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Lucy Windsor

Owning It – Part 2

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The starting point to owning it or taking personal responsibility begins with the mindset. It’s about making a proactive decision to be responsible for the actions that you take.

In another EPiC Insight (Developing a Feeling of Ease) we touched on the importance of the Hierarchy of Control™. This is required to identify and correct the state of our bodies before we communicate with a sense of personal responsibility.

The Hierarchy of Control™ is:

  1. PHYSICAL control
  2. EMOTIONAL control
  3. Control of FEELINGS
  4. Control of THOUGHTS
  5. Control of ACTIONS

Taking personal responsibility begins with a mindset, but very crucially continues with tangible steps that we can take in order that our actions are proactive, specific, and uncluttered.

Today I’m going to talk about emotional control which follows the physical control discussed in an earlier insight.

We talk about the emotional state in 4 layers:

Reading Emotion

Acknowledging Emotion

Understanding Emotion

Managing Emotion

 

Reading Emotion

It is really important, in order to be able to start controlling emotion, that you first recognise its presence in you and others. It is vital that you are able to acknowledge that the way you respond to a situation differently to how you responded yesterday is driven by a change in emotion or mood, we might say. So if you feel that you are in a type of crazy where everything you do is affected by a negative emotion STOP it right there. Pause, breathe, allow the emotion in and let it pass away. Meditative exercises are useful at the beginning of the day too, to set you up in the right frame of emotion for the day, without any baggage hanging over from previous interactions or experiences.

For others, consider what is driving the intention of the message-giver and disseminate what parts are driven by logic and what parts are driven by emotion. Give the message-giver time to reflect on their own use of language with advanced listening skills.

Acknowledging Emotion

Once you have reached the state of reading emotion so that your emotional antennae is properly tuned, you can more quickly identify it in you and others. It allows you to make decisions, rather than wallowing in the chaos that a lack of control can allow in. In others, for instance, if you’re faced with an aggressive salesperson, rather than reacting in an equally aggressive way, a more emotionally intelligent decision might be to use non-verbal language to indicate that you are not comfortable with the approach and therefore give the other person the opportunity to adapt their own emotional state.

This tactic can work well in personal relationships too as the other person will be finely tuned into body language through their deeper understanding of you.

Understanding Emotion

Students of Emotional Intelligence will quickly become aware that the understanding of you and other’s emotional state is a bit like predicting the weather. It constantly changes and although you can take a fair guess at what emotional state you might be walking into, it has a habit of surprising you. However, with practice, we can prepare more and more accurately by forecasting what sort of emotional situation we are going to be entering by thinking through the situation. This requires a degree of strategy or big picture thinking in order to keep the mind open to the variations that you haven’t quite planned for. Stay nimble, and alert. Particularly, stay present!

Managing Emotion

The key to managing emotion is self-regulation. It’s not easy and we all fall off the wagon, but so long as your intention is to control your reaction, you are more likely that not to achieve a positive outcome. Ultimately this – the positive outcome – is what we are driving at. It is very easy to fall into a temper tantrum if you haven’t applied self-regulation.

Being able to self-regulate your emotion, to communicate in an emotionally intelligent way how you feel, the more smoothly your interaction with people around you will go. Good luck. Give yourself plenty of opportunity to develop this skill and be kind to yourself if it doesn’t work the first, second or third time to try it. It will improve each time.

Now you are ready to move onto the next level – Your Feeling State. More on that in a future article.

To find out more about how to be an EPiC leader, click here to arrange a conversation with one of our Consultants.

Best wishes

The Insights Team

 

 

Consistency Is Life’s Great Desire

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Well, maybe not, but being consistent might give you more time for what you really desire in life! How consistent are you? How do you even feel about that word? The word ‘consistent’ conjures up for some a feeling of security, order, structure and calm. Others believe it to mean boring, relentless and lacking in adventure – and they will want to run away fast!

If you find it hard to be consistent, this Insight is for you.

I can confess to being in the latter category probably until my late 20s. Loving jumping into projects that have an exciting potential, a defined lifespan and, of course, an end. The thought of having to be ‘consistent’ at one thing day in, day out, for an undefined length of time would have me resisting from the outset. It felt like a sentence, something that drained the passion. I never saw it as the platform that allowed me to develop my passion.

“Consistency means FREEDOM…”

So, as life isn’t made up entirely of new and exciting projects, I needed to find a way of being consistent. I found that I was really good at creating processes. I would see how things got done, make connections and links and I would design a process to make it better, more streamlined, more efficient (and – top desire – easier!).

