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We have all heard someone say, “I’m not a pessimist, I am a realist.” It is a phrase that has many different layers to it, and it is definitely a topic worth discussing.

There are many that would argue that the world is a terrible and chaotic place characterised by suffering, confusion, and destruction.

Samantha Pickering and Peter Keith from The Eighth Mile Consulting discuss the science behind resilience.

 

There is a difference between positive stress and toxic stress. Long exposure to stress can have significant impacts on our health, but there is good news, we are in control of how we perceive our world. Problem-solving and coping skills are examples of positive stress that we can exercise for our benefit.

There are five areas within our control that can influence our ability to be resilient, which we explain further in this short presentation:

  1. Social Connections
  2. Attitude
  3. Values
  4. Emotional Acceptance
  5. Sense of Humor 

In this video, we also decode the four main chemicals that affect our behaviours and moods. Looking further into how the language we choose to use directs our bodies as to how to respond to a situation. This helps provide an understanding as to how we can make simple changes to create a positive impact in our own lives. Peter Keith coaches on shifting the subconscious speech patterns that are limiting our own experience.

Building our own ability to be resilient is often a precursor to leading our teams through times of uncertainty and managing ambiguity with decisiveness and clarity. The Eight Mile Consulting has developed an online leadership course, specifically for those ambitious leaders seeking to develop themselves professionally, to become greater leaders for their team.

For more helpful videos to help you grow your people and your organisation subscribe to our YouTube channel.

‘Rupture and Repair’ is a concept widely used in the fields of social work and community services. It has origins in attachment theory founded by John Bowlby (1958) and is well known in therapeutic disciplines such as psychology, psychiatry and contemporary trauma-informed practice disciplines such as neurobiology. It is also something I have adapted to my leadership practice with great benefit.

In simple terms, ‘Rupture and Repair’ is about relationships. Specifically, it’s is about a breach or disconnect in a relationship followed by the restoration and positive continuation of that relationship.

My experience with ‘Rupture and Repair’ primarily comes from my work with children and young people with trauma/abuse histories in ‘state’ care or what we would call ‘Out of Home Care’ or ‘Care Services’ in Victoria. As practitioners, we would practice this concept after a conflict with our clients and also coach the carers of the children/young people to do the same. This model’s healthy relationships and conflict resolution with children and young people that have been abused and betrayed by their loved ones and as a result have trouble forming secure attachments with people. After a time we have the potential to assist in their healing by utilising this type of approach as we are promoting that there are safe and appropriate people in the world.

This concept can apply extremely well professionally from a leadership perspective. Conflict is absolutely inevitable In the workplace but a leader reaching out and re-connecting with their employee after a conflict situation models emotional intelligence, self-awareness and care for the employees. Some research even shows that this can improve and strengthen relationships as people now know they have been through some adversity in their relationship with you and there is strength and durability in their connection (Pinsof, 2009).

 

Rupture

Recently I received an email from a staff member that works under one of the leaders I manage. This individual asked me what I was doing about a new government initiative I had been involved in as he felt it was making him look incompetent to external stakeholders when he was being asked about it continuously and didn’t have the information to give. The message was delivered bluntly and somewhat aggressively with not much ownership on this person’s part. In a moment of weakness, I matched the bluntness and lack of ownership and added in some ego so I replied in a defensive manner and shut him down. Maybe it was the 16-hour days, maybe it was the pressure I was under in another area, maybe it was the fact that I had been in the hospital the past couple of days with a family member undergoing surgery. Who knows, but one thing was for sure it was a leadership failure on my part and there really aren’t any excuses for that. I had created a rupture in the professional relationship.

My experience with the ‘Rupture and Repair’ concept taught me that as a leader it was up to me to have the self-awareness and humility to reach out and repair things, regardless of petty details.

Repair

The day went on and many meetings later I received a text message from this staff member telling me how he had been feeling down all day and the email reply I had sent really rocked his confidence. At first, I was annoyed as my ego and defensive mindset crept back in but then I stopped, took a deep breath and realised this guy was reaching out to me. I had made a mistake and needed to repair the rupture now.

This staff member is a hard worker; a silent achiever and his bluntness are authentic. Most importantly, he was right! I hadn’t deciphered the information from the government and communicated clearly to the teams as was my job as their leader. I allowed the confusion of the information to get the better of me and let this staff member down.

I called the staff member and promptly apologised to him. I spent no time making excuses and telling him about my family member’s surgery, or my workload or anything for that matter. I just genuinely apologised for my poor communication and my lack of ownership and advised him that he was right and I would get onto the task at hand and get some clear information to him and the team as a matter of priority. I brought him on board and asked him to support me in disseminating the information once I had clarified it as he was knowledgeable and a well-respected team member (I also wanted him to take some ownership).

