Category Archives: Human Resources

Neuroscience of leadership

Understanding the brain in terms of leadership effectiveness has been one of the most powerful learnings I have encountered in my work, role and with my teams.

The focus of the workshop was on learning and memory, how the brain responds to change, lifting employee engagement and creativity, collaboration and finally a favourite of mine Mindfulness.

Since starting my diploma of Neuroscience of leadership, I have not only been so much more aware of my own thoughts, mindfulness and emotions, but taking on the work as a leader myself in coaching and developing leaders around me. This become a powerful tool and skill. The research and findings around the brain has been in recent years extraordinary through the use of MRIs and we as leaders now how the opportunity to understand how this amazing organ truly works and functions.

It is proven that meditation, mindfulness and being present in the moment are strategies that are incredibly paramount for keeping our brain healthy. By improving our thinking and emotions, we become more centered and open to innovation and creativity. More aware and available for those insights and a-ha moments. Have you ever asked yourself, what am I feeling right now? What am I doing right now? What is most compelling to my awareness right now? Try it? Close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself those questions?

A-ha moments! We all have them….Where is the best place for your a-ha moments? Running, walking, driving…mine are in the shower! When my mind is clear and I don’t have a million thoughts running through my head or when I am not distracted by a million things at once. By using this same process in the aspects of our lives when we feel over whelmed, stressed or we need to take a minute to think, close your eyes for just a minute and take a deep breath, and clear the mind…my favorite metaphor, which I have learnt through my diploma is the mind is like a stage. Take this actors of the stage and clear the mind…your are the director and you are in control of the stage, your brain!

The whole concept of neuroplasticity really intrigues me. The way as even as adults we can change our thinking and learning and in turn beliefs. Rewiring the brain and changing how we think and feel about so many things. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “a mind stretched by a new idea, never regains it’s original dimensions.”

Imagine by truly understanding and appreciating our brain, one of the most important organs in our bodies…how effective and insightful we can be in terms of all aspects of our lives. For me this has been the greatest insight. I am a leader who is dedicated to growing, developing and advising many leaders. This knowledge and learning has made them shift in their own thinking around managing distractions, creative decision making, collaboration, change and their own emotions and mindfulness. Compelling stuff!

If you would love to know more, I would recommend any books this area by David Rock, Jeffery Schwartz or Daniel Goldman. Ronald D. Siegel has a great book – The Mindfulness Soluton.

Contact me if you would like to find out more about the Diploma in Brisbane or Melbourne and SCOD – Strategy, Change and Organisational Development. We are holding another SCOD workshop later this year in Brisbane.

Positive thoughts always, Sonia

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Strengths…

I have just completed my Extraordinary Coach program by Zenger Folkman and it was fantastic and quite enlightning. Why? I have been working as an executive coach for a a number of years and I love working with clients and leaders who are willing to take on their role and focus on making a difference on themselves, their teams and the organisation.

When we become part of a journey of working with a coach which in itself is such an amazing and powerful experience; we become part of the process looking into a mirror at ourselves and this can be quite confronting. The clients and leaders I work with immediately want to know their weaknesses – what do I need to fix?  We all have weaknesses, but we also have some profound strengths. And aren’t our strengths more fun to work with – I mean they are strengths for a reason. When we start to focus on our strengths, other companion competencies also tend to become more effective and our weaknesses become a little obsolete…

There are a number of tools I use to determine my leader’s strengths – and one of my favourite is not only the 360 Extraordinary Leader Assessment but also Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0.

If you want to know about leadership and focusing on strengths, please read this article by Zenger Folkman, “Leadership under the Microscope”.

Leadership Under the Microscope

Ask yourself – what are your strengths and how are you capitalising and working on them everyday?

Strengths Finder 2.0 Book Link 


Shine…

What does it take to Shine – is it all in the attitude, doing what you love or feeling connected? I wanted to share with you about this wonderful new book that has been released called Shine. Now below is a summary from Amazon, yes I copied and pasted it onto my blog. Why reinvent the wheel I say!

