Leadership Fundamentals – Understand Your Team and Your Customers

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This follows on from an early post entitled  ” Your First 90 days “.

A short cut to success in your leadership role is having complete clarity on who your key stakeholders are, ensuring you know what they expect from you and building solid effective two way relationships with them all.

So, where do you start?

Firstly, set out with the intention of building a thorough understanding of all your team members, regardless of their experience level, seniority, area of responsibility, personality and attitude. Approach this project with an attitude of curiosity to build a complete pen picture for each member of your team. Do it in a way that makes sense to you however insure you consider what makes them tick, what their aims and ambitions are short and long term even if its just to keep doing what they already are that is fine at least you know. What challenges do they face, what do they love doing, are their any people they are struggling with. Capture all the this information per person and design a process whereby you are continually building and refreshing this knowledge of each team member so that over the next few months you know them inside out! Use your regular 1-1’s, times when you are working alongside individuals on specific pieces of work and social interactions to gleam further insights. Cultivating this attitude of interest and curiosity will enable you to adjust your leadership style accordingly and look out for opportunities where you can put the right work their way and design appropriate development interventions to help each person grow under your leadership tenure.

In parallel to building an in depth understanding of your team you need to take a similar approach with all your customers internal and external. Try and put yourself in their shoes and anticipate what they need from you and your team for them each to be successful. Armed with your thoughts check this out with each person at the earliest opportunity to ensure you haven’t missed anything and to identify the priority expectations and requirements of your role from their perspective as customers. Often we are busy doing work that we think is critically important which our customers don’t value in the same way.

For both your team and internal/external customers ask yourself “how healthy and enjoyable is the working relationship between the two of you?” Score each relationship between 1 and 10, 1 being very broken and hard work to 10 being extremely productive and enjoyable in fact it doesn’t really seem like work! Identify the most important stakeholders that have the lowest quality rating 1-10 and then think about what you need to do to make improvements.

Take a similar approach with your peer group and your manager so you can establish what each needs from you and how effective the working relationship currently is.

Its worth repeating this type of exercise annually as people change roles a lot and also business expectations change as strategy changes.

Sandra works as an executive coach for businesses and also has a private coaching practice for career/life and business coaching. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com. She is also author of Own It – regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon Check book out here and a recently launched series of Own It Podcasts which gives inspiration and tips for professional and personal life Own It Podcasts

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Young Minds

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I have just finished watching a programme on TV where a group of celebrities undertook an experiment where they tried to reduce their physical and mental ages over a period of three weeks 100 years younger in 21 days

It was fascinating to see how the aging process was affecting them all very differently due to either current habits or prior lifestyle bad habits having taken their toll. Throughout the three-week period some individuals needed to focus on their mental capacity while others had more health and physical challenges.

The physical challenges where they were encouraged to exercise more and eat better weren’t surprising as most of us know what we should and shouldn’t eat and that we need to keep moving. What I learnt most were the changes that occurred that radically improved some of the participants mental health scores in such a short period of time.

There were dramatic improvements in mental ageing in fact reversing the effect resulting in three key activities the celebrities were made aware of

  1. Meditation
  2. Learning new skills
  3. The sense of belonging that came from being part of a group

If we take each I turn there were just a few take home messages that I think are useful to us all.

Meditation doesn’t appeal to everyone and certainly in the programme the person that benefited the most initially demonstrated a lot of resistance to even the idea let alone the practice of it. It took another person in the group who had personally benefited themselves from the practice to buddy up with the individual and persist gently through the initial reservations and difficulties to the point where it started to become an enjoyable habit with huge quick positive effects that reinforced the new habit further. The correlation between the habit of regular meditation and improved sleep quality was amazing and without question a good reason to continue.

When it came to learning new skills, the key point was it doesn’t have to be a particular type of skill. Initially the group were introduced to learning a new language however if anyone struggled with this challenge then other more practical rather than cerebral activities were suggested to get a similar result. The key message here aww keep the brain active by exposing it to new challenges.

The final factor was the sense of belonging and the obvious communication involved from being part of a group or team was evident. The mutual support they gave each other at various stages of the process especially when an individual was finding part of the regime tough was an equally important bi product of the process.

  • So, are you continually learning?
  • Do you actively engage in a community/group that provides support and encouragement?
  • Have you explored a meditation practice? maybe just try for 5 mins a day for a couple of weeks see if you find it beneficial

 

Sandra works as a coach for both businesses and private clients. She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms. More info can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

Personal Wellbeing – Two Critical Lists

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In the last post I mentioned meeting a lot of people recently who were running on empty, in danger of becoming ill and being stopped in their tracks.

I am much more aware of recognising key signs in both others and myself now than I was in my earlier years ; this is as a result of both personal experience and watching when others have been stopped in their tracks, forced to take corrective action and start looking after themselves better.

Sometimes it is at exactly this point that potential clients pick up the phone and come and see me for the initial coaching conversation when they realise they need to do things differently and make some changes in their lives either professionally, personally or sometimes both.

