Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Change Successfully

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

If it’s not one thing, it’s another – either technology is changing, structures are changing, or the economy, or all three at once, or something else again. So when leadership announces to employees another organizational change, is it any wonder there is usually a collective groan from change-fatigued workers who get defensive at the idea.

Patti Sanchez in her excellent article ‘The Secret to Leading Organizational Change is Empathy’, (read it here), addresses this touchy issue and offers leaders some sound advice: how information is communicated to employees during a change matters more then what information is communicated. Sanchez builds a strong case for communicating empathetically, while being honest enough to admit most leaders don’t know how.

Following are the headline three strategies leaders can implement to make the next change process smoother:

  1. Profile Your Audience at Every Stage: Take the time to identify the key groups of employees based on how they might feel about the proposed changes, then plan communications to address them accordingly. Typically they may be excited, frightened or even frustrated.
  2. Tell People What to Expect: so the more informed people are, the more they will be able to process the discomfort they may feel. While this should be a no-brainer, it seems to be a non-starter for most leaders. Trust your employees and just tell them what is going on.
  3. Involve Individuals at All Levels: Unless there is broad involvement, the change just won’t happen.

These look so common sense, and yet few leaders actually take the time to put them into practice, thus stymieing their transformation process. Do you think you could at least try these the next time you are involved in change? And the Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you with this, just contact Dr Warrick Long to find out how.


Culture Starts at the Top

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A recent article by Nicholas Barnett for Governance Institute Australia deals with the role of Boards and senior leaders in create culture in the organisation (read it here).

He refers to ‘Tone at the top’ which he notes as, “being a high bar for honesty, integrity and ethical behaviour noting that it is a foundation stone for forming and shaping a robust, resilient and ethical culture”. While typically thought of as being the board and CEO, it also includes executives, audit and risk committees, etc. By setting a high bar, research has shown that both character and performance make for more trusted and higher performing organisations.

Recent exposure of poor culture in the financial services insider in particular has highlighted the need for organisations to ensure they are caring for their culture, and that it is being developed from the very top.

You will need to read the entire article for the full explanations, but a summary of the key behaviours to form a good culture include:

  • Don’t be afraid to say sorry and show genuine remorse
  • Words are cheap: You must walk the talk
  • Systems, incentives and consequence management may need to be re-aligned
  • The chair and the CEO are the chief integrity and ethics officers

How does you organisation compare to these practices? Is it time for a culture check? The Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you. To find out how, simply contact Warrick Long via or 02 4980 2168.

Leadership Succession in Adventist Schools – A Partnership

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dr Peter Williams recently had the opportunity to present some of the findings from his Faith-based School Leadership Succession research to Adventist Schools Australia (ASA) NSW School Principals and Administrators (to view the PowerPoints click here). The findings presented centred around the leadership aspirations levels of ASA employees, as well as the factors influencing the willingness and unwillingness of ASA employees to apply for school leadership positions. Peter’s presentation concluded with a number of practical implications for these school principals that could assist leadership development at the local school level. This presentation was very well received, and further discussions have led to an active partnership being entered based around researching and strengthening the leadership supply pool within the Adventist education sector.

Gain Control By Giving Up Control?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

To have more control, give it to employees! This is the thrust of a very interesting article by Ranjay Gulati (read it here). In the article, Gulati highlights the tensions between employee empowerment and operational discipline. Leaders typically fluctuate between giving too much freedom and not enough.

To address the fluctuations, Gulati proposes implementing well designed and well implemented guidelines to both support and nurture employees. When done well, these provide a “clear positive, galvanizing, sense of where the organization is trying to go”. Essentially this is a “freedom within a framework” approach.

What does this mean? As Gulati says, “it means trusting employees to thank and act independently on behalf of the organisation”. Does that sound dangerous? Yes it is, but what Gulati points out very clearly is that “people now enjoy innumerable channels for sharing concerns and ideas in their personal lives. Compared with these expansive platforms for self-expression, the work-place can feel downright stifling. The freedom of the outside world is banging at the corporate door, demanding to come inside.”

The challenge for leaders is to open that door!

Using some very relevant and interesting case studies as examples, Gulati summarizes the change in a simple model involving:

  • Purpose
  • Priorities
  • Principles

When leaders and employees are clear on what these mean for the organisation, the opportunity exists for a framework which cares less about control and more about empowerment. And when that happens, everyone wins.

The Avondale Business School (ABS) can help your organisation become a winning one, simply contact Dr Warrick Long via or 02 4980 2168.

Unlocking Your Team’s Creativity

Monday, March 4, 2019

Creativity can be coached! A recent article by Rebecca Shambaugh (read it here) outlines both the importance of developing creativity in your teams, and some simple tips leaders can use to get the creative juices flowing.

