Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What to do when your colleagues are annoying you

Whenever we have a meeting the table is always shaking. John seems unable to stop his leg from jittering. 

Mary never puts her coffee cup away after she washes it. She leaves it on the sink for someone else to put it away. It’s so annoying!

Hun mumbles every time he speaks. I really can’t understand him. I wish he’d speak more clearly.

Every Monday morning Janet wants to tell me about the weekend achievements and dramas of her three children. When will she understand that I’m really not that interested!

Yes For Success, Life balance, plan for personal success, Gary Ryan, Organisations That MatterNo doubt you have these thoughts and feelings from time to time about your colleagues. Working with and getting along with other people is not always easy. Sometimes it is downright difficult. In fact, sometime these annoying behaviours can really drive you crazy!

Your challenge is when these little things become your focus. After a while it is all that you can see these people doing and that means that eventually you see the person as being 100% annoying. When this happens it is difficult to stay a high performing team. Group dynamics have a direct impact on team performance and your attitude toward your colleagues impacts team dynamics.

What can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

Success Magazine founder and editor Darren Hardy has a suggestion for your personal relationships when they start to become annoying and his strategy is just as useful for workplace relationships.

Use a notebook and write your colleague’s name at the top of the notebook. Each day for a month find something good about that person to write in your notebook. Train yourself to see the good things they do. Your list can contain work tasks that they do well or other contributions that they may be making around the office. As you add notes to your list, run your eye over the entire list.

Soon their ‘annoying’ behaviour won’t be all that you see when you look at this person. Your focus will have changed.

Taking this action won’t change the person’s annoying behaviour. Rather, it will help you to see that they are not 100% bad. In fact you’ll likely see more good than you have ever previously noticed. Your new insights about them will change your behaviour toward them. They will react positively to your behaviour and your workplace relationship and dynamics will improve. Most importantly you’ll be able to continue to work as a high performing team.

If you don’t believe that this strategy works then give it a go. My bet is that after only one week you will notice improvements in your workplace dynamics.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Five Business Lessons From Community Volunteers

If you are leading a business and want to know how to provide great service, then read on and learn how a team of volunteers from the Montrose Football Club who play in Division 1 of the Eastern Football league provided an experience that the USA Revolution will never forget. This story will teach you about the power of creating a shared vision, the preparedness to tap into the special skills that people bring to their work and the willingness to work with competitors to create a service that produced mutual benefits for all involved. What business wouldn’t like to learn these lessons!

Gary RyanThe AFL International Cup (AFLIC14) has recently concluded with Papua New Guinea defeating Ireland in an exciting and dramatic game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

18 countries competed over 13 days in both mens and women’s competitions. Every player had to be a citizen of their country so no ex-pat Australians were included in their teams. This was truly an international competition.

In a stroke of genius the third round of the competition saw local teams throughout Melbourne host teams involved in the AFL International Cup, culminating in the Community Round where AFLIC14 games were held as the curtain raiser to the ‘main local game’.

My twin brother Denis Ryan is both the President of USAFL and the mid-field coach for the USA Revolution (the men’s team).

Montrose Football Club, who compete in the Eastern Football League were assigned as hosts for the USA Revolution. The “Revos” (as they call themselves) travelled to Montrose to train with them on Thursday 14th August before their game versus the New Zealand Hawks on Saturday 16th August.

The USA Revolution squad, coaches and support staff were ‘blown away’ by the hospitality shown by Montrose Chairman Rob Ewart, Senior President Tony Eastwood and their dedicated Sub-Committee that was led by Rod Buncle and Terry Dean as well as their band of merry helpers. While the USA Revolution were hoping for a ‘good’ experience from the Community Round, what they received was better than any of them could have imagined.

Lesson #1 Identify mutual benefits
Like most success stories the real work started many months ago when the EFL sent out an expression of interest to all its clubs about applying to become a ‘host’ for one of the games. Senior Club President Tony Eastwood saw the opportunity as one that would enable Montrose to take significant steps toward bringing its vision of being, “Seen as a quality EFL Division 1 club” into reality. He immediately contacted his Blackburn Football Club counterpart and discussed the possibility of putting in a joint expression of interest with Montrose to host the USA Revolution and Blackburn to host the New Zealand Hawks. 

While fierce competitors on the field, the Montrose and Blackburn Football Clubs understand that they both have a responsibility to grow the game and to set high behavioural standards for their members, players and communities. The clubs play off for the One Punch Cup which is a game where they raise awareness about the dangers and injuries that arise from nightclub fights. (Kyle Matthews was playing for the Casey Scorpions as an up and coming VFL star. He was punched in a fight at a nightclub, fell and hit his head causing serious head injuries. Kyle has an association with the Blackburn Football Club and his best friend plays at Montrose).

Leveraging the success of working together on the One Punch Cup the two clubs’ application to the EFL was accepted and the third round game of the AFLIC14 was scheduled to be played at Montrose.

Lesson #2 Give talented people the autonomy to use their talent
Terry Dean and Rod Buncle quickly formed a sub-committee to make sure that the day was a success. They worked with their team including Jenny McArdle, Kerry Schilling and members from the Montrose Coterie Group to make sure that the day was a special event for everyone. Using his corporate skills, Rod created a very detailed schedule of events that also included a link to the AFL’s vision for the community round. This ensured that everyone involved in hosting the event, which was upwards of 35 people, knew exactly what they had to do and when to do it. This is an example of letting good people use their talents and skills in the service of a vision that truly is shared.


