May 31, 2011

Do you listen or just hear?

My 14 year old daughter has gone deaf.

I don't mean clinically or even functionally. I suspect it is more ontologically. She has willed herself to not hear anything she's not interested in.


Maybe it's a teen phenomenon; however, I think it's more of a human condition.

We're all a bit ontologically deaf. While we may physically hear what someone says to us, do we really listen? According to neuroscientists, we don't. We only really pick up what we're filtering for. 

The brain is constantly being bombarded with sensory input from both internal and external sources. From the beating of your heart, to blinking, pumping blood or breathing, your brain is picking up commands from all over your body. In addition, it picks up temperature changes, wind movements, sounds, sights, smells and every bit of external sensory action around you. You'd actually go mad if you were consciously aware of everything your brain picked up. 

Can you imagine sitting in a meeting and hearing the constant chatter of commands from your body demanding action from your brain? 

So, your clever brain filters all that unwanted noise out. Even the stuff you maybe should hear. 

How can you really listen? Open your mind.

Notice that you have filters (we all do) and put them aside. That person you consider to be a jerk? Remember that it's a filter you have in place based on a decision from the past and set it aside. Really listen to them and you may learn something new. Maybe they're not such a jerk after all- just someone with a different world view.
We each have a unique view of the world, with our own values, priorities and needs. When we find people who match some or most of our ideals, we experience connection and are readily able and willing to hear what they have to say.

It takes a bit more effort with people who have a conflicting world view.

But, it's worth the effort. Go ahead and listen. You might learn something new.

May 27, 2011

Today's impossible is tomorrow's school project

In the 1960s, the idea of a computer in ones home wasn't even on anyone's radar. Touch screens, even more unlikely although the early versions were created around that time.

Yesterday, my 11-year old daughter made a touch screen out of aluminum foil for a school science project.

Remember, today's impossible is tomorrows school project.

Anyone Can

If you ever thought that leadership was only for the select few, this story will change your mind.

Lucia Kennedy is a 12-year old girl in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Just a kid.

Lucia believes that too many people leave their dreams unfulfilled. So she decided to set up a website for people to share their dreams. She's also raising money to fund a coaching and mentoring service for kids to help them fulfill their dreams.

Her website and charity is "Take a Chance On Your Dreams". Lucia designed and set this up all by herself, with no help from her parents.

In the moment that Lucia went from thinking of what she could do to taking action, she became a leader.

Anyone can be a leader, at any age, at any level of a company. They just need to say "I will make this happen."

If you're already a leader, how can you empower your people to take full ownership of the company's future?

If you're not yet a leader, what are you waiting for?

May 26, 2011

Why congruent leaders excel

When my book launches in a few months, you're going to hear a lot more about the importance of congruence in leadership.

Why?

Consider that those people whose values, interests and talents best match the work they do are more qualified, more willing to put in the extra effort and think more innovatively than those who are just going through the motions.

When we love what we do, our work seems effortless. We willingly exert more effort in learning how to be better at what we do and are more likely to spend our off hours coming up with new ideas.

When your people love what they do, they'll go the extra distance.

Great leaders are congruent to their companies. Who they are, what they do and why they excel has more to do with being the perfect fit for their role, than some innate special quality.

Think of something you love to do, and do really well. Notice the difference between your performance there, and where you have to do something you hate.

Enough said.

May 16, 2011

Being a True Leader

I remember when I first met Michael Luscombe at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch. As he spoke about leadership excellence, I noticed the people in the room leaning forward, hanging on his words.

It wasn't just because he was a great speaker. Michael spoke from the heart with the intention to share his truth in an honest reflection of what it takes to lead.  He shared his passion for the company as his professional family, and the ups and downs of his journey over the past thirty years.

The congruence in his words resonated with everyone in the room. Whether they agreed with his views or not, people were excited about his ideas, the opportunity of great leadership and what was possible for themselves.

When we speak authentically, we build connections and seed ideas with those who are listening. We create great friendships, build strong teams and networks, and empower organisations to succeed. In the moment we take a stand to make a positive difference to others and speak from that intention, we become a true leader.

As a True Leader, Michael has championed Woolworths through an extraordinary period of many challenges. I wish him well as he hands over the lead to Grant O'Brien and begins a new journey.