Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Secret to Igniting Possibility

I’ve spent my career working in and on projects on both sides of the fence with many talented people and some less talented who, with genuine attention and guidance, have been able to develop to their fullest potential. I’ve also seen those who’ve been left un-nurtured become despondent, frustrated, and resistant to everything. Regardless of the project or industry sector people are it, which means that if we as leaders are to achieve tangible leadership success we must shift our behaviours first to then help others ignite the possibility. Having watched listened and learned from various gurus and role models, I’ve picked out what works for me and put aside what doesn’t. Here then are my thoughts on 5 common business behaviours that when consciously observed and altered can and do ignite possibility and create different outcomes:

1. Shift ego aside – When people think more of themselves and their capabilities than others experience you end up with problems. Telling others your way is the right way and forcing your ideas and opinions on them strengthens barriers and increases resistance to whatever it is you’re trying to do. Instead use Ego (ok, manipulate it) to your advantage. Get out of your own way and acknowledge that others are entitled to their opinion regardless of whether you agree. Collaboration makes people feel valued, breaks down barriers, replaces complains with constructive discussion and gives everyone a chance to discover thoughts and ideas that might otherwise have stayed hidden.

2. Get those ears flapping – It really annoys when I’m asked to talk then no one seems to listen. It doesn’t matter if I’m presenting or a meeting participant, I want my opinion heard. It’s even more annoying when it’s a 1-on-1 conversation and the other person has said ‘I’m listening’ and obviously isn’t. Active listening means be present in the moment, pay attention and validate understanding. Treat others how you expect to be treated. You’ll build trust, mutual respect, hear good things in corridor conversations and get stuff done so much faster.

3. Strength vs Power – When we’re climbing the career ladder we warm to some bosses and not others. People who flout the power of their position lose out on a real sense of achievement and resemble steam rollers; they flatten the ground beneath them stopping anything coming through. Power comes with the position you hold but knowing how and when to use it for greatest effect comes from strength of character.

4. Integrity is tangible – Walk your talk. If you say you’re going to do something do it and if for some reason you can’t, say so. There’s nothing more annoying and demotivating than being led up the garden path or being paid lip service because of someone’s lack of integrity. Do a quick check – Do your actions match your words? If they don’t you need to act and act fast because it’s important that others not only perceive, but also experience your integrity. When integrity is out so is everything else but when integrity’s in the positive effects are huge.

5. Have fun! – A good looking bottom line or fabulous project outcome is what everyone wants but if it’s achieved through pain and grief surely it can’t be good for the soul. Attitude has a big role to play here as you attract what you choose to display. It gets very boring being around grumpy people all the time. They sap your energy, drag you down and, like a dirty office kitchen, you wonder what it must be like to live with them. But you don’t have to be like them. Crack a smile and exercise those facial muscles. A 20 second burst of laughter will do more for you than 3 minutes on a rowing machine at the gym! I’m just saying…

How do you ignite possibility in your people, projects and organisation?

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