Before I went to Cape Town I said I was going to share the story of the missing TV. I had a lovely trip watching my son graduate, hiking up Lion’s Head and just simply spending time with him. Reflecting back I thought how eating was a thread that ran through the entire week: picnics in beautiful spots, take aways in the car whilst it poured with rain, ice cream cones whilst walking along the promenade and meals in cosy tucked away little restaurants. But no writing of my story.
Yesterday I woke up with the intention to write it. Then I noticed the time and switched on Sky News to see what was the outcome of the UK-EU vote. I was surprised. Whilst I was mulling over the “why?” and the “what now?” the Prime Minister, David Cameron appeared on screen to deliver his speech.
My mind raced off analysing him as a leader in that moment. So the topic of my Bumble Bee Insight has changed. But I don’t want to keep you in suspense so I first wrote the story of the missing TV and posted it here.
Brexit and Cameron’s Leadership
Many people have been stunned by the news that the people of the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union. This news was very shortly followed by David Cameron’s speech in which he stated he would be resigning. I don’t know if Brexit is good or bad for the UK, or for other parts of the world. Lots of people have opinions but noone really knows, only time will tell.
Putting aside the politics it was very interesting to listen to David Cameron’s speech and to explore what it says about his leadership in this moment, and about leading in times of change.
The day before the media were reporting the timeline re when the polling stations would close, when the outcome would be clear, and importantly when the Prime Minister was expected to speak. At times of change leaders must be seen and they must communicate with their followers.
When Cameron came out to speak he had a lectern but he was otherwise on the same level as the audience, physically reasonably close to them and he appeared comfortable to speak. His words were clear and easily understandable without talking down. His speech was short and to the point. Leadership doesn’t require the leader to stand upon high. A leader who can connect with his followers stands a better chance of being “heard” and of having influence.
In his speech he was candid about what he had believed was better for the UK and how he had wholeheartedly believed in remaining in the EU. And then he stood by his own beliefs and stated he wasn’t the person to lead the country into a new era of separation.
He is the elected leader of the country and he had promised the people their opportunity to state their preference, so one could argue that he should now lead them along that path. I personally think he is showing greater integrity by stepping down.
Even though he made his resignation clear he didn’t throw his toys out the cot. He didn’t walk out and abandon the people. He calmly explained that the country needed someone to stabilise it whilst a new person could be elected and that he would do that. I see that as being responsible.
He also said something which implied the UK would now do the best possible with this “leave” decision. This was also being responsible in trying to reassure the people as a whole, especially the 48% who voted to “remain”.
And lastly he gave an indication of a timeline stating that he believed a new leader should be put in place by October. Leaders need to be decisive and share their vision. He’d made a number of decisions: resigning and steadying the ship, and he shared a clear vision for the next step.
These are my observations and opinions of that snapshot. Yours maybe different. I’d love to engage with you. I don’t think good leadership is like a maths question with only one right answer. There are foundational basics and then there are nuances.
The World of today is a complex system different from anything that has gone before.Both political and business leaders can no longer use past experience and best practise to assure them of what to do next. A new style of courageous, collaborative and adaptive leadership is required at every level.
The more we explore what we consider to be good leadership the better we will lead ourselves and those around us; and the better we will attract good leadership of companies, of our communities and of our countries.
Alison Gitelson, Management Growth Enabler, enabling you to do business better.
© copyright 2016 – All Rights Reserved
At times of change many of us retreat into fear. A new film has just been released which talks about moving from fear to abundance. This is very opportune. Here is a link to a free screening (available until 30 June on your own PC)
Quote of the day
“The price of leadership is responsibility.”~Winston Churchill
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We had a lovely week away returning in time to vote in South Africa’s fifth democratic elections.
It had a special significance for me. In 1994 when I voted I was pregnant with my second child. And yesterday my son voted for the first time.
Our time away was spent exploring Gaberone and enjoying good food, wine and conversation, with old and new friends. On our way back from Botswana we spent two nights in The Marico.
I love experiencing new places and observing people and nature. It energises me and gets me thinking of the lessons to be learnt. I had so many thoughts that I am going to share some of them with you today.
Cooperation, Creativity & Contrasts
On our first day we visited the Three Dikgosi Monument. Our guide gave us a lesson in Botswana’s history. How I interpreted it was:
The path from British Protectorate to independent Republic was a long one. There were a number of attempts by Britain and South Africa to “take over” but the three main chiefs peacefully but determinedly worked to maintain a level of independence for the country.
They had a shared vision and they cooperated with each other. They listened and watched closely so as to pick up and act on each political shift that threatened the area’s status. And when they realised more action was needed they travelled to Britain seeking an audience with the government.
The government tried to fob them off but they had cultivated friendships in England. These friends assisted them to travel around the country drumming up support for their cause until the government was pressured into meeting with them. This began a process that would eventually lead to independence in 1966. That visit was a very well run PR campaign!
