Thursday, December 27, 2012

You're Not Listening to Me! Audio Version

Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter explains five key steps to enhance you're capacity to listen.
Visit here to learn how you can enhance your communication skills so that you are more effective in your workplace.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Increasing Team Member Motivation - Audio Version


If you are leading a team within a poor company culture, how can you increase the motivation of your team members? Gary Ryan explains a series of practical behaviours that a Team Leader can do that will enhance the self-motivation of their team members.

Find out more about creating Teams That Matter® here .

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Say "Yes" for Career Success Now Launched

My audacious project to give away $1.97 million worth of high quality online training over five days has just been launched!
If you answer "Yes" to one or more of the following questions, then this course is suitable for you:
  1. Have you recently graduated from university?
  2. Are you within the first 10 years of your career but haven't quite made the progress you desire?
  3. Do you believe in taking responsibility for your personal and professional development?
  4. Are you an experienced employee who would like to 'refresh' your knowledge and skills?
  5. Are you dissatisfied with your current employer and want to find out how you can improve your performance so that you can 'develop your way into a new job or career'?
  6. Are you a consistently 'good' performer who wants to achieve a higher level of performance?
  7. Do you want to be in control of your career rather than leaving the control of your future in the hands of your employer? (Did you know that according to international research on employability, employers prefer employees to have a clear vision for themselves?)
Check out the full details here!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mindsets Matter

Over the years of helping my clients create more success, one factor that stands out more than any other is your mindset.
 
Your mindset matters. A lot.

Think about it. Right now, are you as successful, across all aspects of your life as you desire?

If you are, terrific! Keep doing whatever it is that you are doing that has created your success.

Most people are not as successful as they would like to be.
So what's stopping them from being as successful as they desire? Better still, what is stopping you from being as successful as you wish to be?

Logically if you are not as successful as you desire, then your theories, or mindset for creating success is not working, at least not completely. It might be working in some areas of your life, but not all areas of your life. In fact, if you really think about, you have multiple theories about success. You will have theories about how to create successful relationships, how to create a successful business, how to create a successful career, how to be healthy etcetera. Some of these theories will be working. Some won't be, but you'll still be using them. And then you wonder why you aren't as successful as you desire.

Here's the kicker. Some of your theories for success used to work. So you keep using them. However the world changes. You change. Yet you keep using these old theories that used to work.
These theories are embedded into your mindset and stop you from creating future success. Yes, that is right. Your old theories that once created success are no longer valid and new theories must be adopted. The evidence is as plain as the nose on your face, especially if you're not as successful as you desire to be.

When did you last consider your mindset? Are you even aware of your theories for success? How do you know they still work?

One mindset that many employees have is that it is their organisation's responsibility to develop them. This mindset is akin to abdicating your responsibility for your continued development. Why would anyone consciously make that choice? The issue is that people don't consciously make this choice, they subconsciously make this choice. The outcome of such a mindset is that the person loses. Big time. If your organisation doesn't invest in your development then, with this mindset you are screwed. To be brutally honest an organisation that doesn't prioritise or invest in your development isn't a high performing organisation and probably isn't worthy of your full talents. But if you don't develop yourself under such circumstances then your full talents won't be worth much either. Not to prospective employers anyhow. And then you're stuck. You're stuck with an employer who isn't developing you and because your mindset is that it is their responsibility to do that, you don't improve yourself. And then you can't get a job anywhere else. Not a very secure strategy if you ask me!


When did you last consider your mindset? Are you even aware of your theories for success? How do you know they still work?

At the same time, your mindset is the most important factor for creating the future success you desire. If you don't change your mindset or maintain a strong and proactive one, you'll keep doing what you've been doing and you'll continue to be dissatisfied with your level of success.
It doesn't have to be that way. Improve yourself and take control of your development. Use whatever development your organisation offers as a bonus and take charge of creating the success you desire.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Understanding Innovation - Audio Version

Do you provide Leadership That Matters® ?

Many people are confused by the concept of innovation.
Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter explains the concept in simple terms and provides practical advice for how you can enhance your practice of this critical skill.


This recording is an episode from the What Really Matters For Professional Development Podcast by Gary Ryan.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Purpose and School Financial Viability

The recent spate of independent school closures and/or going into voluntary administration concerns me. It concerns me that these schools have managed their way into such a financial mess, but I am even more concerned about the knee-jerk reaction that may be caused by such poor administration.

Schools are not and never will be businesses. I'll say that again. Schools are not and never will be businesses. The purpose of a business is to serve its clients and stakeholders and to make a profit. The purpose of a school is to educate and to provide a sense of community and belonging and while doing so, be financially astute and responsible.

There is a huge difference between running a school so that it fulfills its purpose to educate, than to run a school for the purpose of being financially viable or profitable. 

One of my Executive Coaching clients is a school principal who has been doing a magnificent job in taking his school from being good to outstanding. His school's recent review, coupled with a standing ovation that he received at a speech he gave to 200 of his peers as he spoke from the heart about his journey over the past 2 1/2 years at a recent conference, are indicators of the success of his journey.

He is absolutely passionate that the school he serves exists for the education of its students. The school does not exist to make money. Yet he uses business and financial management principles as tools to help him deliver on the purpose of his school - to educate its students and to provide them with a sense of community and belonging.

His understanding of how the system within which he operates from a financial perspective works is second to none. He uses that knowledge to ensure that the financial management of the school serves the purpose of the school.

