Tag Archives: generosity

On Addition by Subtraction

Speaking with one of my crew recently and he made the very sage comment with regard to a strategic issue we’re dealing with at the moment:

It’s a case of addition by subtraction

I’d never heard this phrase before and I asked him for a translation.  The guts of the issue is that you can often get a lot better by removing things that clog you up or hold you back.  In effect and expanding the analogy, the removal of a cancer has a positive impact on your health!

This can the in the form of processes, procedures, people, clients or whatever.

Thinking further about that phrase, I realise just how powerful it is – often times you become more welded to the process or context rather than focusing on the outcome you’re striving to achieve.  It can be that you’ve always done “stuff” so you keep doing it, your loyalty to people (as staff or customers) or a supplier with whom you have dealt with for years makes you unable to see beyond your own version of reality.

You become blind to the issue and don’t take action when you really know that you should.

Reading “Leading Teams” by Ray McLean has alerted me to the fact that, as leaders, we need to listen to the feedback from our people (and our gut) when things start going wobbly.  It is also imperative that action is taken sooner rather than later to deal with the issue.

We recently had an issue where we changed suppliers in our business.  The effect of the change has been revolutionary – we’re getting better service, more personalised information and tailored reporting for our needs.  We’ve also gained access to a truck-load more options that were available through our previous supplier that, for whatever reason, they had decided to withhold from us.  This has enabled us to increase our offering and provide a greater range of solutions to our customers than were were able to before – not because they weren’t there, but because they weren’t made available to us.  Outcome?  Far more sales for us and our supplier, happier customers and better outcomes for all concerned.

We have subtracted, and it has lead to addition.

Similarly, over the years, we have found that where there is a change in staff, the outcome can be exceptionally positive.  I recall once occasion in our business where we acted too slowly to remove a “cancer” from the business.  By not acting more quickly, the damage they created was significant and took some time to repair.  I must admit though, that once they had gone, the reflection with the rest of us was “we should have done that sooner”.

Due to our loyalty to them and wish for the person concerned to take the opportunities to develop and become the best version of themselves, we stayed in the situation far too long.  It ended up that their best version of themselves wasn’t what we needed/wanted!

Can you see opportunities for addition by subtraction in your business?  Are there areas where you’re “blind” and unable to see beyond your version of reality?

You are not alone.

You can do something about it.


On Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu is familiar to most of us over 25 years of age who have been in and around business. A General in ancient China, he is credited as authoring “The Art of War”.

Reading through some information the other day, I came across a quote of his which is eminently applicable to our modern approach to business (and possibly, life):

Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:

1 He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight;

2 He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces;

3 He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks;

4 He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared;

5 He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.

Reflecting on the passage, it became obvious that, in our busy lives, we can often forget that patience and culture can count for a hell of a lot when addressing the challenges we face.

Sun Tzu quote

Breaking down the components of the quote, the application to your business may well be seen as follows:

He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight

A bit like picking your battles – there are some times when opportunities in business arise and you’re just not prepared to take them.  Or, you decide to take them but risk the whole operation in pursuit of the new goal.

There are always three options available when opportunities or challenges present themselves:

  1. Take it;
  2. Actively retreat from it; or
  3. Do nothing.

Where you determine your course of action, it is essential that you marshal your resources to give yourself the greatest chance of success.  If you don’t have the requisite resources (people, financial, fixed assets), then unless you can get hold of them in a hurry, the chance of a successful expansion are significantly lessened.  I have often seen businesses who lurch into a new area or operation or activity that offers great potential but they go too early.

Taking the opportunity is the “easiest” course of action, however you need to consider fully the impact that this will have on your existing business and its resources.  Effective planning and implementation around this needs to occur to ensure that you don’t kill the golden goose.

Actively retreating from the opportunity can be a very powerful but less intuitive approach.  How do you do this?  You might (for example), pass the opportunity off to a more appropriately resourced competitor who can exploit it.  They can take it on, and you can gain some flow of profit share by structuring the deal effectively.  This helps to ensure that you gain something from the opportunity rather than nothing.  There are many possible ways of doing this – they are somewhat limited only by your imagination!  It can often be a very powerful approach to maximise your returns whilst limiting your potential downside.

On numerous occasions over the years, I have suggested to customers that they don’t pursue an opportunity because they simply don’t have the capacity to take on the extra business and/or they are not positioned to undertake the development required to fully exploit the opportunity.  The “do nothing” option is always alive.  People often feel the need to “do something” and then rationalise it afterwards.  This can lead to very adverse outcomes as they will lurch forward without proper assessment and planning.

