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September 2008

THE MANAGEMENT MANGLE

One of the truisms of the last ten years has been the observation that what business needs is more leadership and less management. How true this is. Usually the distinction is made between leadership, which is effective, and management, which is efficient. And this rolls out into a number of other distinctions: leaders do the right thing whereas managers do things right. Finally, we get to the core point: management is transactional; leadership is transformational.

Of course, we need both but …

Why is it that managers, particularly in corporate institutions, spend a lot of time tackling people issues but never solving them? Instead, they approach the problems with the latest fad? What is the latest fad? Well I have no idea what the latest fad is, but fads include Myers-Briggs, 360 Appraisal, Coaching, Six Sigma, Balanced Score Card, Investors in People, NLP, “Sustainability”, empowering management, TQM, matrix management, and so on.

Thomas Davenport's 2003 book What's The Big Idea lists 140 fads (according to Leon Gettler). Also, every year consultants Bain & Company put out their latest survey of management tools – apparently, strategic planning is hot, mission and vision statements are on the way out and business process re-engineering is making a comeback (see http://blogs.theage.com.au/business/executivestyle/managementline/archives/2006/06/fashion_surfing.html)

Consultants (“fashion surfers”, again according to Leon Gettler) are usually blamed for this annoying situation, but this is like blaming sweet manufacturers for your own personal obesity. I mean, who chooses to buy and eat the sweets?

That’s right: the manager. And here’s where I think there is a real distinction to be made between leaders and managers. We need leaders – real leaders – because it is managers who routinely indulge in buying commodities from a packet. Nothing that involves solving people issues can ever be that easy, can ever work just like a magic bullet, or be like a software program that fixes the virus. And yet that is precisely what these managers do and expect: they buy a packet and then move on to the next one.

However, the plethora of products in this field fulfils one necessary function: the stimulation of the curiosity virus that each person has in the absence of an appreciation of the real issues. And one real issue is taking responsibility for the problem, including the self-audit (that often is inside the packet as well) and its implications.

One final distinction, then: leaders are outcome orientated, whereas managers are process orientated, but with one qualification: when we say ‘outcome’ we do not mean the usual ‘bull-in-a-china shop’ sort of outcome associated with trampling all over people and alpha-males. We mean the sort of outcomes that get a dual result: a result for the organization and a result for the people working in that organization. Now that is rare! And that is such a profound difference.

So managers now need to start looking, perhaps, for the magic box that when you open it transforms you into a leader …

Of course, that means change – you change, and that is the one thing process people don’t like.

James


MANI GOEL AND SELF TALK

I completely agree with Mani Goel's view on the importance of self talk in developing strong self-esteem - and see his excellent web site for more: http://powerofselfesteem.com/ My point, however, is not incompatible with the view that primacy must be given to self-talk. The creation of a body of physical evidence that 'proves' to our own sub-conscious mind that we do indeed do good things, and are in fact good people, helps formulate precisely those words we need to become our self talk. So, therefore, logging achievement on a daily basis does promote healthy self-talk even if my article does not make self-talk the centre of the piece. Thank you Mani for your excellent contribution.

James


MOTE QUOTES!

I have just been reading a great new book by Pascoe Sawyers called MePLC: http://meplc.moonfruit.com/ .

Influenced by various authors, Pascoe’s contention is that we need to run our lives like we’d run our business, and one paradoxical contention of that is we need to put ourselves first. Once, and only then, we have looked after ourselves can we take care of others.

He has some great stuff in the book like his unpicking of the FOCUS acronym, so I won’t spoil his work – read it. But as a sidebar that I particularly like: his book is full of great quotations garnered from a variety of sources.

I don’t know about you but I love quotations and often find them extremely motivating. And if not motivating – a Mote Quote – then revealing or amusing.

From his book I had heard this one before: “Our life is what our thoughts make it” – Marcus Aurelius. But I had not encountered James Baldwin’s, “Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we are to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock”. Now that’s funny and apposite!

My favourite quotation from the book? Probably, Wayne Dyer’s, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. Wonderful.

What, then, are some of my favourite Mote Quotes to share with you? And what quotes do you find particularly powerful?

First, from Marcus Aurelius: “The secret of all success lies in the organization of the non-obvious”. How powerful is that?

