Category Archives: Learning and Development

Why Change is Hard!

Is 2012 the year of change? Last year I was in such a rush! A rush to learn, grow, live, work and change. Change many of those imbedded habits of mine and stop the rush. Rush to where, I don’t know but I felt like 2011 was a year of us all chasing something and not stepping back of looking at what is happening and what is really important. Like many of us, I have goals and dreams but I have a block around making changes or reflecting…why?

Last year I talked alot about what I wanted, my goals, changes I wanted to make in my life but I was just talking. Change is Hard! This week I attended my Neuroscience of Leadership workshop on Facilitating Change. Timely given that it has be presented to me in every aspect of my life and I seem to be stagnant on doing anything. As leaders, the ability to change and facilitate and influence change is a powerful process – but why is it so hard.

I have seen and heard it all. Why can’t you just do this? Why can’t you change your mind or life? How are you going to handle that situation you said you would handle months ago? It is easy to what to change others or things around us – but what happens when we want or need to change within ourselves?

Dan Heath, co-author of some great reads such as Made to Stick and Switch describes it like this – Self Control is Exhaustible! And it is – believe me! The brain also loves to conserve energy. In turn, when we use our brains to make changes in our beliefs, habits and behaviours, the brain needs to work a little. How exhausting for the brain…Sometimes we just need a little push, some support, a reward (the brain loves reward) and reinforcement.

Dan Heath wrote (Fast Company June 2010) – youtube link attached

You hear something a lot about change: People won’t change because they’re too lazy. Well, I’m here to stick up for the lazy people. In fact, I want to argue that what looks like laziness is actually exhaustion. The proof comes from a psychology study that is absolutely fascinating.

So picture this: Students come into a lab. It smells amazing—someone has just baked chocolate-chip cookies. On a table in front of them, there are two bowls. One has the fresh-baked cookies. The other has a bunch of radishes. Some of the students are asked to eat some cookies but no radishes. Others are told to eat radishes but no cookies, and while they sit there, nibbling on rabbit food, the researchers leave the room – which is intended to tempt them and is frankly kind of sadistic. But in the study none of the radish-eaters slipped – they showed admirable self-control. And meanwhile, it probably goes without saying that the people gorging on cookies didn’t experience much temptation.

Then, the two groups are asked to do a second, seemingly unrelated task—basically a kind of logic puzzle where they have to trace out a complicated geometric pattern without raising their pencil. Unbeknownst to them, the puzzle can’t be solved. The scientists are curious how long they’ll persist at a difficult task. So the cookie-eaters try again and again, for an average of 19 minutes, before they give up. But the radish-eaters—they only last an average of 8 minutes. What gives?

The answer may surprise you: They ran out of self-control. Psychologists have discovered that self-control is an exhaustible resource. And I don’t mean self-control only in the sense of turning down cookies or alcohol, I mean a broader sense of self-supervision—any time you’re paying close attention to your actions, like when you’re having a tough conversation or trying to stay focused on a paper you’re writing. This helps to explain why, after a long hard day at the office, we’re more likely to snap at our spouses or have one drink too many—we’ve depleted our self-control.

And here’s why this matters for change: In almost all change situations, you’re substituting new, unfamiliar behaviors for old, comfortable ones, and that burns self-control. Let’s say I present a new morning routine to you that specifies how you’ll shower and brush your teeth. You’ll understand it and you might even agree with my process. But to pull it off, you’ll have to supervise yourself very carefully. Every fiber of your being will want to go back to the old way of doing things. Inevitably, you’ll slip. And if I were uncharitable, I’d see you going back to the old way and I’d say, You’re so lazy. Why can’t you just change?

This brings us back to the point I promised I’d make: That what looks like laziness is often exhaustion. Change wears people out—even well-intentioned people will simply run out of fuel.

I knew it – I wasn’t lazy! But self control is hard. Really hard. What can you do to practice self control? Reflection and being conscious of it is a great start. Taking the step of consciously making changes is a harder step – but we can all do it. I have myself taken some positive steps and actions! Changing my mind is changing my brain.

My work as a change facilitator is so rewarding especially when I can see, hear and feel the difference I am making in my client’s  lives whether it is with work, their growth as a leader or in their roles. Hence my performance coach is supporting me in my change process – and empowering me to take risks, stop being in a rush and make changes! I am on my way to achieving my goals and dreams and I am very excited. We all need a little push on occasion…Bring on the Change!

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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


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 


Organisational Development Competencies…

Recently a colleague and I were discussing the competencies, traits and key skills that Organisational Development Practitioners need in today’s world…Big question!

It is exciting to see Organisational Development taking up its vital role within the organisation and system, but does the CEO or Human Resources for that matter know what OD is really about?

So I decided to put the answer out there to my network. I would have to say, an interesting topic and one will simliar answers.

  • Persistence
  • Enthusiasm
  • Patience
  • Consistency
  • Integrity/Honesty
  • Good listener/communicator
  • Strong leadership/coaching skills

Yes agree with another colleague of mine in relation to the above – similar to leadership qualities? A must have is Integrity – but I think this is an innate quality.

Then we have;

  • Organisational Awareness & understanding of own organisation
  • Marketing OD
  • Change Management
  • Project Management
  • Consulting Skills
  • Managing Service Level Agreements
  • Analysing & evaluating metrics & data
  • Advanced Facilitation Skills
  • Interpersonal skills
I for one love my role in the OD space, I am always learning and improving my strengths, competencies and skills in this arena, but how do we truly take up our role in organisational development – and ultimately partner with the CEO and Human Resources? One colleague mentioned that we need to be holistic in our role as well as have an understanding of our stakeholders and their capability. I agree.
If you are interested in more information in this area – I have attached a great piece of information on this subjection a word document.

I would welcome and love your insight on this area.

Enjoy! Sonia


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


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


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.

 

 


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