August 24, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Why should we be surprised by ourselves?

For a long time in my professional career, I have been interested in creating a blog, providing my insights into a subject that I feel connected too. And so, when I was asked to do one, I was delighted. I entered into exciting conversations with my peers thrashing out topic ideas and spent lots of my time thinking about & researching my subjects of choice.

Despite my enthusiasm, putting pen to paper was a struggle for me and I seemed to find every way to put it off. It was always glaring at me at the top of my to-do list, people were asking about how I was getting on with it (constantly I may add), but still, I was nowhere near starting it. Why was I putting off something that I so wanted to do and saw the value in? I crafted time in my diary to dedicate for my writing, I reminded myself of Eat that Frog’, I applied the Pomodoro method but still nothing.

I realised that I was struggling to be vulnerable and lacking in some confidence in putting myself out there.

This, however, was not a surprise to me. I am self-aware and this has happened before. I have been fortunate enough to have had access to many psychometrics and they all say the same thing about me and my tendencies across various situations.

Belbin Team Roles describes:

“Resource Investigators thrive on the excitement of novelty, and whilst this allows them to respond quickly to new developments, their enthusiasm can fade as quickly as it arose”

Disc describes:

“she can easily become distracted, and does not deal well with projects that fail to hold her interest over the long term”

That said I am a highly engaged, motivated, and quality-driven individual with evidence throughout my career to back this up. What my lack of surprise told me was that I perhaps had become passively self-aware and in that fleeting moment of procrastination where I was struggling to write, my passive self-awareness meant that I was using excuses rather than flourishing. It was easier to tell myself “well you do this all the time”  rather than find something to create action. I needed a new strategy.

And so I was curious.

I completed my Be Talent Resilience Accreditation course in July this year and as part of my accreditation, my extremely supportive colleague Shona provided me with the feedback of my personal resilience profile.

Resilience as you will know has become an area of relevance right now and I am hugely passionate about this subject so it made sense to delve deeper and upskill in this area.

I truly believe it is vital for people to understand how they cope in times of challenge, what emotions they experience on their best and worst days to pick the best course of actions to get back on the right path.

And this is what this Be Talent tool does.

There are 9 resilience risks in total, these are described as your go-to responses in times of challenge. It came as no surprise to me again that mine are Impatient, Worried, and Impulsive. I can, if I am honest, experience these all in one moment and gave practical examples of when I had displayed these behaviours, but I wanted to change this.

There are also 9 resilience strengths, now these were what I was interested in, my way to put a positive spin on my times of challenge, to overcome these and grow taller. As I worked my way through each of the 9 strengths I struggled to clearly see what mine would be.

And then a surprise came.

In behaviours such as Calm, Composed, and Fearless, I found that my passive self-awareness was starting to unravel, and I was learning something new about myself.

My top Resilience strength as Confidence.

“Certain in their actions. Confident and convinced, they do not look to other people for feedback or assurance, trusting in their ability to make good decisions. On a good day, they will hold their ground and be unwavering when challenged. They feel confident about their abilities and present themselves and their ideas with impact. They deliver messages with authority and credibility”

This did not sound like me and I was struggling to see how this person which is  described above was going to my strategy to help me overcome a challenge. And not just in the challenge I found with creating my first article, but in all and any challenges that I will be sure to face.

And then my lightbulb came. I did have this in me, it’s been there all along but it is my responsibility to harness this confidence and rather than revert to my aforementioned resilience risks, pull on this strength to guide me. Thank you to Shona and Be Talent for teaching me this.

And so, therefore I have finally written this piece. I used my resilience strength of confidence to act, to put pen to paper to share my lessons.

  1. Always be open to surprises, in yourself and others. Do not let passive self-awareness stand in your way.
  2. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed and keep you on your toes.
  3. Find your own Resilience Strengths, they are invaluable.

Right, off to research my next topic now!  If you’d like to find out more about Be Talent, drop me or Shona an email and we’ll send you some more information.

March 31, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Helping your People through Tough Times

At Connect Three we believe in the importance of employee engagement and its power to drive the success of our business and the businesses that we work with.

Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, and the uncertain times ahead, it is even more important that we focus on driving the engagement of our people. Even if we are not sure what lies ahead, our people need to feel confident that we are leading them in the right direction.

The Connect Three team has already been approached by clients, partners and friends to help them to understand what key points they need to consider in the short term for their people, and how to apply strategic thought to decisions made in the coming weeks when it is so hard to tell what the long term impact will be on your employees and business.

In the absence of a crystal ball, it is essential that we remain as positive as we can and assume that a new normal service will resume so make decisions now based on what you want the future to look like for your employees and ultimately your business.

There is plenty of government information on how to keep your employees healthy, so this short guide is designed to help kick start your thinking on what you need to be doing for your people, and what help is available for your business.

Download your copy of the guide.

