All posts by Julie

An office party

Why we should play more in business

Sadly, unless you are very lucky, everyone is going to have to work for a living.

Now, work is often viewed as a necessary evil, something to endure rather than enjoy (it’s even evident in my opening line!), but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Your business doesn’t always have to be all work and no play, in fact if it is you may be missing a trick. If work is more fun, more will actually get done!

The Human Touch

Leadership is about people, and that goes both ways.

Not only do you have to view your team as real human beings (because they are), they also have to see you as one!

No one wants to be the big scary boss who people are too scared to talk to.

It’s about allowing yourself to be exactly that, yourself, rather than the person you think you should be. And if you’re anything like me, the real you wants to have a laugh and enjoy going to work every day.

And guess what, it’s the same for everyone else too!

I remember when I was a police officer, I had a boss who was not into laughter. She wanted us to “get on with it!” and not to be seen chatting or singing or messing around, so to speak. 

But that was where I am the team thrived – releasing pressure, creating fun and therefore enjoying our job, that was often difficult and depressing.

So, as a leader, if you allow your team to see that human side of you, whilst expressing their own, your workplace if going to be a much nicer place to be.

When people feel like they can let loose a little and be themselves, this opens up the door for more playfulness and, in turn, creativity and productivity.

And of course, that means a better business.

I mean who doesn’t want that?

The Proof

But you don’t just have to take my word for it, there have been studies too!

Studies like the one published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour that found a link between informal learning and fun.

This means that a good atmosphere will create a better learning environment meaning people will pick up skills better, thus improving job performance

So, if work is personable and fun, you are opening the door for your team to get more creative in trying new things and worrying less about mistakes (something that can hold them, and the business back!).

The Myth

Sadly, there seems to be this horrible idea surrounding work, that having fun and being able to play around with work and business is somehow a distraction.

I think it’s time that narrative shifted to the 21st century, in which this has been proven not only untrue but, in fact, the complete reverse of the reality!

Fun breeds optimism (no surprises there), but it also helps improve resilience and attention, not to mention bring people together!

The more collaborative an environment is the faster people are likely to learn too.

It’s really like one big domino effect. Create a playful environment in work and you knock down issues like stress, lack of productivity, lack of creativity and poor engagement.

Come As You Are

You know that whole American thing of ‘Bring Your Child to Work’ days, well I’m not suggesting that by any means, but maybe we could tweak it a little.

How about, ‘Bring Yourself to Work’?

And why limit it to just one day?

Bring yourself (your real self) to work every day!

It’s far less hassle than bringing a child or, for that matter, bringing in that act of whatever you feel a “leader” should act like!

Remember, you are a leader, whether you like it or not so the way a leader acts is as simple as how you choose to act.

And by bringing yourself you are also bringing along opportunity.

The opportunity to:

  • Form better relationships – meaning better growth and more success.
  • Build a strong social network – meaning better team performance and more fulfilled employees.
  • Bring in personality, both when you speak, but also into how you listen to and engage with your team

But How?

If that hasn’t been the case in a business for some time, it can feel a bit odd to suddenly bring fun and laughter, or your human side into the business.

People might find it strange if they are being asked to be more themselves, or feel uncomfortable, as might you.

But persevere and you will create a new norm.

You will start to find that behaviour breeds behaviour, and that people will feel more comfortable if they feel it is safe to be themselves.

If you think this makes sense to you but are not sure how to bring that back into your team (without having to resort to team building days and jumping off logs etc) then give me a call.

If you fancy having a little fun with your team, get in touch at julie@thinkbedoleadership.com and we can have a play and see what we can do! Or check in with what I have been up to recently here.

juggling skateboarder

Are you Getting In Your Own Way?

Being a Manager is hard! You are always getting in your own way. You see, being a business owner who wants to grow means being not only a manager but also a leader (as well as many other hats).  And that is like juggling jelly, whilst on a skateboard rolling downhill, and hosting a talk show at the same time.  Trust me – I know. 

But unlike the jelly juggling skateboarder – it IS actually possible. Unless you are getting in your own way, of course.

Let’s look at how you might be getting in your own way

Leadership is about setting the vision. It’s about you – or the vision – or both, being so inspiring that people believe they can achieve whatever goals are set and come out as winners.  They mirror your behaviour.  Here’s where you can clearly see the first hurdle.

If, as a Leader, you say one thing but do another – then people will follow what you do not what you say.  And here’s the irony.  Because – as the Leader, you might work late into the evening which nobody sees – because they have all gone home, or they are working from home.  But if you are 5 minutes “late” in the morning, that sets the wrong tone.  Especially if you are also ‘the manager’.

The Manager is the one that sets the standards, monitors the activity, and passes down the goals and practical steps that are needed to achieve the vision.  They may or may not be inspiring, but they are there to make sure that things get done.

It is hard to be both a manager and a leader. 

