Words of Wisdom: Effective Leadership

Effective Leaders know that the best Leadership is the least management. The more character stakeholders have, the more responsibility they assume, and the less management they will need


Sell it, don’t tell it

Whether you are a leader in business, in your home or in your community; or you are in sales/recruitment – essentially any position which requires you influencing others to  ‘come on board and buy into’ what you are proposing – this is for you.

In my role as a leader and coach to leaders, one of the key skills we need to be adept at is how to; ‘persuade’; ‘motivate’; ‘engage’ our audience to make a change and go down the path being proposed. Now change, in most cases, is never easy and I have found that people are typically reluctant to change – HBR published a great post outlining the Ten Reasons People Resist Change
So how do we get people to buy into what we are proposing and start that change?
Thankfully, I don’t need to re-create the wheel on this one as Simon Sinek, author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant, a guru in this area has already given us the key. Take a moment to watch his TED talk
Now, because this clip has had over 30million views there is a high likely hood that you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt!” which is why I have a second principle to add which goes as follows

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. “

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This quote (which I love) was brought back to my attention by one of my recruitment trainees after a session they had attended on ‘selling the opportunity’. In this session, my key objective is for participants to walk away with the ability to get a prospective job applicant committed to a role they are suited to, and it teaches a number of sales fundamentals centered around two mantras  –
Sell it, don’t tell it
Sell the opportunity, not the job
The reason for two mantras is that: the first is the essential process/flow to follow, as so beautifully explained by Simon (the sell). The second is the essential msg/focus of the message. Most people (sales and leaders alike) focus their message on (the job) what people are going to be doing and as Antoine so beautifully points out this does not get you buy-in. Rather, you need to paint a picture, create a feeling of how lives are going to change; how desires are going to be met; how expectations are going to be fulfilled (the opportunity) and then let your people decide how they are going to get there.

Remember, any time you are asking anybody for anything, the first question in their minds is “Whats in it for me?” so it’s critical that the message communicates this. In order to ensure the message connects with the ‘need’, do the following

  1. Identify their ‘what’ through curious questioning and loving listening
  2. Then take them on a journey of what this will look like, feel like when accomplished ‘why’
  3. Tie this tightly to ‘what’ you are proposing
  4. Finally then get their insight and commitment on ‘how’ they want to take that journey with you

Have fun, because you can

Taking Effective Action

If you want to achieve something successfully i.e. it delivers and has a purpose, you should have a goal.

Everyone is familiar with the acronym SMART. I have been using and training the use of SMART for many years now and although a very useful tool , somehow people seem to struggle with the complexity of it all

Struggle no longer 😊

I came across the following in my study of a Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren which has made goal setting and the use of SMART as a framework simple

Here it goes

  • Is the action  you are about to take personal, does it involve you?
  • Is the action you are about to take practical, is it something you can do (do you have the skills, knowledge, tools, materials, contacts)
  • Is the action you are about to take provable…does it have a deadline (is there a measurable finish line)

If the action  you are about to take meets these three criteria, write it down.

Now go do it

Delegation: The art of leveraging time and performance

One of the biggest grumblings I hear from anybody in a leadership position is  “I just don’t have the time” and I get it!

As a person moves up the proverbial ladder of empowerment they become saddled with more responsibilities, attend more meetings, deal with more issues and generally end each day with a to do list which is longer than when started the day. This becomes a repetitive spin cycle sucking you into a black hole of no hope

Fear not for this need not be the case and this need not be your life. All that is required is that you take a leap of faith and start delegating

Here are the fundamentals

  • What is delegation?

The Oxford dictionary defines delegation as: The art of entrusting (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself

  • Why is delegation important and how is it beneficial?

Motivation and morale – The average person not only accepts, but also seeks out responsibility. By delegating individuals then feel a greater sense of satisfaction and, subsequently, more commitment to the organization.

