Tag Archives: emotional intelligence

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.

Anger = no training

14 Jan

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This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the protagonists …

Just recently, while staying at a friends house while they travelled, I had to wait for a new pool pump to be installed (the old one had broken down under warranty.)

Days went by and there was no communication from the company involved.

Meanwhile the pool was getting greener and the weather hotter.

My 12 year old son was waiting to have a swim but couldn’t because of the state of the pool.

I rang the company and spoke to the owner. She seemed quite cranky when i asked her what was happening to the pump.

After much to and fro-ing, the guy finally arrived to install the new (replacement) pump. As the guy was fitting it, he discovered another problem with a valve. He told me that he would ensure the owner of the business would call me re fitting the extra valve. By 11.00 am the following morning there had been no call so I rang them.

When I expressed my frustration, the owner lost her temper.

I told he that I wrote training packages on customer service, but she kept right on talking.

I said ‘but I’m the customer!’

She didn’t hear me but finished up by saying “we’ve gone out of our way for you.” She clearly hadn’t. She then hung the phone up and I was left feeling a little bit (not a lot) unhappy. Because I train in these areas I thought about how she must have felt. Stressed, unappreciated and just plain angry.

Dealing with difficult customers is something all business people need to do with the one aim of keeping the customer happy, because every angry customer tells another 10 people and so on.

Try this:

Depersonalise and strategise

Listen

Come up with solutions

Make a friend of an enemy …

and they will tell 10 people how great you are.

The issue is that many people in business don’t have any training in these areas.

They do take things personally.

Things go wrong. That’s natural.

But if you handle the situation calmly and strategically you make many friends.

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.

BAT CEO = CREATIVE + STRATEGIC

15 Nov

bat maskA young guy I know well has recently been appointed as CEO of a large not for profit organisation. He’s a very clever person and I have watched his career unfold.

When he was first appointed, I know he struggled as to how to be the CEO. He doesn’t wear suits. He’s not a fan of corporate speak. He’s a blend of creative and strategic. He’s an entrepreneur, a musician, a story teller but probably not an administrator.

He knows how to network and he does so at very senior levels. His passion for the good deeds and the clients his organisation serves are what makes this guy so compelling.

He utilises the media and has clear objectives for the publicity. Often it’s to inform policy makers on what’s happening ‘on the ground.’

But what astonished me is a video he sent me: BAT CEO

He filmed himself with a Bat Mask on going around the office enquiring how the team was going but in the gravelly, vigilante voice of the new BATMAN. The reactions of many of the staff was unmitigated glee at seeing their big boss being so light-hearted and well, damn funny.

It was a master stroke in my opinion as it disarmed and calmed while introducing a different mode of leadership.

It’s not always appropriate being BAT CEO. There are difficult strategies and difficult conversations leaders have to have but why not engender some fun.

Humour is a strategy in itself and it breaks all kinds of ice.

Here’s to BAT CEO. Long may he serve!

Percy Bysshe Shelley … Ode to a Control Freak

3 Nov

ImageI had an amusing english teacher at High School. He had a loud voice and a pompous manner. He liked to peer at the more rebellious among us and proclaim quite stentoriously ‘shut up son or I’ll belt you!’ And back then, he did and they could. Under this man’s iron fisted rule I learned about certain poets and poetry. The only poem that I can still recite is Ozymandius:

‘I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…’

The poet was that great pioneer of pop star literati poet loser Percy Shelley. He also wrote Ode to a Grecian Urn amongst other treasures. But Ozymandius has always fascinated me. A monumental king of kings > all gone, boom! Just a pile of dust.

Which brings me back to the blog. Control freaks. I kind of love them.

Just recently I was involved at a workplace. The minute I arrived and set up, a person was there, next to me.

Not to be at all sexist here, but it was a lady. A women. You know, the other sex.

She fixed me with her glaring gaze and started to let me know how things were done ‘around here.’ I nodded and smiled and occasionally muttered a phrase of complete understanding like ‘yeah sure.’ But I could see that she (who could have easily been a he) was lost somewhere. Maybe she was in the desert looking at the gigantic monument and trying to make out the visage. All I know is that she was on her own planet and i was only docking for a while.

Now, I’m experienced. I’ve been around the block a few times.

To be honest, I could have been a waiter at the last supper.

I’m skilled and reliable and people relate to me. When I teach they might not learn everything, but they have a good time, which makes for good learning. I use humour a lot to bring people back into the room and off their Iphones. It works for me. I get great feedback. All you have to do is tell me where and when, the topic/subject, any materials and leave me to it.

But this person, lets call them Ozzie had to control me. Why?

Well I thought about it later. What drives a control freak? Insecurity? A need for power? Recognition? Panic? Fear?

All of the above.

Control freaks should read some Shelley and start with Ozymandius.

‘I met a traveller from an antique land who said …’

Working with a genius

15 Sep

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I have worked for a couple of people who could be termed geniuses. They are unique in the business world and like fire, often can’t be tamed.

Geniuses are innovators who continually change whatever it is their doing in their business, even when it would appear to us normal people that things were going well.

Geniuses are restless and highly inspiring.

They can also be maddeningly difficult. They do things that drive the process driven among us quite crazy. They can be downright demanding and sometimes over critical. I believe that Picasso wasn’t easy going. Look at his eyes.

But geniuses change things. They also take risks that can be un calculated.

How do we manage a genius (we manage both up and down?)

Can we tailor our personalities and expectations so that the future will come and we won’t go crazy in the process?

In the presence of real genius we do just that. It takes time.

But don’t worry … there’s not many around.

The consultant’s bar … high energy, high empathy

4 Sep

Consultants barI work with a guy who enjoys a ‘big’ background in consulting. I often see him munching on a chocolate bar. We laugh about it. The Consultant’s Bar! High energy. High empathy.

Consultants often work on multiple projects. They need energy and focus as well as a knack of transposing themselves into different business environments and cultures.

Skilled consultants hit the ground running and understand what they need to do and who they need to consult with.

Like a researcher or investigative journalist, consultants go to the right people. These people are sometimes called Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) who are skilled in their particular fields. Those fields can be as different as engineering is to fashion design. As science is to fast food. As recruitment is to recreation.

  1. A consultant must first know who to go to.
  2. They must establish rapport as quickly as possible.
  3. Know what questions to ask.
  4. Keep the channels open

This takes preparation, empathy and listening skills.

Dr Samuel Johnson said “What doth please thee mightily, do strike out.” Forget pre-conceptions and gut feelings.

It’s lonely at the top

2 Sep

CEO’s, business owners and managers have to do a lot of things ‘in’ their jobs.

Leading is just one of them.

To be a leader a person must be someone that inspires people on a daily basis whilst taking care of business everyday. A quick nod to Elvis here!

Add to that the skill of acquiring a ‘helicopter view’ of the relevance of the products and services offered to the marketplace in a fast paced global environment.

A leader must understand his/her people and what makes them tick and possibly hardest of all … understand themselves. Almost Zen-like, this is known as mindfulness. It takes skill to master it, but once mastered it is the difference between real leaders and line managers.

Leaders build teams that perform. They inspire creativity and innovation even when it’s dangerous. Leaders look for better ways of doing things, building resilience and optimism.

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emotional intelligence

28 Jun

emotional intelligence

A drawing I did for my 11 year old son Max. Never too young to learn. Never too old for that matter.