The compelling argument to focus on creativity comes from Shambaugh’ s assertion that with the rate of rapid change in the market place, leaders cannot afford to rely on the ‘tried and true’ ideas that have bought them past success. Equally so, leaders cannot allow for their team to become complacent or overly ‘agreeable’.

Following is a very brief summary of the tips to stimulate creativity amongst teams, the article itself expands on these, and is well worth the read.

  • Avoid getting hemmed in by process. That is, an over reliance on rules may be stifling your team – try removing limitations of some procedural structures and set every one free.
  • Facilitate spaghetti throwing. While most companies and executives admit that unlocking creative potential is the key to economic growth, very few feel they can do this. Maybe it’s time to just try things and see what “sticks”. If you’ve created safe spaces for people to do so without recrimination, then you are unlocking the potential of healthy conflict and debate. Oh, and don’t micromanage!
  • Reveal “sticky floors”. Some team members feel they are not capable of being creative are limiting themselves. Use your leadership skills to offer coaching and support for such people to get them into the groove and getting a few easy wins to build their confidences and experience with creative success.
  • Encourage a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset appreciate that they will make mistakes, but these are opportunities to learn and grow, and gradually improve. To facilitate this, let your people know that they can fail, perfectionism is not the goal and learning is valued.

An interesting article that helps leaders develop creativity in their workplace, and hopefully move to the next level of success. And Avondale Business School (ABS) can help you do just that. Just contact Warrick Long to chat about how we can help. or 02 4980 2168.

Rewarding Employees

Friday, February 22, 2019

What ‘floats your boat’? That is, what is it that makes you genuinely feel appreciated for the work you do? Is it the big pay packet? Or the internal sense of achievement? Or some gesture of appreciation from your company? Unfortunately, what works for you is unlikely to work for others in your organisation, imply, one size does not fit all. So if you have been magnanimously offering pizza vouchers to staff for their achievements, there is a strong possibility many of them have not felt rewarded or appreciated at all.

I am a big fan of the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman as a means of communicating within meaningful relationships (see Chapman, G. (2010). The 5 love languages: the secret to love that lasts. Chicago: Northfield Publishing). Recognizing these do not necessarily fit as easily into the workplace, Chapman teamed up with a colleague to write the 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Work Place (Chapman, G., & White, P. (2012). The 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace: empowering organizations by encouraging people (Revised and updated. ed.). Chicago: Northfield Publishing). I recommend this to leaders.

And now a friend of mine recently sent me a link to a great article by Dr Jenny Brockis (read it here) that provides another view of rewarding employees. Essentially Brockis advocates acknowledging employees for a job well done by using meaningful gestures. As an example, she references a study in which people were given rewards following an increase in performance. After only a few days performance dropped significantly in those who received a cash bonus, whereas those who received a meaningful complement, the decrease was much less. Money doesn’t activate motivation to do great work, but rather it is praise used appropriately. It’s the little things that mean the most, like being personally thanked. Read the full article to get more tips on how to acknowledge the people you work with.

Knowing what we know now, ask yourself how do you reward others in your workplace?

The Avondale Business School can help your organisation move to the next level, to find out how, contact Dr Warrick Long on

Avondale Business School Awarded the Faculty “Excellence” Award for 2018!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

During the 2019 Staff Professional Development week at Avondale College, the Avondale Business School (ABS) was awarded the Faculty of Education, Business and

ABS Team Members (L-R) Dr Warrick Long, Associate Professor Lisa Barnes (ABS Head), Dr Peter Williams, David Wilson. Absent is ABS Department Assistant Diane Smith

Science “Excellence Award” for 2018, for recognition by external parties of their research output, external engagement activities and teaching.

The staff at ABS have worked hard in 2018 to engage their students with businesses, which involved taking students on excursions to Sydney to visit Qantas, the marketing firm Professional Advantage, and visiting the Australian Institute of Company Directors. A little closer to home, another excursion visited Life Health Foods, which included a factory tour and samples of their products.

The ABS was also recognised for their internship program which had doubled in size from the previous year, and their current research projects, one of which included the new Smart Hub facility located within the business school to reduce commuter travel time for staff who normally travel to Sydney for work and helped create a better work/life balance for employees outside of Avondale.

ABS also had a busy year providing consulting services to a range of organisations in areas such as governance, professional development, board updates and leadership training. Quite apart from this ABS members are also actively engaged in numerous boards and committees with organisations, which helps to keep them current with industry.

The ABS was also recognised for the completion of 2 staff PhDs, and attendance and presentations at several conference and winning two “Best Paper” awards. A great achievement for the ABS.

