Category Archives: Uncategorized

Want to be a great leader? Be more popular

Welcome to my blog, one in a series looking at leadership characteristics. Here I draw on my own leadership experience and my work as an executive coach to share with you my thoughts on what makes for a great leader. This blog builds on my earlier blogs and in particular my last blog on LOVE. If you are short on time look at the lovely graphic  illustration from @engagevisually

popular

Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Travelled starts with:

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

I would add to that “people are difficult”. Many of you know that as a leader you have to work at engaging your workforce and it will not be easy. You need to develop strategies and grow yourself to be an effective leader. My blogs help you consider and develop those skills.

So to add to the themes so far, being popular is an important skill to cultivate. Unless you run a business employing robots then you need to find a way to be more popular with staff. I have wondered about the balance between effectiveness, efficiency and popularity in leadership for a number of years now. I also know it is something those I coach often ponder as they lead teams and face business challenges.

At the beginning of my career a mentor told me to concentrate on being effective not popular. They suggested that if I wanted to be promoted I should not get involved with the staff and the detail of the organisation. I should try instead to remain focused on my/ my team’s targets and deliver the results. This was seen as particularly important if I wanted to be spotted by more senior managers and to progress in my career through the corporate hierarchy.

Surely, I thought if you want to deliver results they are delivered by teams, through others and with others. I think that we have got this wrong and we have in business schools swallowed the efficiency and strategic purpose mantra at the cost of staff engagement and organisational resilience.

To run an organisation effectively you need the motivation and engagement of ALL your staff and most importantly the contribution of their skills and their will. I started to realise that what was needed was a way to engage the discretionary effort of the workforce. That discretionary effort is like fairy dust and when engaged can increase individuals effectiveness dramatically.  Staff have to WANT to work with you and if you are a leader then they must WANT TO follow you. Not just follow you in the good times but TRUST YOU to lead them in their/the company’s best interest in tough times also. You cannot be effective and will never be effective in leading change and transforming the business without the will of the staff to work with you.  They have to like you enough and so you have to be more popular with them.

Now popular is an interesting word and I don’t mean the sort of popular leader who will not upset the status quo. Nor do I visualise a leader who does not really drive change and definitely not the leader who is nice but is seen by staff as ineffective. We need instead to be popular on a deeper level and this will lead to engaged staff, effectiveness as a leader and success for the business. Popular and efficiency do not have to sit as opposites as they actually balance the best leaders.

So, I am intrigued by the word popular and its root is in the Latin word popularis.  Two definitions of the word jump out at me and they are:

“Being regarded with favour, affection or approval by people in general” and

“Relating to or representing the common people”.

Many of us are not in favour with our staff as GALLUP analysis of US Employee Engagement suggests less than a third of workers in Washington DC are engaged in their jobs. Leaders need to make a difference here as I think we have a leadership popularity crisis that is leading to poor staff engagement.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx

I saw some graffiti recently which I thought summed this problem in business up:

“You pretend to give us satisfying work and pretend to pay us a proper wage and so we turn up and pretend to work for you.”

We know what staff want to be effective at work and it’s not more money. Instead they want autonomy – to be left alone to do a good job, they also want mastery thats the skills and support to do that job. They also want a sense of purpose, I would describe this as hope. And you as leaders can help them with all three of these areas. They want great leaders and they tell us they would rather have no leader than a poor one!

DDI did a fabulous and comprehensive study of what employees think of us as leaders and it is not comfortable reading. They think we are so busy trying to be effective and running efficient organisations that we don’t notice them and do not lead them well. So if you want to be effective and efficient then start thinking about being more popular with the aim to engage your staff. You can practise and learn some of these skills and this can start by just understanding what the impact of your current behaviour is having:

https://www.ddiworld.com/DDIWorld/media/trend-research/lessonsforleadersfromthepeoplewhomatter_mis_ddi.pdf

If you want to work actively at being more popular cast you mind across your organisation, your people and yourself and the leaders you work with and start to ask some questions:.

  • Do your staff regard you and your fellow leaders with affection and approval?
  • Would staff say you relate well to them?
  • Are you seen as “of the common people” and do you know what interests them?
  • Who has had a marriage, a baby, kids go to college, anniversary lately? did you notice it? did you acknowledge it?
  • Do you survey your staff on what their aims and goals are for the next year or five years are in work and in life?
  • Are your business goals aligned to the staff goals for work and life?
  • When you go walk about do you ask staff what are their thoughts on how the business is doing?
  • Do you ask them for ideas on how to improve things?
  • Do staff tell you they know what’s expected of them from you and their manager?
  • Do you reward effort as well as results for the company?

Now spend some time listening to what you hear and reflecting on what it says to you. Be honest and challenge yourself as you ponder the questions above. You will need a great coach to help you sift what you are hearing and to think about what you will do with the data this exercise provides you as a leader.