In this context, understanding why the school exists is paramount to ensuring that financial management practices serve the purpose of the school, and ensure that the cart doesn't come before the horse. Schools do not exist to make money. This doesn't mean that they can't make money, but if making money becomes the purpose for the school, then education will suffer. Purpose is really that powerful.

The recent school closures are indicators that something has gone terribly wrong. School leaders need to have a strong understanding of finance and need to use that understanding for the benefit of schools. A closed school doesn't serve any purpose.

In closing I encourage better fiscal management of schools. But I urge those of influence to ensure that the school's finances don't become the focus and the reason the school exists, else our children will ultimately suffer.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Leadership - It's more complex than ever! Audio Version

Ensure that you implement Leadership That Matters®

Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter challenges you to identify your approach to leadership.
Please subscribe to the What Really Matters For Professional Development Podcast here.


This recording is an episode from the What Really Matters For Professional Development Podcast by Gary Ryan.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Explaining the OTM Service Strategy® Audio Version

Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter provides an overview of the six key elements that underpin the OTM Service Strategy®.

Please visit http://orgsthatmatter.com/service-excellence.html for more information or subscribe to the What Really Matters For Professional Development Podcast here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be Grateful - A Strategy For Creating Success

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and while it is not something we formally celebrate in Australia, my twin brother and his family live in the USA so I have become more and more familiar with the concept over time.

If you are concerned about having a career that is unfulfilled or that the skills that you have will never be fully leveraged for success (amongst a whole list of concerns and worries about your future), then according to research from the University of California by Dr Robert Emmons, practicing being grateful for what you already have can both increase your happiness and increase your success.

Yes, that is correct. Being thankful for what you have increases your happiness and increases your success, which means that you increase your capacity to have more of what you want in your life.
Too often we focus only on what we want. This can increase our dissatisfaction with our present that reduces our happiness in the present.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama says that too many people spend too much of their time wanting what they don't have which causes unimaginable suffering. Think about it. You buy a new car. For a short period of time you are feeling satisfied and grateful for your new car. Then you see someone else with the same model car as yourself, but it has some extra options that you don't have on your car. "I wish I had those options." you think to yourself. Suddenly your new car isn't quite as good as your thought. So you start to suffer again.

Suffering obviously reduces happiness.

In this context is wanting what you don't have bad for you? I don't believe so. After all I facilitate the OTM Plan for Personal Success® Program which is all about identifying what you want and what you are going to do to create that future. But the program isn't just about that.

It is also about recognising what you currently have in your life for which you are grateful and identifying what you need to do to keep what you are grateful for present in your life.
As an example I am now in my 17th year of marriage with my beautiful wife Michelle. I really do love her more than the day we married. I am extremely grateful to have her as my life partner and the mother of our five children. I practice making sure that I never forgot that I am grateful for who she is and what she does. I do this because I want Michelle to be in my life both now and in the future.
Many people forget this fact. There are many elements of our lives that have contributed to our current success that will also need to be present in our future if we want to continue our success and happiness.

This means that you must plan to take conscious actions to keep the very things that make you happy now continually present in your life.

One way to do that is to create a Grateful List. Simply create a list of the things for which you are truly grateful, place that list where you can see it everyday and then look at it every day. Once every 90 days update your list.

This simple, yet effective strategy can raise your consciousness of what makes you happy in the present, while also contributing to your future success and happiness.

For all of you around the world celebrating Thanksgiving, stay safe and have a wonderful time celebrating the things in your lives for which you are grateful.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Passion Matters If You Want Success

If you want to achieve anything worthwhile in life then there is a simple secret that successful people know.

The first principle for achieving success is passion and I absolutely believe that you have to have it in your life if you want to have access to the energy that is required to create success. 


Passion provides our energy, our drive for taking action, especially when those actions are hard and/or challenging. In simple terms we derive energy from our passions.
Try this quick exercise.

Stop and close your eyes for a moment think about your passion. It could be one or more of many things such as:
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Singing
  • Physical exercise
  • Playing sport
  • Water based activities
  • Drama
  • Art
  • Reading
  • Gaming
  • Studying
  • Learning
  • Cooking
 This list doesn’t have an end! It could go on and on and on.

Once you have identified your passions focus on one of them and think about it, remember yourself doing, see yourself doing it. Notice what happens to your body when you start imagining yourself doing your passion.

When I ask participants in my programs to do this exercise you should see what I see! While their eyes are closed as they are imagining themselves doing their passion, whatever it is, people smile! It is as if they can't help it. Smiles simply appear on their faces!

It just happened to you too, didn't it.

If you require evidence that passions drive your energy then here it is! Just notice the smile on your face. 

However a sad fact is that as many of us get older, we stop experiencing our passions. Just when our lives get busier and more serious, just when we need more energy to create the success we desire, we stop living and experiencing our passions. If you think about it, isn’t that just plain crazy?

Our passions ‘leave’ our lives or they simply fade away from being present in our lives. Yet we need our passions in our lives in order to give us the energy to get through some of the less passionate things that we have to do. No matter how successful we become there will always be things that we have to do to create our success that aren't the most fun in the world to do.

As you consider your passion or passions, are they present in your life now? When did you last experience your passion? When is the next time you plan to experience your passion?

