We coach leaders.

Brain Obesity

August 11th, 2014

brain600

 Does my brain look big in this?

This catchy title caught my attention on David Ryan Polger’s talk at the recent Springfield TEDx.  Polger argues that because we’re now overloaded with unlimited information we’ve become ‘mentally obese’.  He uses the food pyramid as an analogy:  just as a healthy daily diet consists of cereals and grains at the base, then vegetables and fruit next up, with dairy, meat, fish, beans, eggs and nuts after that and fats, oils and sweets at the pointy top of the pyramid, so too do we need to keep a balance between the amount of information we take in each day and the time we invest in synthesising this as knowledge and ultimately wisdom.

How do we synthesis information?

I believe the key to this is through reflection: taking regular time to pause and ponder so that we can ingest the information that is all around us.

And this reminds me of why I continue to be passionate about supporting clients through our Leadership Coaching service.  We AnD coaches give our clients the time and space in a safe supportive environment for reflective practice.  Or, as a recent client said to me, “you help me to hear what I’m thinking”.

What about you?

Are you feeling mentally obese?  If so here is some ‘food for thought’ to get you pondering how you might embark on a mental fitness program.

brain

Brain food

Breaking the glass ceiling for women

February 12th, 2014

Unknown

Kate Ramsay writes: one of the ways we coaches at AnD support our female Leadership Coaching clients is to help them explore ways that they might navigate their way through the so-called glass ceiling that continues to plague organisations in Australia.  This is the name given to the wide range of cultural and systemic things that enables blokes’ careers to progress relatively smoothly while that of women tends to be filled with bumps – this is of course bad for women and for organisations.

Male Champions of Change

Making changes to break down these barriers has been seen as women’s work in my almost 30 years of consulting and coaching experience.  I was therefore thrilled to learn about a relatively new organisation consisting of so called captains of industry who have joined together to look at what they can collectively do to make change.  Called Male Champions of Change, the group includes Ian Watt (head of Prime Minister and Cabinet), Martin Parkinson (head of Treasury), army chief Lieutenant-General David Morrison, Qantas boss Alan Joyce, ASX chief Elmer Funke Kupper, banking heads Ian Narev (Commonwealth) and Mike Smith (ANZ), Telstra’s David Thodey, Simon Rothery from Goldman Sachs, Stephen Roberts from Citi and KPMG’s Geoff Wilson.

 

At a recent forum in Sydney the group launched a 12-point action plan aimed to increase the numbers of women in their senior ranks.  Included in their plan is the ‘plus one’ initiative that expects their managers to add at least one woman to their teams as roles arise; and if not, they’ll be asking ‘why not?’  Also included is mentoring and sponsorship of talented women, making sure women get ‘hot jobs’, normalising flexible hours, getting managers and recruitment agencies to cast their nets more broadly rather than ‘like hiring like’ and setting and implementing internal goals for better gender balance.

images

 

I can only assume that these heavy weights have come to realise that it makes good business sense to select from 100% of the available talent rather than 50%.  Hurray I say and here’s to their resounding success!

How about you?

What’s going on in your organisation?  Do men and women get and equally fair go?

images-1

It’s dumb of leaders if they don’t tap 100% of the available talent pool!

December 17th, 2013

Unknown‘Hey Mum, have you got that in your newsletter?’  I was telling my son that the topic of my latest newsletter, Value Adding # 66, is gender inequality while lamenting that this is still an issue as we head towards 2014.  I’d made the statement above, to which he’d asked this question.  I had not included it and now have.

 

As I said in this newsletter, two heavy weight organisations in Australia have put in place stringent measures to increase the number of women in their senior ranks:  the Business Council of Australia (BCA) and a fairly recently formed group called Male Champions of Change.  The BCA is now seeking a range of responses from its members and has set a target of women in 50% of senior jobs by 2023.  Male Champions of Change have a 12-point action list which includes some practical suggestions including the ‘plus one’ initiative that expects that “managers in their organisations will add at least one woman to their teams as roles arise; and if not, they’ll be asking ‘why not'”.

 

Surely I said to my son with a sigh, with these initiatives in place sanity will prevail and Australian organisations will indeed begin to tap 100% of the available talent pool rather than only 50%.