I can promise you efficiency without the people will fail. I have failed myself when I was in an organisation that caused me to put efficiency and targets above taking people with me. When the organisation hit hard times I was not popular enough to survive the cut backs.  I learnt a lesson that a key skill of a leader alongside developing the business strategy is to facilitate cooperation. People NEED to want to be around you.

I think the avoidance of popularity is particularly problematic in women who seek leadership roles. They may fear their feminine side, often seen as “the soft skills”. But these skills are so valuable in leadership as staff like REAL and POPULAR leaders. Though I am a passionate advocate for gender equality in the boardroom I am a realist when it comes to women still being judged harder than men if they appear too ruthless.

There will be many leaders in your organisation and they do not just operate in or around the boardroom. So why not give them a chance to do this development work also. John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

And if you need one more reason to work on and develop the skills of being more popular it is to balance your own ego as a leader. You don’t want to end up like Aesop’s wolf do you?

A Wolf, who was roaming about on the plain when the sun was getting low in the sky, was much impressed by the size of his shadow, and said to himself, “I had no idea I was so big. Fancy my being afraid of a lion! Why, I, not he, ought to be King of the beasts”; and, heedless of danger, he strutted about as if there could be no doubt at all about it. Just then a lion sprang upon him. “Alas,” he cried, “had I not lost sight of the facts, I shouldn’t have been ruined by my fancies.”

Do contact me for executive coaching, mentoring and leadership speaking. I can travel to you or I offer high quality Skype coaching. I might be able to help you become more popular and I would love to work with you on your leadership journey.

http://www.amandareynolds.org

Want to be a great leader? Be more popular

Welcome to my blog, one in a series looking at leadership characteristics. Here I draw on my own leadership experience and my work as an executive coach to share with you my thoughts on what makes for a great leader. This blog builds on my earlier blogs and in particular my last blog on LOVE. If you are short on time look at the lovely graphic  illustration from @engagevisually

popular

Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Travelled starts with:

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

I would add to that “people are difficult”. Many of you know that as a leader you have to work at engaging your workforce and it will not be easy. You need to develop strategies and grow yourself to be an effective leader. My blogs help you consider and develop those skills.

So to add to the themes so far, being popular is an important skill to cultivate. Unless you run a business employing robots then you need to find a way to be more popular with staff. I have wondered about the balance between effectiveness, efficiency and popularity in leadership for a number of years now. I also know it is something those I coach often ponder as they lead teams and face business challenges.

At the beginning of my career a mentor told me to concentrate on being effective not popular. They suggested that if I wanted to be promoted I should not get involved with the staff and the detail of the organisation. I should try instead to remain focused on my/ my team’s targets and deliver the results. This was seen as particularly important if I wanted to be spotted by more senior managers and to progress in my career through the corporate hierarchy.

Surely, I thought if you want to deliver results they are delivered by teams, through others and with others. I think that we have got this wrong and we have in business schools swallowed the efficiency and strategic purpose mantra at the cost of staff engagement and organisational resilience.

To run an organisation effectively you need the motivation and engagement of ALL your staff and most importantly the contribution of their skills and their will. I started to realise that what was needed was a way to engage the discretionary effort of the workforce. That discretionary effort is like fairy dust and when engaged can increase individuals effectiveness dramatically.  Staff have to WANT to work with you and if you are a leader then they must WANT TO follow you. Not just follow you in the good times but TRUST YOU to lead them in their/the company’s best interest in tough times also. You cannot be effective and will never be effective in leading change and transforming the business without the will of the staff to work with you.  They have to like you enough and so you have to be more popular with them.

Now popular is an interesting word and I don’t mean the sort of popular leader who will not upset the status quo. Nor do I visualise a leader who does not really drive change and definitely not the leader who is nice but is seen by staff as ineffective. We need instead to be popular on a deeper level and this will lead to engaged staff, effectiveness as a leader and success for the business. Popular and efficiency do not have to sit as opposites as they actually balance the best leaders.

So, I am intrigued by the word popular and its root is in the Latin word popularis.  Two definitions of the word jump out at me and they are:

“Being regarded with favour, affection or approval by people in general” and

“Relating to or representing the common people”.

Many of us are not in favour with our staff as GALLUP analysis of US Employee Engagement suggests less than a third of workers in Washington DC are engaged in their jobs. Leaders need to make a difference here as I think we have a leadership popularity crisis that is leading to poor staff engagement.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx

I saw some graffiti recently which I thought summed this problem in business up:

“You pretend to give us satisfying work and pretend to pay us a proper wage and so we turn up and pretend to work for you.”

We know what staff want to be effective at work and it’s not more money. Instead they want autonomy – to be left alone to do a good job, they also want mastery thats the skills and support to do that job. They also want a sense of purpose, I would describe this as hope. And you as leaders can help them with all three of these areas. They want great leaders and they tell us they would rather have no leader than a poor one!