Interestingly your passion doesn’t have to be 'present' all the time for you to benefit from the energy it provides. As an example many people have travelling as one of their passions. For many of us such a passion is ‘serviced’ when we have annual leave holidays from our work. So what people with this passion will do is book in and pay for their travelling experiences a long time in advance. As a result they have the positive energy benefits of looking forward to experiencing their passion.

If you don’t have a passion and can’t remember ever having one, you have a wonderful opportunity to include this in your Vision. For example. as part of your personal vision you could write, “In 12 months’ time I will be living and regularly experiencing at least one passion in my life.”

Remember, when planning for success it’s okay to write things down into the Vision section of your plan even when you have no idea about how they are going to be brought into reality. In fact, this is usually true for most things that you write down in the vision section of your plan and why writing them down is so powerful.

In wrapping up, what's your passion or passions? How are you leveraging the energy that they generate?

Gary Ryan facilitates the OTM Plan for Personal Success® program. Click here to find out more about how you can create a plan for your personal success.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Knowing What You Really Want Takes The Stress Out of Your Future

Imagine living your life where your concerns, fears and worries about your career, wealth, health and relationships were 80% less than they are today. Does this sound like a fantasy? It's not.

Over 5,500 people have discovered the power of creating a written plan for personal success. A consistent challenge that people face when creating their first plan for personal success is defining the future that they desire. many people describe 'strategies' instead of describing what they really want.

A common example relates to fitness and health. People will often say things like, “I want to lose 10 kilograms, this is the fitness and health future that I desire.”

Losing 10 kilograms is a strategic goal and while losing 10 kilograms is an outcome, it isn’t the 'end game'. What the person really wants is the lifestyle that comes with being 10 kilograms lighter. That person wants to be more attractive, more able to move and have fun. That person wants more energy. That's what they really want. 

Defining what people really want is something that a lot of people find difficult to do. Understanding why you want to be 10 kilograms lighter and why that is important to you are the keys to understanding what it is you really desire.

Focusing on the types of activities that you want to be able to do and visualising yourself doing them is far more powerful than focusing on a number, such as losing 10 kilograms. Dewitt Jones, acclaimed National Geographic photographer and an expert on the power of vision explains that the big visions in life shouldn’t be too focused, too tight. Rather, they should be both clear enough, yet loose enough to leave open a thousand possibilities to bring them into reality.

In terms of a whole of life perspective focusing on losing 10 kilograms is too tight a vision.

Focusing on being able to play with your children or grandchildren, being able to participate in a hiking holiday, or dancing with your friends are loose visions that have a multitude of opportunities to bring them into reality.

Losing weight may be a strategy that is required to enable you to keep the possibilities alive for you to bring your vision into reality. It is at this point that focusing not only on losing weight but on creating a new lifestyle where you can maintain the weight loss becomes critical. At this level of personal planning you become more focused on your goals and you take specific actions to achieve them. Actions may include engaging a personal trainer and training four times per week. These are what Dewitt calls ‘tactical visions’ and are more detailed and specific. They identify exactly what you need to do to bring your vision into reality

How do you know if the future you are focusing on is what you want or is a strategy to achieve what you want?

The easiest way to approach this question is to reflect on the content of your vision once it has been created. You will discover that you have a mixture of statements that reflect both what you want and the strategies regarding your approach to achieve them.

For each statement in your vision statement ask yourself, “Why do I want this? What will this really look like once I have it? What will I be doing when I have this?” and keep asking this question for each answer that you arrive at, possibly up to five times in a row (this is known as the Five Whys Technique).

In a financial context people often suggest they they want to be rich or to have ‘x’ amount of dollars as part of their vision. Once again having money is a strategy that enables you to do want you want to be able to do. Asking yourself, “Why do I want this money? What will I be doing with it?” can help to uncover what you really want and makes it so clear that taking the necessary steps to create the wealth you desire (legally, of course!) becomes more and more doable.

Why is it that people initially struggle with this challenge?
Having assisted more than 5,500 people establish their initial OTM Plan for Personal Success®
the facts are that less than 0.1% (that is less than ten) of those people had previously created a detailed or strategic plan plan for themselves. The reality for the vast majority of people is that creating a personal plan is something that they haven’t done before.

Like most things we do for the first time we are usually not very good at it the first time. This can be frustrating for adults because we like to think that we can quickly achieve an expert standard when we perform a new task, even though our experience has taught us that this isn’t really how we learn.

Learning to use iterative cycles when creating your plan for personal success enables you to more quickly establish a personal plan that both clearly articulates what you want and what you are going to do to achieve your vision. This means that you develop the skill to continually ask yourself, “Why do I want what I have just written? Why is that important to me?”

That said, having an initial plan is more powerful than not having one. David Ingvar’s ‘Memories of the Future’ research highlights the power of having a written plan. In this context having a plan is far more beneficial than not having one at all. If you create you plan and then become disciplined on reviewing it, say once every six to 12 months and also become disciplined at constantly challenging yourself to reflect on why you want what you want, you will, over time create plans that are even more powerful than your first plan. This is normal and part of the learning process that is associated with creating and living your plan for personal success.

Please visit here for more information on the options available for establishing an OTM Plan for Personal Success® and sign up for my regular newsletter here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Research Shows That Staying Focused Is A Key To Happiness

Trying to understand what makes us happy is a very interesting field of modern research. In the TedX video below, Matt Killingsworth explains the link between mind-wandering and happiness that his research has uncovered.

Using a mobile app he was able to generate 650,000 sets of data responses from people reporting on their level of happiness.

