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The Secret to Success

Before moving to Hampshire, I lived on the edge of Surrey and Kent, and became a Governor at a fantastic and forward thinking school, Warlingham.  Warlingham School is a Business and Enterprise Specialist School, which is very active in promoting its specialism through the whole curriculum, and through many special events for the pupils.

On one of these events, I was asked to speak to a large group of younger pupils.  As a professional speaker, this was, perhaps, my toughest gig.  I decided to tell them what every young teenager needs to know in life – the secret to success.

No Snake Oil Merchant

Before you start wondering if I was peddling snake oil, or “the secret”, or some mystical approach, stop now.  The formula I promoted requires application and effort.  It follows common sense, and it is taught in military colleges around the world.

Because of its military roots, it is not well known – yet it deserves to be.  It is brilliant for managers in managing your team and your function, for leaders in reviewing progress, for anyone who wants personal success and, of course, for young people setting out to succeed. It went down a storm.

So what are you contributing to Schools?

I learned a lot by getting involved with Warlingham School, and later, as Chair of Governors at a primary school.  And I hope they got something from my contribution.

We hear a lot about “Big Society” but the truth is that volunteering has always been a big part of British society.  And the biggest single group of volunteers is school governors.  According to School Governors’ One-Stop Shop, there are 300,000 governor places in England, with around 40,000 vacancies – that’s over a quarter of a million active governors!

… and a load of opportunities to get involved.

Make a Business Contribution

18-22Oct

Visit our Schools and Colleges week runs from 18-22 October and offers a collaboration between schools and colleges, and business leaders and senior staff.  Whether you work in the private, public or third sector, here is a chance to spend a couple of hours helping your local school or college and I promise you will love it.

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From the Visit our Schools and Colleges website:

During the week of the 18-22 October leading CEOs and other senior staff from the private and public sectors, at the invitation of head teachers, will visit state schools throughout the country. It will be chance for them to hear from headteachers and young people about their schools, to witness that work at first hand and to discuss how they could work together to help young people reach their potential.

  • It’s free to register and be involved
  • Visits only take 2 hours in October

The National Campaign, the first of its type, will harness the huge appetite across schools, colleges and employers to work together by making it easy and simple.

Hundreds of thousands of employers are already working with schools and colleges and helping young people and at the same time seeing the benefits to themselves of doing so – motivation and retention of their employees who volunteer as well as building their reputation in the community.

Learn about the OODA Loop

9781906610036You can see my original presentation to the children (with an extra page) on Slideshare.net. and read all about it in chapter 10 of the Management Models Pocketbook.

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Other Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy


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Social Networks – a Short Early History

Émile Durkheim

Emile_Durkheim[2] Émile Durkheim has to rank among the great names of social science and is, perhaps, the founding thinker in our modern ideas about social networks.  He first distinguished between ‘traditional’ societies where individuals bow to pressures to subsume their individuality into a homogeneous whole; and more ‘modern’ societies where we seek to harness the diversity of people, by co-operation.  Social phenomena, he argued, are the result of these interactions.

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Ferdinand Tönnies

525px-Ferdinand_Toennies_Bueste_Husum-Ausschnitt[1]His contemporary, Ferdinand Tönnies, distinguished between ‘community’ and ‘society’. Communities share values and beliefs, whilst a society is tied together by formal links such as obligations, management and trade.

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Georg Simmel

Simmel_01[1] A third contemporary, Georg Simmel, first looked at the social distance between people and how this can affect our sense of individuality if we get too close to another person, or our sense of connection if we are too far.

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Jacob Moreno

Jacob_Moreno[1] It was Romanian-born American psychiatrist Jacob Moreno who gave us the tool that I want to focus on: the sociogram.  He looked at how interactions occur in small groups, such as classrooms and workplaces.  Sociograms are still widely used as a way of charting and understanding the relationships among groups of young people.  Some of the earliest graphical depictions of social networks appear in his 1934 book Who Shall Survive?

Jump Sixty Years

Network Nowadays, we are all very familiar with the way the internet is widely connected and the concept of ‘small world’ networks is widely bandied about.

