Tag Archives: leadership

Here’s to the Next Generation of Generals

God's generals

I’ve never really been into celebrity culture or had a tendency to idolise other men and women, I believe we are all frail and fallible. There are many people that I look up to and consider worthy of honour, like my parents and pastors but there is only one worthy of worship, God (Yahweh).

I do however believe that there are some great human beings in this world that we can learn from. These individuals may be near or far, prominent or obscure, but we must grasp every opportunity to learn from them, because all great leaders learn to follow first.  This requires being humble enough to serve others and learn from those that have gone before us. Working hard towards making someone else’s dream come true before realising our own, building credibility with others, being consistent and having integrity – developing character.

“Character is more important than power, power will kill you without character” – Myles Munroe

I think the definition of a great leader is subjective, for some it’s embodied in celebrities like Beyonce and for others political figures like President Obama. For me it’s simply someone  with the capacity and character to effect positive and lasting change in the lives of those they encounter. Someone that hones their gifts and utilises them to their full potential. Someone that leaves a legacy for future generations and not just an inheritance.

Great leaders are few and far between, Dr. Myles Munroe was one of them. He had many accolades but that’s not why I call him great, he was great to me because his life and work impacted me profoundly. Only a great leader can shape the lives of people they’ve never met,  and that he did.  His work introduced me to a Jesus I never knew, it taught me the purpose and power of being a women, and it enlightened me regarding  what it means to have vision and not just dreams – I encourage you to invest in his work.

Myles Munroe  passed away this week and I felt weak and utterly wounded when I heard the news. Men like him are rare and when they depart from this world it is very much our loss. I never knew him and yet I will miss him, miss the fact that we’ll never hear another sermon from him and they’ll never be another book.

Just yesterday I was thinking about the number of great prominent leaders that have passed away this year and all I could think is that God must be raising up a new army of generals. I intend to be one of them – how about you?

“The future is not ahead of you it’s inside you”- Myles Munroe

I am 32 years old and I consider that these 32 years have been training, don’t get me wrong God has blessed me with some significant wins and I am very grateful. However, I also realise that I’ve not yet got to the main event, but I see it on the horizon!

“See beyond your eyes and live for the unseen. Your vision determines your destiny” – Myles Munroe

So Here’s to the next generation of generals.

“The future is not ahead of you it’s inside you”- Myles Munroe


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Good leaders are like gold miners

Panning for gold in teams

The difference between good and great, mediocrity and excellence  is often in the detail and the subtle nuances of behaviour. It is a crucial part of a leaders role to be able to detect these nuances and bring out the best in their team members.  To do so you have to look very closely, it reminds me of panning for gold.

The problem is, the closer you look is the more you see, not only does the gold show up, but so does the dirt. When goldminers are looking for gold they have to sift through a lot of dirt and debris, in the same way good leaders often have to sift through mistakes, character flaws and other shortcomings to get to the gems in their teams. This can be quite tedious and often painful, but if we remain patient the gold soon begins to emerge.

This has been one of those weeks where I’ve uncovered a lot of dirt, both in myself and in others and I’ve had to remind myself to continue panning for gold  - if you can relate here are three reminders for you too!

1. There is always treasure to be found

Teams are inherently dysfunctional as Patrick Lencioni points out in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, because they are made up of flawed individuals, no matter how talented we are, we all have flaws. But the good news is the greatest treasure is not in one person as much as it is in the collective capability of the team, good leaders can get the team rowing in the same direction and this is often where the gold lies. Difficult to get to, but definitely attainable. I highly recommend reading Patrick Lencioni’s book for practical advice on how to accomplish this.

2. Gold never just shows up there is always a refining process

The process of refining gold involves removing all impurities, which requires purification through fire. If you want pure gold there are no shortcuts. It reminds me of the Storming phase of team formation.

Forming Storming Norming Performing

Storming often starts where there is a conflict between team members’ natural working styles. In this phase team members may challenge your authority, or jockey for position as their roles are clarified. It can be a frustrating time for all involved but it’s a natural part of developing a high performing team.

2. Uncover your gold and let it shine

Mathew 5:15 (NLV)
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house

You can’t motivate people. The best you can hope for is to inspire them with your actions (wise words borrwoed from 38 Life Lessons I’ve learnt in 38 years)

So this week, I fully intend to keep mining for gold, I hope you do too.


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

6 ways to be great in and outside your organisation

fly high

You can be equipped for a job but ill-equipped for success beyond that job. The reason is that most companies will train you to be great within the confines of that organisation and the way they work, not beyond it. This is why if you stay with one company for too long it can sometimes go against you because some employees may feel that you are too used to another companies way of working and may have difficulty adapting to theirs.