His findings indicated a direct relationship between a wandering-mind and its negative impact upon happiness. He also discovered that our minds wander a lot, so this relationship is difficult to prevent.

The reason is that when people let their minds wander, they tend to think more about negative things than positive or neutral things. As an example, people might start thinking about an argument they had the previous day with their spouse and then start to stress about that conversation, therefore making themself unhappy.

It seems that Matt's research highlights the importance of staying in the moment and being focused on whatever we are doing (which statistically keeps you happier than if you let your mind wander) and/or to be far more mindful about our mind-wandering. In other words, consciously choose to let your mind wander about pleasant things.

The video goes for just over 10 minutes and is worth a viewing.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Learn how structures drive development - an example from karate

One of our close friends had invited our family to watch their 10 year old son Joshua complete his grading for his Black Belt in karate. Having been training in karate since he was six years old this was a 'Big Occasion' for him.

A crowd of over 200 people had assembled in the local karate club's hall to support children from the age of nine through to 14 complete the requirements for their various Black Belt or First Dan assessments. The formworks and kata were performed to perfection to the delight of everyone. This was followed by various fighting stick assessments, jumping and tumbling kicks & strikes, a nun-chuka formwork and finally wood breaking strikes. Considering the ages of the children their performances were very, very impressive!

Finally, six of the boys and girls who were also being assessed for a special leadership award (which is specific to this club) took it in turns to perform a speech about leadership. As each child gave their speech on their own in the middle of the gymnasium floor, no notes in hand, a structure for their speeches became apparent. The structure was:
1) Introduce yourself and your age
2) Identify your favourite karate activity
3) Name a high profile leader of your choice
4) Provide a 'key-point' history of your leader
5) Share a quote created by the leader
6) Explain how the quote relates to your own personal circumstances
7) Thank your parents for their support
8) Thank the audience

While I had been highly impressed by the various karate demonstrations, I was astounded by the performances of these six children. It was clear that they all had different personalities yet each of them was able to stand up in front of a crowd of predominantly adults and provide their speeches. One of the children spoke about Ghandi and provided great detail as he shared an accurate account (including dates) of Ghandi's life. This boy was nine years old!

It was also interesting to watch each of the children stumble at some point in their speeches. When this happened, each of them drew a long slow breath, gathered their thoughts and then continued with their speech. Imagine the pressure that could have been mounting and the ‘self-talk’ that could have been going on in their heads. Yet they remained focussed and completed the task at hand. It seemed to me that the children had been well taught with regard to the structure that they should follow in providing their speeches, including what to do when they lost their train of thought. It really was a delight to watch.

To me the high level of performance that the children were able to achieve was due to a clear structure that they had been provided in preparing for their speeches. No doubt each of the children had also practiced and practiced this structure, much like they had practiced their kata and formworks. Imagine the confidence that these children will have in their lives going forward. Many adults would run away as fast as possible rather than provide a speech in front of 200 hundred people. Yet these children did it and did it well. They will have that experience to draw on for the rest of their lives. As each child finished their speech the applause sounded like it was coming from 1,000 people and not just 200. It really was extraordinary to witness!

This experience once again highlights the power of having structures to support the outcomes that you desire. While the structures that the children used for their speeches may appear simple on the surface, their importance is no less valuable. What similar examples do you have where a clear structure has supported your own or someone else's development? What stories are you willing to share with our community? What key lesson stood out for you from your experience?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Safety and Linear Innovation at Its best!

This is linear innovation at its best! Take the need to provide a safety demonstration, add in the problem that very few people normally watch them, sprinkle in entertainment and viola, you have something worth watching that also provides saftey instructions. Brilliant!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Is your message and the experience you create aligned?

This really isn't rocket science but I am continually amazed at how many organisations get this wrong. Recently my family have been doing high school tours to help us make a decision regarding the right school for our eldest child.

The schools have had many different approaches to this process. However, their messages have been very similar, "We create a caring, belonging and nurturing environment for your child where we seek to create well rounded young adults with strong academic and life skills."

Yet it is our experience of this message that has stood out the most for us. One school that had over 900 students crammed us into a room where three teachers and three students spent 60 minutes 'telling' us about the nurturing and sense of belonging that the school creates. The speeches were fine, the images shown to us on the PowerPoint presentation also looked fine.

The teachers then stayed in that room while the three students led over crowded tours around the school. Classrooms were closed, it had become dark and lights were off and we spent most of the time peering in through windows trying to get a sense of what the school was like.

After a while the litter on the ground became more and more noticeable. After all, there wasn't much else to see or experience.

It seems to me that if you are going to promote a sense of belonging, then that is the 'experience' that you should do your very best to create. This is a classic case of ensuring that your message and the experience you create are aligned. All it takes is a few moments to ask this question, "Is the experience we are going to create aligned with our message?"

The school I have described is no longer on our list. Other parents who have also visited the school for their tours have expressed similar concerns. The school is completely unaware of the misalignment between their message and the experience they are creating.

How do you make sure that your message and the experience you create are aligned?

This article has been re-posted after having originally been posted in October 2010.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don't plan your future - just live in the moment

"I don't plan for my future. I live in the moment and everything works itself out. After all, I used to plan everything and then I got burned by my ex wife. Everything that I had been working for came crashing down around me. So living in the moment is what matters. You need to be happy now. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow."

