Lesson 5 – Team Development Lessons Taught By My Dog

Lesson 5. Consistency is crucial to trust and understanding.

As you may have gathered with previous posts, having Jake in our house has been a learning experience. One of the greatest areas of learning has been in the art of consistency across all members of the family. Like most dog owners, we wanted Jake to be able to sit on command; when he is on the lead and at the side of the road, before receiving his meal etc.

What we noticed very quickly was that while I was clear on the command and the way I was teaching this step to Jake, so were the other 3 members of my family. The problem was that each of our methods of teaching Jake to sit were slightly different. This caused confusion for Jake, and he became unsure of what to do when.

This also became a problem when we wanted Jake to sit before we cross the road. Did we want him to do it at every road? Just before busy roads? Only with the children? Clearly Jake wasn’t going to be able to read our minds and work out what we wanted, so we had to be clear and work out the standard we wanted as a family and then make sure that the way that we demonstrate this to Jake is consistent.

Team members within our workplace require the same type of consistency. One of the key traits of a high performing team is their ability to trust one another. Trust is a big concept that means many things to many people, but in this case I will use a very literal definition: Trust is built by doing what you say you are going to do.

High performing teams trust in each other’s abilities and the consistency that comes with knowing what the other person will do. I work with many different teams from many different industries that are seeking to become better at what they do, and trust is the most consistent and crucial factor that is discussed again and again as missing from their teams.

To build trust, you have to make it very clear what you want in certain situations and what is expected of others.

For Jake, we have some constants:

1.         Before receiving food, you have to sit.

2.         At the side of the road, you have to sit and I have to stop and look before crossing.

3.         If we are heading for the park, you have to sit before I will take the lead off.

For my team, I have some similar consistent behaviours:

1.         If you are late to work by 5 minutes, I won’t be annoyed – traffic happens.

2.         If you are late for a meeting (particularly with clients), I will be very annoyed. Call me ahead of time to advise me of problems.

3.         If I have asked for a report by Friday, I will be very annoyed if on Monday you tell me it hasn’t been done. Tell me on Thursday, and we can work together.

These are just three points – I have a very long list! When a new member joins my team, I make a point of very being clear in what I expect the people in that team to do. I provide them with my list and discuss the points within them; this is how you get the best out of me. I also encourage them to do the same – how can I get the best out of you?

An easy way to start is to observe your team and your interactions for a week. When someone does something that you love in a team environment, put it on your ‘good’ list. When something bugs or annoys you, put it on your ‘bad’ list. You will be surprised how quickly the list builds!

Working out what you like and don’t like and discussing it with your team is a bit like providing your team with an instruction manual on how to get the best out of you. Imagine if you knew on Day 1 at a new business what the key ‘touch’ points were for your new boss? How much easier would it be?

Knowing how you will react and what you expect makes life much simpler for your team and builds trust quickly, particularly when your actions match what you have said.

How consistent are you with your team? Does your team know what you like and don’t like? Is the response they get from you consistent? What ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ are part of your instruction manual? Does your team know them?



Lesson 4 – Team Development Lessons Taught By My Dog

Greet your team members like you are meeting them for the first time every day.

This lesson sounds over the top and cheesy, but give me the opportunity to explain.

I am sure that you have seen dogs like Jake before; as soon as I get home there is a huge wag of the tail, more jumping than I would like, and a desperate need to be patted. There is no doubt in my mind that he is happy to see me. Jake also has the advantage (or disadvantage?) of having a tail that completely reflects his mood – if the tail is wagging he is happy, wagging furiously and he is excited.

To state the obvious, humans don’t have tails that can give away our mood. Often I work with team’s that struggle to understand each other, finding it difficult to read each others expressions, let alone their intent. What I love about my dog Jake is no matter what type of day he has had, he always manages to cheer me up when I arrive home.

I think we can take a lot out of Jake’s demeanour and apply it to where we work. Over time, I have worked with several clients that struggle to deal with the negativity of staff; they criticize everything and the general mood of the business is one that can be unpleasant to work in. It is the type of negativity that you can feel as an outsider to the business – it just feels wrong.