 

How about your organisation?  How’s it doing in terms of gender equality?

images

How hope can aid a meaningful life

June 3rd, 2013

imagesA dear friend of mine has had a severe stroke.  She is facing the slow journey towards rehabilitation with enormous courage.  A few months ago she named me the Captain of her Hope Team, a title I carry with pride and a deep sense of responsibility.

 

I was therefore very interested to read a paper forwarded to me from a colleague that links hope with a meaningful life.  I confess that I found the academic language of the authors, David B. Feldman and C.R. Snyder, hard to follow until I read:

 

“Having a strong sense of hope, particularly when focused on especially meaningful goals, may lead to a perception that these goals can actually be accomplished and that a meaningful life can actually be constructed.  This perception may lend a sense of meaning in one’s present existence inasmuch as one’s current actions further these goal-pursuits.”

 

I forwarded these 2 sentences to my friend and she took comfort from the fact that there is now research linking hope with life meaning through the achievement of goals.

 

Remarkably, my friend has remained hopeful of a return to her normal life, and this goal has helped her attack her demanding therapies with determination and positive energy.  She is repeatedly told she is an inspiration – and she is!  Her current meaning and purpose is to be well again, and she is committed to then using her experience of stroke recovery to benefit others going through a similar journey, and their families. And she recently shared with me that this longer term goal gives her a real sense of life purpose.

How about you?

For people whose sense of life meaning and goals are less clear than my friend’s, one of the services offered by my business, AnD Leadership Consulting, is Vision Coaching.  This is a facilitated process that helps clients create a compelling vision for their future then set meaningful goals to make this a reality.  I’d be delighted to hear from you if you’d like to know more.images-1

Being true to our ‘good wolf’

March 25th, 2013

2 Wolves
A friend shared this Cherokee Proverb with me and I felt to share it through my blog.
In reflective moments I check in with myself to ensure my good wolf is influencing the ways I relate with others and the choices I make. When I find myself having a nasty thought I pause and invite my bad wolf to go back into its cave where it belongs.

I haven’t consciously used this proverb in my Leadership Coaching work. However given the purpose of my work as a coach is to support people to be the best they can be, I am now realising I support my clients to be true to their good wolf too.

How about you?  Are you true to your good wolf in your daily life?

Three core human needs

November 12th, 2012

I wrote about these in an AnD Leadership Consulting newsletter many years ago but have decided to remind my readers about them again in this blog having observed the increased bounce in my partner’s step since he began a new venture.

 

More of him in a minute but first, according to a psychiatrist I heard interviewed on the ABC, those of us who have our safety and shelter needs met can best sustain a sense of wellbeing if we have someone to love, something to look forward to and something to do.  I like that he said someone to love, rather than someone to love us, and I do my best to always have something to look forward to, just like this little girl.  However I have adapted the third need by adding the word ‘meaningful’ because I find my state of wellbeing is definitely lifted when I have some things to do that give my days a sense of meaning and purpose.

My partner David is now enjoying a happy state of semi-retirement and, as above, he’s had that little extra bounce in his step since embarking on a new business.  The trees on our property here at Byrongerry in northern NSW are covered in stag horns.  David’s new venture is to mount, propogate and sell them.  He has acquired the appropriate license and has registered a business name:  Stagosaurus is open for business, giving David something meaningful to think about and do.

 

How about you?

Do you have someone to love, something to look forward to and something meaningful to do in your life?  And if not, what can you do to change this?

What’s the difference between mentoring and coaching?

September 25th, 2012

My partner asked me this question the other day which triggered the thought that this was a good topic for a blog.  In fact the terms coaching and mentoring have become blurred – for example I have a colleague whose PhD thesis was on the topic of what he calls mentoring, yet the process he was describing is what I call coaching.  So it’s a matter of what each of us wants to understand by these terms.  Here’s how I differentiate them:

What’s a mentor?

To me a mentor is a wise elder, who possibly works in the same organisation or in the same field as their ‘mentee’ – I hate that word but you know what I mean!  A mentor can show others the ropes, keep them informed about what’s really going on and give sound advice.

What’s a coach?

