My Writing

My Writing

I get my best ideas from listening to people. Fortunately, that’s my job.

I like to say that people are my library, and my daily writing practice is a way to discover what’s in it: new ideas, inspiration, wisdom, and a little whimsy for good measure.  As your humble librarian I invite you to check out a new idea every day. No late fees ever.

Enjoy…

Be the CEO of your own Time and Energy

high performance

CEOs are responsible for the performance (and, one would hope they recognise) and the wellbeing of all the people in their team. Often, though, they do a poor job of supporting one key member of that team. Themselves.

So, as you are the CEO of your own time and energy, how often do you consider how well you support yourself and your own performance?

Today let me share with you some ideas and a story about the power of managing time and energy. I hope it has value for you for your own performance and personal happiness and fulfilment, it certainly did for the client in the story. (more…)

Is yours, could yours be a Beautiful Business?

Is yours a Beautiful Business? If not, could yours be a Beautiful Business?

If the question intrigues you read on, and if you connect to it at the end of this piece, let’s talk. Soon.

do design

Recently I was introduced to Alan Moore, founder of Beautiful.Business and writer of “Do/Design – Why Beauty is key to everything“. We had one of those wide-ranging conversations that sparked thoughts and ideas in many areas.

My over-riding takeaway from this first of, I hope, many meetings was:

Beauty brings Clarity

When we are in the presence of Beauty, of any kind, we simply know it, and that can bring such moments of clarity and take us out of our “monkey mind”, our need to “Do” rather than “Be”, to rationally process options and choices to a level where we often get lost in the content. (more…)

What if you could never fire anyone?

you are fired

Now, what if you could never fire anybody in your organisation, every, under any circumstances?

What would you do differently?

This is more than a thought experiment, I am seriously asking you to consider this question.

More and more organisations are fully or at least mostly adopting a “no fire” policy. They each have sound reasoning for this and have underpinned this with well thought out philosophies, strategies and implementation.

From my own experience, a few years ago I was asked to take on the role of CEO of an international business coaching organisation that, from day one, had never fired anyone. I learned much from that time.

Let us explore this idea, then, and I will highlight and elaborate on three key points that are key for leaders considering this question.

Culture is Paramount

Hire Slowly

(Self-)Responsibility and Response-ability

(more…)

How clean are your communications?

how-to-communicate-values-without-telling-people-to-live-the-values-18-638

image from a SlideShare deck from OneFish TwoFish called

“How to communicate values without telling people to ‘live the values’ “

So, yesterday I wrote: “Be rid of Brilliant Jerks“. I didn’t say “Fire your Brilliant Jerks”.

So, how can you be rid of brilliant jerks without firing them, particularly in this world where hiring and firing can be a minefield laden with so much employee legislation, policies, procedures, protocols?

My answer? Lead your organisation rigorously based on values (ie where values are not just words framed on a wall or on a website!), then brilliant jerks will leave of their own volition, you won’t need to fire them.

In fact, keep reading my daily posts, as I’m going to keep riffing around this as feel like I’m on a role, and coming soon will be a post on “no fire” policies and companies that have successfully put this at their core. (more…)

Be rid of Brilliant Jerks

rred hastings brilliant jerks

“Do not tolerate brilliant jerks. The cost to teamwork is too high.”
~ Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix

The Netflix “Culture Deck”, updated in 2018 and hosted on their site prominently here , is full of gems of great clarity around the Netflix culture, including this one around “brilliant jerks”.  I do encourage all leaders to read this, as well as the original deck (you can find it here)

I’ve worked for many years around culture in business, with a primary and all too common gap being that culture is seen as “soft and fluffy”, whereas a values-based business, in fact, uses their culture as the toughest measure of all.

To use the Netflix culture quote above, again and again, I have had clients talk to me about a difficulty they are having with someone. They wring their hands as to whether or not to discipline or fire them.

Sometimes, no, often, the behaviour of the individual is way beyond unacceptable for the business culturally, but they are so valuable commercially that they “can’t” fire them.

In short, they are brilliant but they are jerks. What do to?

My simple advice to leaders? Let them know they cannot stay. (more…)

Learning to Pause

learn to PauseCatchUp

Today as I write this, I’m feeling pretty rough, caught one of those colds that fly through the system and knocks you for six for a few days.

My oldest son is staying with me this summer. He recently retired as an elite athlete and, through that part of life’s journey, knows very well that rest is an integral part of performance, so is insisting that I eat a healthy meal and then go to bed early.  Of course, I will write this post first as I am committed to writing daily 😜

I have a lot to do, but I shall pause (after writing this post). (more…)

Solving problems by taking a walk

solvitur

The other day, I felt inspired to write by my friend Morgan DaCosta coining the phrase:

“Coaching by Walking Around”

This was a “level up” from the idea of Management by Walking Around, part of the essence of which is to walk randomly around and be present to those working in the business and what is happening for them.

Reading this post, Bruce Peters, a regular contributor of inspiration for my writing (thank you too, sir!), wrote to me about the idea of:

Solvitur ambulando

Latin for “it is solved by walking”.

I wonder what problems we can solve by walking?

Recently I met someone for a morning coffee, then we took a long walk, and as we started the walk, we both suddenly realised that the conversation was different once we started walking.

