You may be thinking, "But that's my job, to
lead the business."

BLT171

Well, yes and no. Your job is to get results.

And the key to that is leading the people.

People have their own...
...agendas, and if we don't make sure we're 
linking them to our strategy, we won't have 
willing followers.

We'll be marching off, saying "Follow me," 
but when we turn round and look, they're 
all off doing their own thing.

So we need to put people at the heart
of our strategy.

ACTION POINT

The key to getting the results we want 
is having a proper engagement strategy.

That means finding out what your people
want, and linking it to your overall objectives.

And then showing them how that works,
how achieving your goals helps them to
achieve theirs.

You'll need to...
...consider their different motivations.

Find out what their wants and aspirations
are by having deep listening conversations.
(And that's something we can help you with.)

Think how you will satisfy their need for

  • Recognition and achievement 
  • Being part of something inspiring
  • Having a happy and supportive workplace
  • Taking a pride in their work, and
  • Creating a secure future for all
  • Etc...

Once you've created this web of connectivity
and inter-dependence, the results will start
to simply flow...

OK, so you've got your strategy in place.

BLT170

You've broken it down into projects and 
then into individual tasks.

And then...
...life gets in the way.

Other urgent things have a habit of
cropping up taking our focus away from
our long-term goals and getting us caught
up in activity that's not moving us forward.

Our job as leaders is...
...to keep ourselves and our people 
focussed and making progress towards 
achieving our big objectives.

And I've found a neat little way to do that...


ACTION POINT

Write down your key strategic objectives 
for each week - the main tasks that will 
move you closer to your goals.

​Then place them somewhere they'll be 
staring you in the face, demanding your 
attention and commitment.

I write mine up on an A3-sized whiteboard 
and put it on the wall just above my computer.

​It's a constant reminder...
...to stay on task, and also of my progress 
- or lack of it - during the week.

I use a different colour for every project too, 
so I can see at a glance how I'm doing on 
each of them.

It also helps to break up the list so it doesn't 
​look such a big task to get it all done!

​Good luck with moving faster towards 
realising your goals and ambitions...

The idea of the Servant Leader had been around 
for well over 2,500 years.

BLT169

The Ancient Chinese - Lao Tzu and others of his
time - believed that in order to lead effectively,
you needed to put the interests of your people
above your own interests.

And it's even...
...more important today, when we have such
a diverse range of different stakeholders to
look after.

ACTION POINT

Create a list of all the different stakeholders 
you need to serve in your leadership.

Look at the list and consider how well you 
have represented their interests in the past.

Now think about how you can best serve
them in the future and write an action plan
in order to achieve this.

Something magical...
...will then start to happen.

You'll notice people are much more willing
to follow you, and your leadership will start
to flow and become effortless.

And that's something you can really look
forward to.

As a fellow achiever, I'm sure you almost certainly
are driven to try to cram all your life into each and
every day.

BLT168

We want to do everything, and have the perfect 
lifestyle balance - work, play, family and self-
development.

Trouble is...
...this can set up conflicts that will play on our 
minds, creating frustration, disappointment 
and resentment.

All very low energy emotions that we could well 
do without!

If you...
...have a deadline to meet and need to work late, 
what gives? Do you miss seeing the family, or 
cut out the session at the gym? Or both?

There is a far healthier way to achieve
a positive outcome.


ACTION POINT

Instead of trying to balance your lifestyle on 
a daily basis, plan to achieve it over the course 
of a week.

With 168 hours at your disposal, it's so much 
easier to make sure all aspects of your life 
are accounted for, giving you the time, energy 
and motivation to be a total success!

Consider taking...
...a little time out - maybe on a Sunday evening -
to plan your weekly schedule.

Make sure you include all the fun stuff you want
to do. This will give you huge motivation and
energise everything you do.

Above all...
...get out of the mindset of trying to cram 
everything into every day.

That's just setting yourself up for failure -
the exact opposite of what you want.

One of the ways we make sense of an increasingly 
complex world is through generalisation.

BLT167

We will take an experience we've had and assume 
it'll be the same next time around.

So if we don't...
...like what happened last time, we'll try to avoid
a repetition.

This can be very limiting.

For example, we've been given a hard time by a
female buyer; we generalise this into "Female buyers
are going to give me a hard time"; so we go into
our next transaction with a negative expectation.

The past also...
...has a hold on us because we are creatures of
habit and will tend to repeat our past behaviours, 
even though they may no longer serve us.

[This is something we do a lot of work on with
executives moving up the ladder, needing to
develop new habits.]