Positive attitudes can be beaten down in environments like this if they are not maintained and vigilant. A simple way is to greet people in your team in a positive manner. It may sound trite, but it is amazing how your own smile and positive attitude can have a direct impact on those people around you.

Imagine a simple case of a Manager so absorbed in what he is doing that as he walked down the corridor, deep in thought, he was ignoring the people that he walked past. He wasn’t trying to be aloof or distant, but staff members he worked with (in this negative culture) could perceive that behaviour as being ignored. (Imagine if he had a tail like Jake, there would be no need to say anything.

If his tail was wagging, people would assume that he was in a good mood and think nothing more of it). So individually, the team decide to ignore him too – a negative culture will do that. You can see how this can spiral out of control. Sadly, in the past I have been the type of person who has exacerbated this attitude, expecting everyone to treat me well before I decided to treat them accordingly. (Perhaps I am attuned to this now because I have been that negative person in the past and can recognize the early signs)

Negative cultures require us to break that cycle and treat everyone how we expect to be treated regardless of the impact. Imagine again my corridor walking manager, and instead of ignoring the behaviour or judging it, a staff member comes out with ‘Good morning Joe (Bloggs), how is your day going?’ They might often know the answer, but they can break the lack of communication and the possible spiral it could cause. This is a very simple example – but it highlights how perception of communication and sending out what you want can have a great impact.

To paraphrase a quote that I read a few days ago ‘It is not the force of the rain in a single drop that created an indentation in stone, it is the persistent effort of many drops over many storms.’

I love this quote because it relates to people’s behaviour and negativity so well. A single effort will not change behaviour. Neither will several efforts. Many efforts over time build to become a habit, which in turn drives behaviour and attitude change. This is exactly what dealing with negativity requires – constant effort and a desire to change for the good.

It is certainly not easy, sometimes the negative energy saps up the energy of good people and can drag them down. The question is ‘Is the negative behaviour something that you want to live with?’

In short, negative behaviour can be broken down with many simple acts of friendliness, kindness and trust over periods of time. Jake has taught me that consistent positive response can change my mood every time I come home.

Is your team filled with negative comments and behaviour? Are you adding to the negativity or steering a positive path? What have you done to lift the mood of your team?


Lesson 3 – Team Development Lessons Taught by my Dog

Listening and Being Present are Important to you Team

Having a team leader that is motivated, passionate, driven and excitied by making change are all wonderful things to have when you are in a team. Equally, it is very comforting to know that your Team Leader is there to listen and provide advice when you need it – it provides the ‘steady hand’ that is required to guide a team through difficult times.

There are times with Jake when he just wants to be near you; I wouldn’t say that he craves attention but it is clear that he feels more comfortable when we are around and a spontanteous act of care and affection (a pat for no reason) goes a very long way.

It is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of team activity and the multitude of requirements that need to be completed. It is good for the team to take the time to show that you care – just listen to what your team has to say. I am not talking about half-listening; nodding your hear and making it look like you are listening. Nor am I talking about cutting off a team member before they can finish and provide a solution to their problem (I can be very guilty of that one).

Take the time to see how members of your team are progressing – What are they finding hard?, What is their most difficult task?, What can you help with?, What hinders them from being able to do their job better?, What do they enjoy?

The more listening you do the more likely you are to have the knowledge to help when it is required, as well as respond to the challenges that lie ahead.

When was the last time you took the opportunity to truly ‘listen’ to your team?


Lesson 2 – Team Development Lessons Taught By My Dog

You need to protect your team from outside forces

Being the leader of a team brings with it certain responsibilities. The responsibility and accountability of leading others is one of the greatest privileges that can be asked of a person. It can also be one of the greatest challenges.

With Jake in our family, it has reminded me of the requirement to look and act like the leader at all times. A simple example of behaving like a leader involves playing with Jake. Pulling on a rope, throwing a ball and chasing a Frisbee are all great games to play with Jake (with varying success), but getting down to his level and wrestling is a no-no. It is confusing for Jake and he gets very boisterous – he sees that he has the opportunity to be dominant and it confuses him. It is a metaphor for understanding the need to be friendly with the people that work for you, but a reminder that you are not their best friend. The role that you are required to play within a team ensures that you are equally part of the team, but also apart from the team.