The skill sets required of those two roles are quite disparate, and you may find yourself more naturally in one role than another.  Which role are you not as strong in? That will be where you are getting in your own way.

The Good Leader

If you are a good leader but a poor manager then you will find that your team loves being around you, they find you motivating and empathic.  You have time for them, and you make them feel invincible. 

But if you are not managing them correctly you will find them going down the wrong path. They don’t have the skills they need, or they don’t understand the ‘rules’ or where their authority starts or stops.  They don’t meet deadlines but they are full of great ideas.

The Good Manager

If you are a good manager, then things will be done as you direct.  You are in charge of the ship.  But if you are not a good leader, you will find yourself working harder and harder, having to think of all the ideas yourself, having no one that steps up to take some of the load.

If you are a good leader and notice that your team is not doing as well as they should, you will probably feel guilty – you have asked them to do stuff but haven’t trained them or shown them how to.  Maybe they are capable you think, and you shouldn’t have asked them.  So you start taking things back from them and doing more yourself.

If you are a good manager,  but not a great leader, you might find yourself wanting to control everything (after all that is a manager’s job) but taking it too far.  You may feel let down by the team’s lack of initiative and therefore take on more and more of the hands-on job yourself.

In both these scenarios, the end is the same.  You are working too hard.  You are doing stuff you shouldn’t be doing as the manager and/or leader of your business.  And you are NOT doing your job.  You are not being strategic, thinking about the future, the solutions that you need to find because you are too blooming busy doing the do.

Your business can’t grow until you grow.

As a result, the business can’t move forward.  It can’t grow, and not only that, you cant even take a day off because everything would fall apart if you weren’t there.  Well, maybe you CAN take a single day off, but a holiday?  Without constantly being on your phone or laptop?  Not a chance. 

Henry Ford, amongst others, has been attributed as saying

“If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done, You’ll Always Get What You’ve Always Got.”

Henry Ford and others

And what does that actually mean?

Well, it means – if you want things to be different you have to change them.  And that means changing you first.  You can’t just dictate that your team must do things differently from now on if you manage or lead in exactly the same way.  If you do, then in a week, or a month or 6 months time, nothing will have changed. 

Don’t be like a 1960’s parent saying

“Don’t’ do what I do, do what I tell you”. 

Your Grandparents, possibly…

It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. 

If you’d like to know how to (metaphorically) juggle jelly whilst skateboarding downhill hosting a talk show – drop me an email at julie@thinkbedoleadership.com.  It’s a great subject for a virtual coffee! 

_____________________________________________________________________

Team On Fire Lightbulb

Is Your Team On Fire?

Is your team on fire?

You better hope they are – because it is the only way you can succeed at growing your business.

But hey, maybe you don’t want to grow?  Maybe you do want to grow but you are struggling to make it happen. 

What I commonly hear is that the business owner wants to grow.  They have a plan.  They are able to create a bit of momentum, and things start to improve. But then after a certain period of time, it all falls down and things are back to square one.  Or worse!

Why does this happen?

Generally, it comes down to one thing.  Your team are not on fire.  And that means – you haven’t set them on fire. You haven’t trained them, prepared them, motivated them, and given them the tools, skills, and authority they need to truly be on fire. They just are not a “team on fire”.

There are two very common scenarios when it comes down to a failure to grow. 

2 Reasons Your Business Won’t Grow

In the first scenario, something great happens – perhaps an unexpectedly large order comes in, a slew of new customers are won, a product or service excites your market and suddenly things get a lot busier than they were before. 

In situations like this, there’s a tendency to hire the first person/people who look like they can do the job. What happens next is an abdication of responsibility to those people that they are actually not capable of handling.  Or you hire people to handle the new work and promote someone to manage those people. But you haven’t really thought through what training or support they might need to suddenly become a leader in your business.

It’s a very different set of skills that are required to manage a team, than to be a technical specialist. Not everyone can make that move successfully, and they certainly won’t if you don’t have support, training and coaching in place to help.

Or the above 2 scenarios happen – you DO have people with the skills and experience to step up into leadership roles. Fabulous. BUT you just can’t stop yourself from interfering in everything, trying to control the smallest part of the process and generally ‘being in charge’. 

So, you totally disempower them. So instead of being excited and motivated by this opportunity, they are too afraid to make a decision, too frightened of your criticism to put forward an idea. Often they are too demotivated to even show up.

And here’s the thing.  You probably don’t even know that you are doing it.  You may genuinely think you are giving them the responsibility they can handle without realising it’s too much – or too little.  If you find yourself fighting fires all the time, then it is probably the former.  And if you are way too busy in the technical business of your business – then it is definitely the latter. 

But you need to sort it out.  Because the truth is – your business will never grow until your team is on fire. 

What Does A Team On Fire Look Like?

