Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Communicating Through The Noise

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

“Sorry?” That is the reflex response from anyone in my family when one of us makes even a vague comment about ears or hearing. The goal is to try and get the person to repeat what they said. Silly, I know, but we’ve been doing it for so long it is ingrained in our DNA!

Communication can be a very big issue in relationships, especially in workplaces where we usually don’t have the benefit of an intimate family history together. A recent article I came across deals with one aspect of communication, specifically when the conversation takes a turn for the worst. Alexandra Hayes takes a look at this and has brought together some tips on how to minimize the damage. The full article can be read here, and following is a very brief summary for you.

  1. Breathe – take a deep breath, and slow things down.
  2. Don’t be accusatory – no labeling other people as that can be offensive to them. And check your non-verbal’s (like eye rolling).
  3. Don’t be preachy – trying to always be right and winning down not help.
  4. Avoid Combative dialogue – avoid trying to one-up the other person
  5. Avoid 100% certainty – certainty is dangerous so avoid absolute terms like “always” and “never”, which put the other person onto the defensive.

At the end of the day the goal is to be able to communicate respectfully, allowing each person to truly hear what the other person has to say.

Avondale Business School is well placed to help your team develop its communication skills. To find out how, contact Warrick Long at Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

or 02 4980 2168.

ABS Reports on the AICD Summit 2019 “Rising to the Moment”

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

ABS Head Associate Professor Lisa Barnes attend the recent Australian Institute of Company Directors 4th Annual Governance conference in Sydney on the 4th  and 5th of March.

The opening panel was a debate on the future of corporate governance in Australia, with panel members Penny Bingham-Hall (non-executive Director), David Gonski (Chairman of ANZ) and Heather Ridout of Australian Super. Hot topic of course was the recent findings of the Royal commission into the banking sector, with Mr Gonski readily admitting they dropped the ball in terms of governance and now have a fairly rigorous amount of work to do to repair the culture from within the organisation particularly around the notion of remuneration, to gain back the trust of their stakeholders. The following was a quote that ended the session from David Gonski.

This was followed by a presentation by current CEO of Xero Steve Vamos, who has previously worked with the likes of Steve Jobs. His message was clear, we need to “humanise” our workforce and presented his talent mapping tool, where staff can be placed into one of 9 boxes, so that they can be targeted in terms of their potential in particular for succession planning. Steve asked the question are you “driving the right culture for your business”?

At the heart of it is “us” to think about how we want to achieve good culture. The humanisation of the workforce was the primary message here. He recommended to read the book “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella current CEO of Microsoft – a mindset change may even happen! In his words “Culture” shapes why people do what they do and how they do it. Values and engagement are elements of culture. The CEO is the chief culture officer. Culture is a contact sport.

Next was Ann Sherry AO FAICD Chairman, Carnival Australia and Board member of NAB discussed outcomes from the royal commission, she stated that the board should have “listened more” they were focussed on short term numbers rather than long term outcomes, they basically lost their customer focus. Stepping back from a human level, they got caught up in the micro, forgetting the macro.

Finally to end the first day was a role playing “hypothetical” session attended by 5 high profile Company Directors entitled “Moral and Ethical Decision Making in the Boardroom – Exploring the complex dilemmas facing todays Board”. 5 different scenarios were posed from a cyberattack, media leak accusing the company of unethical sales practices and discussion on amoral practices companies unwillingly engage in. A great way for delegates to continue thinking about their own performance as a Board member is this constantly challenging state that us being on a Board.

The second day of the summit opened up with Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel’s address on the Imperative of Innovation. He predicts the advent of fully autonomous companies by the end of the decade – that is no humans running companies, just DirectorBots. Alan touched on his 6 year role as Chancellor at Monash University. In his opinion a good director should be competent, intelligent and well meaning. Directors when making decisions shouldn’t be asking can we do this, but should we do this.

The second session of the day was a panel “Unlocking the value of doing the right thing”. Panel members included Michael O’Loughlin (ex Sydney Swans player and GO Foundation co-founder), Jill Hannaford, Shelley Reys & Shirley Chowdhary. Run by Ali Moore, journalist with the ABC, the panel discussed diversity and inclusion and embedded work practices, particularly the representation of indigenous people and cultural awareness in corporates.