And The Greatest of These is….

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman recently published an article in HBR which asserts that trust is a leading indicator of whether others evaluate leaders positively or negatively (Read it here).

Using data from the 360 assessments of 87,000 leaders they have distilled the three key elements of trust, and how they are displayed. The level of trust is highly correlated with how people rate a leader’s overall leadership effectiveness. And while the entire article is worth the read, but in summary, here they are:

  1. Positive Relationships – creating positive relationships with other people and groups is vital, and includes being able to:
  • Stay in touch on the issues and concerns of others.
  • Balance results with concern for others.
  • Generate cooperation between others.
  • Resolve conflict with others.
  • Give honest feedback in a helpful way.
  1. Good Judgement/Expertise – that is, the leader is well-informed and knowledgeable. This means:
  • They use good judgement when making decisions.
  • Others trust their ideas and opinions.
  • Others seek after their opinions.
  • Their knowledge and expertise make an important contribution to achieving results.
  • Can anticipate and respond quickly to problems.
  1. Consistency – where leaders walk their talk and do what they say they will do. That means they:
  • Are a role model and set a good example.
  • Walk the talk.
  • Honor commitments and keep promises.
  • Follow through on commitments.
  • Are willing to go above and beyond what needs to be done.

So leaders should never underestimate the impact of building and maintaining the trust of their teams. How do you think you would rate on these three elements?

And remember, if you need help with your leadership or management needs, Avondale Business School is here to help, simply call or ring on 02 4980 2168 or

You Deserve What You Reward

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Do the remuneration and reward policies of your organisation recognize the values and culture you want your organisation to be known for? Or do they reflect the ugly underbelly of what is really happening in your workplace? That’s a tough question, because it is the behaviors of the employees and leaders that determine the culture, and what gets rewarded gets repeated.

Karen Gately in an excellent article ‘Leverage Reward and Recognition Strategies to Drive Culture’ (read it here) addresses this issue and provides some suggestions on how to ensure your programs “not only reinforce desirable behaviors, but make clear also those detrimental to the success of the individual, team or business.”

  1. Create and maintain awareness – regular communication about the program can support efforts to keep the importance of the desirable culture on the radar.
  2. Focus on outcomes and behaviors – place priority on not only what people achieve, but also how they go about it. That is, don’t undermine culture by rewarding people who achieve outcomes by behaving poorly.
  3. Recognize role models – you can do this by acknowledging those members of the team who demonstrate examples of the behaviors that are needed, with the added bonus that as these people progress in the organisation, it will strengthen and grow the culture.
  4. Make no exceptions – don’t reward the ‘high performance’ bully, and irrespective of the nature of their role or authority, someone who is having a detrimental impact on organizational culture or team engagement should not be rewarded.
  5. Be creative – find a variety of ways to reinforce the cultural expectations and positive examples.

The article in full is worth the read to see how Gately expands on these points, because culture can make or break your organisation.

The Avondale Bsuiness School can help you with your organisational needs, to find out how just call or email Warrick Long on 20 4980 2168 or

Too Scared to be Fearless?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

While high-performance organisations are not as common as we would think, there is a common attribute amongst them – being a fearless organisation. Amy Edmondson, in a great article called ‘How Fearless Organisations Succeed’ (read it here), goes right to the heart of the matter and outlines the essential characteristics of being fearless.

A fearless organisation is one where employees have confidence to take risks, and where the organisation minimizes the fear people feel on the job. This provides psychological safety, where there is the belief it is safe to speak up when needed with relevant ideas, questions or concerns, without being shutdown is a gratuitous way. Employees respect and trust each other, and can be candid when needed.

Edmondson quotes a 2017 Gallup poll that notes only three in 1- employees agree with the statement that their opinions count at work. Do the opinions of your employees count at your work?

There are some caveats, which include noting that such a fearless organisation is not one where people agrees for the sake of it, or offer unconditional support for every idea. On the contrary, psychological safety enables candor and openness, and therefore, thrives in an environment of mutual respect.

So how do you create such an environment? The article offers three main things leaders can do:

  1. Set the stage. That is, get people on the same page, with common goals and a shared appreciation of what they are up against.
  2. Invite participation. This involves adopting a mindset of situational humility and engaging in proactive inquiry. No one want to take the risks of proposing ideas when the boss appears to think they know everything.
  3. Respond productively. This sort of a response is characterized by the tree elements of appreciation, destigmatizing failure, and sanctioning clear violations.

I recommend you read the entire article to get the details of these, but this is a good summary to hopefully inspire you to move your organisation towards being more fearless.

If you would like to find out how Avondale Business School can help your organisation become fearless, call or email Warrick Long on 02 4980 2168 or