What I describe as a team on fire – is one where they are stepping up, asking for and taking on more responsibility. And that is allowing you to step back from the coal face and be more strategic.  This team will not come to you with problems – only with solutions.  They will innovate and think of new ways of working that you would never have thought of.  And they talk to each other and support each other.  Not only that but they are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and ambassadors for the department/company.  And they think you are the best boss they ever worked for.  Why?

Because you have trained, trusted, and taken care of them.  You’ve played to their skills and supported their ideas.  You haven’t thrown them in the deep end – but rather shown them how to approach the deep end and allowed them to make their own way. There are set boundaries so they know where they can’t go but the boundaries are wide enough that creativity and pro-activity have space to flourish. 

Most of all you have allowed positive communication, feedback, and accountability to be the orders of the day.  And that culture that you have created is escalated down in the teams that your leadership team manage.  The ideas and energy flow in both directions, and your team lead with confidence and commitment.

The end result?  Your business grows – sustainably and steadily.  Now doesn’t that sound good? 

This is the basis of our program – Team on Fire. I have seen it in action many times over the years.  Like anything that works well, it is simple but not easy to turn a low-performing leadership team into a Team on Fire.  I’d love to know your experience of growing your business – positive or not! Email me for a virtual coffee anytime on julie@thinkbedoleadership.com

Binoculars looking at a sunset

Looking For the Good…

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “to know something like the back of your hand”, right? Well, recently I’m starting to think that knowing something “like the top of your shoes” might be more appropriate!

There seem to be so many people just walking around looking at their feet and not stopping to see the good around them.

It’s like your first time going out in new shoes.

Of course, they were bought to be worn, but from the first time you step outside in them, every scuff and scrape pains you; “Not my brand-new shoes!!”

But what if, rather than dwelling on each new mark, you took a moment to stop and admire just how great they go with your outfit, just how cool you look in your shop window reflection, just how right you were to choose the white ones and not the blue pair.

As leaders, we are constantly making decisions and so always looking for the ‘what’s wrong with your team, your business, your clients’ is a sure-fire way to hold yourself back. It pays to be positive, to look for the good, in people and in life!

Look for the Good…

So, you have a top and a jacket that may as well have been made for each other, but none of the trainers you have quite go. That’s why you bought the new shoes, to cap off the perfect look. This is what positivity can do to your business!

It allows you to see what is working well (your top and jacket combo) and build on that success (the new shoes)! It gives you the drive to want to improve and embrace your team and your business and further your future ambitions.

Now you have the outfit in place, you can start looking forward to events where you can show off your new ensemble!

And this enthusiasm, this positivity, is infectious.

People see how good those new shoes look and now they want some, too!

You start to breed your own fashion trends (not something I thought I’d ever be able to say!) and you create connections within your team, and we all know how important that is for the continued success of your business!

If Not…

Well, if you don’t look for the good, you won’t find it!

All you will see are those scrapes and those scuffs, scrapes and scuffs, until you can no longer wear those shoes and, in turn, that whole outfit falls apart.

Suddenly, as a leader, you are no longer wearing the trousers in your business, but rather the sweatpants and, however comfortable you may feel in these, I don’t think anyone has ever set a trend in their loungewear!

To look for problems is to be a negative leader, and to be a negative leader is to lose all influence in your team.

It’s a fast-track to demotivating and disengaging those around you.

There is no longer a vision to build as you are still choosing between the white and blue shoes.

White or Blue? White or Blue? Scuffs and scrapes. Even I’m bored of this now! Imagine being a team member and hearing this all day, every day.

As positivity is infectious, negativity is contagious, and once you pass it on to your team, soon you are all wearing sweatpants and bemoaning those marks on your shoes!

Lift, Don’t Drift, Through Life

Staring at our feet serves no purpose but to draw us away from the good going on around us.

It is easy to drift through life, absorbed by what is happening around our shoes but, in doing so, you can lose sight of what is important.

I mean, try doing anything whilst staring down, it’s all but impossible!

Succeeding in business, especially as a leader, is hard enough as it is without blinkering yourself to see only what you don’t want to!

Just throw on what makes you feel great and go and show others just how cool you are!

Leadership is about recognising when other people have become zoned in on their own footwear and showing them that, despite this, they are looking great!

Ignoring this and letting them drift is to hold them back.

If you aren’t willing to, not only be positive with yourself, but help lift others, you may as well be filling their sweatpants’ pockets with rocks!

Leadership can be stressful, but when look for the good in your work, it makes your job a hundred times easier and, in turn, your life even more so!

So, pick your head up and take in the faces and places around you, rather than the condition of your shoes…

Team Hands

Why Your Business Can’t Grow!

I work with a lot of businesses turning over £1 – £5 million pounds who are trying to grow and finding it a struggle.  Maybe you might also be experiencing the same – your business can’t grow! The reasons why are all too often the same one!  It isn’t their product or service.  If they have got to 1 million + turnover then clearly the core offering is fine. 

