeth Eyre and the Mind Tools Team

 

From Battleship to Boardroom

“In few professions is there the focus on leadership that there is in the military or the recognition that you have to teach people how to lead right from the very start”
Admiral Sir Trevor Soar

Recent research has uncovered just how damaging poor leadership can be for those on the receiving end – many leave their jobs prematurely because of bad leaders while others turn down opportunities of work. Clearly, this cannot happen in the military; the consequences of a demoralised Army or Navy, lacking in direction and short on discipline would be catastrophic, eroding our national security and putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

After a 37-year career in the Navy, in which he held a diverse range of leadership positions with often broad remits, Sir Trevor Soar made it to the very top, becoming Admiral and Commander-in Chief.

Having re-entered civilian life, he is now chairman of two SMEs, a founding co-director of his own strategic consultancy, founding Director of The True Leader Company and chairman of an invitation-only networking organisation, the Leaders Club. Here, he sheds light on the contrasting approaches to leadership development in the military and civilian worlds and why much of what he sees in organisations today would not pass muster.

==

Let’s go right back to the beginning of your incredibly successful career in the Navy. Where did your leadership journey start?

I first enrolled at the Britannia Royal Naval College in 1975, enthusiastic, immature, and probably more than a little naïve. Leadership was a core part of my training from day one and it continued to be a central theme throughout my career. Leadership potential was also a key part of the selection process.

I joined the submarine service, working my way through the different posts, changing jobs every two years in order to gain a broad experience and all the time being assessed for your leadership. I was then selected for the Submarine Command Qualifying Course, an incredibly tough, make-or-break course that was given the name Perisher on account of its high fail rate.

When I passed it was a springboard to various positions of command, my first being at the age of 29 of a diesel powered submarine. It was equivalent of being the CEO of an SME, but in the run up to that position I had gained the relevant skills and qualifications, experience and, importantly, leadership training, so I felt ready. I then commanded a nuclear powered submarine, a large frigate and then HMS INVINCIBLE, the Flagship of the Royal Navy. Beyond these I had a number of strategic and cross-Defence roles in the Ministry of defence and in procurement and support.

Clearly there’s a stark contrast between the attitudes to leadership training in military and civilian sectors

In few professions is there the focus on leadership that there is in the military or the recognition that you have to teach people how to lead right from the very start. It is something that should be learned and developed, not simply bolted onto existing skills.

In most businesses, people are recruited or developed based only on their functional competency, background and experience in a particular role. They just end up in a leadership positions by default, having reached a certain stage of their careers. There’s a natural assumption that anyone can lead.

For example, I’ve done some work with Consultants in a hospital trust. They spend their whole careers focusing on becoming great doctors and then they reach this lofty position and suddenly they’re expected to be leaders and managers, but they’ve had no training. It’s almost like being thrown the keys to a car and told to drive, oh and, by the way, in five month’s time we’ll assess how you’re doing.

Part of the reason I set up my consultancy, True Leader, was that I saw how functional competence was often the main criteria for selecting leaders rather than any leadership skills or potential. In the military, leadership is engrained from day one and you’re constantly being trained, assessed and refreshed. It means that when you do get into your first leadership position you are already reasonably comfortable with how to apply leadership.

Given this tendency towards leadership by default, what problems do you see and what is ‘true leadership’?

True is what good leadership feels like to the people being led. It’s important to remember that leadership is a mindset and it is about people and how you interact with and develop them. Unfortunately, much of the leadership we see today is either passive, which means it is populist, avoiding controversy or conflict, accepting behaviour without challenging it, and always taking the easy path rather than taking difficult decisions. Alternately, people experience false leadership, where the leader rules by dominance and uses a power base to control the team members, stifling their creativity and creating a fear culture. I believe we can identify either of these traits and shift the emphasis to true leadership, working with people to reap the benefits of truly motivated employees. This results in the thread of leadership being woven through the fabric of the organisation.