Lesson #3 Identify, develop and share your vision of success
The Montrose and Blackburn Football clubs wanted to make sure that members from both teams had an experience that showed them what playing community football in Australia was really like. As a result of their research they became aware that the Revolution players rarely played at anything other than make-shift fields, and most often got changed out of the back of cars or in tents.

In light of this understanding, Rod, Terry and their team went to extraordinary lengths to create the experience that the international players would never have imagined. They approached the EFL and requested that the football Record for the EFL 17th round be designed to feature the USA Revolution and New Zealand Hawks teams. The EFL accepted the request and ensured that both the cover of the record and the middle pages were dedicated to the AFLIC14 game. This is an example of ‘managing up’. Through Rod and Terry’s influence the EFL was able to see how they too would benefit from helping to showcase the AFLIC14 game (they also provided 250 extra copies of the record at no charge!).

The Revolution squad members, coaches and support staff were all provided with a ‘showbag’ that included a membership to the Montrose Football Club, a miniature Montrose Football and a Montrose club cap. In addition, each locker in the changeroom was adorned with information about one of the USA players including their jumper number, name and other details. This information also adorned the walls of the social rooms. Rod and Terry explained that they had done this so that not only would the Revolution players feel at home (and have a real experience of having their name on a club locker), but it would also make it easier for the Montrose players, committee and supporters to engage with them and use their names.

It is this level of thinking that drives high performance. To bother to find a way to help their own community to engage with the Revolution players on a personal level is exactly what high performing organisations do.

Daniel Pink in his book Drive describes ‘Purpose’ as one of the three key elements for creating engaged and self motivated employees. This story highlights the power of a purpose that really matters to people. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Why else would all the volunteers from the Montrose and Blackburn football clubs go to such lengths to create the experience that they provided for the Revolution and Hawks players? The question for you is, “How do you create a sense of purpose for your employees? One that will genuinely engage them and enable them to use all of their talents in the service of that purpose.”

Lesson #4 Connect with all your stakeholders
Gary Ryan 
A lasting memory for me is the image of the USA Revolution players leaving the field at the end of their game clapping the Montrose community as a sign of their appreciation for their support. In unison the Montrose community clapped them back. It was a pure moment that was about Australian Rules Football and the (now) international role that local clubs are playing in helping to take the game beyond Australian shores.

More than 1,500 people attended the game including many local residents who hadn’t been to a game (This game would normally attract about 600 people). As an introduction to the club they could not have had a better experience. The term “win/win” is thrown around a lot these days but on this occasion the Montrose and Blackburn football clubs did themselves proud and could not have been better hosts for our international guests.

This entire story was driven by volunteers, all of whom have busy lives. The success they created was because of the power of sharing a vision that was bigger than any person, allowing talented people to work together for the common good, and through understanding the expectations of the community they were serving and doing everything possible within their limited resources to exceed those expectations.

No doubt a lot of hard work went in to hosting the event. No success comes without hard work. No doubt you work hard too. But you might not be getting the success you desire. If not, re-read this article and pick out the many lessons that will help you and your team achieve the type of excellence that the Montrose and Blackburn football clubs provided the USA Revolution and New Zealand Hawks Respectively.

 Lesson #5 Great service builds lasting relationships
As an anecdote to this story several Revolution players have already commenced talks with Montrose to come out and play with them in 2015. Montrose views this as an opportunity to strengthen their ties with USAFL and are eager to build on their AFLIC14 experience.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Three Frogs

Gary Ryan, Organisations That Matter, Yes For SuccessHere’s a riddle.

Three frogs are sitting on a log.
One decides to jump.
How many are left on the log?

Answer: Three.

Deciding to do something is not the same as doing it.
With regard to creating personal success, making the decision to take action is a critical step in the creation process for success. But it’s not the same as taking the action itself.

Success actions can include starting new things as well as stopping the things and habits that you need to stop doing to make room for the success that you desire. You must also keep doing the things that you are already doing that are helping to create success in your life.

When you make a decision to create success you must follow it up with action.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Making the impossible possible

This weekend my daughter and second son will be competing in the National School Aerobics Championships on the Gold Coast. This will be the third year in a row that my daughter has participated in the championships and the first time for my son.

While my daughter is in Year 6, my son is in Year 4. He is the only Year 4 in the team and the only male which is a terrific achievement.

His involvement in the school aerobics team is part of the ripple effect of my daughter Sienna making the impossible possible back in 2012.

In 2011 Sienna was in Year 3 and competed for the first time in her schools aerobics team. Sienna was in the school’s third ranked team. They did very well for a team of first timers but didn’t make the State Championships. The school’s number one ranked team not only won the State Championship but also went on to win the National Championship later that year. All the girls in that team were in Year 6.

As a result of winning the National Championship, and despite the fact that all the girls who had participated in the team had graduated and moved on to high school, all the school’s aerobics team were promoted to a higher division for the 2012 season.

While having our family dinner during the first week of school for 2012, Sienna said, “Dad, I’d love to be in the top team for aerobics this year, but it’s impossible!”.

“Why is it impossible?”, I asked.

“Well, last year I was in the bottom ranked team and we didn’t even make the state finals. Because our top ranked team won the National Championships last year our whole school was promoted up a level. Plus, only Year Six girls were in the team last year and I’m only in Year Four. So Dad, as I said, it’s impossible!”

“Okay”, I pondered, “When are your trials for the aerobics squads?”

“March.” Sienna replied.