DDI did a fabulous and comprehensive study of what employees think of us as leaders and it is not comfortable reading. They think we are so busy trying to be effective and running efficient organisations that we don’t notice them and do not lead them well. So if you want to be effective and efficient then start thinking about being more popular with the aim to engage your staff. You can practise and learn some of these skills and this can start by just understanding what the impact of your current behaviour is having:

https://www.ddiworld.com/DDIWorld/media/trend-research/lessonsforleadersfromthepeoplewhomatter_mis_ddi.pdf

If you want to work actively at being more popular cast you mind across your organisation, your people and yourself and the leaders you work with and start to ask some questions:.

  • Do your staff regard you and your fellow leaders with affection and approval?
  • Would staff say you relate well to them?
  • Are you seen as “of the common people” and do you know what interests them?
  • Who has had a marriage, a baby, kids go to college, anniversary lately? did you notice it? did you acknowledge it?
  • Do you survey your staff on what their aims and goals are for the next year or five years are in work and in life?
  • Are your business goals aligned to the staff goals for work and life?
  • When you go walk about do you ask staff what are their thoughts on how the business is doing?
  • Do you ask them for ideas on how to improve things?
  • Do staff tell you they know what’s expected of them from you and their manager?
  • Do you reward effort as well as results for the company?

Now spend some time listening to what you hear and reflecting on what it says to you. Be honest and challenge yourself as you ponder the questions above. You will need a great coach to help you sift what you are hearing and to think about what you will do with the data this exercise provides you as a leader.

I can promise you efficiency without the people will fail. I have failed myself when I was in an organisation that caused me to put efficiency and targets above taking people with me. When the organisation hit hard times I was not popular enough to survive the cut backs.  I learnt a lesson that a key skill of a leader alongside developing the business strategy is to facilitate cooperation. People NEED to want to be around you.

I think the avoidance of popularity is particularly problematic in women who seek leadership roles. They may fear their feminine side, often seen as “the soft skills”. But these skills are so valuable in leadership as staff like REAL and POPULAR leaders. Though I am a passionate advocate for gender equality in the boardroom I am a realist when it comes to women still being judged harder than men if they appear too ruthless.

There will be many leaders in your organisation and they do not just operate in or around the boardroom. So why not give them a chance to do this development work also. John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

And if you need one more reason to work on and develop the skills of being more popular it is to balance your own ego as a leader. You don’t want to end up like Aesop’s wolf do you?

A Wolf, who was roaming about on the plain when the sun was getting low in the sky, was much impressed by the size of his shadow, and said to himself, “I had no idea I was so big. Fancy my being afraid of a lion! Why, I, not he, ought to be King of the beasts”; and, heedless of danger, he strutted about as if there could be no doubt at all about it. Just then a lion sprang upon him. “Alas,” he cried, “had I not lost sight of the facts, I shouldn’t have been ruined by my fancies.”

Do contact me for executive coaching, mentoring and leadership speaking. I can travel to you or I offer high quality Skype coaching. I might be able to help you become more popular and I would love to work with you on your leadership journey.

http://www.amandareynolds.org

BITESIZE LOVE

 

Welcome to my bite size. One of 12 blogs in a new series looking at leadership characteristics.

I want in this blog to focus on the theme of LOVE.

 

150928 LOVE.under 2MP

I’m sure that you didn’t learn Love in Business School and we never talk love in the boardroom.  But, I think we need LOVE in business as we need to love our products, our customers and to love our staff.  If you are in a business or a team you don’t love I think it shows. If we look around at the businesses who are successful, especially the great entrepreneurs. We see that they love their products and they want to share that love with the world. They love their customers and they get a huge sense of satisfaction with the customer’s pleasure and positive experience. This sort of business leadership is rare.

Deloittes 2015 HR survey suggested culture, employee engagement and retention is now the most pressing challenge for business. http://d2mtr37y39tpbu.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/DUP_GlobalHumanCapitalTrends2015.pdf

So, throw LOVE into your next team meeting with a couple of questions.:

  1. Tell me about the risks and challenges we currently face?
  2. What or who do you each love and how does that make you feel?
  3. Think about our business and tell me who or what do you love about this place?
  4. Think about our products and would our customers say they love them and why?

I tell you, the reactions will astound you, we are desperate to love, we look for love and we are brought alive by love. The opposite of fear is love and the ancient Greeks had 30 words to describe love.

If you remember the movie Jerry Maguire you will remember the character played by Tom Cruise. Jerry loved work with a passion, he loved his business that’s why he wrote that mission statement, that is ultimately why he got sacked. No one else could get it, engage with it or pull down the façade of business and professionalism they had created. So, they thought Jerry was crazy. Jerry shared the love he had for his only player:

“I am out here for you. You don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here for YOU.”

But, for most of the movie Jerry never brought that out in the open into his leading or the way he led. He talked under pressure, in a wash room and angry about never fully telling it. Are you that leader? The one who loves? The one who wells up when a customer tells you how a product disappointed them or how brilliant it was? The one who loves but can’t share it?

If we focus on how we can experience and grow love in an organisation rather than leading by fear and control how would that change us and those we work with? I think we need to imagine our customers as our family and friends. What would our business be like if we loved our customers and our staff like we love our friends, our family or ours sports team? Making it good enough for your mum, sticking with them, going the extra mile, getting it right for them and staying with it.