True leadership involves clarity of direction, recognition and development of people, the development of team unity and leaders who set a positive example and are role models to their people. If you make sure everyone can do his or her job independently, it enables you to take a helicopter view of what is going on. The final benefit of true leadership is a positive approach to managing risk. Many organisations are actually risk adverse, leading to predictable or incremental changes and strategies with mediocre expectations.

What have you learned about good and bad talent management?

Developing talent from within the organisation is essential, but people often make the mistake of focusing on a few individuals who appear to be talented and then grooming them to do a particular job. Talent management is about more than just succession planning. You need to find the people with potential in your organisation and encourage others to look for them, because you may not always have direct exposure to them. Then you have to give them opportunities to develop a whole range of skills, including their leadership skills, and provide experience along the way. You end up with a talent pool in your organisation that you can draw from to drive the business forward.

Diversity is also absolutely key if you want to have a competitive edge. When I sit on Boards, I see the other Board members and non-executive directors and everyone is very similar, but their roles really are to provide different sets of eyes. The problem is that people tend to recruit people in their own mould. There’s always a risk when leaders and organisations become too comfortable. They should always be challenging you, pushing the boundaries and encouraging debate and that comes more easily with diversity. Diversity brings the range of skills and perspectives that an organisation needs to move forward, to change and grow.

You’re chairman of the Leader’s Club. What made you want to get involved?
Leadership can be a very lonely position and it isn’t always easy to confide in others or find answers to the challenges you’re facing; it is difficult to turn to your subordinates as they might see it as a weakness. The Leaders Club is an invitation-only club where leaders can socialise, network and exchange ideas in an informal environment, with the focus on improving leadership. Our members come from all walks of life and include Bishops, military men like myself, business leaders at all levels, and now LMA Chief Executive Richard Bevan. It is incredibly valuable for leaders to be able to share their problems and experiences and how they dealt with them under the Chatham House rule. We want to help one another and use our expertise and experience to inspire the leaders of the future.

 

Interview with Admiral Sir Trevor Soar. May 2015

Leadership and Collaboration : The Dangers of Silo Working

Leaders at all levels in organisations know the difficulties of achieving truly effective cross-business collaboration. Where boundaries between individuals and teams become too rigid a lack of joined up thinking and working can result – otherwise known as ‘silo working’. Of course, silos can be helpful, such as grouping specialists into learning communities, focusing people on results and providing a map of who does what and where. However, where cooperation and collaboration is needed and there are barriers to achieving this, the cost to the organisation can be very high.
There are many ways in use today to increase collaboration in organisations, yet somehow they don’t always succeed, become sustainable or inform the learning of others who inevitably share the same fate. There are numerous examples in organisations and in the public domain of breakdowns that occur within and between organisations and the cost this can bring about.

In my book research I came across the example of an Operations Director in a banking organisation who was resistant to the change programme initiated by a new CEO. He focused on controlling and protecting his own area, an attitude that pervaded the whole of his division leading to a lack of empathy with other departments and teams. Decision-making between his division and the bank branches was adversely affected so that too much money was held in branch for too long. Millions of pounds sat there not earning any interest.

In a recent high profile case Chris Patton, former Chairman of the BBC Trust, blamed silo working at the BBC as one of the reasons for the editorial crises that damaged the organisation’s reputation – a view subsequently confirmed in The Pollard Report.

With economic, social and environmental challenges and ever new technology breaking down traditional boundaries – collaboration has moved up every organisations agenda. Everywhere we turn today partnership working is required both within and between organisations in the commercial, public and voluntary sectors. It’s a key theme of reform in the NHS and the Civil Service. There are multi-agency approaches such as in aid work and the criminal justice system and an increasing number of strategic alliances between commercial organisations. Yet the old problems of silo working remain. As one Board Director who contributed to the research said: “In many companies silos haven’t changed, yet everything else has. Why not this?”