We worked out that Sienna had six weeks between the conversation we were having and the date of the trials.

“Sienna, let’s assume that it was possible for you to make the top ranked team this year. I know that it might be difficult, but let’s just pretend for a moment that it is possible. What do you think you would have to do to make the team?” I asked.

“Well, I’d need to practice.” She replied.

“How much practice would you need to do?” I inquired.

“Probably every day”. (A good response!).

“Okay, how long do you think you would need to practice?” I continued to probe.

“Hmmm, maybe ten minutes?” (A great response from a nine-year old girl).

“That sounds great. Ten minutes for every day equals seventy minutes of practice per week. What else do you think you could do?”

“Maybe I could ask my teachers what sort of practice I should be doing?” Sienna suggested.

“Excellent, that is a great idea. That way you’ll get the best value from your practice. Will you agree to do what you said you will do, at least that way you will give yourself a chance to make the top team.” I said.

“Okay Dad, it’s a deal!” Sienna exclaimed.

To Sienna’s credit she went and did what she said she would do. She asked her teachers what she should be practicing on and then she went and recruited two of her friends who had participated the previous year (they had also been in the third ranked team) to practice with her at recess and lunchtime. In reality she spent much more than ten minutes practicing each day, but it seemed more like fun than practice so she didn’t notice the ‘extra‘ work she was doing.

In addition, what do you think happened when the teachers who were responsible for the team did when they were on yard duty? Yes, they came over and provided more coaching. This is called the Law of Attraction. Sienna’s teachers who were passionate about their teams couldn’t help but be attracted to the area of the playground where the girls were practicing. 

What do you think the Year Six girls were doing during this period? Were they training? No.

When the trials eventually came in March what do you think happened?

Not only did Sienna make the top ranked team, but so did her two friends!

The impossible had become possible!

What a wonderful life lesson!

Despite having three of the team being in Year Four, the seven member squad became State Champions. They then went on to win a Silver Medal at the National Championships and they were the only team that included girls outside of Year Six.

If Sienna had not been able to challenge her own mindset about what was possible, she never would have given herself a chance to make the impossible possible.

There are no guarantees in life, but the willingness to focus on what you want to achieve, coupled by the desire to find out what work is required and to then go and do that work at least gives the impossible a chance to come true.

Sienna’s National Silver medal was a bonus. In my eyes she was a winner the minute she started to put her promise into action and started training.

How often do you let your view of the impossible stop you from giving yourself a chance to make whatever you want to have happen become possible?

Focus on what you want to achieve, do your research and work out what you need to do to make it happen, and then go out and do it. At least you’ll be giving yourself a chance.

Sienna’s success encouraged her younger brother to get involved in school aerobics. Due to his big sister’s experience he knew that it wasn’t impossible for him to make the top team. The ripple effect of Sienna’s willingness to maintain focus and to do the work required to create success is now into its third year. Irrespective of where the team places in the National Championships, the life lessons that they are learning highlights that they are already winners.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Schools and universities are not businesses

Simon Sinek clearly articulates the power of purpose in his book Start With Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action . He explains that when you understand Why you do what you do, then you have more power to take actions that are consistent with living your purpose.

When you start with why, people follow leaders for themselves. They do not follow leaders for their leaders.

Question Mark SkyWhat is the purpose of our schools and universities? Do they exist to make money? Is that their purpose?
Or do they exist to help children and adults learn how to learn so that they can contribute to creating a better world to live in?

Imagine a school whose purpose was to make money. Business people would be invited on to the school board and no doubt astute business decisions would be made to make sure that the school did indeed make money. Intuitively, what do you think that school would be like to go to? 

Sure, there would be talented teachers there. But would a talented teacher be 100% engaged with the idea that what they were doing was first about making money? Yes they would receive a nice pay-cheque, but would that make that teacher fully engaged with why the school existed?
What is your intuitive response to this scenario?

Imagine, on the other hand, a school whose purpose was to help children to learn how to learn so that they could contribute to creating a better world. Imagine that same talented teacher working in that school. Intuitively, how engaged with the school do you imagine that teacher would be?

Which of these two teachers would be more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis because of the purpose of their school? The one whose actions will help the school make more money, or the one whose actions will help children learn how to learn so that they can contribute to creating a better world?

If you are reading that I am suggesting that business people should not be on school or university councils then that is not what I am suggesting. 

Schools and universities need to be rigorous in their financial practices and learn from the business community about how to make the best use of their money. But the reason for using business principles should always be in the context of serving the purpose of education. Education should not be used as the context for serving the purpose of making money. 

Schools and universities require soul and a sense of belonging. The purpose of education must always drive their use of business principles, else they risk serving the wrong purpose and will diminish the education experience of the children and adults they serve.

Based on your experience, what is the purpose of your school or university?
You can view Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk here.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Two Types of Errors

There are two types of errors that we make. The first type is public and can be easily reviewed.

The second type is not obvious and are not easily reviewed so they are nicely tucked away ‘under the carpet‘. 

Gary Ryan, Yes For SuccessThe first type is errors of ‘commission‘. These are errors when you do something that should not have been done. You plan poorly. You execute poorly. You review poorly.

Good operators review these errors and make adjustments so that they do not happen again. They learn.

The second type is errors of ‘omission‘.
These are errors when you don’t do something that you should do. You don’t call-out unacceptable behaviour. You don’t speak up at a meeting when you ‘know‘ that the decision that has just been made is going to fail. You see an opportunity to improve yourself but you let it slip by.