I am currently reading about 5 books at once on Brain Science, lets just say reading about the pre-frontal cortex and amygdala is really fascinating but boy it is a lot to take in. I should have taken more notice in science at school. But learning about how the brain works from an organisational effectiveness point of view – really interesting!

This book is a different and I like how he tells a story – with some great examples and tools. There are some great insights, ideas and lessons…And you can implement them! Fantastic I say! But why read a book on this stuff if you can’t take the lessons and ideas and use them to make changes, a difference or even change your own thinking. Let’s face it we all like to Shine…okay maybe I am projecting there because I certainly do!

Book overview

“Your job as a manager is getting harder all the time. But your most critical responsibility—especially in today’s world of intensifying competition—is how to help your people shine their brightest.

How do you inspire solid contributors to strive for more? What should you do if a star player falls off their game?

In Shine, bestselling author, psychiatrist, and ADD expert Edward Hallowell draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience helping people maximize their potential to present a proven process for getting the best from your people:

-Select—put the right people in the right job, and give them responsibilities that “light up” their brain.
-Connect—strengthen interpersonal bonds among team members.
-Play—help people unleash their imaginations at work.
-Grapple and Grow—when the pressure’s on, enable employees to achieve mastery of their work.
-Shine—use the right rewards to promote loyalty and stoke your people’s desire to excel.

Brimming with Hallowell’s trademark candor and warmth, Shine is a vital new resource for all managers seeking to inspire excellence in their teams.”

About the Author

Edward M. Hallowell M.D. is a psychiatrist, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, and director of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, which serves individuals with emotional and learning problems. He was on the faculty of Harvard Medical School for 20 years. He has written two popular Harvard Business Review articles and authored 13 books, including the national bestseller Driven to Distraction.

Click here to access book on Amazon


What’s up with the market…talent market that is…!

Have I ever told you how much I love my job! I am sure I have at one stage but at present I am feeling overwhelmed, excited, energised and a little bewildered? Overwhelmed and excited that I am working with great talent; talent that are so open to their own leadership effectiveness and also the effectiveness of their teams! I am getting through…yippie!

But…there is a but. I am bewildered. Did you notice I wrote that word in the second sentence? I have so many leaders asking me for advice on how to find talent as well as assisting them in finding talent. I am more than happy to help as I love helping my clients find great talent – and in turn I love talent finding fantastic new opportunities! Yes it is still a talent war but yes another but how do I get through to my clients; leaders in the industry that it is not only about finding them, but keeping them warm and engaged throughout the process.  I hear from so many candidates who are disillusioned by the recruitment process. I would have to say, I can’t blame them! Not only is it about being creative and strategic in your sourcing channels, but being present and active in your candidate care.

I met a Human Resources Leader about recruitment last week who is looking for people for a major project in central Queensland, like most of my clients. And how refreshing that she said, I promise to get back to you and I am available for you to call anytime for feedback or next steps.  Yes I nearly fell over with excitement! Do you know how many of my clients who I work for in trying to help them find this most valuable resource for them and they don’t even return my calls? Hey I know we are busy, but if you are not getting back to your partner in recruitment, will you give them same treatment to my candidates? Hey I am no angel and I am first to admit that I also need to treat my candidates better…and I am really busy at times as well. And if I think about what I preach around emotional intelligence, I do forget that I have been in their shoes where I have applied for roles and even through the interview stage and I have been treated poorly. I do apologise to those candidates now who might be reading my blog. I am truly sorry for not getting back to you – or not keeping you in the loop in a timely manner.

And hey we all do it! But why? Let’s be more aware and proactive about it. And accountable…I really like this recent article about GlaxoSmithKline – a leader in the recruitment candidate care ethos. Some great insight how others are doing it – and doing it well. And holding everyone involved in the recruitment process accountable.

I am now going to challenge myself and get back to all my candidates. Or at least give them some form of communication. Will you take on the challenge! I know you want to…

GlaxoSmithKline Article from HRManagement US


Holistic Leadership eArticle – Now Live on Alchemy Road

If you are looking for a great resource on for strategy, change and OD – check out the eNnewsletter (and of course my latest article – see link below) at Alchemy Road  (click to subscribe!)

