From ‘meh’ to mission

Teenagers in the boardroom? A few years ago my daughters reached their mid-teens.  Amongst many challenging things I had to learn was a new vocabulary.  It’s tricky, you see, to communicate when it’s too much effort to use more than one syllable! One of the most used expressions was ‘meh’.  After considerable deduction, I decided that the closest translation was a shrug of the shoulders.  It means something like ‘so what’ or ‘I don’t care’ and dismisses anything that’s not of immediate and personal relevance to the teenager in question. To my surprise, I’ve gone on to find this sentiment in abundance in the boardroom.  I haven’t yet heard the word used, but most discussions in most top teams provoke exactly the same disinterested, disengaged and dismissive responses from a proportion of the team. Do they really not care? Board members wouldn’t work as hard as they do without an inner fire. Every leader I’ve ever met is there because they passionately believe things can be better, and because they
Read More

Categories: Ambition Conversations, Learning Conversations, Stories and Case Studies, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Keeping your clevers happy

The importance, and challenge, of leading your ‘clevers’ In the last issue we explored the folly of much of the current thinking on individual leadership. We also explored the importance of ‘clevers’, the high value people with expertise, on whom most organisations are now highly dependent. These people are difficult to lead. They are often:  Unimpressed by hierarchy (they value cleverness more than position) Organisationally savvy (and don’t want to be led) Resistant to feedback (and won’t thank you for doing the right things, either) Hard to replace (and they know it) Bored easily (and ask difficult questions) They expect instant access (to you and to other clever people) How then do you command loyalty in your clevers — and how do you get the best out of them?  The boardroom as your classroom Identifying your clevers isn’t difficult. My guess is that names and faces came quickly to mind even as you were reading the descriptions above. The first place to look is round the boardroom table. Just take a
Read More

Categories: Ambition Conversations, Changing Your Team, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Leadership lessons in lycra

Why so much pain? It’s July 2011 and my breath is coming in huge rasping gasps.  It’s my first ride with a club and we’ve been cycling close to 20mph for what seems like forever. I am exhausted. My legs are burning. My back is aching. My lungs are ready to burst. It’s been like this for over an hour. Around me are a dozen or so other riders. They seem to be doing much better than me. There are a couple of conspicuous clues to why this might be. The first is that they are all skeletal in comparison to my more portly form. This is made more obvious by the fact that they are all sleekly attired in lycra. I am in a tee shirt, shorts and an ancient helmet. To their amusement, I’m riding in trainers instead of proper shoes clipped into the pedals. I really want to stop – but I can’t bring myself to say so. There don’t seem to be many alternatives. If I take
Read More

Categories: Ambition Conversations, Changing Your Team, Learning Conversations, and Stories and Case Studies.

Are you and your people focussed on the right future?

  What does success look like? There’s a huge amount of psychological research which shows how humans perform better with a clear and compelling picture of what they are trying to achieve. In my experience, however, most leaders give far more attention to ‘clear’ and much less to ‘compelling’. Even worse, in their efforts to serve many different purposes, the terminology introduces complexity and confusion which actively reduce performance. Unravelling this is made more difficult by the fact that each organisation (and sometimes each person) use the many terms in different ways. In describing the terms below, therefore, my intention is not to give a definitive meaning to each but rather is to explain the differences and problems that can arise.   So many terms… Budgets These are the probably the simplest, and certainly the most common, but are also the most overused. Every organisation needs budget figures to define the minimum acceptable level of performance – particularly for helping to communicate likely outcomes to financial stakeholders (owners, shareholders etc).
Read More

Categories: Ambition Conversations, Changing Your Team, Learning Conversations, Priority Conversations, Relationship Conversations, Stories and Case Studies, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.