Growth and expansion = Motivation plus speedier learning curve

Increased autonomy – The more responsibility is delegated the less people rely on you to make decisions and the more confidence they have in themselves to make decision

Agility of business – The more responsible, confident and capable the organisation, the more agile it becomes

Now you may be reading this and thinking to yourself “That’s all good and well. But I’ve given this delegation lark a try and all it did was put me in hot water and give me more to do because I had to pick up the pieces!”

Unfortunately my friends that is more than likely down to you having made one or more of the following mistakes when you ‘tried’ to delegate.

  1. Delegating a task or responsibility to someone who does not have the ability to achieve the desired outcomes. A common mistake that will most definitely land you in hot water.
  2. Delegating a task or responsibility to someone who does not want responsibility for the task.  Another common mistake, we have all the desire to develop and empower people, some people just don’t want it themselves.
  3. Not setting clear expectations and outcomes from both parties. Things can only go wrong when expectations (from both sides) have not been clarified
  4. Over managing or under managing the person once delegation has occurred. Critical error, the first part is often due to lack of confidence in the individual being delegated to (see point 1, 2, 3) as major contributors to this, The latter being hugely attributed to point 5 below
  5. Abdicating accountability. This is an interesting one because we often talk about delegating responsibility so what is the difference between responsibility and accountability?

Although most definitions do show these as being similar it is important to differentiate the two. and can be explained in the following way – Accountability is overall ownership for the result. Example – As a manager you are accountable to your stakeholders for the achievement of team target. What this means is that although you can delegate responsibility of tasks to individuals in your team you cannot put the blame on the individuals if your target is not hit. I.e. the buck stops with you

Abdicating accountability is the sin of giving the buck to someone else

Now that we know why and how not to, lets take a look at how to leverage time and performance through delegation

  •  Stage 1: Preparation

If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Two key things to do at this stage

1. Identify and priorities your tasks. A great tool for this is the Urgent/Important Matrix  which I understand originates from the Eisenhower Decision Principle by General Dwight D. Eisenhower leadership lessons that can be gleaned from the life of Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

Ask yourself: Who can do this instead of me? Who can do this better than me? Who can do this at a lower cost than me? Does this really need to be done i.e. can it be eliminated?

2. Identify and understand your team Their goals, capabilities and interests

Armed with this valuable insight you are now ready to move  onto

  • Stage 2: 6 steps to effective delegation
  • Match the person to the task
  • Agree on what needs to be done (SMART objectives)
  • Agree on how the job is going to be done (this ensures clarity that you are on the same wave length. For experienced people coach, less experienced tell
  • Agree deadlines and touch points
  • Agree support
  • Manage by exception: This is a term I picked up from BrianTracey

If the job is on track, and on schedule, the person does not have to report back to you. If you don’t hear from them, you can assume that everything is going well. The individual only reports back to you when an exception occurs and there is a problem with getting the job done on time, to the agreed upon level of quality.

And presto follow the guidelines – they are well tested and remember

If something is not going the way you expected, start with the question

“What did I do, not do which caused this?”

Alex Ferguson was once asked…

This post comes straight from the phenomenal book by Professor Damian Hughes called How to think like Sir Alex Ferguson. My business is developing leaders who are world changers and this is one book I highly recommend for any manager (current or up and coming) Actually, this is for anybody who wants to gain more out of life


Back to the title at hand

This excerpt can be found in the chapter See Change and falls under the heading of Standing room only (not sure which page as I am reading this on kindle – I am at 24% of the book and have 13 min left in the chapter if that helps any)

Sir Alex Ferguson was once asked: ‘If the average coach says 100 words to his players, how many words should a great coach say?‘ … ‘Ten words,’ he said. ‘Fewer if possible.

This blew my mind, but what Professor Damian Hughes follows on with as an explanation is what really rocked my boat

The truth is great coaches don’t spend their time talking. they spend their time watching and listening. And when they communicate, they don’t just start talking. They deliver concise, useful information, and they make the information stick


This stopped me in my tracks. Do I do this? I know that this is my mission and what I aspire to but do i really practice it?

