Clever me

This week I am struggling to get focus.  I have completed one of 3 essays that I am writing for a Post Grad cert, and I SHOULD now move my attention to essay number 2.  Instead it’s been days and now I am here writing about not buckling down.  Hmm, why ?

The thing is that the last essay took longer than I thought, and I don’t have the stomach to do the same again right now.  So, I want to kick back a bit more, but I don’t have time for that.  In fact I am not working right now just to get these things done, so there are no excuses, and importantly no pay.

In no particular order here’s my self talking ideas for getting my mojo back

  1. Go out and run your socks off Sue – running always always helps.
  2. Enjoy the time Sue, you are allowed some down time – just like a holiday pick and end date and get back on it then.
  3. Which parts of the last essay did you enjoy?  Perhaps there will be some good stuff in the next one?
  4. Do it part time for a couple of weeks.
  5. Imagine how great you will feel once you have finished all 3 essays.
  6. Remember why you are doing this.
  7. Think of it as a hill, it’s an easy climb down once you get to half way – so make halfway your first goal.
  8. Tell your study buddy – she might have some good ideas. (Yes, I have a study buddy – she rocks!).
  9. Put lots of notes of small things you like in a jar, then set small goals and each time you meet a mini goal grab one of the notes to do.

As I am writing this I remembered I have already set myself one reason to carry on, and it was super coachy. Clever me!

I want to extend my  work so that I help young people understand their values and what makes the tick before they make huge life decisions like their course or career direction.

I have an opportunity to meet a head teacher at a local school, and I have already said that I must finish 2 essays before I see the teacher.   That way I will have broken that back of the essays, and I won’t get distracted in planning for the conversations and outcomes I want.

Yes clever blogging me, it turns out writing down your thoughts can also sort your head out and light a match under an idea.

I love people, so I am a professional coach and a specialist consultant, I am an experienced financial services operations, operational risk & culture change leader with professional coaching cert. That’s a posh way to say that I’m good at the people stuff at work and so I help other people get good at it too.  I am learning new things every day and that makes me super cool too!

Leadership thoughts – 3 of 3

I was recently invited to be interviewed by an ex-colleague on leadership.  As part of their own development they were compiling a view from a person they respected as a leader.

In my last 2 posts I have talked about definitions of leadership and also the skills and attributes that a leader needs.  This is post 3 of 3, do read the other two to keep this one in context.

Q4: How do you measure your leadership effectiveness?  (for example, do you seek regular feedback from others?)

  • Get feedback about how you are doing from everyone (actually I think this is one of the skills to be added to the previous post too) – full 360 and encourage openness – learn to take criticism constructively. I have written another post on this; I do this by remembering that feedback is simply data that I use to choose how to act next, I don’t have to take all of it on board.  In fact I ditch a fair amount of feedback if it doesn’t add new information to my “self-aware data bank”.
  • Fact based business delivery; are you doing what you should be doing? Selling more, costing less, delivering change, whatever it is, this is the performance management bit that you are actually paid for.
  • Employee engagement – I recently read that people who are happy are c30% more productive that those who are actively disengaged.  So keeping teams engaged is a measure.
  • Stress levels – honestly look after yourself – if you are doing longer hours or not sleeping take some time to work out why; your leadership style may be the reason that you and other people are not effective.

I gained permission from my ex-colleague before publishing this summary of a longer conversation.  I welcome your views and ideas.

 

Sue Schilling is a professional coach and a specialist consultant, she is an experienced financial services operations, operational risk & culture change leader with professional coaching cert.  Sue provides business consultancy, learning and development and coaching services to a wide range of organisations.

Leadership thoughts – 2 of 3

As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently invited to be interviewed by an ex-colleague on leadership.  As part of their own development they were compiling a view from a person they respected as a leader.

In the spirit of reconnecting  with people and ideas I thought I’d share my answers to her interview questions in a number of posts, this is part 2 of 3.

Q3: What skills/competencies do you think are important for aspiring leaders to develop or acquire to hone their leadership capability?

In no particular order;