He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces

Working out the strengths and weaknesses of your team are vital to enabling you to make better judgments and more strategically utilise the strengths you have.  I have often heard the argument “but we’re too small”.  They may well perceive themselves as being too small, however the strength that comes from being small is agility and responsiveness.

Playing to your strengths can be a very powerful tool – along with playing on your preferred “patch”.  The David and Goliath story is a great metaphor in this regard.  By understanding your strengths and your opponents weaknesses, you are better able to play a game that will result in victory.  In many senses, the sheer size of a larger competitor can be a weakness as they are generally slower to react and marshal their resources to deliver a competitive response in time.  Their size actually conspires against them.

Playing to your strengths rather than trying to mitigate your weaknesses is a more positive and effective approach.  By trying to deal with your weaknesses, you will actually reduce the capacity of your strengths.  Marcus Buckingham has put it exceedingly well in this video.

He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks

Drucker wrote: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Where your culture is one which encourages and supports the growth and development of your people, you will have a business that is going to be far more effective and resilient than your competitors who have better technology or products but a disengaged workforce.

I have written much previously on the impact of positive and negative culture and encourage you to review the posts on this topic.

The video of Marcus Buckingham as linked above touches on this subject and you can see the effect of great cultures in some of the leading organisations today – Southwest Airlines, Disneyland and so on.

It comes down, at its essence, to trust.  If you provide your people with the tools and support to do their job then trust them to do it, they will perform far more effectively than where you “sit on them” and micro-manage them.

Are you adopting the most effective approach in managing your team?

He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared

Again, waiting for the opportune time rather than rushing into the fray can be a very powerful strategy.

Time is only a measure that we have invented – the real value in knowing your own team and knowing your competition is that you are better placed to exploit the opportunities that arise at a time that suits you.  If you progress forward at a time that suits them, you’re not giving your business the best chance of success.

Reacting to situations is a function of this.  By not feeling that you need to react to situations gives you the power to respond appropriately at a time of your own choosing.  This can give you a massive strategic advantage.

He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign

Depending on the style of the leader of your organisation, they might or might not be the most qualified or appropriate person to lead new program delivery/opportunity exploitation.

Often times, the leader might feel they need to be at the front of the queue to deliver the strategy or implement the program.  This can be very demotivating to the team who has developed the strategy.  It can be seen as the leader taking all the glory.

Best to let the person/team who has developed the opportunity to run with it rather than come in at the last minute and usurp their role.  Chances are, they will be far better informed and capable than some “johnny come lately” who is seeking glory.

For a leader to swan in and try and deliver something they are not fully briefed on can be incredibly dangerous.  They will often miss vital parts of the puzzle or make the wrong moves/decisions/communications that end up derailing the project.

Sun Tzu may have detailed his thinking some 2,500 years ago, but it is highly relevant and applicable today.

On Culture (again)

Organisational culture is a nebulous thing.

In many discussions over the years with customers, colleagues and others, the issue of what is a “good” culture is the hub of the conversation.  Everyone wants to work in or with a business which has a great culture.  Not surprising really, but what does that actually mean?

One of the most interesting conversations on this topic was with a colleague a number of years ago.  He viewed our business as having a “great culture” and wanted to replicate this in his own business.  Fantastic.

Even though he is a competitor, I wanted to see him have a wonderful culture in his operation as this would make him, his people, his customers – and us, better.  Why?  Because, as his business improved, he would provide more and better competition to us which ensures that we keep ourselves sharp, challenged and developing.  This can only be a good thing.  I have always found that where you develop everyone around you, you improve yourself.

In our discussions about how to undertake this, he wanted to know what we did and how we did it.  That’s fine, but you need to remember that you cannot copy a culture.  It is something unique to every group (business, social, sporting etc) and what works for one will not work for another.

I have just read a very interesting article on this topic by Steve Tobak in Entrepreneur.  In short, I agree with his thinking, but believe that trying to copy what works in one organisation won’t work in yours.  Take the lesson, not the method.

Getting back to my discussions from some time ago, we were discussing how our approach is that we try our best to “set our people free”.  This means that we empower them to take their own path and develop in ways that matter to them.  If this is broadly in line with the organisational vision and purpose, this has to be a good thing.  Where you sit on them and ride the hell out of them, life becomes that much more difficult.