We both ended that phone call feeling positive, connected and had a plan where we both were accountable to get the task completed. He advised how much better he felt that we had talked it out and let me know about some personal troubles he was having which gave me some insight into his original communications to me. I followed up with a text to him before the end of the day advising that I appreciate him, the skills he brings and am very glad we have him in the team. I genuinely believe we come away from that situation with a stronger professional relationship and were able to work together effectively on a complex task and support our teams together.

 

Learning

 

The above example is just one of many mistakes I have made as a leader but what the Eighth Mile team have taught me is that mistakes are an opportune time for reflection, review and improvement. A quick after-action review and some utilisation of my knowledge as a welfare practitioner allowed me to pick up this therapeutic concept and apply it to my leadership practice.

Next time you enter into some conflict and/or experience a rupture with someone at work, I challenge you to spend the extra ten minutes genuinely repairing things with that person regardless of who was at fault. I guarantee you both come away feeling better, you will build trust with the team and you may even see improvements in areas such as performance and productivity.

Mitchell Burney – Member of The Eighth Mile Community

 

References

Pinsof, W. M., Zinbarg, R. E., Lebow, J. L., Knobloch-Fedders, L. M.,

Durbin, E., Chambers, A., Latta, T., Karam, E., Goldsmith, J., & Friedman,

  1. (2009). Laying the foundation for progress research in family, couple,

and individual therapy: The development and psychometric features of

the initial systemic therapy inventory of change. Psychotherapy Research,

19(2), 143-156.

 

Bowlby, J. (1958). The nature of the childs tie to his mother. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39, 350-371

Jonathan Clark and Peter Keith from The Eighth Mile Consulting address the myths of change management and how to successfully establish a change initiative.

 

There are a number of areas that affect the success rate of change management projects, in fact, research from McKinsey and Co show 70% of all transformations fail. We touch on some of the challenges that may raise questions for your own change management project.

Many projects that we encounter in working with organisations to support their change requirements come across these four issues, which we explain further in this short presentation:

  1. Change fatigue
  2. Resistance to change
  3. Lack of change champions
  4. Return to old habits

In this video, we explain the five pre-conditions for contentedness in an organisation as the model by David Rock outlines. This helps provide an understanding as to how our employees may perceive the change we are requesting and why they may be experiencing change fatigue. Change is a choice and it is our job to create the conditions that support change and promote the choice to embrace it.

For more helpful videos to help you grow your people and your organisation subscribe to our YouTube channel.

In this 60-minute workshop, we discuss techniques for presenting ideas that gain buy-in.

TOPICS WE DISCUSSED IN THIS WORKSHOP

  •  Understanding your manager
  •  Nesting your ideas within existing objectives
  •  Micro Skilling
  •  Matrix Teams
  •  Managing Obstructionists
  •  Using yours and your team’s values to support the cause

INFLUENCE REQUIRES UNDERSTANDING

Successfully presenting new ideas requires you to do the background research and set the stage for change. Take a look at what may be affecting your coworkers and how your idea will impact them. Forbes research shows that 70% of all organisational change efforts fail. Have you done the analysis that will enable you to achieve a break in with your idea?

There is an art to preparing information in such a way that it encourages transformation within your business.  If you present your ideas with no strategy you may experience push back.  The Eighth Mile Consulting offers executive coaching for individuals looking to develop their understanding of the motivating factors that determine the outcomes in their workplace. Developing self-awareness and social awareness can give you the edge that drives your career forward.

For more helpful videos to help you grow your people and your organisation subscribe to our YouTube channel.

What are your thoughts or learnings when it comes to presenting new ideas? Are you seeing positive results from investing time in your own self-development? Let us know in the comments below!

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Your Values

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David Neal and Jonathan Clark from The Eighth Mile Consulting explain how projects link to people and the overarching strategy.

At our recent Aligned Leaders Summit, we had a number of conversations with our attendees during the lunch break that brought to the surface the question of what it is that’s stopping most projects from moving forward and what we see being the largest issues when it comes to managing projects.

Many projects that we have encountered, and do encounter on a daily basis, do not consider these three main areas, which we explain further in this short presentation:

  1. Strategy
  2. Projects
  3. People

In this video, we explain exactly how your projects link to your people and your overarching strategy.

For more helpful videos to help you grow your people and your organisation subscribe to our YouTube channel.

What are your thoughts or learnings when it comes to managing projects in your organisation? Let us know in the comments below!