Often it isn’t their marketing.  They have grown to this size through whatever sales and marketing strategy they have been using, and that has worked so far. 

And it isn’t the staffing levels – most of these companies have adequate or slightly surplus staffing, and their recruitment processes work.

No – the reason most of these businesses just can’t move above this ‘glass ceiling’ is that their teams aren’t ready.

You might be wondering what on earth I mean by this.  Maybe you haven’t considered the link between the company growth and the readiness of the team, but I assure you, it’s very real.

What are the Signs That The Team Isn’t Ready?

There are a number of signs you might have noticed in your business.  Perhaps you are doing too much or getting dragged into the technical work of the business, with no time to think strategically or put in place new operating practices.

Maybe you know your team needs to be doing more.  You wish they would step up and make more decisions instead of referring everything back to you.  They need to step up as leaders and make things happen.  They need to be able to influence, create performance and set direction. 

Moreover – YOU need help with getting them there because what you have been doing up till now hasn’t worked.  Of course, your development is critical because everything comes from the top, but as a business reaches a certain size, every single detail, every decision, and every interaction cannot originate from you. 

Your Business Won’t Grow Until Your Team Grows.

As a solopreneur, you can get your business to a certain size.  But it will never grow as big or as fast as if you have a top-performing management team in place. 

That’s a tough one to crack but it can be done.  And once your management team is performing as it should the business can easily grow to 10 x the turnover (and profits) it currently has. 

So, how do you do that?

Well, it is what I help businesses to do every day of the week, for many years.  Often it takes an outsider to be able to look objectively into what is currently happening, spot the gaps and have the arsenal of training and coaching skills to be able to make the difference, that makes the difference!

Email me on julie@thinkbedoleadership.com to organise a free no-obligation virtual coffee, to see if working with us could make a 10x growth impact on your business. 

Wall of gasmasks

Toxic Communication Culture + 3 things to help you avoid it, forever

Just as I am talking (or writing) to you now, we are constantly communicating every day.

Of course, some people more than others!

But the importance of communication, in business as in life – be it a friendly catch-up over coffee, or an important meeting with a big client – cannot be overlooked!

Yes, I know this seems like common sense, but that is probably why it isn’t really looked at when it comes to training, it is just assumed!

But as the age-old cliché goes, “to assume’ makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’“, or in this case your business and your clients (only that isn’t quite as catchy!).

I once heard a story of a man who spent 15 hours on hold to Qantas airlines, a time 20 minutes longer than his Adelaide to New York flight that he had originally taken issue with!

Now, obviously this is an extreme example of poor service, but the fact that not only the flight, but also the subsequent complaints procedure, was so convoluted acts as the perfect demonstration of why your whole team should look at communication.

And here’s the thing…

The way in which you communicate has a direct impact on how we feel.  So that means how you feel, your team and, of course your clients.

And then it goes on, because this becomes ingrained because we respond to that feeling and then over time, we create a culture of how people deal with people, and how we feel working in, for and with your business.

So that culture in your business, as defined by the communication styles and levels, will show up in the external treatment of clients, and therefore how they feel (and whether they buy or stay when they do).

So, for your metaphorical flight to go smoothly, you need this culture to be a good one, plane and simple (yeah, okay that was bad!).

Let me give you an example of the kind of communication that creates the problem culture:

Did you ever have a teacher back in school who was almost too smart?

For me it was chemistry.

I’m not talking about someone who was just very knowledgeable, I mean the type who just expected you to know stuff and mad you feel stupid if you didn’t?

I’m sure it was super simple for him but how was I supposed to know my acids from my alkalis at 13?!?!

Anyway, if like me, you were unfortunate enough to have one of these teachers, Mr. or Mrs. Condescending (and believe me, I’m very sorry if you did!), then you will know how small it made you feel to be dismissed by this expert.

And, this is what will happen in your business if you get the communication culture wrong.

You will turn your client base into that 13-year-old kid in chemistry class (metaphorically speaking again!).

An apparent lack of care, or even somewhat bullying approach, both within your team, or when interacting with customers and clients, is a sure-fire way to get no response.

But here’s the thing…

Probably you didn’t mean it…

And neither did my chemistry teacher!

He probably never even knew he had that effect but was responding to how he felt. It is like a spiral of communication failings, creating a vicious circle.

But the problem is when the culture of communication is to not explain, not be open, honest, and supportive. Then we are only left with blame.

Then we get defensive and lash out with passive aggressive communication.  And cultures!

This is the vicious circle I mentioned because people fear consequences internally and become defensive and then, externally, this oozes out.

Want proof?

One of my LinkedIn connections informed me recently that this issue is currently causing major issues in the Court system.

Courts will cancel hearings with as little as 48 hours’ notice (even less in some cases!) due to lack of judges or various other reasons.

This is in spite of the fact that they know Counsel’s fees are collected seven days prior to a hearing (apparently).

