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I interviewed a young and highly successful executive in the German IT sector recently. I asked him outline a few of his thoughts on leadership, because having seen this man in action, it is clear that his team are truly fond of him. He's held in high regard. The owner of the company explained that his CTO had a secret magic formula of making every person feel valued. "I swear the guys would come in to work for free, just because of how he makes them feel," Dietmar added. In short, he makes every single one of them feel special."
"I aim to lead by doing; to be like plasticine," the young leader explained. "Sometimes, I'm amongst the desks and in the dust plugging things in if needs be, then in the helicopter leading the company, or maybe in silent mediation."(Was he inspired by Tony Hart's plasticine hero, Morph?)
Make problems delicious!
"I like to supply enough information that a problem is not solved, yet not too little information that it is like climbing Mount Everest. I look to make problems delicious; to create the right balance for the right problem and ego. I don't treat anyone differently. My aim is to allow the team to self-manage. We put the work into the pipeline and they figure out how to deliver it. They ask for help along the way. If it needs a course correct, we jump in. We have daily check-points. They push. We tune.
In the middle of the office there is a centre piece, a huge 450 x 600 cm whiteboard on the wall. It belongs to the team. They manage it. On the left side is incoming, the middle is for things that are moving along and the right side is stuff that's done. All around are little constellations of interest or discussion. For this tooling is very important and without prejudice (within reason) the team will always get the best tools for the job.
If an employee goes out of their way to do an extra shift or put in extra hours, I like to take him and his partner out for a meal. I look to find little ways to say thank you."
He went on explain his methods of recruitment, why his team is like United Nations, and to extol the virtues of autonomy, mastery and purpose in a fresh and engaging way. I don't know about you, I'd enjoy working on this guy's team. I love his perspective. I was attracted to his self-confidence yet his humility was disarming. He was eager to share the credit with others. Perhaps we can all learn from him. How do you make people feel? Some people light up a room as they enter; others when they leave...
Read more on balance in Don't Taunt Elephants.
More Mount Everest...
Tune into this Podcast on flexibility. It's a direct cousin to plasticine :) Expert mountaineer Cathy O'Dowd expands her theories and experience of being the only woman to climb the mountain from both sides.
Think of the best boss you've ever known. Here are 27 things he or she probably never stopped doing. To the list I'd add:
28. Be like plasticine
29. Make problems delicious.
Finally, why have one Ted Talk suggestions when you can have five? Check out:
TedTalks Issue 1 - Eilidh's Viewing List (1038 KB)
Success in business (and life in general) is about making the right connections. Quality relationships are the key to success, and while building business is the objective, the means are very much to do with emotions at a very human level of contact.
This means that connecting people; with colleagues, customers and clients on the right level requires a lot of confidence alongside a willingness to be open and to listen. It also requires a degree of resilience, because it can sometimes seem like an uphill struggle. This content is taken from an interview with my associates at Business Aspects Magazine in October 2016.
The Confidence Cornerstone
Confidence alone is not enough when it comes to relationships. Resilience is as vital a quality, if not more important in many situations. For many it is going to be a job of chipping away gradually and taking time to secure relationships. Resilience means adapting where necessary to changing circumstances and developing the necessary self-belief to succeed. As such it is the cornerstone for relationship-building.
Be Mindful of Others
If resilience draws on inner reserves of strength, then empathy is about how you outwardly communicate with others. The ability to listen to people and understand their concerns is vital, as is being curious about them, showing an interest. This thoughtfulness is paid back in the form of friendships, repeat business, referrals introductions, increased job satisfaction and happy families.
When I talk to sales teams and other professional groups, I stress the importance of making clients happy and developing friendships. Share a little about you to help them tell you more about themselves, is my advice. Listen out for details that you can pick up to act on later. People love if you recall their special occasions and celebration dates. Read more on this new blog post: "Little things make a BIG Difference."
A successful team is competitive but also mutually supportive. Helping people work together is also a huge part of relationship development. Just as businesses need their people to be responsive to clients and customers, so they need their teams to be responsive to one another. Leaders must learn to look, listen and speak in a way that reflects this. The rewards will come in creating tight teams that are built to last while creating successful business activity.
Don't Taunt Elephants!
It’s important from the very beginning to understand what the measure of success will be. What it will look like for the individuals and teams involved? Keep objectives in balance. It's perfectly normal to feel annoyed or aggrieved at times. There are many variables that can cause an imbalance. The majority of them come down to how one person views or judges the other. If one perceives themselves to be more capable or experienced, or if he/she feels a need to prove or defend their actions then one or the other is going to feel unfairly treated.
If this happens to you, I suggest to take a time out for review. Life is a balancing act! There's no room for blame or acrimony. Here are Sergeant Schlock's simple rules which are great advice if or when you feel like upsetting the balance.
If you think that happiness is merely linked to hard work, then perhaps it's time to tune into Shawn Achor; The Happy Secret to Better Work.
Your life, your pace, your way... what a great 'modus operandi' for a care provider... indeed for us all. Now we love to personalise and brand materials for our customers. So we've created this image using my client's tag-line for their upcoming training event. And the company's phrase, got me to thinking... does this not encapsulate happiness? Is it not up to each and everyone of us to decide what to do in the future?
1. Do I want to fly a kite?
2. If so, how high?
3. When, where and how?
Which segues seamlessly to my new CCG Podcast. If your life, your pace, your way falls in line with your goals and how you see life how do you ensure success? Tune in to my new interview with goal-setting expert David Hyner.
How to Set and Achieve Massive Goals?
During the Podcast, David explains, "Most people will do the easy stuff first and therefore the big stuff that scares them is at the end when their time, energy, motivation and resources are at their least so if we attack the big scary blocks at the beginning, the things we don’t understand the research, overcoming hurdles, picking up the phone if we don’t like picking up the phone, doing the horrible things first, if we get all of those out of the way while our time, energy, motivation and resources are at their greatest, our goal can only therefore get easier.
EM: That makes jolly good sense. I know where I’m coming from on this but I’m going to ask you a question and then tell you my tuppence worth. Do you still focus on the to-do list?
DH: I pulled this off my wall. This is a pyramid for a project I’m doing. I put a to-do list into what I call a pyramid or a triangle and I put each task on my list, the hardest things into the bottom rows and blocks. That way if you cross the scariest things off first you’re crossing off the foundation blocks and then the least important towards the top. Now, I’ve got about three or four pyramids on the go. One is my daily or weekly list and then I’ve got others for very specific large goals I’m working on. I’ve got this visual reference to my goals stuck to the wall, shrunk down on my phone, my laptop, even on the sun visor of my car sometimes if it is a personal goal and if I’ve got a spare moment, instead of wasting my time playing Candy Crush or Solitaire like I used to do, now I will look at the pyramid and go, is there something I could do right now that will help me cross off that block?" Here's full interview transcription.
Every day if you can do just one thing that will take you closer to your goal you will be more effective than most people walking this earth.
Here's a range of materials for you to save for later. First up is Simon Sinek on The Millennial Question. Then for fun, the delightful robot assistant PEEQO by Abhishek Singh. If you're feeling philosopical, check out Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot and finally I've created this brand new Pdf with links to 7 Ted Talks which explore the topic of success esp. when applied to goal-setting.