I value loyalty and personally I’m not one to change jobs every five minutes but I also believe that variety is valuable and the more varied you’re working experiences are the more equipped you are to handle a variety of situations and people. I think the reason why many people are frustrated and bored in their jobs is because they’ve simply stayed too long. Many people are too scared to look for something new; a job might be mundane and boring but many will say ‘at least it’s safe’. Staying in a job too long can knock your confidence and give you the feeling that you can’t do anything else and find anything better. I’m reminded of something I heard recently from a Pastor I know; “Never be afraid to lose your job to find your calling/purpose in life”.

I believe we all know in our hearts when it’s time to move on and look for a new challenge but many times we ignore the nudge and settle for the safe option, in this post I want to encourage you to embrace the ‘nudge’.

I’ve always made it a priority to train not just for where I am but for where I’m going  this has meant that although I haven’t made many career moves they’ve tended to be big career jumps, because I’ve been prepared for promotion, for example:

What How
Secured my first marketing job 3 days after my last university exam, before I had my results I knew what employers would be looking for, tailored my CV accordingly and applied for jobs while studying for exams
Promoted from Marketing Coordinator to Head of Marketing within 8 weeks of arriving in a new job I had the necessary experienceI had industry standard professional qualifications not just a degreeI worked to the standard before I had the title

Equipping a team as well as yourself

As a manager I also train and coach my team to equip themselves for success within the company and beyond it in the following ways:

  • By sending them on trainings that are relevant to their work as well as the direction that the industry is moving in
  • I deliberately get them to work to goals tied to the company’s success as well as their personal development goals
  • I encourage them to stay close to the industry and build their own networks in and outside the company
  • I constantly challenge their assumptions and encourage them to ask better questions, after all, the quality of learning is determined by the quality of our questions

In this way my role is twofold, both manager and a mentor.

So here are my  6 top tips for equipping yourself for success inside and outside the walls of the company you work for:

1.      Build your own networks inside and outside the company

LinkedIn makes this a whole lot easier than it used to be

2.      Stay close to your industry

This includes connecting with key influencers, becoming a member of relevant trade organisations and attending industry events. For me this meant becoming a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing very early on, through which I am now Chartered and sit on the local non-executive committee. I also connect with marketers I admire across social media.

3.      Read broadly

For me this is crucial it’s almost impossible to stay ahead of the game without reading; everything from, books to blogs and biographies

4.      Be committed to  continuous development

Continue your training and remember that ‘a degree is just that a degree of knowledge’ as my Pastor recently said. With the rate of change and knowledge increase in most industries, you cannot afford to stop at a degree. For me the CIM CPD program has been invaluable in this regard. It’s not your employers responsibility to keep your knowledge relevant and up-to-date, it’s yours so live life learning.

5.      Have a balanced life

Make time for a range of interests, research shows it makes you better at your job as it broadens your vision and improves  creativity.

6. Always be preparing for where you’re going

Focus on the future not just where you are today, remember a job is no longer for life it’s just for a season

Finally, don’t live to work, work to live.

Speak soon,

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

True Innovation Lies in Teams Not Individuals

team creativity

I love the quote below and believe the truth of it whole heartedly

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
- Peter Drucker

The word I really want to home in on is innovation; innovation is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days but the true meaning of innovation is the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay (BusinessDictionary.com)

Innovation often begins with an individual but tends to end with a team

These days everyone wants to be a ‘superstar’ but I believe real stardom lies in teams collectively, no one ever achieved anything significant completely on their own.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt as a team leader is the value of collective creativity. I’m often surprised at how much better an idea becomes when thrown out to my team for open discussion. I’ve now got in the habit of asking their opinion even regarding issues that I consider myself quite expert in, because they always add a fresh perspective and offer  insights that would have otherwised been lost.

An example of this idea of collective creativity is found in John Adair’s 100 Greatest Ideas for Amazing Creativity, he states;

The Japanese are not noted for their creativity, Indeed, Japanese culture, especially its educational system has traditionally played down individuality. ‘If a nail stands up it will be hammered down’, declares a Japanese probably bluntly…However in groups the Japanese have shown themselves to be remarkably innovative.

Companies like Sony exemplify this ethos.

There is of course always room for individual creativity and of course we all want to shine, but I feel that within an organisation the focus should be on cultivating superstar teams as opposed to superstar individuals. After all people tend to support what they help to create.

PS: John Adair’s 100 Greatest Ideas for Amazing Creativity is definitely worth a read

Speak soon,

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Leadership Lessons from Katharine Graham

Katharine Graham

Now I’m always inspired by women that have gone before me and blazed trails in various walks of life. Katharine Graham, prolific publisher of the Washington Post, is one of these women. I had actually never heard of her until I came across an article by Warren Buffet on LinkedIn last May in which he explained that women are the future of American prosperity. This lead me to find out more about her and in doing so I came across her Pulitzer Prize winning autobiography and I did indeed learn a few leadership lessons.