When they are met with rightful opposition, they come back “no malpractice” or “not our fault.”

These dates have been set months in advance and there mishandling of this situation is costing others, both financially and mentally.

Court dates are often emotional, and dishonesty and lack of support is that last thing someone needs at this time.

Communication could solve this issue if counsels knew what was happening rather than feeling flogged off. It may also mean that there were judges where they were meant to be and avoid the issue entirely!

And what about if they actually said “Sorry, our fault.”?  That might make a difference too.

But often because of embedded culture, there is no sorry, there is no vulnerability, there is only pointing the finger elsewhere.

What Can You Do in your business?

If you are noticing these issues within your own company then, as with the culture, the change needs to come from within.

We are focusing on communication here don’t forget, so you can probably guess what I’m going to say:

Communication Culture is Key!

The way we talk to those in our business is as important as how we talk to those who we may be working with or for.

Here are three areas that you can work on which will make a difference to the culture very quickly. 

Now you may think that if you are the only one who does it, it won’t make a difference.

BUT

Behaviour breeds behaviour. So, when you do, the response you get from people will change too.  And a virtuous circle will emerge.

Try it!

OPENNESS

This should be a must is any business at any level. How can you operate if you don’t let people know what is going on? Openness will get everyone pulling in the same direction as they know what each other are doing.

It also helps with attitude and, therefore, culture. Openness will make people feel comfortable enough to ask questions and share experiences without feeling silly! And this feeds the next point…

VULNERABILITY

No one likes to feel silly. But it is easy for your communication to get toxic if you feel nervous to be yourself of feel like you have to get defensive over any comments or critiques.

It may seem hard to believe but maybe, when that chemistry teacher was admonishing you for not knowing your bonds, it was less about belittling you and more that they felt insecure that they had failed to pass on the knowledge effectively?

And so, it was most likely a response to how he felt.  So being able to be a bit vulnerable in front of you would have helped.

And, at this point, it pays to be honest…

HONESTY

As with openness, you will get nowhere without honesty. Excuses may offer a quick fix, but in the long run they will only cause more grief.

To continue with the school theme, you will fare far better if you tell the teacher you didn’t do your homework because you “didn’t understand the topic”, than if you say, “the dog ate it!”

Sure, you may have to face some consequences in the short run but at least when it comes up in the exam you will know what to do, because “the dog ate this page of my textbook” won’t fly so well with an exam board.

The same applies to when you are working with others.  If you are honest about the situation rather than trying to hide it, cover up or point the finger elsewhere, then people are more accommodating and understanding, because they understand your situation and are less threatened themselves.

So, if you put these three things together, you will start to build a positive communication culture, where people say what needs to be said without being worried about the consequences.

Let me know how you get on!

And if you would like some help with that, then book in a Game Plan Call with me and we can work on your communication game plan together.

ostrich

Are You an Ostrich?

I meant that metaphorically of course – I know you are not an ostrich. They can’t read! 

Let me be more specific.  There is a tendency – when facing something we don’t want to deal with – to figuratively stick our head in the ground, like an ostrich and not deal with whatever that is. 

Last week this was a subject that came up a lot in one of my coaching groups.  This group of leaders are what you may call – quiet leaders.  They are people who see themselves as introverts and have risen to the position of leader because they are really good at what they do.  In some cases, they are so good at it that they decided to start their own business. 

They are managers or owners of business in different industries – one is a partner in a law firm, one a partner in an accountancy practice, another runs an IT company, another is in engineering.  Different industries, different products and services, differing operating practices.  But the one thing they all had in common is …. they don’t feel comfortable dealing with difficult conversations.

All Difficult Conversations Have One Thing in Common – They are Difficult!

To be fair to them – NO-ONE likes dealing with difficult conversations.  Well – maybe barristers or interrogators!  But most average human beings seek to avoid conflict wherever possible. 

All sorts of tricky conversations need to be had from time to time in business, don’t they?  There might be a board meeting – pr a partners meeting, where you know there will be people who disagree with you.  How do you get your point across and come to a win-win scenario?

Perhaps you need to have a difficult conversation with a client about how much their bill is going to be this month.  How do you approach that without losing a client? 

Maybe you need to have a word with one of your team, who hasn’t done the best job they could on a project you gave them. You don’t want to demotivate them or cause any staff turnover, but you do need to address the poor delivery.  How do you do that without causing a mutiny?

Difficult conversations are hard, and it is sometimes just easier to stick your head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, and not have to ‘go there’.

The Problem With Being An Ostrich

Not dealing with a tricky conversation might feel like a relief in the short term – Phew – you got through another day without having to have any sort of confrontation!  But the problem is – the problem itself doesn’t go away.  And actually, by not addressing it you are creating a bigger problem which you might not see coming (like the predator creeping up on the ostrich).

