I Learned about Leading from – being led by fear!

“I could find plenty of excuses for failure, but only one reason.  I had not chosen the bolder course of action.  I had taken counsel of my fears,” Field Marshall Bill Slim

fearI am not terribly political, but one of the things that really nags me at the present time is my perception that so many of the decisions and policies made by today’s world leaders are based on fear.  Maybe it has always been like that and my consciousness of it has changed, but the scare-mongering and the drive to for protectionism and separatism I find upsetting and unnecessary and it gets me thinking if there is another way to lead.

Many of you will have heard about my journey over the last 5 years or so with my then mentor Hazel, then an insight from Aaron Turner, that gave me a massive epiphany and an immediate transformation of how I see the world and how I show up.  I love the title of the book from Jack Pransky: “Somebody should’ve told us!” which really echoed my own feelings at this time about how life could’ve been so different if only I had “got it” so many years earlier!

Since this time, when I look back on my two decades in corporate life, I can see that I too was consumed with fear and scarcity, and I used this unwittingly to guide me both in business (leadership) and my personal life.

Typical stories in my head during these years were: -

    • There’s not enough money
    • There’s not enough time
    • I haven’t got enough people
    • They won’t like me
    • They’ve got a bigger office than me
    • They’ve got a bigger team than me
    • They’ve got a nicer car than me

…and various other similar thoughts.  I guess the corporate “leadership” way I had learned was to ramp the targets up, shorten the timelines, set ambitious goals and keep the pressure on myself and the team to deliver and, very often we did just that.  I got a reputation for rapid turnaround and success and that way of working became a bit addictive……and stressful!  But what was the message from “on high” being received?  Surely it was one of fear, scarcity and perhaps, sometimes, greed?  Why do we need to exceed every other organisation and every product in the field?  Yes, I get that competition can be fun, but surely by definition, as soon as there’s competition there’s scarcity?  There’s only one first place after all!

Fast forward 10+ years post corporate life and I hear myself saying to people: “I used to live in fear and scarcity but no longer, now I live mostly in love and abundance!” …and to be honest, most of the time I believe this and some of the time it is true.  But one of the things I keep noticing is how this “fear and scarcity” thing keeps rearing its ugly head in different ways and at different levels of consciousness in my life and psyche.  I’m not too sure I’ve ever “lost it” at all, more that I’m chasing it out through layers and layers of consciousness and influence, but it keeps popping up in ever more subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways in all walks of my life.  Let me explain…

I had a call recently with my current mentor, George, and was explaining to him how well the business was going this year together with the current challenges of getting our two major new initiatives off the ground simultaneously.  George probed and probed to get to the heart of my issue and honed in on my impatience.  I held my hands up in surrender as I admitted that yes, I was frustrated, I had been on this journey in my head and everything was taking so much longer than I would have liked and “when, when, when” will it all happen!  George then asked me what the rush was and where did the timelines come from.  Of course, it was all self-imposed stuff, partly borne out of habit (and corporate training) and partly (mostly!) from my impatient desire to finally bring to reality things I have developed in my head over months and years.

George then went on to show me, from my own experiences, how things flow effortlessly when they are meant to be.  That, maybe, there’s a time for everything, and when that time comes the right people and right opportunities show up in a most miraculous way.  As someone once said to me “there’s only pressure when there’s resistance” and sometimes that resistance is when we actively try to bring things forward that are not meant to be, yet.  Can you imagine how much success we would have trying to bring winter forwards?  George’s encouragement was to calm down, settle my impatience and keep pointing in the right direction and see what unfolds, effortlessly.  The immediate thing that happened after this call was a surprise email the next day to positively impact one of the initiatives and also my calmer mind has given me further clarity about both.

Why am I writing this blog?  

One of my reasons is to share my story so you can see that we humans all have similar experiences and thoughts, and all get caught up in believing that they are true.  Maybe we all are led by fear at certain times and love at others.  Maybe it is simply a balance thing.  Maybe it’s worth taking time to realise how our thinking makes things so.

With our consciousness of our self-created reality, from either impatience or blind acceptance of someone else’s desires, we can hopefully calm the snow globe of our mind and get into flow.  When we are calm and connected then we can watch, almost in independent observation, to how things collide and create the impossible in front of our eyes.

