Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why managing your emotions matters for effective leadership

Many years ago I would hear people say at management meetings “let’s not get emotional about this” or “let’s not let our emotions influence this” and like many other people I would say “Oh ok, I had better not”, although because I had a background in nursing I was always in the unanswered question of “but how do I take my emotions out of myself, aren’t they part of me being human?”

Daniel Goldstein made popular the power of Emotional Intelligence and the importance of being able to manage your emotions. I then studied Ontology of the Human Observer. The branch of ontology centres on how we, as human beings use our language (speaking and listening) our moods and emotions and our physiology (our body) to create our “Way of Being". Through this approach I was able to confirm and feel supported in my understanding that our emotions are an integral part of our biology. In our brain is housed our limbic system which controls our emotions.

So why do emotions matter for leaders?

When you are having a conversation with someone, the conversation is occurring in an emotional space. Think about when you have made a mistake at work and you have to ‘find the right time to talk to my boss’, or when you have to tell someone they didn’t get the promotion, or when you are talking to a person and they start thumping the desk in anger!. Each of these conversations are not neutral, they are occurring in an emotional space.

Our emotions are ‘relational behaviours’, that is, how we behave is influenced by our emotions. These emotions may be: fear; surprise; sadness; anger; happiness/joy; disgust or shame. Each of these emotions will impact on your relationships and behaviours with yourself and with others and in your private and work life.

The key point here is that as a human being you are an emotional being. This is not good or bad, it just is. Therefore it is fundamental that you observe your emotions and then shift your Way of Being to effectively manage yourself and those you lead. To support you to do this more effectively, I invite you to consider:
  • What do you notice about yourself and how you manage your emotions? 
  • What is the relationship between your emotions and the quality of your leadership?

I am assessing that if you did this reflective activity you will have identified some things about yourself that you might want to change.

I am also assessing that you have identified that to be an effective leader you need to be able to manage your emotions. 

Crucial for quality leadership is the recognition and management of your own emotions and positively influencing the emotions of others. This means taking time to continually observe yourself and creating emotional spaces that open up possibilities for you and those you lead. One really simple strategy is to make sure you smile when you greet people. Sounds basic, but I think you can name a person who doesn't do this and the negative impact it has on the workplace.

For a conversation on managing your emotions contact

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What are the 10 things you can learn about leadership from Masterchef?

I admit it! I love watching Masterchef not because I am really interested in cooking, but I do enjoy watching and listening to George, Garry and Matt advocate for their ‘cause’. As leaders they are great promoters of the experience (craft), insight (art) and analysis (science) of cooking. They support and promote the chefs, cooks, and food producers of Australia. I enjoy seeing the wonderful places they travel to and the produce of our great nation. I like the way the show has contestants that are diverse in age, gender, faith, sexuality and culture.      

So what are the 10 things you can learn about leadership from Masterchef?

  • Teamwork - developing productive working relationships
  • Occupational Health and Safety – watch those fingers with those knifes!
  • Don’t make excuses - as Matt said the other day “excuses don’t cut it”
  • Your vision or plan might need to change if the resources aren’t available, be creative – if the ingredients aren’t there think of something else
  • Task risks - experiment and try new things 
  • Be a learner – humility “Can you help me please?”
  • Be open to feedback – take on the tips that are given to you  
  • Cut to the point and be smart about how you do things
  • Self-reflection – knowing when you don’t do well
  • Believe in yourself - tell yourself you 'can' not 'I can't'

When you think about the contestants who do well on the show it is not based solely on their ability to create a good dish. It is often about how they manage themselves and how they work and lead others.

Managing yourself is a core leadership competency which includes paying attention to your ‘way of being’. This means observing yourself and how you react to others in various situations. It also means being open to learning so that you can adapt, change, develop, improve and grow.

Working with and leading others can be observed or not observed in the Masterchef Team Challenges. The contestants who engage and encourage others, who listen and develop a shared plan are the ones who win. Self-reflection and being an observer of yourself is crucial for leaders because you have the influence, power and capacity to cast your shadows on other people you work with.  Your shadow sides are the sides of yourself that are dysfunctional, unhealthy, under or over-developed. We see some of the contestants 'shadows' on Masterchef.

So next time you sit down to watch Masterchef,  I invite you to observe the show from the perspective of a leader… 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Raising a Glass...Raising Spirits

You may wonder if it is appropriate to say our role as a leader is to raise spirits – I argue it is, but I am not talking about the vodka or bourbon type spirits. I am talking about our role as a leader is to raise the human spirit. The term spirit can evoke many things for each of us; some interpretations that are offered by Harrison Owen in his book “The Spirit of Leadership” includes breath, life and energy.

Have you ever reflected on previous jobs, remembering with warmth the people who came to work and lifted your spirits when things were not going well for you? In essence, these people were comforting your spirit.

Or what about the amazing leader who has vision – they can evoke our spirit through their vision, they create an energy that can lift us out of the day-to-day mundane and engage, energise and inspire us to be passionate about what we can create.

Owen’s says that   “Though it may be true that leaders have a multitude of very practical tasks, they have one task that outweighs all others: to care for Spirit.” 

Have you ever stopped and thought about how you ‘care for the spirit of those around you?’

The central task of leadership is to liberate and focus Spirit, or create the environment and space in which the work gets done.

Owen says we can ‘Lead with Spirit’ by including the following in our leadership repertoire:

  • Evoking spirit with visionas a leader share your vision!
  • Growing spirit through collective storytellinginvite stories from those around you about themselves and the work they are passionate about
  • Sustaining spirit with structureput in place regular catch-ups with people, have team meetings, create regular spaces to connect  
  • Comforting spirit when things enddeclare when programs have ended or when people leave, acknowledge endings   
  • Raising spirithold celebrations, acknowledge achievements, encourage innovation

What simple practices can you put in place as a leader to ‘Care for Spirit?’ For a conversation contact nicky@  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

ACSWA 2013 Excellence in Care Awards "Southcare wins New Projects Award" for Engaging Young Leaders on Aged Care Boards Project

On Friday the 7th June 2013 the ACSWA Awards Ceremony were held at the Crown Entertainment Complex in Perth, Western Australia. Southcare were finalist for New Projects Award, sponsored by Western United Financial Services Pty Ltd. Board members and staff waited in anticipation for the result…how proud we all were when Russell Woolf announced that Southcare was the winner of the New Projects Award. As the CEO of Southcare I had the great privilege of accepting this award on behalf of the Southcare Board, all the staff and the Project Team. I felt delighted; I am heartened the sector recognises how important it is to engage young leaders in the leadership and governance of the sector.

I am so glad that Alicia Curtis, Dr Anthea McGuigan, Dr Lucy Morris and I initiated the conversations that eventually lead to this project.

I think fundamental to the project’s success was having Alicia Curtis as the Project Manager. Her skills, knowledge, creatively, innovation and passion helped us to keep going with the project when many aged care organisations around us would not engage.

The partnership between Southcare, Bapistcare and MercyCare helped strengthen the project. The 20 Exceptional Young Leaders who undertook the four month leadership program component of the project demonstrated why we need these young leaders in the Aged Care Sector. 

The project’s accomplishments were also due to the talented people who offered their expertise, time and knowledge at the three unconventions or as guest speakers at the leadership program. The individual mentors and Boards who opened up their meetings to enable observations added to the depth of the young leaders learning’s.

I am very grateful to each of you. 

Watch this space! We will tell you more about the four fantastic projects created by the exceptional young leaders and the Online Toolkit that will be released next month. This is the beginning of a new way of being in Aged Care leadership and governance. If you want to contribute to the next phase please contact me.