The Executive Mentor Blog

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Management is definitely not leadership

Management is definitely not leadership

Probably the reason so many well managed Melbourne companies end up on the scrapheap is a misunderstanding of what leadership really is. And this misunderstanding seems to be commonplace throughout corporate Australia. Continue reading

You can have a Career and a Balanced Life – It’s Your Choice

You can have a Career and a Balanced Life – It’s Your Choice

The Importance of Life-Work Effectiveness

There’s nothing wrong with choosing a lucrative path, but I wonder if you may be setting yourself up for work-family conflict and other challenges later in life. Continue reading

How to Attract and Keep Talented, Productive Employees

How to Attract and Keep Talented, Productive Employees

The Importance of Life-Work Effectiveness

I have a client who is an ascending executive at an international financial firm. His career has always been demanding- long hours, lots of travel, ultra-high performance standards (which he always has met or exceeded). Several years ago, when his daughter was quite young, he was considering changing employers due to the incompatibility of his work’s demands with his need to be a present father. Continue reading

be a life/work effectiveness role model

How you personally handle the Life/Work Challenge that impacts your Team Members and their Productivity!

The Importance of Life/Work Effectiveness

Each one of us holds a set of beliefs and attitudes — a mindset — that determines how we interpret and respond to situations. That mindset shapes how we interact with others, and therefore it also affects the people we work with Continue reading

Why you must take that vacation

Why You Must Take That Vacation

The Importance of Life-Work Effectiveness

When you feel like you’re just one e-mail away from failure at work, it can seem ludicrous to take your eyes off of what you believe absolutely needs to get done to consider what you might regret in the future. Continue reading

How to be a changemaker

Change is the name of the game – and today’s effective leaders must adapt to it and drive it

How to Be a Changemaker

The leadership skills that worked in the past are quickly becoming irrelevant in today’s fast-paced, change-is-the-name-of-the-game world. To be effective, you need to know how to adapt to and drive change. Here are the six core skills that can turn key decision-makers into change makers: Continue reading

Does Stating What Your Company Stands for Affect Your Bottom Line?

Does Stating What Your Company Stands for Affect Your Bottom Line?

 You’d be justified in thinking that the values listed on corporate websites don’t really matter after the Enron case – Respect, integrity, communication and excellence were the values they proudly displayed – until accounting fraud brought down the firm. Continue reading

Why so many Leadership Programs fail

Why so many Leadership Programs fail

What we know about Leadership and what we do as Leaders can be completely different things!

The topic in the Executive Committee meeting I was involved with turned to a difficult area for all.

No one had addressed that issue – the topic seemed untouchable. Continue reading

The Fastest Way to Improve Engagement and Productivity in many Australian Organizations is to Stop Workplace Bullying!

The Fastest Way to Improve Engagement and Productivity in many Australian Organizations is to Stop Workplace Bullying!

Workplace bullying in Australia is probably far more widespread than most leaders imagine. It can become accepted to the point managers don’t even notice it, particularly in industries that by nature foster a competitive work environment rather than a collaborative one. Staff begin to feel that in order to get ahead they need to undermine others or belittle them in front of other staff. Continue reading

Leaders should spend more time mentoring

4 Reasons Leaders Should Spend More Time Mentoring Their People

Leaders of all great, enduring organisations mentor – They create a path for a successor, so as not to leave a vacuum at the top of the corporation after their departure. These leaders are what Jim Collins referred to as “Level 5 Leaders” in his classic book: ‘Good To Great’. Continue reading

6 Ways to turn a Team of Champions into a Collaborating Champion Team

6 Ways to turn a Team of Champions into a Collaborating Champion Team

This is a common scenario: you were excited at having hired some very talented people and you put them together with some star performers in your company, but the results you expected just never materialize! In fact, you found that as a group they underperformed significantly. Continue reading

The Importance of Speaking Out – Your Organization’s Survival Could Depend on It!

The Importance of Speaking Out – Your Organization’s Survival Could Depend on It!

Organizations, like people, can get set in their ways. But relying on established ways of working and solving problems not only stifles innovation but can lead to a lack of perspective and moments of delusion – and ultimately the downward slide of the company Continue reading

Three Ways to give Effective, Lasting Feedback

Three Ways to give Effective, Lasting Feedback

The secret of effective feedback is making it feel like the message is coming from an ally, not an adversary. Unfortunately, in my many years as an executive mentor to senior teams, I find that most managers’ anxiety and discomfort about delivering a difficult message inadvertently makes it come off as antagonistic, rather than supportive – a stressful and difficult experience. Continue reading

3 Important Tips to Help You Overcome Conflicts with Conversation

3 Important Tips to Help You Overcome Conflicts with Conversation

Conflict that is not properly resolved in the early stages will usually simmer away until it explodes into a serious situation. It can be a primary cause of poor employee engagement, employee fraud, IP theft and result in valuable team members to leaving your organization!

