Wednesday 30 July 2014

Our best is often hiding in our worst

The subject of disposition (character, temperament, nature, constitution, mentality) comes up frequently in my 1:1 conversations with my clients.

Such conversations are often about how we respond to what happens as leaders being more important than what has actually happened. Our disposition matters because it is a key driver of how we respond to situations. Disposition is also a key to our influence as leaders and to whether we are inspiring others or not.

At my best I have a very positive disposition. I see the best in people and situations. At my best I can respond positively to even dire situations and inspire others. 

At my worst I can be negative and dismissive, particularly when others don’t do what I believe they should do. I can be even more brutal when I know that the other person knows what they should do and doesn’t.

I’ve arrived at 3 conclusions about disposition:

Our disposition is an imposition if we’re not putting ourselves in a better position.

Equally our disposition is an imposition when it puts others in a lesser position.

When we change our disposition, everything can change.

Our best is often hiding in our worst.

I am candid, contrarian and controversial by nature. At my best I am a breath of fresh air for others. At my worst I’m am perceived as a threat to others and someone to be avoided.

To continually operate at my best I invest time and energy in working with the darker side of my nature, what Carl Jung called ‘the shadow’. As the noted lecturer and Jungian analyst Robert Johnson observed “there is gold in the shadow.”

The shadow for me is everything we wish we were that we aren’t yet bringing to daily life. It is also everything we wish we weren't that we are bringing to daily life!

I help to integrate the darker side of my nature (Robert Johnson calls this “owning your own shadow.”) by keeping the following diagram at the forefront of my mind. It helps me to bring my best to what happens most of the time.

When I’m caring and candid I can be blunt yet not brutal.

When I am compassionate and contrarian I can help people to see all sides of a situation and better deal with conflict, difficulty and disagreement.

When I have collaboration as my pure intention people can benefit from my controversial views and innovation can happen.

There’s gold in your shadow. How are you mining the gold?

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde is the great symbolic story of our best and worst. 

The greater our awareness of our Jeckyl and Hyde, and the more we own and integrate our shadow, the greater our disposition in all situations. And the more inspiring and influential we are as leaders.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

PS The evil 'Edward Hyde' is on the rampage in many situations in our world today. The more we stand up as our best selves and be counted, the faster good will triumph over evil in non-violent ways.

Monday 28 July 2014

Be judged by the promises you keep

I was asked the other day if there was only one thing I could measure what would I choose?

My answer was kept promises.

There's a mountain of information about value propositions. Most of it mystifies me.

I'm not interested in what you propose. What I really want to know is what you promise.

Doing business with you is about the value of your promise to me. Value is always as in the eyes of the beholder.

If you keep your promises I will continue to do business with you. If you don't I won't.

What promises are you making to your employees, your customers/clients, and all your stakeholders?

How well are you keeping them?

There's a lot of wisdom in this article by Elizabeth Doty to help you.

A lot of trouble in organisations is based around feelings of being betrayed by a broken promise.

A great way to avoid this trouble is a Ms. Doty suggests "Make fewer, better commitments."

I have always believed in under-promising and over delivering. Most of the world is doing the opposite. Herein lies a great opportunity for you.

Be judged by the promises you keep.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

64 promises that every leader should make by Todd Nielsen

Sunday 27 July 2014

Friday 25 July 2014

The great paradoxical pain and the pill that takes the pain away

If you’ve read pretty much anything I have written or heard anything I’ve said you will know that at the core of my being I believe that every human being is a special one-of-a-kind and that the number role of leadership is to help people to discover their gifts/talents and then enhance them.

The paradox
All of us are sometimes a pain in the backside.

We have our own agendas. We're driven by self-interest. We believe weird things.

Reconciling opposites
I was raised in an either/or world.

The great breakthrough for me came when I realised nothing is this or that, rather both this and that at the same time. Understanding both/and changed everything for me.

We are surrounded by opposites fighting for territory; leadership and management, personal and business, relationships and tasks. The list is endless.

The pill that takes the pain away
Appreciate and accept everything about every person you encounter; the good and the bad, and yes the ugly too. 

And then see every person for who they can be.

When there’s conflict, difficulty, disagreement, see people for who they can be.

When others are being a pain in the backside, see them for who they can be.

What other people do or don’t do has nothing to do with you. You’re responsible for your own intentions, feelings, thoughts, and actions, not other people’s.

If you’re offended, upset, unhappy with what others do or don’t you’ve made that choice.

When you feel bothered by other people, get over it.

We’re all good and bad. Each and everyone one of us is a pain in the backside and a pleasure to be with.