Please note that errors of omission are not errors that you judge in hindsight. They are errors caused by not taking action that you knew you could have taken at the time the error occurred.

Errors of omission are just as important as errors of commission to review. If you keep repeating the same errors of omission then you will reduce your capacity to learn and to become the very best that you can be.

Asking yourself, your team or your organisation to identify actions that you knew you had the opportunity to take but you didn’t take provides an opportunity to review the thinking that stopped you from taking the action when the time was ‘right’. 

Exploring these examples will provide you with real learning that will better position you the next time similar situations arise.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Control your development

On the surface it may seem a little odd that I am suggesting that you should maintain 100% control over your personal and professional development.
running person on white background. Isolated 3D image 
The reality is that too many people hand over the responsibility for their development to their employer. They have a parent-child view of their relationship. Their employer ‘the parent’, will look after them and make sure they are properly developed.

The problem here is two-fold.

1. What if the employer doesn’t develop you? and
2. What if they don’t develop you properly?

The answer to both of these questions is that you suffer. No doubt the organisation will suffer too, but the organisation can get rid of you and then you really suffer. The risks associated with handing over 100% of the responsibility for your development are far too high. Yet that is exactly what most employees do.

Even if your employer is a ‘good‘ employer and provides lots of opportunities for you to develop, be prepared to go outside your organisation to develop the things that you need to develop. Be prepared to invest in your development. Treat the opportunities that your ‘good’ employer provides as a bonus.

This way you’ll continue to develop your talents and you will continue to be the best that you can be. Your talent won’t be at risk of being reduced over time.
Not developing your talents is guaranteed to cut your employability and long-term security. Not an outcome you want!

What I find interesting is that I spend about 30% of my time working with talented undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD university students. These students give of their time to get access to the various development programs that I facilitate. They don’t have to attend these programs. They are in control of their development.

Yet when they get a job, these very same students then hand 100% of the responsibility for their development over to their employer. It sounds crazy because it is!

My message is simple. Maintain control over your development.  Forever. Period.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Focus on where you are going

One of my hobbies is motorcycle riding. No doubt it is a dangerous past time. A secret to safe and effective motorcycle riding is to focus on where you are going. Motorcycles ‘go’ wherever the rider is looking.

This doesn’t mean that you should ignore everything else. Quite the contrary. In fact, as much is reasonably possible, when on a motorcycle you must be as aware as possible of everything 360 degrees around you. You have to know that there is a bus coming at you from your left. You have to see the car recklessly changing lanes in your rear vision mirrors. You have to see the parked car that is just about to move away from the kerb.
Photo by David Collopy - Photfit
Photo by David Collopy – Photofit

You must be fully aware of the dangers around you. However, you must not focus on them. If you focus on the dangers your motorcycle will go toward them which is not an outcome you want.
 
For me riding my motorcycle provides a real and genuine metaphor for life. In my life I must maintain focus on where I am going, while being aware of the dangers around me and taking evasive action as required to steer clear of them so that I can stay on track to where I want to go.

Too often people get focussed on what they don’t want and by doing so they draw it into their lives. Poor relationships. Poor bosses. Never having enough money. Being overweight. This list could go on. By focusing on what you don’t want you bring it to life and actually create it.

Traveling the journey of life requires that you maintain focus on where you want to go, all the while maintaining awareness of what is going on around you. When danger comes, take evasive action and focus on where you need to be to get away from that danger.

This simple principle will help you to create more life balance and personal success. Keep it in mind the next time something negative draws your attention. Maintain the discipline to stay focussed on what you really want.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

To trust means that you are okay with being vulnerable

Over the past few weeks I have conducted a number of teamwork programs. One of the activities that I enjoy facilitating is asking the participants to form small groups and to name the characteristics of the effective and ineffective teams of which they have been members.

Question Mark SkyExamples can come from any team experience and I encourage participants to broader their thinking about their definition of a ‘team’. Some examples of this definition include:
  • A workplace
  • A family
  • A university study group
  • A sporting team
  • A community group
  • Traveling with friends or family
After providing the participants with enough time to share their stories, I collect the results.

An interesting characteristic that always comes up for effective teams is trust. Similarly, a lack of trust is always raised as a characteristic of ineffective teams.
Trust. Easy to say. Hard to give.

Why? It is my view that trust involves a willingness to be vulnerable. In a team concept, to trust your team members means that you have faith that they will do what they say they will do to the best of their ability. When I ask program participants to describe what it was like to be trusted, they say things like:
“He never looked over my shoulder. Even though it was the first time I was doing this task, he asked if I needed any further help and I said that I didn’t. He told me that I could contact him at any stage if my circumstances changed. If I were him I’m not sure that I could have trusted me like he did. And that was special. I think I actually did the job better because I was trusted. I found it really motivating.”

“She was the leader, there was no question about that. But when we allocated tasks and she was clear that we understood what needed to be done, she let us ‘go for it’. Her door was always open and we knew that, and from time to time we would go to her for help, either physically or via email or on the phone. She was always available when we needed her. But she never, ever behaved like she didn’t trust us. It never felt like she was looking over our shoulder making sure we did it exactly how she would. And this was an important project. And we knew that, and we respected that. That’s why we created such a wonderful result. We were a real team and she trusted us!”