I have also been reminded by Jake of the need to protect your team. There are all sorts of forces at play within an organisation and external to it that can have a detrimental affect on your team. As a leader of a team, it is your responsibility to look after the welfare of your team. When Jake barks at something outside our house, he is trying to display his protection of the family. Yelling at him for doing so again confuses him; he needs the reassurance that you know what is going on outside and it is under your control.

Similar ‘noises’ are heard by members of your team; rumours of change, changes of client bases or different work procedures. You need to be able to convey to your team that you are aware of these forces and that you are in control of both circumstances and outcomes. With this comes the appropriate demeanour of calm and control.

A good team leader stays aware of the outside forces that are at play and knows how to keep the team informed but not alarmed.

What outside forces are at play in your organisation? What have you done to stay informed and protect the members of your team?


Lesson 1 of 15 – Team Development Lessons Taught By My Dog

Lesson 1 – The team rules need to be understood and applied by all members of the team.

The addition of our dog Jake to the household has forced us to consider our house rules and what will be tolerated / not tolerated by all members of the family.

  • Would Jake be an inside or outside dog?
  • What rooms will Jake be allowed in?
  • How do we deal with discipline issues with the dog?
  • How do we react when he jumps up on people?
  • What are the rewards for good behaviour?

These questions and a myriad of others have had to be discussed and decisions made regarding the behaviour of our dog and the way that he integrates into the family. To make the rules work they have to work for everyone – not just the ‘master’ or the adults; our children have had to be involved in the decision process (the best intentions in ensuring the dog does not go into bedrooms can be broken down very quickly by a 9-year old wanting to have a new fluffy dog at her feet at bedtime). Every new dog owner knows that despite the best intentions, all of these ideas and rules get pushed and tested with the addition of dog in the house (chewing shoes and accidents in the house have tested our rules!).

For a good team to function effectively, team members also need to understand the team rules and codes of behaviour. Contrary to an opinion I heard recently, this does not mean a quick look at the values of the business and saying that we should all apply ‘common sense’.

Each team is different – just like each family is different. Good teams take the time to discuss what is accepted and appropriate and what is not; from behaviour at meetings, providing feedback to each other, how often you expect feedback from the Manager and when are the best times to get core work completed.

Failure to understand what is appropriate for the team causes confusion for all team members, as well as the team leader. Team members can feel insecure regarding what behaviour is right and wrong, what will be praised and what will be questioned. This is exacerbated for new team members who spend the first few weeks / months trying to work out what is appropriate for different team members, the team manager and the team as a whole.

So how do you address this? Here are 5 simple steps:

1.            Take the time to consider two questions: ‘What do you really appreciate your team members doing?’ And ‘What do your team members do that frustrates and annoys you?’

You may never have considered this question, so it might help with some examples.

My top 3 likes and dislikes:


a.            Team members that when finished their tasks, ask their peers if they need help and provide it.

b.            Team members that provide options for dealing with problems.

c.            Team members that aren’t afraid to question decisions, but will accept a decision when one is made.


a.            Whingeing about a person / decision without raising the issue with the person.

b.            Being late for meetings and being unprepared for meetings.

c.            Criticising the business or a business unit in front of clients / customers.

My list could go on for quite a bit! But by providing this list to my team, they have a very clear understanding of what I like and what I don’t like. If they question my decisions, I won’t be annoyed.

If they are late for team meetings, I probably will be. Your list could be similar or very different; the point is by discussing your likes and dislikes you start a conversation about what is acceptable and not tolerable within the team.

2. Get your team members to consider the same questions and be honest in their answers. You may find that some of the things that you do are appreciated by your team, others things they may find difficult. Most people, once they know your preferences, will try to do what you like and avoid what you don’t. Will you do the same for them?

3.            In a team meeting, get all team members to discuss their likes / dislikes.

Many people come to meetings like this with very small lists – but they grow as they listen to what others have said and consider the points for themselves. Importantly, all team members must be encouraged to ‘play the ball, not the man’. In other words, discuss behaviour that they like / don’t like, not the people that do it. This process does not need to take hours; in fact, it can be just 10 minutes at the end of a regular meeting.

4.            Develop a team charter.

There is no point discussing all of these points if it is forgotten a few days later. A team charter reinforces the accepted behaviours within the team.