I hear this type of view fairly regularly. There is no doubt that it is a valid view for some people.

However, when I have the opportunity to drill down and ask a few questions from people who hold this view I discover that when they said that they used to plan for the future, the plans that they are talking about were in their heads and contained no detail about how they were going to be put into action. Their plans were really just high level goals.

When they then got "burned", usually by their partner or their employer, they externalised the situation and believed that they had no control over nor contribution to the negative outcome. It was everyone else's fault. It was also the fault of their plan, even though it wasn't really a plan, it was just a list of high level goals. So that's why they don't plan anymore. It's safer to just go with the flow.

My experience is that when you have a plan that includes your high level goals and what you are going to do to achieve those goals, you are more likely to be happy in the moment as you travel the journey of creating the future you desire.

Recently my eldest son and daughter provided such an example. My wife and I have clear plans regarding how we want to raise our children so that they are respectful, happy and contributing members of society when they are adults. The journey of implementing our plans is at times challenging as we balance teaching our children vital life lessons while enabling them to enjoy life at the same time.

On a Sunday morning when I wasn't home my daughter noticed our 85 year old neighbour struggling to mow his lawns. Sienna called to her 12 year old brother who was still in bed to let him know what Joe was doing. Liam quickly climbed out of bed, put his clothes on and went across the road to offer his services. Thankfully Joe let him complete the task.

When I returned home and was told this story I was delighted. My daughter and my son had both seen an opportunity to help our neighbour and had taken action to do so. This was an example of the behaviours we are hoping to instill in our children for their future being lived today. Do you think my wife and I were happy in this moment?

Absolutely!

When you plan for your future and you know both why and how you are going to bring those plans into reality, your capacity to be happy in the moment increases. So planning for your future is not about post-poning happiness. It's about doing the things that will enhance your happiness in the future, that also increase your awareness of happiness in the moment.

How are you planning for your future?

Gary Ryan facilitates the OTM Plan for Personal Success® Program. Visit here for information about this program.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Managing High Performing Culture Breakers

A recent article When to Fire a Top Performer on the HBR Blog Network by Eric Sinoway caught my eye. In the article Eric classifies employees into four categories based on their performance and their alignment with the organisation's values and culture.

Sinoway's four categories include:
  • Stars are the employees we all love — the ones who "do the right thing" the "right way" .
  • High potentials are those whose behavior we value — who do things the right way but whose skills need further maturation or enhancement. With training, time, and support, these people are your future stars.
  • Zombies fail on both counts. Their behavior doesn't align with the cultural aspirations of the organization and their performance is mediocre.
  • Vampires are the real threat. These employees perform well but in a manner that is at cross-purposes with desired organizational culture. 
The 'Vampires' as Sinoway calls them can cause untold damage to your organisation, despite the appearance that they 'get results'.

Reading the article reminded me of a framework I had learned from Jack Welch while he was CEO of GE.
In this matrix, the vertical axis refers to 'on the job performance and the horizontal axis refers to alignment with company values. Welch argued that so called high performers who didn't align with company values hurt the company in the long term, despite their short term 'performance' results. 

Welch's view was that these people damaged both internal and external relationships and as such would damage the company in the long term, which is why he fired them.

Folk who were aligned with the company's values but fell short on 'performance' were worth a second chance. Of course those who scored well in both areas were the company's stars and should therefore be promoted and their opposites, those who neither 'performed' nor shared the company's values were asked to leave.

The beauty of these models and approaches is that they provide us with a framework for conversations and decision making.

How does your organisation manage the dilemma of a high performer who doesn't align with the company's values?

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Challenge of Multiple Purposes For Management Team Members

Recently, when talking with a client it became evident that when in Management Team meetings he was first a representative of his department, rather than first seeing himself as a leader of the whole organisation. Below is the dialogue from that conversation.

GR: "How do you believe the other members of the Management Team view their roles?"

Client: "Based on their behaviour, I'm one hundred percent confident that they would have the same perspective as me. None of them would see themselves as leaders of the company first."

GR: "When there is a problem that exists within the business, how is that problem approached from a Management Team perspective?".

Client: "Well if there was a problem with my area, for example, I would be asked what I was doing about fixing the problem."

GR: "What if you didn't know what to do?"

Client: "I'd have to work it out, or at least that would be the perspective that I would take."

GR: "Being brutally honest, if your colleagues continued to question you about the problem but you didn't have an answer, what would happen to your level of defensiveness?"

Client: "Oh, that's easy. It would go through the roof!"

This conversation highlights a dynamic that exists in far too many Management Teams. The team members see themselves and their colleagues as representatives of departments, not as leaders of the whole organisation first.

Such a view can lead to the following behaviours that can hinder an organisation from achieving high performance:
  • When problems arise they are to be solved from within the area from within which the problem arose
  • Team members wait for their turn to speak to the issues that relate to their department
  • Team members do not actively participate in attempting to solve problems that arise from departments that are external to their own
  • Avoidance of discussing issues that might reflect negatively on the performance of the managers themselves
Senior Managers need to be able to work from the perspective of dual purposes at the same time. While they are responsible for their department they are also responsible for the whole of the organisation as well, including the departments of which they are not directly responsible.

When Senior Managers are able to do this then they are able to genuinely inquire into and offer suggestions for problems that arise from departments outside of their own. In fact, they wouldn't even see the problem as being, "...out of their area". Rather, they would understand that due to the interactions and interdependence between departments that they would have an equal level of responsibility with their Management Team colleagues to solve these types of problems together.