The board meeting/partners meeting that you do NOT step up at, leads to things being done that you fundamentally don’t agree with.  That is not going to lead to any happiness at work for you, might increase your workload or may be against your values.  That is going to lead to resentment on your part.

The client who you DIDN’T tell about the cost of your extra charges (albeit for extra work they asked for) is going to be shocked when they get your bill.  It will no doubt turn into an argument – perhaps conducted by email (I mean, we don’t want to speak to anybody right?) and then almost certainly the loss of the relationship and maybe the client themselves.

The member of staff that you didn’t want to upset, who now probably thinks they did a great job, is not going to change their bad habits for good ones because they don’t know any better.  Or if they DO know better that is worse – because now they know they have got away with bad performance once, they can do it again, and again. 

How Not To Be An Ostrich

OK – so we agree?  It’s not a good idea to take an ostrich approach to difficult conversations.  But here’s the thing.  How to have difficult conversations is probably not anything you have been taught.  They certainly don’t teach this at school – and they probably should! 

You may not have had any management training before you were promoted/started your own business.  And it is definitely NOT something that comes naturally to most people.

So, what do you do?

Well, you need to be more of a wasp than an ostrich. You know – have no fear – take on things that look much bigger than you and just keep coming. Well, that’s wasps anyway. For you – you could buy a book on Amazon, but would you agree that reading about something is not the same as doing it? 

One of the things we do in my group coaching programs is practice!  We can discuss conflict and then practice having these tricky conversations so they are easier to do in real life! Having a strategy also helps.  As does understanding and recognising behaviour in others, that gives us clues about the best way to deal with those people. 

At the very least you will feel like you have a toolkit to dip into when faced with those conversations.  And even when you don’t get what you want, you can feel proud of how you showed up.  But actually, when you have those difficult conversations, somehow they are rarely as difficult as you imagined they were going to be. 

I’m running a series of free masterclasses for people who want to be ‘confident communicators’ – drop me an email to julie@thinkbedoleadership.com if you would like a place or more info.

PS – For clarification – Ostriches do not in fact stick their heads in the sand.  They lay their eggs in nests, in holes dug in the ground.  Every so often the birds stick their heads in to rotate the eggs.  You can see why the Romans might have thought they were hiding but they don’t need to.  At 40mph they can outrun all their predators and they can deliver a kick that would kill a lion.  But a good metaphor never dies!

Disengaged man with a hand over his face

How to Ditch Disastrous Delegation

I love cake. I mean, I reaaaally love it!

But say I am given a cake that serves twelve and I try to eat it all myself, I’m going to feel pretty sick. That’s not to say I don’t love cake anymore, but too much will leave anyone wiped out, lethargic, or just ill!

You know that, just by sharing a few slices, you could have avoided feeling totally rubbish but you really wanted it all.

And now you’re feeling awful, and your mates think you are totally selfish.

By giving away even just a bit, this whole situation could have been avoided.

So why are we talking about this?

I know it sounds obvious, but so many leaders want to just dive in and take on their version of the whole cake.

But business is no different. You need to share the workload. You need to DELEGATE!

Here’s the thing – something weird stops us

We must ask ourselves this first question – Why are we taking on too much in the first place?

This could come down to a number of factors, so let’s take a look at what they may be.

Need for Control

As a leader it is easy to feel like, as everything your team does ultimately falls back on you, it is best done yourself, isn’t it?

But, before you know it you can slip into one of two things – the micromanaging spiral, or the “I’ll do it myself” drama triangle.

It is natural to want to know what your team is doing at any one time, but you have to allow them to operate in their own space within your wider leadership.

I don’t know about you, but when someone is on my shoulder all the time, watching what I am doing, I end up telling them to do it themselves because I don’t feel trusted. 

And if you are already doing it yourself anyway, their confidence is going to be shot to pieces so then they probably would just end up fulfilling your fear of not doing it as good as you.

But you may have just created that yourself.

The reality of that need is often fear. The fear of failure and lack of trust that your team can support your aims. 

This is where you have to look at why you brought this team together in the first place.

You assembled this group to do a job for you and you must trust them when it comes down to distributing and delegating your workload. It will also help keep them engaged, interested and motivated.

Guilt

I hear it all the time, “Giving people work makes me feel guilty”.  “They will think I am lazy.” 

But this should be exactly the opposite.  That is your job.

Many of us have been brought up with a really great (too great) work ethic and have been taught that things should be hard work, or we should work hard.

So, when we start to delegate it feels like we are putting on others and shirking our responsibilities.

But we need to remember our role – To enable a team.

And forget that ingrained behaviour and belief system for the new one that recognises that real success is where we all play a role, not beat ourselves up for not being the hardest working person in the room.

Frustration & Disappointment

Oh, we’ve all been there when we get up the confidence to delegate and then Bam! 

Terrible result. ☹

We then go through the emotions of frustration, disappointment and beating ourselves up because of the good old “told you so, that was a bad idea. Should have done it yourself”.

