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Leaders. Get your head in the clouds

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, April 17, 2016

The big picture doesn't cut it any more. It's the friggin HUGE picture that matters now.

Remember that famous analogy of the rocks, pebbles and sand that Dr Stephen Covey made famous? (If you've been living under a rock - pun intended - thencheck out this video from FranklinCovey). Well in the 90's and early 2000's that was a great way to plan, execute and manage your time.

But today in 2016 it's simply not going to cut it.

As suggested by Gary Vaynerchuk, today you need to act more like a futurist and have your head in the clouds and far ahead on the horizon as well as still keep your feet in the sand (Gary says the dirt but I prefer the beach) at the granular level.

Today the companies and leaders who succeed have learned to reach up high and tap down low, to think 30 years ahead and to execute and innovate in the now. Think like Apple and Tesla.  

Think about your own industry for a moment. Where do you see it heading in 30 years time? Will it still exist? Will it have been replaced by robots and artificial intelligence? What technology will be needed to support the people driving change?

And what can you do about that now? How can you begin to be more like sand in the surf, being flexible and nimble, light and able to shift and move with the current. Or are you still focused on the rocks, stuck, stagnant and unable to adapt and adopt? Is there a massive ship about to crash into your rock and because you weren't checking the view from the lighthouse in the clouds, and now you're unable to adjust course and move your business left or right, up or down?

VISION is worthless without EXECUTION

and 

EXECUTION is pointless without VISION.

You not only have to know your craft intimately (your sand) but also understand where your business and industry is heading (your clouds). If you stick with the rocks you'll be average and get average results. You have to start reaching up and tapping down rather than spreading out. Gone are the industrial age days of growth for growth sake. Bigger larger plant sizes, more staff, bigger contracts, even when the margins were getting smaller and smaller and profits less and less we saw big companies still aiming for lateral growth, taking up space, wasting energy on their middle aged spread.

Tomorrow's successful businesses will be vastly different they'll be grounded, long, lean and wiry, reaching, reaching, reaching for the clouds. They'l be architects and masons. Grounded yet unsettled. Think Uber, Air BNB and Alibaba.

Those companies stuck in the middle bland land will get lost in the sea of sameness, stuck with massive overheads, large volumes of wasted stock, with buildings, land and machinery of little worth. They'll have large footprints that take up a lot of space and have massive environmental impacts. They'll play it safe when safe is no longer a valid strategy.

If you're thinking 1-3 years in the future, you're leaving yourself and your company vulnerable and exposed. If you're spending three days at a leadership retreat planning your three year strategic plan and then reporting blindly for the next three years against that plan then you're essentially dead in the water. 

You need to forget the big picture and aim for the HUGE picture. You need to think where do we need to be in 2050 not in 2017. All the best leaders and companies now are bringing in futurists to consider 10, 20, 30 years into the future and then executing in three day, three week and three monthly cycles. 

Remember just five short years ago Netflix weren't streaming movies, and Snapchat and Instagram didn't exist. Where did they come from? The clouds.

You can't go for incremental improvement any more, you need to evolve. Start losing yourself in the clouds and then getting gritty in the sand. That way you're more likely to create something remarkable, something epic that will change the game.

Leaders you have to be the brains but you have to get your hands dirty too. Stop stressing so much about the dumb little sh*% and start playing the bigger game. Most of our daily grind is just a result of not having clarity about the huge picture 30 years out. Once you have that kind of huge clarity, everything falls into perspective.

Build an epic vision and a huge why, solve a future global problem, then build and create all the time listening to the market as you course correct, adjust and improvise every day. Oh yeah and remember to keep your eye on the clouds!

If you want to read more about this topic see my recent presentation for the April meetings of Higher Power Leaders Network here on Slideshare.


Balanced Leaders Create Healthy Cultures

Alexandria Joy - Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Most people today could share a story about someone they've worked for who was highly intelligent, highly skilled and got promoted to a position of leadership only to drive their workers around the bend and leave them running for the hills.

This common story told the world over suggests that identifying individuals with the right goods to be a great leader is not an exact science or exercise in who has the best resume. After all, evidence shows that the personal styles of the best leaders vary greatly as seen from my recent list of the 50 leaders I most want to interview.

Some leaders are quiet, conscientious and analytical, others are bold and boisterous preaching their vision and values to the biggest audience they can find. Regardless of their external personality traits however, we have found through our work at UQ Power that the most effective leaders are alike in one crucial way: they create healthy workplace cultures where their workers feel safe and valued.

In the course of the past year, my colleagues and I have focused on how leaders and managers can create the most physically, emotionally and psychologically healthy workplace cultures. Using our proprietary UQ Powerhouse Blueprint we have worked with numerous public and private organisations and examined the relationship between IQ - innovation and intellectual safety, EQ - emotional intelligence and psychological safety, BODY - cultural presence and physical safety and VISION - clarity of purpose and financial safety, especially in leaders. And we have observed how each of these four dimensions, the quadruple bottom line, shows themselves on the job.