There are two books that I have read that I totally recommend on this subject when it comes to either recovering from burn out  or ideally preventing from happening in the first place

  • Adrenal Fatigue – James L Wilson
  • The Body doesn’t Lie – Vicky Vlachanis

Both of these take a completely holistic view and encourage us to take care of ourselves mentally and physically on an on going basis along with recognising when we are going off course as early as possible.

A practical exercise I get clients to do and I also practice myself is to generate two simple lists that we can regularly look at to ensure we are following the right one

  1. List one – things that make me feel good
  2. List two – things that make me feel bad

These are obviously going to be very unique to the individual and could contain things like activities that make you feel good or bad, places that make you feel good or bad, food that makes you feel fantastic or rubbish, people that make you feel downbeat and negative or make your laugh and bring your energy up.

You can start making these lists immediately however what happens is that when you get used to using them you find yourself adding things to both lists on an on going basis as you discover new people, new ways of eating,  new activities, new places and to reflect changes you make in your life.

How you use these lists practically is in partnership with the signs and signals you identified in the last post so for example if you find yourself going down the low energy, no patience with anything, not thriving route you look at the “things that make me feel good list” and schedule time for these things. Also take a look at the “things that make me feel bad list” and make a note of anything that you have been doing too much of on this list and stop doing it to reverse the trend.

If you feel you are heading down the “burnt out” route then check out the books above and start creating your lists based on the holistic approach , add to both lists at least monthly for the first couple of months. Keep them to hand in case you need then.

If you are feeling good at the moment create the lists anyway as a preventative measure and out of interest it should reflect the reason you are feeling good is that you are doing stuff list number one – keep doing what you are doing.

 

Sandra provides coaching for both Businesses and Private Clients. More information about coaching can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

 

 

 

Use Your Natural Strengths More

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The next technique to learn is to ask yourself what strengths do I naturally have that I can use to solve any problem or challenge that comes my way and move towards a solution orientation? Do you know your natural strengths?

You may have received some 360-degree feedback over the years in various forms formally or informally so this is a good source of information especially in identifying what other people think you are good at.

To add to any existing feedback in your possession and to give a fresh perspective there is a very useful free resource online that could be help, go to  www.viacharacter.org and click on the survey tab where you go and take a free test that identifies your top natural strengths. The report looks at strengths very differently and has more of a value internal perspective. When I did the test my top one is “love of learning” and this is so true and linked to my top motivational factor.

Either use the test above to identify what you naturally do well or use your own self-awareness to ask “how can I use my natural strengths to solve this problem?”

If I use myself as an example I am a resource investigator (I found this out using Belbin team types diagnostic tool many years ago in my corporate career). What this means is I can normally find someone to help either myself or anyone else and I don’t mind asking people to help share their expertise. When faced with a tricky problem I can’t solve myself I would pull on this skill to look at my existing network to access expertise or experience of similar problems to help me explore possible options for the problem in front of me.

It might be worth listing down a summary list of “ What I am naturally good at and love to do” so that when faced with a challenging situation you can look at this list and it might spark off an action or approach that will help you move forwards and because it is capitalizing on natural strength then the action wont feel too hard it will come to you easily.

 

Sandra works as a professional coach for both Businesses and Private Clients, More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com

 

 

 

The Pie Chart Model of Happiness

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If you are like me a book worm with an interest in self-development and personal growth you will have a mountain of books many of which touch on the subject of happiness, how to achieve living life full out. I even wrote one of my own! see link at tend of the article in bio if you are interested in this one.

It wasn’t until I embarked on my current positive psychology coach CPD that I had ever seen the subject of happiness broken down into a model that really resonated with me and I am sure it will be a framework worth discussing with both existing and future clients. I came across the model while reading one of books on the required reading list, The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky  https://amzn.to/2q7DWql in this book the model in question suggests that 50% is genetic ie. we are genetically predisposed to either look on life with either a positive or negative view and she calls this our ‘set point’ 10% is dependent on circumstances that surround us or that we find our self in and 40% is down to actions we can choose to take which in the book she refers to as “intentional activity and habits”

I loved this model straight away as I am often challenged from mainly friends and family who ask the question ‘isn’t it easier for some people to be “Rays of Sunshine”, those positive energetic uplifting people that we like to be around. Some of these people suggest they could never be like these Rays of Sunshine because of their situation or circumstances. What this model suggests is  that although they may have a point to a certain extent that action can definitely be taken by everyone to improve their overall happiness by 40% at least. The only segment we have got no control about according to this particular book is our genetic disposition.

I have always known that people who live life with a glass half full attitude the majority of the time have often done a lot of work in identifying the actions they need to take on a regular basis to maintain this outlook on life. It doesn’t come without taking action to develop good habits and choosing to do this is optional. When you see that taking time to learn how to do this and discover which are the actions that have the most positive impact on you personally then its easier to invest the time to build these into routine; habits that can contribute to the 40% intentional action segment of Sonias model.