Today, consistency is a word that means FREEDOM. Freedom to do what I do best, the work that I love the most, and it helps me to maintain high standards.

We share this skill with our clients as one of the foundation stones of our EPIC Leader Programme and we watch their results, as they grow their business, boost their brand, and deliver VIP service to their clients.

Are they perfect? No. Neither am I! In fact, by way of example, I noticed only recently that bereavement had a huge impact on my own ability to be consistent and to follow processes and it showed. As our business grows and changes, we look for more and more ways to get consistent in what we do and it fuels, rather than drains our passion.

My clients are still learning and growing, as we all are. As their business gathers momentum, there are new challenges to overcome and new problems to solve. They are continually compelled to grow, personally and commercially.

It is the same for Leaders in businesses everywhere. Whether you are a Director, a Senior Leader, or a new Leader, a parent, leading your family, or even if the only person you are leading is YOU, you will find freedom in consistency. Grab the opportunity to become more consistent with both hands and give it a big kiss on the lips because it really is your ticket to the FREEDOM to do more of what you really desire!

If you would like to find out how the EPIC Leader Programme can bring you more consistency, please click here or call us on 00 44 (0)1932 888 885.

Best wishes

EPIC Insights Team

Turn Off The Automatic Pilot

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‘The penny dropped. We had stopped looking out for patterns and landmarks and junctions. We had effectively ‘switched off’’’…

Not so many years ago, sat navs in cars were a luxury item. These days they are ubiquitous and if you haven’t got one, likelihood is there’s one on your smartphone.

Along with the increase in the use of this technology, the art of map reading has declined. I used to enjoy using maps. I loved (still do) to travel and I liked the way the contour lines would tell me whether the ground is flat or hilly. I enjoyed the fact that I could make choices about whether to take the motorways, or a more relaxed route along the A and B roads and to plan the best locations to stop off for lunch. Maps give a visual overview of an area quickly and there are markers that signpost important aspects of the place. Places of interest, lakes, villages, towns, vantage points and more. For me, just thinking about maps makes me feel giddy with the anticipation of a journey and my heart beats a little faster.

I remember my very first experience using a sat nav. I was on a family holiday in Portugal. We arrived at Faro airport and programmed our electronic companion to take us to our holiday home. It was so easy! So good in fact, that we used it every time we left the house for trips out.

Yet, a week into our holiday and we still couldn’t find our way home without it. We had become dependent upon our programmable friend and baffled by our inability to remember the route home – it would normally only take a day or two to get familiar with the area.

The penny dropped. We had stopped looking out for patterns and landmarks and junctions. We had effectively ‘switched off’, no longer seeing what was around us. No longer getting a ‘feel’ for our surroundings.

So, we decided to leave the sat nav behind and instead enjoyed finding our way using a paper map, road signs, landmarks and our own recollections. We made a conscious decision to get to know the area.

Free to explore, we found little restaurants that we hadn’t seen before. We noticed the village church and discovered its curious vault, wallpapered with ancient human skulls. We found a fabulous marketplace for the locals, which sold ultra-fresh fish and vegetables from local growers. We bought there rather than going to the bland and uninspired supermarket on the highway that we had been using.

We felt that we had finally arrived. Connecting with the area and the people who lived there.

Sat navs are useful for one-off journeys – to get from A to B, but if we want to connect with an area and with the community that lives there, we must engage with it personally.

The same applies to people in business and in life.

Life is so busy today, most people are in the habit of making snap decisions about others, encouraged by both mainstream and social media and by the current trend for labelling people and putting them into boxes. They make assumptions and judgements about people. They listen to the comments of others and draw conclusions. All this, without taking the time to get to know a person. And the real tragedy is that in doing so, they miss the treasures that are there to be unearthed in each of us.

EPIC Leaders and Teams are different. They know when to use the sat nav and take the fastest route, pushing through to get things done; and when to turn off the metaphorical sat nav and take time to explore and find out more.

This week, I invite you to take a little time to uncover some of the hidden treasures in the people around you.

If you would like to know more about our services for Leaders, Speakers and Teams, please click here or call us on 00 44 (0)1932 888 885.

Where’s My Promotion?!