Also join their fantastic group on Linked In – Strategy, Change and Organisational Development – SCOD

Holistic Leadership – click to read!

Enjoy! Thanks Sonia


Soul of Leadership

I read the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra a number of years ago and I was instantly a huge fan! When I saw that he had just launched a new book on leadership, I couldn’t wait to get my hands onto it. Well, I like to get my hands on most leadership books if you haven’t figured that one out, but this book In knew would be different and it doesn’t disappoint.

Leadership is the most crucial choice one can make—it is the decision to step out of darkness into the light!

His focus in this book is for us to become the kind of leader most needed today: a leader with vision who can make that vision real. Chopra has been teaching leadership to CEOs and other top executives for eight years, and the path outlined in The Soul of Leadership applies to any business, but the same principles are relevant in every community and area of life, from family and home to school, place of worship, and neighborhood. “At the deepest level,” Chopra writes, “a leader is the symbolic soul of a group.”

I really like the  practical steps as you are led through the crucial skills outlined in the acronym L-E-A-D-E-R-S:
L = Look and Listen
E = Emotional Bonding
A = Awareness
D = Doing
E = Empowerment
R = Responsibility
S = Synchronicity

I found the book not only informative, insightful and meaningful but also it created feelings of true awareness for myself and the work I do with other leaders. After identifying your own soul profile and the core values you want to develop, you can use these seven skills to allow your potential for greatness to emerge. Only from the level of the soul, Chopra contends, are great leaders created. Once that connection is made, you have unlimited access to the most vital qualities a leader can possess: creativity, intelligence, organizing power, and love.

The book has some powerful exercises and questions which really transform your level of your awareness. The Soul of Leadership aims to fill the most critical void in contemporary life, the void of enlightened leaders. “You can be such a leader,” Chopra promises. “The path is open to you. The only requirement is that you learn to listen to your inner guide.” In this unique handbook you are shown how to do just that, in words as practical as they are uplifting. The future is unfolding at this very minute, and the choice to lead it lies with each of us, here and now.

We can all be great leaders…leading from the soul means expanding your awareness in order to meet the needs of others. As you become more aware, invisible powers begin to support your vision.

http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Leadership-Unlocking-Potential-Greatness/dp/030740806X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297808282&sr=8-1


When Teams Work Best

Teams are everywhere in business and industry, and in government, schools, hospitals and professional associations — indeed, almost everywhere where people gather to get things done. But some teams work better than others. What does it take to make teams work effectively?

To answer that question, more than 6,000 team members in a variety of organizations were surveyed. They assessed their teams, their team leaders and each other against a common set of criteria and responded to open-ended questions. From the safety of confidentiality, they identified what encourages teams to success and what discourages them into failure.

Five crucial areas emerged.

1. Team Members

2. Team Relationships

3. Team Problem Solving

4. Team Leader

5. Organisational Environment

 

Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson write about how 6,000 Team Members and Leaders Tell What It Takes to Succeed! A must read!

Click below to read book summary!

When Teams Work Best



Related Reading

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable,

by Patrick M. Lencioni, John Wiley & Sons, 2002, ISBN

0787960756.

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them

and Empower Your Team, by John C. Maxwell, Thomas

Nelson, 2001, ISBN 0785274340.

The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance

Organization, by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K.

Smith, HarperBusiness, 1994, ISBN 0887306764.

 

 


Leaders at All Levels

Leaders at All Levels
Deepening Your Talent Pool
to Solve the Succession Crisis

A great book by Ram Charan who wrote another must read – Leadership Pipeline.