Unfortunately we are too familiar with leaders who are self-serving, egotistical or narcissistic. We cannot change these corporate issues overnight but we need to think about a different approach.

Try a poster on your wall: if this business were loving its customers what would it be doing?

Remember this is a journey, a mind set shift and you can’t do this overnight. Get a coach yourself and a facilitator for your team to discuss this and start to think about having these conversations with staff.

Let’s finish with The Velveteen Rabbit :

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are real you don’t mind being hurt.’

Do contact me for executive coaching face to face or SKYPE, mentoring and leadership speaking.

Mum: An ordinary death in extraordinary place

On 16.12.15 at 10 am my mum died. She was only 73 and had suffered a cruel and fast cancer. I and my stepdad were with her when she passed. People tell me that will be solace for us in the end, maybe.

Mum had been a fighter all her life and we didn’t always see eye to eye. Two flints sparking off each other someone once said! But like a flint makes fire and fire is energy my mum would approach everything in life as an overcomer. In October she called by my house and told me her diagnosis. She told me it would be quick and she said “this was it”. I said mum you will fight this and she replied “no I can’t”. I think she began to die right there, under the weight of the diagnosis and when she decided that cancer would win.

My husband said that she needed strength from me. So, in the next month’s I tried many times to share my energy with her to see it dissipate when it passed over. So, I focused energy into my administrator mode. Talking to senior staff when admitted to hospital in an emergency, getting her the care she needed at home and ensuring the palliative care team knew her end of life wishes. Mum and I meanwhile planned Christmas at my house and we discussed what we would order and how I would take care of it all this year.

Just over a week ago she was booked into respite care to give dad a break from caring for a few nights. Mum was alert and active and in fact full of too much energy. I know now this was the cancer rampaging through her.  On 10.12.15 she went into a fabulous respite unit run by http://www.ageuk.org.uk  and never came home.

I rang her on the 10th and 11th and she was actively getting involved in activities and settling well. Meanwhile Dad was getting some great sleep.I relaxed a little thinking a break was what they both needed. I visited her on the Saturday morning early and she was in bed. I asked when she was getting up and she said she wasn’t. I joked “you are having an off day mum let’s get you up later”. She didn’t get out of that bed again until she left for the Chapel of Rest on the Wednesday afternoon.  Mum had great care from the professionals and a quick and peaceful passing but that’s not the story here.

The story I need to tell is about a team of unqualified staff with no experience of palliative care amongst them. They were working in a respite unit that was not set up for death but they decided to give my mum a good death.  On Monday social services planned to move her to a nursing home. Mum had already by then overstayed in respite two days and was too frail to go home. They found a home but it had just failed its inspection! I was ready for the fight mum would expect me to have for her. I spent Monday evening identifying the nursing homes skilled in palliative care who each had a bed and got ready to discuss this with the professionals.

I went into the home early Tuesday morning to meet the manager. I said I was not happy with the home being offered to mum, she said nor was she. She had discussed it with the team and they would like to care for mum until the end. I questioned if they were able to provide palliative care. She stated she would ask, actually she said “tell” her manager this was the teams wish. They would get the expert help they needed from the palliative care team, community matron and GP but they would lead her care.

Calmly, confidently and proactively they cared for mum as the family took shifts in sitting with her. Mum deteriorated very quickly and as she did the staff care and attention was increased. She died with her soft skin still intact, not a blemish or break in sight and cared for like I would expect from qualified palliative care staff.

What did these staff teach me?

  • It’s about patient centred caring, doing what the patient needs, when they need it.
  • It’s about paying attention to the family so they feel supported.
  • It’s about giving a good, dignified and respectful end.

When mum died a care assistant was with us in the room. Later she and I had a hug, a cry and cup of tea. I thanked her for her care with mum. She said they all wanted to do it but were anxious they were not qualified. I said you are qualified in care and did everything mum needed.

I asked her if she had always been a carer? Same age as me, from the same school but she said she messed up at school that’s why she was a carer. I asked her what she would have done if school had been different. “I would have been a palliative care nurse” she immediately replied. I assured her today she had been a great palliative care nurse and she still had time to go qualify if she wanted to.

I’m not dismissing the value of the qualified professional but in life and death it is those that care – certificates or not that make the biggest difference. When you encounter real care its tangible – you can almost feel it in the air.

So, this Christmas when you think of all the nurses, doctors and social workers working Christmas think also of the army of care staff also. They might just be giving someone a great ending like those extraordinary people in an extraordinary place who made mums death a good one for us all.

William Blake: On Another’s Sorrow

Can I see another’s woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

Can I see a falling tear,
And not feel my sorrow’s share?
Can a father see his child
Weep, nor be with sorrow filled?

Can a mother sit and hear
An infant groan, an infant fear?
No, no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!
And can He who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small,
Hear the small bird’s grief and care,
Hear the woes that infants bear —

And not sit beside the next,
Pouring pity in their breast,
And not sit the cradle near,
Weeping tear on infant’s tear?

