Category Archives: Leadership

Emotional courage

Emotional courage

The pandemic has forced many of us to slow down and take time to think. Whilst there are many benefits to this, it can also be quite scary; our usual busyness can shield us from facing important topics.

Last month’s article was about reconnecting with your purpose. This month, we talk about emotional courage – what it is, why people avoid it, and some practical guidance to help make it easier.

For example, if you have come to believe that you’re in the wrong profession, it will take emotional courage to admit that you want to change your career path and start something new. If your new plans are radically different, you could feel overwhelmed. You might face an initial drop in salary. It can also be hard to tell your family and friends, especially if they encouraged you down your original path. But – if it’s what your heart wants – it’s worth doing.

Another example could be when facing a difficult conversation. We can often feel nervous about potential conflict, or worry that the other person might become angry, or fear we’ll react in an overly defensive way.

A key mindset is to know that things are always going on which are outside anyone’s control. How do you sit with that uncertainty? What emotions does it bring?

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Homemade masks

How to re-boot your social skills and confidence

The lockdown period has meant we’ve had to change our routines and spend significant amounts of time at home. Without the usual interactions we have with others, many of the people I talk with tell me they are experiencing one or both of these problems:

  • Some feel they are starting to lose their social skills and confidence and are therefore finding it easier to stay at home
  • Some are prioritising connection with colleagues but de-prioritising their relationships with other stakeholders (there’s only so much Zoom time one can cope with…)

Do you recognise this?  In the long-term, these will impede your ability to deliver value, both as an individual and as part of a team. They might even reduce your overall confidence and well-being.

This article focuses on rebooting your social skills and confidence and includes a couple of self-assessment questionnaires so you can see where you are and identify where you might need to invest development time.

Remember to think of the present situation as physical distancing, not social distancing!

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clouds

Understanding and managing anxiety

I recently came across a BBC podcast on ways to stay calm, and an HBR article on a similar subject. For this month’s article, I’ve extracted the key points and added my perspective. Much of it focuses on the ancient Greek philosophy of stoicism – this seems particularly useful at a time when anxiety levels may be high due to the ongoing pandemic and surrounding uncertainty.

The article covers what you can do if you’re feeling anxious yourself, as well as how you can support your team. The core message is that we can’t control what happens, but we can control how we respond.

As the Buddhist monk Matthieu Richard wrote in his book, Happiness: “Most of the time it is not outward events but our own mind and negative emotions that make us unable to maintain our inner stability and drag us down”.

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Working from home

How to facilitate effective virtual meetings

With the pandemic ongoing around the world, your people are probably more certain by now about the technology they need to be productive at home. However, as you know, leadership is not just about tasks and processes. It’s also about relationships.

Your people need to feel cared for and supported, especially at a time like this. They need to feel connected to their team-mates. But how do you engage a large community who might be geographically dispersed?

Among other things, this article covers some of the principles you need to keep in mind when running virtual team meetings, as well as the tools, tips and techniques to use, and which mindset will be most helpful.

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Signpost

How to lead through new territory

No-one could have predicted the situation we’re currently in, and it’s probably evoking lots of uncomfortable feelings – I know it is for me. I’ve also heard some wonderful stories of how people are supporting and taking care of each other, whether that’s at work or at home.

Being a leader is complex, especially at a time like this. How can you show vulnerability and make it psychologically safe for people to speak up, yet also show confidence and strength so those same people can rely on you to provide a safe harbour?

One could argue this is simply good leadership, albeit magnified at the moment! So, this article comprises some thoughts for you to consider around how to support your team during this time.

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Playing cards

Elements of good judgement

Building on my previous two articles about what makes a great CEO (remember, the insights apply to all of us), this month’s newsletter takes a key skill – good judgement – and examines it in more detail. Some of the insights are based on interviews with CEOs in many different companies conducted by Sir Andrew Likierman, a professor at London Business School, and detailed recently in the Harvard Business Review. I’ve added my own perspective based on my experience of coaching individuals and leadership teams over the years.

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Sparkler

Mindset and practices of the best leaders (part 1)

This month’s article was inspired by some research by McKinsey called: “The mindsets and practices of excellent CEOs“. I’ve added my own advice to help you kickstart your 2020; even though the research focuses on CEOs, much of the insight can apply to other leaders and professionals too.  I hope it gets you thinking about how you might like to refresh your mindset and practices.

McKinsey looked at the six main elements of the job:

  • Setting the strategy
  • Aligning the organisation
  • Leading the top team
  • Working with the board
  • Being the face of the company to external stakeholders
  • Managing your own time and energy

They summarise this with the diagram below, with the optimal mindset and practices for each element of the role. So, for example, setting the corporate strategy is best done with a mindset of “Focus on beating the odds”, with three practices to complement this around Vision, Strategy and Resource Allocation.

Excellent CEOs

We look at the first three of these below; I’ve picked out the elements I believe will be of most value, and help you set the spark into a new decade at work. Next month, we’ll consider the other three.

Everything you do sets/affects the tone for your team(s) and colleagues. So, if you are in a rut about the way you do your job, read on!

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Courage

Courageous leadership

As you may know, one of the most popular TED talks of all time is by Brené Brown about vulnerability.

Her latest book, Dare to Lead, was published in 2018 and builds on much of her research on vulnerability – she expands on this theme and describes what it looks like in a leadership context. I found it packed with rich content and lots of checklists, (although you’ll need to create your own checklist for all the checklists :-)), so it’s worth getting if you want to dig a little deeper. Meanwhile, it inspired the ideas in this article which I hope you find useful.

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Grieving

How to support somebody who is grieving

In today’s society, we no longer live in big family groups. When family and friends live far away, the people we would usually turn to are not easily available. Instead, workmates can be a big source of support. However, death is a topic we don’t often talk about at work.

When someone has lost a loved one, their colleagues can feel uncomfortable, and it can be hard to know what to do or say. As a result, they may keep quiet about it.

This article gives you some ideas about how you can support a grieving colleague, whether you’re their line manager or a concerned workmate.

If you have suffered a loss and had support that you found particularly helpful, I’d love to hear from you. I will collate any responses and write an update to this article so we can learn from you (I will assume you wish to be anonymous unless you tell me otherwise). Thank you!

“Even the darkest nights will end and the sun will rise.”
Victor Hugo

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