March 8, 2020Comments are off for this post.

How Can a Business Celebrate International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day “should be a day when brands say publicly that they are going to do something to support women, whether it is their female staff or their female consumers. And do it with authenticity and credibility.” Tanya Joseph.

International Women’s Day this year falls in the week that Connect Three will launch the incredibly exciting Principally Women programme.  Working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, this programme represents an amazing opportunity for us to develop a new way of working with senior female business leaders and providing tailored support where they need it.  But as we developed the ideas for the workshop topics, it quickly became apparent that these types of programmes are prone to…well, let’s be nice and say ‘misguided intentions’!

As our whole team sat around the table, sharing ideas for the programme, we told stories of “women’s” events we had been to where they had missed the mark.  I have been to a conference where the keynote speaker presented pink slides for the women’s survey responses and blue slides for the men’s answers.  My colleague had been to a prestigious women’s business award ceremony and received a branded nail file from an accounting firm while her male counterpart received a pen.  As these stories continued, we began to worry about what we could get wrong in the new programme rather than focusing on what would work well.

This is probably akin to how most companies feel when faced with celebrating International Women’s Day.  Brands who have got it wrong in the past are paraded in the news for their prehistoric ways and irrelevant ideas, while those who have done it well have been briefly saluted then forgotten about.  Those who do nothing risk even more wrath online, so what should a small business do?

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EachforEqual so before you celebrate equality in your workplace Tanya Joseph, architect of the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign at Sport England, suggests that authenticity is key.  Figure out if you are truly committed to doing something to improve the lot of women with a simple gender equality audit for your workplace:

  1. What are you doing as an employer of women?
  2. Is there a gender pay gap in your organisation?
  3. Do you have flexible working options that really are workable?
  4. Are women being recruited, promoted and retained in your business?
  5. Is your workplace one in which women are not subject to unwanted attention?
  6. Do women get a voice in your organisation?

You may not ace Tanya’s test, but committing to improving on each of these points is a step in the right direction.  In addition, “a workplace which works for women has the added bonus of working for men too.”  It cannot be a surprise that men want the same things in their working lives as we do, so how supportive is your business towards flexible working for men?  Why not use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to engage your male colleagues and staff in the conversation and get real feedback on what would improve your culture for all genders?

As always, at Connect Three we will never claim that we get it all right, but we do our best to practice what we preach, and I am so proud of the role our team has played in developing both male and female leaders in companies across the UK.  So this year we will do what we always do on International Women’s Day in March and International Men’s Day in November; get together and talk about our pledges from last year, see how we did against them and make some new ones for 2020.  It is the collective work of all members of our team that has helped guide and shape Connect Three’s policies and culture into something I am so proud of, so thank you team.

CJ Morley

February 20, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Leadership and Kindness

How does being kind have a positive effect on your leadership goals?  Kindness is a concept taught in most major philosophies and religions in the world today, but you don’t need a specific spiritual belief system in order to impart kindness into your leadership.  We are taught as children to be kind, generous and to care for those around us, as in turn, they will be kind back to us.  Obviously, in individual situations, a kind approach can be applied when leading your team, but in a more general way, how can you be #BeKind as Leader?

Maria Gamb offers 4 “Be’s” to consider when trying to embrace Kindness in your Value-Based Leadership approach:

  1. Be of Service
    “A good leader, a kind leader, helps to remove obstacles so a team member can do their job to the best of their ability”.  Through coaching and support, a kind leader is of service to their team members.
  2. Be a Guardian
    You are the guardian of your team, ensuring that they get the recognition with you and you are not the only one in the spotlight.
  3. Be Generous
    Be aware of what your team need – whether it’s encouragement, inclusion, honesty, or something else – and provide it generously. Give them what they need to succeed
  4. Be Diligent
    When considering the ramifications of your decisions and actions on others, use kindness and common sense.

Kindness as a leader may be most noticeable in tough times, perhaps because that is where it is least expected, but it should be integrated into your daily leadership seamlessly and without fanfare.  If you are only kind in order to receive praise in return, you risk looking like an attention-seeker.  In Value-Based Leadership, we should work to embody kindness without waiting to be acknowledged for it.  As a Leader, when we can be anything to our team, it is our responsibility to be kind.

January 20, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Leadership in Uncertain Times

Uncertainty.  This seems to be the theme of 2020 before the year has even really begun!  How do leaders design their strategies for the year ahead, never mind approach budget plans and create projections for the future when we simply do not know what the next year holds for the UK?

Strong, successful leaders should be able to steer companies through this uncertain time and continue to deliver in the same way as they would when the future is secure, profits are high and stakeholders are happy – but that is easier said than done, so how do leaders lead in uncertain times?