And not sit both night and day,
Wiping all our tears away?
Oh no! never can it be!
Never, never can it be!
He doth give his joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.

Oh He gives to us his joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled an gone
He doth sit by us and moan

 

BITESIZE FAILURE

Welcome to my bite size. One of 12 blogs in a new series looking at leadership characteristics. Here I explore the experience and learning from failure. We don’t like to talk about failure.  Leaders can’t be allowed to fail, can they?  we wonder will it be me next? how do I avoid failure? You need to change your mindset to expect and learn from failure.

Take Walt Disney, failure after failure but that’s not the story we remember is it?  His first animation company had to dissolve it as distributors didn’t pay him.  Universal took his cartoon rabbit and claimed ownership!  MGM told him Mickey Mouse would terrify women. Pinocchio production was shut down due to spiralling costs. When he did premiere it, his publicity was a disaster as the 11 people he hired got drunk and ran around New York!  He experienced failure upon failure, but he learnt from his failures.

So why do leaders fail? In  “Lead like it matters because it does” Roxi Hewertson, CEO of Highland Consulting Group and AskRoxi.com lists five reasons why leaders fail: Over or under confidenceApproaching leadership with the wrong expectations –Lack of training in the skills of the leaderIgnoring the need for a healthy teamFailure to listen.

If we are truly leading and reaching beyond safe and mediocre we will fail, we will sometimes push too hard.  We may be in a culture that does not fit us well, not take people with us and not get the change happening. You might be failed by the business context. You may have a vision and values not aligned or we might have an innovation or idea ahead of its time.

Do not run away from your failure instead let the failures be your teacher.  Ask yourself, with the support of your coach: Where did I fail? Were the examples above speaking to me? Were there signs of impending failure that I missed? Were people trying to warn me and did I not listen? What have I learnt? How did this failure impact my values?  What can I do next time? How can I turn this lesson into a success in the future?

Then encourage yourself to try again. Surround yourself with “life enrichers” who will help you to rebuild and move forward. Walt Disney said: “There are three kinds of people in the world today,” “There are ‘well poisoners,’ who discourage you and stomp on your creativity and tell you what you can’t do. There are ‘lawn mowers’ – people who are well- intentioned but self-absorbed; they tend to their own needs, mow their own lawns and never leave their yards to help another person.”

Finally, there are ‘life enrichers’ – people who reach out to enrich the lives of others, to lift them up and inspire them. We need to be life enrichers, and we need to surround ourselves with life enrichers.”

Contact me for executive coaching, facilitation and keynote speeches at http://www.amandareynolds.org

Pictorial of the blog thanks to @engagevisually

Are public sector leaders of any use to the private sector?

I have been pondering this question a bit lately as I am one of 100s of public sector managers who lost out in a board restructure/downsizing. We are all too familiar with the “cull of public sector posts” and with further treasury cuts proposed there will be many more.

Affected and not that young any more but too young to retire, so what to do? I diligently set up a company to ply my strategy & operational management skills. I built my social media presence & I networked furiously asking anyone & everyone: “What is the success of your independent company?”

I Continued with professional development with a post graduate executive coaching & mentor qualification. I  keep my board room skills honed as a Non-Executive for a community trust.  I offered probono support to my son’s school as a year 11 mentor & to my church where I coach the newest leader there.  I read, I watched, I listened and I blogged.

Now increasingly on the outside looking in I have had time to reflect on the quality of leadership across the public sector and leadership skills more generally.  I joined the public sector soon after the Griffiths reforms http://nhstimeline.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/. That was about increased efficiency & bringing private sector managers into the NHS and professionalising management  I benefited  personally by accessing great learning & development and culminating in my Business School MBA. Now on the outside I find myself  supporting private & independent sector companies, individual entrepreneurs, not for profit & education.  Im loving that so the questions arose;

Do public sector managers transition to the private sector and do you want our skills?

In their report “The challenges of transition: from public to private” Hays and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry look at the assumptions held on public sector managers by the private sector & public sector views of the other. The reports suggest skills are transferable in some instances and we should be open minded to this.

If you are in the private sector and you look carefully at the public sector (maybe via LinkedIn) you will find people who have operated at a senior level with a range of really valuable skills.

So, what can we offer?

“Management of multi-million pound budgets, including critical decision making • Identification and implementation of cost control and best-value initiatives • Compliance with complex regulatory or legislative requirements • Management and mitigation of risk • Development of people and teams • Management of complex, highly political stakeholder relationships • Knowledge of how governmental organisations work and an in-depth understanding of their requirements”

Many of these skills are invaluable in other sectors & new external insights in the board room are always really valuable.

But do public sector managers transition to the private sector & should you recruit them?