In discussing the management style in my colleague’s firm, he explained that he was a micro-manager.  In effect, he was showing his crew that he didn’t trust them, that he was fearful that they might go “off reservation” and that his issue was one where he needed to feel in control at all times.

Not sure about you, but I could not work in an environment like that.  Tried it decades ago when I started by accounting career and it was so stifling that I had to get out.  It doesn’t instill enthusiasm (in fact it kills it), severely constrains innovation and creates an environment which people want to leave.

This past week, I have revisited a TEDx presentation by the great Ricardo Semler.  He gets the idea and has been practicing the approach for decades.  Yet most organisational leaders are fearful of adopting the approach which he did in his organisations.  In most respects, they are the same as my colleague – unable to make the leap of faith in their people to enable the culture that they desire to have a chance of living.

We must remember that the vast majority of people in the world want to do good.  They want to be involved in an organisation that exists to deliver something and provide some value to the world.  Not wanting to get philosophical here, but it is part of the human condition.

By not trusting your people, by sitting on top of them and communicating (through words, actions and example) that they aren’t good enough, you’re getting the desired outcome – they will believe they’re not good enough.  Then they will leave.  Or, worse still, they will stay.

You need to release yourself from the thinking that holds you and your business back if you are going to truly lead.  Simon Sinek, in his inimitable style, puts it beautifully.

Near the end of our discussion, my mate asked me when I knew the culture in my organisation was good.  I told him that I didn’t.  But I did know when things weren’t right as the “feel” of the place changed and became less “flow-like”.

If you want to create a superb culture in your organisation, you need to get out of your own way.  That’s not nebulous.

On Dead Elephants & Communication

“You’ve got a gift” – so said one of my guys after a fantastic meeting with one of our customers.

Don’t know whether I agree with him.  Whatever gifts I may have, I probably don’t use as much as I should.  However, I digress.

The real essence of this post is that we, as professionals, need to be aware of the issues that are confronting our customers and, if we are unclear, ask better questions to enable us to get to the guts of the issue.  This is a skill that I am still learning – although I understand that I will never perfect it.

The discussion with our customer was meant to be about getting some clarity about their goals for their business.  We had the meeting booked in for a while and had let them know that this was the purpose of the discussion.  They arrived late (normally not a great sign – putting it off), which flagged a possible issue with the process about to be undertaken.

The discussion opened up with them identifying some frustrations they were experiencing with one of their team members.  It then progressed on to analysis of the communication styles adopted by both people and, how not fully appreciating the communication style of the recipient and tailoring the message for their needs might have been the actual cause of the frustration in the first place.

This then led to a discussion about the style of the owner of the business.  They started to open up as our discussion developed around why they were aware of the style they had and the impact it could have on their team, they made the statement “I know this, but I’m not doing it”.  That then caused the question to be asked “why not”?

Source: polarzoo.com.kr

Source: polarzoo.com.kr

And that’s when the really positive stuff started.  Suffice to say, the tissue box got a bit of a hammering as they opened up about external issues (non work-related) that were impacting on them and had been impacting on them for some time.  It was fantastic as we could now understand why the business, which has incredible potential, has been stagnating and not exploiting the  numerous opportunities that have presented themselves.

The owner of the business has simply not been in the emotional state they needed to be in to enable them to drive and direct the business.  Powerful.  Meaningful.  Honest.

So, we did what all accountants do, and walked through the journey they have been on (isn’t that what all accountants do?) to enable them to fully verbalise the feelings they had been having and to enable them to understand that they had massive opportunity in the team – if only they could trust themselves to “let go” a bit.  About half way through this discussion, they indicated that they would go home and cry all afternoon.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

However, as we continued to talk through the issues and acknowledge the impact they had on the owner and the business, the air seemed to clear a bit.  By getting the issues out in a non-judgmental and non-confrontational environment, we were able to help them see that the “fork in the road” wasn’t actually anything to be feared and that the way they were feeling was OK.

The discussion eventually returned to the communication with the team (that’s where it all started remember) and how it can be improved.  They will be undertaking some Trimetrix Reporting with the team to allow everyone to better understand and appreciate the differences in the team communication styles and create an environment for better communication within the group.