So what are the collaboration challenges that seem so hard to resolve? Some of my findings were:

1. Our natural tendency towards silo working. People get into comfort zones of contact and prefer to retain control over their work. The complexity of organisations can reinforce this and in a difficult and ambiguous business environment there is always potential for misunderstanding and unproductive conflict. People generally find the management of difference difficult and defensive behaviours lead to rigidity and sometimes breakdown in relationships. Where this involves senior leaders whole departments can follow and develop negative and polarised perceptions of each other.

2. Problems of identity and purpose. In a complex organisation system experiencing constant change achieving a shared purpose and identity can be difficult. Take for example the combined private/public company or those making the transition to private. At the level of personal and team identity it can create a lot of confusion. This lack of clarity appears in some cases to lead to increased silo working as different identities and values clash. Without identification at team and organisation levels, identity defaults to the lowest level – the sub-group, clique or individual. No surprise that leadership development has been so high up the agenda.

3. The lack of a strategic relationship agenda. The risk in relationships to an organisations effectiveness is not given the attention it deserves alongside other aspects of business planning and delivery.

4. Patterns of behaviour that repeat in organisations. There are invisible influences in complex and interconnected systems, silo working being one of them, which can become part of the wider culture.

What this points towards is the need to constantly put effort and energy into developing relationships that work. Without this focus relationships can drift and serious business consequences emerge – a lack of shared learning and innovation, delays in getting work done, unproductive conflict, stress and significant reputational and financial costs due to programme failures.

In complex interconnected organisations leaders need to have broad systems awareness and thinking, understand and recognise the importance of interdependencies and be proactive in developing relationships that work. Research by Bill Torbert and Associates shows that only a small percentage of managers demonstrate this more holistic and integrative frame of reference, with the majority occupying what they term the ‘expert’ and ‘achiever’ frames of reference . They can sometimes focus too much on their own functions, e.g. the sales figures, than on relationships across the organisation.

Leaders need to be proactive and visible in examining their own working relationships and taking action to improve them where they can. They need to have a keen eye on relationships in their team and with others inside and outside of the organisation. They also need to be able to have a dialogue around relationships with colleagues in the rest of the organisation, particularly for critical outcomes and initiatives. With an understanding of where the risks are, appropriate support can be provided and action taken where necessary. To sustain collaborative working relationships, relationship management needs to be a strategic agenda item.

==
David Willcock, Director, Liberating Potential Ltd
david.willcock@liberatingpotential.co.uk
Author of:
Collaborating for Results: Silo Working and Relationships that Work

Collaborating for Results

Read a sample chapter online here

35% discount for TLC members only, access by using code G15JGH35 and visiting David’s book page: http://www.gowerpublishing.com/isbn/9781409464297

i The Andrew Marr Show Interview with Chris Patton, 2012: 6, The Pollard Report, 2012: 39—40, 185
ii Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership, Bill Torbert and Associates, Berret-Koehler 2004.

The Leadership of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. We know that the stereotype of the leader is ‘Tall, Handsome, Young, Fit, charismatic.’ But reality is a very different picture.

Take Mother Teresa of Calcutta, for example, a small, wizened, religious lady beloved by so many who is known as an inspiration and someone who people followed, but surely she’s not a LEADER?

Then you start to look at what a leader DOES, not what they look like and, on further investigation, you see something special.

So, if a Leader creates a culture where people can ‘see the vision and have a path towards it’, where they have a ‘unity of purpose’, where each person is engaged through recognition, empowerment and development and where the leader provides a good example and a role model for others to follow, then this is the code that should be used to judge whether or not our perception is the reality.

Mother Teresa started with nothing but Faith and a Vision – the vision was to help the poor of Calcutta. She translated this into a series of ‘strategic priorities’ – a list of who needed help most – from the poor, the sick, the lepers, children etc. The Sisters who helped her also had clear regimes – their daily routine, their work – even what they ate. She insisted that, to prevent ‘over-donation’ of time that everyone’s own family had to be taken care of before they helped out at the charity.

