Author: Kevin Watson

Who Do You Influence?

All of us are influenced by people, places, events and situations all of the time. Sometimes we are affected more or less by these things, but we are continually being influenced by what happens around us. It is true to say that we cannot not influence those around us, so the trick is to become ‘conscious influencers‘. Of course, there is no right way, nor is there only one way to influence others. Everything, but everything, is a factor when influencing people. Excellent influencing skills require a combination of interpersonal, communication, presentation and assertiveness techniques. Influencing is about being able to move things forward, without pushing, forcing or telling others what to do. It is about adapting and modifying your personal style when you become aware of the effect you are having on other people, while still being true to yourself. Behaviour and attitude change are what’s important, not changing who you are or how you feel and think. It is about understanding yourself and the effect or impact you have on others. Sometimes you can get so used to your own personal style or way of being or pattern of communicating, that you don’t think of how it is being received, and you don’t think of behaving in any other way. Influencing others is about having the confidence and willingness to use yourself to make things happen. It...

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Managing In a Virtual World

Historically, management has been based on the workforce being located in the same place, all there at the same time and sharing a common culture. This has led to many of today’s managers believing it’s their job to control the workforce.  However, the role of today’s manager is to lead others to manage themselves. After all, even if the traditional role of management is desirable, it simply isn’t practical when people are located all over the map!  Working effectively with teams made up of people from different locations means learning a whole new style of management. Although an effective style in a more traditional work setting, management by walking around needs some adapting for the new virtual workplace. Most managers are used to being hands on, physically checking in on the work being done, and getting updates. Therefore, they are naturally concerned about how they will control the quantity and quality of work when people are scattered about at various locations. At a fundamental level, managing from a distance means learning to build trust and delegate effectively. But developing the social warmth, spontaneous humour and social bonding that comes naturally when people come together, can be the leader’s biggest challenge. Managers can deal with these challenges both confidently and effectively by adopting the following framework: create a vision for the organisation, one that others find inspiring and energising get...

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Make Sure Your Feedback Lands!

Can you remember what was written on your school reports? Whenever I pose this question, it seems to summon up negative memories for most people. Hardly anyone remembers being praised or told they were doing really well. Quite the contrary. Often people remember comments like “Anne is a quiet child” without thinking too hard and almost everyone remembers “could do better“! Now, answer this one…  What was the nicest thing anyone has said to you recently? It is fascinating to observe people when I ask this question, as they scratch their head, squirm a bit and generally fail to come up with anything positive that someone else has said about them.  But why is this? I fail to believe that nothing positive has been said, so are they simply trying to avoid coming up with anything through some misguided sense of modesty? Somewhere in our past, people seem to have learned to hide away their talents, in case others view them as big-headed. After all, if you chat to a bunch of five year olds, you won’t have any difficulty in finding out what they’re good at!  But when we grow up, the belief that we shouldn’t declare our talents for fear of being seen as boastful can lead us to deflect the praise we are given each and every day.  Stop to notice how this plays out with...

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What Direction Are You Talking?

Have you ever stopped to consider the direction in which you are focusing someone’s attention, simply by what you say and how you say it? Recently, I’ve been working with a group of senior leaders who have unconsciously been mis-directing their team’s attention. The first was telling me how her team were coming up with reasons and excuses for performance rather than specific actions for the coming week and month. As we chatted further, she slapped her forehead and exclaimed “Doh!“ In that ‘Homer Simpson‘ moment, she had realised the form she had helped to design for the team to capture their actions had a comments box titled ‘reasons‘! By simply changing this to ‘actions‘, the attention of the team has been gently pointed to future possibilities as opposed to past excuses. This unconscious misuse of language carries into whole cultures, too. A retail business I am currently working with has established a strong pattern of reviewing last week’s sales performance against last year, budget, forecast, etc.  When visiting stores, the senior and regional team team will ask something like “what happened yesterday / last week?” This plays out in almost every conversation I’ve been part of and will be familiar to many other people, in many other organisations, too. It is normal, how we have been taught and what we have experienced ourselves, so why wouldn’t we do this? Well,...

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What Is Your Leadership Brand?

Recently, whilst clearing out some old files from my online library, I came across a piece of work on leadership behaviour that I had carried out over eight years ago that still appeared to be current. At that time, I had been working with a senior team in the construction industry, specifically on their leadership brand, and had asked them to define leadership in the context of their organisation. Over several sessions, I’d spent time with each member of the team asking them the question “what does leadership mean to you, within the context of your organisation?” A number of insights emerged from these conversations and I’d like to share them with you. Using the team’s metaphor of taking a mid table Premier League soccer club to one that would seriously challenge for the Champions League trophy, three key headings started to form, each with behaviours sitting underneath that the team had identified as critical to great leadership:  DELIVERY Establishes, maintains and ensures an absolute focus on delivery Embraces and accepts accountability with consequence, and develops this with the rest of the team Shows trust by adopting a way of working that can be viewed as “Management By Getting Out of the Way“ Not a “YES” man / woman…is someone who will readily challenge the status quo, thinking and practice Keeps it simple and demonstrates an ability to cut...

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