Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Finally I'm on the cloud

One of the biggest shocks when you leave corporate life is when you realise that no one is automatically backing up your computers. So you set up a routine to do this to an external hard drive, but being human you end up slipping up from time to time. A few months back I had my desktop suddenly go blue screen on me and die and was just incredibly lucky that I had backed up everything the day before.

So in my case backing up has tended to be a hit or miss affair. Finally last week I plucked up the courage to install a cloud drive. I have used one.com, a Danish company, for my web site and been very happy with them. What I like is that if I have a problem I can get into a live chat with a human being, and not have to suffer a support menu of generic solutions. So filled with confidence in one.com I downloaded apps onto my desktop, laptop and iPad, selected all my current folders and just let it get on with it. Two days and 16gb later I am not fully backed up, and the great part is that that the future backups just happen automatically. The moment I update a file, or start a new one results in a backup to the cloud. I can now move from my desktop and have immediate access to the same files on my laptop.

A W E S O M E !


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Talk nerdy to me

Here is some great advice on how to deal with a technical subject in your presentations.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Ryder cup 2012 victory for Europe

José María Olazábal labelled the stunning European triumph in the Ryder Cup as "The Miracle of Medinah" and dedicated it to his great friend Severiano Ballesteros.

"Seve will always be present with this team," said Olazabal, who, of course, formed the best Ryder Cup partnership with Ballesteros. "He was a big factor for this event and last night when we had that meeting the boys understood that believing was the most important thing. "

"It was the greatest comeback in the history of the Ryder Cup, no doubt about it," said Lee Westwood, who somehow pulled around his form to beat Matt Kuchar 3&2.To anyone watching the 2012 Ryder Cup it was one of the most exciting of all time.

"I have never seen anything like it. I've been watching since 85 and have played in eight of them You know I was at Brookline when they did it to us. I was there with Seve. We knew what it was like when the momentum starts to change."

To me it just once again emphasised the part emotion plays in the success of teams. I have been running High Performing Teams programmes for over 10 years, and each time I asked groups to list the attributes of great teams they have worked for, the list is dominated by feelings and emotions.

One of key jobs we do when we are coaching teams is to help them to establish this emotional bond with one another, as we know that this invariably leads to better performance.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Strengths based leadership

In July this year I was asked to run a workshop themed on 'Strengths Based Leadership' which forced me to get serious about the amazing research project run by Gallup. The theory behind the research is that each adult individual possesses a certain number of fixed universal personal-character attributes, defined as "Personal Themes" which in combination effect the individuals tendency to develop certain skills more easily and excel in certain fields while failing in others.

The research claims that by identifying the individual strength of the members of the organisation, its members can be utilised in more suiting positions, hence developing the required skills easily, helping to reduce turnover, improve employee morale and the organization's overall performance.

The Gallup Organization claims to have distilled the theory into practice by interviewing 1.7 million professionals from varying fields, have quantified the different "Personal Themes" of the subjects, and have come up with 34 distinct attributes:[1]

  1. Achiever - one with a constant drive for accomplishing tasks
  2. Activator - one who acts to start things in motion
  3. Adaptability - one who is especially adept at accommodating to changes in direction/plan
  4. Analytical - one who requires data and/or proof to make sense of their circumstances
  5. Arranger - one who enjoys orchestrating many tasks and variables to a successful outcome
  6. Belief - one who strives to find some ultimate meaning behind everything they do
  7. Command - one who steps up to positions of leadership without fear of confrontation
  8. Communication - one who uses words to inspire action and education
  9. Competition - one who thrives on comparison and competition to be successful
  10. Connectedness - one who seeks to unite others through commonality
  11. Consistency - one who believes in treating everyone the same to avoid unfair advantage
  12. Context - one who is able to use the past to make better decisions in the present
  13. Deliberative - one who proceeds with caution, seeking to always have a plan and know all of the details
  14. Developer - one who sees the untapped potential in others
  15. Discipline - one who seeks to make sense of the world by imposition of order
  16. Empathy - one who is especially in tune with the emotions of others
  17. Focus - one who requires a clear sense of direction to be successful
  18. Futuristic - one who has a keen sense of using an eye towards the future to drive today's success
  19. Harmony - one who seeks to avoid conflict and achieve success through consensus
  20. Ideation - one who is adept at seeing underlying concepts that unite disparate ideas
  21. Includer - one who instinctively works to include everyone
  22. Individualization - one who draws upon the uniqueness of individuals to create successful teams
  23. Input - one who is constantly collecting information or objects for future use
  24. Intellection - one who enjoys thinking and thought-provoking conversation often for its own sake, and also can data compress complex concepts into simplified models
  25. Learner - one who must constantly be challenged and learning new things to feel successful
  26. Maximizer - one who seeks to take people and projects from great to excellent
  27. Positivity - one who has a knack for bring the light-side to any situation
  28. Relator - one who is most comfortable with fewer, deeper relationships
  29. Responsibility - one who, inexplicably, must follow through on commitments
  30. Restorative - one who thrives on solving difficult problems
  31. Self-Assurance - one who stays true to their beliefs, judgments and is confident of his/her ability
  32. Significance - one who seeks to be seen as significant by others
  33. Strategic - one who is able to see a clear direction through the complexity of a situation
  34. Woo - one who is able to easily persuade
The Gallup group also claims that each individual's success in a certain field is defined by a combination of five attributes (of the 34 they claim as quantifiable), which considering the complexity of the human mind, is a claim of very high order.