I recently reread an article I’d saved by Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. the author of From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership.  In it he said “By knowing myself and my values, being committed to balance and having true self-confidence and genuine humility, I can far more easily make decisions, no matter if I'm facing a crisis or an opportunity.”  I am an avid supporter of Value-Based Leadership as an approach to both personal and business growth, and this quote reminded me that its principles are a great first step when leaders are faced with uncertainty.

An organisation with clearly defined values, a well-documented purpose and an easily articulated ethos is one that can navigate any crisis.  Value-Based Leadership is a way of making decisions and evaluating your own and your team’s performance based on your organisation’s values rather than focusing entirely on metrics and milestones.

In times of uncertainty and change, the goal posts may be constantly changing, but a company’s values should stay constant.  As teams are asked to adapt to new situations, and learn new things, performance criteria will need to adapt too.  By using a Value-Based approach, not only are you creating a supportive and flexible company culture, but you are enabling feedback and growth measurement to continue through change and uncertainty.

The first principle of Value-Based Leadership is self-reflection.  In order to lead others successfully, you need to be self-aware and really understand what your company’s values are and what matters most.  Taking stock of your own position and knowing what you and your organisation stand for, makes it much easier to know what to do in any situation.

But Value-Based Leadership is not about acting blindly according to your own viewpoint. The second principle is balance - in other words, being able to gain a full understanding of a situation by seeing it from other people’s perspectives and opinions. Balance means approaching situations with an open mind and engaging with your team members frequently and authentically.

The third principle is about self-belief and confidence.  You need to recognise your strengths and weaknesses and continuously strive to improve.  This does not mean that arrogance is a coveted trait in a successful leader.  In fact, the fourth principle is genuine humility.  You should treat each person you encounter with the same respect you would like to be treated with.  Humility is also about knowing that you do not have all of the answers, or all of the time, and knowing when to ask for help and look outside for support.  That’s a great 2020 goal for any leader in any organisation.

Here are Connect Three’s top tips for leading your organisation through an uncertain year:

1. Keep Talking
Silence is unlikely to be interpreted as a good thing by your colleagues, customers or suppliers!  You should communicate often - reinforcing clearly, and repeatedly what your plans are, keeping your teams in the loop whenever things change and letting them know what your response will be.

2. Enable Others to Lead
Help develop the skills of other leaders, potential leaders & possible superstars in your organisations now, so that they are ready to step up when you need them to.  Essential Leadership skills courses are available through Scottish Enterprise and are designed to do just that.

3. Don’t stop Planning
You need to keep planning for the long and short term of your organisation and your team. Topics like personal development and appraisals may be the last thing on your list when facing a crisis, but culture and morale will suffer if you maintain your focus on the immediate future.

4. Stay Engaged
Great leaders know that they don’t have all of the answers.  They are confident that they have surrounded themselves with people capable of more than just freeing up their managers’ time.  Whether your organisation is doing well, or struggling, you hired a great team, so stay engaged with them, ask questions and be open to hearing the answers.

November 28, 2019Comments are off for this post.

Gratitude as a Leadership Quality

This week our American clients will be marking Thanksgiving.  It may not be something that we celebrate in Scotland, but it did spark a conversation in the office about gratitude and saying ‘thank you’ in business.

The British sense of etiquette means that ‘thank you’, ‘please’ and ‘sorry’ are drummed into the average school child to the point where we apologise for bumping into doorways.  That in turn means, to quote coach Jen Sincero: “When someone doesn’t say thank you […] it’s as glaring an omission to me as if they’ve shown up without their pants on.”  As true as that may be in our daily business lives, there is a big difference between ‘thank you’ and being a leader with an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude is not a quality often highlighted as a required attribute for a successful leader, but praise and recognition for team members when they do great job is critical.  It is more than just the act of saying ‘thank you’ that will make a team member feel appreciated.  You could involve them in the decision-making process of your projects to show them that their contributions are valuable, or provide them with opportunities for growth.   A study by the American Psychological Association in 2012 showed that 70% of employees felt valued at work when they were given opportunities for personal development.

While it’s true that actions speak louder than words, as Gertrude Stein famously said: “Silent gratitude isn’t much  use to anyone,” so don’t assume that your team know you are grateful for their work because you are helping them grow.  You still need to tell them and make sure you are specific, authentic and sincere.  Having an attitude of gratitude in your day-to-day work will encourage positivity, appreciation and a willingness to work hard in your team.  In her 2017 Forbes article, executive coach Christine Comaford talks about how being a grateful leader helps you see the positive in tough situations and experience less stress and fatigue.  Ingratitude, on the other hand causes a negative outlook which can lead to mistakes, missed opportunities and misjudged situations.

As Geoffrey James says: “People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.”

Success and gratitude go hand-in-hand, but it does take a while to strengthen your attitude of gratitude, so get practicing!  Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to give it a try and spend a couple of days of feeling thankful for what you have, and appreciating what others do.  See how it impacts on your leadership and whether it becomes a focus for your development in the future.

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