Posts Tagged ‘Avondale College’

The Secret to Being a Better Leader: See and Hear Others

Sunday, July 17, 2016

EmpathyConsistently people who have good empathy for others are proven to be better leaders, lead more effective teams, and gain power more readily. What does it mean to be empathetic? According to Dacher Keltner in a recent Science of Us article (Read it here), it is the understanding of what other people think and feel. Using Abraham Lincoln as an example, he quotes a journalist (Thurlow Weed) from the Albany Evening Journal who said of Lincoln: “He sees all who go there, hears all they have to say, talks freely with everybody, reads whatever is written to him.”

Keltner refers to numerous studies that show the positive results of being empathetic. It increases team effectiveness, one’s ability to negotiate better, widens the circle of friends, and enables one to gain power much more easily. In part this is because when people are heard and understood, they are more willing to be influenced by such people.

However, an interesting phenomenon occurs – Keltner refers to studies that show once empathetic people attain power, they often experience empathy deficits, whereby their empathy disengages. By losing this empathy, people in power then start disrespecting people and those once harmonious relationships are now jeopardised and tend to undo the previous good work.

The challenge for those that do rise to power is to be conscious of this and to purposively commit to maintaining the empathy that got them where they are. As Keltner points out from Lincoln, the secret is to see and hear others.

The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop leadership skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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The Four Building Blocks of Change

Sunday, July 17, 2016


Some people get really excited about change. I am a bit more cautious and tempered – maybe I’m just too lazy to be bothered with all the hard work that goes with it. However, change is really a constant in today’s environment, and while never easy, does need attention.


McKinsey & Company recently published an excellent article by Tessa Basford and Bill Schaninger (read it here) that identifies the four key factors that successful transformations were built upon. In summary form, these factors are:


 1. Fostering understanding and conviction

  • That is, congruence between beliefs and practices
  • People often wrongly assume everyone understands the “why” of the change
  • It’s important to develop a change story to be told

2. Reinforcing changes through formal mechanisms

  • Remembering that association and consequences shape behaviours
  • There is a need to align reward with desired behaviours
  • Collaboration and purpose are more valued by employees than compensation

3. Developing talent and skills

  • Old dogs can learn new tricks
  • Some people don’t realise that they need to learn new skills
  • But people who believe developing new skills won’t change a situation are more likely to be disengaged

4. Role-modelling

  • People mimic (consciously and unconsciously) individuals and groups who surround them
  • Key opinion leaders exert more influence than CEO’s

When (not if) your organisation undergoes change, just remember that successful transformations use these four building blocks. Are you ready for change?

The Avondale Business School can help you with change management in your organisation – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Business Kindness

Monday, July 4, 2016

Business KindnessAs an accountant I was trained that the only things that matter are those that can be measured. And now, much to my surprise, kindness is one of these things! Recent research into Australian organisations has resulted in the Workplaceinfo Business Kindness Index. You can read more about it here.

I was unaware that there is a growing movement of business kindness within Australia and globally. Some people might even ask why is it important? The report cites research from University of NSW that provides an answer: “Leadership compassion – ‘the ability of leaders to spend more time and effort developing and recognising their people, welcoming feedback, including criticism, and fostering cooperation among staff’ – is the single greatest influencer of productivity and profitability”. Being kind makes money!

Some of the key takeaway points of the report include:

  • Providing time to listen and interact with others makes a difference
  • Voice concern and support
  • Understand that process systems revolve around people, not people around processes and their parts
  • There is no change without leadership.

So creating a culture of kindness makes good business sense. Can you afford not to be kind? The Avondale Business School can help you with your organisational culture. To find out more, contact Warrick Long at:


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The Secret to Delighting Customers: Putting Employees First

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy CustomerSo we all agree that happy customers not only return, but share their positive experience. Consequently, organisations looking to thrive are constantly looking for ways to keep customers happy.

Recent research by McKinsey&Company, through Dilip Bhattacharjee, Jesus Moreno and Francisco Ortega (Read it here), has found that a major contributor to keeping customers happy is to empower employees. While most companies understand the need for engaging customers, and have made it a strategic priority, many struggle with the implementation simply because it falls down at the front line. The reality is that the front line staff are the ones who engage with customers, and unless they are on board then all the best strategic intentions in the world are not going to do the job.

Bhattacharjee et al found that there were four key approaches to developing workers that were consistent amongst those companies that were successful in keeping customers happy and engaged. These are:

  1. Listen to employees and deal with the problems and needs as a priority
  2. Hire with attitude, not aptitude, in mind, and build on this attitudinal strength
  3. Instil frontline workers with purpose, not rules
  4. Tap into their creativity by assigning autonomy and responsibility

The article, well worth a read, illustrates these points through an actual case study of an organisation that has implemented these and found the associated success that goes with it. It concludes by pointing out just how much easier it is for customers to shift loyalties, which has increased the need for companies to ensure the frontline workers who interact with their customers are engaged and valued.

The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop these customer service and employee management skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Core Values

Monday, June 20, 2016

PurposeWhat are your organisations’ core values? Not the ones that you say are values, but the ones that actually reflect who you really are?

In a recent article by Nicole Fallon Taylor (read it here) she highlights core values and the role they play in our organisations. Essentially they are the culture of the company, and irrespective of what we might say our organisation does, it is these core values that really matter.

It is certainly one thing to define your core values, and quite another to actually live them out. Saying one thing and doing another is a recipe for disaster in any organisation.

