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It takes HEAPS of Courage to be a Visionary Leader !

With the world in turmoil with the global financial crisis, climate change and environmental disasters, humans wreaking devastating harm on one another in various parts of the world, as a species we are facing some of the biggest challenges in history. Do you have the courage to lead confidently in these uncertain times? If you can see these challenges as opportunity, you will be one of the survivors. As leaders, we must be pioneers in forging new relationships, new ways of doing business, new ways of being in the world. It requires comfort with ambiguity, confidence in uncertainty, and a willingness to celebrate diversity. It takes Visionary leadership.

Visionary leadership is an art. Unlike the managerial tools of policy, procedures, techniques and measures, it comes directly from knowing and understanding Self. A visionary leader is one who serves through being Trustworthy, Inspirational and Passionate. The emphasis on serving through being is the essence of our work with values and energy. There is no recipe; there are no seven steps or ten tips. It requires the courage to abandon what we “know to be so” and embrace the mystery and complexity of what it is to be human.

A visionary leader is clear about who he or she is, and exudes genuine SELF-confidence. Visionary Leaders have a confidence in who they are and what they stand for which is accompanied by trust that they can face whatever situations come their way. A visionary leader knows and trusts in their ability to be infinitely creative, and also trusts that capacity in those he or she leads.

Why Visionary Leadership?
The prevailing model of the authoritarian leader is under-performing and failing, and in too many cases failing in spectacular yet sad circumstances. We only have to look at the Business section of daily press for numerous examples of this. If I was to ask you “who is the source of your greatest frustration in your current business climate” and you find yourself pointing the accusatory finger of blame, then there are also the three fingers pointing back to YOU, giving you the answer to the question! Your profitability and success is a direct result of the quality of your leadership. No exceptions! The good news is that you are also the solution. The question is: Do you have the courage to liberate the visionary leader within?

What are the characteristics and skills of the visionary leader?
Authoritarian leaders focus on protecting what they’ve been in the past while Visionary leaders focus on what they are becoming in the present and future.

Key differences are illustrated in the table below:

Authoritarian            Visionary
Is very competitive. Is very cooperative.
Is focused on the shareholder.            Is focused on the stakeholders.
Is risk averse.  Encourages innovation.
Is uncomfortable with uncertainty. Revels in uncertainty.
Is a creator of teams that ‘follow’. Creates leaders at all levels.
Operates within a tangible framework. Operates intuitively.
Seeks to control the enterprise. Realises the enterprise is ‘self-organising’.
Tells people what to do.          Listens by asking questions.
Talks of what the problem is. Talks about possible solutions.
Is reactive Is Creative
Is focused on “What’s in it for me?” Is focused on “What will benefit US?”
Debates Dialogues and values storytelling
Strong masculine energy Strong feminine energy

 

How are these visionary behaviours developed?
It is important to note that these behaviours are not mutually exclusive. Today’s leaders will benefit from being able to consciously operate along a continuum encompassing both styles as varying circumstances require.

The guidelines for learning the visionary behaviours above are rarely found in any current management texts, courses or training programs, let alone when you were at school.

Your choices to develop these behaviours are to:
• Engage a mentor or coach to assist you to unfold and develop these behaviours
• Read quality books and publications in this field
• Take regular time out for reflection – to listen to your inner voice and practice recognizing your intuition.
• Understand your values, and write your purpose, visions and strategies to reflect the most important priorities in your life.

The Language of Values
There is also a new language to be learnt, to understand the nature and role of values. Values, defined as our unconscious motivators, underpin every action we take. Everyone has values. Visionary leaders are people who have revisited and clarified their core values to consciously choose which values will be expressed in their lives. Visionary leaders pay attention to honouring and dissolving those values that are no longer useful to their future as a visionary leader and releasing the energy from values that keep them“stuck in the past” to values that energise them to create a compelling future.