Of course the answer is Yes and here are some tips to recruit the best:

  • Look for those who have worked across a range of organisations
  • Who have experience in a range of settings & geography
  • Those with a flexible attitude & a range of skills to offer you and your share holders
  • those who are still learning & are curious
  • then test if they can get excited about you and your business – find the passion 

BUT BEWARE not all public sector managers can make that transition. Some may like the routine of pay, pension and the structure of a big organisation to hide in. Anyone coming to the private sector will need help to understand what’s different & demonstrate to the private sector they understand:

  • how  objectives have to be met that clearly deliver profit and shareholder value
  • needing to act quickly and with autonomy to respond to the market
  • they will work innovatively, non-hierarchically & within company law
  • there is much less bureaucracy
  • the private sector has some great leadership roles to offer

And of course I am always looking for new opportunities inside & outside the public sector as a coach & strategist http://www.amandareynolds.org

Bitesize Leadership & Curiosity

Welcome to my bite size. One of 12 blogs in a new series looking at leadership characteristics. I think curiosity is an important and under developed skill for leaders.

Being curious can have negative connotations but the proverb was never intended to be “curiosity killed the cat”. It was “care killed the cat” and it got changed in the 18th century to curiosity.   Curiosity is having a strong desire to learn or to know something.

Learning something new grows your brain. Called brain neuroplasticity scientists are discovering that adult brains can still grow and can be trained to improve. The flip side if you don’t keep growing your brain is it will diminish. When you are learning a new skill and you repeat it you grow your brain by making new neural connections.

As a leader wouldn’t it be great if your brain was bigger? Curiosity will encourage your brain to change and grow, enhancing and developing your focus. You will spot opportunity, new people, new contacts, and new ways to do things. This is not magic as it will require work and practise just like developing your other skills required time and effort.

SAID Business School in their CEO report described a new type of leadership intelligence needed in addition to emotional and contextual intelligence. The best CEOs seem to possess something they call ripple intelligence. Quoting Dr.Michael Smets:

“The ability to see the interactions of business contexts like ripples moving across a pond.”

“Ripple intelligence also makes CEOs aware of their own impact and how it may influence contexts that might otherwise seem remote and unconnected. *

Practising curiosity is a tool that could help you develop your ripple intelligence. Think about it in action in business breakthroughs. Richard Branson went on a delayed and disrupted flight and became curious about how to fix it. He didn’t run airlines, he had no experience in that field but he became curious and now we have Virgin Airlines.

Try being more curious it could lead to great breakthrough in you as a leader or your business:

  • Take something apart, look inside see what’s there and how it all fits together and then try and put it back together.
  • Buy a magazine on a subject you do not know about and take time to read it.
  • Take an elder out to lunch (a neighbour maybe) ask about their life story.
  • Ask someone different to you what the latest movie was they saw and then go see it.
  • Learn a language or try painting.

After each activity make a note what am I learning? What is different here? Share these reflections with your leadership coach as they can help you process, reflect and grow that brain function a bit more.

So go on, have a little try at being curious and remember what Albert Einstein said; never lose a holy curiosity.

Contact me for executive coaching, facilitation and keynote speeches at http://www.amandareynolds.org

Pictorial of the blog thanks to @engagevisually

2. FEB. CURIOSITY. Graphic

Cats, power and building barriers in the NHS

In the last year or so we have talked a lot about NHS culture in the media, blog posts and in the Francis inquiry. How the culture is wrong, how we need to change culture. I think we use “it’s the culture” as an excuse to keep doing what we have always done and so we get the same results. Saying it’s the culture is also a way to quieten down those who might challenge the status quo.It all then becomes about keeping going and survival. Some NHS managers and leaders act like my cat when another cat enters her territory.

In the garden today I can see my cat on the fence in a “Mexican standoff “with a black cat. Hissing and howling and just sitting, balanced on a fence refusing to shift. My tabby just digs in and exerts her power on the status quo. I’m not shifting, this is my yard and you are not getting in. Eventually of course the stranger leaves and my cat goes back to lying in the sun and cleaning her belly! That’s pure power and the status quo is protected.

Of course patients and their families are not an enemy cat and the status quo of health care is meanwhile falling around our ears. We are more than just animals guarding our territory and we need to use different and more sophisticated strategies to move the NHS forward. We need to genuinely engage in co-production, listening, changing and developing new solutions with patients and their families. Some are already leading this change across the NHS.

I am currently working with TLAP, The NHS Confederation and NHS England on bringing personal health budgets to mental health. I have worked on the personalisation agenda now for many years starting with direct payments in social care when I was an Assistant Director, then as a DH official leading a regional team and most recently as an Executive leading strategy on a Foundation Trust Board. So, I know a little about this agenda.

On the 9th July 2014, NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens, announced his intention to drive forward a new form of radical, people-powered commissioning of health and social care, including the extended use of personal health budgets and integrated personal budgets across health and social care. The Integrated Personal Commissioning (IPC) programme, starting from April 2015, will bring together health and social care funding around individuals, enabling them to direct how it is used for the first time (NHSE press release 9th July 2014).