Do you live your values, or simply talk about what you want other people to think they are? The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop core values – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Only You Can Make Your Job Meaningful

Monday, June 20, 2016

PurposeMelissa Dahl previews an article in MIT Sloan Management Review (read it here) by Bailey and Madden that explores the failure of bosses who attempt to create meaningfulness on the job for their employees. Surprisingly, the results are usually a fail.

The authors found that leadership has little impact on meaningful moments at work. In contrast, bad management ranks as the number one inhibiter of meaningful work.

Instead, Bailey and Madden have found that it is each individual who makes their work truly meaningful and deeply personal. They cite as examples the office cleaner who finds his work very meaningful, and the corporate CEO who doesn’t.

The conclusion they reach is that it is not up to anyone else to create meaning in your work, it is just up to you.

Are you finding meaning in your work? Perhaps the Avondale Business School can help by working with you to develop your personal leadership and management skills. To find out more, contact Warrick Long at:


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The Value-Creating Board

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Value creating boardsMcKinsey & Company released earlier this year their latest report into what is a value-creating board. The full report and commentary can be found here, but following is a selection of quotes and highlights and challenges for your board.

Striving Boards:

  • Rate particularly well at strategy and performance management, and want to spend more time each year on strategy
  • An exceptionally strong culture of trust and respect, and board members and the management team constructively challenge each other
  • The chair runs the meeting well, seeking feedback after meetings
  • Spend on average 41 days per year on board duties

Complacent Boards:

  • Only 9 percent of directors rate their boards as effective at ensuring the company has a viable CEO successor
  • They struggle to embrace feedback and rarely engage in any form of evaluations
  • Spend on average 28 days per year on board duties

Ineffective Boards:

  • Few report a culture of trust and respect in the boardroom
  • Few directors seek out any information on their own
  • About 1 percent say they received sufficient director induction training
  • Spend on average 32 days per year on board duties

What type of board do you have? Is it time to review how you function and aim to become a striving board? The Avondale Business School can assist your board to become a high performing board – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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The Psychologist Guide to Leadership

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Leadership 3The British Psychological Society just published their guide to leadership (Read it here), based on input from their members. It is a very interesting read, and here are a few of the main points in summary:

  1. Leadership is about ‘us’ and for all of us
    • That is, the role of leadership is to ‘Reflect, Represent and Realise’ collective aspirations.
  2. Be an example for employee wellbeing
    • You need to be the healthy role model for your employees, and to end toxic work practices.
  3. Good meetings demonstrate good leadership
    • Think carefully about the meetings you hold, both whether you need to hold them, and are they done well – respect your employees time.
  4. Develop your leadership potential away from the workplace
    • Have a life away from work, and develop your talents there as well. Everyone will be better for it.
  5. Don’t underestimate the impact of emotional intelligence
    • Research shows that emotional intelligence is critical to the successful performance of individuals at the executive level.
  6. Embrace a new era of management styles
    • Get on board with divesting autonomy and granting more flexibility.

How many of these are you achieving? It is time to take a look at your leadership? The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop leadership skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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Performance Management Reinvented

Monday, May 23, 2016

Performance ManagementJust in case you didn’t know, the traditional annual performance management discussion is on the way out. An increasing number of companies are ditching the time-consuming, subjective and demotivating practices for new ways of managing employee performance.

McKinsey & Company have published an excellent article on this issue (read it here), complete with examples of companies that are implementing these new practices. Interestingly no one is suggesting the idea of performance management be abandoned, merely that it needs to morph into a much more effective process. Amongst the ideas raised in the article are the following:

  • Rethinking what constitutes employee performance
    • Instead of focussing on the middle ground, identify clear over performers and underperformers
    • Highlight and encourage exemplar performances
  • Automating real-time analyses
    • Using apps for continual crowd-sourced performance data throughout the year
    • Collected in real-time which is not only fresh, but enables managers to draw on actual evidence
  • Severing the link between evaluation and compensation
    • Link compensation to the performance of the company, not the individual
    • Studies indicate that employees value meaning (seeing purpose and value in work) as the most important factor.

In handling performance management, it is now coaching rather than evaluating that is the key. The article list three practices that seem to deliver the results, these being changing the language of feedback, providing constant crowdsourced vignettes, and focussing discussions on the future rather than what happened in the past.

Performance management is changing, and companies that succeed will be the ones that change with it. The Avondale Business School can help you keep ahead in performance management. To find out how, simply contact Warrick Long on:


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Rediscovering Authentic Leadership

Monday, May 23, 2016

What is an authentic leader? Back in 2003 Bill George coined the term and wrote the seminal book about it. He defines authentic leaders as genuine, moral and character-based leaders. However, in more recent times other authors have challenged this, claiming that it masks rigidity, insensitivity and a resistance to change.Authentic Leadership

In a recent HBR online article (read it here), George fires back at the critics and reemphasises that there are five demonstrable qualities of authentic leaders:

  • Understanding their purpose
  • Practicing solid values
  • Leading with heart
  • Establishing connected relationships
  • Demonstrating self-discipline

George goes on to discuss these qualities and gives examples of what they look like in practice. In the article he also reports on an update to his original research and particularly emphasises that authentic leaders are constantly growing and learning from their leadership experiences.

Authentic leadership has taken a battering of recent times, however George’s new research brings it back to the fore as a credible and desirable leadership style. After all, who wouldn’t want to be led by someone who is authentic? The Avondale Business School can help you and your team develop leadership skills – find out how by contacting Warrick Long at the Avondale Business School.


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