Examples of this skill include:
• dissolving a lack of ‘self worth*’ and relocate the energy into ‘being self*’
• dissolving the value of ‘independence*’ and relocating the energy into ‘interdependence*’
• dissolving the need to be ‘competitive*’ and relocate the energy to being ‘cooperative*’
* from an Australian model of 128 universally researched values ( New Wisdom 11 by Colins and Chippendale)

Now ask yourself, when did you last reflect on and review your:
• Personal work practices, e.g. reading, time management, paper management?
• Management skills, e.g. communications, project management, technical competencies?
• Leadership abilities, e.g. visioning, creating, listening, mentoring, thinking/concentrating?

May I suggest that the reality is that these skills and abilities continue to be essential and need to be under continuing formal review if you seek to be a leader of change and innovation?

The quantum leap forward for you as a Visionary leader, way beyond the above, is to become aware of your inner levels of consciousness, offering access to abilities that are infinite.

This inner level of consciousness within each of us is often experienced as a ‘flash of insight’, an instant solution to a complex situation, an entirely new idea, and in each instant you will express amazement and wonder ‘how did I do that?” and ‘where do they come from?’

The process of accessing the visionary leader within engages a wide range of innate abilities and will include:
• Being present with oneself.
• Being present with another
• Dissolving negative judgment of oneself and others
• Listening empathetically
• Detaching and transcending the senses
• Detaching and transcending the human constructs of time.
• Listening to your feelings
• Looking for patterns in the complexity of the issue at hand.

Now as you can see, to engage these deeper levels of consciousness calls for changes to your traditional work practices and the emphasis on rushing around getting things done to being at-one-within, thinking and concentrating.

Key questions for courageous leaders
1. Who is your mentor and your protégé?
2. What is your next formal learning project?
3. When will you formally refresh your purpose – for your Self, for your business and for the people you lead?
4. What must you, as a leader, be willing to give up or let go of in order for your business to be more flexible and responsive to change?
5. Reflect on three core principles which determine how your business currently operates. How are these helping or harming the business’s ability to achieve its Vision?
6. What barriers will have to be removed in order for your business to be stronger, more profitable and exist 5 years from now?
7. What are your top 9 values that you orient your life around?

Our planet needs visionary leaders, your country, your organisations and communities need visionary leaders. Our children need new role models for leadership in the 21st century. I urge you to rise to the challenges and be courageous enough to discover the visionary leader that resides within every one of you.

This AMAZING piece was written by our AMAZING guest blogger Karynne Courts from Values Connection.  Ph +61 2 9983 0755

Lessons for Leaders – How we live our lives !

 

Journey to the Blue Road

The sheep station where I spent my childhood was a three hour drive from the nearest town over dusty unsealed roads. The town had nine hotels and two grocery stores, and we only went there every six weeks or so to stock up on our supplies. Living in such a remote area meant we needed to be self-sufficient and resilient. We had a vegetable garden, sheep and cattle for our meat, and we kept hens for eggs.

Every year, we would order our hens from the city poultry farmers. They were only young, not much more than a year old, and were already considered “burnt out” by the egg farmers. We would order four dozen at a time – for about 20 cents (1 or 2 rand) a chicken!

We would drive the three hours into town and pick them up from the rail depot. They were transported in large cardboard cartons with little air holes cut out. We’d bring them back home, tie the dogs up, and open the boxes.

 Out would fall the most bedraggled creatures we had ever seen. They were often featherless, their crests pale and shabby and their claws overgrown. They had spent their entire lives inside a cage in tin sheds under intense 24 hour artificial lighting, and were expected to lay to maximum capacity – sometimes two eggs per day.

They had never seen the sunshine or felt the earth beneath their feet. Some of them even had their beaks removed to prevent them from pecking their eggs. We let them out into the yard to learn how to be chooks – to pick at the green weeds, scratch for worms and bugs, and cluck at each other. After only a couple of weeks, their crests became a deeper, healthier red, their feathers grew back, and they even “walked taller”.

The most amazing thing was that they started to lay eggs again.

When we create environments that focus on who we are, that allow us to express our values and nourish us, then our natural talents and energy are released. The impossible becomes possible, and results exceed expectations.

By focusing on the who – allowing them to be the best they could be, the “what” came naturally. Of course they would lay eggs – that’s what hens do. So instead of saying “now go off and lay lots of eggs”, we let them rediscover how to be real chickens – and laying eggs was a natural consequence.