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“All too often, employees with potential vote with their feet when they no longer value the relationship enough to stay…”

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In the second half of 2015, 90% of recruiters said they were operating in a candidate driven market Source: Recruiter Sentiment Study 2015

Do your employees believe they should be on a faster track?

The Millenial Generation heralds a new era of employees and organisations have to manage their expectations together with the business imperatives.

This can cause issues and you may well be feeling it too? When the employee expects to move quickly up the career ladder, yet the business needs to move at its own pace. Or when the employee demands a promotion before they are ready.

51% of employees are considering a new job. Source: workforce Panel, Gallup 2015

Is this gap between expectation and reality becoming increasingly apparent in your business? How easy is it to tell an employee that now is not the time for promotion and keep them motivated to stay?

It can be a difficult conversation. But you are used to having difficult conversations, right? However, it is far more difficult when the employee can’t or won’t accept the decision.

Today, it often means that the employee will move on to a company who will give them what they are looking for. For now at least.

Managing career expectations can be difficult. Retaining staff and keeping them focused is a challenge.

All too often, employees with potential vote with their feet when they no longer value the relationship enough to stay, and if the statistics are to be believed, many more of them right now are on the look out for a better opportunity.

You can always throw money at them. Or, you can give them the promotion they seek, even if they are not ready for it. The other alternative is to build a relationship that is valued by both parties.

How do you do this?

Curiosity

What is most important to them? What are their aspirations? (There’s a caveat here – only get curious if you can do so without judgement).

Honesty

People respond well to clear and honest feedback. If they are not ready for promotion, it is far better to have the discussion openly and honestly. Be specific about any skill gap.

Support

Find ways to keep moving your employee forward. Progress towards something that matters to the person is where their fulfilment lies. If they are not ready for promotion now, or if there is not a position available – there will be other ways that the business can support their progress and development.

Be Confident

People tend to be most attracted to people and organisations that are going to have a good time and be successful with or without them (think Richard Branson). We’ll share more about this in another Insight.

To find out more about how to build EPiC teams, click here to arrange a conversation with one of our Consultants.

What Is Your Team Vision

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“Think of football managers… They have a vision and a plan for their team…”

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It may surprise you to learn that many leaders right now, don’t have a vision for their team. If you are one of them, you are in good company.

Why is this so?

Most leaders and managers are focused on delivering against the targets set by their board and senior management. They are working extremely hard to do the right thing for the business.

When you are a leader, you have the choice about how you are going to lead your team, what decisions you are going to make for that team and how you are going to motivate them. To do this consciously and consistently, you need a vision.

Think of football managers. They are focused on the club aspirations, the demands of the shareholders and the fans, they are answerable to the board. Yet they each go about managing their team their own way. They have a vision and a plan for their team.

There are 3 key elements to consider.

GOALS – What must your team achieve in order to be successful (over the next 12 months, 6 months, 3 months)?

ROADBLOCKS – What might get in the way? You will need to overcome these obstacles or find a way around them.

IDENTITY – The core character and team values that will ensure success?

There are many different ways to arrive at the answers. However it is vital to:

a. Commit and do it!

b. Keep it simple – Limit yourself to specific milestones. Small, yet significant steps forward every day, week, month are enough to transform team motivation and capability.

c. Check back – make sure your vision is in line with that of your senior management and echos the company aspirations.

d. Create – a one-page Dashboard and pin it up so you can have it in front of you at all times.

e. Perspective – Celebrate team successes and view everything else as work in progress.

To find out more about EPiC Leadership,or or to work with us, click here to arrange a conversation with one of our Consultants.

How Do I Get My Team To Step Up?

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“In my experience, it doesn’t help to go delving too deeply into the problem…”

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It is not unusual for a leader to express their frustration at their team or a member of their team for not stepping up and taking responsibility.

There may be several reasons for their reluctance to step forward and really take ownership and it may be that you will never really know why.

In my experience, it doesn’t help to go delving too deeply into the problem. You can analyse and rationalise as much as you like, but the problem will remain and your frustrations will grow along with their resistance to step up.

Imagine a new Manager, Rory. One of his team members is Alan. Alan appears to be working very hard. He is often the last to leave. But he doesn’t communicate, so Rory never really knows what Alan is doing and what his workload is really like. In the past, Rory has found Alan to be quite defensive when he has asked about how he is spending his time. Not one for confrontation, Rory has backed off and has let him get on with it.

Have you recognise this sort of dynamic?