  • A whole bunch of management skills remain in play, so if you are not good at these they probably need developing – delegation, decision making, positivity, problem solving, risk management, organisation, project management, time management, self-motivation, resilience, people skills, motivating others, team work and so on.
  • Get to know the basics of the job – if your day job is to run a finance department make sure you understand how to monitor delivery, be able to talk about it and cultivate the department.  Women in particular tend to focus their leadership development on soft skills; a great mentor once told me that he had observed that he works to adjust his style because he noticed his bias to mentor on soft skills for women and the nuts and bolts of delivery with guys.
  • Build self-awareness, set up a process for self-reflection and making minor adjustments to course correct, utilising strengths and learning from weaknesses. Get a coach to help you if you can’t do this on your own.
  • The ability to speak directly and clearly and with empathy. That means understand where your people are in their lives and adjust your style accordingly – think like a radio – tune in to them.  Show people their development needs, discuss them provide examples, help them see them and work on them – it’s your job to build new self-aware leaders.
  • Become a good listener – it’s vital for tuning into your employees needs and for building great relationships.
  • Learn to collaborate holistically – what I mean is actively seek opportunities to connect people together to work on projects even if you are not involved in them. In this way you are role modelling an environment where people work creatively across their complex working environment without you.  Plus it’s fun to meet new like minded folk!
  • The future is coming – get tech savvy and understand your employee’s needs. I love this part of being a leader and am exploring the generational divide between a baby-boomer on the board and a Gen Y graduate – their expectations and basic needs are miles apart.  For example  I do a load of work with young women in their 20’s.  WiFi is a more basic “need” for them than a new lock on their front door – I kid you not!
  • Start talking about the future – do your homework and have a view on what’s happening next in your business. Use this knowledge to drive your strategy, gather buy in (and funding) from your stakeholders and to create the next mission for your team.
  • Finally, learn to love failure – the hardest one of all, especially in industries that have an embedded culture of perfectionism.  Remind yourself of the acronym that FAIL stands for my First Attempt In Learning, that’s because good leaders help people grow themselves.

What do you think?  Have I missed any really important skills?

In next weeks post I will talk leadership effectiveness.

I gained permission from my ex-colleague in advance of publishing this post.

Sue Schilling is a professional coach and a specialist consultant, she is an experienced financial services operations, operational risk & culture change leader with professional coaching cert.  Sue provides business consultancy, learning and development and coaching services to a wide range of organisations.  Sue is learning new things every day and that makes her super cool too!

Leadership thoughts – 1 of 3

I was recently invited to be interviewed by an ex-colleague on leadership.  As part of their own development they were compiling a view from a person they respected as a leader.

Since we work in different time zones we held an online conversation on a Sunday morning to chew the cud on leadership, careers, families, holidays – you get the idea.  To be invited was super flattering and as a result of her training course I have now reconnected with a friend I hadn’t spoken to in a decade.

In the spirit of reconnecting I thought I’d share my answers to her interview questions in a number of posts, so here goes!

Q1: What does leadership mean to you? How do you define leadership?

  • Influencing the hearts and minds of your employees (or followers) to believe in a common goal or mission – then provide the environment within which THEY can deliver to meet the mission. Maintaining an eye on the long term, allowing for short term challenges.

Q2: In your opinion, what is the most important attribute of a leader and why?

  • Authenticity – undoubtedly!
  • Being yourself, showing your true persona, sharing your real thoughts is important, but being self-aware of your strengths and limitations (emotionally and professionally) builds the foundation to authentic leadership. It’s difficult to sustain inauthentic behaviour and maintain healthy relationships with others or to look after yourself, and leadership is largely about relationships. So I think “fake it until you make it” has to be short-term.
  • Authentic people tend to communicate well, they tend to open (not hidden) agendas and this is important. Communicating directly, with empathy, recognising the needs of the employees is how you win over their hearts, for the long term.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear how you define leadership and what its most important attribute is.

In next weeks post I will talk about skills that I think are important for aspiring leaders.

I gained permission from my ex-colleague in advance of publishing this post.

Sue Schilling is a professional coach and a specialist consultant, she is an experienced financial services operations, operational risk & culture change leader with professional coaching cert.  Sue provides business consultancy, learning and development and coaching services to a wide range of organisations.

Train journeys are good times to reflect

So I spend a lot of times on trains, and at the moment my journeys are focused around work, two days one night away from home in exchange for two days working at home. Sounds great, and it is. I love it and I love the people on my contract.

It’s a contract, it’s not the long term. I made a choice to go for something I really enjoy instead of the work life balance for a short term gain.

……. Whoa, pull up there buddy, what are you saying!

Well I guess I am saying that sometimes what I enjoy is the lack of balance. That fulfilling yourself one way compensates for not filling yourself another.

I imagine life a bit like those ice cube plastic bags, they fill up one by one and sometimes the water leaked and ice cubes are more like ice flakes. For me that’s not cool; you can’t even enjoy a basic cocktail if there is no substance to the ice.

Sometimes the plastic bags are all full, the plastic fits and the drinks are exactly as you expected

Then there is the time when a few cubes swell, the plastic stretches, it puckers at the edges and almost pops, it strangles the rest of the bag so cube cells dwindle and become unfulfilled.

I feel in that place, a few of my metaphorical cubes are full, a few are flat. It’s a bit disconcerting but I am leaning right into it, and because of that it’s comfy.

But in fact it’s the same amount of water is in the bag; it’s just distributed differently.

I think that’s OK.

I am observing that I don’t believe that life has to be full constantly.

That in fact, for me, a happy life is to know when you need to push the water around your metaphorical ice cube bag to fulfill what you need in the moment.

The skill is to know when to push for what you need.

Random train rambles over.

Sue x

 

Sue Schilling is a professional coach and a specialist consultant, she is an experienced financial services operations, operational risk & culture change leader with professional coaching cert.  Sue provides business consultancy, learning and development and coaching services to a wide range commercial, not-for-profit and public sector client organisations.