You can’t fake trust. It is either genuine, or it isn’t. In today’s complex world it is nearly impossible to ‘go it alone’. Leaders have to trust their team members to do their job, even if the leader could do parts of the job ‘better’ on their own.
To trust, however, requires the leader to be okay with being vulnerable. Trust can’t be broken if it isn’t given. So, by nature genuinely trusting someone means that you are prepared for the possibility that they might break your trust, which in turn makes you vulnerable.

In our world of accountability and responsibility, trust can become very hard to ‘give’. If I’m the leader, the ‘buck stops with me.’ If this project fails, then it’s my fault. It’s complex, isn’t it!

I doubt there is any golden rule with regard to trust. I am a trusting person, but I am not prepared to trust ‘just anyone‘. I use all my ‘three brains’ (I’ll explain what that term means in a future article) to decide whether I will trust someone or not.

Each time I trust someone I am conscious of the choice that I have just made. Trust is behavioural, so saying, “I trust you” means nothing, if all I do is look over your shoulder every step of the way. Being prepared to be vulnerable is a tension leaders have to grapple with.

Are you prepared top be vulnerable?

What are your experiences of trust both as a team member and as a leader?
 
How have you managed the ‘vulnerability‘ tension?

The chances are that if trust is not present then high performance will be a long way away. So what is the bigger risk, the preparedness to be vulnerable or the preparedness to under-perform?

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Life's Journey Will Highlight Your Values

Mike Sheahan’s Open Mike interview with former Brisbane Lion’s coach and three-time premiership player Michael Voss provided a clear insight to the relationship between personal values and workplace decisions.

Sheahan queried Voss about his fallout with former teammate Daniel Bradshaw who left the Brisbane Lions at the end of the 2010 season. Voss shared that he had spoken with Bradshaw on a Tuesday at the end of the season and informed him that there wasn’t any truth in the speculation that Brisbane was making a deal to include Bradshaw in a trade to Carlton so that Brendan Fevola could be recruited to Brisbane. Three days later Voss said that he called Bradshaw to tell him that things had changed and that he was in fact, being considered as part of the deal for Fevola.

Gary RyanBradshaw then left the Brisbane Lions on his own terms and moved to the Sydney Swans. Voss admitted that he had lost his friendship with Bradshaw as a result of the process and that he felt that something wasn’t quite right with the change in the club’s position about Bradshaw over a three-day period. Voss also revealed that despite not feeling right about what was happening he contacted Bradshaw and spoke with him about what had happened and their relationship deteriorated from that point. 

The big lesson for Voss was that the experience highlighted the importance of staying true to his values and as such he became a far more values based coach after that experience.

This example highlights that life’s journey will place you in positions where you need to make values based decisions. While this example involves an elite sport ‘workplace’ it is a workplace none the less. You too will face values based challenges in your workplace. 

A challenge is that you may not really know what your values are to help you in such circumstances. From my perspective, you never stop learning about your values and even if you do know them, life will continue to offer you opportunities to understand them at a deeper and deeper level.

If you are not clear about your values then one way to gain a better understanding of them is to reflect on the way you feel about the outcome of your decisions or actions on an issue that has been a dilemma for you. How you feel will ‘tell’ you whether your actions were aligned with your values or not. As an example Voss said that his actions didn’t ‘sit well‘ with him and he felt that somehow he ‘…hadn’t done the right thing‘.

None of us are perfect. In an ideal world you would have absolute clarity about your values so that any workplace scenario that confronted you could be easily navigated by your values. But sometime your values won’t have been truly tested to see how important to you they are. It is the result of being tested where you really discover what your values mean to you and how you can use them throughout your career.

On this occasion Voss admitted that he got it wrong and I applaud him for his courage and honesty. The important thing to do is to learn from these experiences. You are no different. Use life’s journey to help you to clarify what your values are and then use them to guide your behaviour at work. You will find that will go home each night feeling more calm and satisfied with your behaviour as a leader despite the challenges that work can throw at you.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Walk Tall

On a good day I am 170 centimetres tall (five foot seven). It’s fair to say that I’m not a tall man.

Confused, young businessman looking at chalk drawn arrows on a cGrowing up in suburban Melbourne, Australia I dreamed of being an Australian Rules footballer. Unfortunately I forgot to get in the queue for skills and talent when I was being made! So I didn’t have much natural talent when it came to sport. That said I loved sport and coupled with being a determined little fellow I made the best of what I did have and played and coached Australian Rules football until I was 30 years old.

Dreams, however, have a funny way of coming true. 

As a result of my professional career in November 2006 I was invited by Ray Mclean, a founding director of Leading Teams Australia to be interviewed by Kane Johnson, then the captain of the Richmond Tigers and some of his fellow Leadership Team members about taking on the role of mentoring Kane and facilitating a program for the leadership group at Richmond.

Despite having many years of public speaking and leadership facilitation behind me I remember feeling extremely nervous as I drove to Swan Street in Richmond for our meeting that day. Who was I, this guy who was a ‘battler’ at best to tell these elite athletes about leadership? What had I gotten myself in to! I kept thinking to myself.

My negative self-talk was making me more and more nervous. You know the feeling. I started to feel sick in the stomach. Maybe I should cancel the meeting, after all I clearly don’t feel well. My mind was racing.

But then the skills that I had developed over time, which was one of the reasons why I had been asked to take on this job, kicked in.

I can do this. I am good enough. I do know a lot about leadership. Just be yourself. If they don’t like you, that’s okay. Not everybody has to like you. Just be yourself, listen to them and be honest in your answers.

As I got out of my car I was still nervous but I felt more in control of the situation and more in control of my mind.