Thinking this is impossible?  Just look back at your greatest successes in life over the past 2-3 years.  How difficult did they feel at the time?  What “coincidences” conspired to help?  What happened to help that you could not have predicted and was not in your plan?

The key, for me, is to have a calm mind and be able to hear my wisdom and not the noise of my thinking.  Through this quiet inner wisdom we can always see the obvious path being presented to us at any one time.  It is ALWAYS there.  When I follow this, life feels effortless and flowing and the success that’s delivered can be positively overwhelming.  Yes it does take a leap of faith and most that I meet will never be prepared to take that, but for those that do the rewards in all aspects of their life can be truly miraculous and there is simply nothing better for me than helping people to see this alternative way and then share in their incredible success as their own walls that hold them back come tumbling down.  And do you know what?  There IS enough money, today.  There IS enough time, today.  There are enough people, to do what we need to do, today.  They DO like me….and the other 3 no longer concern me!  And as today is all we have, then that’s all fine and we can let tomorrow take care of itself.

Finally, let’s go back to that quote….

“I could find plenty of excuses for failure, but only one reason.  I had not chosen the bolder course of action.  I had taken counsel of my fears”, Field Marshall Bill Slim

…. surely there was rarely a better insight in how to lead our self, our team(s) and our business.  I cannot do anything about the world leaders, but I can change my own consciousness and behaviour.  After all, iTS Leadership!

~Antony Tinker

unhappy person

I learned about Leading from…THOSE moments!

We all have them, don’t we?  You know, those “moments” when things just don’t seem to work the way they should.  When people don’t give you what you need (or deserve!).  When that next big thing doesn’t come along when it’s supposed to.  When there’s not enough money.  When there’s just too much to do.

Those moments!

Sometimes these moments last a few minutes or even hours.  Other times they can last days, weeks, months even and sadly, for some, even years.  I have them too.  We are human, it’s in our nature.

The thing is, it’s all too easy for us to blame others, blame circumstances and blame environments (“it’s just how it is around here”) but the truth is we only ever experience our thinking of these things and not the things themselves.  Think about it (excuse the pun!), one day you look at something or someone in a low mood and think that it’s all awful, and the next day, through different eyes, you see them as wonderful.  I am reminded, as I write this, of the film “A Wonderful Life” and how James Stewart has a new appreciation of life and even the knob on the end of his bannister that keeps falling off, after his enlightening experiences with “Gabriel”.

We are all born with mental well-being deep within us and it is always there for us to access, we just have to get out of our own way and not get lost in our own thinking.

“But you can’t tell me that is not happening!”  “You’re not telling me she isn’t acting that way, because she is!”  “But I really don’t have enough money!”  These are the words I hear so frequently from people I work with (and even myself) …and yes, they are right.  These things ARE happening, and I am not denying that…but we do not experience these things we only experience our THINKING of these things and then we react…and here’s the crunch…when we react, we start to physically manifest the exact thing that we moan about, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly.  We may not always be able to see how we do this, but we do.  If every time the dog barks we hit the dog, we are hardly going to have a happy quiet dog are we!

If we have a friend who has low energy, maybe because they are not feeling so well at the moment, who says one or two things that upset us, we have a choice of whether to react or respond.  If we react, we might snap back at them. In our mind we think “they don’t like me anymore.  They’re always having a go at me” ….and with our reaction we push them even further away.  How would you like to be with someone who acts the way we did?  Alternatively, when we respond, we acknowledge we don’t know everything going on for them at this moment and they are probably doing the best they can with the consciousness they have.  We fall into compassion, appreciate them for the good that they do, and respond with warmth and humanity.  Imagine what impact this response has both in the moment and further the down the track of life.

“But how do I get there?”

…is the most common next response I get.  The best advice I can give is this.

    1. Acknowledge and see, really see, that we only ever experience our thinking of everything and not the things themselves. It’s what our thinking, that voice in our head, says about everything that we listen to and then believe because it feels real…. but it isn’t!  It’s a story in our head
    2. Then, do nothing! … and this is where we go wrong.  We are a self-correcting mechanism and when we do nothing, we self-correct.  When we “try” to do something then we are once again listening to our thinking and reacting to it…this is heading in the wrong direction.  Let it go, just be yourself, in the moment, and see what unfolds.  You might be surprised.