Effective leadership, like a good marriage, hinges on how you deal with the tough stuff. But addressing and resolving conflicts requires enormous mental and emotional strength, which is why many of us try to avoid it. When confronted with a problem or dispute, we either move away (flee the scene, rely on others for resolution), move against (quietly using positional power to quell opposing arguments) or move toward (make nice, give in). This is natural. We instinctively want to avoid the risk of loss and social embarrassment, to stick with our points of view, to preserve relationships and the status quo.

But all three strategies are wrong-headed. When you fail to engage with a conflict, you can’t gather the input you need to find a workable solution. And it hurts your image as a leader. Take Sarah, the head of IT at a global technology company. Her job was to develop new engagement technologies in her organization, but instead of embracing critical feedback on her ideas, she ignored it. When people challenged her, she would simply reiterate her points, smile, nod and move onto something else as though the issue had been resolved, leaving everyone frustrated. Team members and colleagues began to see her as a conflict avoider, and she lost their trust.

So how does someone like Sarah learn to embrace, rather than avoid, disagreement? Continue reading

When employee engagement is a problem, there is really only one effective way to deal with it!

The only effective way to deal with employee engagement problems

We face a looming crisis! Employee trust in management and commitment to corporations have been in decline for decades. Yet we know that trust and commitment are essential for high individual and corporate performance and they have a huge impact on your bottom line. Only a minority of companies have managed to buck this decline and have built companies worthy of the human spirit. How do they do it? Continue reading

A business plan should focus on people

A Credible Business Plan Needs to Focus more on the People than the Imagined Outcome!

Every seasoned investor knows that detailed financial projections for a new company are an act of imagination. But most business plans still pour far too much ink on these numbers – and far too little on the information that really matters.

A great business plan is one that focuses on a series of questions. These questions relate to the four factors critical to the success of every new venture: the people, the opportunity, the context and the possibilities for both risk and reward.

The questions about people revolve around three issues: What do they know? Whom do they know? How well are they known? As for opportunity, the plan should focus on two questions: Is the market for the venture’s product or service large or rapidly growing (or preferably both)? Is the industry structurally attractive? Continue reading

Pillars of leadership in business

Three Imperatives of Leading

Too often, managers get so consumed with their day-to-day tasks, that they don’t spend the time to build up the foundations of good leadership. Without these foundations, it is very difficult to effectively lead an organisation or team.

“When are we supposed to do all that?” That’s the question I constantly hear from new managers, only weeks or months into their new positions, when I describe the three key activities they should be focusing on to be successful as leaders: building trust, building a team, and building a broader network. To their dismay, most of them have found they rarely end a day in their new positions having done what they planned to do. They spend most of their time solving unexpected problems and making sure their groups do their work on time, on budget, and up to standard. They feel desperately out of control because what’s urgent – the daily work – always seems to highjack what’s important – their ongoing work as managers and leaders.

So they push back because they think we’ve just made their to-do list even longer. And these key elements (I call them the “Three Imperatives of Leading and Managing”) are not quick and easy wins – they are substantial and fundamental to one’s ability to function effectively as a leader. Here’s why: Continue reading

Leaders must be self-aware to succeed

Leaders Must Become Self-Aware to Succeed

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Wrote Chinese General Sun Tzu in his book ‘The Art of War’. For Sun Tzu, knowing yourself and your own capabilities was as important as knowing your enemy.

2,500 years later, with the battlefield the marketplace and the enemy the competition, self-awareness remains as important as it was in the time of Sun Tzu.

A plethora of people, courses and self-help guides profess to lead you by the hand to the promised land of business success. The problem is that things are always messier than the how-to’s make them out to be. This is why it is often better to consider less the specifics and more the principles and qualities that bring success.

In our experience, there is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can do to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making. Continue reading

without good leadership, good management just gets you to the wrong place more efficiently

Management is not Leadership

A misunderstanding of what leadership really is costs Melbourne companies dearly!

Probably the reason so many well managed Melbourne companies end up on the scrapheap is a misunderstanding of what leadership really is. And this misunderstanding seems to be commonplace throughout corporate Australia.

Many conversations I have had with clients and professional friends regarding – say world events, including the Australian political landscape quickly veer, as these things often do, into a discussion about how individuals can keep large, complex, unwieldy organizations operating reliably and efficiently.

That’s not leadership, I explain. That’s management — and the two are radically different.

In more than four decades of studying businesses and consulting to organizations on how to implement new strategies, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people use the words “leadership” and “management” synonymously, and it drives me crazy every time.

The discussions remind me once again that the confusion around these two terms is massive, and that misunderstanding gets in the way of any reasonable discussion about how to build a company, position it for success and win in the twenty-first century. The mistakes people make on the issue are threefold: Continue reading

Essential qualities for business leaders to survive

11 Essential Qualities for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners to Survive and Thrive in Today’s Business Jungle!

The pace of change in business is faster than it has ever been in history – and as globalization and electronic commerce wreak change on local businesses, enterprise and career survival is becoming a national obsession.

Many businesses will not survive, so organisations want the best and are ruthlessly dismissing those who do not meet the grade. An ability to adapt to change, to empower staff and to be flexible and global in outlook are a few of the attributes required of the new millennium manager.

Here are 11 Essential qualities you need, to survive and thrive in the business jungle: Continue reading