We need a way...
...to recognise when we're unconsciously re-living 
the past, and to break the cycle so we can get
positive outcomes in the future.


ACTION POINT

What habits or behaviours have you got that 
aren't working for you?

Think about the results you want to achieve and 
consider how you can change what you're doing 
to become more effective.

Ideally...
...you need to find somewhere you can have a
few minutes peace and quiet.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a
situation you've had problems with in the past.
Then re-run it with your new behaviour and enjoy
the experience of getting the result you want.

Repeat that in your mind a few times so it
becomes habituated.

Congratulations!

Next time you're in that situation, you'll now
have a choice to change your approach and
change your outcome.

It's often been said that now is the only time we have; 
the past is gone and the future is yet to come.
 
BLT166
 

​Once we understand this concept it suddenly creates 
a real sense of urgency.

How we treat...
...each and every second will make a difference to
the outcomes we experience in the future.

If we waste our 'nows', by definition, we are wasting 
our future.

As leaders it's...
...or responsibility to create that sense of scarcity
​about the present and keep our people focussed 
on using each precious moment to ensure we all 
experience the future we desire.


ACTION POINT(S)

I've got two for you this week:

1. Use priority setting processes - such as the 
Urgent/Important matrix - to make sure people are 
spending their time on the most productive long-
term tasks.

And use it to create that sense of urgency and
scarcity I mentioned.

2. Focus on what's being done in the present

If time is precious, then it stands to reason that 
whatever we're doing in the present is also precious.

When we give what we're doing in the here and now 
our full attention and devotion, it transforms our 
experience and the results we get.

What so many get wrong...
...is in thinking what they're doing is unimportant,
doing it in a perfunctory way and accepting poor
quality standards.

Consider a 'chore' like washing dishes: we can either 
regard it as a pain and waste our time in resentment,
thinking of all the things we'd rather be doing.

Or, we can devote ourselves to doing a great job of it, 
​enjoying satisfaction in the act of making the dishes
spotless and shining.

When we...
...stay fully present with what we're doing, it creates 
a profoundly different energy that translates into 
​everything else you do.

I love the concept of "One = All"

How we act in the now, is how we will always act.

If we waste now, we'll always tend to waste our time.

But if we do our best in the now, we'll always do
our best, and in doing so, achieve our desires.

 

One of the problems we confront as leaders 
is that we're at the top of the pyramid...
 
BLT165  
At least, that's how we see things.  
 
What if... 
...instead, we looked at it from the perspective of 
a circle (or better still, a sphere) with us at the 
centre and our frontline staff at the outside edges, 
interacting with our operating environment?  
 
It would mean that we couldn't move unless 
everyone around us moves.  
 
That's a much better and more accurate analogy 
for how organisations work.  
 
If you can't...
...get those around you to move, you're going to 
be stuck in resistance mode.  
 
And sadly, that's a reality for many - perhaps 
even most - organisations.
 
ACTION POINT
 
To move the circle forward, you have to engage 
with the whole organisation and get everyone 
moving together.  
 
Otherwise everything just grinds to a halt.
 
In order to... 
...achieve that, you'll need to spend a good 
proportion of your time engaging with your 
frontline troops - those at the interface on the 
edges of the circle - not just your direct reports.  
 
You need to make sure they're up for the 
changes and challenges ahead, and ready to 
move forward with you together.  
 
If you don't...
...succeed in inspiring them to action, you'll 
inevitably end up stuck exactly where you are.  
 
Get out of your office, get engaging, get 
inspiring, and see the remarkable difference 
it makes to the team - and to the results
they deliver.

 

BLT164

Dale Carnegie, author of the seminal How to 
Win Friends and Influence People, once said:
 
"Even in such technical lines as engineering,
about 15% of financial success is due to technical 
knowledge and 85% is due to skill in human
engineering and the ability to lead people."
 
We therefore need to understand how people are
motivated, and invest the significant part of our 
time into using this understanding to create the 
drive and determination to deliver the results 
we're looking for.
 
If you're...
...spending more than 15% of your time on
technical issues, you're no longer leading, and
you're leaving your success in the hands of our 
good old friend, Lady Luck!
 
ACTION POINT
 
The answer here is: focus.
 
Ask: "Where am I going to focus my attention 
to give the best chance of success long-term?"
 
Aim to spend 85% of your time on working 
with people, on engaging with people, and on 
developing people.
 
And if you find...
...you're struggling to find the time, you may 
want to examine your time management and 
delegation skills.  
 
Look at what you can let go of doing yourself 
to free up your diary so you can spend more 
of your time on what's really important!