Our customer could then see that there was a path forward and, whilst acknowledging the impact of the issues outside of work, started to get refocused back on their business.  We made commitments as far as setting some goals (some wonderful additional opportunities came out in this discussion) – the big battle will be getting the goals prioritised over the coming month or so – there are so many opportunities for this business we have to narrow them down and align them to the goals that will be fleshed out.

At the end of the meeting, we recommended that they go home to enable them to have the big cry they had earlier said they needed.  “No – don’t need that now.  I’m feeling a lot better”.

A really positive outcome was achieved by creating the environment and asking better questions (usually the ones starting with “why”) to get to the core of an issue.  Unless you carve up the elephant in the room, it crowds everything else out.

Don’t think I have a gift, but I’ve got a dead elephant in meeting room one and I need more tissues.

On Business Growth & Chaos

It’s funny – most businesses feel like they are operating in an environment where chaos reigns.

The sad thing is, most businesses do not understand that, until you get to about 20 employees, chaos is actually a natural state of being.

Source: brucemctague.com

Source: brucemctague.com

The good news about this fact is that when you’re aware of it, you can plan for it.

James Fischer wrote “Navigating the Growth Curve” (Growth Curve Press, 2006) following his research of (then) 600 businesses that had grown and developed.  He found that there were some very common issues that those businesses faced and that, armed with this knowledge, other businesses could predict and plan for the issues that would accompany their growth.

As a consequence of his research and writing, Fischer and Laurie Taylor from FlashPoint! developed the Growth Curve program and this has been picked up and tailored for ease of use by Targeted Training International in the US.

We first came across the concept some three years ago and have now adopted the program as part of our offering to our clients.  We’ve rolled the program out to a number of our customers in the past 18 months  and the results have been sensational.

So, the chaos bit?  Well, the table below shows the findings of the five top challenges for businesses at the various stages of growth.  Some businesses will face some different challenges, however, based on the research, the following are the most common issues businesses face as they grow:

Stage 1

Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4

Stage 5

1-10 staff 11-19 staff 20-34 staff 35-57 staff

58-95 staff

Cashflow challenges

Cashflow challenges Improved profit design Employee turnover Improved profit design

Limited capital

Limited capital Improving staff buy-in Project management and resource co-ordination

Staff training

Chaotic periods destabilising things

Hiring quality staff Unclear values Vision for future growth (Where? How?)

Lost knowledge when employees leave

Slow getting new products/services to market

Communication gap (leaders – staff) Culture resistant to change Difficulty diagnosing the real issues impacting growth

Difficulty forecasting problems in advance

Expanding sales

Expanding sales Communication gap (leaders – staff) Slow in getting systems and procedures implemented

Expanding sales

Copyright – 2013 FlashPoint!, Origin Institute & James Fischer

When you review where your business is against the issues you’re currently trying to manage, do you find any of the issues raised above resonate?  I have yet to find a business that doesn’t identify very closely!

Source: johngattorna.com

Source: johngattorna.com

The best bit about this is though that, with the identification of the issue, there are processes and approaches specifically designed that enable you and your team to address the issue for once and for all.  It “cures” the problem and allows the operation to grow in a less chaotic and more planned and deliberate way.

The approach we use not only looks at the above (as part of the “27 Challenges”) but also addresses the style of the leader, the Non-Negotiable Rules for each stage the business passes through, the right balance of confidence and caution in the business (that bit gets REALLY interesting) and the mode of operation of the teams within the business.  In short, it brings out the “elephants in the room” and cuts them to bits so that we remove the “hidden agents” that are holding the business back.

Business is complex – the more people you have on board, the more complex it gets.  By undertaking the processes such as those outlined above, we can de-clutter the business and get it on the path you originally desired when you set it up or took it over.

It’s fun, challenging and enlightening.  It’s also incredibly valuable.

On Killing a Wonderful Culture


You know the type of business?  The one you admire and respect.

The one that you want to emulate in your business and ensure that your people are as engaged as the crew in that business.  The business that is successful – almost in spite of itself because the people in the business work harmoniously and have developed a formal and informal management structure that delivers outstanding results.


Source: thepeoplegroup.com

I knew of one such business.  It was special in so many ways.  I admired their whole approach, ethos and especially cutlure as new people became fierce advocates of it and the supportive network that existed ensured that everyone could be their best selves.

Unfortunately, it has died.  This business, where one of my best friends works, has changed.  It has moved from being an inclusive and caring operation to one where there are now petty feifdoms and the focus has gone from “large” to “very small”.  It has become an internal business focussed on the personalities within it rather than the outward and forward-looking operation it once was.