However, these diagrams derive from Moreno’s sociograms, which remain a powerful tool for charting workplace networks.

Stakeholder Analysis

Sociogram As a project manager, I have used sociograms to chart the relationships between stakeholders within and outside organisations, to better understand how I can anticipate and handle resistance to change, and how to harness and reinforce the support that I have.

Anticipating Conflict

9781903776063Max Eggert and Wendy Falzon recommend using sociograms to anticipate conflict between co-workers.

In their Resolving Conflict Pocketbook, they give the example of a workgroup of five colleagues.  They show how, by drawing a simple sociogram, you could anticipate which potential sub-teams could lead to conflict.

Other Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Handling Resistance Pocketbook

The Working Relationships Pocketbook

The Discipline and Grievance Pocketbook

The Influencing Pocketbook

The Networking Pocketbook

The Handling Complaints Pocketbook

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An Infinite Number of Coaching Acronyms

Coaching seems to be one of those disciplines that everyone likes to invent their own process.

I’m not sure if it’s because I like systems, or I like to collect, or I’m just a coaching ‘geek’, but I have been collecting coaching process acronyms ever since I did my first coaching training with Sir John Whitmore in the late 1990s.  So here’s a survey of some of my favourites:

One of the first, one of the simplest and one of the best: GROW

Developed by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and John Whitmore, GROW is fully described in ‘Coaching for Performance’ by Sir John Whitmore.

Goal
Reality
Objectives
Will – Way forward

CoachingSession

ACHIEVE

Dr Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge developed the ACHIEVE Model to make the details of the steps more explicit.  It is one of many, many variants on GROW.

Assess the current situation
Creative Brainstorming of alternatives
Honing goals
Initiating Options
Evaluating Options
Valid action plan design
Encouraging momentum

OSKAR – a Solution Focus Approach

In their book, ‘The Solutions Focus: Making Coaching and Change SIMPLE’, Paul Z Jackson and Mark McKergow introduce the OSKAR Model, which introduces the importance of getting a perspective on the scale of the problem to GROW and its many variants:

Outcome
Scaling
Know How
Application
Review

Don’t confuse this with Worth Consulting’s OSCAR model

Outcome
Situation
Choices and Consequences
Actions
Review

Many, Many More

Here are some more I have inventoried – you may like to look some up on your favourite search engine: WHAM, OUTCOMES, PIDREF, STEPPA, FLOWS, CLEAR, ACHIEVE, ARROW, ACE.  I don’t have the space to spell them all out for you, but if you get really stuck, do feel free to ask in the comments.

Two more – called COACH

Coincidentally, our very own Pocketbooks have two more models to offer you, that are both called COACH.

The Coaching Pocketbook, in the Management Pocketbooks series offers:

9781903776193C – competency – assessing current level of performance
O – outcomes – setting outcomes for learning
A – action – agreeing tactics and initiate action
Ch – checking – giving feedback and making sense of what’s been learnt

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And my own current favourite (if it isn’t a little disloyal to the Pocketblog) comes from the Teachers’ Pocketbook series, and The Coaching & Reflecting Pocketbook:

9781903776711 Clarify the Issue

Open up Resources

Agree the preferred future

Create the Journey

Head for success

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Add your own …

If you have a favourite coaching model or process, please do add it, using the comments section below.

So here’s the deal

No one process is better than the others, so you pays your money (or you get the basics free, online) and you makes your choice.

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The Awesome Power of Mentoring

Mentoring is everywhere!

Mentoring helps people to:

  • Develop knowledge and solve problems
  • Develop leadership
  • Be creative and innovative
  • Make better decisions
  • Develop confidence, commitment, motivation and morale

Mentoring in History

The first mentor was the Athena, goddess of wisdom, in Ancient Greece.

Athena took the form of Mentor, the trusted friend and adviser to Odysseus, King of Ithaca. When Odysseus left for war with the Trojans, Mentor helped his son, Telemachus to learn how to become a king.

