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Working hard and not getting noticed

20 Dec

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When I was a kid you could buy a brand of bubble gum that had these silly signs on a cardboard plaques called ‘wacky placks.’ One of them I found quite amusing. It said Work fascinates me … I can sit and watch it for hours.

As I’ve weaved my way through so many workplaces I have worked alongside many amazing people who don’t get recognised for a whole lot of reasons. These people may not be the greatest communicators and they may not have ever had the skill to position themselves to get recognised but they still keep producing.

In their hearts they bow to anonymity.

They practice humility on a daily basis.

They fix things and get teams working.

But they’re hardly ever up at the rostrum or at the board room table.

Leaders … real leaders understand humility and no ego. They know what’s going on in their business. And more importantly they see who’s doing what.

Not everyone is a big talker who knows how to be noticed.

Take care of these people and surprise them with some thank you’s and pats on the back.

They are the engines that run your business.

Working with Gen wotever

30 Aug

dobell

Quite recently I have had the privilege of working with a team of Gen Y’s. I think that’s their gen name (as opposed to genome) anyway. Their a bit older than Charles Lloyd Jones in this William Dobell portrait. They’re younger than me anyway. 

We have been working on a huge and creative project – something I couldn’t do on my own. These gens have been working with me and I have been managing them and their output. 

And yes … it’s true, they do work differently. They are definitely not your old time bank clerk types. They have different clocks and they can drift off but never too far.

What I have enjoyed is telling them stuff. It’s creative and we do a lot of writing. I tell them about The Confederacy of Dunces and the Catcher in the Rye. About original writers who also wrote and thought about freedom and how it dwells in the mind a lot of the time.

I give them tasks and I check up on them with a ‘how’s it going?’ lame style of management. I don’t get too concerned when they wander off and they do from time to time but I do keep track on deadlines.

We get along fine and they are producing – and more often than not, they surprise me with their work.

So I say Gen wotever. Show people respect and listen to them. When you delegate tell stories and have a laugh. 

Oh yeah … and say thanks.

Often

it’s a mad mad mad world of metrics

12 Jul

harold lloyd

We all know about metrics. The back end of the internet. The analytics. The tracking mechanisms of sites. 

They come in all shapes too. Line graphs. Dials. Segments. Bar charts. 

And they are great and necessary. How else do we know ‘how we’re doing!’

This is about productivity and we all have to be productive don’t we? Work, work, work …

There’s no time in an asynchronous world to stop and think. 

Why would you do that? There’s stuff to do. People are restless and they want it NOW.

I’ve spent time in organisations where metrics are key drivers, and that is fine. But when dials and graphs are key drivers, then strategy can go out the window if there is weak and lazy leadership.

Strategy is of the utmost importance. It’s the beginning of innovations. It’s the way to do things differently and better.

The fast knee-jerk get this done now attitude is a band aid solution.

Metrics can freak poor managers/leaders out because these measures make them or their area look bad, so they rush to fix something and it sets an unrealistic pace where mistakes are made and people break down or worse – feel like galley slaves, rowing to the beat of a drum.

I’m all for measurements and monitoring because I like change. 

But don’t let it freak you out. Sit down and think about things. Come up with new ways of doing things.

Calm down

Avoiding Captain Queeg

5 Jul

The Caine Mutiny (1954)  Directed by Edward Dmytryk  Shown: Humphrey Bogart

The Caine Mutiny is a 1954 Oscar nominated movie starring Humphrey Bogart as an erratic US Navy disciplinarian posted to the U.S. Navy destroyer minesweeper, the USS Caine.

The crew is undisciplined but perform their duties well.

Bogart plays the role magnificently, depicting Queeg as a ball-bearing rolling paranoid sociopath with little self knowledge. He makes authoritarian decisions that have negative impacts on the vessel, crew and missions.

My past few blogs have been about putting up with bad leadership and management – focusing on the team and just plain ‘getting over it and on with it.’

Bad boss personality a fact

But this week an article was published around a Norwegian business school research project identifying that people with narcissistic personality disorder often assume leadership positions through their strength of personality, self confidence and willingness to make tough decisions. In fact these types are destructive and “don’t think twice about using others to achieve their own goals.”

It’s fair to say that not all human beings are high minded. People can act badly and unconscionably and hurt others in the blink of an eye. It’s a fact. There are also great people who lead and inspire. Who are open to innovation and creativity and work well with others.

Should you suffer under the stewardship of a Captain Queeg and hope that things will get better?

No.

Speak up. Move on and find a place where you can flourish and create.

Like cornered animals they will fight and manipulate with amazing ferocity.

Life’s too short.

resilience and taking it on the chin

14 Jun

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This is the Alcántara Bridge in Spain, built by the Roam Emperor Trajan between 104 and 106 AD. That’s almost 2200 years ago. It’s not modern engineering but it’s lasted. It’s prevailed. Can you imagine the hordes of people and animals and vehicles that have crossed it. The fights and battles. The life and death it has seen in that time.

The bridge has resilience built into it. That’s why it’s still here. It has strong foundations.

People at work work together. Sometimes they’re called teams. Teams support each other if they’re functioning. It’s a necessary element in all teams including sporting and in families. That’s nice isn’t it?

But guess what. S%$t happens (I censored that for you!)

But it does, even in the most highly functioning teams because people are people and we have moods, emotions, short comings. We’re not all nice all the time.