And, finally… don’t beat yourself up!  However good we get at this stuff, we are just human, and we all slip.  I do too, and hopefully, like me, you have friends who can nudge you back on track…and if not, just give me a call.

After all, iTS Leadership.

~Antony Tinker

freedom

Exploring True Freedom

Hope you’re all having a wonderful week.

I read a book a couple of months back (well, truth is I listened to it whilst gardening!) and one of the phrases that keeps coming back to me time and time again is this: “the true freedom we all seek is freedom from our self.”  I recall pausing the recording and pausing my gardening work and thinking “wow!” although not entirely sure I grasped the full meaning.  If I’m honest I’m not entirely sure I get it all now!!!  But this blog is an attempt to get my head around it.

What is interesting immediately is I just wrote “ourself” above and it had a red squiggly line under it, so I clicked and it changed it to “our self”.  Yes!!!  That’ a massive definition change.  Why?  Because, to me, ‘ourself’ sounds like us, our complete being, whereas “our self” almost implies there is a, or some, bits of us the operate independently of each other, which I know to be true.  So freedom from our “self” means to be free from the influence and interference from this part of us.

Which begs the question: what is our “self”?

On the one hand we could argue that our “self” is that voice inside our head that is constantly talking, nagging, arguing with us and giving us good, and sometimes poor, advice.  When we realise that “we are not the voice inside our head, we are simply the one who hears it” then we can listen to it and then decide if we wish to follow its lead or not.  I think this is a really good first step to being free from our “self.”  In fact, this level of consciousness can free us from bad habits, addiction, insecurities and even acting in the heat of the moment (which, in my experience, rarely leads to the most favourable result!)

So what else could our “self” be?

I think there’s something about “ego” here, is there not?  If I consider freedom from ego, then that feels like freedom from the need to be loved, the need to be right, the need to be the best, the need to be the solution, the need to be “the one”, the leader, the boss, the most gorgeous, the best paid and to have status and possessions and attachments to prove it.  When I consider the greatest world leaders of the last decade, there is often (if not always) something beyond their “self” that drives them and keeps them focused.  Think Gandhi, Mandela, Mother Theresa, Dalai Lama….  Sadly, I cannot say that about most of today’s world leaders who seem uniquely focused on their “self” and their own interests (I don’t think I have to name these ones!)

Which asks: “how can we be free from our ego?”

arches-national-park-dark-dusk-33688As I sit here writing, I believe our ego is simply a collection of our insecure “thoughts” which we care to pay attention to.  Like all “thoughts” they are not reality, just a figment of our imagination, and as such we don’t have to pay attention…but if we do “observe” them then this can be quite amusing for as long as we are detached from them (isn’t this “freedom”?).  When we come to realise that there is a Universal Energy (or “Mind” in 3P’s language) that connects us all and creates order and balance in the world, and when we choose to trust this and go with this energy rather than fight against it knowing that it will all work out, then my experience is that I start to see and feel beyond me.  When I am in this space, the intensity of connection with others, the space created for others to shift and the personal insights and success created are simply out of this world and usually “effortless”.

Are “Self”, “ego” and “our thinking” the same thing?  Most probably yes…simply “thought”, and let’s not be fooled as it appears so very real!

A challenge for us all:- let’s try to transcend our “self” today and see what shifts that creates for us and others we interact with.  Let us each try to be conscious of the voice inside our head, our thoughts and our ego and then simply ignore it (or laugh at it if you wish) and each have a deep sense of “everything happens for a reason” and “it will be OK”….and see what happens.

I would love to hear you reflections on this blog and also tomorrow (or later today) hear back from each of you as to what you actually experience when you have “freedom from your self

Have a magical day

Antony

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 15.32.28

I learned about Leading from….THAT song!

As many of you know I love cooking and I love music, so when I get the chance to be in our kitchen, put the songs on a playlist and cook a meal for the family I am really happy and just in my element.  I am ME!

One night last week, on one such occasions, some of the songs from The Greatest Showman came on and, with one of the songs, probably for the first time (even though I’ve heard the song hundreds of times) I was drawn to the lyrics.

