The stories that can ruin your business (part 1)

2 years ago 0 0 595

I was presenting on culture and leadership at a recent conference (#100millionimpacts, for B1G1), and whilst facilitating a panel discussion, a common theme that emerged was the importance of the stories in business. In response to many questions after the session, here are a few thoughts on stories in business to extend that discussion further: Stories are powerful means of communication. Often, people believe that storytelling ends when the kids grow up. However, there are stories being told within your business – and about your business – that can either take it to new heights of success or lead it to ruin. What stories are being told about your business? People communicate through stories. As people communicate, they engage each other through analogy (this is like that), metaphor (the army of sales reps) and stories. Humans are always using these processes to engage their listeners, develop shared meaning and convey

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How the status quo is quietly killing your change efforts

2 years ago 0 0 676

Working on many change projects, you often see highly motivated people, with brilliant change plans and clear benefits to all. And yet these best laid plans simply fail. The time, investment and effort put in counts for nothing, and somehow the organisation manages to veer back to its old habits and its established status quo. There are several key factors that ensure that your change process will succeed. The most overlooked one is hidden within the culture and fabric of your business – the human systems that have developed over time. Your business is actually full of these human ‘systems’, which actively work to derail any change efforts you seek to make. A business full of human systems A system is any group of interactions between individuals or groups. Most businesses have many overlapping ‘systems’, which each develop their own rules, structures and processes, becoming more and more closed to

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you get what you deserve

Your culture – you get what you deserve

3 years ago 0 0 989

It is interesting when working with organisations that are struggling with culture issues, poor performance and less-than-desirable behaviours, how often the leaders believe they are ‘victims’ of some sort of cultural ’virus’ to which they can just seek a cure. The truth can be a little more confronting. The culture of the organisation is the culture that the leadership deserves. Either the leadership allows the culture to form by chance, and be controlled by others (making them the ‘victims’), or they create a culture consciously, developing the elements of the culture with clear direction and intent. The effort to do so will provide the organisation with the culture it deserves – one of high performance behaviours. As a leader, how do you contribute consciously to developing and maintaining your culture? Culture can be defined as the social pressure that shapes an individual’s behaviour in the context of a group. It

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social media marketing

Human marketing in a digital world.

3 years ago 0 0 610

Your boss bursts into the meeting “I want us on twitter! We need to update Facebook! Show me the digital strategy!” Unfortunately, over the last 10 years, this has been all too common. The cry has gone out for organisations to ‘get digital’ for fear of missing out. There are great reasons to include digital and social media approaches into your marketing, but unless it is done thoughtfully and strategically, they often end up expensive and damaging to the organisation and its brand.  In many instances, these channels are used a megaphones to yell messages at people with no interest in what is being offered. The shift to digital There has been a massive shift to digital technology. We often hear of the ‘digital natives’ – the generations who have grown up intimately connected to digital devices, who have deep confidence or trust in these channels, and who are extremely

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The trust advantage (building and leveraging trust, part 2)

3 years ago 0 0 637

Trust is such a critical thing in business. Understanding what trust is, and how to develop it and leverage it is critical to success. Often an even more important question is “how do I rebuild trust when it is broken?” In part one, we looked at what trust really is (predictability of behaviour), its value and its costs. In part two, we explore the concept further, and how it can be leveraged for maximum advantage. How is trust built? We develop ‘trust’ in something or someone in highly personalised ways. In fact, many people would not be able to describe how they know who they can trust, except for a vague statement like “I get a feeling about them”. Feelings and emotions (or ‘intuition’) are often poor methods for deciding who to trust. It can mean that some people, when faced with the same situational cues, will be too trusting,

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Are you making the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ mistake?

3 years ago 0 0 679

Focusing on both successful outcomes and successful behaviours is the key to building sustainable high performance in business. Caveat emptor – buyer beware. It really is true that you get what you pay for. This is absolutely true when you consider the things we focus on – and incentivise – in the workplace. Consider the following examples: • Jordan Belfort – the ‘Wolf of Wall street’ only focused on outcomes (making money), which encouraged behaviours which ended with him in prison. • Companies set their salesforce a goal, and once they achieve it, they start ‘banking’ sales for the next quarter. • The business puts out a behavioural edict to ‘manage costs’ – and misses business opportunities because it becomes more important to ‘watch the penny’ that capitalise on opportunities to deliver business results. In these examples, if we focus only upon ‘outcomes’ we may get exactly what we pay

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Are you flexible enough?

3 years ago 0 0 645

Leaders often describe a desire to have ‘better leadership flexibility’ – or they want to see it throughout their organisation. Understanding leadership flexibility and how to create it is critical in business – and it is not as hard as most people think! Leadership flexibility can be described as “The ability to lead and manage others in a non-rigid way”. The definition is important, because too often people want leadership ‘flexibility’ to mean only using a more negotiated, discussion and consensus based approach. That is, they want to rigidly adopt a more consensual decision and leadership style. The underlying belief is that this is the “best” leadership style for a leader to have. Perhaps derived from a view that such a style demonstrates high Emotional Intelligence, and therefore must be good. This, however, is faulty. Leadership flexibility is about being able to utilise a full range of leadership styles, from

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7 ways you are screwing up performance reviews (and what o do about it)

3 years ago 0 0 851

I get calls at this time of year from leaders in organisations who have left the mid-year assessment to the last minute (or their managers have). Regardless of which side of the review they are on, they all say something like: “Phil, I hate these things. They are such a waste of time. They just do more harm than good”. They seek help to make the performance appraisal process more palatable for them, and more valuable for the organisation. It raises an important question- should organisations do away with performance appraisal processes? My simple answer is an emphatic NO. Performance reviews are critical on a number of levels, and simply because people perform them poorly is not a signal to ditch them, but rather a signal to somehow do them differently. Why are they critical? Performance reviews are important for individuals and for organisations. They provide the link for learning

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Creating Creativity – what you can do (part 2)

3 years ago 0 0 750

In part one of this series, we explored the elements of individuals and teams that limit creativity and innovation. In the second part of the series, we will explore what organisations can do about it.  By creating a culture of innovation, designing your thinking and taking true innovative leadership in your organisation, you can move beyond the things which impede creativity, and really create something special. Create the culture for innovation For innovation and design to be a reality in an organisation, it has to move from being a peripheral activity to a culturally accepted process, central to the business. This means the culture has to be accepting of the time and effort that creativity can take, and reward ‘exploration’ rather than outcomes. Peter Murphy, design instructor in Melbourne suggests that creativity is a difficult process, and to be truly innovative, they must “roll their sleeves up, say goodbye to

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Organising behaviour – learning from Zappos shift to holacracy

3 years ago 0 0 1233

We create structure and process in a business for only one purpose – to organise behaviour so as to create efficient and effective ways of getting things done. With Zappo’s in the news for instituting a ‘holacracy’ model of organisation, it raises some interesting questions about how we can – and should – organise behaviour. How well does it work when you tell someone with depression to “Be Happy”? The paradox implied in the instruction “Be spontaneous” should be clear – how is spontaneity spontaneous if you have ordered it? This has never been better demonstrated in the corporate world than is currently happening at Zappos: “You will become a holacracy”! Forcing the organisation to become self-organising has an ironic paradox buried at its heart. However, as the organisation pursues this idealised structure, it will provide a fascinating case study over time. With it reported that one in seven employees

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