Walking toward the cafe where we were to meet I kept saying to myself, Walk tall Gazza, walk tall!

No doubt that may seem strange coming from a man only 170 centimetres tall. But it summed up all of my positive self-talk. I felt a sense of calm in terms of preparing to meet these champions of the game. Ray Mclean had confidence in me so why shouldn’t I! If it turns out that I’m not the right person for the job, then that’s okay. It doesn’t make me less of a human being.

Needless to say the meeting went well and I ended up mentoring Kane and working with the Richmond Leadership group, the coaches and the playing list. In fact, I sat in the coach’s box in the 2007 Round 1 game versus Carlton and had the opportunity to stand in the middle of ground before the game, at the quarter-time and at three-quarter time. There was a crowd of nearly 80,000 in the Melbourne Cricket Ground and here I was standing in the middle of it. While I wasn’t a player, I was there as a professional! In fact, I was being paid to be there.

I teach people that it is important to let your dreams come true via a thousand pathways. Life is too complex to limit yourself to a single route toward success. Constructive self-talk, as demonstrated by my story is critical along this journey. I don’t believe that it is possible to 100% eliminate negative self-talk. I do believe that when negative self-talk occurs then you have the power and control to change it to something more constructive so you can take whatever action you need to create the success you desire. 

This may be relevant when you are going for a job interview, a promotion, delivering a presentation, speaking with senior executives or starting an exercise program. Learning to master your self-talk is a strategy that enhances success and will enable you to bring your dreams into reality.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Jason Barrie’s Perspective On Health & Fitness



On May 1st 1999 Jason Barrie’s life changed forever. Playing local Australian Rules Football he was involved in a tragic accident, the result of which left him as an Incomplete Quadriplegic. Jason often describes himself as, “The luckiest, unlucky man alive“. Despite being an Incomplete Quadriplegic, Jason is able to walk. While his spinal cord was damaged in his accident, it wasn’t completely severed. This means that he has about 80% use of the right side of his body, but considerably less on the left side of his body.

The Yes For Success Platform is an online service that steps members through a process for identifying and creating a plan for life balance and personal success. Every month members have access to a Question and Answer Webinar where they can ask questions that relate to their personal success. The above video is a recording of the February 2014 member-only webinar. Usually these videos are kept for the exclusive use of members of the Yes For Success Platform.
However Jason’s story where he shares his perspective on health and fitness is so inspiring I just had to share it. Enjoy it and please feel free to share it with others.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Chaos and order are the natural order of things

Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus of VISA International, arguably the most profitable organisation in the world, explains in his book One From Many, that chaos and order are the natural order of things.

Consider this. VISA exists to exchange value, represented by digital money. How can chaos be part of such a world? Surely everything must be ordered for VISA to function.

senior couple of old man and woman sitting on the beach watchingYet its founder argues that while it is human to desire everything to be in order, the natural order of life is that it isn’t. 

To demonstrate please come for a walk with me. We are standing on the edge of the ocean facing inland. Slowly we walk up the beach. At first we encounter some small sand-dunes with no sand grass on them, then we encounter some larger sand-dunes with scattered sand grass. The sand grass gets thicker as we venture up the beach. Then the sand grass begins to give way to small shrubs, then bigger shrubs. We start to notice less sand and more dirt under our feet. Soon we are entering a forest with tall trees and shelter from the sun and the beach seems a long way behind us.

This walk seems orderly. There is an obvious progression and change from sand to sand grass, to small shrubs and eventually to fully grown trees. Yet there is a large degree of chaos that exists within the order presented above.
Sand-dunes shift. Which seed of sand grass survives and which one doesn’t is seemingly random. The same issue exists for the seeds for the small shrubs and finally the larger trees. Chaos exists side by side with order.

Dee Hock created the word ‘Chaordic‘ to describe this reality.

People who do not understand that chaos and order co-exist are constantly frustrated. As much as we may try to make the world orderly, it isn’t. One of the primary reasons is that humans are chaordic by nature. We have the power of choice and will exercise that choice in both rational and irrational ways.
Leaders need to understand that ‘chaos happens’ from time to time. A highly valued staff member resigns and tells you they are leaving the industry. The government changes a law which directly impacts your revenue. Your computer system crashes due to a virus.

I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t do whatever we can to increase order. Take our roads. What would happen to the road toll if we eliminated speed limits and traffic lights? It is hard to imagine that increasing chaos on our roads wouldn’t increase accidents and therefore deaths. Clearly more orderly roads are safer for us all. But accidents still happen and some humans choose to break the rules.

My point is that no matter how hard we try to control everything, chaos will find a way to penetrate our order. Why? Because, it is the natural order of things.

As a leader, your challenge is to develop the capacity to live with and manage chaos when it comes. Because it will come.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Monday, February 17, 2014

How to receive feedback from your peers

One of the most critical features of a High Performing Team is the ability of the members of the team to be able to give and receive feedback.

If you think giving feedback is hard, how would you go when it is your turn to receive it?

Would you take it personally? Would you get upset? Would you want to get back at the person who gave you the feedback?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn order for peer-to-peer feedback to be effective it must have a context. 

The only reason for providing feedback to each other is so that the person who is receiving feedback has an opportunity to help them be the best that they can be for the team. 

All team members need to share in their understanding of this reason for giving feedback to each other. Secondly, feedback is only ever based on opinion and should be supported by evidence. But evidence is subject to interpretation which is why the folk providing the feedback must understand that there may be other valid ways at looking at the evidence that they are using as the basis for their opinion.