She herself took a room over the kitchen, sparsely furnished in up to 45 degree heat. She ate only lentils and food that the poor would have access to, she slept for 5 hours a day (at the age of 90!), and travelled anywhere, without grumbling. She was fearless in challenging the Pope, politicians and celebrities. She was impartial about religion, not parochial. When in Calcutta she cleaned the toilets in the Khaligat – the house of the dying.

Her mission spread throughout the world to over 2,500 sisters in many countries. She won a Nobel Prize and insisted that the money for the banquet was given to the poor as well as the value of the prize.

In short, Mother Teresa was a LEADER, and possibly the most shining example of any that I have studied – she only looked like a frail old lady. Inside she was the epitome of the leader we all aspire to.

In our world we tend to confuse Leadership with ‘STATUS’ – and many of our so-called leaders would fail any real test of their ability. Mother Teresa showed the true qualities of a leader. It’s also the case that we couldn’t be expected to live up to her impossible standards, however just a little humility goes a long way when you’re a leader…

Thoughts by Nigel Allfrey
Director, The Leaders CLub
Director, The Submarine Leadership Company

Face your demons: The art of public speaking

These days I teach people how to Present in Public – and I’m good at it.
Not an idle boast, as for me speaking in public was my biggest ever demon.
I knew only too well the numbing terror that took over as soon as I was called upon to speak to an audience. It could have been only 10 people or 100, it didn’t matter, I just couldn’t do it.

Let me explain the background to this dilemma.
Having trained as a stage manager at RADA I found myself, at the tender age of 18, in charge of running a West End musical. That didn’t worry me because nobody had ever told me I couldn’t! I went on to be in charge of many West End plays, musicals, even an opera, over the next 6 years. Then I discovered conferences – where the star of the show was a car, a new brand of cat food or a marvellous special paint. These shows took me all over the world and I worked with some amazing people.

I then moved back to theatre – but at quite a different level. I became Production Stage Manager for Julie Andrews working at the Palladium Theatre, before we went to America and played a season in Las Vegas. This was followed by an incredible time as Monty Python’s stage manager. First for a revue at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. We then took the show to the City Centre Theatre in New York. And the following year back to the States again for ‘Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl’.

I don’t tell you all this to ‘name drop’, but merely to explain that an audience of 9,000 people didn’t phase me – so long as I was backstage. I could forcefully tell Lauren Bacall to go on stage immediately when her introductory video tape failed – so long as I was backstage. I could tell the 50-strong technical crew that the Pythons had totally gone off script and I had no idea what they were going to do next and to stand by for my instructions – so long as I was backstage. All these things and more I could do. But when elected by my peers to the Committee of the West End Stage Management Association, I could no more open my mouth in meetings than fly in the air.

So, I think you get my drift. As long as I was in a situation that did not involve stepping into the limelight – I was safe!

That was until a trusted friend coerced me (more like blackmail, actually) into speaking to 70 business woman about my career. I still get the shivers and break into a cold sweat just thinking about that night. I vividly remember sitting in my car, wildly wondering if there were any razor blades in the glove box to put me out of my misery.
Yes, somehow I got through that night, somehow.

It taught me a lesson – face your demons, don’t hide from them.
For the next 18 months I spoke once a month at a local health spa.
My talk was entitled ‘Speaking in Public’
It lasted 30 minutes and I learnt my trade.
In fact, it taught me so much that I started to pass this knowledge on to others.

By this time I was CEO of a group of Media Companies – and we started to throw in coaching for Corporate Speakers as part of the package.
Gradually, we were requested to run stand-alone training sessions – for Presentation Skills, Public Speaking and Media Training.
And I was, and still am, amazed at how much being able to stand up and be confident in public changes peoples’ lives.

This revelation taught me a lot about Leadership.
Leadership is the ability to give people belief in themselves and confidence in their ability.
For me the best way of doing that is through Communication – pure and simple.
And that is a two-way process, which often just involves asking the right question.

For example:-
At the end of my talks on Presentation Skills, I always wound up with a Q&A, but with a difference. Having worked on Conferences for years , ‘Any Questions?’ usually invoked a dreadful silence.