 

Isn't it interesting that you and I are driven by
things like overcoming challenges, doing a great 
job and making a contribution.
BLT163
 
And yet we often mistakenly think that others
are different.  They're motivated by material
things: money, holidays, cars, and so on.
 
It's not that...
...those things are unimportant - of course they 
are - but they are not our primary motivation.
 
What we want is the feelings that having those 
things will bring us.  
 
If we want...
...to create a motivating environment, where 
people will want to excel, we therefore need to 
engage with people on an emotional level.
 
ACTION POINT
 
Be aware of how you assign tasks or set up
projects.
 
Don't assume people will want to do them
just because that's what they're paid for.
 
Of course, they will.  But perhaps not with 
the level of energy, enthusiasm or commitment
you would like.
 
To get that...
...you'll need to engage their emotional brains 
by emphasising the rewards - both emotional 
and rational.  
 
What will doing a great job of it mean to them, 
and to the team?  
 
Our sense of...
...belonging and need for social acceptance 
can often be a far greater motivator than 
mere tangible rewards.
 
Effort invested here will create the right
​environment for people to want to excel,
to go the extra mile for you and the team.

 

"What's the difference?" you might be asking.
 
BLT162 Focus on Effectiveness Above Efficiency
  
Well, my take is that effectiveness is about achieving 
outcomes, and efficiency is about doing things with 
the minimum of effort and waste.  
 
In other words...
...effectiveness is a leadership issue, and efficiency 
is more of a management concern.  
 
And leadership is about the 'what' (doing the right 
things), leaving management to focus on the 'how' 
(doing things right).  
 
Which brings me to...
...the 'efficiency trap'.  This is where we get 
suckered in by the desire to makes sure things 
are being done right, and we lose sight of what's 
important and keeping everything on track.  
 
Sometimes...
...efficiency is actually a waste of time!
 
Getting efficient at things that don't add value 
to what we're doing, or don't help to get us 
where we're headed is simply not being effective.  
 
Or spending time creating efficient processes 
that may only be used infrequently.
 
It's like...
...pedalling hard, but in the wrong direction 
because you've not taken the time to look 
at the map!
 
ACTION POINT
 
How do you avoid the 'efficiency trap'?  
 
The important thing is to notice how you're 
spending your time.  
 
Are you primarily focussing on driving people 
to achieve the outcomes - the hard results - 
you're looking for?  
 
Or do you find yourself spending an inordinate 
amount of your precious time resource on 
telling people how and what to do?  
 
If it's...
...the latter, make sure you take some time out 
to re-focus, get back your clarity about where 
you're going, and invest time in engaging your 
people with the vision.  
 
That will give them fresh energy and impetus 
to propel you faster - and more effectively - 
to achieving your goals. 

 

So many people get this wrong!
 
BLT161
They make the mistake of thinking of winning
as beating others.
 
That's not a winning mentality; that's having a
competitive mindset, and it creates win-lose
outcomes.
 
That's a losing mentality!
 
And it's very damaging when you're trying 
to build a winning team.  
 
It sets up a situation where, for every winner 
there are several losers.  The winner takes it 
all, the rest are nowhere.  
 
Left unchecked...
...that can totally undermine the morale, self-
esteem and the effectiveness of your team.  
 
If you're focussing on competition, and 
inadvertently creating a losing mentality, 
that's something you seriously need to address.
 
ACTION POINT
 
The antidote is quite simple, although it can
be hard to actually put it into practice!
 
You need to praise people for their efforts
rather than their results.  
 
Everybody can work hard and make a great 
contribution to the team, even if they're not 
the star performers.  
 
If you only...
...praise the high achievers, what impact 
does that have on the morale and motivation 
of all the others who are beavering away 
trying to make the organisation successful?  
 
Make sure you're seen publicly to be rewarding 
those who are making the effort.  This sends 
out a message that people are valued for how 
hard they try, and encourage them and others 
to keep cranking it out!  
 
That's the way to create a winning team. 
That's the way to create a winning mentality.

 

Why do some ideas gain traction, while others
whither and die?
 
BLT160
 
The reason for this is very simple:
it depends on where we focus our attention.
 
You see...
...some things need us to apply a procedural
approach, but often it requires behaviour or
culture change to get the result we're looking 
for.
 
This is where we can so easily become unstuck!
 
ACTION POINT
 
If you find that your ideas are not taking flight,
look at whether you're applying the correct
approach for the situation.
 
Make sure you're...
...holding people to account for the way they
behave, not just for the things they do.
 