1.       She was aware of her weaknesses and vulnerabilities

She acknowledged that she lacked business acumen and experience when she was suddenly put in the position of heading the Washington post following her husband’s untimely death. She acknowledged that she had insecurities and viewed herself as inferior to the businessmen that surrounded her. I really appreciated this transparency and honesty, it’s refreshing and something you don’t always expect from someone that was raised in great wealth and privilege and counted a number of US presidents amongst her close friends. I’m reminded that self-awareness is an important leadership quality; it enables you to guard against pitfalls, develop in areas of weakness and play to your strengths.

2.       She persevered and did not give up even in the midst of great difficulty

A common theme throughout the book is Katharine Graham’s endurance, she just kept going. When her husband past away she kept moving forward, throughout President Nixon’s effort to discredit the Washington Post during the Watergate political scandal, she kept going. Through various other difficulties she just kept moving forward. Sometimes there were setbacks, sometimes she moved fast and sometimes slow, but through it all she continued to press forward and there is a great lesson in that.

 3.       She realised the value of advisors and mentors

Even when Katharine Graham didn’t know what she was doing or which way to go, she surrounded herself with people that did and learned from them. Warren Buffet was one of these mentors. In this excerpt from her Personal History it is clear what a huge impact he had on her development as a business leader. I’ve often heard business people say that mentors are a crucial component in business success, and it would seem that was definitely the case for Katharine Graham.

“On September 11th 1974, Both Warren and Don Graham went on the board of the Washington Post Company. No two people were of more help to me over the next several years. And I needed all the help I could get. With most things regarding the business side of the company, I still felt uncomfortable, fragile and vulnerable. Here, Warren really went to work on me. My business education began in earnest – he literally took me to business school, which was just what I needed. How lucky I was to be educated – to the extent possible by Warren Buffet, and how many people would have given anything for the same experience. It was hard work for both of us – Warren admitted that I needed what he called “remedial work” – but absolutely vital for me.”
Katharine Graham, Katharine Graham Personal History, p577

Despite being 677 pages long and tedious to read in places, this autobiography is worth a read. Katharine Graham lived a fascinating life, she was and still is known as one of the most significant female leaders of her time and there is much that can be learned from her Personal History.

Speak soon,

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Marketing Leadership – The Art of Marketing Warfare pt 7

So far in this series we’ve talked about what marketing strategies and tactics you can implement to impact your external environment. This post is about how the internal workings of your business and the way you organise and lead it, impacts how effective your marketing is. So in this post I want to discuss the role of leadership in marketing effectiveness.

Here’s why: there is no silver bullet in marketing, no hard and fast rules or proven methodologies that can guarantee success across the board. This means effective marketing often involves risk taking, tenacity, confidence and commitment, all important leadership qualities.

There will be times of intense pressure when you may be the one that has to make quick marketing decisions, step out on a hunch, and make the decision to spend limited resources on marketing initiatives based largely on faith.

There may be times when you will have to adopt the role of marketing leader and take responsibility for rallying your supporters around an idea, gain the attention of potential customers and convince them to become actual customers.

So if and when you find yourself in the position of marketing leader, here are a few tips to guide you:

1.   Get your house in order

One commentator on the chapter entitled ‘manoeuvring’ in the art of warfare states;

“As a general rule, those who are waging war should get rid of all the domestic troubles before proceeding to attack the external foe.”

You cannot have victory outside if it doesn’t first exist inside your business. Regardless of personal opinion everyone involved in helping you implement your marketing should be rowing in the same direction and committed to the goals set forth.

I’ve been in the position of having to implement marketing campaigns that I didn’t truly believe in and also having to motivate others to get on board with a marketing initiative that they weren’t overly keen on. In both positions I’ve seen the impact of unity; a united team can turn a bad idea into a positive campaign, as a result of strong execution and commitment. A disunited team can turn a great idea into a shambles, due to lack of commitment and poor execution.

My point is this, not everyone will like or even believe in your ideas but if you are going to succeed in your marketing endeavours you will need a team that is supportive and committed to the agenda that’s laid out.

Sun Tzu puts it this way: Manoeuvring with an army is advantageous; with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous.

2.   Care about people

 In war, three quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.” – Napoleon.

Nobody ever accomplished anything without the help of others.

So quite simply, value the people that support you.

3.   Acquire experience before you go to battle

Sun Tzu said: We are not fit to lead an army unless we are familiar with the face of the country, its mountains and forests, it pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps.

One aspect of a leader’s role is to act as a guide to those that follow and to prepare them for what may lie ahead. If you have no experience of the type of situations, problems and conditions they’re likely to face you’re simply ill-equipped to lead them.

In past posts I’ve spoken about knowing your industry, market and customers, and yes, these things are included in this point. But it’s also about more than that; it’s about ‘sound judgement’ the capacity to assess situations or circumstances shrewdly and to draw sound conclusions. This cannot be taught or obtained by reading books or studying, it comes with time and experience.