So, I decided that I would ask the questions instead:
“Well, thank you Ladies and Gentlemen. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking to you, I hope you have enjoyed listening. But just before I go – could you answer a couple of questions . Did you pick up any useful tips to take away with you tonight? Do you agree with my ideas on how to control nerves? Does anyone have any experiences, good or bad, they would like to share?”
This invariably led to an animated discussion – which generally lasted another 30 minutes!

To me Leadership is not only being able to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses but also those of others. There are many ways in which we train our employees to do their jobs, however, I feel that we sometimes forget that each person might have their own personal demon which is holding them back.
Leadership is recognising this and doing something positive about it.
That way weaknesses can be turned into strengths.
Helping myself enabled me to help others – and I know from my experience that it has really changed lives. It changed mine.

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Article by Mollie Kirkland.

About Mollie:
Mollie Kirkland trained in Production Management at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Spending six years in London’s West End as Company & Stage Manager on musicals, plays, revues and opera, Mollie worked with the leading directors and stars of the day.

She then moved into “industrial theatre”, as a conference producer – a role which took her all over the world, launching cars in Cannes, paints in Barbados, computers in Orlando – and cat food in Coventry! However, the call of the theatre was never far away, so Mollie travelled to New York and the Hollywood Bowl to Production Stage Manage Monty Python’s live shows, and then to Las Vegas for a season with Julie Andrews.

Mollie’s wealth of experience has helped such clients as Toyota, Bombardier, the Co-op, Rolls-Royce, the Metropolitan Police, Alliance & Leicester, Vauxhall, IBM, Pirelli, Thorntons – and many, many more! Mollie is now semi-retired and is living a wonderful life in France.

Google Crystal Ball Gazing

In mid July members of the Leaders Club were fortunate to spend an evening with Raja Saggi, Head of SMB Marketing at the unique and impressive Google Headquarters in London.  This was the second seminar that Raja had presented for TLC and for this session we asked him to get out his crystal ball and predict how he saw the next 5 years from his own personal observations; what trends and changes he foresaw to help us ordinary mortals to plan for the future.

Raja is a Technology executive with over 15 years experience in B2B marketing, business development and strategic partnerships with the world’s largest Internet, Media and Telecoms groups. His experience working in tech start-ups in Silicon Valley and London has given him a great insight into all things digital, but also into small businesses and their challenges. Raja is especially focused on the intersection of social networking, mobile advertising and location-based services.

And what an engaging Leaders Club event this was. The evening was full of his personal insights of which his opening statement was “the future is already here – it is just not evenly distributed”.  He quickly backed this up with “5 years is a very long time lets look at the next 2!”

He firstly commented that successful inventions and concepts were all about timing. He gave numerous examples of where technology already in existence had taken sometimes 100+ years before it was more broadly utilised – such as the first London electric taxi cab, an horseless drawn carriage, actually painted yellow and built in 1897, but, as we know, not developed commercially until the last few years.

What intrigued me most as Raja discussed his key topics

  • 3 D printing,  E
  • mployment supply on Demand Structure (supply by the hour),
  • Self employment infrastructure -–a massive increase in self-employed workers and the IT infrastructure changes that need to change in order to support this,
  • Raising Capital (Crowd Funding)

was that these where not the topics I had imagined him to say – but that’s why I’m not employed by google!

But of course how we work, how we supply ourselves, how businesses are structured, how they got off the ground, how industry growth is achieved in times of prosperity, is far far more interesting, integral and important than the next gadget.  And the embryos of this change can already be seen. As Raja said, they need to be more accessible in order to make real change.

I am going to concentrate on the 2 topics that struck a cord with me the most.

So, 3D printing – It’s already here.  Why is it important or interesting to me?  Previously I hadn’t really given it any thought, but Raja’s suggestion of applications took my breath away.
As an Aunty to a physically challenged 2 year old niece, the story of an American Dad who had used 3D printing to invent a prosthetic hand for his son; a fully working and functioning hand that was cheap enough to dispose of and re-print each time his young son had a growth spurt, was truly inspiring.