The world has always been an insanely chaotic place defined by constant change, creation, destruction, and an ever-increasing competition for finite resources and space. This coupled with exponentially changing environmental conditions creates for one confusing place.

So, what does this have to do with leadership? 

Those species and organisms which have developed the ability to coordinate and synchronise their efforts have found resilience, robustness and success that often far supersedes those ‘lone wolf’ characters. There is no clearer evidence of this than humans dragging their way to the top of the evolutionary ladder by working in teams.

We could even argue that our ability to create teams has in some ways become too successful, as it has:

  • Increased our average life expectancy from ‘below 40’ in the 1800’s to now over ’Over 83’ in some developed Western cultures, resulting in over population and an unsustainable drain on environmental resources and space.
  • Allowed us to develop technologies that provide the ability to collaborate, often at the expense of interpersonal interactions and face-to-face engagements.
  • Resulted in us living in cities, sometimes completely devoid of any connection with nature and the environment we are concurrently destroying

The need for strong leaders who are morally and ethically aligned has never been more important.

Teaming allows us to hunt big

‘Hunting big’ originally referred to our ability to take down larger prey by working as a pack. By being able to attack, trap and shape an animal on multiple fronts resulted in the animal becoming overwhelmed and making mistakes. This in turn increased our likelihood of taking down larger animals, coupled with the convenience of having to do less hunts. Less hunts equated to less risk on individuals, which in turn allowed us to live safer and longer. Concurrently whilst other members of a tribe were hunting big game, there were others foraging and sourcing key raw materials which would support the broader community.

Leadership would have been required at all levels in order to coordinate and synchronise the efforts of different teams. This would have also included prioritising their efforts in order to ensure their precious collective energy could be invested in those initiatives that would provide them the greatest returns.

In today’s current corporate context there is little to no difference. The teams that are able to coordinate their efforts and invest their precious resources towards an agreed strategy, win.

Teams help us cover our personal gaps

Teams provide the necessary platform and mechanism in order to capitalise on the unique abilities of the people within them. This is achieved by allowing individuals to capitalise on emerging opportunities and gaps, whilst being personally protected by the team’s ability to absorb risk and danger.

In days of old, this would have looked like an individual taking the opportunity to throw their spear, knowing that another member of the team would be able to protect them whilst they were disarmed.

This would have also looked like community members providing for injured or sick members of the community, only to have the favour reciprocated when the roles were reversed.

The corporate world is very similar. The teams that are able to adjust rapidly to their dynamic industry environments are the ones that will ultimately thrive. This can only be achieved if the members of our team are looking outwards for opportunities, instead of looking inwards for danger.

Teams allow specialisation

Our ability to form and establish teams with specialist capabilities allows us to adjust to an ever complex and changing world. The difficult for leaders is meshing the complex array of personalities and character types into one unified group, and then refocusing their efforts. This takes significant skill and finesse in order to get right.

In the past this would later set the conditions for agriculture and industrialisation. By allowing individuals to perfect a trade or skill, the community was able to elevate its collective standard of life. We would have seen blacksmiths manipulating precious metals, butchers sourcing and preparing meat, farmers and millers creating larger more efficient methodologies for mass producing product. You get the idea…

The point is that the most effective teams are those that understand that each of their members is inherently different and uses that to their advantage. In this way, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

When teams and leadership go wrong

A commonly overlooked aspect of leadership is the impact when it goes wrong. All we have to do is look briefly back in our history to see when poor leadership influences the masses to do terrible things (genocides, religious wars, cults, unethical corporate organisations, etc)

My time on this world has shown me the good and bad sides of teams. The bad sides include:

  • Cliques & nasty social groups
  • Unnecessary wars and conflicts
  • Misuse of precious resources
  • Manipulation of weaker groups
  • Exploitation of people and the environment

Forbes’ provides this definition, “leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal”. But this doesn’t speak to the morality, ethics or utility of what we are ultimately working towards. I would like to think that the world has progressed to a point where we not only judge our leaders on their ability to empower others, but also towards the validity of the cause itself.

If our leaders are guiding followers towards goals and objectives that only seek to exploit or displace other teams and organisations, then surely, we cannot consider this effective leadership under a contemporary definition. Using our precious (and ever reducing) resources at the expense of others does not seem like a sound long-term or survivable strategy to me. Surely, morality and ethical decision making must come into it.

At The Eighth Mile Consulting we routinely use the mantra ‘Good People, Helping Good People’, not only as a means to keep us honest but also as a filter to screen our clients. Our values are clear and concise and can be used to screen our operational objectives and we categorically refuse to support organisations that leave a wake of destruction wherever they go. This has been a guiding characteristic for our team, and we have found ourselves blessed in supporting positive projects, people and initiatives. We are making the world a better place one little bit at a time, and we are using strong moral leadership to achieve it.