How often in workplaces do we ask our people to lay more eggs – turn the lights up, increase performance, keep producing – with the threat of replacement if they slow down?  If we focus more on the nurturing of our people, providing the environment that allows them to be the best they can be, then the natural consequence is for them to do whatever it is they do. Trust that if they are healthy, stimulated, encouraged, and believed in, you will have all the eggs you need!

Organisations, governments, and individual consumers pour millions of dollars into working out ways to lay more eggs – bigger, cheaper, faster, quicker, more! We are constantly offered tools and gadgets that are supposed to make our lives better, yet we become involved in a cycle of replacing the unnecessary to do the necessary, and we lose the ability and sometimes even the knowledge of doing things for ourselves. Tools that are supposed designed to “make it easier” have made us less productive, and many people are burnt out, exhausted, tired, sad, depressed. In order to shift the focus from maximizing egg production to cultivating healthy and happy chickens, we have to challenge the assumptions and beliefs that have created our current situations.

 It is not about being a better leader, which suggests that you have something “missing”, it is about recognising the qualities that already reside within you, and allowing yourself the courage to peel away the masks and layers to reveal the infinite creative energy of your real Self.  The most courageous journey is the “inner journey” of self awareness.

 By embracing and expressing the qualities that reside within, we develop comfort with ambiguity, confidence in uncertainty, and a willingness to celebrate diversity.

A leader is a person who serves through being trustworthy, inspirational and passionate. Leadership is not about role, position, salary, or authority. It is an innate quality in everyone, and leaders are at all levels of the community, family, and work place.

We lead how we live, and how we live our life is the way we leave the world.

Welcome to our guest Blogger – Karynne Courts from Values Connection who has donated her time to Blog for you some great lessons. 

(Source: Karynne Courts, Values Connection (see www.valuesconnection.com.au for more inspirational stuff  or to purchase the book – Journey to the Blue Road … an amazing book by an amazing person!!)

To Close or NOT to Close – THAT is the Question !

I have had the pleasure of writing job ads as part of my roles for over 20 years now.  Ads for CEO’s of large businesses; ads for Process Workers within Manufacturing companies; ads for bar attendants in overseas hotel properties; ads for administration people in Clubs – you name the positions, I (and my fab team) have written a job ad for it.  Like any skill that you aquire, you spend time tweaking and developing it.  You strive for ways to continually improve on it.  You ask others how they think it can be done better.  You search deep inside for smarter ways and more articulate ways to appeal to the right people.  You make sure that the ads are written with both the business AND the applicants in mind. You keep front of mind that to discriminate in any way is neither appropriate nor in the best interest of any of the stakeholders.  In summary, it is a skill that develops over time – it is a true skill.

Don't Apply - You're Too Late
Don't Apply - You're Too Late

In saying all this, in my 20+ years of writing job ads, I have never felt ‘comfortable’ with putting a closing date on an ad.  I am much more comfortable putting an opening date on the ad or in some way letting the applicant know when the job was listed if possible.

I have had many discusssions with people, including the White Now team about the pros and cons of putting a closing date on an ad. Basically the ‘pros’ that people seem to head towards the employer or recruiter wanting to organise their lists of applicants without the problems that arise when new applicants come in late, and to schedule interviews without any hassle.  

For those who know me, I am the queen of scheduling, organisation and making lists that people always take the mickey out of me for.  For an example, I have a shopping list printed out on A4 paper 52 times (one for each week of the year).  This shopping list is divided into three sections; Supermarket/Fruit and Veg and Butcher. The supermarket list is divided into aisles and if I need an item that week, I actually know what aisle it is in and write it in that section of the list.  This list matches our weekly menu planner that I write on Saturday morning so I don’t buy extra items and don’t have left overs.  Now THAT is an example of how my brain works. Sad but true !

With that in mind you would think that I am in favour of having closing dates on ads to be SUPER organised – well, my behaviour is exactly the opposite.  White Now always recommend AGAINST closing dates on ads  (but of course if our clients want us to put a date down for their own reasons we always respect their decision).