I found this book quite encouraging to see how much is in our control if we choose to accept this. So even if genetically you are born with a glass half empty bias and your life circumstances aren’t great at the moment there is still stuff you can do to make the situation better.

 

Sandra works as a coach for both Businesses and Private Clients largely based in Bristol/London or Palma Majorca find out more at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or her book can be found on amazon  Own It – regain control and live life on your terms  http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

 

Continued Personal Development

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As part of most professional qualifications or to secure and maintain membership of a professional body we are required to source, attend and document Continuous Professional Development (CPD). I first encountered this requirement when I became a qualified management account many years ago and I now have a similar requirement with my International Coaching Federation (ICF) accreditation.

Depending on your personality you will either have put a plan in place to evidence all the CPD requirements by the required date well in advance or if you are more of a last minute person the reminder of this CPD renewal will suddenly arrive in your inbox and there will be a mild sense of panic resulting in this going on the mental to do list.

Every time such professional requirements appear on my horizon I have mixed emotions. The first initial one is “oh no how on earth am I going to find time to do this” quickly followed by a second thought of “this could be really onerous and boring” and a third one of “this is going to cost a lot of money”. As I am a naturally structured plan in advance person I haven’t got the additional pressure of having to find something last minute that I can complete or attend to get the right number of hours under my belt to submit.

As I approach this requirement now I am very lucky in the fact that a fellow coach had done a lot of research (during a spell of enforced illness) and researched the most cost effective, time efficient and interesting programmes available on the market. This has proved invaluable to me as all I had to do was look at the recommended course and verify I could commit the time, money and that it would be of value to both myself individually and my client base.

So, a few months ago I committed and enrolled on a Positive Psychology Coaching Programme run out of the USA. It is my first complete experience of a worldwide distance learning course which involves webinars, peer coaching via Skype or telephone and written work. This whole way of learning was the first benefit for me as my immediate reaction was that I prefer face to face work however to date this multimedia and distance approach is working just fine.

Regarding financial commitment yes, it is a lot however if I choose to be aligned to the most highly recognised Coaching federation this is non-negotiable, and the investment must be made. As always, the time slots required I have managed to integrate into my already busy diary, I have mad at least one new great connection to add to my network and the subject matter I am already using in my work.

So, for anyone reading this who is required to do similar CPD work, have you got this sorted yet? If not, it may be a good idea to plan out what you intend to do meet your specific professional requirements and commit. In addition find activities that met the requirements but are also of personal interest and benefit for personal and professional growth.

 

 

Sandra works as a professional coach for both business and private clients. More information can be found at www.sandrawebbercoaching.com or in her book Own It available from Amazon  http://amzn.to/2m3l8Vl

Manager, Mentor, Coach

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The importance of having either a mentor or coach (ideally both) has always been apparent to me from the early part of my career. When I was qualifying as an accountant in my twenties I was lucky to be working for some great role models who encouraged personal development and growth both from a technical and interpersonal standpoint.

I have a clear distinction in my mind between a persons line manager, a mentor and a coach however for others sometimes the lines can get blurred. If you can create strong relationships with all three of these people at any one time different things can be gained from each. At the same time you will feel both challenged and supported if you surround yourself with the right people in all of these roles.

As well as having all three of these people in your life if you can get the opportunity to act in all of these three roles to aid the development of others this is also very rewarding work and allows you to experience what I think are the differences between the roles. Let’s take each in turn and I will explain how I have experienced them

Line Manager – the most obvious in that organisationally this is who you report too if employed, if self employed this won’t be in place and makes the other two roles below even more important to avoid working in a void. A good line manager will ensure you have complete clarity about that is required from your role, give you feedback on whether you are heading in the right direction performance wise while in addition set you stretching objectives and devise a meaningful development plan.

Mentor – this is someone who has walked the path you want to take and has learnt from experience and willing to share how these experiences may help you follow a similar path. They should be inspiring and enjoy helping you proceed in your journey in your way but with the benefit of learnings they may be able to pass on. This relationship normally is in place for a relatively short time until you have discussed their journey. A mentoring relationship can last for about a year however if there is a big gap between where the mentor is and where you are now the relationship may last longer and move into a more infrequent checkin over a longer period of time.

Coach – this is someone you meet with again over a set period of time anything from 3 months to 9 months typically. The coaching sessions act as safe spaces for you to get clear on your goals (work and non work), explore options for action, any barriers you may be struggling to overcome and any patterns of behaviour or thinking that are either working for you or against you. A coach will use established tools and techniques that include powerful questions to unlock the answers that are already inside you. A qualified coach does not need specialist knowledge about what you want to work on or technical expert subject matter.

My recommendation would be to have at least two of these people in your life and to at least get the opportunity to act as a mentor for others in either a professional or personal area.

 

Sandra works as a coach and trainer for both business and private clients. More information can be found at http://www.sandrawebbercoaching.com