Here is an excellent summary I found on the Internet.

Full Summary of Strengths Based Leadership

Investing in your strengths

Organizations are quick to find leaders who are great communicators, visionary thinkers, and who can get things done and follow through. However, not all leaders are perfect in everything they do, those who strive to be competent in all areas become the least effective leaders overall. Without understanding your strengths, it is impossible to lead effectively. Serious problems occur when we think we need to be exactly like the leaders we admire. Doing so takes us out of our natural element and practically eliminates our chance to be successful.

Maximizing your team

The four domains of leadership strength are executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. Executing domain leaders know how to make things happen. Leaders with strength to execute have the ability to catch an idea and make it a reality.

Leaders who influence people help their team reach a much broader audience. They sell the team’s ideas inside and outside the organization. When you need someone to take a charge, speak up and make sure your group is heard, look to someone with the strength to influence.

Those who lead through relationship building are the essential core that holds a team together. Without these strengths on a team, the group is simply a gathering of individuals. Leaders with exceptional relationship building strength have the ability to create groups that are much greater than the sum of their parts.

Leaders with great strategic thinking strengths are the one who keep the focus and intensity in a team. They are constantly absorbing and analyzing information and helping the team make better judgments. People with strength in this domain constantly think toward the future.


This chapter talks about Wendy Kopp, who is a specialist in executing theme. Her main five strengths are achiever, competition, responsibility, realtor, and strategic. She had created Teach for America from the ground up. Kopp described how hard it had been to build an organization that now has a stable and robust flow of funding and applicants. She described the most difficult challenge was to find talent in order to keep the organization growing. Kopp had to surround herself with the best teachers, fundraisers, and leaders for the future. In her own words, talent was the key element because it “solves all the other problems.” Her responsibility theme is reflected by how she spoke about all the children who deserve a better education. Her competition theme is manifested in the context of “winning” for students in the face of hardship. Her Achiever theme keeps her going day by day tirelessly even when her organization has already reached more than three million students.


When Simon Cooper assumed the role as president of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in 2001, he faced a unique and daunting challenge. Cooper’s charge was to take one of the world’s greatest brands to a new level of excellence.

The Ritz-Carlton brand was already at the top of its game, and taking it to world-class was not an easy undertaking. Cooper was determined to take a legendary guest experience to an entirely different level, reaching the 98 percentile in guests’ satisfaction. Cooper and his team were determined to set a new gold standard. In addition, Cooper also move into selling private residences and fractional ownership, which became the best move in the company’s history.

Cooper talent for influencing serves the greater purpose of running an organization upon which the well-being of more than 40,000 families depends. Simon Cooper realizes that he can change the world, even if it means one person at a time.