“Nothing happens unless first a dream” - Carl Sandberg

“That man who has no faith in himself can never have faith in God.” – Vivekananda

“As the fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts” – Buddha

“Generosity gives rise to a creative mind” – Dalai Lama

“the imagination has some way of lighting on the truth which reason has not, and …. it’s commandments … are the most binding we can ever know” WB Yeats

And perhaps, finally for now, a quotation that makes me laugh out loud: “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a series of problems and decide I must tell the Pope about it; then I wake up completely and remember, I am the Pope!” - Pope John 23rd

The point is with these quotations is that they are more than Christmas Cracker mottoes; at some deep level really good/great quotations can become mantras that we rehearse and which direct us in turbulent times.

I am all for making lists and treasuring the key ones. What are your Mote Quotes?

James


THE SELF ESTEEM LOG THAT MOTIVATES

In my last Blog I said I would give some examples of my own Log of achievement: achievement that creates a body of evidence that persuades one’s own sub-conscious to believe that it is worthy, it is capable, and that beyond the negative good things happen even to me!

Before I delve – almost randomly – in my archives I ought to say that I think it is important in the first instance to re-frame the word ‘achievement’ itself. Unfortunately, in the sound-bite culture we live in, where notoriety is seen as a valid substitute for genuine recognition, people tend to discount real achievement. What I am trying to say is: first, achievement is simple; and second, may have little to do with the grandiose, sensational, and popular. Small things can be massive achievements: refraining from drinking coffee for the fourth day can seem pretty big if that is what one wants to achieve. Or, somebody saying, “Thank you. That was really helpful”, can be highly significant when your self-talk is running the message to yourself – ‘Oh, it was nothing, anybody could have done that’.

As a professional motivational mentor I frequently get the response from clients – asked to log three things a day or remember three achievements from yesterday – “I can’t think of anything I achieved”. This response is a sure sign of low self-esteem and a chronic inability to ‘see the object as it really is’. If we could see things as they really are, then we would re-gain that childlike vision; we would – paraphrasing William Blake - cleanse the doors of our perception. And the net effect of this would be: to be ourselves, which is to say that we would simply accept ourselves – our self esteem would be complete.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

The original Blog was written on the 3/9/08 – OK, what happened three years ago?

ARCHIVE 3/9/05

1. “PJ’s 30th Birthday”               Achievement Summary Word: Pride

Commentary  - What does the above mean? PJ is my son by my first marriage, and simply, thirty years on I realize that no matter how badly that marriage turned out, I have a son of whom I am immensely proud – that feeling especially overwhelmed me on this particular day.

As an extra refinement, notice the Achievement Summary Word. This gets to the root of the achievement or the feeling that is good. Logging the one word over time has another advantage: you begin to see what values recur and are really important in your life.

2. “Complete one hour’s Tai Chi practice” Achievement Summary Word: Persistence

Commentary – I have been doing Tai Chi for a number of years. As anyone knows who practises any discipline or sport, it is keeping on keeping on that is the key to success and mastery. When we are busy we have all the excuses in the world not to do it; so we should log in that fact we did do it!

3. “Attend Colin and Liz’s BBQ” Achievement Summary Word: Friendship

Commentary – The fact of an invite, of an enjoyable afternoon, of friendship itself is a massive achievement in this rapidly changing world – so celebrate it!

ARCHIVE 3/9/07

1. “No coffee for 22 days”          Achievement Summary Word: Discipline

Commentary – I never quite crack my addiction to coffee, which I believe is not good for me. However, I have great runs at cracking it, and last year I felt compelled to log in how well I was doing.

2. “Acupuncture/Moxibustion session with Dr John”  - Achievement Summary Word: Health

Commentary – Obviously today I am really working and aware of my health and looking after myself: no coffee and a really relaxing and health-giving session with my Chinese acupuncturist, who is great.

3. “Agree in principle setup of new company with

Gary

” - Achievement Summary Word: Synergy

Commentary

Gary

is a great friend of mine and over the last ten years we have worked ever more closely together. Today, as I speak, we own a company with Tim that specializes in developing Intellectual Property. This has been very exciting.

ARCHIVE 3/9/08

1.  “Time out with Linda to swim/steam”  - Achievement Summary Word: Together

Commentary – Linda, my wife, is the MD of our business. We are both busy. Thus, to find time during the day for us both to go to our club for a steam and swim – albeit briefly – is marvelous.

2.  “Re-negotiate deal with Steve” - Achievement Summary Word: Pro-active

Commentary – Steve and I have had a financial deal that has worked well for 18 months. We both independently realized this was not sustainable long term. We sat for an hour and hammered out a new deal – constructive and positive and what pleased me most: pro-active. Avoiding drifting on with a bad deal.

3. “Quaker welcome” - Achievement Summary Word: Growth

Commentary – I have been attending

Bournemouth

Quaker Meeting House for five years. Earlier this year I decided – was called? – to make a deeper commitment and actually join. As part of this process there is a formal welcome into the Community. (Another) Steve and Penny welcomed me in at Steve’s house where we stared into his beautiful garden. It was the culmination of five year’s growth and I was very happy.