Next, feedback is a two-way conversation. Too many people believe that because they have provided a peer with some feedback then that peer should immediately respond and change their behaviour. Treating feedback as a two-way conversation helps to keep the purpose of feedback in focus (to help the person be the best that they can be for the team) and allows a shared understanding to occur. 

Once my direct reports told me that they believed that I wasn’t a very good example of life balance, one of our agreed behaviours. Specifically they felt that eating my lunch while continuing to work put pressure on them to do the same. 

After I thanked them for their feedback and made sure that I fully understood what they had told me, I explained that the very reason why I ate my lunch at my desk was because of life balance. At the time I had three young children and as often as possible I wanted to be home by 6:30pm to have dinner with my family and then bath my children. There were certain tasks of my role that required that I was on site and I couldn’t take the work home to do after my children had gone to bed. So I had made a conscious choice to eat my lunch while I was working so that I could get home by 6:30pm.

The two-way conversation resulted in my direct reports having an increased understanding of my behaviour. It also raised another issue. My team wanted more social contact with me instead of everything being work oriented. At the end of the conversation we agreed that I would continue to eat my lunch as I had done, but that I would make more effort to have some social interaction with them.

A challenge when receiving feedback is not to be defensive. This is why it is important to make sure that you fully understand what you have been told, and the evidence used to support what you have been told, before you explain why you have done what you have done. Which, by the way, won’t always be possible. Sometimes you will receive feedback that is a surprise and while you may understand what you have been told, you may need some time to process it.

Your mindset when you are receiving feedback is to consider the feedback as a gift. When you have this mindset then you will be open to discovering what your gift is. Some gifts are great and expected, others are wonderful and unexpected and some gifts are for the giver of the gift, not the receiver of the gift (like the PlayStation I gave my wife for her 30th birthday many years ago…). No matter what sort of gift you receive, the first thing to say is, “Thank you.”

Many people are worried about receiving feedback because they are concerned about what they might say if they receive some feedback they don’t like. This is why having a mindset that feedback is a gift is so powerful. You always know what you are going to say after hearing the feedback. Once again what you are going to say is, “Thank you”.

Finally, I am a fan of the process of group feedback than too much one on one feedback. In a group feedback process the group should only report what behaviours they unanimously agree that you should cease, commence or continue. One on one feedback can result in personal issues being over emphasised and the status of your peers being under or over emphasised.

Weight of numbers is what matters. That is why when my entire team of direct reports told me that they didn’t think I was a good example of life balance it was critical that I understood what they were telling me and why they were telling me. The two-way conversation enabled me to re-enforce that I didn’t mind that they had lunch breaks – what I cared about was results.
In summary:
  • Feedback must only be provided to help peers be the best that they can be for the team;
  • Have the mindset that feedback is a ‘gift’;
  • Always say “Thank you” after receiving your feedback;
  • Unanimous group feedback is more powerful than too much one on one feedback; and
  • Feedback is a two-way conversation.
Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A massive career development opportunity


Despite releasing my book I had a problem (fortunately it wasn’t selling the book). You see  I had originally written over 600 pages of content for my book but the market was saying that people wouldn’t buy a 600 page book.

YFCS Colour logoASo I trimmed my book down to 128 pages and even included a number of pictures to help the reader get from cover to cover. This meant that I had just under 500 pages of high quality content that hadn’t been used. Why not create an online course to support the book?

Did a better way exist to share my knowledge? At the time I couldn’t think of one. 

My work had seen me bridge the gap between university student development programs and corporate staff development programs. I was addressing educational needs about what to actually do in the real world that wasn’t being addressed at university. Time and again students (from both undergraduate and postgraduate programs) and graduate program employees would tell me, “Gary, we just don’t get taught this information at university. I know what you are teaching isn’t rocket science, but I didn’t know about it before and I wish I did. At least I’ve learned it now and can use this information about developing my employability skills to my advantage.” 

As my work evolved into Executive Coaching roles, even these people would tell me how they found the material enlightening and helpful in their roles, even though I hadn’t written the book or designed my course for them.

I’ve now been delivering these programs for over eight years in university faculties and schools as broad as business, law, education, pharmacy and even higher degree by research programs.  Universities don’t keep asking people who are teaching non-academic programs to come back year after year if the program isn’t any good and isn’t getting outstanding feedback from students.

At the start of 2013 I launched the Yes For Success Platform and included a new version of my book’s online course on that platform, except this time I gave it a makeover and called it Yes For Career Success. The course now includes 21 Modules, the extra five modules all being designed to help folk improve their formal leadership skills either at work or outside of work. You see, leadership is one of those skills you can’t learn by theory alone, you must do it. So I show people how they can develop their leadership outside of the work environment if necessary so that they can advance their career over time. I provide the tools so that you can consciously rather than unconsciously develop your skills. Conscious skill develop outstrips unconscious skill development any day of the week!

Those of you who know me personally will know that I genuinely want to help people to be the best that they can be. I am literally putting my money where my mouth is to back up that statement. For less than the price of two coffees I am providing as many people as possible (including you of course) with the opportunity to get access to the entire 21 Modules of the Yes For Career Success Program for under $10 for a full 12 months.  
The content on Systems Thinking alone  is worth many times your fee to get access to the program. If you aren’t aware, Systems Thinking is a critical leadership skill that despite being identified by the Australian Government, the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as an essential skill for effective leadership, is not being taught in any academic programs of Australia’s Group of Eight Universities, arguably the top universities in Australia. 