I heard about a man who was known as a man of god. That was his life. Doing good things for people who others shunned. He was also a boss. I heard that every morning he would walk into his offices and lose his block. He would systematically fire people and then an hour or so later re-hire them (or something like that.) This was devastating to his team of kind hearts and do gooders. But they stayed with him. Why?

Because they allowed him his childish behaviour because they recognised that he was angry and stressed. It wasn’t them.

It’s hard dealing with difficult people. But when you do and the sky doesn’t fall, then you build your understanding and resilience so the next time the boss loses it they know what to do. It’s called emotional intelligence.

Great teams have this resilience and it allows them to build trust and understanding one block of stone at a time.

The politics of great coffee

30 Jan

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My cousin is a coffee nut. She’s an aficionado. Coffee is important to her. She appreciates good coffee.

What I mean is, when she forks out between $3.50 – $4.50 for a takeaway coffee she hopes it’s going to be well made.

The problem is that you can count on your hand the number of places where the coffee is properly made. Where there’s a trained barista working the ‘piano.’ Where the taste and the blend, the colour and thickness of the froth are just as important as the silly leaf pattern.

She can be embarrassing too, this cousin of mine. It’s pretty confronting going to get a coffee with her. You know why? She speaks her mind. She tells them if the coffee is not up to her standards. She tells them and I back slowly away.

I’m tainted with that english politeness. Here in Australia, we were colonised by the British and that’s one of the hangovers. Politeness. We tend to seethe not speak up. We vote with our feet.

Is that good? NO.

Last week my cuz was in her local cafe (she lives out of Sydney.) She happened to compliment the young lady making the coffee. It was good. Up to her standards. The owner overheard this and exclaimed … ‘Oh. Coffee politics!’

No it’s not coffee politics at all. If you run a cafe, you make coffee. The coffee is supposed to be good at a cafe, hence the name … cafe.

Is it strange to expect your customers to not care about the coffee you serve?

Go on. Invest in your self, your staff.

Train them up. Give them the goal to make prize winning coffee. Make them proud!

And, get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat.

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Merry Christmas 2013

24 Dec

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas 2013 to all my clients, contacts, friends and family.

And not necessarily in that order.

Have a happy and safe Christmas.

Simon Rodie

Tech heads and other odd fish

13 Dec

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I’m the King of Content.

Well I self styled that one, but after working on advertising campaigns (above and below the line,) blogs, websites (static and interactive,) brochures, newsletters, flyers, trade stands and collateral, email marketing, social networking, training programs and lots in between … I think I am the King!

But I’m not a coder … yikes!

I’m a content planner and builder, creative director and project manager.

I’m also a talent scout.

I source artists & illustrators, graphics people, TV/Radio producers …

I also source web people. The people that code. They know HTML and CSS deeply, whereas I just know about it.

I need these people. And I need to get the work done.

Sometimes, but not always, these web people can be difficult. Why? could be a generational thing. Could be a time management thing. Could be a simple communications thing. Could be all of the above.

Here’s a scenario:

The project is lagging and lacking. The vision has not come together. I can’t get the person on the phone. I can’t get them via sms. I wonder should I go out on my balcony and call their name like Steve Martin did in The Lonely Guy.

Yes … they don’t always follow my timetable.

But when you get a good one it’s amazing.

Manage these people with tenderness and care.

Coach and mentor them.

Be understanding, bit not too understanding if you get my drift.

Got kids? You’ll know what I mean

Meet Dr NO

12 Dec

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When my son was a toddler my dear mother in law happened to mention that it was sad that little kids heard the word NO a lot of the time.

NO you can’t do that.

NO don’t be naughty.

NO. NO. NO.

Workplaces can be like that too.

Have you worked with a Dr NO? I know I have.

NO, too different.

NO, you can’t do that.

NO, NO, NO.

What makes a Dr NO?

Fear of change

Insecurity

Resentment

Risk aversion

All of the above. The only problem is that the world is changing. Industries are disappearing. Just this week our iconic car, the Holden, announced they were ceasing manufacturing here. Horror. All those people losing their jobs.

What will they do?

They’ll do something else.

Creativity is the enemy of Dr NO

Change is like Ju Jitsu … when you are attacked you step aside and push your attacker past. Going with the flow.

Scary but ultimately satisfying.

Hello SILO … you’d better be flexible!

3 Dec

ImageI work on many projects with many different organisations. Corporations, authorities, not for profits and small to medium businesses and I often find that I’m cast adrift between mountains of giant silos.

Silos form when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

I’m not casting aspersions (or aspidistras) at all the hard working people I interact with. I’m just making an observation. Silos form when people are rushing to meet change.

Change happens rapidly these days. Policies change, then procedures or ways of doing things. Regulations and laws change when governments change or government policy changes. Change happens when businesses are growing exponentially and new people are brought on board.

Silos also form when there’s a lack of communication across organisations, strategic business units (SBU’s) and teams.

Silos can also form when people don’t share.

Silos affect content developers too. We can be working away using some accepted template, or creating content in a suggested way and then … it’s not quite right.

Can this be a problem? Yes and no.

Clever consultants can pick a silo a milo off (sorry, it rhymed.)

Clever consultants communicate widely.

Clever consultants are flexible and don’t go into spasms of disappointment  and take things personally regarding their work.

My mum told me that a truly sane person has an ingrained ability to change their minds!

I tell my kid all the time, life is full of paradoxes … be flexible and open minded.

And smile a lot          : )