This is not to say that Senior Management should abdicate responsibility for the problems within their own departments. Of course they need to be doing everything they can to solve them. At times, however, the problems will be of a type that require the assistance of their fellow Senior Team members if the problems are to be solved and/or effectively managed.

As Russell Ackoff used to say, it is not the efficiencies of the parts of a system that lead to high performance, rather it is the quality of the interactions between the parts of the system that matter the most. At a Management Team level this means that problems need to be addressed by the team as a whole, rather than being pushed back to being solved at the department level from which the problem was believed to have originated. The issue with the second approach is that just beacause a problem appears to have originated from a particular department, doesn't mean that it actually originated from that department.

What capability does your Manatement Team have to manage the challenge of multiple purposes?

Are problems at the Management Team level in your business addressed as team problems, or are they addressed as problems for the respective departmental managers to solve?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sir Richard Branson's Business Advice is Powerful in its Simplicity

Sir Richard Branson has recently posted an article that provides advice for starting a successful business. I'd argue that his five tips are just as important for continually improving an existing business.

Branson's tips include:
  1. Listen more than you talk - listen to everyone not just the senior people
  2. Keep it simple - why overcomplicate things?
  3. Take pride in your work - celebrate the talent within your business
  4. Have fun, success will follow - enjoy the journey; be human
  5. Rip it up and start again - learn from your mistakes
What are your thoughts on Sir Richard's advice?


Monday, October 8, 2012

Systems Thinking Explained by Dr Peter Senge

Peter Senge, Senior Lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Founding Director for the Society of Organisational Learning explains, in simple terms, what "Systems Thinking" is and how to use its principles for solving complex problems.




According to the Employability Skills for the Future report by the Australian Government (2002), Systems Thinking is considered a critical leadership skill. Yet it isn't being taught to leaders.

Understanding this skill and developing it as one of your leadership capabilities is a high leverage activity that will enahnce your career. This short video is a terrific way to commence your understanding of this topic and you can also access other articles I have posted here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ebook for Senior and Developing Leaders Released


This complimentary ebook is for Senior & Developing Leaders who share our view that organisational success is created through enabling people to be the best they can be, was created from a selection of articles published on the OTM Academy from May 1st 2012 through to August 31st 2012.
The ebook includes articles to help you move from 'good' to 'high' performance.
Please feel free to join the OTM Academy - it's free!

In the ebook you will discover:

* What 'Truth to Power' is and how it affects performance

* Why communicating via multiple channels matters

* How Virgin Australia handled a brand damaging event

* Why change management is an oxymoron

* How to use three steps to bring organisational values to life

* How to be free of problems within your business

* How to use five steps to connect strategy to action

*And much, much more!
Order this free ebook to download here.
Contributing authors include:
  • Gary Ryan
  • Ian Berry

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ange Postecoglou Highlights That Leaders Are Always Learning

One of my very best friends is Chris Maple, Head of Development at the Western Bulldogs who play in the Australian Football League (AFL). We regularly talk about leadership, learning and development.

During one of our recent chats, Chris shared that he had spent 90 minutes with Ange Potecoglou, Head Coach of the Melbourne Victory who play in the Australian A League (called 'soccer' in Australia, but known as 'football' everywhere else in the world).

Chris told me that he couldn't believe how much he learned from Ange in just 90 minutes. While the codes of their sporting professions may differ, it turns out that Ange learned a great deal from that visit too. In fact, in today's Age newspaper, Ange revealed that he constantly looks to other codes for learning, motivation and inspiration.

Ange and Chris' story highlights that true leaders never stop learning. They are prepared to look outside the boundaries of their own industries, learn what they can and then mould and adapt what they have learned to match their own circumstances.

How have you looked out of your own industry to continue your learning and development as a leader?

What lessons have you adopted from the 'outside' and brought them in to your organisation?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monash Pharmacy Student Development in Action eBook

Throughout 2012 I have had the pleasure to work with student Ambassadors from Monash University's Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceautical Sciences.

The eBook provides evidence that Generations Y and Z do care about their community and displays the woderful passion of these students to make a positive difference to their community.

Please take a moment to view the output of their projects from start to finish.




Gary Ryan provides Student Development programs to several of Australia's leading universities.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Discover how to prepare powerful Questions That Matter®

Preparing powerful questions can be one of the most important practices that a leader can include in their repertoire of leadership skills. Powerful questions have the following four characteristics:
  • They are genuine, meaning that we are open to whatever answers are provided
  • They are thought provoking
  • They invite another’s contribution
  • They act as a call to create
It is relatively easy to identify whether or not a powerful question has been used because the five outcomes from powerful questions include:
  • New thinking
  • New solutions
  • New partnerships
  • New products and services
  • Action that would not have otherwise occurred
On the surface creating powerful questions may seem easy. My experience has taught me otherwise. Just like any skill, the ability to develop powerful questions takes time and effort. In programs where we teach people about the importance of developing their questioning skills, the participants often experience difficulty in generating questions. People often say, “I’m really good at answering questions, I’m just not very good at creating them!”

We encourage people to adopt a practice whereby any meeting that you are about to attend, you spend some time thinking about the types of questions that you could consider asking. When adopting this practice there are at least two levels of questions that should be considered. These are the ‘Big Picture’ or strategic questions, and the second level is the action or event level questions. Most people have a tendency toward the action questions which often create a cycle of problems, questions and actions that may not be connected with the strategic possibilities that may exist.