For those of you who don’t know the story, the film is about a man who I guess had an inferiority complex from early life and went out to constantly prove he was worthy and could achieve anything anyone else could.  As he progressed up the food chain he mixed in different circles and enjoyed the luxuries that come with such success.  All seemed wonderful…and then, as you might expect, everything came crashing down around him.  What he then found was that many of his new “friends” disappeared and it was the old ones and his family that he’d dismissed or largely forgotten about who helped to pick him up and put him back on his feet.

The song lyrics go:-

I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
Blow cold
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
‘Cause from then, rubble
One remains
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
Is more I gain
‘Cause it led me back
To you

From now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
Tonight
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on

I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for

And from now on…etc…etc.

In life it is so easy to get trapped on a treadmill, aiming to get higher and higher to obtain greater status, more influence, bigger teams, larger budgets and more power.  Many of us (and I include myself here) look around us and see what everyone else is doing and think that’s the way we should behave and so follow suit.  There are also those talent and development discussions that focus us on what our next career goals and aspirations should be.  Back then I found myself travelling more and more, was away on business for about 4 nights a week and was shattered and irritable when then around my family.

Thankfully, one day, I was shaken back to “what’s this all for?” when my then 9 year old son (now 20) asked me a simple question and so began a journey to finally do what I wanted to do….the start of really being myself.

So what’s the point of this blog?  My own experience and that of many of those whom I work with is that often we find ourselves doing the things we think others expect of us.  Sometimes that’s because everyone else is doing it, it’s the “norm”, and sometimes it’s because a boss has suggested it to us.  My challenge today is for us all to stop and think about our goals and aspirations and ask yourself if you are being truly authentic; Is this me?  What am I really doing this for?  When we are fully ourselves, fully authentic, then life becomes really fun and somehow effortless.  There is a freedom and energy about it that is magical.  There’s nothing wrong with climbing such ladders, as long as we are not sacrificing ourselves for it.

This week, why not spend a few minutes to consider “am I chasing someone else’s dream?” and “am I clear what this is all for?”

We’d be happy to pick up this conversation with you…just give me a call.  Authenticity is one of THE 4 pillars of LEADership (Listening, Energy, Authenticity, Direction)…the impact on self and others when being authentic is simply magical.

Am I chasing someone else's dream?

Am I chasing someone else’s dream?

I drank champagne with Kings and Queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for

 

After all, iTS Leadership!

Warmly

Antony

deadline

I learned about Leading from – the challenge of this busy week

This week I have carved out the opportunity to do two pre-work weight circuits before I start work and have been fascinated by the feelings and then the inner-talk that goes on.  You see, it’s been a very busy week with some really tight deadlines on some big pieces of work, that have required focus and creativity from many of the team and particularly, this week, me too.

I know instinctively that physical health is super important for us in the long run, way beyond our working life, and I also know from experience that when I am physically in shape, then my work performance (as well as every walk of my life) is so much better than when not.  And yet, on a week like this week, why oh why can I feel so guilty at spending 60-90 minutes focused on my physical health just because I have a mountain of work to do?

This is the kind of narrative that goes on inside my head:-

  • You’ve got so much work to do you know, have you got time for this?
  • But I’ll do it better if I have done a workout.  I’ll feel better and clearer about everything.
  • Yes but with the shower after etc that’s and extra 2 hours you could spend on work, have you got the time?
  • But in the long run this is more important than work
  • But if you upset the clients and are late on delivery they won’t work with you anymore
  • Yes but the work quality will be better if I am physically fit
  • Etc. etc.

Sometimes I am there, half way through my session feeling guilty at the time it is taking.  In reality this is also at a time when, if I wasn’t doing it, i  would still be in bed!  Crazy!  ..and as one person once said “we are not the voice inside our heads….we are the ones listening to it!”

Listen.  Our physical and mental health are THE MOST IMPORTANT things for us all to have a happy and successful life and to have the most profound impact on those we love and care about.  They should come first for all of us, be prioritised in our schedules and not “squeezed in’ and around our “busyness”.  The crazy thing is, it is at the times when we usually postpone and cancel these things that we need them the most!  We feel they are “luxuries” when the truth is they are the foundations.  But I’m a realist and as you can see this is not always how I do it either.  (My mum always used to say “don’t do as I do, do as I say!” – I’ll follow suit!)