Hopefully I have not been too verbose in unpacking this. But I have wanted to show what logging in achievement might look like, and how as a living record it supports the self-esteem and also becomes a means of increasing self-awareness and self-discovery.

I welcome others accounts of their use of logs or diaries or journals for this purpose and what their experience has been.

James


SELF ESTEEM AND MOTIVATION

I had a great training day the other day on motivation and self-esteem. During it I recommended a simple technique for increasing self-esteem which I have found over the years to work. One of my clients, Adrian, said, “You ought to write a blog about that”. Hm. Good idea.

Dr Nathaniel Brandon called self-esteem the single most powerful force in our existence: www.amazon.co.uk/Raise-Your-Self-esteem-Nathaniel-Branden/dp/0553266462. On it everything depends. As he goes on to say: “Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves.” (For some great quotations from him visit www.worldofquotes.com/author/Nathaniel-Branden/1/index.html)

Unsurprisingly, self-esteem is a core component of motivation. Three key factors feed into motivation: our personality, our self-concept, and our expectations. In brief, the self-concept or self-identity comprises three main components: the ideal self, the self image, and the self esteem. The heart of our self-concept is our self esteem – there we feel ourselves.

The problem is – for many – that what we feel is ‘crummy’ or rotten, and then we go through the processes of disguise or of creating the false self images, or what Branden called the “pseudo self esteem” – a personal reality characterised and motivated by fear. This leads to living not in a universe of facts but in a “universe of people”, whereby people derive their opinion of themselves not from within but from others’ views. This creates dependency and lack of authenticity.

What can be done about this? Well clearly, read the books of Nathaniel Branden for one thing! According to Google there are 2548 references to self-esteem on my laptop; and 18,500,000 on the Web – so plenty to choose from!

More specifically, then, here is one technique that I love. Most people know of affirmations – repeating (a mantra as it were) a positive, present-tense, and personal statement to yourself. The idea is to hypnotise yourself into believing and subsequently manifesting the core idea that is currently not reality. So, for example, the great Brian Tracey’s favourite affirmation is: “I like myself”. See http://www.briantracy.com/?cmpid=2158&kw=Brian%20Tracy . One is specifically advised to repeat the phrase with feeling, intensity and frequency so that the sub-conscious will accept it. It can work but the problem is: the subconscious frequently doesn’t accept it. In effect it says, “Come on – like yourself? Get real – you hate yourself!”

One way round this rejection by the subconscious is to repeat the phrase but use a more deeply embedding process. For example, combine the affirmation with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and the result is much more powerful: www.emofree.com. This really does work because the tapping procedure directly accesses the sub-conscious through the acupuncture meridians, and the ingenious methodology that Gary Craig discovered also involves a ‘psychological reversal’ tapping to prevent sub-conscious rejection! Wow!

However, not everyone has the time to go and learn EFT. So, here at last is something simple which I really like and do myself on a daily basis: ensure at the end of every day that you log at least 3 things, activities, or words that feel good to you. And when I say log I only mean you have to capture it in one sentence, so we are not talking about huge diary commitments. That’s it!

What’s so powerful about it, then? In one word: evidence. When you think about it, the subconscious is like a jury in trial. You say you like yourself, right? But what evidence is there that substantiates that affirmation? And when you think of this you remember that most of us seem to spend an inordinate amount of time logging all the negative stuff we do or which happens to us. How many of you have had an almost perfect when towards the end of it the boss came up and made some casual remark which troubled you till bed time and beyond? We seem to have an inordinate capacity to focus on the bad stuff.

By focusing on the good stuff, logging it, and then subsequently reviewing it, we remind ourselves of our best side. Even better, as in a trial, written evidence has far more clout than casual hearsay of memory. It’s almost believable because it’s in writing – it’s authored – and so an authority. Over time – and it’s not an immediate fix – we begin to believe, at last, that we are capable of goodness, that people like and admire us, and that within us there is worth. Ultimately we can become independent of others’ perceptions – we know who we are and we like that.

Give it a try for a month. Get a new note book. Use one page per day. Date each day and log three ‘achievements’ (no matter how small) or good words by you or to you. I have done it for eight years and the truth is that after you have accumulated this body of evidence you begin to feel pretty wonderful about yourself whatever anyone else may say.

In my next Blog – at the risk of huge embarrassment – I will give some examples from my self-esteem log: it is highly motivating to read about yourself achieving!

James