Developing your questioning skills will enable your to develop the capability to catalyse and conduct more Conversations That Matter®.

For example I recently conducted a program where a team of participants were helping another participant (Dan) to prepare a list of powerful questions for a meeting that he was about to conduct with a team member Judith, the following week. Dan was an experienced manager and had authorised leave for Judith who had been with the organisation for about four months and had just completed a training program for her role. Judith had proven herself to be highly competent in her short time with the organisation. Two other staff were to share Judith’s duties while she was on leave. Dan had asked Judith if she was happy to train the two people to do her work and she had agreed to do so.

Dan was happy that he’d been able to allow Judith to go on leave and was pleased that two other staff had been trained to do her work. However, on the first day that Judith was on leave he discovered that while the two staff had been ‘shown’ what to do, neither of them had actually been given the opportunity to ‘do’ the work in their ‘training’ and therefore had little idea about how to do Judith’s work.

As a participant in our program Dan was preparing his list of questions with the help of the rest of the participants in his group. Initially, the questions that the group generated included:
o Did you know that the two staff didn’t really know what to do when you were on leave?
o What did you expect would happen on the first day of your leave?
o Why didn’t you train them properly?

To me, these questions were very much at the action/event level because they are focused on the detail that is ‘right in front of our eyes’. In this example it was clear that the staff had not been trained properly because their performance was lower than expected. Action-event level questions are like zooming in on an issue with a video camera. The problem with starting at action-event level questions is that if you are looking at the wrong picture you will zoom in on the wrong details!

Such responses are quite normal from our program participants because, once again, most of us are used to answering questions rather than designing them. When I asked the group how they would have responded to the questions themselves if they had been Judith, the group (including Dan) reported that they would probably feel like they were being attacked. I then asked Dan if Judith was a specialist in the field of training. He said “No.”
Dan had a sudden ‘a-ha’ moment and then said, “...yet I expected Judith to know exactly how to train someone in her job. Just because she could do her job doesn’t mean that she’d be able or competent to train someone else to do it. I have assumed for years that people could train others to do their job. Some people probably can, but not everybody.”

I then asked, “What performance outcome does your organisation desire when staff are ‘back-filled’ while on leave?” This was a strategic question, a ‘Big Picture’ question. “The same level of performance.” was Dan’s answer. “What system has the organisation created to ensure that the performance outcome that you desire will occur?” I continued.

“Well, other than staff training other staff to back-fill them, there really isn’t one. And come to think of it, we regularly have performance issues when staff go on leave, which then leads us to be reluctant to approve leave in the first place.”

Strategic questions enable us to zoom out, to take in the whole picture and to see how the system is contributing to the issue, not just a single individual.

We then focused back on the questions that Dan was preparing for his meeting with Judith. When generating the questions a member of the group then said, “Maybe it isn’t a meeting between Dan and Judith that we should be preparing these questions for. Maybe it is a meeting with between Dan and the rest of the organisation’s leadership team?”.

Dan had another ‘a-ha’ moment. “You’re right! That’s exactly who we should be preparing this list of questions for. My focus was in the wrong spot. It was very easy to blame Judith, but actually those of us leading the organisation need to take responsibility for this issue. Under-performance when people have gone on leave has been a problem for years.”

For the first time Dan’s thinking on this issue had shifted. Nothing more than a shift in focus from creating answers to creating questions and a couple of strategic questions had enabled Dan to think differently.

Finally after generating a list of questions for the Leadership Team (including both Strategic and action-event level questions), Dan was asked by another group member what his intentions regarding meeting with Judith would be. He answered, “I’ll ask her about her holiday and fill her in about what’s been going on while she was away. I’m not going to focus on the training, not yet, anyway. I was blaming her but it wasn’t her fault. It was ‘our’ fault, including mine. When the time is right I’ll seek her input to the new system that we clearly need to create.”

In conclusion I asked Dan and his group how they would feel if they were Judith when she had the ‘new’ conversation that Dan now had planned to have with her. “Great! I’d feel like Dan actually cared about me and was interested in my holiday.”

Think about the different outcomes that the two potential conversations with Judith would most likely create. Which outcome do you think is more likely to enhance Judith’s engagement with the organisation, and which one do you think is more likely to reduce her engagement? Clearly the new conversation that Dan was planning to have with Judith is more likely to enhance Judith’s engagement with the organisation.

Preparing questions before meetings is a very powerful practice to include in your repertoire of leadership behaviours. Remember to prepare some strategic questions, and as soon as possible to introduce them to your conversation. A simple, yet effective action-event level question to be asked after discussing your strategic questions is, “What will we do next?”.

If you are trying this practice for the first time, please let us know how you go. In addition, please share the questions that you used that seemed to be effective in helping the people with whom you are working to shift their focus to a more strategic level.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Carry Your Happiness Forward

"Gary, there are a lot of elements in my life that I am very happy with right now, so I don't know that creating a plan for the future requires me to do anything. After all, I already have a lot of what I want in my life now.", a program participant said to me.

"Do you want to continue to have what you are happy with now in the future?" I asked.

"Yes", came the response.

"Did you have to do things to create the current level of satisfaction that you have in your life." I inquired.

"Absolutely!"