This is incredibly sad.  Not only for the people involved, but also for other businesses that have looked to it as a beacon of what can be.  But, it can also provide an incredibly valuable lesson in what to do and what not to do.

The information I have received is that a large number of long-serving people within the business are now looking for work elsewhere.  These were the people who helped to create and curate the culture over the years.  These were the people who ensured “newbies” were inculcated with the culture when they started.  These were also the people who went “above and beyond” to serve the business, the staff and the customers.  They set the examples that became the norm for other staff.  They have now “checked out”.

Simon Sinek discusses this issue in far more erudite terms than I can here.  In short, the trust has gone from the business.  This is due to many factors but comes down largely to some of the senior management being a little bit too caught up in their own issues rather than seeking to ensure that the team is working effectively and creatively together.  In short, they have killed the passion and replaced it with work.

A consequence of all of this is that there has been the establishment of cliques and malicious gossiping within the organisation.  This has resulted in the curators of the culture losing their care for the business and the other staff.

What is happening is that all the good people will leave and the business will be left with the crap.

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon.  If you don’t manage and care for the culture you want, you will be left with one you don’t.  In every respect, you will be left with “the cream of the crap”.

There is a way out of this.  It is hard work, it requires deep honesty and introspection and it requires the re-establishment of a vision.  It’s called the Stages of Growth process – research-based and proven, it can resurrect organisations that are going through issues such as what this once-beloved business is going through.

I’d love to be able to help this once-fine business.  Unfortunately, they don’t see themselves as requiring any assistance.

Admiration and respect are earned.  And they can easily be lost.

How are you and your people curating your business?

On Increasing Profit by 865% in One Year

Regular readers might recall a recent post concerning the identification and development of talent of one of the staff members in one of our favourite client’s businesses.  This all occurred through using Trimetrix on some of the team in his business.

Source: africanramble.wordpress.com

Source: africanramble.wordpress.com

Well, the financial results are now in.  And they are spectacular

I won’t quote the actual numbers (as that would be unfair and not in line with our professional obligation to keep client information confidential) but I will give you the impact that they have experienced from identifying a great person (using Trimetrix) and giving them the opportunity and support they needed to thrive.

Using the six month period we were reviewing, the results for the half year to 31 December 2013 were (let’s say) $20,000 net profit (after all expenses but before tax).  Then our client dropped his newly-identified star into the business.  Profit for the period to 31 December 2014 was $173,000!  All the metrics for the site have improved and staff morale has gone through the roof.

Remember that, as I wrote in May last year, if you have a deep understanding of your people and their talents and skills, along with the capacity to trust yourself and them, you can create some exceptional outcomes.

Why don’t you give it a go?  What have you got to lose (other than a potential star who will leave because they’re not being challenged and developed in your business)?

Give us a call to discuss how Trimetrix can make a huge difference in your business which will have an exceptionally positive impact on you, your people, your team and your customers.  You will be happier, your team will be happier and your customers will be happier.

And, if it results in an 865% profit improvement for a six month period, I’ll bet the investment will be worth it!

On 2020 Vision

Your big opportunity may be right where you are now

Napoleon Hill uttered these words and I was prompted to think of them when listening to Bernard Salt at last week’s Business Day Out hosted by Commerce Ballarat.

Bernard presented some fascinating information on the demographics of the world, Australia and Victoria in particular.  The information really “got to the guts” of what is likely to happen to the population over the coming years and any business owner, manager or strategic thinker would be well advised to take heedof the detail provided.

By far the most interesting statistic was the one which showed the greatest increase in population in Victoria in the years to 2023 is going to be in the age groups from 30-39 and 70-79.  There is also going to be a significant increase in the number of kids aged 5-14.

Now take this information whichever way you like, but I would be thinking about what these people are going to be wanting and needing from the perspective of goods and services, schooling, clothing, food and the like.  What, for instance are the propects for a business that is targeting new-borns?  Not as good as one targeting school-age kids.  Demand for the 20-something requirements (cheap housing etc) is likely to wane.  What are the retirees going to be needing as they do become less mobile and move from their established family homes? 

When you are planning your business for the period in to the early 2020’s, have you really considered what your customer base is, where they are coming from and what they need from you? 

For example, did you realise that the number of people in the 35-39 age group in Victoria is expected to increase by 120,000 over the 2013-2023 period?  What are they going to need, where are they going to be living (probably not in Charlton!) and what is going to be important to them?  If you consider these types of issues, you will be very well placed to ride the wave that they create.