Image of Athena by hslo

Fénélon (1651-1715), Archbishop and later tutor to Louis XIV’s son, wrote Les Aventures de Télémaque. This took the mentoring theme of Homer’s Odyssey and turned it into a case study of leadership development. Fénélon said that leadership could be developed but Louis XIV didn’t like that very much and banished him to Cambrai and cancelled his pension. Typical behaviour of elitist egotists!

Louis Antonine de Caraccioli (1723-1803) wrote Veritable le Mentor ou l’education de la noblesse. He says that his influence was Fénélon. Caraccioli invites mentors to work with the mind as well as the heart of mentees.

Honoria wrote two books called The Female Mentor 1793 with a third volume in 1796. The mentor, Amanda, knew about Fénélon and his approach to education and life.

And nowadays?

Nowadays, mentoring is talked about as a learning relationship between two people. It needs active commitment and engagement to be effective. Mentoring also involves skills including listening, questioning, challenge and support. All relationships have a time scale and mentoring maybe life long relationship or just a few months.

Why is mentoring awesome?

Mentoring is a powerful approach to learning and development because, nine times out of ten, it works! People learn and develop, make changes to their lives and feel good about it. Mentoring links to loads of theories on learning and it is mainly based on the idea that it’s good to talk with a purpose!

What makes it work?

Top ten tips for mentors

  1. Keep in touch
  2. Always be honest
  3. Don’t judge listen instead, you might learn something!
  4. Don’t give advice – no-one takes advice unless they want to!
  5. Don’t expect to have all the answers
  6. Help your mentee get resources and further support
  7. Be clear about expectations and boundaries
  8. Stand back from the issues your mentee raises but work together on them.
  9. Respect confidentiality
  10. If the relationship falters – hang on in there!

Top ten tips for mentees

  1. Accept challenge willingly.
  2. Share with your mentor how you feel about the way the relationship is working
  3. Be positive about yourself
  4. Do something!
  5. Trust in your mentor
  6. Talk openly
  7. Take a few risks
  8. Think about other ways to develop yourself outside of your mentoring relationship
  9. Don’t expect too much of your mentor.
  10. Talk about the end of your relationship when the time comes.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The author of this guest blog, Bob Garvey, is co-author of the Mentoring Pocketbook, which has recently been re-issued in its third edition.  Check-out the fantastic new cover!

The Mentoring Pocketbook

You might also like:

And, from our sister series, the Teachers’ Pocketbooks:

They have blog too, by the way, at:  teacherspocketbooks.wordpress.com

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Heron and Helping

JH2[1]

John Heron has been one of the most active and insightful leaders in the world of helping and counselling, yet relatively few coaches and mentors have heard of him.

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‘I don’t know how to Handle my Boss’s Hostility toward me’

This is a typical problem that you may hear from a colleague or client and, if you want to help, there are a number of ways that you could do so.

“What you should do is …”

“Let’s look at some of the things you could do …”

“What behaviours seem hostile to you?”

“How do you feel about this?”

“What’s going on when your boss seems hostile?”

“No-one should feel hostility from their boss …”

These are six examples of a response you could give and, working originally with the medical profession, John Heron identified six categories of intervention in 1974, which are equally helpful to teachers, managers, advisers, counsellors, and consultants.

They help us to understand the relationships between counselling and coaching, or between coaching and mentoring.

Six Category Intervention Analysis

John Heron’s model of six different ways we can intervene to help first divides interventions into Authoritative and Facilitative Interventions.  These each have three styles of intervention within them.

Authoritative Interventions

These interventions are clearly led by the helper, who takes on some of the responsibility for the client.  Here, the helper will guide, raise awareness, and even give instruction or hold the client to account.

  1. Prescriptive
    Giving advice and direction to the client
  2. Informative
    Focusing on giving information the client information and ideas that will help them generate solutions
  3. Confronting
    Focusing on the problem and challenging the client in a supportive way

Facilitative Interventions

These interventions are ‘client-centred’ in the sense that the client must take complete responsibility for themselves and the direction of their support.

