No time to read? Here’s the answer!

No time, there’s just not enough time…   Over 6000 people now have a copy of JUMP!  It’s sobering, though, to know that many of you simply won’t have found the time to read it – and may not even have found the handy Executive Summary on Page 11. If your Leadership Team isn’t working as well as it could, your time challenges will be even worse. Dysfunction and inefficiency in the team makes work and slows progress. So what do you do if you need to improve your team but haven’t managed to read the book?   If that sounds familiar – this is just for you We’ve put together a short video guide to all the key ideas in the book. It’s less than eight minutes long and it will give you a high-level summary, not only of the key theories but also of how you can get started with your own team. Click on the image below to see the video (and don’t forget to turn on your sound). More
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Delivery Conversations, Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

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

Are You Turning Down A Bonus?

When did you last see a project promising a 50% uplift in results?   I’m guessing it wasn’t recently. If you ever have. Imagine the focus, energy and action that would flow immediately into making that project happen. Even before any results flowed it would be a fantastically exciting and motivating prospect. If you’re the Director proposing it, that would be even better still. If you’re in HR, and seen as marginal to the top team, it would be even more amazing. Every Leadership Team has this opportunity. It’s a big assertion but when we asked leaders and members of teams about the cost of dysfunction in the top team, that was exactly what they told us. Could do (much) better: every Leadership Team underdelivers. The biggest surprise in our research was the discovery that all Leadership Teams, almost without exception, thought they could and should do far better. Even those who classed their current teams as performing well said they felt the organisation could perform 45 per cent better
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Pain Island to Pleasure Island

When doing my best wasn’t good enough I’ve been working with clients as an external consultant for 10 years. I’ve been helping people in a variety of other internal (and non-professional) capacities for much longer. One of the challenges of doing this is knowing how to respond when a client calls and is sure about what they need. ‘I need an awayday — can you give me a price?’ As I ask questions, it usually becomes clear quite quickly that what they are asking for is not going to solve their problem — or deliver the results that they are seeking. I always used to do my best. I’d ask them lots of questions to help clarify the issues. I’d explain how what they were proposing could be modified to give them better outcomes. More often than not, though, we’d arrive at a few modifications to what they first proposed. I’d put the phone down and know that the agreed solution fell short of what they really needed. What clients know — and
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Never Reorganise Again!

Hmmm… Reorganisations, we all bear the scars… I remember my first experience of ‘reorganisation’. It seemed an ordinary day until word got round that people were being called in and made redundant. We waited all morning for the tell-tale single ring on our phone which could mean the end of our time at the company. I survived, and so got to see the months of disruption with staggered departures, reallocation of work, leaving parties and collective resentment. The relationship between us and the company changed that day. It was never quite the same again. Since that time I’ve had far too much experience of imposing reorganisations. There were always good reasons. We always agonised about how to minimise the impact – on the company and on individuals. Every one significantly dented the performance of the organisation in the short term and damaged the relationship with its people for much longer. Very few made a positive difference to performance. Even the cost savings were elusive – with people being moved rather
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Stories and Case Studies, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Gardening with a Chainsaw

When is a weed not a weed? Success in gardening is about getting the right plants in the right place. Experienced gardeners will tell you that there’s no such thing as a weed – only a plant in the wrong place. Most of us have done at least some gardening. We know that if we put a plant in a less than ideal spot then it will struggle. No matter how much water, fertilizer and love we lavish upon it, it will continue to be unhealthy and growth will be stunted. Sooner or later, we’ll have to move it or it’ll probably die. Put the same plant in a location it likes, and things change dramatically. It will grow vigorously and require attention of a different kind. The challenge now becomes to control and manage its growth so that it’s rapid progress doesn’t become a problem. Leaders are equally capricious.  Put any one of your team in the wrong environment and you’ll find yourself investing lots of time – with
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Categories: Relationship Conversations.

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

Teambuilding – the enemy of team development

I had a frustrating, but familiar, experience recently. The head of training of a large international client called me. She was planning an off-site day for the leadership team and wanted some help to design and facilitate it. As usual, I asked her a number of questions about their context, people and the purpose of the event. Alarm bells started ringing as her answers revealed that the objectives of the day were far from clear. The only thing she was clear about was some items from the HR agenda – and she had little idea what business benefits the CEO wanted to achieve. She did, however, have a number of clear requirements about the design. It was to be a single day and she wanted ‘creative outdoor exercises’ to be central to the approach.  She explained that team members had been disengaged at past such meetings so they wanted to ‘liven it up’ to keep people’s interest! She didn’t know why they might have been bored at previous past events…
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Why are Leadership Team meetings so ineffective?

In my career as a leader, and latterly as a consultant, I have sat in on a huge number of Leadership Team meetings. Some are better and others worse but, overall, the standard of them is surprisingly poor. Over ambitious agendas, rambling updates, visibly disengaged participants and, most importantly, superficial discussion that don’t seem to be getting to the heart of the issue are the norm.  Given the calibre of the people in the room, how can this be? Why do we put up with such poor meetings – and how can we change them? The evils of the ‘Update’ Leadership Teams are comprised of human beings and are just as susceptible to falling into bad habits. These habits are a big part of the reason why groups of talented and experienced people keep doing things that clearly aren’t working. They just aren’t getting the most out of the enormous resources of knowledge and experience in the room when the Leadership Team gets together. The most pernicious of these habits
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Categories: Changing Your Team and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Do You Need to Improve Your Productivity?

FW Taylor on improving productivity Do you ever despair about the inefficiency of your organisation – or of the way you spend your own time? If so then our first great leadership thinker, FW Taylor, has some ideas that can help you break through to be more productive. FW Taylor – Who’s he? Frederick Winslow Taylor focused his thinking on the improvement of work and productivity in the emerging workplaces of the industrial revolution. I’ll let Peter Drucker introduce him to you:- “He was the first man in recorded history who deemed work deserving of systematic observation and study. On Taylor’s ‘scientific management’ rests, above all, the tremendous surge of affluence in the last seventy-five years in the developed countries. Taylor was the Isaac Newton of the science of work and laid the first foundations to which not much has been added since” Recognise any of this? Taylor called his approach to work and productivity ‘Scientific Management’. It was a large body of work but some of the key principles
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Categories: Delivery Conversations.