Raga’s next suggestion was an increase in the concept of raising capital for businesses, or ideas, by directly asking the global Community, a concept known as “Crowd Funding”. Sites such as www.indiegogo.com and www.netequity.com have been around for almost 10 years now, and the concept is maturing. And with Maturity comes growth.

It is arguable that the concept and its current and continued probable success is a matter of timing. When ArtistShare, the first concept of this type, was launched in 2001 the idea that fans would fund music artists through the crowd-fund concept was a truly original business model. Its founder Brian Camelio may well have foreseen the destruction that music downloads would have on the industry and realised that a new model, where fans had an ownership and responsibility into the success or failure of an artist, was required.

The global recession will also have helped, and will continue to help, in the growth of crowd funding as a mainstream concept to raise capital. Of course as word spreads about an investment opportunity its future is entirely tied into the wake of communication and online chatter it generates.

I am interested to see where this technology takes us. Of course it has its risks. For the investor it has the potential, for some, of becoming a type of gambling, and for the inventor they would need to have tight IP and copyright in place before submitting an idea.  However given the current market it is here to stay and will change the way we think about and manage business growth and investment.

Let me know your thoughts on how 3 D printing could change the way you work.  And for those that have tried it your comments on the successes and risks of Crowd Funding comment on our Linked-in group discussion…
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Shona Fletcher: Learning enthusiast, serial hobbyist; dog lover: putting pen to paper about my experiences, lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.
Twitter @ShonaMFletcher

The Glass Ceiling

Women in Business – a hot topic on many levels. Each month I will share with you an article based on my perception in terms of success/unsuccessful stories on well-known and not so well known ladies.
This month I would like to start with The Glass Ceiling – myth or reality?
Is there one? Or do we ladies put one there for convenience?

Women in business and the glass ceiling, it’s always a hot topic and one that comes up for constant debate. In fact TLC has held 2 events discussing this very subject with some fantastic discussion. I thought it was about time I added my thoughts.

I can only speak for myself of course, but I will share with you what I have experienced. In my very late teens and early twenties I worked for a small plant hire company in the accounts department, a very male dominated environment as you can imagine. It was my first ‘proper’ job and I was keen to climb the career ladder. I wanted to step in to management as soon as possible as I knew the salary would be a lot better and of course you got the benefits that came with management, e.g. free medical insurance, company car etc. Having been at the company 2 years, I approached the Managing Director to share my eagerness. This is how you did it in those days, no performance management or career reviews back then! To cut a long story short, in a very patronising way I was advised I would be wasting my time as the senior roles within the organisation were for the men and as I was a very good accounts clerk, that’s where I should stay!

I must admit that was the most blatant sexist glass ceiling I ever came across in my 28 years of employment. However, I have seen others and unfortunately some have been put there by women. Either by women not believing in themselves or looking for excuses or by other women putting them there, trust me, it’s not only men who do this! To be honest, I do not know which is the saddest.  I have met some very excellent professional women in my career who were more than capable of climbing the career ladder but just seemed to put barriers there themselves. Generally it was lack of confidence in their own ability which was mostly unfounded and with some coaching or mentoring they would have got there or did get there. Then on the opposite hand I have seen women who have a misguided confidence in their own ability and skill and have blamed everyone else but themselves for not being successful.

In my experience, it is not just men that put glass ceilings there for women. I have met some very senior women who have deliberately gone out of their way to stop other women climbing the ladder. Why? Jealous of the competition? Fearful of losing their own post? Generally believing the vacant post would be suited better to a man? Who knows? But we can all have our own opinions.

For what it’s worth, either by putting it there ourselves or having it put there deliberately by others, I believe the glass ceiling can be there, for BOTH men and women, it just depends on the organisation or the senior managers your work for and their beliefs or values, or indeed, lack of them.

A discussion that could go on for ever, and probably will……………………………