It’s a no brainer on one level, we are great at lifesaving emergency care in the NHS BUT when we organise care for people we don’t often get to the nub of what would make a difference to their life, independence and health condition. We give drugs and support these interventions with health professional visits. Many, many years ago when I was a baby community team manager I worked with a couple of inspirational psychiatrists (one of whom is a National Medical Director at NHS England now.) They taught me so much about what makes good health and good mental health. One of them said they always visit patients with complex mental health problems at home. As the drugs and support from community teams will do nothing if they sleep in a flat with no door, no furniture, no heating and have no friends and no food. Now that’s simply what Marmot talked about in

http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/projects/fair-society-healthy-lives-the-marmot-review

So, at its core that’s what personal budgets offer. The chance to help individuals answer the questions : what helps me stay well, out of crisis and what could we do to put those things in place for you? So together we can help people with complex needs and their carers have better quality of life, more people are kept out of hospital and care homes and people can access personalised, coordinated services for their whole life needs.

The evidence suggests people want to be more actively engaged as partners, that services frequently underestimate their willingness and that the potential impact of harnessing this contribution could have huge economic value and lead to better outcomes. Approaches that personalise support to people’s level of activation, that build skills and confidence and use peer-support have been shown to have a positive impact. Additionally, people who start at the lowest “activation levels” have been shown to improve the most, indicating the opportunity for a personalised approach to support the least engaged and challenge health inequalities.

So what is stopping us? I think we behave like cats, thinking we need to be tougher, more managerially focused with more fire power or action plans and project teams to solve the problems of no money and increased demand. Because we ultimately do not trust people to manage their own care and we do not trust our clinicians to make this move to facilitate rather than direct care and support. It is called the professional gift model
http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-az/citizenship-professional-gift-models.html

Deep down though we know that fear only leads to more stand offs and more of the same. We know more of the same of the NHS is not sustainable. So we need to move at scale and speed to coproduce care with the patient. Start trusting patients and families to decide and using professional expertise to facilitate the support provided. Already lots of great examples abound of how to do this and stories of where it’s already happening.
http://www.thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk

Or you can just sit on that fence howling at the strange cat and hope your territory stays the same. I tell you it will not as change is coming and fast. So, for my colleagues and patients and family carers leading this exciting work:

Labbi siffre said: Brothers and sisters
When they insist we’re just not good enough
Well we know better
Just look ‘em in the eyes and say
We’re gonna do it anyway
We’re gonna do it anyway

National Voices recently published Evidence for Person-centred care drawing together evidence from systematic reviews of different approaches incorporating support for self-management and shared decision making, promoting prevention, improving information and enhancing the experience of healthcare: http://www.nationalvoices.org.uk/evidence
What the evidence shows about patient activation: better health outcomes and care experiences; fewer data on costs Hibbard JH, Greene J. Health Aff (Millwood). 2013 Feb; 32(2): 2017-14.
Hibbard JH, Greene J. “What the evidence shows about patient activation: better health outcomes and care experiences; fewer data on costs.” Health Aff (Millwood). 2013 Feb; 32(2): 2017-14.

I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

It’s almost a year since I set up my company Blend Associates Ltd. So whilst I’m not one for Christmas newsletters it seems right to do a little stock take.  Those of you who have followed me on twitter and read my blogs will know it has been a bit of a roller coaster. Life’s thrown curve balls my way and I’ve tried to be strong and bold and hold my nerve.

I’m known by many for my dispassionate logic and reason, but I’m also marked by my passion and courage (some say bloody mindedness!)  I have needed to engage with these qualities to identify who I am, what would I do, and how on earth do I make a living going forward.

When I was leaving the NHS some key confidants helped me think beyond the loss of career and making a difference on the inside of the public sector to the opportunities that lay beyond. Well, didn’t get that one straight away! I was in the maelstrom of self-pity, despair and worry and I felt at times vulnerable.

What I now had in buckets was time. So, I started to think on what I had covered in my career. Not the stuff you have to do to deliver your job and meet your targets but the stuff that energised. The stuff where I felt I made a difference to patients, their families and the wider public service offer to the tax payers. A few key words kept coming through –Big plans, passion for people, make a difference, intolerant of less, equality, connection, energy.

One day my hubby said BLEND. In cooking you take individual ingredients, BLEND to make something better. So it is with wine and paint colours and pigments. I sat with it a few days and thought yes it sums me up. BLEND it was, and I turned my attention to what the company would offer and three words came to mind:

STRATEGY looking ahead and moving forward, the big plan in conditions of uncertainty or inertia. Looking left, looking right, challenge the status quote. I bring clarity about why we are here, where we are going and who we are here for.

INTEGRATE combining things to complete them, sitting at the edge of organisations, bringing disparate groups together, ensuring all have a voice, not just the big guys. If we integrate anything it takes huge effort so it’s got to make what we offer better and make sense to the patients and their families.

COACHING this one is about reaching out, being with the leader, helping them find their way like many others have coached and counselled me. I realised I love people, I’m fascinated by them, and what makes them tick. Giving them the space to think, and if they want to learn they will find a better way.