What about you? Would love to hear your thoughts?

Increase performance and engagement in four minutes

Are you a manager? Do you have people reporting in to you? If this is you, I would like to share a gift with you a gift that will keep on giving… if you take the gift and use it to its full and intended potential.

How did I come across this gift? I develop leaders who are world changers and a realisation that I had… some time back already and recently put into application is that in order to be an effective manager you first have to be an effective leader. This post is not about becoming a leader, that’s a whole other piece of work. What this post is, is my summary of a world renowned book on management. A summary which I have written down in a way that shows a process broken down into four key steps I find this easier to put into action. Each step taking no longer than one minute (okay maybe two) to read, each step taking no longer than one minute to apply :0) I ask only one thing in sharing this with you Once you have read and immersed yourself in these steps that you share this with your network I hope that in creating this summary I have done this book and its authors all the honour and respect that they deserve. THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER Ken Blachard & Spencer Johnson

“Effective Managers manage themselves and the people they work with so that both the organisation and the people profit from their presence”

In order to embody the above it is important that you care about people and about results. Always remember that the road to results is happy people

“People who feel good about themselves produce good results”

Step 1 Spend time with the person at the start of a new task or responsibility (e.g. the person is new to the job or role) NO SURPRISES

“Always make it clear what their responsibilities are and what they are being held accountable for”

If the task/role/project  completely new to them tell and show them how, if they are experienced ask them to tell you how Let them know what great performance looks like Make your expected standards clear Make performance standards clear Make clear how their role (responsibilities/account-abilities) contributes to the team and organisation goals Let them know that you want them to succeed, that you want them to be a big help to the organisation and that you want them to enjoy their work Let them know that whilst they are learning the new skill/process/activity that you will stay in close contact with them and will give them crystal clear feedback on how they are doing Let them know that you will let them know in no uncertain terms when they are doing well and when they are doing poorly

Step 2 Set clear goals for each responsibility

“Set stepping stone goals which over time build to achieve the big goal”

Focus on the 20% which will create the biggest results

Focus on input (actions/behaviours) to achieve the outputs Make each goal SMART e.g I will ask open questions using words like explain and describe to start my open question off I will have a quality conversation (insert definition of quality definition) with 5 key stakeholder (insert definition of key stakeholders) each day Keep each goal to no more than 250 words Whilst they are learning the new skill/process stay in close contact with them through Observation – Observe what and how they are doing what they are learning to do Ask for a detailed progress report on what and how they are doing. “Help people reach their full potential, catch them doing something right”

Step 3 Develop your people, let them know what they are doing right – Give praise

“The highest performing organisations have been found to give a ratio of (praise) 5.1:1 (reprimand)”

Give praise as soon after the desired action as is possible Make it in person Be consistent Make it about the action/behaviour Do it in a way that lets the person know you care and that you want them to prosper Look the person in the eyes Tell them specifically what it was that they did right Tell them how it made you/the person on the receiving end feel Afirm how continuation of that behaviour/action will lead to success e.g. “Name, when you worked till eight to ensure that you finished the report you committed to send to me. This dedication really gives me the confidence that you will do the necessary work to deliver. This effort enabled us to send our quote across to our client far earlier than we originally promised and the client commented that they were very impressed with our professional work. Keep this up”

Step 4 – Provide Constructive Development Feedback

“The person’s behaviour is not okay, the person however is okay”

When the person makes a significant mistake let them know immediately Do it in person First confirm the facts Look them straight in the eyes and tell them precisely what they have done wrong. Make it about the actions/behaviour Tell them how this made you/the person on the receiving end feel Let them know how competent you know they usually are and that the reason you are angry with them is because of the respect you have for them. Let them know that you know this is not like them and that you look forward to seeing them next time. Let them know that you will not welcome that same mistake again Make sure that when the reprimand is over, its over

Of course there is so much more to be gained from the book/audio-book such as why each of these steps work so well therefore I highly recommend that if you haven’t already done so, purchase it and make it a part of your essential reading!