  1. Cathartic
    Focused on helping the client to gain insights into their emotional response by expressing their emotions
  2. Catalytic
    Helping the client to learn and solve problems for themself, drawing upon the client’s own resources
  3. Supportive
    Focused on the emotional and confidence needs of the client, by encouraging them and affirming their worth
The ancient Sumerian god Ningishzida, the patr...
Image via Wikipedia
The depiction of the Sumerian serpent god Ningizzida, the patron of medicine, dating from before 2000 BCE, gives us our modern Caduceus symbol for the healing arts and sciences.The god itself is the two (copulating) snakes entwined around an axial rod. It is accompanied by two gryphons.

Misleading Labels

The labels ‘authoritative’ and ‘facilitative’ are, perhaps, misleading.  Each of the six categories of intervention could be led in an authoritative ‘I will take control’ manner, or a facilitative ‘you tell me where to explore next’ manner. Indeed, in his later work, in ‘The Complete Facilitator’s Handbook’, Heron identified three modes of facilitation, which he called:

  1. Hierarchical
    Facilitator directs the process
  2. Co-operative
    Facilitator and client or group share responsibility for the process, the facilitator offering ideas and listening to suggestions to achieve a consensus
  3. Autonomous
    Client or group dictates the process

So here’s the deal

Why do we spend so much time worrying over precise definitions of coaching, mentoring, counselling, advising, consulting and the myriad of supportive help we offer one-another.  John Heron showed us at least three times six = eighteen different ways to help each other and there are doubtless many more.

Coming in future blogs will be insights into resolving conflict, coaching, and, later this week, mentoring.

Management Pocketbooks on these topics

And, in the Teachers’ Pocketbooks series:

And look out for The Cognitive Behavioural Coaching Pocketbook later this year.

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Is your Project Doomed

It’s summer time, so I am always on the look-out for something amusing.  Glen Alleman is a serious project manager who unearthed a humorous – but essentially profound – set of Laws of Project Management, which he calls Brasington’s Laws, after Bil Brasington who first articulated them.  I won’t steal all of his thunder by listing them all – they are well worth a look, on Glen’s Blog, Herding Cats.

Brasington’s 1st, 3rd and 7th Laws

Brasington’s First Law
‘No major project is ever installed on time, within budget, or with the staff that started it. Yours will not be the first.’

Brasington’s Third Law
‘One advantage of fuzzy project objectives is that they let you avoid the embarrassment of estimating the corresponding costs.’

Brasington’s Seventh Law
‘A carelessly planned project will take three times longer to complete than expected; a carefully planned project will take only twice as long.’

Beating Brasington

Of course, you can’t – they’re laws, after all.  However, good project managers will at least try to hold their own against the chaos.  This means a carefully planned project is in order.

To do this, you need to set aside the third law and start with the clearest articulation of project objectives that you can create.  To do this, you need to bring together the key stakeholders to agree what success will look like.  How will each stakeholder evaluate the outcome, and what criteria will they use to measure success?

OnTarget
Photo credit: viZZZual.com

Objective Setting = Negotiation

Sadly, you will rarely work with a set of stakeholders with a single vision of success.  As a project manager, you need to conduct a set of negotiations to bring all stakeholders into alignment around a core set of objectives that they can all agree on.  Once you have done that, you must then create and agree with them a process for agreeing any variations to this.  If you don’t, then you will surely fall prey to …

Brasington’s 5th Law

Brasington’s Fifth Law
’If project content is allowed to change freely, the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.’

Conducting Negotiations

9781903776872

This is a nice metaphor for much of what real project management really is – and is the image that Pocketbooks illustrator, Phil Hailstone, placed on the cover of The Project Management Pocketbook, by Keith Posner and Mike Applegarth.

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This excellent Pocketbook has more on defining outcomes, setting objectives and working with stakeholders.

Other Management Pocketbooks
Project Managers might Enjoy

You may also enjoy the author’s own Project Management blog, Shift Happens!