Image via Wikipedia

Relationship Building

Mervyn Davies took over as CEO of Standard Chartered, a bank with more than 70,000 employees spread across the globe. Davies would build stronger connections throughout the organization. He was over communicating whenever possible, and was just concentrating with building an organization that had “a heart and a soul.” As a result of Davies extraordinary openness, Standard Charterer’s employees could see how much he loved the bank, and they knew that his heart was in the right place. This created a culture in which employees took ownership over their work instead of passing along blame. It also led to an unprecedented level of trust in their CEO, as they continued to give Davies latitude when he bucked the conventional wisdom. He built trust through relationship. Mervyn Davies had set Standard Chartered up to be about the only bank in the world that was able to grow through one of the most difficult economic periods in recent history. When Davies began to describe the reasons why Standard Chartered had thrived, he spoke with passion. Davies went on to describe how he had “bet his career” early on by focusing on two key things- people and corporate social responsibility- even though many shareholders couldn’t have care less about either. Davies said that the most important aspect of leading simply knows oneself. “Know yourself, know the people around you, and then get on with it.” Davies also went on to say that “if you focus on people’s weaknesses, they lose confidence.”

Strategic Thinking

Anderson was named President of Best Buy in 1991 because he and Schulze made the formal recommendation – that Best Buy move away from a commissioned sales model, where they would just let customers browse whatever they want. This enables Best Buy to become one of the most successful electronic stores. Anderson’s insatiable curiosity also led to an unconventional people-leadership approach. He surrounded himself with people who would challenge his thinking and he was also careful to select leaders who could effectively develop the strengths of those under their charge. Anderson describes the critical role of his self-awareness and authenticity. While Anderson may not be a natural at working a room or chatting up a store full of front-line employees, he has developed a unique way to connect with Best Buy’s employees, customers, and shareholders as he travels around the world: He simply asks great questions.

Anderson insatiable curiosity for everything is what makes him unique and a wonderful leader. He would go to Barnes and Noble and found at least 28 books he wanted to take home. While his strategic thinking led to a few experiments that did not pan out, Anderson unconventional approach helped create unprecedented growth. Had you invested 1000 dollars in Best Buy’s stock in 1991, when Anderson took over as president, it would have been worth 175,000 by 2008. Not bad for a guy who started at the ground level and soared through the ranks.

What Strong teams have in common?

Conflict doesn’t destroy strong teams because strong teams focus on results. What distinguish strong teams apart from others is that debate doesn’t cause them to fragment. Instead of becoming more isolated during tough times, these teams actually gain strength and develop relationships.

Strong teams prioritize what’s best for the organization and then move forward. While competition for resources and divergent points of view exist, the best teams are able to keep the larger goal in view. Members of high-performing teams are consistently able to put what’s best for the organization ahead of their own egos.

Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work. The best teams that we observed seemed to live in a contradiction. Some of the most productive team members work extreme hours and endure amazing level of responsibility. Yet they consider their lives to be in balance. They seem to have enough time to do the things they want to do with their families. As hard as they work for the company, they seem to bring the same level of intensity to their immediate family, social, and community life.

Strong teams embrace diversity. Having a team composed of individuals who look at issues similarly, who have been the product of comparable education backgrounds, and who have same experiences is not a sound basis for success. They have also discovered that the most engaged teams welcome diversity of age, gender and race, while disengaged teams may do the opposite.

Strong teams are magnets for talent. Another way to spot a strong team is to look for the teams that everyone wants to be on. For some people, it may be hard to understand why anyone would want to join a team that works longer and harder hours than anyone else. Yet despite all the consequences and pressure, it is your potential stars who most want to be on these difficult teams. They see top teams as the most stimulating place to be-the place where they can demonstrate their skills and make a real impact at their job. Instead of being intimidated, they reveled in it.

Understanding why people follow

It seems that followers have a very clear picture of what they want and need from most leaders in their lives: trust, compassion, stability, and hope.

Respect, integrity, and honesty are the outcomes of strong relationship built on trust. They don’t have to be discussed, but rather just is present. Most successful teams never talk about trust because it is inherent and acknowledge by everyone in the team. In addition, caring, friendship, happiness, and love were frequently mentioned by followers. Mervyn Davies would always help employees their families, he realized that for people to honestly love the organization, it needed to have a heart. Furthermore, followers want a leader who will provide a solid foundation, whom they could count on in times of need. Finally, followers want someone who gives them hope for the future. When hope is absent, people lose confidence, disengage, and often feel helpless in their job.


Read more: http://bookstove.com/book-talk/a-summary-and-review-of-strengths-based-leadership-by-tom-rath-and-barry-conchie-for-thinking-executives-and-those-who-want-to-be-one/#ixzz2826wf9W9