Companies are too often short on the quantity and quality of leaders they need
at all levels. But they could fill their leadership vacuum, says business adviser and
author Ram Charan, if they knew how to spot and develop their potential leaders.
Most processes for finding and developing the potential leaders within an organization
are deeply flawed. Companies need a completely new approach.This new
approach, outlined in Leaders at All Levels, is called the Apprenticeship Model. It focuses
on spotting leaders early and putting them in situations that drive them to grow
fast. It transforms leadership development from a discrete activity run by the
human resources staff to an everyday activity that is fully integrated into the fabric
of the business, and in which line leaders play a central role.
The Apprenticeship Model of leadership development requires profoundly different
attitudes and mind-sets as well as major organizational changes, and the
results don’t come quickly. But it is eminently practical, based on decades of observation
of hundreds of leaders in dozens of companies. Companies that have
embraced Charan’s leadership development model have built powerful talent
engines that give them an edge.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• How to sharpen your power of observation to spot potential leaders
within an organization.
• How to accelerate leadership growth, build core capabilities and
acquire new ones.
• How to apply the processes and tools that bring the Apprenticeship
Model to life.
• How aspiring leaders can use the Apprenticeship Model as a road map
for taking charge of their own growth.
• How to give each promising leader the opportunities that are right for
him or her at the fastest pace of growth he or she can handle.

A must read for anyone in OD or Talent Management – or for any leader today!

You can get it from Amazon – now on Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Leaders-All-Levels-Succession-non-Franchise/dp/0787985597/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1296165582&sr=8-1

Click below to read further!

Leaders at All Levels


Holistic Leadership

What is it about Leadership in the 21st century? I rarely hear the term management, even though it is as equally important and you can’t ignore the fact that the two work together to form a whole approach. As John Kotter once stated, “Leadership and Management are…two distinctive and complementary systems of action”. However, this article will focus on something greater than just leadership and management. In the many years I have been working in organisational development and leadership, I have never seen such a growth and hunger for learning around the term leadership.

Presently I am working with some amazing managers and leaders who are experts in their field but mention the word leadership and they go completely pale with fear. How do they define leadership? What scares them? Is it the debate around are leaders born or made? Or is it the people they lead themselves?

Today, being an expert in your field is vital but equally as important is the ability to lead your people and understand yourself as a leader. It becomes imperative for professionals to continually redefine and expand their knowledge of leadership. As a consultant in the field, I continuously read, research and discuss this subject and I am passionate about being aware of many theories, models and concepts around leadership. For me, it is about the learning, not only about what is the latest or greatest, but about my journey and making a difference in becoming the leader I want to be. And yes leaders can be made! Hence, my article will focus on the concept of Holistic Leadership being defined as being able to lead from the mind, heart and gut.

Holism can be defined (from holos, a Greek word meaning all, whole, entire, total) as the idea that all the properties of a given system (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way that the parts behave. (Wikipedia).

In turn, holistic leadership is the ability for a leader not only to understand oneself and lead others from this vantage point, but also the premise that each of us must strive throughout our lifetime to become a centered individual who is able to effectively use the principal components of leadership. Just as significant is to understand the importance of the whole and the interrelationships among the components. I see the components being not only as a leader who must lead from the mind, heart and gut but looking at the journey that leads the transformation at the individual, team and organizational levels or even leading within your community.
One interesting article is Robert Cooper’s (2000) “A new neuroscience of leadership” where he describes how the human fetus’ three brains are developed. First the brain of the heart is developed, followed by the brain of the gut, which leads to the final development of the brain in the head. The article is a must read around not only the differences between these three aspects of intelligence but also the importance of these brains working collectively together. In turn, it is important for leaders to constantly develop insight and awareness into their brains. Knowing oneself and understanding how you look at and interpret the world is imperative to becoming an effective leader. I have found through my work on myself and with others, that how one goes about this journey is as unique as each individual.

Exploring the brain of the mind enables one to recognize, assess and understand how this brain contributes to one’s beliefs, perceptions and behaviours. The book, Fifth Discipline: the art and practice of a learning organization by Peter Senge (1990) gives us great insight to something called mental models. A considerable aspect to the brain of the mind is identifying and working with our mental models. A mental model is an explanation of someone’s thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person’s intuitive perception about their own acts and their consequences.

