Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CEO Flat Out!

CEO Flat Out !
I have recently commenced learning the Alexander Technique - named after actor Frederick Matthias Alexander,who developed its principles in the 1890s. Alexander believed his work could be applied to improve individual health and well-being. He further refined his technique of self-observation and re-training to teach his discoveries to others. He published four books to explain his thinking behind the various practices.

I am undertaking weekly private lessons with Elena Cabrera, who is able to teach me how to hold myself and move with better poise and less strain. The hour long sessions include chair and table work, often in front of a mirror, during which you are taught how to stand, sit and lie down, moving efficiently while maintaining a correct relationship between your head, neck and spine. The purpose of the Alexander Technique is to help you unlearn maladaptive physical habits and return to a balanced state of rest and poise in which your body is well-aligned. It teaches you how to stop using unnecessary levels of muscular and mental tension during your everyday activities which can cause neck, shoulder and back pain.

Practitioners say that such problems are often caused by repeated misuse of the body over a long period of time, for example, by standing or sitting with one's weight unevenly distributed, holding one's head incorrectly, or walking or running inefficiently.

The Alexander Technique is an educational process rather than a relaxation technique or form of exercise.

So why am I flat out? Well each day I take 15 minutes out of my day to do a daily un-exercise, which requires me to lie down on the floor in a semi-supine position. This balanced resting position helps me to unwind and builds my skills at maintaining my poise in any situation. This practice enables me to achieve a high level of muscular release throughout my body and a deeper breathing pattern occurs which helps my whole system to calm down.  

The benefits of being ‘flat out’ for 15 minutes are very tangible. I am noticing:
  • Releases muscles and joints
  • Takes the pressure off spine
  • Release diaphragm giving more rib movement
  • Allows for regular breathing
  • Gives digestive release
  • Frees neck muscles
  • Takes the pressure off the eyes
  • Jaw releases
  • Unclenches the hands
  • Gives me time to think and become more conscious

I have also noticed that I have more stamina in the afternoon and I am developing a greater capacity to observe myself and not just react to events.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Leadership Retreats: Are they worth it?

A few weeks ago, the eight members of the Southcare Leadership Team spent a few days away on a leadership retreat. The retreat was co-designed and facilitated by Anne Courtney and Tony Clitheroe. The purpose of the retreat was to:

• Connect with a potential vision for the future of Southcare;
• Commit to leading for the whole organisation rather than specific programs; 
• Understand each team member’s personal strengths and learning edges;
• Appreciate our authentic leadership offer and contribution to the future of Southcare; 
• Understand the team’s strengths and gaps; 
• Contribute to maximising team diversity for the purpose of fulfilling Southcare’s mission;
• Understand what is meant by strategic thinking; 
• Have clarity about what is involved at a personal and team level in practicing strategic thinking, creativity and innovation;
• Have an experience of using inquiry and advocacy to have conversations for possibility and opportunity;
• Commit to specific actions to enhance the strategic leadership of Southcare. 

Prior to the retreat we read a number of articles on how to think strategically, the difference between strategic thinking and strategic planning and how strategic thinking can be captured into five discrete but inter-related elements; systems perspective, intent focused, intelligent opportunism, thinking in-time and hypothesis driven.  Tony skillfully introduced us to a number of strategic planning frameworks; the one that really resonated was McKinsey's Capacity Framework. We have since reviewed our strategic plan to ensure we have the 10 essential elements as the key components of our plans.

Annie cleverly used a video of Dr Fiona Woods to help us to explore questions about leadership and gain clarity on what are the attributes that make up good leadership.  

Tony facilitated interactive activities using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and team member’s profiles to appreciate the diversity within the team, maximising team strengths, team gaps and how to fill the gaps. What fun we had in seeing the rich diversity and similarities in the team, oh how we can now understand each other that bit more!

Annie invited us to identify what we each bring to the leadership table and we spent time creating and then articulating to each other our ‘Leadership Offer’ in relation to our: 
• Passion
• Personal gifts/strengths 
• Contribution to Southcare
• Learning edge

We also had time some exploring the teams concerns, capacity and willingness to engage in constructive/conflict conversations. 

So where are we as a leadership team? Feedback from the team is really positive, we have a clearer aspiration for Southcare. We are a 'performing team' who will work together to continue to implement a range of strategies to provide service excellence to our internal and external community. Yes leadership retreat are worth it!