This week, this busy week, one of my team sent me a note part way through the day to say “I’m off to the gym to clear my head before I tackle the next one”.  This seriously delighted me.  I smiled.  I beamed.  …and I also thought…how courageous would I have been to do this in my corporate life?  Even though I know it is probably the very best way to get the best results?

So…..September…all the kids now back to school and the bigger kids are soon to go back to University as another academic year begins.  People are challenged at what they want to achieve and are reminded of the big goals at the end of the year (10+, 11+, GCSE, A levels, Degree etc etc).  I want to challenge you…

  • What do YOU want to achieve in this next “term” with your physical and mental well-being?
  • How are you going to prioritise these?
  • What are your “golf balls” that are going into your jug first? (watch this:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqGRnlXplx0)
  • What are you prepared to sacrifice and what’s the impact of that?

Myself and the iTS Leadership team are here to support you.  We love helping people become the happiest and most successful that they’ve ever been, having more fun being themselves than ever before.  Put your mental and physical well-being first and EVERYONE around you will benefit.

After all, iTS Leadership

Have a great weekend

Antony

 

I learned about leading from…that sign on the lorry

Recently, on my travels around the lovely M25(!) I keep seeing the same sign on the back and side of lorries “Blind Spot – take care”….and every time I see it I smile as it seems to me to be a great warning to all of us in leadership roles if not in life!  You see, every single one of us has “blind spots” that exist for a variety of reasons, be it..

  • Lack of experience
  • Lack of training
  • Too focused on our own beliefs and ideals to listen to others point of view

blind-spotAt iTS Leadership we know that the number one skill to success as a leader is our listening.  The truth of the matter is that thinking and listening are mutually exclusive – we CANNOT think and listen at the same time – and when we are so entrenched in our own thoughts and opinions about things, we switch off our listening to others perspectives as we start to create our counter arguments as soon as we hear what we don’t agree with…thus our “thinking” kicks in and our listening switches off.  This very human behaviour creates real blind spots for all of us, but we can overcome this with awareness of just how busy our thinking is, especially when we are trying to listen to our teams, colleagues and customers.

So when you next see the sign “Blind Spot – Take Care” let this be a reminder to keep your noisy “thinking” in check and allow your “listening” to be clear and then, notice the deeper connection you get with others and the greater impact you achieve.

After all, iTS Leadership!

~Author: Antony Tinker

I learned about leading from: that Bale’s post-match comments

540px-Gareth_Bale_2015_(9)What a Champions League final Gareth Bale had.  He scored an amazing goal to open, quickly followed it with a second, had an incredible impact, and earned his 4thChampions League Winners medal.  What followed were wonderful comments and accolades from all commentators, he found himself in the centre of the spotlight on the biggest stage, and yet Gareth Bale states almost immediately after the game that he would be having talks with his agent about his future and since then the sports press has been filled with articles about him moving back to the Premier League or to the Bundesliga in Germany.  This is clearly not about hygiene factors such as money, it appears to be about his desire to play.

It would seem that in spite of everything that Gareth Bale has at Real Madrid, his deepest and central motivation, playing as much football as he can is not being met and he is prepared to move elsewhere to find it.  Now, let’s be honest, Gareth Bale exercises his freedom to choose from a position of security that many of us will never know and he is hardly likely to find himself without any suitors but his comments did get me thinking about leaders looking after their team and their team members.

3 ELEMENTSAs you know, we at iTS-Leadership Ltd emphasise the importance of understanding and then balancing the relationship between Me (the individual), Us (the Team) and It (the culture, vision and outputs).  It is represented as a Venn diagram and if you have everything in balance, you find yourself in the sweet spot in the centre and all will run effortlessly.  It is not about pandering to egos (that takes you too far into the Me circle) nor is it being too task focused (as that drags you into the ‘It’ circle) and nor is it over emphasising the team element.  It is about balance.  There will be times when you have to be task focused, or, you have to ask an individual to “take one for the team” and so on – that is what you as a leader must do but, and here is the trick, it is important that you recognise when you are always asking them to take one for the team, or, always pandering to their individual needs, the relationship gets out of balance. You overinvest in one circle by overdrawing in the others and if you do restore the credit balance in those that you have ignored (possibly for good reason) then your organisation loses its shape and performance dips or your best players leave.