Which is why most people today could share a story about someone they've worked for who had high IQ but low EQ and drove them around the bend. When we study organizational psychology, culture and well being we begin to see that one area connects to another, and another in such a way that it is hard to isolate one without considering the other. Organizations therefore could more appropriately be seen as a complex living organisms rather than simply as an organization.

Identifying what makes an organisation healthy is not a straightforward science as one needs to appreciate the UQ (uniqueness quotient) of each individual employee - basically every worker has different motivators and or stressors and each group or team has its own dynamic which in turn ultimately creates the organisation’s culture.

What we have found through our work is that just like any other living organism, an organisation needs to be nourished, maintained, and experience growth in order to sustain it over the longer term. It also needs some essential nutrients to ensure it maintains peak health including:

Nutrient 1 - Free Flowing Communication: Communication is always a two-way street and requires contextual listening (listening beyond words to what is being said, not said and felt). So many companies are built on top-down communication from management leaving employees feeling there is no point in saying how they feel as they have no direct channel and don't feel they'll have an impact. Effective leaders and managers are those who create an atmosphere that fosters trust and open, two-way communication. Communication can be critical especially during difficult times such as those recently experienced as a result of the economic downturn (Read this article to find out more about leading during a downturn).

Nutrient 2 - People emPOWERment: By understanding and appreciating the UQ (uniqueness) in each and every employee and leveraging their individual talents, a leader will build confidence and trust and empower individuals to self-manage. By empowering employees to be victors rather than victims, to celebrate their uniqueness rather than punishing their imperfections, by owning their responsibilities, a healthy empowered environment is created. Through an empowered workplace you will not only have the benefits of enhanced productivity but you can grow your reputation among your customers and stakeholders.

Nutrient 3 - Spreading PositivityIn The Happiness Advantage, former Harvard professor Shawn Achor argues that people who start off happy are more likely to succeed and using stories and case studies from his work with thousands of Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries, Achor explains how organisations can gain a competitive advantage by shifting employees to become more positive too. Similarly Professor Richard Boyatzis' Intentional Change Theory states that intense positive emotions will have a contagion effect on others. Likewise we must be conscious of the negative emotions one emits as well, Boyatzis suggesting that for every negative thought three positive thoughts are needed to counter the affect.

Nutrient 4 - Cool Collaboration: In short, teams that play together, stay together. A leader's job is to ensure everyone in the organization must work in solving problems while adapting change together. Cohesive organizations build unity toward improving and resolving issues as a team and not as isolated units. Simon Sinek frequently cites the Marine Corps for having found a way to build a culture in which men and women are willing to risk their lives, because they know others would do the same for them. It’s not brainwashing; it’s actually based on the biology of how and when people are naturally at their best. If businesses could adopt this supportive mentality, employees would be more motivated to take bigger risks, because they’d know their colleagues and company would back them up, no matter what.

The best company cultures are vibrant, healthy ones where the well being of individuals and the sustainability of the organization go hand in hand. It is ultimately a place where individuals are inspired to work, trust, and value the uniqueness in one another, while reinforcing the mission of the organization.

What interventions, improvement programs or cultural reviews have proven to work well for you and your organization?

What other nutrients do you believe support a healthy organizational culture, not listed in the list above? 

Feel free to share a comment or two about your experiences below, I'd love to know.

References
Achor, Shawn The Happiness Advantage
Adelson, S. and LaRoche, G . (n.d) The Power of Positive Emotional Attractors. Boyatzis, R. E., Soler, C. (2012). Vision, leadership and emotional intelligence transforming family business, Journal of Family Business Management.
Sinek, Simon (2014) Leaders Eat Last
Topping, Peter, (2002), Managerial Leadership. McGraw-Hill.

How Poor Leaders Are Killing Us

Alexandria Joy - Friday, November 28, 2014
"Our jobs are killing us and the people who are responsible are our leaders."


I recently heard Simon Sinek say this in a YouTube video and it really struck a chord. How did you feel when you read that? Harsh reality? Don't believe me? Or perhaps you have had an experience yourself or heard someone say "my boss is busting my balls" or "my manager is killing me!"

These might be throw away comments around the water cooler but sadly they are a reflection of reality. 
In my view and experience leadership is not a rank or position – it is a choice. It is a choice to be of service and support others. Since first reading Robert Greenleaf's powerful book The Servant Leader when writing my thesis paper for my master's degree in my late 20's, to working for the General Manager of a large teaching hospital with 3,000 staff who clearly cared about his staff and how they cared for their patients, I began the journey of studying servant leaders.

Some of the most powerful lessons I learnt came from working in toxic environments where there was a clear container manager culture of restrictive, measured and fear based decisions that created a dog eat dog, dobber mentality amongst staff. Here I saw how even one container manager at the top could have a negative impact on people's self-esteem, health, wellbeing and relationships both at work and at home.

Almost as bad as the container manager was the disinterested manager where I witnessed people shrivel and lose their spark as they became undervalued and invisible.