By opening up your eyes and accessing informaton such as that provided by Bernard Salt, you will be placing yourself in the position to take advantage of the opportunities that are presenting themselves.

Take off your spectacles and use the 2020 vision that has been provided to you!

On Bringing it all Together

SynergyHow wonderful is it to be able to access the best thinkers in the world and have them contribute to your world?

In recent months, I have been very privileged to read and view some highly intelligent people discuss a wide range of subject matters revolving around leadership and management.

Why did I need to do this?  Because I have a hell of a lot to learn about both of these areas.

So, the journey I have taken has been somewhat long, circuitous and arduous, but I have learned a great deal.

This post could end up being a book on its own and I don’t want to bore you (if anyone is reading this) witless – you’d be far better off going and watching some Greg Kyte videos – he is far smarter and funnier than I will ever be!  Either that or have a read through David Thorne’s work – one of the funniest blokes on the planet.

I will attempt to bring all this reading and viewing down into some useful points that others may gain some value from.  Here goes.

People Need to be Treated as People

Over the journey I have seen many people who make it all about themselves.  They will pick people up and shower them with things, praise and the like until they have what they want and then they will drop them.  Quickly.  When they get treated the same way, they often “ark up” because it is so rude and unfair.  Needless to say, they generally end up alone.

There is an old adage about treating people the way you like to be treated.  It is very simple.  Easy to understand.  When you make this a concentrated effort, you will find good things start to happen and your credibility goes up.

Trust is the guts of it – in yourself, them and lots of others, but I strongly recommend you read “Smart Trust” by Stephen M R Covey – gets the point across very well but you need to trust yourself first.

Make it All About Them

The journey so far has enabled me to see a couple of different styles of leader.  The two styles can be broken down as follows:

  • Those who make themselves feel big by making everyone else feel small; or
  • Those who make themselves feel big by making everyone else feel bigger.

You cannot build people or a family or a business by breaking people down.  It might sound stupid, but you build them by building them.  I have seen a number of people over the past years who focussed so much on their own success that they left everyone else behind.  Needless to say, they generally end up alone.  And bitter.

Be Honest and Open

By taking this approach, you never have to remember lies or mistruths that you may have spoken.  As Ronald Regan said:

“I’m not smart enough to lie”.

It must be remembered that when you are having to have an “unpalatable” discussion, you need to ensure that the discussion is about the issue, not the person.  By trying to minimise the impact of unpleasant matters that do need to be discussed, often times, we will avoid doing this – the outcome from adopting this approach is that the issue ends up becoming even worse.  I can recommend you read the book “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott – this will help you get a handle on not only how but why you need to get the openness and honesty thing happening.

If, however, you try and rationalise everything, forget it.  You will generally end up alone.  And bitter and twisted.

Challenge Yourself and Everyone Else

Finding out what actually motivates people and where their strengths lie is a great way of getting people to develop and flourish.  Marcus Buckingham has presented some wonderful videos on Youtube which explain this very well.

When you get the feeling that you are “in the zone”, playing to your strengths and enjoying what you do because it “feels easy”, then you will grow and develop and you’ll share that with the people around you.  But, you have to start with yourself.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who don’t want to challenge themselves first.  By not doing this, they don’t become authentic leaders (or people) because they haven’t been on the trip themselves and therefore cannot give the support and guidance required for others when they try and go on this journey.  They generally find that they don’t have long term work relationships and their social relationships are usually spasmodic/episodic. 

When you adopt this approach, you will generally end up alone.  And bitter and twisted.  And self-obssessed.

Give a Lot Back

The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.   Henry Ford

I know there are a lot of people who do not necessarily believe in giving – I’m not referring here to just money.  I am talking about the sharing of knowledge and wisdom.  As my friend Ron Baker says – knoweldge is a non-rival asset – he can share his knowledge with me – I now have it but he still has it – in other words, by sharing, it is expanded.  Giving a lot back needs to be about helping others develop and learn from your and others’ experiences. 

In many professional firms, I see Partners and senior people who are loathe to share their knowledge because they have a fear that the knowledge they share may make them redundant or they “might be found out”. This is also the case in business where the owners and managers of some businesses will be scared of letting go.  By giving back to the people around you, sharing your version of reality and helping them understand new and different points of view, you are helping them develop.  You are giving them the tools that will help them further develop others.  There are a lot of wonderful quotes about education and the legacy it leaves.  By giving back to everyone around you, there is a deep feeling of satisfaction in seeing their confidence, self esteem and competence improve.