But hang on a minute, we need to look at that in a different way.

Did we set them up to succeed or fail?

Did we make sure they had the skill, the will, and the way to achieve what we asked them to?

If not, then that’s our fault and, not only that, but we can also do a great deal about it.

And we must.

This is the art of delegation and of leadership.

To take our team from can’t do, won’t do, or don’t do, to can do, want to, and will do.

We need to help people see why they should do a task, why they should do it for you and how they should do it.  Then they can just get on with it with certainty and belief in their own abilities.

Because of course, no one will have the exact same vision or way of working within a group, unless we explain why it should be this way.

So, we need to be able to communicate and inspire those around us to see our vision and the output that we are looking for.   

Individuals may need a few attempts to get a task right but if you, as their leader, jump in too soon or too often and take over, you are robbing them of the opportunity to develop and save you work in the future.

And remember, they may even have a better way of doing something than you, if you would just trust and let them!

Over belief in our own abilities

Just because you have been doing this for 20 years, doesn’t mean that no one else could be as good as you. 

If you gave them the chance they would develop. 

But if they are better than you, then where does that leave you?

Maybe for some of us, ego gets in the way of developing others to a point that we can step back. 

We don’t want it as much as we need it!

So, we must see the bigger picture.   Remind ourselves, it is not about us, but about the greater good.  And we need to leave our ego at home, or we will be a very busy person indeed.

So next time you are worried about delegating, just think “how can I make this work” with three questions.

Is it can’t do, or won’t do or I don’t want to do it for you?

Then once you know, you are halfway there, and you can work on each one of these differently.

Then you will be able to have your cake and eat it!

If you would like to find out about that then that is exactly what we teach on our leaders’ development programs. 

Drop me a line to find out how you can get some help with implementing better delegation strategies and mindset for a happier, more confident team and a more chilled you.

Woman looking bored at work

Boring, Uninteresting & Demotivating?

Have you ever sat there, at a family Christmas, birthday, or some other gathering, where everyone’s chatting, getting along, and then that one uncle commandeers the floor?  

We all know what happens next – some questionable monologue with the apparent pretense of being comedic or something that just turns into an outdated (often mildly offensive), irrelevant or just downright dull diatribe, to a backing track of familiar familial groans.  

As he ignores these and continues on with his disasterclass of audience retention, you drift off and suddenly it’s ten minutes later and you have no idea what just happened.  

I mean, you can’t fault his confidence but that is the limit of the props you can give him. That feeling of dread as soon as he stood up to speak is testament to the effect that lack of connection or relevance can have when addressing people. 

And here’s the thing… 

It isn’t just with your family that this happens.   

It happens at work too! 

But, how do you avoid the dreaded uncle status when working with your team? 

Well, you can start by focusing on just three key points… 

Relevant and Interesting, Confident & Connected, & Positively Impactful 

Relevant 

Unlike the 3 minutes that you just sat through on the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, that he somehow thought bore some connection to the conversation about what A Levels your cousin is going to take, relevance is a key part of your success as a leader of your team. 

If your team isn’t focused on the tasks and projects you are currently undertaking, there is little chance you are going to have any real success and that direction comes form you as the leader. 

It’s easy to go off on tangents in conversation and, whilst having personality and connection with those you’re talking to is important (as we will come onto later), you can’t let it override the main objectives you have as a business. 

It is fine to add in your own stories and experiences, but the buzzwords for this are WHERE RELEVANT. If you are talking about a project you’ve run, by all means talk about a particular client experience where certain issues cropped up, but don’t then go on to talk about where you met them, what coffee you had, how you got to the meeting – that’s uncle territory right there.  

Ask yourself – Do I keep it to the point, to make my point. 

Interesting 

Hand in hand with relevance is interest. 

Just as the 1690 Battle of the Boyne interlude was off topic, it sent grandma to sleep, and you into some sort of dream state. If it isn’t interesting, people won’t listen.  

Simple as that really! 

You have to engage the people in your team, pique their interest and retain it.  

For example, if you are bringing back the coffees for the team, your customer experience in Starbucks (or your fave coffee shop), might be interesting to you, BUT you choosing whether to get a latte with Soy, Almond or Oat milk, however, does not leave anyone wanting to know more (even if the decision weighed heavy on you at the time!). 

However, if you were addressing the same thing to a room full of vegans, you would probably have grabbed their interest and ended up with a huge debate on what’s best for what.  

So, my point is that you need to think about who is in the room and what they are motivated and interested in.  Understanding who is in the room and knowing what will get their attention will be invaluable in them engaging.  

So, don’t feel the need to go on big, long stories with no ties to their topic as then you will see people start to drift off.  Find out what floats their boat and bring it in to grip their interest and have them begging for more. 