By leaving Bale on the bench for the past few weeks and especially at the start of this Champions League Final, Zidane has overdrawn on Bale’s Me account to feed the Us account to such an extent that Bale believes that the balance will not be restored.  As leaders, we need to remain aware of where we are spending our Me, Us and It credits and continually restore the balance. So, stop your best players from talking to their agents by balancing the three occasionally competing but always complementary demands.  After all, iTS Leadership.

~Author: Tim Sandiford

presenters

I learned about leading from: that presentation

A couple of weeks ago I had the wonderful experience of attending a great executive programme at a rather famous business school.  I was blown away by the quality of many of the delegates with all they had achieved with their businesses and I felt quite humble in their presence.  The discussions and insights we got were great and very helpful, but two of the academic teaching team had a massive impact on us all…

“We want to learn how to have IMPACT”

This is one of the most common things we hear from so many of the individuals and teams that we work with.  They want to learn how to be heard, how to get their message across in a way that resonates and sticks.  If you are one of those, then read on…..

The first of these two waltzed in with an air of familiarity about her being.  She started her lecture in a way I can only describe as “here we go again”.  In her opening she said “I know a few of you here are business owners” to which we all looked at each other, as the qualification to attend this course was that you owned your own business!  Then she started using slides and the programme title on the bottom of each slide was for a programme (for another organisation) the previous week!!  The session continued with her going about her talk without really listening to any answers to her questions, answering every question she was posed with “I’ll come to that later” (and then didn’t) and with a level of complacency we really were not expecting.  She had indeed created an impact as the subsequent delegate scores and feedback demonstrated, but sadly these memories will forever tarnish some potentially useful lessons in what she spoke about.

The very next Professor started in a different way.  He was in the lecture theatre early and greeted each delegate with a big smile and handshake and introduced himself on first name terms as we entered after coffee.  He gave us a huge welcome, told us what he was going to talk about and how it would be relevant to running our own businesses.  Then he did something I’ve not seen before…

  • “who are the two people that run car dealerships?”
  • “where are the three jewellers?”
  • “and the 5 from family businesses?” etc…

It was clear that this guy had done his homework.  He had looked through all our bio’s and understood his audience.  Throughout his double session he extracted learnings relevant to our positions and to different businesses and geographies present in the room.  He had us captivated.  We all made so many notes and the discussions for the rest of the week almost always included his insights.  He too had made an impact and his scores were very different.

…know your audience and…speak in THEIR language

This experience got me thinking that one important lesson in having positive impact is to really know your audience and remember to speak in THEIR language and make things relevant to them.  These days my kids speak to one another and sometimes to me in a language I do not understand.  I also have failed to comprehend the lyrics to some of their favourite songs!  If I was to do a session with a group of them it might be good for me to swat up on some of these phrases and incorporate them.  The point is, when we simply make it easy for our audience to understand and use the information we are giving them then they will thank us for it.  This is especially true when we are talking about things that we often talk about to different groups…be mindful of complacency and check the slides!

Good luck and have some great impact!  After all, iTS Leadership!

~Author: Antony Tinker
beach-eyewear-macro-51378

WHAT A WEEKEND!

Last weekend!  An absolute scorcher, the hottest Bank Holiday weekend since records began and like so many others, I made sure that I enjoyed the sunshine, had some time with the family and generally relaxed.  Well, generally relaxed, except for the 90 minutes during which my football team, Stoke City, managed to get themselves relegated from the Premiership.  They moved from a position of providing hope of survival (false hope as it turned out) to a position where not only did they become the first team to be relegated but also planted themselves firmly at the foot of the table.

This day has been coming for a while and now that relegation is confirmed a few things that many supporters had suspected are being openly discussed.  One area that two players have now spoken about is how many players were farmed out overseas on loan in spite of the large transfer fees they had commanded and that the Premier League 25 man squad contained players who were not making a meaningful contribution.  One of them declared that 4 or 5 players had been “getting away with murder for a long time” and further added that some were “conning themselves, their teammates and the club.”  The Chairman and Board members have also released a fulsome and heartfelt statement in which they noted that:

“we lost some of the core values that have served us so well [and] we need to regain our identity and focus over the summer.”