5.            Review and adapt your likes/dislikes whenever a new team member becomes part of your team.

Every one in business knows when a Manager changes, accepted business practises and behaviours change as well. Meeting styles, information flow, communication and management styles all change and require us to adapt. The same applies when a new team member is added to the team.

Applying this process successfully ensures that new team members feel like an important addition to the group, as well as providing them with crucial information regarding appropriate behaviours in their new role. Imagine not having to guess how to treat your Manager in your first days on the job? With ‘relationship with my Manager / Boss’ stated as the reason why 57% of people change jobs and roles, understanding your team and Manager can have a dramatic impact on not only the harmony of your team, but their retention as well.

Do you understand what behaviours you like and don’t like in you team? Does your team know? Have you told new team members what behaviours are positive and negative? Consider applying the steps above for an effective and harmonious team.


Developing your Team – 15 lessons learnt with my dog.

Jake is the newest member of our team / family. He is an 18 month old labradoodle (pictured) and the last 15 months have been an exercise in joy, commitment, frustration and persistence.

When I think on the impact our new member has had on the rest of the family, I have realised that it is not very different to a new person entering a team in business. I have also realised that animals know an awful lot about being in a team – they have existed and survived in packs for thousands of years.

Here are some of the lessons learnt with Jake on being a good team member and being a good leader of a team.

1. The team rules need to be understood and applied by all members of the team / pack.

2. You need to protect your team from outside forces.

3. Listening and being present are important to your team.

4. Greet your team members like you are meeting them for the first time every day.

5. Consistency is crucial to trust and understanding.

6. Trust is built over months, not seconds.

7. Learn the things that you shouldn’t do in the team.

8. Remember that each team has different rules to live by.

9. Show respect for your team in ways that they appreciate.

10. Understand the unique behaviour and skill set you bring to the team.

11. Look after your team and they will look after you / You have to meet the needs of your team.

12. Breaks in discipline / performance can’t wait until later to fix.

13. Leading the team is not a half-hearted, part time responsibility.

14. The leader needs to guide the team clearly and precisely.

15. The leadership hierarchy needs to be understood by all of the team.

Each lesson will be expanded on within the blog in the coming days.

What are rules governing your team? Are they understood by everyone? Does everyone apply them? Consider the list and check to see if your team meets the criteria set out by Jake.


Where have all the role models gone?

I must admit to feeling disappointed. As a leadership and team development facilitator, I look for examples in media / corporate life, politics and personal experience to illuminate key points I want to discuss and raise in training.

I have been reviewing the key examples that I use for points on vision, personal ethics, integrity, trust, responsibility and have come to realise that not only are some of the examples I have been using a little dated – I have found it very hard to find up-to-date replacements.

While I use many references to coaches and players of particular sporting codes (I have highlighted my sport obsession recently), I find that my love of sport is not enjoyed by everyone – in fact it can alienate some groups. For some people, the great examples of courage, teamwork and discipline can be overshadowed by lack of personal ethics and behaviour that are often demonstrated off the field.

So where to find the examples? Business?

While I can think of fantastic examples of creativity, ingenuity, quality and persistence in the business world, great examples of leadership and personal example to look up to are harder to find.

Can you think of a business leader that provides an example that others should follow?

Which brings me to politics – and sadly my greatest disappointment when it comes to leadership. I had the unfortunate opportunity to watch ‘question time’ in the Australian Parliament at the end of last week. The examples displayed – childish behaviour, not answering questions, jeering each other, ignoring the presence of people and deriding the comments of women – left me feeling deflated, disappointed and angered all at once. How can these people be our leaders? While sports people could decry that they play professional sport and should not be held up as role models (a separate article could be created on this debate), I don’t believe that can be said for our politicians.

They should be our role models! In any successful business, the examples displayed by Australian politicians would not be tolerated. In fact, the examples would not only generate performance management action and formal warning, you would expect most to be removed from the business all together before they created a lawsuit with their behaviour.

Vision, values, integrity, honesty, responsibility, accountability, lead by example – are these words now only found on motivational posters? Are these not the traits that we expect our leaders to display? If so, these qualities appear to be sadly lacking from the leaders of our political parties. Should we expect more? Am I naïve in expecting our political leaders to provide guidance and an example that I look up to? I shouldn’t be too harsh on Australian politics, the poor example set by politicians goes beyond national borders – French and American politics has provided plenty of poor examples of late.