Pain and pleasure. Both/and. No winners, no losers. Life just is. What matters is our approach, our attitude, our intention.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
attributed to Plato

Wednesday 23 July 2014

What are people saying about you when you're not in the room?

According to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, your brand is whatever people say about you when you’re not in the room.

What are your employees, your customers/clients saying about you?

How do you know?

How will you find out?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 21 July 2014

Radical transformation of diplomacy, politics, and religious expression is what the world needs right now

I wrote recently that management needs radical transformation. I don't back away from this in any way. In the light of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 disaster however my call seems almost trivial.

What we really need is radical transformation of diplomacy, politics, and how people express their religion.

I declare I am not a member of any political party, nor do I practice any specific religion. I honour your right to do both.

When the Australian Prime Minister announced the tragedy (words can't really describe it) in the Australian parliament there was a civility on the other side of politics I haven't seen for a very long time. Gone was the stupid, petty, in-human way they normally behave.

Now what?

It's obvious to me, and I suspect to you, that despite the best intentions by most people, diplomatic and political ways are failing miserably to solve the worlds conflicts. Wars, including appallingly called civil ones, are clearly not a solution either.

Now what?

I don't wish to show any disrespect to the people who have lost their lives or to their family and friends however if innocent people falling dead from the sky doesn't wake us up I despair.

Now what?

I have no answers except to say that violence against people because of what they believe or don't, and any kind of sectarianism should be made illegal in all countries and so should the killing of civilians regardless of the circumstances.

Violence against people because of what they believe or don't, or where they were born or weren't, should be a crime. Violently differentiating against people for any reason should be a crime.

We the people need to join together peacefully to ensure our political and religious leaders gain the will to change their ways. We are all to blame in a way for the unspeakable events happening in our world. "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept." See yesterday's post.

What say you?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

PS I accept in advance any accusations of naivety on my part for my suggestion above.

Sunday 20 July 2014

What standards are you accepting?

This Sunday's sparkenation.

Lieutenant General David Morrison, Chief of the Australian Army doesn’t mince words in this video. And rightly so.

His message is a key for us all in every aspect of our lives.

"The standard you walk past is the standard you accept."
Lieutenant General David Morrison

What standards are you accepting?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Friday 18 July 2014

People don’t want to be appraised, they want to be appreciated

In the old world of work performance appraisals still happen.

In the new world of work performance appraisals have been eliminated.

Which world is your business living in, the old or the new?

In the new world of work conversations about performance are integral to daily work, even when there is difficulty, disagreement, or conflict. 

Leaders in workplaces embracing the new world of work are role models of candor, transparency, and authenticity. They’re experts at listening, sharing stories, and asking great questions.

Are you such a role model?

All human beings have aspirations. New world of work leaders know intimately the aspirations of their colleagues and therefore can have both appreciation and accountability conversations.

Knowing your own and other people’s aspirations is the edge of two sides of the coin of appreciation and accountability. One without the other doesn’t lead to performance improvement. Appreciation conversations in harmony with accountability conversations leads to performance improvement.

Here’s the first of 45 simple yet profound techniques that I teach my clients.

The Double A Technique

Ask: “How are things going?” 

When you get a positive response:  
Ask: “How does that make you feel?” 
(be quiet and pay attention) 

Then say, Great, Brilliant or whatever is appropriate. 

Then ask: “Any other areas I can help you with?” 
(be quiet and pay attention) 

When you get a negative response 

Ask: “What happened?” (be quiet and pay attention) 

Then Ask: “What do you need to do to get back on track?” 
(be quiet and pay attention) 

 Then Ask: “Is there anything I can do to help you?” 
(be quiet and pay attention) 

Finally, Ask: “Anything else?” 
(be quiet and pay attention)

How could you do better in having appreciation and accountability conversations with your workmates?

I can promise you this: become an expert at having appreciation and accountability conversations each day and optimum performance will follow.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

PS Warning: Appreciation and accountability conversations that are integral to daily work only work well when people's personal and business aspirations and how they will be achieved are documented. This can be done on 1 page. Please contact me to find out how.

"In an alliance, employer and employee develop a relationship based on how they can add value to each other."
from 'The Alliance' by Reid Hoffman (Chairman and Co-founder of LinkedIn), Ben Casnocha, Chris Yeh

"A leader's job is not to put greatness into people, but rather to recognise that it already exists, and to create the environment where that greatness can emerge and grow."
Intuit CEO Brad Smith

Wednesday 16 July 2014

30 key characteristics of the new world of work

I am completing research for my next book Change champions and the roles they play remarkably well, including a study of the new world of work.

Below are some of my findings/observations.

I am grateful to many people, my clients, David Korten, the folk at tomorrow today, Brian Solis, Lynda Gratton, Dan Pink, and many of the authors listed in my recommended reading list.