"Okay. So wouldn't it make sense that if you wanted to create a future that included many elements of your current life then you more likely to create that future by consciously putting strategies into action? This would ensure that you maintained those elements, rather than leaving them to chance." I followed.

"Yes, there is no doubt that I would be more likely to carry forward the elements of my life that I am happy with by consciously putting strategies into action to create that future. I can see that even though much of the future I desire is that same as I have now, I still need to be conscious in my efforts to continue to create that future.

"Spot on!" I responded.

This brief conversation highlights a misconception that many people have about creating the future they desire. Irrespective of whether you have current elements of your life with which you are happy, if you want to continue to have those elements in your life having conscious strategies that you can put into action will significantly increase the probability that those elements will continue to stay in your life. This is how you can carry your happiness forward.

Otherwise you are leaving it to chance. If you have elements in your life that you are happy with, why would you want to leave them to chance. Take relationships, for example. Lots of people are happy with their relationships but don't consciously put strategies into action to maintain and build on the strength of those relationships. Eventually, something goes wrong and the relationship breaks down even though the people involved never imagined that could happen. In many cases people will blame the other person for having 'changed'. Yet they could have planned to change together and/or plan to be able to sustain individual changes.

What are the elements in your life that you are currently happy with?

How are you planning to keep those elements in your life?

Gary Ryan facilitates the OTM Plan for Personal Success® program which has now had over 5,500 people complete variations of the program.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Use Books to Catalyse Conversations That Matter®

It was late 1996 and my boss presented me with a gift. It was a book. And it wasn't my birthday.

"Read this," he said. "I think it will help you to understand what we are trying to do here. Don't worry if it takes you a while to get through it. Let's touch base regularly to talk about how you're making sense of it."

He had previously given me a couple of relatively easy books to read and I had consumed them like a hungry tiger. So he 'knew' I was up to the task.

The book was The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. It was a tough read and took me six months to get through it. True to his word, however, it was okay for me to take my time to get through it.

For me, taking time to 'make sense' of the book worked really well. Having the opportunity to talk through what I was reading and relate it to what was happening in the organisation was extremely powerful. It allowed me to truly understand from a practical perspective what the book was saying.

At the time my boss was very busy. As was I. But these conversations were invaluable. Both to my development and my capacity to contribute to what we were trying to achieve at the organisation.

Too often I hear leaders say that they have given books to their direct reports but they don't follow up on whether they have read anything. From my experience, it is the conversations that make this form of education invaluable.

If you have never used this developmental tactic, then start with short, simple books. As staff indicate their appreciation of this type of education introduce more complex books. But the most important aspect of this process is that you create conversations about the book and how the staff member is making sense of it. As much as possible your conversations should focus on your current and future work situation to provide a practical element for your conversations.

How have you used books to help educate your people, or what are your experiences of wise bosses using this tactic with you?

Gary Ryan works with successful senior and developing leaders who understand the true value of being challenged, tested and educated through focusing on real world issues,  challenges and problems.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Michelle Obama's Speech an Example of the Power of Story and Metaphor

Irrespective of your political persuasion I encourage you to watch Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention.

In particular I encourage you to note her use of story and metaphor to carry her message. I don't know whether she had support in constructing her speech (it is unlikely that she didn't have help) but on many levels that doesn't matter, it is her delivery that I encourage you to view.

Story and metaphor are extremely powerful in terms of conveying messages. Consider the fact that Michelle doesn't use any props throughout her speech. The entire 25 minutes is simply her constructed from her voice and using the power of tone, scanning, metaphor and story to carry her messages.




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Power of Questions for Creating Success

Less than 2% of the people I work with have a written plan for personal success.

A main cause for this number being so low is that people often say, "Gary, how can I write down what I don't know? I don't know exactly what I want for my future. And that scares me because it seems that I am supposed to know what I want!".

I have now worked with over 5,500 people and helped them to create one version or another of their OTM Plan for Personal Success®. I have never had a single person who was not able to write down something that related to the future they wanted.

The evidence is overwhelming. Even when people say that they don't know what they want for their future, they are able to write down future focused descriptions of at least some aspects of their life. You don't need to know everything. In fact, knowing the direction that you want your future to go in is just as powerful, if not more powerful than having a single clear objective.

Identifying the questions that we would like to have answered in our future provides direction for our personal success. When we know the questions that we would like answered, we then have the power to create a plan to explore those questions so that we can discover our own answers.

A common statement that people say to me is, "I'm not sure if this is the career that I want to have."

When creating a personal plan for success this statement can easily be turned into the desire to have answered a powerful question. In simple terms, when a person is saying this type of statement, they are really saying something like; "In three years time I want to have discovered the career that I want to invest the majority of my working life in." or something to that affect. What a wonderful vision!

Obviously this person's starting point would be that they aren't sure about their career. In addition they may have a job and qualifications and even some experience. They can then establish a plan that will enable them to explore career options over the next three year period.

Are they likely to experience dead ends?

Yes of course they will.

In the context of exploration, are dead ends bad?

No they aren't.

Humans are amazing explorers. In fact we have created this amazing world through our ability to explore.

So I encourage you to explore the questions that, if you could have them answered, would provide amazing foci for the future that you are trying to create. The process of answering our own questions is a powerful secret to personal success.

What questions are you exploring?

Gary Ryan helps people clarify what success means to them and then how to create it. If you're concerned that because you don't know what your future should be that you will therefore end up a failure, then contact Gary at info@orgsthatmatter.com now.