Were the politicians of the past as bad as the current crop, or did they just face less personal scrutiny in a time without a 24-hour news cycle and social media?

For now, I am happy for some of my examples of good leadership values / behaviours to be a little dated.

Where have all the great role models gone?

Can you think of a great modern-day leader that demonstrates values / ethics / personal qualities that can be set as an example for others? I would love to hear from you!


Going the extra mile for the boss

I must confess to being slightly sport obsessed, using sporting references in training and facilitation, so it is no real surprise that it ends up in my blog as well.

Last night saw the Queensland Maroons defeat the NSW Blues again, resulting in a 6th straight series win for Queensland. It also marked the last time the Maroons captain, Darren Lockyer, would play in a State of Origin series. A very proud night to come from Queensland! (A separate article could be ‘Why does the performance of a team I have no direct involvement or influence over –despite my cheering – make me feel so good?’)

After the game, several of the Queensland players said that they wanted to make the night special so that ‘they could send ‘Locky’ out on a high’ or that they were ‘doing it for Locky’. These comments stood out for me, because they weren’t coming from a rookie player that idolised the hero that they were lucky enough to play with in his final game. These comments came from NRL captains, Grand final winning players and captains, including the Australian rugby league captain.

My point is, ‘What makes you put in selfless effort for the boss, and have you felt the same thing for your boss?’

Being an officer in the Air Force provided me with the opportunity to work with some amazing people. Due to the posting cycle, it also afforded me with the opportunity to work with and observe 12 different Commanding Officers. Of those 12, there was only 2 that made me feel the way those Queensland players feel for Darren Lockyer.

The business unit that I worked in (my dream job) was not well regarded in the Air Force and had been led poorly for a number of years. Yet after less than 1 year, Wing Commander Paul Way had instilled a ‘fire in the belly’ for all that worked for him, rallying the unit to work together in a way that I hadn’t seen before. Everyone had ‘got on board’ with his vision for the future, and his style was such that everyone not only liked him, but respected him as well.

The amazing thing is, looking back, I don’t think Paul Way was an exceptional visionary leader. What he did do was a large number of small, personally important things, very well.

I heard renowned chef Marco Pierre White say (on Masterchef – but it is a great quote!) that perfection is a number of small things done exceptionally well. Paul Way provided me with a first hand demonstration of leadership perfection.

He did the small things like:

–       remembering everyone’s name on only his second day at the unit (a unit of more than 60 people).

–       Tapping into and rekindling passing conversations he had with staff weeks before and remembering every detail, and following up with progress.

–       Providing a day of leave (where operationally possible) for people on their birthday to spend with their family.

–       Asking each and every staff member what they thought worked and didn’t work in the unit and then putting in a plan of action to address them. Simple questions, like:

  • What is working at the unit and shouldn’t be changed?
  • What isn’t working?
  • What is one annoying thing that, if I could take it away, would make your life easier?

Not a new concept, but Paul actually did it, and then fed back the progress to the person that suggested it as well as the unit as a whole. He also followed through and got rid of a lot of those ‘annoying things’ and made you feel like what you thought mattered.

Even my wife loved him! Formal military dinners can be awkward sometimes – the person you refer to as ‘Sir’ or ‘Maam’ at work has a first name that your partner will use during the evening, but you won’t. After our first formal dinner with Paul Way, my wife said ‘he is the first person to do that’. After enquiring, my wife loved him because he was the first person to try and make the formalities seem less awkward, and introduced himself simply as Paul, and referring to her by name. Simple I know, but more impressive because I hadn’t spoken to him about my wife – he had taken it upon himself to learn partner’s names before the event.

I realised that when I worked for Paul Way, I actually wanted to go to work. I felt a drive and energy to do a better job that I had felt only once before (working for a similarly inspirational leader) – it was almost as if I wanted to do a better job to please him. When he left the job less than a year later, it almost felt as if a death had occurred in the family and sadly, the next 2/3 Commanding officers couldn’t fill that inspirational void in the way that Paul Way had. My hope is that the Queensland players don’t feel that same void when Darren Lockyer leaves their team.