Agree? Have different views? What would you add?

I'd love to know your thoughts. Please share them as comments or email

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 14 July 2014

Alliances are a key to the new world of work

I have just added The Alliance by Reid Hoffman (Chairman and Co-founder of LinkedIn), Ben Casnocha, Chris Yeh, to my recommended reading list.

Here's my review of this book on Amazon.

Please note that due to an upgrading of my Changing What's Normal website including a new server, links to my recommended reading list has changed from previous mentions as has my Top 21 recommended books

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Can you hold opposing views in your mind at the same time?

This Sunday’s sparkenation.

F.Scott Fitzgerald, regarded as one of the great American writers of the 20th century, once wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

How intelligent are you?

Your willingness and ability to embrace this kind of maverick thinking is a key to your personal happiness and the success of your business.

It’s also a forerunner to the key factor in all success - shared-view

Without shared-view ultimate success will forever allude you.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

PS Holding opposing views in your mind at the same time and discovering and maintaining shared-view often means suspending your beliefs (temporarily at least), particularly those of a religious/spiritual or political nature.

Friday 11 July 2014

Management: Renaissance, Reinvention or Radical Transformation?

Is Management Due for a Renaissance? asks David K. Hurst in this interesting article on the Harvard Business Review blog.

Renaissance literally means rebirth. We don't want to give life to a dead concept in my view.
Management is dead I argue here.

On the Management Innovation eXchange website their banner says "It's time to reinvent management. You can help."

I don't want to reinvent management either. What I want, and what I am working for every day, is radical transformation.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” R. Buckminster Fuller

What do you feel and think? Does management need Renaissance, Reinvention or Radical Transformation?

I believe that your answer to this question is critical to the future success of your business.

When I review systems and processes, which is what I believe 21st century management to be about, with my clients, I ask the following questions:

Does this make it simple for people to consistently bring their best to the work?

Assuming the answer is yes to the first question I then ask: Is the end result of this work the delivery of value to others, value that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve?

Obviously if the answer is no to the first question then the delivery of value to others is difficult if not impossible.

What's happening at your place? Do your systems and processes make it simple for people to consistently bring their best to the work? Is the end result of this work the delivery of value to others, value that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve?

Leadership is the art of inspiring people to bring everything remarkable that they are to everything they do.

Management is the practice of making it simple for people to bring everything remarkable that they are to everything they do.

You need inspirational, effective, and influential leadership operating in harmony with motivational, efficient, and practical management, in order to thrive in your business.

You don't need management that is about directing, organising, and controlling people. That kind of management is dead. People management is dead.

The radical transformation of management is a key to the prosperity of your business. It is also a key to solving the problems of our world.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 7 July 2014

Berry books in the blood

Ever since she was a small child my daughter Jessica has loved books and has dreamed of writing her own.

Her dream is now a reality!

If you have children and/or grandchildren under 10 or simply want to recall those times you will love my daughters books.

Find out more here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 6 July 2014

Who do you think you are?

This Sunday's sparkenation.

“Who we think we are is why we do what we do.” says Tom Asacker

I highly recommend watch Tom's TEDxCambridge 2014 talk 'Why TED Talks Don't Change People's Behaviors.'

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations here.

Friday 4 July 2014

Complimentary personal and business development program for leaders with more than 10 employees

I am currently completing research and have begun writing the sequel to my Changing What's Normal book.

I'd love your input.

To kick-off our conversation Sign-up here and you can download my white paper on 3 of the roles, Maestro of gift/talent enhancement, Mentor for the Motivated/Disrupter for the demotivated, Magnifier of Magnificence.

You’re  a business owner/leader with more than 10 employees.

You’re the 1 in 100 who believes all change is personal first, relationship change second, and organisational change a distant third. (The 99 when they talk about change, what they really mean is everyone else changing and not them!)

Inside the white paper is a short personal and business development program. There’s exercises, two diagnostics, and 4 videos to watch, plus, a complimentary online mentoring session with me. (see page 14 in the paper). 

Should you fit the profile described above I'd love to engage with you. Get the white paper here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Co-creating a culture of candor

“Creativity has to start somewhere, and we are true believers in the power of bracing, candid feedback and the iterative process-reworking, reworking, and reworking again, until a flawed story finds its through line or a hollow character finds its soul. ”
Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and President of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, in a wonderful book Creativity, Inc.

Candor is critical to the culture of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios and a key reason for their long term success. And it can be at your place too.

All day, everyday, regardless of the situation, the 3 assassins of progress, fear of, anxiety about, and resistance to change are lurking in your heart and mind and in the hearts and minds of everyone you encounter.