This means that my program is providing you with an opportunity to master critical skills that aren’t being taught anywhere else. Clearly this gives you a significant advantage over your competition.

My offer is valid until midnight on Friday 31st January, 2014 and once again I am offering you 12 months full access to the entire 21 Module Yes For Career Success Program for just $9.97.

You can download the entire Course Outline here.

There are no bells and whistles about this offer. No marketing hoopla. It is a straight offer and that’s it.

I’m not going to repeat this offer again (those of you who know me will know that statement is true too). Click here to accept this offer.

Finally, too many people leave the responsibility for their development to someone else. Please don’t be like them. Take control of your career and learn how to master the employability skills that will separate you from the rest and enable you to have the career you desire.

If you have any questions or comments about the program, please leave a comment below.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Creating Life Balance in 2014

Life Balance should be judged over a year. Not over a day. Not over a week and not over a month!

Hopefully you are using the festive time of the year to take stock and re-energise. Reflect on your successes, achievements and challenges from 2013 and then look ahead to 2014 and beyond.
14 
No doubt many of you have created New Year Resolutions. If creating more Life Balance is one of those, here are a few tips to help you achieve that goal.

1. Understand that in creating Life Balance you have many periods of being ‘out of balance’
When you judge your Life Balance over a year you will be okay with the fact that at various stages you will be ‘out of balance’ for periods of time. If you have been in a job for a while, or are studying then you will know the peak periods for your work or study. During these periods going on holidays is out of the question and your social life may take a backward step too. This is okay. Take note of when those ‘busy’ periods will be occurring and plan for them. In doing so you can be proactive with your friends and let them know that you may be hard to catch for the time that you have identified.


2. Book and pay for holidays in advance
I learned this tactic back in the late 1990s when I was suffering from overwork and fatigue. At that time of my life I used to wear my unused holidays as a badge of honour. “Look everyone. I work so hard I haven’t taken holidays for years!” As it turned out it was a silly view of the world to have as I was tired and lacked the energy to do my job properly. A good friend explained to me how he managed his energy by booking for and paying for his holidays in advance. That way both he and his family had something to look forward to throughout the year and because the holiday had already been paid for, it actually happened!


In activating this tactic I also learned that amazing deals are on offer providing you book and pay during the Xmas – New Year period (your holiday doesn’t have to be during this period, you just have to have booked it for some time during the year and have paid for it). This has literally saved me thousands of dollars – which contributes to the financial aspect of my Life Balance too!

3. Set physical goals

Lots of people set weight loss goals at this time of year. Unfortunately most people don’t get anywhere near their target weight because a specific weight is the wrong goal to have as your main goal. It is far better to set a goal that involves the achievement of a physical activity such as playing a sport on a regular basis, completing a hiking holiday or  completing a 20 kilometre walk. This year I will be supporting my wife Michelle as she prepares for her third Oxfam 100 Km Trailwallker in May. As one of her training partners I will be doing a lot of walking with her.


To enhance this tactic have ‘rolling goals’. Set multiple goals that will require you to have to keep fit so that you can achieve them. This helps to cut the risk of achieving a physical goal and then slipping back into bad habits after the goal has been achieved.

Use these three tips to help you to create the Life Balance that you desire. If you would like to learn more about creating Life Balance please visit here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do High Performing Teams Accept 'Unacceptable' Behaviour?

Whenever I conduct leadership development or my Teams That Matter® program I ask, “Do high performing teams accept or reject unacceptable behaviour?”. 

The answer arrives with a resounding chorus, “They reject it!”.

Yet how can people reject unacceptable behaviour if the team hasn’t made explicit what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable?

For example, is answering a phone in a team meeting acceptable or unacceptable behaviour? What about not speaking during team meetings? Or the leader who is always late to meetings? No doubt you may think that these behaviours are clearly unacceptable – at least from your perspective. 

You might hold the view that ‘everyone knows‘ that these behaviours are unacceptable.

The evidence is overwhelming that ‘everyone doesn’t know‘. The fact that these behaviours exist indicates that not everyone shares the same view that you have.

Teams need to have an explicit agreement about what behaviours are acceptable, and what behaviours are unacceptable. So how do you make these behaviours explicit?

You host a series of conversations.

First ask, “In any team of which you have been a member, what team member behaviours have really annoyed you because you believe they have detracted from the team’s performance or potential to perform?” Collect the responses and name this list ‘Hindering behaviours‘.

Young business colleagues showing unityI have never had a team not be able to answer this question! Unfortunately this indicates that people like you have experienced your fair share of annoying team member behaviours – which is why the list is so easy to create!


Next ask, “What behaviours should we adopt to help us to be the best that we can be?” Collect the responses and name this list ‘Supporting behaviours‘.

Each list usually has six to 10 behaviours.
Your last question is, “What will we do if we believe that we are seeing the unacceptable behaviours?

The power of this question is that it allows you to define the process that you will take when an issue arises. Yet, because you are having this discussion when there isn’t a ‘live’ issue it enables you to keep the emotion out of this conversation.

When you believe that you are seeing a team member do one of the hindering behaviours, it is important to keep an open mind to their side of the story. Over time I have learned that many people actually believe that they are doing a supporting behaviour when others see it as hindering behaviour. 

These conversations don’t take a lot of time to complete, yet most teams don’t conduct them. Be bold. Be different. Have the courage to make your acceptable and unacceptable behaviours explicit as they will make your challenge of creating a high performing team that much easier!

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.