Our mental models help shape our behaviour and define our approach to solving problems (akin to a personal algorithm) and carrying out tasks (Wikipedia). In addition, our personal experiences, history and personality contribute to the development of our own set of mental models. It is also important for us to develop strong reflective and inquiry skills. How many of us take the time to reflect on our decisions or behaviour or even ask questions around this? In turn, by understanding ours, and others mental models and making necessary adjustments is one of the keys to becoming a holistic leader.

We as leaders need to understand how we, and others perceive, organize and make decisions regarding our world. In addition, the heart is the centre of what inspires, motivates and drives us. Too often I work with leaders who feel that their feelings should be checked at the door. Why is this so? Our feelings, provides us with invaluable insight and information. When we as leaders listen, we demonstrate respect for others and ourselves. Have we all forgotten some very well known motivational theories such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Herzberg’s Motivators? As such Maslow found that all humans have a need to be respected and to have self-esteem and self-respect. One of the needs known as the belonging need, esteem presents the normal human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People need to engage themselves to gain recognition and have an activity or activities that give the person a sense of contribution, to feel accepted and self-valued. This is where the brain of the heart plays a vital role in holistic leadership.

Finally the brain of the gut or intuition as some may like to call it. This one is harder to define or explain when it comes to leadership. Leading with that gut feeling or instinct? One of my favourite books by John C Maxwell is The 21 of Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. One if his laws, believe or not, and I am sure you saw this coming was the Law of Intuition. As Dr. Maxwell states that “leadership depends on more than just the facts. Leaders see trends, resources and problems, and can read people. The law of intuition is based on facts plus instinct and other intangible factors. A leader has to read the situation and know instinctively what play to call. Leadership is more art than science.” The law of intuition is one of the more difficult leadership laws for many people to grasp and understand. The law of intuition recognizes that leaders evaluate situations with their leadership bias. Intuition molds the leader’s thinking and decision-making processes.

Everyone possesses intuition within their area of strength or body of knowledge meaning they instinctively know how to react to a given situation by relying on their strength and knowledge developed through practice. Likewise, leaders exhibit the ability to use intuition and instinct by leveraging their leadership bias. Intuition relies more on feeling and sensing rather than data or facts and figures. An excellent example in the book is around Steve Jobs who, when he went back to Apple computers, started making major decisions using intuitive leadership. His move to form a strategic alliance with archenemy Bill Gates was an intuitive move that could have failed. But his intuitive move worked and proved very successful for the company and stock values.

Holistic Leadership is present in each and every one of us. It is a journey and by opening yourself up to learning about yourself and those around you; you are on your way to becoming a more centered and balanced individual. In turn holistic leadership can be powerful and enlightening; working with all the components not just one alone. As such; as we change and grow, we as leaders must be able to adjust and adapt our styles to the circumstances and people we lead, and this must be done in the larger context of learning as it is a journey of discovery. Finally I challenge you to take that journey to learning about yourself, those around you and to the many theories and models out there on leadership…and as a leader, to make a difference.


Welcome to LeadershipHQ


Happy New Year! I have to say I am so excited about 2011. Don’t ask me why…maybe because I know this year is destined for great things for you, Leadership and me in the 21st Century.

Firstly, thank you for taking your precious time out to read my first blog post! I have been thinking for some time to start a blog and a few months back a wise astrologer told me that he saw on my chart that I was a great writer and I should start a blog, and wanted to know what was stopping me. What the?

What does stop us?  Fear, time, commitment? All of which I put my hand up to as useless excuses! Well he did say it was on my chart. Now who am I to detour from my chart and not go ahead with it? I am a tenacious Cancerian by the way and once I get my head and heart around something, there is no stopping me!

Why LeadershipHQ you might be asking (or not)? I did ponder for a while on this one. I felt LeadershipHQ  really encompassed what I am crazy and passionate about – Talent Management and Leadership Development and Effectiveness as well as knowledge sharing and best practice. Leadership Headquarters…what do you think? Don’t answer that one as my mind is already made up. Continue reading