Connected and Confident 

Man and woman hi-five at work

Connected 

As I touched on before, it is important to build up a good connection with your team. Beyond motivating them, they should feel comfortable enough to come to you with issues and ideas. 

This is a benefit not only to them, but to you, and can move your business forward leaps and bounds.  

When you stand up to talk, you don’t want to be greeted with that same groan that met the uncle’s impromptu lecture. You want to be able to open up a conversation and invite your team to be part of what you are trying to achieve.  

You don’t want them to feel like you are talking at them, or you may as well be talking about how important some historical conflict was in “ensuring the continued Protestant ascendancy in Ireland.”  

Even writing that I can feel myself switching off! Just imagine how your team would feel if they had that sort of lack of connection every single week.  

You wouldn’t want to hang out with people you don’t feel like you can talk to, and who do you hang out with more than you colleagues? 

Confident 

This may be the only redeemable feature of the that speech you had to sit through last Christmas.  

Say what you want about it, there’s nothing quite like an uncle’s confidence in such situations, and if there is one thing of value, they offer it is this; confidence is key.  

The more confident you are in what you’re saying, the more likely people are to take note of it. Confidence conveys understanding, it shows you have something worth sharing and it helps with the previous point – it creates connection.  

Interestingly, it is not the “inner confidence” that you need to be “confident”, but when you have a belief in what you are saying, a desire to spread the truth, then you can be confident if you focus on this and not you! 

It is often said that confidence breeds success, and whilst this cliché may have been somewhat overused, that does not make the general sentiment any less true.  

Confidence is infectious, so if you stand up in front of your team and show confidence in your direction and leadership, there is little they won’t do. 

Just believe in what you say, and others will believe in you. Don’t be like your uncle, be more Think Be Do. 

Positively Impactful 

OK, so we have all been there – the mood hoover in the room that has sucked the energy away with the negativity of their soul. 

Not you, of course? 

But here’s the problem… 

So often we are not aware of our impact.  We don’t think about it whilst we are going about our business.  We don’t stop and ask ourselves often enough.   

We’re oblivious to the carnage we may have left behind us when we say or do things around others.  

But as they say in forensics – “Every contact leaves a trace”.  And it works for this too.  Every contact you have with anyone, will leave either a positive or negative trace.  And the more aware you are of it, the more you will be able to make sure that the trace you leave is one you really want.  

So, it pays (both literally and metaphorically) to be Relevant and Interesting, Connected and Confident, and Positively Impactful, and whilst the concepts may seem simple, many people still struggle to use them effectively.  

If you want to find out HOW to implement these features in your business – message me on julie@thinkbedoleadership.com or message me at www.linkedin.com/in/leadership-expert-executive-coach-training  

Arguing man and woman

Stuck in the Middle With You

Are you the bottleneck in your own business? 

I was talking to a client earlier this week.  He was talking about how he needed training for his team, as he felt they were unmotivated and didn’t try very hard and weren’t doing what they should be doing.

But here’s the thing.  Behaviour breeds behaviour.  So if your team is not performing the first thing we need to look at as leaders, is ourselves.  Often we are so busy, we only stop to notice when things don’t get done and then we look at the people and ask ourselves why they aren’t doing what they should. Often this is because roles have evolved over time, and communication is not happening (because you are so busy). 

Let’s face it – most people come to work to do a good job.  In most cases they are willing.  So, it is YOU that have to change.  You need to change from a ‘doer’ to a leader.

Do Your People Breathe a Sigh of Relief When You Walk In or When You Walk Out?

You may not even know that you are demotivating people. You need to become a detective and look at the reasons WHY things are happening. 

Sometimes it is because you think it is quicker to do something yourself (which is true on the first occasion, but on the following 50 times – it saves huge amounts of time if you can offload the task to someone else by training them).

As your business grows you will need to identify people in your business who can become your future leaders.  And what you need to do is develop THEM as well as yourself?  And then THEY will also become bottlenecks in your business.

How To Avoid The Bottlenecks

Growing your business means you need to have team performance.  If they are not doing – then it is either because they can’t do it because they don’t know how, they won’t do it because they don’t want to or they don’t think they have to do it a certain way.

So – how did you set things up to change this.  We need confident people – do they CAN do it.  We need people to trust us – then you get excited and want to do it.  You need people who are committed to the cause – do the people in your business know what the vision is? 

This is all the stuff we go into on the Leaders Launch Pad. 

You need to give people Clarity and Autonomy.  Even if you have people who are capable of doing things – if they are not clear about what good looks like and what decisions they are allowed to make, then they won’t do stuff.

How do you create Clarity and Autonomy.  The short version is coaching and clear guidelines.  Easier said than done, I am sure you would agree? 

If you want to find out HOW to increase the clarity and autonomy in your business – message me on julie@thinkbedoleadership.com or link with me on LinkedIn and message me there – https://www.linkedin.com/in/leadership-expert-executive-coach-training/