And the research proves working for these poor leaders is a problem for individual employees as well as for the organisation. Studies from Europe and the US are showing that when people say “my boss is killing me”, quite literally this could be the case - around 25% of people who have worked for a poor manager for a short period of time and 38% of the people who have worked for a poor manager for a longer period of time are more likely to have a stroke or heart disease later in life as a product of working with them.

Biologically working with a manager who makes us feel paranoid and anxious and unsafe creates too much cortisol in our body which compromises our immune system, will make us self-interested and stressed, and makes us less empathic and considerate of others.

In addition, being ignored by a manager results in a 4 in 10 chance you’ll be actively disengaged in your job on a daily basis. If your manager tells you what you’re doing wrong – there’s a 2 in 10 chance you’ll be actively disengaged at work.

On the other hand if you are fortunate to work for an expander leader who focuses primarily on your strengths – there’s only a slim 1 in 10 chance that you’ll be disengaged at work.

So what is it that expander leaders do differently to poor leaders or container manager? Expander or servant leaders:
  • create more leaders – they are of service
  • see possibility in every individual employee and seek to find the Uniqueness (I call it the UQ) in every single person
  • are more likely to sacrifice self for the good of the many and the organisation
  • take care to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.
  • focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.
  • give control, not take control.
Of the company's I've studied over the past two decades, those with an expander leader driven culture experience:
  • less staff turnover
  • less OHS issues, disputes and claims
  • increased productivity
  • increased profit
  • increased stakeholder and employee engagement.
Creating a positive, productive and mentally healthy workplace culture is one of the important issues businesses face today. A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers report identified that ignoring it costs Australian businesses around $10.9 billion a year in lost productivity. And with stress, anxiety and poor mental health likely to affect one in five employees, by taking action the benefits can be profound.

The benefits are clear. Business leaders need to make a long-term commitment to a creating positive, mentally healthy workplace, not killing their people. By taking the initiative, you'll not only make your company a better place to work where people feel respected as unique individuals, you can help make it more productive and profitable. And that's just good business.

Want to change the world? Become an Expander Leader and #StartwithU
If you're sick and tired of working for a container manager and are at your wit's end you might like to watch my video "How to tell your boss they suck".

Brendan Burchard Masterclass demonstrates How to Identify, Package, Market and Drive Your Expertise

Alexandria Joy - Sunday, June 08, 2014

My favourite nuggets of wisdom from the day

Last week I attended the event How to Identify, Package, Market and Drive Your Expertise Master Class in Sydney at Luna Park in the Big Top and after posting this photo on Facebook:

I had several friends and clients send me messages asking how it was, who the speakers were and what did I learn.

Always keen for an opportunity to sharpen the saw, and I had attended this event in particular to see Brendan Burchard in person after observing his internet success. I came away from the event with my wallet intact (no I didn’t fall for any of the limited number of seats act now sales pitches) but my notebook full. Surprisingly for a pitch-fest style event (we all gotta eat) I found that I did have some really great takeaways and nuggets of wisdom in my notepad from the day.

Below I've included a quick takeaway from each of the speakers on the day. (For my full seven pages of notes leave your name and email below and I'll happily send you a full copy of my notes.)

Speaker 1 – Scott Harris from Australia - Developing the Psychology behind Your Success

Scott suggested you need to:

1 - Become an expert in your life - really understand yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, habits and beliefs
2 - Invite some experts into your life - surround yourself with smart people who have been there before so you don't have to recreate the wheel and can replicate their systems.

Speaker 2 - KERWIN RAE from Australia  - The 5 Pillars of a fast growth Expert empire
Keys to Getting the Basics Down
  • Simplify
  • Streamline (know the things that don’t matter)
  • Automate
  • Immerse

Speaker 3 - ANDY HARRINGTON [UK] - Promoting Yourself as the Authority in Your Subject

Five Areas to be an extraordinary speaker:
  • IMPACT – break people’s pattern en masse.
  • INFORM – a message that informs people without overwhelming them.  
  • INSPIRE – more people emotionally by changing their state.
  • INFLUENCE – move them into action.
  • INCOME – too many poor coaches and consultants and authors.

Speaker 4 - BRENDON BURCHARD [USA] - Positioning yourself as an Expert on any topic area
  • “Experts are always students first.” Brendan Burchard.  If you’re waiting for someone to tell you, you’re a divine being, well here it is “you’re good to go.”.
  • You don’t have energy or confidence, you generate it.
  • It’s about adult learning – you just have to apply the science to it.
  • You can teach any topic to anyone whenever you decide to.
  • You just need to believe and decide to start.
Thanks to a post a US friend Jennifer Bourn shared recently from the Copyblogger’s Authority Intensive 2014 that I found really interesting, I figured I would get my fabulous assistant Claire to type up my notes of the best bits, the quotables, and the action items — so you can benefit from the most notable content shared too.
To access my full simply click on this link and leave your full name and email. Enjoy! 

I hope this post and my full notes helped you provide you with some of the best bits without the pitch fest parts in between!

How about you? Did you attend the event in the Big Top? What did you think? Did one of the nuggets of wisdom listed above speak to you or catch your attention? Or did you think it was all just too much hype and sell, sell, sell at the back of the room? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


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