It sounds as though these three chiefs demonstrated excellent leadership.
Even the decision as to where the capital should be seems to have been solved in a mature manner. The original main place was Lobatse but being in a small bowl between the hills it was thought to be too small for a capital so Gaberone, 70km to the north, was chosen.
Gaberone is a very dry city, especially at the moment after a couple of years of drought. On the edge of town is a lovely small game reserve without natural water. But someone has come up with a creative solution. The reserve is integrated with the sewerage system. Underground pipes bring the sewer water to open ponds that apart from a slight smell, are just like small dams. We saw some lovely birds there, including an African Purple Swamphen.
A few blocks from where my friend lives we saw a strange sight – on the dusty sidewalk, a beautifully decorated table and chairs, under an awning, set for a celebration. Gwen explained that it belongs to a local lady, an event planner, who changes the colours and themes every week. What a wonderful example of creative advertising.
We also visited the brickfields down by the river where people hand make clay bricks and bake them in a homemade, communal kiln. I am sorry I didn’t take a photo. It was like a scene out of biblical times. And yet a couple of kilometres away was the neat, clean CBD with amazing, modern buildings.
For me these contrasts and the different ways of doing business are part of the “colour of Africa”. Something which is hard to explain. One needs to spend time in Africa to experience it. And then as my husband says, “Africa gets under your skin and it’s very difficult to leave.”
Next month, thoughts from The Marico.
© copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved
Quote of the Day
“The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.” ~ Bertrand Russel
My Little Black Book
Our host in Gaberone was Gwen Watkins, owner of a communications consultancy that operates across Southern Africa. Amongst her many PR talents is that of training event planners. Our holiday was like a well run event from the accommodation, to the food and beverages, to the guided tours. Gwen certainly walks the talk.
Apart from writing and editing she also offers practical, short courses that cover such fields as ‘Creating and implementing PR strategy for SMEs’, ‘Creating and managing practical & profitable events’, ‘Writing for internal & external stakeholders’, ‘Perfect PA events’ and others. www.freelancers.co.za
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And here we are at the second month of 2014. February always flies by. Those three days less seem to make a huge difference, especially with all the month end/year end type tasks.
I am looking forward to a busy month – we have a new corporate group starting their People Management workshop, last weekend was Round the Island at the Vaal Dam (the world’s largest inland sailing race), and this weekend is the Rocky Horror Picture Show – my rarely seen wild side is excited to be doing the whole dress up and audience participation thing – I am sure that surprised a few people!
And then it’s Valentine’s Day. I ordered a gourmet Valentine’s picnic hamper which I thought was a rather fun alternative to a crowded restaurant.
And the day after Valentine’s I will be donating alcohol infused platelets!
All of that in only the first half of the month. What do you have planned for this month of love? Loving everyone may sound a bit too much for many of us. Perhaps we could concentrate on appreciating ourselves and appreciating those around us?
At the end of January the Theatre on the Square was completely sold out for Anthony Yoko’s annual Jazz Showcase.
I am a relative newcomer to jazz appreciation so my opinion on the music isn’t reliable – I am just chuffed to be able to recognise some of the standards and know that the funny sounds the singer was making is called skat! But judging by the reactions of my husband and the rest of the audience it really was a very good show with really good musicians.
I did enjoy myself. And I got excited about the factors that I think were making it a successful jazz concert which are just as appropriate for a successful business unit.
The musicians had been brought together by Tony Yoko. He was the “owner” and initiator but he shared leadership throughout. A lot of the time the front man was the singer, Andrew Massey, but all the other musos also took turns to play solos or to lead a number.
I have it on good authority that each of the six musicians plus singer is accomplished. Each performing alone would have been good, but it requires the combination to really make the sound and energy great. Each person’s individual talents (strengths) were used in the most appropriate places to make the whole band (team) achieve more. And no-one’s ego got in the way of an integrated performance.
Jazz fascinates me as there is so much improvisation and spontaneity. It requires the musicians to be adaptive, flexible and on the ball. In today’s business world we also need to be able to create and adapt. We need everyone to feel free to contribute their ideas and yet we must remain cohesive to execute.
The musos were communicating with each other all the time – a word, a hand sign, a look and someone would take over with a solo, and then a change in pace or volume of their playing and the others would know to join back in.
For the Showcase Tony, who himself must be in sixties and is a great drummer / percussionist, had focused on giving exposure to young talent.
At the interval he bumped into an old (and apparently well known) saxophonist friend in the car park, who then joined them on stage for the second half. It was amazing to see how sensitively he slotted in. He would listen to a few notes, decide which of his two instruments to use, try a little bit softly and when it was blending he’d really come in and add to the production.
And the others loved it, they weren’t threatened, and they made way for him to do a few solos as well. (His second instrument was a soprano sax which I thought was a clarinet – okay I still have a lot to learn!)