Make sure you are leading your teams towards goal that leave a positive legacy worth talking about…

Dentistry is changing; everything from consumer behaviour through to new technologies are having a significant impact on the modern dental landscape. Join Jonathan Clark and David Neal from The Eighth Mile Consulting as they explain a simple approach to change management with ADANSW’s Head of Communications, Kate Miranda.

Listen Now: https://www.adansw.com.au/CPD/podcasts/dentalpractitioner

Download MP3: http://cpdpodcasts.adansw.com.au/2020/ChangeManagement.mp3

Survival is Not Compulsory: Understanding Change

David and Jonathan work with Kate and Dean from ADA NSW to dive into what Change Management means for the Dental Industry.  The Eighth Mile team cover topics like digital disruption and preparing for the impact of Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) to how simplifying change management can remove fear of change.  There are a lot of obstacles to be faced in change.  By ensuring the need for change is there, it is linked to the organisational strategy and communicated effectively, we can increase our success.  Ultimately staying relevant in your industry is a choice. 

Thank you to the ADA Team.  It is always an absolute privilege to work with Abby, Kate and Dean. 

Listen Now

Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | ADA NSW website

Summary: This article explains the importance of finding the right type of leader for the right kind of team or problem. In doing so it makes an analogical link between athlete suitability for certain sports, and leader suitability for certain teams and situations.

When I was younger, I used to be heavily involved in a number of sports, one of which was Karate. During this time, I found myself in the Australian team for Shotokan Karate and would later represent my country in the World Championships. Years would pass and I would find myself in the Australian Army serving in the Infantry (foot soldiers). This too would prove to be a very physically challenging profession. After having a discussion with my father, the topic of what it meant to be ‘fit’ was raised. My father, who has always been involved in competitive sport and leadership, very aptly pointed out that the term ‘fit’ was a relative term and is entirely specific on the task to be completed. This contradicted my limited definition of the term ‘fit’ which I held at the time.

It took me many years to fully conceptualise the full utility of what my father had taught me. Furthermore, the concept of being ‘fit for purpose’ has now extended its efficacy into many other areas in my life including:

  • Leadership
  • Understanding of Intelligence
  • Management
  • Processes
  • People
  • Strategy
  • Projects

What Does It Mean To Be Fit?

If I were to ask someone what it means to be ‘fit’ they will immediately conjure up an image of what it means to them. The only assurance we have is that the more people you ask, the more definitions of what fitness means will be provided. For example:

What does it mean to be 'fit for leadership'?

Some people might interpret fitness as being lean, thin and muscular. But what if I challenged that paradigm with an example of a Sumo wrestler, who aims to be as heavy as humanly possible in order to resist their opponent forcing them from the ring? Please note, in Japan Sumo wrestlers are idolised as sporting gods.

Flexibility vs. Muscle Mass

Some people might consider flexibility a key facet of being fit and will go on to envisage pilates & yoga instructors, and gymnasts. But what if we challenged this by using the example of body builders who aim to grow as much lean muscle and mass as possible at the expense of much of their flexibility. Are they not fit for their purpose?

Endurance vs. Sprinting

Some people might consider endurance to be a key characteristic of fitness, but then we could go on to use examples of powerlifters or 100m sprinters in order to challenge that theory.

The term fitness is only relative to the task and scenario at hand and is completely different in each circumstance. The same can be said for other topics like leadership and intelligence.

The term ‘fit’ or ‘fitness’ in this context translates to suitability, utility and functionality.

Being Fit For Purpose – Leadership & Intelligence

My team at The Eighth Mile Consulting often work with organisations in developing their leadership and project capabilities. In doing so, one thing has become reinforced time again. Different tasks, environments and strategies require different styles of leadership. Now some of you are probably reading this and thinking ‘no duh’ but I would challenge you to think back through your professional career and remember how many times you have seen it go wrong. It might have manifested with:

  • The wrong type of personality being forcibly placed within a team resulting in poor morale, miscommunication and high staff turnover.
  • The decision to have a generalist leader in a role that would have been better supported by a specialist of some type. Or vice versa.
  • A risk averse or ‘move away’ styled leader being placed in a position requiring large-scale change management and strategy realignment.
  • The list goes on…

Suitability is a crucial point that is often overlooked. Too often we are building teams and focusing almost exclusively on people’s past experience or their tertiary qualifications, when history has proven that some of the most influential leaders of our time would never have received a look in had they been forced to go through the same process. Furthermore, many organisations are hiring leaders without having a good understanding of what it is they want them to achieve. This is often because time has not yet been invested into developing a longer-term strategy that will assist in the delivery of subordinating projects or expectations. Even the best leaders will struggle to get wins without a unified strategy or overarching direction. It is a battle that is arguably lost before it has even started.