The next session involved the Not-For-Profit sector, entitled the “Evolution of the for-purpose sector”. The panel discussion centred on remuneration of directors on for-purpose boards. A representative of the ACNC, the Productivity Commission, and some directors of for-purpose directors, also discussed the changes of reduction in not-for-profit red tape, but increase in liability and fiduciary responsibilities for directors serving on for-purpose boards.

The next panel discussed Future Trends: Preparing for the next cycle of change.

This panel discussed technology governance, in the framework of ethics, regulation, agile governance approaches, & competitive advantage. In a live audience poll asking “which trend is your Board least prepared for?”, 34% felt least prepared for governance of emerging technologies, followed by 27% machine learning, 22% autonomous machines and finally 18% social trends.

The final session was a discussion on the findings of the Royal Commission into the Banking and Finance Sector. According to Honorary Neville Owen who presided over the HIH Royal Commission in 2003, his views have not changed with the recent outcomes from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, he wants to know, did anyone ask themselves “is this right”?. The summit finished with a panel made up of the AICD Chair, Justice Owen, Ali Moore (ABC) taking questions from the audience on any matters concerning director and governance.

The conference program can be accessed via the AICD website at https://aicd.companydirectors.com.au/-/media/cd2/resources/events/ags/2019/pdf/06841-5-eve-national-conference-ags-march19-program-v15.ashx.

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. Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au 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 Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au.

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.

The Power of the Executive Assistant

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

I have long been a believer that the real power in any office does not lie with the “bosses”, but with those who look after the bosses. And now I have the research to support my hunch.

Dilemma-Assist, in conjunction with the International Management Assistants (IMA) network recently released a report ‘The Secret Power in the Office’ (read it here), which is the first international survey of the executive assistant’s role in integrity and business ethics. The findings are fascinating, and at time disturbing.

So rather than being the ‘gate keepers’ Executive Assistants (EA) are actually seen more as the ‘confidant’ or ‘trusted advisor’ of their bosses, frequently being asked for their advice on all manner of issues, including internal promotions and hiring new executives. The report actually uses the analogy of spiders in the web, because the EAs are seen as having access to all the most confidential information, internal politics and personal behaviors within the organisation. A very powerful positon indeed.

However, the research also found some quite disturbing things as well. For example:

  • EAs are frequently confronted with serious misconduct, the most common being waste or abuse of corporate resources
  • Facing inappropriate or rude behavior
  • They also do not feel comfortable to speak up when faced with inappropriate behavior (only a third are prepared to, and even less if their immediate superior is involved)

The report goes into each of these (and other issues) in some depth, and is a very interesting read. The challenge is to image how much better the organisation would fare if these talented and well informed individuals were even more onside and treated better.

So take a moment to reflect on the relationship between you and your team – is it as good as you think it is, or are they too scared to speak up?

The Avondale Business School (ABS) is able to help you and your team maximize their potential. To find out how, call Warrick Long on 02 4980 2168 or email Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

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 Warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

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 warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

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 warrick.long@avondale.edu.au

Book Review: Option B

Sunday, January 13, 2019

How do you rebuild your life after the loss of you husband and the father of you two young children? Business leader Sheryl Sandberg has no choice but to adjust to her option B life.

Sandberg, with the insights of her co-author psychologist Adam Grant, lays out the raw emotion of the loss she experienced, and the pathway she chose to move forward, pursuing her option B life, now that her option A had been taken away from her forever.  Their book is Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (2017 and published by WH Allen)

Whilst Sandberg draws from your own deeply personal experience, the book introduces a range of other issues in life that can cause us to have to look at an option B for our life. It addresses subjects like the role of friends and family, our own self-confidence, getting back into the workplace, and helping kids through the journey as well.

Using solid well researched principles, the authors give the reader tools rather than a prescriptive approach to handle whatever life has thrown at you. This acknowledges that each situation is deeply personal and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach.

The book is well written, organised well and flows easily. It was very easy to read and challenged me in not only thinking about how to handle the difficult moments in life, but how to help other people handle theirs. I highly recommend this book, which although is not a standard management text, certainly is very important in slef0leadersherip. I believe it is important that everyone read this book.

Reviewed by Dr Warrick Long, Lecturer at Avondale Business School