Leadership

Don’t judge a penguin by its waddle

I was recently introduced to a wonderful You Tube video (in German) called ‘Das Penguin Prinzip’ (The Penguin Principle). It provides a charming but very poignant reminder that we really shouldn’t judge the character or worth of someone at first sight.

Dr. Eckart von Hirschhausen is a German television host, doctor, magician, comedian, cabaret artist, and author. In this extract, he recounts an anecdote from his time as an entertainer on a cruise ship, and a visit to a Norwegian zoo.

In one of the zoo enclosures, he saw a little penguin sitting on a rock. He looked at the creature and thought: “Look at this poor thing. A flightless bird. Stocky and totally out of proportion. Definitely one of nature’s misconstructions!”

The Penguin Principle

Then the penguin jumped into the water and, through the glass, Hirschhausen watched him swim in the water, nimbly twisting and turning. The onlooker’s jaw dropped, and he was forced to rethink his original assessment of the little creature’s suitability and talents.

Remote working

Confessions of a Remote Worker

You’re trapped and rooted to your kitchen chair with a new worry line adorning your brow, courtesy of your new line manager. But where did the day go so horribly wrong?

It’s Monday morning. The dog has hidden your mobile phone again, so you’ve missed your alarm. Thank goodness for remote working!

Your rush downstairs. After wearily turning on your laptop in the kitchen at twenty-five past eight, you find a notification waiting for you. Over the weekend, your new line manager has quietly slipped in an eight-thirty team strategy meeting.

I can't do wright for doing wrong

Can I give you some feedback?

Is there really anyone out there who hears those word and thinks “oh goody, yes please”?

If there is, you’re a much better person than me!

Take this example, it was a long time ago – but I still remember it like it was yesterday.

I’d given a sales presentation to a prospective client with Helen, a new Associate who I was mentoring. Despite not being a traditionally qualified ‘sales professional’, I was actually quite good at what I did. I believed passionately in the product that I was selling, and I had my own sales ‘muscle’ that I used to be effective.

Helen, on the other hand, was very much a qualified sales person. She had worked in sales for one market-leading multinational company for the fifteen years since her graduation. She had been on every sales course suggested – and undoubtedly knew her stuff.

Of squinting cats and great leadership

It’s that tired old question: Can a chubby moggy with a befuddling squint and an inflated ego actually become a great leader?

Working from home during lockdown has provided the perfect opportunity to really observe the behaviours of my three crazy cats – two sisters and their brother. They look and behave so differently. Pablo, the largest of the three, is the one with the squint.

On the surface, their day looks very much like a business operation where targets are set, and tasks need to be accomplished. Team cooperation has to be negotiated carefully.

Bee - finding solutions through team performance

Should businesses be more honeybee in the face of adversity?

I was listening to a news programme on the radio. One of the stories piqued my interest. Why indeed would honeybees resort to using animal dung to protect their hives? I was reminded of all the businesses that had to pivot their strategies in recent times. How could they ensure that their teams continued to perform at their best throughout periods of profound change? Please bear with me on this one!

Death of a Sales Manager

My father gave his life to one company, a well-known white goods manufacturer. Trained as an electrical engineer, he started out tightening screws on appliances. But soon he was travelling up and down the country as a salesman and customer service provider selling household goods to shops.

The job suited my suave and humorous father to the core, and he did very well. So well, in fact, that the company made him Sales Manager, a promotion that saw him catapulted … into an office, where he spent his days managing a sales team.

How to take the sting out of holding your employees accountable?

Ensuring that your employees fulfil their responsibilities and meet expectations may feel like a daunting prospect. However, a lack of policy around employee accountability can cause a wide variety of issues for your business.

Each member of your team has responsibilities that you, as their manager, will have assigned to them. The smooth running of the business relies on these tasks being performed satisfactorily.

Any gap caused by an employee not completing their tasks as expected has a knock-on effect on their team members who are left to pick up the pieces. This can lead to colleagues becoming disaffected and disengaged, which will negatively impact the overall performance of your business.

Could your communication style create disengaged employees?

Most industries and organisations have experienced periods of far reaching and sometimes devastating change.

In these situations, companies are under pressure to respond to any new challenges quickly, and to successfully adapt the ways in which technologies and processes are used throughout their organisation.

It is not difficult to see that a clear and consistent communication strategy is paramount if organisations, and their leadership, want to roll out any changes efficiently and effectively across their entire workforce – and take their employees with them. …

Employee Experience – why you should embrace it

Have you ever considered the employee experience at your company? Most companies are well versed in the world of customer experience, because everyone knows that happy customers come back for more.

It’s easy to see why organisations around the world apply similar principles to all functions in their company. The tide has started to turn. Companies no longer put their customers first and their employees last.

It is now broadly accepted that if you look after your employees, they will look after your customers for you. A positive employee experience is likely to make your people feel more valued, motivated, and engaged, and they are therefore less likely to leave – another plus point for the overall productivity of your company! …

What does Manager as Coach actually mean?

Maybe your organisation already encourages you as a manager to incorporate coaching your team members into your daily routine? Do you find it difficult to buy into this?

One of the most frequent objections from managers comes from being unsure what coaching really means and what is expected.

Although the story has been told many times before, the origin of the word coach is a good starting point to try and clarify things a little.

Coach in the sense of a closed horse-drawn carriage began to be widely used across Europe in the 16th century.

It originated in a small Hungarian village called Kocs where an unknown carriage maker had designed and built the most comfortable carriage known at that time. This was called koczi szeter (approx. wagon of Kocs) which was shortened to koczi.

As the invention of this new vehicle spread throughout Europe, the name was adapted to Kutsche in German, coche in French, and coach in English.

“That is all very interesting”, I hear you say, “but how does this relate to the term coach used in the business sense today?” …