Keeping track of actions is much easier than
monitoring behaviours and adherence to the
agreed culture and values.
 
That's why...
...we need to be extra-rigourous in calling out
people who are adopting behaviours that are
not helpful in getting us where we want.
 
And rewarding people publicly for exhibiting
the behaviours we do want to see.
 
That then becomes an example to others and
​highlights the cages we're looking for.

The behaviours...
...you demonstrate yourself, and those you 
accept from others, will often be the single 
most important determinant of success.

 

Do you sometimes suffer from the tyranny of 
"To Do" lists?
 
There can be so much on them that it's
hard to know just where to start.
 
You end up...
...not prioritising properly and cherry-
picking because there are energy-sapping
tasks on the list that you're simply not
feeling motivated to do.
 
These imposters leave us lacking focus
and tinkering round the edges, not
really achieving very much at all.
 
There is a better way.
 
ACTION POINT
 
Try this simple re-frame: 
 
Get a clean sheet of paper and write 
"Will Do" at the top.  
 
Then go to your "To Do" list and select 
only the items that you fully commit 
to doing that day.  
 
Ignore the rest and only work on your 
"Will Do" list items.  
 
If you...
...find you've over committed and you
can't get it all done, try putting a little
less on it the next day.  
 
It's better by far to keep the discipline 
of always completing your list than to 
get into the habit of leaving tasks undone.  
 
Remember: 
this is a "Will Do" list, not a "Wish" list.

 

As bosses, as leaders, we very often behave 
in a way that's based on expectations, on how 
we believe a leader or a boss 'should' behave.  
 
This may have more to do with cultural norms
​within our organisation than our own personal
beliefs and values around how we should be
interacting with people.
 
We may do it because we want to be seen to
be doing what's right for the organisation.
 
And sometimes...
...we simply model our own boss's behaviour
on the basis that that's whats expected,
regardless of our own personal style. 
 
There is a way, however, to ensure we always
remain true to what's important to us, a way
to be authentic as leaders. 
 
ACTION POINT
 
Remember the 'Golden Rule', ask yourself:
 
"How would I like to be treated in this situation?"
 
When we ask that question, it forces us to look
at things from the viewpoint of others.
 
​It can give us...
...a very different perspective on what is, 
and what's not, appropriate.
 
We also really start to understand what
​would motivate people in that situation,
​so we can provide the kind of inspiring
leadership they're looking for from us.
 
Now you're starting...
...to really engage people, to demonstrate 
that you're on the same wavelength as them.
 
You understand their issues, and you're 
the one to lead them and help them 
solve those issues.
 
It's a simple idea, and yet so very effective!
 
Something that marks out successful people from
the rest is how they reach decisions quickly, and
only change them slowly.
 
This means we can risk becoming too set on 
doing certain things in a certain way and to
a certain timescale.
 
The shadow side...
...of focus reveals itself as stubbornness, and
all leaders (including me) are imbued with 
massive stubborn streak.
 
​It means we don't give up.  
 
But it also comes at a price, and can bite us 
in the backside when we get too attached 
to the "how."
 
ACTION POINT
 
If you find yourself getting stressed when 
things aren't working out how you'd planned, 
re-focus on the outcome you want.
 
For example...
​...you don't want a brilliantly professional 
video.  Your real outcome is to communicate
a message.
 
So if doing an incredible, all singing, all dancing 
video doesn't work out, maybe you need to
make some adjustments.
 
Consider other possibilities, such as:
  • Doing something different
  • Doing the same thing differently
  • Accepting different quality standards
  • Delegating it to someone more competent
Remember the old saying: "There's more than 
one way to skin a cat."
 
Whether it's skinning a cat, climbing a mountain
or delivering a difficult message to an important
customer...
 
...there's always an alternative if your preferred
way is not possible.
 
Apply your stubborn streak...
...to achieving the task, and look for any way you 
can do it - ethically and with integrity, of course.

 

Today we're lifting the lid on why a blame culture
could be costing you £thousands...  
 
We see it all the time: low morale, low productivity, 
and a relentless focus on back-covering rather than 
doing the job at hand.  
 
The thing is...
...that when we focus the blame on an individual, 
we're throwing away a priceless opportunity for 
learning, changing and improving - on both an
individual and a team level.
 
ACTION POINT
 
When things go wrong, tell yourself: 
"Here's a ​brilliant learning opportunity!"  
 
Make sure you're asking good quality questions 
to establish what you can do differently next time.  
 
And if you...
...find an individual is at fault, accept the blame 
yourself.  You're their leader and you've made 
a mistake.  
 