Why am I not in favour of closing dates I hear you ask ? In my opinion, there is no point in ‘closing off applications’ until the very end of the process. By naming a closing date you are basically saying NO to a number of people who actually WANT to work for your organisation.  If I had people WANTING to work for our organisation when I put an ad up, I would happily accept their application at ANY time !

Think about the people that you MAY lose by simply saying – bad luck, you missed MY cut off date.  Remember that it is YOUR cut off date.  You perhaps did not take into account that the ideal person could be on leave, dealing with the death of a friend or relative, caring for a sick child or … who knows what ?  This person, that has not yet had a chance to see your ad MAY just be THE best candidate, MAY just be THE perfect match and MAY just have THE GOODS to take your business further than you could EVER imagine. Surely you would want to interview them or at least include them in a short list !

So, in my opinion, to put a closing date just so that resumes can be sorted and interviews scheduled makes no sense when you may be excluding the best resource for your business ie: the best person.

At White Now, when we are recruiting for a role, the role is open basically until a person is offered the position – in other words, when there is a ‘bum in the seat’.   We know that that is the best service that we can offer our clients – doing ALL that we can to ensure that the best people are able to apply for a job EVEN if they did not see the ad when it first went live.

This opinion is that of mine and White Now only.  Who knows what is right and what is wrong with this topic ? Everyone has their own personal reasons as to why the choose to advertise or not advertise a closing date.  What I DO know though, is that closing off an ad just because the advertiser/recruiter wants to schedule their time to suit THEIR needs, just seems crazy. But who am I to say that – I am the one who has shopping lists divided into sections in order of the aisles in my local supermarket !

Have a fantabulous day  and remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said; “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.”

Two ways to find an extra hour a week to bank for later !

Like all good business owners, I’ve been working on our businesses, planning, strategising and generally creating great things for the future. The problem that I kept finding is that there is simply not enough hours in the day ! I think that I have been saying that there is not enough time since I was first able to read a clock ! I then read an inspirational quote that got me thinking;

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Louis Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. — H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Well that quote just slapped me in the face and shook me up. I knew that I really needed more hours, but of course, 24 is 24 and you can’t just add time to a day, but hey, you can save time, bank it and use it for more useful reasons can’t you ? I went on a journey to try and simplify things in my life that really didn’t add any value to the essence of who I am and certainly were not assisting in achieving any meaningful goals. Everyone has heard about ideas such as only checking your emails once a day – but let’s face it, we run an online business and our White Now customers expect great response times so that strategy is just plain crazy for us. The brain started ticking. I know that the business is pretty efficient so I need to find some time in my personal life. Like all working mums, we spend far too much time on things like ironing, folding washing and the like. So how could I save time here ?

I called on my friend Mr You Tube, you know him, the guy that sucks you into his website and makes you watch ridiculous videos of kids on pushbikes running into walls and video clips of bands that had lead singers that you had a crush on when you were 16. I was this time going to abuse Mr You Tube for my own benefit. I searched on ‘Folding Clothes’ and all of a sudden my prayers were answered. Check out these two videos and you can see how I have gained an hour a week to bank and spend on improving our businesses ! I bet that you will use these technique too and buy yourself an extra hour a week !

ENJOY !

How to fold a T Shirt in 2 Seconds

Peeling Eggs with Speed (OK, I don’t really use this one but it’s pretty funny !)

What Goes Around Comes Around – It’s a Generational Thing !

 

Emilys Card
Emily's Card to Jordan

Way back I blogged about meeting Emily, the volunteer who came to the Children’s Sleep Disorder Clinic at Hospital 5 nights a week after work, to help settle the children – one of which was my 3 year old son hooked up to dozens of wires.  Emily’s main job was as a preschool teacher.  She wanted to give some of her skills back to those in need and chose the hospital to do so.  (If you want to recap the story, then click here to read about AMAZING Emily). 

You may recall that my son and I made a special card and sent it to Emily and we slipped in a small store voucher to thank her.  In my view, there is not much that is more rewarding than thanking others for something that they have done.  We knew that we would never see or hear from Emily ever again.  