I’ll give you three ideas today to begin, and what else would you add? (more…)

Leadership, Maria Callas, Meraki

maria callas

Meraki is the modern greek term that translates to:

“to do something with soul, creativity, or love;

when you leave a piece of yourself in the work.”

Maria Callas, also Greek, is my favourite opera singer of all time, and one would call her a Meraklis.

A Meraklis is someone who loves life, lives it to the hilt, does everything with zeal, someone who lives for the moment, the now. Every single thing they do, every day, is done with Meraki.

To what extent do you see this in yourself? Could you bring more of yourself to life in this way, or perhaps do you feel sometimes you do this too much?

You see, Maria Callas brought Merkai to her opera singing, and she also lived this in her absolute passion for the love of her life, Aristotle Onassis, the Greek shipping tycoon. When he abandoned her and married Jackie Kennedy, it is said that she never recovered, her singing career rapidly faded and she died suddenly and mysteriously at only 55 years of age. Of a broken heart, perhaps?

What then, can we learn from the concept of Meraki and the example of Maria Callas for ourselves and for leadership ? (more…)

Live in the now to provide for the future

“Live in the now to provide for the future”

Exquisite. I love distilled beauty in writing, and gosh how much I love anything that can relate to leadership and business. This hits the mark on all levels for me !

People are my library, and today I am most thankful for learning this from longtime friend and client, Morgan Da Costa, who coined this phrase.

#OpenLeadership is about many things, but in summary is about BEING a Leader, not DOING leadership.

The more the Leader knows themselves and can then bring presence to every moment, the more powerful the opportunity for them to support their team as a leader.

Now, Morgan leads a family business that he is leading through brave transformation. This has been going on for several years and much has been going on within the business, like a caterpillar in a chrysalis readying to fly. Now the business is flying and all new areas and opportunities to lead are happening as revenues accelerate.

It would be so easy for Morgan to jump from one thing to the next as such rapid growth occurs, yet he has coined this phrase to anchor him.

“Live in the now to provide for the future” (more…)

Lessons from the analogue world – Slow Down

Thames bw aug9

Taken after a photo shoot, looking over the Thames to Temple.

London is such a city of both tradition and permanence as well as dynamism and growth.

Yesterday I had a wonderful experience with a highly creative photographer, Simon Edwards, as we walked around London and the banks of the River Thames so he could photograph me for an update to my website.

We simply walked and talked in a leisurely way and every so often he’d stop and take a few shots, with me often continuing the conversation rather than stopping and posing.

Reflecting on that experience, I took lessons from the value of slowing right down. (more…)

We are what we repeatedly do

british-endurance-athlete-mark-beaumont-cycling-through-mongolia

In yesterday’s post, I wrote around the phrase:

How you do anything is how you do everything

The post asked of each of us the question: “what do your actions say about your Leadership?”, considering that everything we do is indicative of who we are, our values mirror our behaviours, our actions speak louder than our words.

From this, a risk is that we could consider that who we are and how we behave our fixed and set. However, I am a proponent of the concept of Growth Mindset (see a post with a mindset questionnaire you can try here).

If we accept the concept of Growth Mindset, we can always improve, we can always change, grow, evolve. (more…)

What do your actions say about your Leadership?

GV how you do anything

Fergus Conolly is the author of “Game Changer” and someone I follow closely around his learnings on elite performance across multiple sports. He recently shared an article from The Observer about Marcelo Bielsa, a legendary coach now leading the once great Leeds United. In Fergus’ tweet he highlighted a snippet from the article, referencing the manager being told that the average fan has to work three hours to pay for a ticket to a match:

“he told them that, for the next three hours, they would be picking up litter from around the club’s Thorp Arch training ground. He wanted them to learn a lesson; to appreciate how the fans laboured to fulfil their passion”

The short article is excellent and speaks volumes about actions both small and large that Bielsa insists on and that he has shown again and again with teams he has coached will turn into results on the football field. I then retweeted Fergus’ post with a favourite line:

“How you do anything is how you do everything” (more…)

Prepare, then throw away the script

Today a reflection of preparing in advance so that we can discard what we prepared.

I then share similar learnings from an interview with the director and writer of the latest Mission Impossible movie.

I love movies and recently watched this movie. It was terrific, and as the interviewer noted, somehow they have got better and better with the last three in the series. Why ? Part of the secret lies in that balance between planning and then discarding what was prepared.  (more…)

What is your original idea today?

In my role as an experienced coach supporting leaders to reach their peak, I’m highly focussed on limiting beliefs, choice of words, and also where language is phrased negatively rather than positively.

It is a little absurd then, that I have often used a certain phrase, and even written an article about it: “No such thing as an original idea“. As I put in that brief article:

“…I recognised that {a recent post} was, to use a musician’s analogy, a riff on a recurring theme, in this case: “less is more”. A favourite phrase of mine is “there is no such thing as an original idea”. I believe, though, that we are always listening, learning, developing new ideas to develop, extend, evolve ideas.”

So, my own belief around the phrase “no such thing as an original idea” can be qualified as I described above.

That said, in a recent call with Nilofer Merchant, author of “The Power of Onlyness” (see article here), she totally challenged me when I used that line around the themes I am looking to incorporate in the book I am in the processing of writing. (more…)