It is quite often that we hear someone has been placed in a position because they are ‘really smart’ or ‘intelligent’. This topic opens up an equally complicated can of worms in so far that there are many different types of intelligence (IQ, EQ, Social intelligence, etc), further exacerbated by the next questions, ‘what do you need achieved by the position’, and ‘how do you measure it?’ Most people would agree that people who are intelligent in one area are often lacking in other areas. Many studies have been conducted in order to determine the exact correlation between IQ and EQ with varying conclusions. What we can say confidently in the interim is that most people’s strengths often lie towards a bias of one over another.

What particular skill are you great at?

The point is that people are often very effective when placed in the right type of role, and terribly ineffective if placed in the wrong one. The effects when we get it wrong are teams that are disjointed, confused, unfocused, and ultimately ineffective.

The implications are disastrous when we have:

  • A poor understanding of the organisational problem we are aiming to fix
  • No communicated expectations for an incoming leader or important position
  • No overarching strategy or direction for them to align to
  • A willingness to hire a like-for-like replacement of the previous leader, without considering if it is an opportunity to test a new leadership style or approach

Unfortunately, this investment in determining what we want them to do, and how we want them to do it, is often an afterthought. It is like trying to cram a square peg into a round hole. One could reasonably argue that the time and resources could be better invested by finding multiple round pegs (candidates) and comparing which one is best for our round hole (our problem/need). But it all rests on an assumption that we have invested the time to determine it is a round hole in the first place.

I would argue that it is morally difficult to get angry at a leader who has been placed in a position, but then be hamstrung by a lack of direction, expectations, and resources. This is not fair or reasonable on the leader, or their teams.

The Way Forward

Understand the problem and the need

  • What is it you are trying to solve? Why?
  • Is this a people, processes, product or profile problem? Or a mixture of all of these issues?
  • What are the expectations of the leader in terms of the organisation’s time, cost and quality outputs?

Understand the leadership effect you are after

What type of leader are you after? And, why?

  • Someone who jumps in the trenches and can get stuck in the detail?
  • Someone who can re-link back with strategy?
  • Someone who has a high level of technical, governance and risk experience?
  • Someone who will gel with other members of the team and focus on raising morale?
  • What is the priority personality trait we are seeking?
  • Do we want someone who is not afraid to challenge the way we have always done things? Or maybe not…

Professionally develop your staff

No one is perfect. Even the best leaders have gaps in their knowledge or approaches. It is the responsibility of an organisation to work with their leaders in order to professionally develop and mitigate against known and agreed upon deficiencies. This can look like:

  • Additional education
  • Time designated for professional development or informal education
  • Allocation of a mentor or coach
  • A budget allocation designated for education gaps.

Note, that professional development should not always be geared towards what an individual wants to do, but towards what the team needs. I remember having completed many courses and qualifications that I would rather have not done because the team needed me to do so in order to cover an organisational capability gap.

Be careful to not recreate the same conditions and expect a different result

Albert Einstein - "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Albert Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

If the reason you are hiring a leader is because the last one was unsuccessful in achieving the desired results, be careful before:

  • Hiring someone with the same characteristics, traits or style.
  • Hiring someone because they remind you of yourself.
  • Hiring someone and then providing them with the same limited resources and investment you provided the last leader.
  • Hiring someone because they are less likely to push back against the hierarchy. Sometimes you might need this in order to fix the root cause of the original issue, which might in fact be the senior leadership of the organisation.

Do not confuse technical problems with people problems

Many organisations make the mistake of confusing system or technical problems with people problems. What looks like a technological issue may in fact be a communication issue between sub-organisations or individuals. This in turn, has implications on the way we hire in response to the business need, resulting in the wrong type of leader being inducted into the wrong team and situation. Companies can spend millions of dollars trying to implement software solutions whilst avoiding the actual people-based problem.

If you are interested in this topic, I would encourage you to read an article I wrote previously titled ‘It’s All About The Humans: Effecting Change Management’.

Conclusion

In closing I would like to reference a term we regularly used in the military which I believe rings true to this topic, ‘time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted’. Meaning the time spent understanding what the problem is and what/who we need to address the issue is time well invested. Do not underestimate the significance of conducting timely and accurate analysis, and then translating it into a viable and deliverable plan for execution.

If you enjoyed this article, I would encourage you to see some of our other professional development articles on The Eighth Mile Consulting blog.