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  1. Running a launch session for a new management development programme last week, the question "How am I supposed to find time to fit this in on top of everything else?" was raised. It's not unusual. We are all busy, so being expected to complete pre and post-course work AS WELL AS attend workshops can feel overwhelming.

    It isn't easy. I'm not going to pretend otherwise. But it is possible.

    making time

    Making time to do those 'important but not necessarily urgent' things such as personal development, business planning, team building etc. requires you to do three things:

    1. Plan. You need to set aside time in your day/week/month. Choose a time when you are least likely to get dragged into other things (so Monday morning isn't likely to be good for most people), and when there are plenty of other people around to deal with unexpected emergencies. Give people notice that you aren't going to be available. Be realistic about how much time you can set aside in one go, as that makes number 2 easier.
    2. Protect. Protect that time in your diary as if it were a hospital appointment, or a date with Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie. You wouldn't give THAT up on a whim would you? If possible, work somewhere else... at home, in a meeting room - anywhere where you won't be constantly interupted by people, your phone or your email. Switch your devices OFF.
    3. Prioritise (and Persevere!) If you get put under pressure to discard your plans and deal with (yet another) emergency, resist the urge to save the day, and take a step back. Pause. Think. Is this the very best use of your time? Is there another way that this emergency can be dealt with? Does it have to be you? Does it have to be now? If you give up your precious (supposedly protected) time, when will you get it back?

     

    For most us, no-one is going to die or come to serious harm if we don't immediately stop what we're doing and respond to someone elses emergency. Of course, if this IS the case, then drop what you're doing and go! 

    Unexpected events happen all the time. How many truly need immediate attention? Can you acknowledge the issue or put in a temporaly solution quickly? Are you solving someone elses problem? Should it even be you who is dealing with it?

    What's the worst that will happen if you DON'T attend to it immediately? 

    When we constantly fire-fight we can feel important, but it's exhausting and things never improve. Only by making time to deal with the important stuff can we ever make things better for ourselves, our colleagues, our organisations and our customers.

    If you want to take back control of your time, why not download our self-study workbook

  2. Many of you know that I'm a zumbaholic, but this isn't really a post inspired by my favourite exercise. It's more about something I've noticed about a number of ladies who are part of a 'bootcamp' programme and links to personal effectiveness and leadership.

    Lots of ladies have joined the bootcamp programme and are getting great results. What I've noticed though is that in most cases their basic body shape doesn't change: they are simply slimmer, fitter versions of the shape they were before. Women with no waist still have no waist, though they may be two sizes smaller. Pear shaped women are still pears - just slimmer and lighter pears. When I lose weight, I struggle to lose it from my belly, but my legs and hips slim down. My sister gets a flat stomach with ease, but struggles around her hips. Even the fitness instructor who is fabulously fit and toned, stays curvy. It's the way we are built. 

    body shape

    I accept that unless I do something very radical (and very hard work!), I won't have a flat stomach, and even then there's no guarantee. So in the summer I wear shorts with long, swinging tops to make the best of what I have: slim legs. My sister wears crop tops with capri pants to show off her flat stomach and looks fab. 

    Leadership style is like that too. We are the way we are, but that's not to say that we shouldn't strive to be the best versions of ourselves as possible. Credible leaders are authentic: they accept who they are, make the best use of their strengths and proactively manage areas where they aren't naturally strong either by delegating, developing themselves or compensating in some other way. They are very self-aware and set an example by being the best they can be rather than striving for perfection. This makes them more 'real' and so people are more inclined to trust them. When a team trusts its leader, engagement increases and great things start to happen.

    So, if you want your leaders to go from good to great, help them to be the best version of themselves that they can be by developing Credible Leadership.

  3. It was my wedding anniversary at the weekend. We had hoped to celebrate with a meal at our favourite restaurant, The Galleria. Living 100 miles away from nearest family members and having two primary school-age kids means that we very rarely get to go out as a couple. Our anniversary is the one time we really try to. Unfortunately, we weren't able to this year. Our usual babysitter was on holiday and although (for a short while) we thought we had found a compromise solution, it wasn't meant to be. 

    An emotionally intelligent way to handle this situation is to recognise how we felt and accept that it was disappointing. Then we interpretted why we felt this way...because we were missing out on a nice meal and being a couple (rather than Mum and Dad). So then we had a decision to make: be annoyed all night or find an alternative. Most people know what I fan I am of Steven Covey's Circle of Concern, and if you want to behave in an emotionally intelligent way, this is a great place to start. The chance of babysitters was gone. No point wishing it was different or hoping for a solution to fall from the sky. It was not within our circle of control. However, having a nice meal, just the two of us, was.

    So, we took action.

    • We popped to the local butchers, bought two fillet steaks and blew the dust off the Amarone. 
    • We fed the kids separately (we normally eat together as a family) and set them up with a film in the lounge.
    • We got showered and put on nice clothes. I did my hair and make up.
    • We had a nice meal, just the two us.

    OK, it wasn't the evening we'd hoped for, but it WAS a nice evening.

    anniversary

    It would have been easy to let our disappointment become the focus of our evening, but we didn't. We STILL wouldn't be going out, and we'd have been miserable too. However, many people do allow set backs to take all of their energy, but in the end, what is accomplished by that? 

    Helping people to take a more emotionally intelligent approach to work (and indeed life in general) can aid problem solving, decision making, teamwork and relationships as well as have a positive impact on tangible results. I'm not the most emotionally intelligent person I know by a long way, but I recognise when I'm behaving that way, and the benefits that it brings. You can raise awareness of Emotional Intelligence in your leaders and teams with our half-day training session. Why not take a look and think about how it could benefit you?