Much of my enjoyment was seeing how much fun they were all having. They loved playing and being creative and there was a tangible air of appreciating each other.
They were all professionals motivated by the satisfaction of being able to do something well, for a purpose, connected to people they respect, and with freedom of choice.
© copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved
Quote of the Day
“Always look for opportunities to challenge your best people because many of them are like sticks of dynamite; the power’s on the inside, but nothing happens until the fuse gets lit.” ~ Mac Anderson
My Little Black Book
If you would like to take up the challenge to focus on appreciating those around you, a great book to read is “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman and Paul White.
If you like jazz or blues in Johannesburg you can get updates on forthcoming productions by signing up to Tony’s mailing list (contact me for the address)
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Last week my husband and I spent a lovely weekday together. We went out for breakfast, shopped leisurely, stopped for a cappuccino and generally felt as though we were bunking school!
The occasion was his birthday. Last year we began a new tradition of both taking the day off to spend his whole birthday together. As his love language is Quality Time he really enjoys and appreciates this. And I have the bonus of enjoying it as well!
I was wondering who else does something on their birthday that makes it a definitely different day from the rest of the week?
To Solve or not to Solve?
The other day my daughter described something in her life that sounded like a problem. When she finished I remained quiet, processing what she’d said. She then went on to say, “You don’t need to solve it, I just needed to say it.” I was quite relieved! I had been thinking, “I don’t know what to suggest. What should I say?”
Her talking through the issue, and me hearing her, was far more important than her getting a solution at that point in time. For many of us that is a strange way of thinking. We are accustomed to going straight into solution mode.
Very often better solutions would be found if we first allowed more time for people to express their needs and feelings. We could be more helpful by asking some questions which focussed their thoughts. And, in giving them the time to think out loud, they may find their own solution, or just the acceptance of what is. This applies both at home and at work.
During a workshop I was facilitating for managers we practised Fierce Conversations. These are structured conversations that allow us to confront tough issues with courage, compassion and skill. (If you are interested in the model see below.)
In this ten step method we name the issue in step one but we only talk about any sort of solution in step nine!
The delegates really struggled with this. They kept jumping to the solution before clarifying how they felt about it, or what was at stake, or eliciting the other person’s viewpoint. They also wanted to present the other person with the solution instead of allowing them to make suggestions.
If the problem is ‘solved’ in this manner the opportunity to be aware of alternative perspectives is missed. The other person hasn’t developed any of their own problem solving skills. And very often they are unwilling to change their behaviour to adopt your chosen solution.
I myself am a solution oriented person. I have had to work very hard at listening, asking appropriate questions and allowing others to find answers for themselves. However the results when I get it right are so exciting. The other person feels so much better about their own abilities, they often come up with amazing ideas and they are far more likely to go ahead and implement those ideas with enthusiasm.
There are of course times when you are in fact responsible for finding a solution, especially in a work environment. Even then the results maybe better if you involve a group of people in the discussion to find a solution. Letting go of the need to always have the solutions can be a big relief.
A possible new approach is:
Wishing you a happy and safe festive season. I will catch up with you later in January.
© copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved
News – new offerings coming in January
In April I wrote that I was reading a book called “Happiness at Work. Maximising your psychological capital for success” The content of this resonated so well with me as I often describe my vision as “productive, effective businesses with happy, engaged, fulfilled people working in them”. Since then I have accredited as a Science of Happiness at WorkTM expert.
This means that I have some great new, practical, diagnostic tools to help identify the most important areas for us to work on within your company as well as to be able to track the ROI on the chosen interventions.
For individuals I now have a great tool for identifying what is or isn’t bringing you happiness (satisfaction) at work. This helps us to be very focussed during our development session(s).
Watch out in the New Year for some introductory specials.
Fierce Conversations Model
OPENING STATEMENT (60s or less):
Your opening statement should:
- Name the issue.
- Select a specific example that illustrates the behaviour or situation you want to change.
- Describe your emotions about this issue.
- Clarify what is at stake.
- Identify your contribution to this problem.
- Indicate your wish to resolve the issue.
- Invite the other person to respond.
- Inquire into the other person’s views. Make sure the other person knows that you fully understand and acknowledge his or her position and interests.
- What have we learned? Where are we now? How can we move forward from here, given our new understanding?
- Make a new agreement and determine how you will hold each other responsible for keeping it.
From Fierce Conversations – Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time by Susan Scott
Quote of the Day
“I’ve come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way. The challenges we face in life are always lessons that serve our soul’s growth.” Marianne Williamson
My Little Black Book
Recently I arranged to meet a friend for afternoon coffee. I was craving a really good cappuccino so she suggested we meet at Tasha’s in the Nicolway Centre. It really was good and a welcome change after some very so, so ones. Where else can one get good ones? I want to make a “Good Cappuccino Venues” list!
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