Did you give them insufficient information or 
training?  Or perhaps you put them into a position 
they were unsuited to.  
 
Whatever the answer...
...make sure you've got a process for sharing 
the learning across your team so that everyone 
can benefit from it.
 
Don't you find that appraisals can sometimes be 
a complete waste of everybody's time and energy?
 
So often they're viewed as a "tick-box" exercise
- something to be done and got out of the way -
if they happen at all.
 
What's important...
...about appraisals is what comes out of them,
how they help the individual to progress and
learn.
 
And how they can make a greater contribution
towards moving the organisation closer to
achieving its goals.
 
ACTION POINT
 
If you don't already have one, put in place an
appraisal system which is:
 
1.  Properly structured so people know they
​will receive a systematic and regular review
of their progress.
 
2.  Positive and forward-looking - not a 
long list of the person's failings, weaknesses 
and mistakes.
 
Any negative feedback should have already 
been dealt with at the time, not held back 
for the appraisal. 
 
[Although, if a person has problems with 
accepting feedback, you may want a con-
versation around how they can become 
less defensive.] 
 
3.  Outcome-focussed, with specific
actionable points to create positive change 
for the individual and for the team. 
 
And if they need coaching...
[or if you need help in structuring your appraisals] 
...let me know ;-)
 
We're such busy people, aren't we?
 
There are never enough hours in the day.
 
What happens is...
...we start to focus on getting things done,
forgetting the vital people aspect of our work.
 
We can then become less communicative and
less available.
 
In short....
...we start losing touch with what's going on 
with our teams.
 
ACTION POINT
 
If you find yourself getting caught up in tasks,
try this approach:
 
Make one of your tasks talking with your people!
 
Yes, make it a principle that you will spend 15-
or 20-minutes every day walking around your 
business, talking, listening and connecting with 
what's happening for your team.
 
This will open you up to a rich seam of
information and feedback that you'd never
get just sitting in your office doing stuff!
 
Pretty soon...
...you'll find all sorts of problems are getting
fixed before they become an issue, just because 
you've provided the opportunity to get them 
into the open.

 

We take decisions and act on what we think 
and believe is right.  And this is determined 
by our value systems.
 
However, we pick up our values and beliefs 
as we go through life, often without really 
questioning their validity.
 
And we also...
...generalise our values based on what is 
appropriate in one situation and apply them
to all situations, regardless.
 
This can lead us to
  • do the wrong thing
  • ​not do the right thing, or
  • to do things that don't need doing
By doing what we think we "should" without 
thinking, we can waste huge amounts of time, 
make significant mistakes and lose out on a 
whole range of opportunities.
 
ACTION POINT
 
When you challenge your "shoulds" with 
the question "Who says I should?" and the
answer is "Me," then you need to do a
smidgeon of detective work.
 
What is driving your compulsion?  
Why do you feel you "should"?
Why is it a "should" and not something you
feel you want to or must do?
Will this course of action actually serve you?
 
Then delve a little...
...deeper into the murky, mysterious and
magical workings of your mind. 
[Isn't this fun?]
 
What are the values and beliefs at work?
Are they appropriate in this situation?
 
​As an example:
 
​You may believe you should be strong and
never admit your weaknesses.
 
​But in some situations this can distance you 
from others and get in the way of establishing 
rapport, diminishing your ability to influence 
and create the results you want. 
 
Start interrogating...
...your "shoulds" and open up a whole new, 
richer understanding of how to use the immense
power of your belief system to maximise your 
effectiveness, and your well-being.

 

How often do you hear yourself thinking "I really 
should do XXX," or other similar phrases?
 
​"Should" is such an insidious word.
 
It's an artificial construct and has no real meaning,
and yet it holds such power over us.
 
Very often...
...the "should" comes from outside ourselves.
 
We feel we should do things because of other 
people's expectations.  
 
Or things have always been done a certain way, 
and we feel we should carry on the custom.
 
But beware...
...this is something that can cost you ​an 
enormous amount of wasted time if you
fail to question it.
 
ACTION POINT
 
Today we're looking at external "shoulds."
 
When you hear the S-word slipping itself into
your thoughts, ask yourself:
 
"Who says?"
 
If the answer is anything other than "me",
then it's obviously external, and you need to 
go on to the next question:
 
"Why Should I?"
 
If you can uncover some valid reason, 
then great!
 
Otherwise you need to seriously consider 
whether there are any negative consequences
to not doing it.
 
And, if there are none, you've saved yourself
some wasted effort.
 
Over time...
...this will add up to make a huge difference 
to your personal effectiveness!