Being Busy is Not Good

I want to challenge a cultural phenomenon; when asked how we are, especially in a work or business context, our positive response is that we’re busy. Now whilst the complete opposite of that is a problem, being busy may not be our most effective state. Being busy is not necessarily good.

Recently the World Health Organisation added burnout to its official list of diseases. The term was first applied as a psychological diagnosis in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger. Which is a splendid name.

According to the W.H.O, “Burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; feelings of distance, negativity or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy. If you’re too busy for too long, this is you!

So how can we get out of our busy cycle and create an environment around us that is more effective...

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Slow Down To Speed Up

Do you feel like you are always working working working, with little or underwhelming fruit? Does your workday leave you feeling tired, ineffective and unfulfilled? This is actually very common in leaders and their teams.

Sometimes we have to slow down to speed up; and build some white space into our hectic schedules. We are not wired for a sprint; we’re built for a marathon. Like all good runners we have to pace ourselves if we want to win. As the great piece of racing advice says, “to finish first, first you have to finish”.

There is a very good physical reason for this. Our physiology is built so that under stress we operate closer to the ‘fight or flight’ part of our brain, further done the brain stem. We stop operating effectively in the frontal cortex, where our ideas, creativity and higher thoughts are active. This is why we have great ideas and an almost constant stream of schemes and dreams, once we’ve relaxed on holiday. Or that good...

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Hindsight Series: Embrace Uncertainty

 Here’s a 2020 hindsight; a lockdown leadership lesson I've learned during this ‘interesting’ year. Embrace uncertainty. Danish Physicist Niels Bohr said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future.” I do like a physicist with a sense of humour. But it's very true, we do like to think that we are in control, that our futures are certain. We are the most insured, some would argue, over-insured people in history. We try and reduce risk, increase certainty and think that we can control our future's. Once again, there's nothing wrong with those things, but if we do not learn to embrace uncertainty, we can be left disappointed, resentful and cynical. It can also lead to a lack of resilience. Yet if we embrace uncertainty, recognise that the environment and life in general, cannot always be shaped into our desired state, we can be both realistic and resilient. This year taught me that embracing uncertainty is essential to...

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Mindful Leaders See Alternatives

Mindful Leaders see Alternatives. Often when disruption comes, we are blindsided because it comes from industries, sectors or competitors that are outside our experience. If we don’t look far and wide for possible alternatives to our products and services we get disrupted, replaced or at least commoditised. If we are mindful of alternatives, then we can recognise new opportunities, lower our risk, embrace changes we need to make early and adapt. 

Alternatives like car-sharing rather than ownership, or Airbnb as an alternative to hotels can sideswipe an entire industry. The choices then become very difficult to make, especially if you see it early. These pivots are extremely challenging for the established players because as Kenneth Eade points out, “Most people, faced with two difficult choices, prefer not to choose at all.” This probably explains why incumbents loose to new disruptors especially if it is due to...

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Mindful Leaders Know the Trends

Mindful Leaders know the Trends. We all operate in an environment that’s changing. Being mindful of how those trends will change the future operating environment, is critical if we are to lead constructive change. If we're not attuned to trends, we will get sideswiped and surprised by what, in hindsight, will look like the seemingly inevitable. We will be subjected to being reactive, rather than proactive. Another unfortunate consequence of not identifying changes, and not changing quickly enough, is that we are in the middle of the pack of other companies, and so in a highly competitive environment. These pressures, and this situation, lead to a stressful workplace, challenged revenues, with margins under pressure as we fail to innovate into expected trends.  

If we are mindful of trends, we have the opportunity to lead the market, and ...

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Mindful Leaders Know the Team

Mindful Leaders know the Team.

If you’re a leader I just want to challenge you for a moment, how well do you know your team? Do you know what makes them tick? What are their aspirations? What really motivates them? If we don't know our team well, then we will tend towards micromanagement. “I love to be micromanaged” said nobody ever. If we're not mindful of an individual’s agenda will end up with low engagement, and therefore low productivity. But, if we can connect with those around us, in a way that is authentic, and releases them into their passions and their desires, aligned to their talents we will create engagement and high productivity. Plus, you get to have a bit more fun in a more positive environment, whilst achieving a better commercial outcome. It's about leveraging the latent potential and collective experience of your team and growing commitment. "Individual commitment to a group effort; that is what makes a team work, a company work, a...

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Crisis Champions: Centre

Almost all of us have a set of values for our organisations; we all say our people are our most important asset. Which is a terrible saying. We should indeed manage assets, but we lead people. But it is only under pressure our true organisational values are exposed, as are our personal virtues. If they are true values and virtues they do not change due to circumstances. "Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to our eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become"according to renowned scholar Brooke Foss Westcott

So what will we choose? Will we throw out our values because the pressure is on, or will we stay true to what is important to us and those around us? It’s a pivotal question for me because at its core, is a call that will determine the engagement of our stakeholders, and therefore ultimately the organisation’s sustainability.

A crisis is a test of...

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Crisis Champions Commit

FULL TRANSCRIPT

You can plan, collaborate, engage and do all the things you need to do and still fail unless you do this one thing. Commit! Risk is a relative measure. In a crisis the riskiest thing you can do is do nothing. The second riskiest thing is to react rather than consider and act. Be proactive not reactive.

Nike’s famous slogan is ‘Just Do It!’ Great advice in a crisis. Having a can-do attitude goes a long way in leading in a crisis. You have to be action oriented but remain flexible and learn as you go. In strategic terms it’s an action learning cycle. That cycle of act, think, adjust and go again. Without action there is no result. Commitment is a great trait as long as its balanced with an understanding that you will sometimes be wrong, and that’s OK. It’s not a measure of weakness to have a crack at a solution and get it wrong. It’s a sign of ego if you then persist and don’t flex. That’s why your communication...

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Crisis Champions: Create

“Sometimes you need a little crisis to get your adrenaline flowing and help you realize your potential.”Said Jeannette Wall, and I tend to agree.

Necessity is indeed the“mother of invention”.

A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem. This saying appears in the ‘Dialogue Republic’, by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. So, its nothing new. Yet we still reach for the blunt axe when faced with a crisis.

Taking a moment to consider the consequences. Thinking a little more medium term, looking at our resources, considering options, understanding the changing landscape and appearing opportunities, is how we become successful. It’s where the true pivot comes from. Unlocking creativity in crisis is not a natural response and we have to remind ourselves, and our people, to keep calm and considered, in order to remain creative.

In crisis the marketplace is moving at a staggering rate. Your business...

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Crisis Champions: Conserve

FULL TRANSCRIPT

In a crisis situation resources become scare or stretched. With dwindling resources come reduced options. Conservation whilst absolutely required to preserve resources, is as much about reallocation and mindful distribution. Organisations that can make the clarity of priorities early, have more options to preserve resources, more resources to reallocate, and more potential to pivot.

Again it requires some foresight, some thinking and some medium term consideration whilst still acting with urgency. “Every little thing counts in a crisis.” saidNehru. I think that is a wise observation.

Small actions and small amounts of resources applied in the right spot at the right time can yield great fruit.

In the midst of bringing Gloria Jeans Coffees back on track and facing huge pressures on all sides, we found a way to explore some future potential. We partnered with a Franchise Partner and built our first ‘drive thru’. It was a...

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