One day I Google, looking for quotes and there I found him and this:

The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic towards common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of bold projects and new ideas. Rather, it will belong to those who can BLEND passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to their ideals.” Robert F Kennedy 64th US Attorney General.

If you were born in the 60s like me, you are unlikely to know of him, he was the younger brother of JFK and his right hand man in the West Wing. The strategist, the reformer, passionate about civil rights and friend of Martin Luther King. Straight talking, spoke his mind, offended some with his record for cleaning up organised crime…..Then elected New York Senator oh and they shot him on his own Presidential run.

This sort of courage passion and reason are vital if we want to see real, sustainable, people based change to our public services. So, here I am a year on now I run my own company offering strategy, coaching and business consultancy to both the public and private sector. I have had a number of great commissions and across the range of my interests too. This past 6 months I have worked to support CEOs, Boards and national organisations. In areas including board diversity, mental health, learning disability and personalization. I have also just been appointed as a non-executive director of my local community trust. So this girls back on a board. And I submitted my ILM level 7 Executive Coaching Dissertation to OPM in November. So I might just get a certificate in the New Year!

What have I learnt? Doors swing both ways. Some do close and others really do open. Some of the new rooms are also better than those you left! Be strong – even if today feels tough it will be better tomorrow. Be bold – step out, reach up and aim high. Be big – present yourself to the world based on what you can offer not what you are doing today. Be creative – try new things and talk to lots of different people. Most of all Be authentic and  take enough time to Be still and have faith – in what you believe in, in yourself and your ability and in those who say you will be ok. This Christmas cheers to all of you my customers, fellow consultants and all who have helped me this last year. Let’s look forward together to 2015.  One thing I didn’t anticipate in 2014 I now work with a guy who makes the best cricket bats so #putoutyourbats.

Have you heard a lioness roar?

Have you ever seen footage of a lioness roar? It is amazing and the male lion  and  other animals cant turn away, cant think of anything else until she stops. The lioness roars as a threat, to clear the path, as a warning, when her cubs are in danger and when she is grieving.

I have thought a lot lately about social media and how it  has the potential to change health care delivery and management. Today NHS England launches it plans to bring everyone’s notes to a smart phone app.

http://www.england.nhs.uk/2014/11/13/leaders-transform/

I have also thought about how the NHS is not appreciating the significance and potential of social media and assistive technologies to engage the patients, carers and public and to improve care. I have also thought abut how it is already being used by activists to change things. That has taken me to thinking about Sara.

@Sarasiobhan has been to me like a lioness  since the death of her lovely dude son. I don’t know Sara personally but I know many people who have been supporting her and I have watched her, listened to her and engaged with her on twitter.

Her roars have been loud and constant at times, difficult to hear but unable to walk away from or ignore.  She has roared very loudly and frequently via twitter. All the kingdom, at every level has heard her roars as she has not politely engaged. Instead she has roared like a lioness would roar following the rules of the jungle not structured by rigid hierarchy. Monitor and CQC, the media and many learning disability improvement bodies have heard her roar and responded to her calls.

Some days the pain of her roar cuts through me. Some people tell me they cant bear it, they feel uncomfortable. Well I guess that’s how a gazelle must feel!

The anger, the hurt, the sense of lose and the total sense of injustice that the loss of her cub could have been avoided if others watched over him like she did.

Some days I have been overcome with the pain I could hear and see in her tweets that brought me to tears. To a dark place where I think of my kids and how on earth I would cope if I lost one of them. On those days all I could do was retweet her, so her roar got louder but I could not engage. Other days I talked to her and joined her campaign.

What is amazing about Sara roar is so many have listened and responded that it is changing the world. she roared via social media and we now see and feel the power of activating social media to campaign in health. Many have joined the @JusticeforLB campaign, fund raising for legal fees, blogging, advising. Even I wrote a blog (as a I know a bit about NHS boards and governance).

I have never met her, one day I hope to . I only know from what I have read or listened to on the radio but I couldn’t ignore that roar. Many others have done the same and last week the bill was launched. This week she meets the amazing and committed @Normanlamb. To discuss taking a bill to the floor of the House of Commons. WOW now that’s the power of a lioness roaring!

Her roar has changed social media in health, we now know that people can engage with the hierarchy in many ways, at all times and its no longer 9 – 5 and controlled by the institution! It has the potential to write and to change law too. It shows us as leaders we cannot rely on the old ways and traditional planned communication or public engagement.

We leaders need to work differently now: to listen out for the roar and we need to respond to the roar. This requires a different sort of leadership. Humble, listening, compassionate, proactive, flexible. Expecting to get it wrong but working with our patients and their families to put it right the way they want it. More fancy words would be saying candour, compassion, integrity and accountability.

We can never bring the dude back but her roar can ensure other dudes have a better life, a life they control despite what disables then. Most of all so they don’t end up in uncaring remote institutions.

Read the bill please, respond to lioness as she roars

http://lbbill.wordpress.com/what-is-lbs-bill/

And Sara keep roaring it is starting to change the jungle