Resourced Leaders

'Resourced Leaders' is a premier Australian based Leadership Performance organisation that specialises in working with senior executives, leaders and high performing individuals who aspire to greater levels of personal leadership and success.

Influence

Learning to run

Posted by Phil Owens
Phil Owens
Philip is one of Australia’s leading performance and leadership specialists. He
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 21 December 2011
in Influence

I was recently working with a group of top-level executives in Vienna.  My host indicated that some of the ‘characters’ in the room would not be open to learning – they ‘knew it all’.

These were highly experienced, talented individuals at the top of their game, so why should they listen to someone like me?  I shared with them the following story, which became a metaphor for my role with them:
"Many of us are parents, and we have all been babies, and all been children, have we not?  What I know about babies is the way they learn.  Have you ever seen a baby learning to walk?

They start not knowing. They only know how to crawl, and how to sit. They try to stand, then get their balance.  So often, they fall down.  What do they do?  Do they give up?  Do they listen to people saying ‘don’t try’?  What babies know is how to be open to learning.  And I wonder at what age, we as adults, forget this?  Babies will try hundreds of times until they can stand, and then they have their next hurdle – taking their first step.

And they will fall, and they will trip, but they always get up again.  And then, after much effort and many attempts, they learn to walk, and then to run.
And the world has some incredible runners – Usain Bolt can run – holding the world record for 100 meters, he covers this distance in about 9.5 seconds.
And Usain Bolt learned to run as a child, just as most children do.  So if he has learned how to run, why does he now get himself a running coach?  He already knows how to do it, does he not?

If you ask a top performer they get a coach not because they haven’t learned how.  Often it is about unlearning, forgetting bad habits, breaking the process into pieces, getting an external view, and recrafting and refining.  Sometimes it is forgetting what we have remembered and remembering  what we have forgotten.  How we did it is not how we should do it and if we can stand back and observe the parts, the process, then we can recombine and refine our process to maximise our performance.

And you are all high performers, are you not?  And you have learned how to do your work, and be highly successful.  You would not be here unless that was true.  And if you can remember to be open to learning, like you instinctively did when you were a child, then things you never thought were possible may be just that first step away.

And my role? I am your running coach.  You know how to run, but lets step back and see exactly how to hone your skills to make you elite.  It is not me who runs your race, but those who are open to refining and improving and really learning are the ones that make the final.”

The outcome:  The leaders who were identified by the host as potentially ‘closed’ became intently engaged, really challenged their beliefs and took some significant steps from the program.  They took the coaching in a positive way and really used it to enhance their possibilities.

And in the end, when you ask yourself, “should I get a coach” – I would ask the question “do you know it all, or may there be a better way?”

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Unlocking Potential

Posted by Phil Owens
Phil Owens
Philip is one of Australia’s leading performance and leadership specialists. He
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 21 December 2011
in Influence

I was working with a senior leader in an organisation in Germany recently and his sense was that we are almost on another ‘tipping point’.  He keeps hiring great people, but most of his efforts to create synergies and really get the best of his people seem to fail.  He senses that there must be a ‘better way’ to lead people, and to get results.

I have to agree with him.  I see so often that groups of people are thrust together in teams that almost bring out the ‘worst’ in each other.  They find ways not to collaborate.  They act defensively and avoid commitment or creativity.  Does this sound somewhat familiar?

And yet, each person was a high quality, high performing individual.
What would happen, I asked him, if they would collaborate?  If they would share ideas and be innovative and creative? If they would take responsibility for themselves and others?

His answer:  I would finally be running a business.

When our organisations set up processes and structures which enhance fear, disempowerment and complexity, or bring in incentive schemes which actively work against the greater mission of the organisation (but serve its individual units), then individuals are not encouraged to fully and openly participate.  My experience is that employees love the opportunity to give their best and be recognised and rewarded for it.

There are some very simple steps to creating the situation where such collaboration and creativity are the norm:

•    Create an environment where each of the sub-groups of your business each, in their own way, serve the company’s greater mission.
•    Have thoughtful engagement with all employees which reinforces the values and purpose of the organisation.  Make employees feel valued, trusted and offer them some level of certainty (as much as you can).
•    Enact policies that support these elements.  Remove as many ‘old policies’ of control and disempowerment as you can, and consider how any new process or policy serves your true organisational purpose.

What are you doing as a leader which helps to really unlock the potential of your employees?  What is the one thing you can do right now to foster collaboration, creativity and innovation in your business?

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