Where people are scared to give for fear of, well, I don’t know what, I find it terribly sad.  They will generally end up alone.  And bitter and twisted.

Understand “The Rules”

From my readings and watchings (yes, I know), there is a chord that struck me very clearly from Patrick Lencioni.  He talks about “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” and it all starts with trust (Aha! I hear you say).  It develops from there and much of what he has to say supports and is supported by the things I have mentioned above.  I strongly recommend you take 40 minutes of your time and have a look at his lecture at the Royal Albert Hall. 

When you consider the issues he raises about teams and why they don’t work (and, conversely, why they do), it becomes apparent that most of the issues are about having clarity about goals and where you are going, agreeing on what is acceptable behaviour and getting everyone prepared to have “fierce conversations” on the road to getting there.  Couple that with the thinking of Simon Sinek and you get the idea about why working toward something that is worthwhile and “valuable” in the true sense gets things going.

There are a number of people in the world who have only one vision – to make as much money as possible.  They are not inspiring anyone apart from their bank manager (and barely even them).  “Obsession with possession” will generally cause those who aren’t prepared to share, develop and support those around them to lose sight of what is really important.  Their families, friends and work colleagues are merely cogs in a wheel rolling toward a destination that has no intrinsic value.  They will generally end up alone.  And bitter.

People are Irrational

In recent years, the field of behavioural economics has developed and, I must admit to being a bit of a convert to the thinking that is bound up around this school of thought.

We generally believe that people are rational sensible and (effectively) predictable.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I recommend that you have a watch of Dan Ariely discuss this as it will challenge the way you approach your interactions with people.  Couple this with the presentation by Dan Pink and you will start to see that people want to have interactions that actually “mean” something.

Where folk look at people as cogs in a wheel and use their personal focus on money to believe they can get the best out of people through money alone, they will generally find that those who work FOR them will not give the v0luntary effort that they could.   In effect, if you treat people purely as commodities to be exploited, they will repay you with that level of engagement.  When people such as this are more driven by what they can get from people rather than what they can give, they forget about what it is that the people they are using really want and desire.  As a consequence, they will generally end up alone.

In Conclusion

It is all about people.  Working WITH them, focussing on developing their strengths and having clarity about why you are all doing what you are doing will help them be more engaged and more effective.  You will enjoy the journey more and they will be more than happy to come along with you on that journey.

A lot of people out there have a fear of adopting this approach due to a lack of self esteem or trust in themselves. 

I feel sorry for them as they will never know the true satisfaction that comes from seeing the crew they work with become much better in every sense of the word.

On New Credit Laws

Credit trapAre you in the habit of paying your bills a bit late?

You know – the power bill, gas bill, phone bill etc?  Those bills that rack up during the month and you sit down one night to clear them all up in one go?

Under new credit laws which start to apply in Australia from 1 April 2014, there is a new regime for credit providers to report your credit history.  In effect, the changes will result in your payment history being reported – not just your non-payment history.

Up until now, credit reporting was only done where you were over 60 days late in paying a bill.  With the new changes, you will be “reported” if you’re one day late.

Not much of an issue you ask?  Well, consider this – all the financial institutions will now have access to your full payment history.  They have made noises about the late payment of bills not being a large influence on their credit assessment processes, but they have indicated that they will take this into consideration when looking at any credit applications.

Even if you have a perfect history of paying all your loans and credit cards on time, have never had a default notice issued to you and have generally run a clean financial life, the fact that you regularly pay your phone bill late can have an impact on the financial institutions’ view as to your credit worthiness.  The reporting will also be done when you are in dispute with (say) your telephone company – you’re late and they don’t care about the reason for you being late (even if it is not your fault).

It will come as no surprise that the legislation was largely driven by the banks and financial institutions.  They will be able to use the information obtained to offer a more detailed “risk rating” on everyone and this will in turn mean changes to the margins they charge on loans.  End result?  More revenue for them.  At a time when we need to get our economy going and encourage spending, this type of legislation will end up having the reverse effect.  Talk about the law of unintended consequences!

So, when you get your bills from now on, make sure you pay them on the due date – even if you are in dispute.  If you don’t you might just have a nasty shock coming next time you apply for credit!

Image credit: The Australian

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