This type of knowledge is called ‘tacit knowledge’ and it’s defined as follows:

Tacit knowledge is not easily shared. It involves learning and skill, but not in a way that can be written down. Tacit knowledge consists often of habits and culture that we often do not recognize in ourselves. In the field of knowledge management, the concept of tacit knowledge refers to a knowledge possessed only by an individual and difficult to communicate to others via words and symbols. Tacit knowledge has been described as “know-how” – as opposed to “know-what” (facts) Source.

Here’s an example from Wikipedia:

 ‘‘We know a person’s face, and can recognise it among a thousand, indeed a million. Yet we usually cannot tell how we recognise a face we know, so most of this cannot be put into words.’’. When you see a face you are not conscious about your knowledge of the individual features (eye, nose, mouth), but you see and recognize the face as a whole.

It is this type of knowledge that is often instrumental in pulling off great victories in the midst of difficult situations.

My point is this; put in the work and take the time to really become proficient in your field before launching into the deep, hone your gifts and talents so you are able to guide your ship with competence, excellence and confidence.

After all, genuine credibility and expertise is the best marketing tool. So take the time required to prepare for the war and position yourself to win.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Live Life Learning

In this post I really want to encourage you to pursue lifelong learning and use every experience in your life whether good or bad as an opportunity to learn and grow.

One of my favourite quotes is, “The more you know is the more you realise you don’t know”.

This quote has always humbled me and built in me a continuous thirst for knowledge, knowledge that has equipped and prepared me throughout my life.

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:15;

“An intelligent man acquires knowledge and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge”

So I encourage you to seek knowledge and pursue lifelong learning it will pay great dividends in your life.

This week I have been absolutely spoilt with learning opportunities;

Earlier this week I spent two and a half days completing the last module of leadership training that I’ve been doing for the past year. It’s actually been one of the best courses I’ve been on (perhaps I’ll tell you about it one of these days), to be honest I was more sad than I thought to say goodbye at the end of the course and it actually felt like a mild form of ‘mourning’.

However, that’s not why I’m wearing black I’m actually about to go into another significant learning experience. I’m in a hotel in Frankfurt about to go down to the annual management meeting held by my employer each year where 4-500 senior managers within the company from across the world, meet to network and hear from the Board of Directors.

I have to tell you these events use to intimidate me and build in me such insecurity, the thought of being amongst people who I perceived as better, smarter and more successful than me used to generate such fear. THANK GOD THOSE DAYS ARE OVER now these are simply opportunities for me to learn and let the light God has given me shine.

So I encourage you to live life learning – let no situation in your life intimidate or defeat you just use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

‘Be Strong’ is sometimes a weak response

A couple of weeks ago I spent 3 days in Germany on a leadership training course with about 12 of my peers at the same management level across the company, all of us based across Europe and the USA.

This was the second of 4 modules and it was indeed a valuable learning experience.

So, for the most part I’m even tempered, fair and easy to get along with, however when I am in a situation involving conflict something happens; I become unyielding, unemotional and resolute in my course of action, I become incredibly tunnel-visioned and relentless in my pursuit of whatever end-goal I’ve set my mind on.

In the past I considered that I was just being adult and professional in such situations, it wasn’t until I had to do a role play in an assessment centre for my current job that it was brought to my attention that this approach is not ideal and in terms of my leadership development it should be a target area for growth.

The problem with my approach is that it is perceived as hard, unfair and inconsiderate, it comes across as if I am saying ‘my way or the highway’ and negotiation of any kind becomes impossible. Although the individual may cave, in the end it’s most likely to be a case of being forced to, as opposed to wanting to and moving forward the relationship is likely to be strained. As a manager I may win the battle but the war will be far from over.

Anyway, I was put in a similar role play situation again during the leadership training, and again the onlookers noticed the same thing, even when the individual moved his position closer to mine I still wouldn’t move towards his, I was calm and adult but unmoving. The thing is, although in hindsight I could see the truth of their observations, whilst in the situation I was oblivious to these facts.

The invaluable lesson I learnt is that my natural stress response is ‘Be Strong’ I tend to act in this way when I feel that my back’s against the wall, my thinking is; if I budge I’ll come across as weak and not credible as a leader, however the truth is if I become more aware of my own feelings in these situations and open to the other persons perspective it is more likely that a win-win resolution as opposed to win-lose resolution will be reached.

The point is; of course there is a time to be absolute in your position, this is most often the case in issues of morality, however, when trying to resolve conflict in work situations it’s seldom the most appropriate response.

Being strong is a good thing for the most part but in terms of resolving conflict it’s sometimes a weak response.

For more information on managing conflict and difficult conversations I highly recommend visiting http://tips.excelling.org/

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather