Inspiring People – Doreen Lawrence
Have you been inspired by the achievements of a famous person, particularly in the face of adversity?
On Mothering Sunday I was moved as I listened to Clare Balding interview Doreen Lawrence on Radio 2. Having lost her son 20 years ago in a violent racial attack, Doreen Lawrence spoke about how the event has changed her life. She described how, despite it taking several years to arrive at this point, she now views Stephen’s death as having given her an opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives in two main areas.
Firstly, by setting up the Stephen Lawrence Trust, which helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into a career in architecture. To mark the 20th anniversary of Stephen’s death and celebrate his life, the SL20 campaign aims to promote the future ambitions of the Trust and to raise funds.
Secondly, Doreen explained her changing attitude and behaviour over the years. Instead of being angry now with those who took her son’s life and the system that took so long to bring them to justice, she now challenges others’ behaviour, and tries to see the positive rather than the negative in people and situations.
On top of that her quest is to eradicate racism for the benefit of both victims and perpetrators.
An inspirational woman indeed! The interview got me thinking about what I am doing to make a difference; how I can re-frame situations I see in the negative in a more positive light and how I manage my work-life balance to spend quality time with my family, as she does (a grand-mother of three, she is still very family-focused).
I am really interested to know who has inspired you and why. As we continue our series on inspiring people, please let us know your stories including those we can share with other Juniper friends.
Link to the interview:
BBC Radio 2 - Good Morning Sunday, 10/03/2013, Doreen Lawrence speaks to Clare Balding
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
How many of us have made resolutions this year and broken them already? From both personal and professional experience, I know that a resolution such as “Must eat healthier” or “Must do more exercise” is often very difficult to keep up, especially when the weather is cold like it is now. How about focusing on an area that can have just as much impact – personal brand? Small changes we can make in our approach, attitudes, and behaviour can bring positive outcomes (and don’t involve 6am runs or eating fewer biscuits at work).
Think about the opinions people make of you when they meet you and what you do to influence those opinions – what you say, how you say it, how you dress etc. When Mary Spillane asks us to consider our personal brand, she refers to assets (skills, abilities and experiences), values (the things that matter as well as our passions) and image (what we project to others), in everything we do. Why not consider these three simple steps :
- Step 1: Define your desired brand (how would you like people to perceive you?)
- Step 2: Evaluate your current brand (what are people’s opinions of you now?)
- Step 3: Close the gap between your desired and current brand (decide how you are going to achieve your desired brand and then do it!)
Think about what Mahatma Ghandi said “we have to become the change we wish to see in the world”. What results do you think you could see in your professional and personal life by spending some time working on your personal brand this year?
We’ve got a great first impressions quiz to try as a starter for ten. To have a go, click here.
If you want to know more about how changes in your personal brand can affect your levels of influence, why not come to our event in February? Please click here for more details.
The harder you work, the luckier you get – Gary Player
Those of you who read my “Olympic” blog might have asked yourselves the same question one of my clients asked me : “Surely more sweets hit the bowl second time round because they have practised?” A very good question indeed!
It’s true to say that even without instruction, more sweets probably would have hit the bowl (although I must insist, more would have done with coaching and instruction!), and that is down to practice. Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book “Outliers” that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a field - that is about 4 hours a day of practice 6 days a week for 10 years. Gary Player, professional golfer, sums this up quite neatly: “The harder you work, the luckier you get”.
But is there such a thing as luck? What differentiates the day a risk we have taken at work pays off from the day our flight is delayed and we arrive late at an important client meeting? Surely that is the result of luck and not hard work?
Going back to the Olympians, I think it would be true to say that they worked very hard to reach the standards we saw over the summer – and that had very little to do with luck!
Do you also find that the harder you work the luckier you get? I do!
“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” Karen Kaiser Clark
In a recent blog I talked about how resourceful organisations are responding creatively to cuts in learning and development by balancing out formal programmes with more informal development, such as coaching. Even in the absence of training programmes or workshops, ongoing coaching is useful because it provides the opportunity to speak to people about personal growth and development.
There are different types of coaching beyond the traditional one-to-one method. Peer-to-peer coaching is really valuable since it provides a really honest view about an individual, because peer coaches see what their colleagues do, how they work and how they interact with others on a day-to-day basis. Team coaching is also used at all levels across an organisation to build relationships and equip leaders and teams with the skills needed to work together. This can involve group work, as well as individual coaching of team members. Interestingly, reverse coaching is also being used in some organisations – where junior employees coach senior leaders in topics like using social media or new technology. Whilst facilitating a leadership programme recently, I sought feedback from managers who had started to experience reverse coaching with their team members. One manager explained that through reverse coaching she had learnt that her team all had differing needs (in terms of development, communication, and learning style) and that she should no longer try to meet one individual’s needs in the same way as another’s by trying to follow a prescribed formula. It was a breakthrough for her!
Coaching has many benefits and having good coaching skills is now viewed as being important in building an engaged team. However, research shows that many managers don’t have the requisite coaching skills with only 52% of employees rating their manager as a good coach and just 34% feeling motivated or engaged by their manager. The research also suggests a strong link between good coaching skills in managers and staff retention levels.
I regularly show leaders and managers how to use the GROW model to improve their coaching skills – adapted from Whitmore’s ‘Coaching for Performance’. The model is useful when helping others to achieve their performance goals. It helps by posing a series of questions around the topics of Goal, Reality, Options and Will.
- What do you want to achieve?
- What performance is required?
- What outputs are required?
- When do you want to achieve it by?
- What is happening now? (what, when, where, how much)
- Who is involved?
- What’s been done so far?
- What results have been produced?
- What are the constraints to success?
- What options do you have?
- What else could you do?
- What if …?
- Would you like another suggestion?
- What will you do?
- When are you going to do it?
- What obstacles could you face?
- How will you overcome them?
- What support do you need?
In May, I shared some insight into giving constructive feedback using the DESC model (Describe, Explain, Specify, Consequence). I often use GROW and DESC together, enabling me to give constructive feedback, and have a coaching conversation around potential solutions. Have you tried that?
“The Crowd Helped Me” (Jessica Ennis)
What a fantastic 2 weeks! Our athletes have certainly emphasised the “great” in Great Britain.
Interestingly, Mo Farrah, Jessica Ennis and Laura Trott are just a few of the competitors who have not only thanked the home crowd for their support, but have attributed their success, in part, to it. After winning a gold medal last week in the velodrome for the omnium, Laura Trott explained “I’m peaking at the right time and it’s all thanks to the coaches really, and the support of the crowd.” It is clear that for some of our athletes, the force of the crowd, the “wall of clapping” as Zara Phillips described it, was powerful enough to push them through to first position.
Now, we aren’t all winning gold medals for Team GB, but I wonder how many of us will have watched those interviews and empathised with the athletes. At a recent leadership workshop, I urged individuals to experience this for themselves through the Sweets in a Bowl exercise. Follow the instructions below to experience the power of support for yourself.
Split a group of colleagues into 2. Ask one half to stand in a line along the wall and place a bowl about 2 metres in front of them. Tell the other half of the group simply to give the instruction to the first group to throw sweets into the bowl. After 60 seconds, record how many sweets have landed in the bowl. Now do the exercise again, this time instructing the second group to cheer and encourage the first to throw as many sweets as they can into the bowl. Have a look in the bowl at the end of the second minute to see how many more sweets have reached their target.
I use this simple exercise not only to get teams communicating with each other, but to demonstrate the power of encouragement, coaching, and clear goal-setting.
Mo Farrah sums up his reaction to the crowd’s support : “I just can’t believe it, the crowd got so much behind me and was getting louder and louder…It doesn’t come round often and to have it right on the doorstep and the amount of people supporting you and shouting out your name.” Whether it’s long distance running or throwing sweets into a bowl, we can all be motivated to succeed by support and encouragement.
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other (John F Kennedy)
Recently,I have been working closely with a team of promising leaders, who have been participating in our Leadership Enhancement Forum and the whole experience has been very rewarding. One element that works really well in programmes like this is that each participant is given invaluable support by internal sponsors from the senior management team. These sponsors give feedback on how individuals have applied the learning and ensure they have time for the programme within the demands of their day job.
What’s been really interesting for me is that the senior sponsors have started to think about their own personal development and want the learning and the opportunity to develop the new skills being offered to their teams. The ripple effect of a great learning initiative like this can bring beneficial results throughout an organisation.
Seeing this appetite for learning grow at close range has been inspiring and it’s made me consider what’s happening at the moment in the wider learning and development environment. Much has been written recently in the HR press about the reduction of learning and development investment and its impact on organisations. Training Journal writes that according to research carried out by Knowledge Pool, L&D managers say that training budgets are one of the first costs to be cut in a recession. This can affect an organisation in a number of ways: and it can cost the company more in the long term through the loss of key talent, as well as slowing recovery further.
How, then, can staff motivation be retained in spite of a reduction in formal training? When personal development and skills training is made a regular part of an employee’s job role - whether on a formal or informal basis - people begin to feel valued by the investment in their development, their motivation levels rise and they understand the value of advancement through learning. Without it, a lot of key soft skills can be lost.
We really need great leadership to help organisations survive and thrive; especially at a time when leaders have had their teams reduced and the culture of ‘more for less’ seems to be all too common. It’s unfortunate that as a result of cuts in personal development budgets, people may lose the professional etiquette needed to do just that. Being able to ‘step up’, adapt well to change, influence, put ideas forward, and collaborate are all skills that are being lost under the pressure of work. Even something as simple as not taking calls or checking emails during a meeting can make a huge difference in terms of focus, team commitment and dealing with issues effectively. Interpersonal development can really give people the power to create great working relationships.
Since being exposed to a learning environment has such a positive impact on individual, team and business growth, we need to start thinking creatively about how a blend of formal and less formal training might be the answer. Increased use of more informal methods such as social networking, peer-to-peer coaching and mentoring can all have a beneficial effect on the return on training investment. By embracing the culture of continuous learning and development in this way, organisations can help their people to work more innovatively and make work more rewarding. And as I’ve seen first hand with my group of leaders and their senior sponsors – this can have a wide reaching effect on the whole organisation.
Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings
I’m frequently asked to help people become more self-assured, confident and positive in the workplace. However, this is often followed by a slight concern that being assertive means being aggressive or arrogant. But this isn’t the case.
Being assertive means you’re focused on the goals of others, as well as your own. You put equal emphasis on the task and the relationship. You show empathy to other people’s needs, understand their position and have a collaborative approach. And you communicate spontaneously and accept responsibility without judgment. It’s a crucial behavioural skill to deal with interpersonal conflict or when facing adversity.
Assertiveness doesn’t always come naturally to us Brits - often we come to the workplace from school or university struggling to assert ourselves with finesse. After all, assertiveness is a learned behaviour and not a personality style. I often use the following technique to help develop assertive behaviour:
Describe: you state your observations or the facts of the situation - When you…
Express: you indicate your feelings towards the situation and/or the negative effects of the situation -
I feel…It leads to…
Request: you state your requirements, importance and benefits to the other party/overall goals of meeting these requests - I would like… (state requirements) because then we’ll be able to work together more productively etc.
This technique works well because it enables you to gain a positive rather than aggressive response, because you don’t use harsh words or put-downs.
“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking”
It’s that time of year again when many of us are focused on our much-needed holiday – a time for reflection and rejuvenation. Sandy beaches, summer sun and balmy evenings feel just within our grasp… if only we could get all our work finished!
Why is it that in the run up to a holiday we become more focused on the task in hand, more aware of priorities and more determined to complete our work? Mainly it’s because we want to leave things ‘shipshape’ and walk away from our desks, secure in the knowledge that we have done a great job and can now clear our heads…and head for the pool.
It strikes me that it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we worked more often than once or twice a year like we were just about to go on holiday. After all, we’re generally more productive when we prioritise our tasks and focus on achieving them in a specified time frame.
According to Canfield, Hansen & Hewitt in The Power of Focus, thesecret to optimising balance is to be alert: conscious of what’s going on, mindful of priorities and aware of our state of balance. This is what naturally happens in the run-up to annual leave. Part of this is about taking specific, well-planned action – we determine what the most productive use of our time is so that we spend most of it doing what we do best and what adds most value.When you return from your holiday, why not try this simple exercise which many of our delegates use regularly - the 4D solution:
1) DUMP IT - if it does not support your objectives / is not part of survival
2) DELEGATE IT - when someone else can take care of it
3) DEFER IT - in favour of more urgent concerns (not for procrastination)
4) DO IT NOW!!! - if it is important/necessary
Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work…
…so said Aristotle some time before employee engagement specialists arrived on the scene! But those wise words are still relevant today. I know that when I’m working on something I truly enjoy, I get totally absorbed and captivated by it, give it my full focus. I do a good job.
As leaders and internal communications professionals, we now have a really good understanding of what we can do to fully engage employees in the ‘bigger picture’, and we can use our understanding of the psychology behind what motivates people to do this.
But what about our personal responsibility as individuals to produce high quality work, to take pride in what we do and add value for our employers? How can we make sure we put perfection into our work?
A good place to start is to talk to your line manager about what you do in your job specifically that gives you the most pleasure – whether it’s copy writing, meeting people, creating presentations, getting out and about, talking on the phone, bringing people together or project management.
Once you have highlighted the elements of your job you enjoy most, discuss how you can build more of that activity into your role. Be proactive in building skills in that area…seek out training opportunities and subscribe to blogs or news feeds in your specialist area to build knowledge. Make sure you agree what ‘good work’ looks like and define a feedback mechanism to ensure you get recognition for good work.
Go on, free your inner perfectionist!
Learn to accept that some days you are they pigeon and some days you are the statue
Today I woke up and felt great. I had a great night’s sleep, I went for an early morning ride and ate a delicious breakfast. Now I feel ready for anything. Today I’m a pigeon! As with any job, however, there are days where I feel I’m the target, when things don’t go smoothly, where work keeps coming in, as my time runs out. On those occasional ‘statue’ days, I have to show resilience in the face of challenge and remember that one bad day doesn’t change that much in the long term.
We often feel as if we are pulled in a million different directions. And being overwhelmed means we abandon goals and get caught up in an out-of-control roller-coaster. If this is happening to you, if the balance has swung so much that you feel frozen, unable to avoid what’s coming your way, here are my top three tips for what you can do:
Make sure you take time to regularly reflect on what’s really important in your life and to ask whether your day-to-day activities are a real reflection of your top priorities.
- Pay attention to your personal development goals and cultivate the habits and practices needed to succeed.
- Make conscious decisions to take control of those areas of your life that you do have power over, namely your own emotions, your priorities, time management practices and your personal development.
When we feel in control, we are much more able to deal with whatever life throws at us. We can’t control every aspect of our work-life, but we can maintain some control over what happens by recognising and appropriately responding to our own emotions. So, shrug off those ‘statue’ days and move on.