I used many of the techniques that Paul demonstrated to try and be a better leader myself, and use many examples and simple ideas he introduced when I facilitate leadership training for Managers. I owe a large debt to Paul Way for showing me that you could be a tough, uncompromising leader in a demanding industry, yet still show your human side and demonstrate genuine care for your people.

So my question is: Do you feel about your boss the way that I do for Paul Way, or the way the Queensland players feel for Darren Lockyer? What could your boss start doing / stop doing to inspire you to do better and work selflessly for them?


Your Most Important Leadership Attribute

I love my LinkedIn discussion groups. Groups of like-minded individuals from around the world discussing (often far more articulately than I can!) topics that interest them; for me that topic is most often leadership.

One of the members of the Center for Creative Leadership group, Sarandeep Singh asked:

‘What is one KEY attribute, that you would look up to in a “Leader”… and why?’

 I love this discussion because it highlights to me how difficult it is to be a leader for many – we all want so many different things! Some very compelling arguments for attributes such as integrity, creativity, vision and authenticity. All of these attributes were worthy of my one key attribute – but the discussion forced me to think about the leaders that I have worked for and consider what was the difference between the good and the truly inspirational.

My No. 1 – The drive and the desire to make something / someone better.

I can’t disagree with integrity, creativity, passion or vision (particularly when they are written about so articulately – some truly inspiring words. If interested in leadership I can’t recommend this group highly enough) – and perhaps what I am talking about incorporates some of each of those points.

I have worked for many managers, but only a small few have the magnetism, the ‘pull’ to make you want to get on board with their cause / idea and do all you can to help them achieve it. I have seen the drive of one person start a small movement and turn it into a wildfire of like-minded followers. The drive and passion to do something better, create something better, be part of something you can be proud of at the end – that is what drives me and what I look for in a leader.

The drive to make something better requires a selfless passion that I find compelling. I have written ‘to make something’ and particularly ‘to make someone better’ because, aren’t we all looking for a leader that can guide us to a better place (physically, emotionally, spiritually) than we are now?

Is the one key attribute you would look up to in a leader the one thing that we truly want to possess / demonstrate ourselves?

What is the one key attribute that you would look up to in a leader?


5 Ways to Ascertain ‘High Potential’

A recent Linkedin group discussion asked: ‘Given that most of us can master any skill we choose to, with the right support and experience, what makes us attribute ‘high potential’ to some people and not to others?’

I think this is a great question and pertinent to all businesses. I have rated someone as ‘high potential’ when they:

1. Show drive to do what others won’t do. I sat in on a seminar by Frank Furness about 2 years ago on social media, and he showed the audience so many wonderful things. Someone asked ‘Aren’t you worried that someone will take everything that you do and copy it, stealing your IP?’ I loved his reply, (paraphrasing): ‘I know just how hard it is to do what I have been doing, and 98% of people won’t try or will find it too hard to copy day after day, so I am not afraid to give away IP.’ High potential people see that something is hard and go for it anyway.

2. Ask questions to genuinely learn more. You can tell when someone is keen and has drive – they listen intently, ask insightful questions and are actively learning all the time.

3. Have demonstrated an ability to deal with adversity / stress/ difficult workloads and they have shouldered the burden for not only themselves, but others as well.

4. Don’t whinge, blame others or make excuses when things get difficult. High potential people have the ability to ‘get over it’ quickly and move on to the next task. They don’t dismiss the difficult things, they learn from them.

5. Get back up again after falling down or making a mistake.

These areas show qualities of strength, determination, drive and desire – essential qualities (rather than skills) of a good leader that can’t be taught – they are either innate qualities of a person or have been forced through circumstance.

How do you rate high potential? What makes high potential people stand out for you?


10 Steps to Being a Great Manager

In the June 16 issue of BRW (brw.com.au), Leo D’Angelo Fisher listed the following 10 steps to being a great manager:

1. Managers are leaders and leaders are managers – don’t get caught up by artificial dichotomy.

2. Leadership can be shared.

3. Leadership requires high-level personal attributes.

4. Leaders are part of a team.

5. Managers / leaders know their team.

6. Create a sense of purpose.

7. Performance manage to strengths.

8. Set principles, boundaries and strategy.

9. Manage diversity.

10. Manage globalisation, complexity and chaos. 

What do you think of the list?

