Category Archives: Recommended Reading

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!


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


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


Appreciative Inquiry

If you are looking for a OD process that makes a difference, have a look at Appreciative. I attended the AHRI Leadership Conference last year and the HR Team at Brisbane Treasury Casino implemented this process and had fantastic results!

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an organizational development process or philosophy that engages individuals within an organizational system in its renewal, change and focused performance. AI is based on the assumption that organizations change in the way they inquire and the claim that an organization that inquires into problems or difficult situations will keep finding more of the same, but an organization that tries to appreciate what is best in itself will find/discover more and more of what is good.[1].
Appreciative Inquiry was adopted from work done by earlier action research theorists and practitioners and further developed by David Cooperrider of Case Western Reserve University and Suresh Srivastva in the 1980s. Cooperrider and Srivastva say that an organization is a miracle to be embraced rather than a problem to be solved. According to them, inquiry into organizational life should have the following characteristics:

Appreciative
Applicable
Provocative
Collaborative

It is now a commonly accepted practice in the creation of organizational development strategy and implementation of organizational effectiveness tactics.
Appreciative Inquiry is a particular way of asking questions and envisioning the future that fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, a situation, or an organization. In so doing, it enhances a system’s capacity for collaboration and change.

Appreciative Inquiry utilizes a cycle of 4 processes focusing on:
DISCOVER: The identification of organizational processes that work well.
DREAM: The envisioning of processes that would work well in the future.
DESIGN: Planning and prioritizing processes that would work well.
DESTINY (or DELIVER): The implementation (execution) of the proposed design.

The basic idea is to build organizations around what works, rather than trying to fix what doesn’t. It is the opposite of problem solving. Instead of focusing on gaps and inadequacies to remediate skills or practices, AI focuses on how to create more of the exceptional performance that is occurring when a core of strengths is aligned. It opens the door to a universe of possibilities, since the work doesn’t stop when a particular problem is solved but rather focuses on “What is the best we can be?” The approach acknowledges the contribution of individuals, in order to increase trust and organizational alignment. The method aims to create meaning by drawing from stories of concrete successes and lends itself to cross-industrial social activities.

There are a variety of approaches to implementing Appreciative Inquiry, including mass-mobilized interviews and a large, diverse gathering called an Appreciative Inquiry Summit (Ludema, Whitney, Mohr and Griffin, 2003). Both approaches involve bringing very large, diverse groups of people together to study and build upon the best in an organization or community.

The basic philosophy of AI is also found in other positively oriented approaches to individual change as well as organizational change. As noted above, ” AI …fosters positive relationships and builds on the basic goodness in a person, or a situation ….” The principles behind A.I. are based in the rapidly developing science of Positive Psychology. The idea of building on strength, rather than just focusing on faults and weakness is a powerful idea in use in mentoring programs, and in coaching dynamics. It is the basic idea behind teaching “micro-affirmations” as well as teaching about micro-inequities.

Taken from Wikipedia

Read: The Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A Practical Guide to Positive Change
Diana Whitney (Author), Amanda Trosten-Bloom (Author), David Cooperrider (Foreword)

Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change
David L Cooperrider (Author), Diana Whitney (Author)

 


The Practice of Adaptive Leadership

Recommended Reading: The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World ~by Ronald Heifetz, Marty Linsky and Alexander Grashow

We live in a time of danger and opportunity. Individuals, organizations, communities and countries must continuously adapt to new realities to simply survive. Wanting more, wanting to thrive even under constantly shifting and often perilous conditions, people in all sectors are called upon to lead with the courage and skill to challenge the status quo, deploy themselves with agility, and mobilize others to step into the unknown. Continue reading