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Coping in Tough Times

Personal success is about more than taking advantage of opportunities.  One of the most powerful personal attributes is resilience – the ability to take the knocks that fate lands on you, and then get back on your feet and keep going.

Mistakes; I’ve made a few

Photo credit Nicobobinus

Of course, it is okay to make mistakes and, if you aren’t making any then you are either playing it too safe to really succeed, or you are supernaturally lucky.  The first key to coping in tough times is to be able to evaluate risks and  to take a few, knowing that one or two failures are not a sign of inevitable doom.

If, on the other hand, a pattern of failures seems to dominate your career, then maybe it is time to evaluate your decision making process.  Probably, either your criteria are wrong, or you are not fully evaluating all of the evidence before you take your risks.

The Grass is always Greener

Few people worry about how well they are doing until they suspect that their peers are doing better.  When things are easy, it is no problem to set ourselves goals and evaluate progress against them, but as things start going bad, we often feel tempted to glance over the fence to see how the folk next door are doing.  Unless you can deliberately learn from their experience, this is a destructive strategy.  If they are doing better than you, you’ll resent it: if worse, you’ll be tempted to complacency.

Continue to set yourself goals and monitor your progress against your own standards.

The Universe doesn’t hate you

In fact, it’s pretty indiscriminate.  So do not feel that adversity is your fault, or that you are fated to have bad luck.  Instead, believe in your ability to control aspects of your future, and focus on those aspects.  Let the things you cannot control happen.

There’s no point in staying angry

Oliver Burkeman in Saturday’s Guardian reported on research which shows that forgiveness really does help us, by making us less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, clinical depression and other health problems.  So don’t get angry, don’t stay angry and let go of past injustices and misfortunes.

Personal Success is a Set of Skills

There are a pocketful of Pocketbooks to help you achieve success, starting with The Personal Success Pocketbook, in which you will learn that Abraham Lincoln suffered twelve major failures before being elected President – that’s resilience.  Of course, we could argue that perhaps he’d have lived a longer life if he’d taken heed!

More Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Impact & Presence Pocketbook

The Networking Pocketbook

The Career Transition Pocketbook

The Positive Mental Attitude Pocketbook

The Self Managed Development Pocketbook

The Energy and Wellbeing Pocketbook

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I can’t do that now

The NLP wave rises and falls and, frankly, I’ve lost track of whether it is near a popularity peak or a sceptical slump.  Of all the ideas that managers use, this is the one that comes in and out of vogue most often – on a two or three year cycle, it seems to me.

Why does NLP peak and trough so much?

Many practitioners do NLP no great service in making some extravagant claims for what it can achieve, whilst others doggedly push away at the very real benefits of improved communication, processes and insights that an understanding of its models can offer us.  The world becomes exhausted by and cynical of the excessive zeal of some trainers, then recovers, as other trainers help build a new cohort of learners who can see real benefits.

Gillian Burn’s NLP Pocketbook is a contribution to ‘real benefits’ end of the spectrum, and has a nice take on one of the most powerful NLP models.

Logical Levels of Change

This model has many uses, so let’s pick one: let’s say that you ask someone to do something.  Let’s further assume that your request is reasonable, and that your relationship with them is good, so you have every reason to expect them to comply.  So it comes as a surprise when they say:

‘I can’t do that now.’

Handling Resistance

This sounds like resistance, so rule number one is to respect the resister and assume that their reason for resisting is a good one.  But what is it.  On the face of things, their statement gives you no clues; but if you listened very carefully, they probably told you exactly where the problem is.

Listen Carefully

What you are listening for is where they put the emphasis of their statement.  It may be very subtle, but can be remarkably obvious.  They may have said any of these statements:

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘there is a problem with the time or place.’

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘I have a problem with what you want me to do’

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘I don’t have the ability to do it’

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘I don’t believe I can do it’

I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘this is not something I can do’

Once you know where the problem lies, you can tackle it more confidently.

What else?

Could there be another reason?  What if there appears to be no emphasis.  The Logical Levels model suggests a sixth possible level, deeper than the five we have seen.  If we characterise these five as:

Environment – Action – Capability – Belief – Identity

… the sixth level is Purpose, or meaning.