WELL……. TODAY something wonderful happened to my son Jordan.  We brought the mail in and there was a card for him.  It was a card with a puppy dog holding a flower in his mouth.  It just so happens that Jordan L O V E S puppy dogs and has an innate connection with the beauty of flowers and the meaning of giving to others.  Jordan never fails to pick a flower for me EVERY day after day care. He always brings it home and greets me as I walk in with the hand picked flower and an “I love you Mummy”.  Every single day this happens and every single day I smile.  If I ever doubt the wonder of a child, I can simply reflect on these moments and be humbled at his grace and love. 

Jordan opened the envelope  (well he actually ripped it open with hands  shaking with excitement) and I then read it to him.  It was from Emily.  Jordan remembered Emily as clear as daylight ……. and he only met her for no more than 15 minutes, months before and in an anxious situation (yes, she touches lives !).  The card read “Dear Jordan …… I’m not sure if you remember me but it’s Emily from ……..  Sorry it’s taken so long to write to you, but I was getting ready for my overseas trip.  I am in Holland now.  I absolutely LOVED your card. It was so thoughtful and …. I even have it with me in Europe to keep me safe….. “.

Jordan turned to me and said “I miss Emily”. 

Emily touched our lives and we thanked her.  Little did we know that we touched her life as well. All we did was thank someone for being great.  Do you think that every time that Emily looks at that card she will remember that she is a great person ? ABSOLUTELY.  Do you think that she will keep that card somewhere forever ? FOR SURE.  The lesson to learn is to thank people for doing great things.  Thank people that aren’t used to being thanked.  Notice people that aren’t used to being noticed. The more people that believe they are great, the greater they become.  The best thing that YOU can do is pass this lesson onto the next generation !

Safe travels Emily !

AMAZING Marketing for Cougar matchmaking service!

Cougar
Grrrrrrr

 I was driving to see a client in Mosman in Sydney a couple of days ago and was struck by some seriously GREAT MARKETING.  I passed a prominent Pub on the way and some posters jumped out in front of me.  They were so effective that I remembered the script on each, which is amazing in itself as I was literally at the set of lights outside  the pub for no more than a couple of minutes. 

Here are two of the messages on the large, poster collateral on the balcony of the pub;

  • “Age knows no barriers.”
  • “Who said scratch marks are out of the question?” 

Immediately this grabbed my attention as the instinctual thought was “what has this got to do with a pub ?”. Another glance along a few metres gave me the answer.  The next 2 posters  said;

  • “Adopt a Cougar”
  • “Cougar Kingdom”. 

 For those that do not know what the message means or indeed what a Cougar is, I will endeavour to explain………..

The dictionary says that a Cougar is “a large tawny cat;….. now greatly reduced in number and endangered in some areas”.   But, I don’t think that this pub had THAT meaning in mind.  A cougar is actually a woman over the age of 40 (generally) who exclusively pursues young men.   The woman could be already in a relationship or single. The young man could be the age of the woman’s sons. 

With this in mind, the thoughts that went through my mind played havoc with my morals whilst igniting my passion for smart marketing.  The questions I asked were; Is this right ?; Is this pushing the boundaries ?; Is this taking advantage of a gap in the market ?; Is this morally right or wrong ?; Will it be successful?;  How many will they get attending on their first night ?;  How do they get both Cougars and younger men to be plentiful enough ?; Is this smart of simply taking advantage of a trend ?; Will this be a success?; ….. and more…….. 

I’m sure that these questions run through the minds of many people that pass this pub.  The point of this is, can YOU bring to mind a marketing strategy that has provoked such thoughts or taken your mind away from what you were doing.  Or in your business, can you find a marketing campaign that gets people thinking like this ?  The fact of the matter is that if you fitted into the profile of a Cougar or a younger man and you were interested in such an event, then you WOULD DEFINITELY find out more about it, wouldn’t you ?  Now THAT Is GREAT marketing.  Congratulations to the Pub and their marketing team for such an amazing campaign ! 