A coach on the other hand is an enabler of their clients’ learning.  I believe it is the coaches’ role to be a catalyst or facilitator of their clients’ self-discovery by  listening well and asking open ended questions.  A coach can offer options, suggest what others have done in a similar situation and share tools and models that they hope will contribute to their clients’ insight but they will never give advice.

What I do

In my professional life I coach my Leadership Coaching clients and I mentor some others in my network in an informal way as a volunteer.  I also receive regular coaching support from my coach and seek wise counsel from a number of mentors depending on what issue I’m needing to resolve at any given time.

 How about you?

Have you got a coach and mentors in your life to support you?

# 19 Leaders think differently

August 30th, 2012

I am still basking in the enjoyment I experienced at the 2012 Byron Bay Writers Festival.  One of the speakers was Geoff Gallop, former premier of WA and now an academic at Sydney University.  He spoke about the many challenges faced by political leaders and quoted Paul Keating from the 2002 Curtin Lecture.  Keating:

 

Leaders are significant in history. There is more to history than the determinism of events; personalities do matter, the scope of their minds matters, their courage matters, their capacity to make people believe, matters. And leaders carry that singular burden, responsibility. Being trustee of the nation’s safety and its future directions, and the pressure that that involves, makes a leader’s thought processes different from other ministers or officials.

Leaders need support

I provide one on one leadership coaching support to leaders in the business sector be that a corporation, a not for profit an SME or their own small business.  I see one of my roles at being a professional companion to my clients as they face the loneliness that goes with needing to have the courage and skill to “make people believe” by, as Keating said, thinking differently from their team and their other stakeholders.

This is why there are lots of truisms said about leaders: my two favourites are:

Leaders absorb the pain, and

It’s lonely at the top.

Are you feeling the loneliness of leadership?

If you are, seek out a professional mentor or coach who can act as a safe sounding board for you and provide the confidential time for the reflective practice that is essential for effective leadership – for thinking differently.

 

# 18 Are you ready for self-actualisation?

July 6th, 2012

I have been a fan of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs for a long time.  in the early ’50s Maslow described a 5 step process we humans need to take to reach self-actualisation (which he defined as self-fulfilment and reaching our full potential).  As per the diagram on the left we must first get our physical needs satisfied, the core of which are our food and shelter.  Next come our safety and security needs, then our need for acceptance, belonging and love.  Once these needs are met we move to satisfying our success and self-esteem needs which leads to our self-actualisation.  Whew!

The how to of self-actualisation

If this feels like a high mountain to climb, the good news is that Maslow says that the way to achieving self-actualisation is through self-exploration and action.  Given the core of the AnD Leadership Coaching methodology involves self-reflection for fresh insights, then taking the appropriate actions to achieve one’s vision, we could say that the purpose of our Leadership Coaching process is self-actualisation.

Are you ready for self-actualisation?

If you’d like some help we’d be delighted to give you a hand!

# 17 The and/both of Facebook

May 29th, 2012

I am not on Facebook nor do I intend to be.

However I was fascinated by an ABC program a couple of weeks ago about Mark Zuckerman and the Facebook phenomenon.  I learned that this is a man with a vision to connect people with each other and he’s apparently about to connect the 1 billionth such person.

Two things particularly fascinated me about the program and kept me up later than usual:  the first was the power of his vision which meant it was easy for he and his team to refuse a several billion dollar buy out offer because “we are clear that we are in the business of connecting people with each other not in the business of making lots of money”.

The program tracked the viewer through Zuckerman’s life and education and the second thing that especially caught my attention was that he studied computer science and psychology at university.  “Aha” I thought, this is what makes this guy different from other computer science nerds – he brings a people focus to Facebook as well as a clever technical offering and I believe this and/both approach will have contributed to his success.

The and/both of AnD Leadership Consulting

Where Zuckerman brings an and/both approach to Facebook by combining an understanding of people and science, we at AnD provide coaching services to our clients to help them use both their hearts and their heads to explore both their vision and the appropriate strategies for their businesses and their lives.  To learn more contact Kate Ramsay at [email protected]

How about you?

How do you apply and/both thinking to your business and/or your life?

  • Login