So many areas to discuss, but I want to get to pt. 3. Followers do not follow a leader who has personal attributes less than those they possess themselves. We all want a leader that we can look up to, and who has values that are congruent with ours or extend us to be better. Of those high level personal attributes alluded to, I believe leaders need to;

1. Be open and consistent about what they want – they need to know what they approve and don’t approve on in the workplace and inform others,

2. Have drive and be determined to achieve. 

3. Be positive through adversity.

4. Demonstrate care for the people they work with.

5. Know when to fight for what you believe / fight for your team, and know when to be humble and accept decisions / outcomes.

There are many more personal attributes that make up a leader – what do you think? What would you add / take out of the 10 steps? What are the personal attributes of the great leaders you have followed?


Persistance, Motivation and the UFC

Michael PeinigerUncategorised

I have been Foxtel free until very recently, and am now only just discovering the plethora of shows available to an avid television watch such as myself (a bit like providing a problem gambler with a gambling outlet right in their living room)

Of all the shows, I have become taken with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). (A little sad I hear you say, and you would be right) For those not familiar, it is a mixed martial arts competition in which competitors can use any fighting style to beat their opponent. It is violent, graphic and intense – yet I find it gripping television.

Aside from the memories of many years of both karate and judo as a child / teenager, I have been impressed with the level of dedication, focus and drive the fighters have to attain their goal.

This has led me to think: how focussed have I been on my goal?

UFC fighters prepare by being very skilled (black belts) in at least 1 or 2 disciplines of martial arts (judo, karate, wrestling, ju jitsu etc). This is not dissimilar to managers attaining their role by being good accountants, logisticians, customer service experts etc. It is also similar to facilitators being skilled at facilitating one or two topics.

To be great in the UFC, the athletes (and I will call them athletes because of the intense discipline and training required) have to explore outside their discipline/s and become very skilled at the whole range of fighting techniques.

As an excellent manager / leader, we are expected to explore outside our chosen disciplines to become skilled in the whole range of management techniques if we are to be thought of as great (and what manager / leader doesn’t want to be thought of as great by their peers / co-workers?)

To achieve competence across many disciplines, experts in one field of martial arts often have to start at the bottom of another art to gain the required skills and competence. For many, not having their previous competence recognised in the new discipline is too difficult to deal with, and they choose to opt out, limiting their overall skill set. The athletes that truly have the desire to grow learn to be humble, and place the distant goal of multi-discipline mastery ahead of short term setbacks.

What have you done to extend yourself in pursuit of your long-term goal?

When I truly reflected on this question, I was a little disappointed with the answer. In truth, I have stayed within the disciplines in which I am very comfortable; that is training & facilitation of leadership and team issues. But what of marketing? Social media? Succession planning and product growth? Business growth in non-traditional markets? These are all areas that I have been aware of and dabbled in, but have not truly explored. I have stayed within my skill set and been unwilling to start at the ground up on areas that are not my traditional skill set. The plan for this month is to plan out a strategy for developing these skills as part of my overall business / personal plan. It will involve research and outside sources to work out the key areas of development that will enhance my business growth. What is your plan?

Watching the UFC also highlighted to me the strength of purpose these fighters have to achieve their goals. Dealing with pain, discomfort and physical injury are obvious areas that these athletes need to prepare for. The dedication to training and practise, long hours toiling to achieve perfection of minor details and the sacrifice of personal rewards are often forgotten as essential requirements to achieving a long-term goal (which could be why the achievement of difficult long-term goals is so rare). I realised that I hadn’t been putting in the required time and effort to improve the areas of my development; a sobering realisation for someone who works in the area of personal leadership development.

So the question is: how have you extended yourself beyond your skill set to develop your long-term goal? Will you place yourself in a position of non-expert / learner to develop an essential skill for long-term development? Will you be prepared to deal with short term losses for the long-term gains?

So while I was initially struggling to come to terms with my new UFC obsession, it has in fact re-energised my long term business goals and reminded me of the persistence and effort required to get there.