Left to their own devices these three are killing possibility in your life, your relationships, and in your organisation.

There is a non-violent solution - candor.

Are you a connoisseur ("A person with expert knowledge or training, A person of informed and discriminating taste") of candor?

Please check out my 21 ways to be candid here to find out where you stand.  And please take the BS Detectors Pulse Check at the end to find out even more.

Number 8 in the Pulse Check is “I call it when I detect BS”

Do you?

One of the 6 BIG challenges facing leaders in the workplace is that most people don't yet excel at having conversations about performance when there is difficulty, conflict or disagreement. Being candid and naming BS is a key to cut through, resolution and significant performance improvement.

This is a skill issue yet more it is an issue of the will.

A key factor in this is elephants in the room.

Most of what could be better about an organisation is known yet unsaid (it is said underground and away from the organisation). For 23 years I have been walking into organisations as an adviser and I am told, usually within an hour, of what could be better and yet no one has raised issues with insiders for fear of reprisal or fear for their jobs and other nasty reasons. A common reason is a cultural issue of not talking about what can be perceived as unpleasant. Candor overcomes this.

Sometimes I name the elephants myself. I am not for everyone for I confront BS and help people to humanely remove warts, skeletons in closets, and elephants from boardrooms, offices, factories and shops.

Once or twice I have been thrown out for doing so! Usually I mentor people to name the elephants themselves. The outcome usually is relief and very quickly elephants are removed. Soon creativity and innovation happen. Often the reaction is why was this not spoken about before?

The known not being said and a failure to excel at having conversations about performance when there is difficulty, conflict or disagreement is costing organisations billions, probably trillions. The biggest cost though is to human life. 

Diplomacy is not the answer to the troubles in our world, not if this means smiles and handshakes, double-talk, and dancing around the truth.

Most of the great disasters of my life-time could have been avoided, and most of the trouble in organisations too. 

Are you the someone on the inside who speaks up and does so long before a consultant, auditor or diplomat arrives?

If you know it, speak it, otherwise you are guilty of wilful blindness and a tragedy could be about to happen.

To speak out effectively a lot of work needs to be done to ensure mutual respect, safety, and adopting the philosophy in ethics of enlightened self-interest, which Zig Ziglar famously captured when he said, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

If you are afraid, for whatever reason, to be candid, please find an ally inside and/or seek outside help today.

A great place to begin is watch Margaret Heffernan's TED talk.

I am a big fan of Margaret for her excellent book 'Wilful Blindness' which sadly I see a lot of in my work. Wilful blindness is one of the great barriers to progress in the world today.

If you know it, speak it.

Saying what you know might just be the beginning of co-creating a culture of candor. You’re authenticity and willingness to be vulnerable will inspire others. Very soon spin, BS and wilful blindness will be assigned to history.

Courage is required

Being candid is not easy. Being on the receiving end is often not easy either. 

The death of my best friend in May 2011 hit me very hard. Until I was given some candid feedback (and feedforward) I hadn’t realised how down I had become and in fact had lost my mojo. I found it very difficult to receive candor and in fact fought it initially. I am forever grateful to the person who had the courage to be candid with me because eventually through it I was able to restore my well-being.

“Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.”
Paolo Coelho

Are you a connoisseur of candor? Your friends, family, and work colleagues will be grateful (sometimes eventually!) if you are.

Being a connoisseur of candor is a key component of 'Change Champions and the roles they play remarkably well' which is the working title of a book I'm currently writing that is the sequel to my Changing What's Normal book published 3 years ago last month. If you like to be interviewed for the book please

I am also exploring candor in online and in person presentations this year.

In a 5 part webinar series that I am presenting for the International Institute of Directors and Managers beginning on the 30th July 2014, being a connoisseur of candor is the topic for webinar 4 on September 10th. To be invited to participate in these webinars or to access the recordings please email

Game-changing Change Champions Day

This is my all new workshop and the only one open to the public. I am thrilled to be conducting it 3 times in the second half of this year in Melbourne 21st October 2014 with very special guest presenter Steve Simpson, Singapore 23rd October with very special guest presenter Paul Dunn, and London 29th October with very special guest presenter Nigel Risner.

Participation in this day also means 1 years membership to Maverick Thinkers Studio including a license to integrate my Enhancing Their Gifts System with the best of what you’ve got regarding leading for and recruiting, engaging, and retaining great people. All the details here.

“Candor isn’t cruel. It does not destroy. On the contrary, any successful feedback system is built on empathy, on the idea that we are all in this together, that we understand your pain because we’ve experienced it ourselves.”
Ed Catmull

Be the difference you want to see in the world.