People need a Purpose

We all need a meaning to our lives and a purpose for doing something.  In their mind, they are possibly asking ‘why?’ If you are unable to supply a good reason, then you should not be surprised to encounter resistance.  One of the powerful words we looked at in an earlier blog is because.’

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The NLP Pocketbook

The NLP Pocketbook
is full of easy to follow descriptions and examples from the best tools that NLP has to offer.

NLP, by the way, stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming

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There is also a chapter on the NLP model of communication in:

You might also like:

So here’s the deal

Listen carefully when people resist you, act on the information you gather: not your assumptions, consider the powerful tools NLP can offer you.

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The Power of a Single Word

There are some words in our language that seem to have special powers that elevate them above the ordinary day-to-day words.  They are a bit like super-heroes and super-villains, in the world of mere humans.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: A man dressed as Clark Kent poses as Melburnians participate in a Guinness World Record attempt for the most number of people dressed in superhero costume at Federation Square on May 29, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. The event was organised to mark the 75th anniversary of DC Comics. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Because

What would encourage you to do someone a favour? Helen Langer, Arthur Blank and Benzion Chanowitz did an experiment asking 120 students if they could jump the queue to use a library photocopier. The experimenter asked in three different ways:

  1. May I use the machine?
    Giving no reason
  2. May I use the machine, because I have to make copies?
    Giving no real reason
  3. May I use the machine, because I’m in a rush?
    Giving a reason

When the request was a small one – with only five sheets to copy – 60% of the students asked obliged without hearing a reason (Request number 1). With a reason (Request Number 3), 94% agreed. And with no real reason (Request number 2), 93% were prepared to oblige. The reason is clearly not important; what was important was that there was a reason – the students heard the word “because” and that was enough.

Why

Why is like one of those super-heroes who can turn super-evil at times.

The Good:  Ask the question ‘why?’ about a problem enough times, and then ask why about the answers you get, and then keep repeating.  You will almost always find your way to the root cause of the problem.  This is the basis of the ‘Five Whys’ method.

The Evil:  Ask me ‘why did you do that?’ and you will usually get a defensive answer.  ‘Why?’ feels like an attack on our very values that direct our decision making, so we react against the question and rarely give a resourceful answer.  A better question might be: ‘what were your criteria when you chose to do that?’

But

‘I like your new suit, but…’ As soon as we hear the ‘but’, our brain thinks ‘aha – here comes the truth.’ We switch off to what we have just heard, making the first half of the statement almost invisible.  Better to say ‘and’‘I like your new suit, and if I’d have been choosing, I would have preferred a blue one for myself.’

You

Another super-hero/super-villain.  When I talk about you and what you want and what I can offer you, you feel like I am giving you all of my attention.  ‘You’ has the power to make a reader or listener feel special.

When I use ‘you’ in describing a wrong action or assigning blame, I will trigger your defence mechanisms that start to create conflict.  ‘You never do the washing up.’  ‘You make me so angry, when you….’ Better to say ‘I really prefer it when the washing up is done.’  ‘I get angry when I feel I can’t influence…’

So here’s the deal

Pay attention to the words you use – they really do matter.

What other words have super powers?
Contribute yours to the comments section below.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

Impact & Presence Pocketbook

Communicator’s Pocketbook

Influencing Pocketbook

Handling resistance Pocketbook

Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook

Coaching Pocketbook

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: A man dressed as the Incredible Hulk poses as Melburnians participate in a Guinness World Record attempt for the most number of people dressed in superhero costume at Federation Square on May 29, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. The event was organised to mark the 75th anniversary of DC Comics. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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Aubrey and Maturin, Arthur and Merlin

I have just finished a ten year endeavour – reading all twenty of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey – Maturin novels, two a year.  These are set in the time of Napoleon, among characters of Britain’s Royal Navy.  Here, ‘Lucky’ Jack Aubrey is one of Nelson’s Band of Brothers – a fighting Captain sailing a fine frigate with a well-trained crew around the world, fighting for England.  Stephen Maturin is his friend, his ship’s surgeon, a skilled naturalist and an intelligence officer for the Admiralty.