There is however a downside to this story, which could make the campaign fall flat on its face.  For the purpose of telling you guys about this (as I am happily married and definitely not Cougar material!! – and there are no other White Now team members in this category – as far as I know !), I went to the pub’s website to see what the event was really about and all I found was one banner saying “Cougar Kingdom Coming Soon”.  There was no link to any further information and all the great marketing that was on display at the pub was not to be seen on the website.  They did not follow through and think about where their future customers may go to find out more. 

 Does YOUR company market well in one area and fall down in another ? Have you got all areas of your market segments covered ? Remember this story when you review your marketing campaigns.  The lesson is priceless.

Plan all you want, but flexibility is what is needed !

Read & Recover

When we started our Read & Recover Initiative in partnership with Brad Sugars, we knew that it was going to be a big job, full of fun and a fair bit of hard work and hey, we’re ALWAYS up for a challenge and ALWAYS up for hard work !  To us, it was going to take some great organisational skills and a passion to make kids smile. If you think about the process in its simplest form, all we have to do is buy 1600 books and send them to 100 hospitals.  All of us at White Now consider ourselves as organizational machines (and we usually are except when one of our kids has been up all night then we are more like organisational disasters) !!

We started with a plan and a time line. Isn’t it true though that it’s not until you plan a process that you actually work out that the simple logistics that you had once thought of, have turned into a 68 page procedure manual that takes 2 weeks to develop and another 2 weeks to digest ? Our aim though is to get these books out there and we will do what it takes to make that happen.

We are rapidly crossing the tasks of the list with each cross triggering a smile on our faces knowing that we are one step closer to getting those books out.  There have been so many people who have offered their assistance to pack or deliver the books or simply be involved somehow, and they are patiently waiting until it is ‘packing day’.  We had many photographers offering their services to do photo shoots for us with Brad and also taking images of the delivery of the books to the hospitals. We ended up securing Michael O’Farrell from www.ofarrell.com.au, who is already an absolute pleasure to deal with.  This contact came through Facebook and we thank his daughter for putting his name forward.

We are right in the middle of calling the hospitals and this is where the interesting challenges have manifested.  The plan was to call each hospital, find the appropriate person to chat to about the initiative, grab their details, gain their permission to donate the books, send them a formal letter, get the delivery volunteers to call them when it is time to deliver, have the hospital contact receive the books at a mutually suitable time and there endeth the process.  Don’t forget that we are organizational machines here at White Now and if there is a process to follow, we will do it.  What we didn’t plan for was all the variables that we would find once this ring around started – these include;

  1. The person we need to talk to is on leave
  2. The person we need to talk to is unable to return our call
  3. The Reception staff want to handle this themselves and won’t pass the call on
  4. The hospital is unable to take books for hygiene/OH&S reasons
  5. The hospital is unable take books, they can only take monetary donations
  6. The message gets lost
  7. The hospital wants to give the books to kids to take home
  8. The hospital wants to see the actual books prior to accepting them
  9. The hospital will only take them if they are posted

With all of these variable thrown at us, we soon realized that we had to be flexible to meet the needs of either the individual taking the call, the hospital or the donation protocol.  So guess what ? That is what we did.  We put our ‘flexible, accommodating’ hats on and tried to meet all of their needs.  Once we did this, we could achieve White Now and Brad Sugars’ goal of getting 1600 books to 100 hospitals.  What was so great about talking to the hospitals was that even if they could not accept the books, they usually offered suggestions about other hospitals that could.  Everyone seems to care which is simply amazing.

We have learnt a valuable lesson with this process and that is that you can plan and set up procedures to YOUR requirements, but the other stakeholders may not always be able to follow your procedures. You have to quickly adjust your strategy to suit everyone…… and that is just what we are doing;  Some books are staying in their factory wrapping, some books that were to be delivered are now being posted, some hospitals that were to receive books now are not receiving the books with other hospitals being added to the list, our formal letters change depending on the individual requirements of each hospital and soon there will be 1600 more books in Australian hospitals.

It is certainly true that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail, but when you are planning anything, build into the plan the flexibility to meet the needs of others as you cannot always predict others behaviours.