And there you have it – a perfect illustration of the importance of the three elements of great team-working and performance that we at iTS-Leadership are so passionate about.

We summarise them as ME, US and IT :

  • ME – Knowing our own truth and being honest with ourselves as a means to finding greater clarity, sharper focus and more control.  The 20% of Stoke’s players who were conning themselves clearly did not know their own truth.
  • US – Teams are built on a foundation of trust that comes from credibility, reliability and honesty within a safe and secure environment and is often destroyed by self-interest or ego.  If players were “getting away with murder” and “conning their teammates and the club”, trust and selflessness could not truly exist.  Self-interest was winning the day.
  • IT – Success in execution comes from the traction that is found in clarity, alignment and a unifying culture that is lived by everybody at all times.  By losing sight of their core values, and their focus and identity, Stoke City lost the ingredients that had made them a team and had served them so well when facing difficult and challenging times in the past.

If only they had called me!!

Oh well, I suppose I now have the excitement of a promotion push to entertain me.  C’mon Stoke!!!

If you are drifting towards relegation or beginning to lose your way, feel free to contact one of us to see what we can do for you.  After all, iTS Leadership

~Author: Tim Sandiford

Creating a new and inspirational learning culture through the introduction of AAR

BACKGROUND

iTS_Logo_Black_Pant376Our client, the UKI affiliate of a multi-national healthcare organisation, wanted to create a new culture of continuous learning which they realised was needed to address customer needs in todays ever changing  healthcare market. Against a backdrop of increasing complexity and downward cost pressures, new ways of working were certainly required in order to be successful and the best way to achieve this was to embed continuous and versatile learning to create much greater agility and responsiveness that would make them THE respected, trusted and chosen partner of their customers.

This organisation is a strong matrix corporation with global business units (verticals) supported by functions (horizontals) on a local and regional basis. They adopted the After Action Review (AAR) as a means to ensure that they learned from both their regional experiences in one business unit or function, as well as sharing this learning across the whole organisation for greater application and utility.

AAR is a simple process used by teams to capture the lessons learned from past successes and failures, with the goal of improving future performance. The attraction of AAR to this Company was the simplicity of the process and the speed with which the transfer of learning could be achieved.

An AAR requires a trained facilitator, ideally one not involved in the event under review, who takes the group through the process and very importantly, holds the group to account for several ground rules.  Often the most challenging is to ensure that the focus of the review is about learning within a safe environment where there is no blame laid at anyone’s door nor any comeback if something has fallen short of expectations.  To overcome this, the Company ensured that the UK Leadership Team were among those first trained as facilitators, both improving their understanding and demonstrating their commitment to the process.

ACTION

In order to truly embed this powerful learning tool across the Company, they decided to conduct AAR cascade training across the local organisation.  In addition to the 32 facilitators that were trained, a further less intensive employee programme was developed so that each employee should be an AAR ambassador and able to conduct an AAR simply and informally as part of their everyday business.  If an event or project was more complex or significant, then one of the trained facilitators could be called upon.  It was important that people knew not only how to call for an AAR but also when to call one and how to behave during one.

In total over 250 people have been trained in the AAR process so far in the UK, within this Company.

RESULT

This Company now has a Sharepoint that all UK employees can access which records the key learnings of AAR’s.  Learnings are kept succinct and so are quickly and easily identifiable.  All major projects have an AAR after every key milestone and at the end of the project.   The AAR process has now attracted attention from Europe and UK facilitators have already been asked to run sessions outside the UK as it is deemed such a great process and supports several of the global core values and competencies.

Employees who have participated in AAR’s report that they are encouraged by how effective AAR is.  They know they can be honest without fear of blame and recognise that the purpose is for this Company to learn from events that went well and those that went less well.  They see how the process makes them more effective as an organisation as a whole and move faster to implement beneficial changes.  It is still early days in the implementation of AAR but they see its potential having a really positive impact on their customers and the level of service and partnership they provide.  They also see it brings opportunities to employees for their own personal development, particularly around constructive challenge and a continuous improvement mindset.  Rather than walking away from problems, their culture is now to walk towards them.