Captain Jack Aubrey (left, played by Russell Crowe) and Dr Stephen Maturin (right, played by Paul Bettany) in the Twentieth Century Fox film ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World ’.

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That’s enough of the ‘fan stuff’.  If you are a fan, you know all of this – if you aren’t, you either don’t care, or will one day pick up the first book in the series, ‘Master and Commander’, and become hopelessly hooked.

By the way, the movie ‘Master and Commander’ was subtitled ‘The Far Side Of The World’ because it was most closely based on the tenth novel of that name.

Back to Management…  and Leadership

There are too many models of leadership to name, but one of the commonest approaches is to consider how to combine and apply different leadership styles to a situation.  These are sometimes called ‘contingency models’ or ‘situational models’.  Whilst the best known are the trademarked and copyrighted models of situational leadership promoted by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard, they all track back to the earliest and possibly the best; that of Tannenbaum and Schmidt.

Attention to task and Attention to the person

All of these (and we could throw around names like Mouton & Blake, and Fiedler too) combine how much attention we give to getting the job done, focusing on facts and data; and how much we attend to the people concerned and our relationship with them.  My worry is that these do not account for the extraordinary leadership O’Brian’s two characters show throughout over 6,000 pages of historically detailed and compelling novels.

Did Patrick O’Brian get it wrong?

This is a fair question, but I think we have to conclude not.  Not only do the characters ring true to thousands (maybe millions) of readers, but Jack Aubrey at least is based closely on a real person, Lord Thomas Cochrane.  Maybe, then, these models of leadership are missing something.

Arthur and Merlin, Watson and Holmes, Kirk and Spock

Captain Kirk is a fearless warrior, prepared to take on any odds in fighting for what he believes in.  So are King Arthur, Dr Watson and Captain Aubrey.  They mobilise their resources and use whatever skills, knowledge and power they have to protect what they value.  Great leader are fighters, prepared to rally their followers and inspire them with their courage, persistence and, ultimately, sacrifice.

Sherlock Holmes, whilst equally fearless, stands for something creative, insightful and even mystical, in his mastery of the finest detail of his science.  So too with Merlin, Mr Spock and Dr Maturin.  People follow them, not because of their desire to fight, but because of the sacrifice they have made in mastering their science or their art.  They are visionary and knowledgeable to a degree that inspires others to follow them.

Where are the task focused and
people focused leaders in fiction?

They are there, in the background, getting the job done and looking after the walk-on characters.  Dr McCoy, Mrs Hudson, Guinevere, Killick, Pullings, Lancelot, Scotty, Lestrade.  Often they are important characters in bringing balance, but they are not the ones who compel our attention.  They are heroes in their own right, but are loved for their contribution to the whole story and their support of those who dominate.

So here’s the deal

Leadership has many dimensions: fighting for what you believe in, a passionate commitment to a body of knowledge or skills, a deep concern for people, a resolute determination to see a job through, and many more.  Your model of leadership must focus on the style of leader you choose to be.  Don’t accept someone else’s model uncritically – it may not work for you.

But also know that to really lead, you need a supporting cast of other heroes to support you or, from another point of view, you can lead without being a star, in a supporting role that brings balance and wholeness.

… and, if you haven’t already done so, go order a copy of ‘Master and Commander’, read it, become hopelessly hooked, and learn new ways to think about management and leadership.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Leadership Pocketbook
– looks at a range of leadership styles

The Management Models Pocketbook
– describes Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s Leadership Continuum, and also John Adair’s Action Centred Leadership

The Motivation Pocketbook
– lots of ways a leader can motivate their followers

The Teambuilding Activities Pocketbook
– activities like sailing a 28 gun frigate into battle, exploring space in a starship, solving a brutal murder, and questing for the holy grail
… are strangely missing from an otherwise excellent selection!

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