Next time you notice that a team member is resisting you, maybe try this exercise before you meet:

Take a pen and paper, and write down their name in the centre, then write down whatever words come to you that sum up how you would like the ideal relationship to be with that person. See below:

rory-and-alan

Once you have completed the exercise, you will find you have much better clarity of what you want and why you want it.

In Rory’s case, because he has something of a vision for how they might best work together, he can now focus on ‘the future relationship’ rather than ‘Alan’s failings’.

This simple exercise moves attention away from the frustrations and the problems Rory is experiencing with Alan, allowing space for him to create a new relationship, together with clear boundaries about the expectations he has.

In addition, Rory has opened up the communication channel between himself and Alan.

It’s time to have that chat!

To find out more about EPiC Leadership, click here to arrange a conversation with one of our Consultants.

Feel Great When You Have Every Reason Not To!

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“These scenarios and many more have an uncanny knack of throwing us out of our flow…”

Hands up who’s been to a networking event or social gathering and the conversation has been clunky or awkward. People talk over each other, they ask boring questions like ‘what do you do?’ then don’t listen to the answer because they are looking over your shoulder for someone more useful to them. There might be a sense of competition between those vying for attention. Others just don’t ask any questions at all but ramble on about themselves.

How about working in teams where there is a whole range of different dysfunctions: lack of purpose, conflicting agendas, demotivated members, disgruntled members, friction around role specifications and functions. These are examples of situations that can put you off your stride, out of your flow.

What does flow mean?

When we are in the flow, everything seems to fit together. Productivity is high, conversations click, inspiration is abundant.

What takes us out of the flow?

The biggest reason we step out of the flow is this: When our experience at any one time does not match what we want. Or in other words, someone does something that we either didn’t expect, or we didn’t like, or we anticipate that they will do something unexpected or that we won’t like.

Typical examples:

Networking – worry that people won’t want to spend time with you, or being ‘cornered’ by someone who you have nothing in common with

At work – anxious about your upcoming review, or feeling undervalued by Head Office

At home – anticipating a lack of support from your partner, or dealing with confrontation from your child

All these scenarios and many more have an uncanny knack of throwing us out of our flow.

When we are out of the flow, we notice that we are physically and emotionally uncomfortable and that fires up all sorts of feelings and triggers all sorts of reactions.

How can you get back into the flow?

Most people when they notice they are out of the flow, seek to justify why they feel like they do. We’ve all been there at times – at least, I know I have. For instance, you might think, ‘If my colleague had done what they were supposed to, I wouldn’t be here now picking up the pieces.’

If you believe, as I do, that it is more important to get back in the flow and feeling good, than to pick over why you are out of it, then the following might help.

  1. Accept the situation – Things aren’t as you want them to be in this moment
  2. Embrace it – It’s OK! Life throws us many curve balls, here’s the latest one. Decide not to analyse it, or worry about it. Instead just notice how you feel without judgement of yourself or others
  3. Say to yourself “I choose to feel _____________”. Whatever it might be. With choice, comes a sense of control and empowerment. What might change, for instance, if you choose to feel confident, compassionate or capable in this moment?

Getting you back in the flow.

To find out more about the services we offer, click here, or call us on +44 (0)1932 888885.

Avoiding The Blame Game

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“It can be very stressful to pick the bones out of what went wrong…”

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Why do we come to work? To deliver on the mission of the organisation. That’s how crucial every single employee is. You matter greatly and so does every member of your team. What you do and how you do it impacts everyone.

Your work should feel good and congruent with who you are, you should feel able to weather the pressures and the highs and lows that will inevitably come in any work environment and to do that, you need the best tools and strategies to support you.

We give leaders who work with us powerful and practical tools and strategies they can use to maintain clarity even in potentially difficult or confusing circumstances, leading their teams back on track, focused and feeling understood.

Many of our clients are leaders who have to deal from time to time with issues that involve one party blaming another for something that should or shouldn’t have happened. And we know that it is all too easy to get caught up in the detail of the problem and to get sucked into the blame game. It can be very stressful to pick the bones out of what went wrong.

The quarrelling parties will each want you to believe their side of the story. They will be focused on getting you to see that they are right and the failing was due to the other party, the system, the client, or something/someone else. Most people get unsettled when things go wrong and they feel a compelling need to be vindicated.

Whilst it is important to recognise the feelings the other party is expressing (eg: frustration, anger, disappointment), it is really important to stay objective so that you can find a resolution.

Here’s one simple strategy that might help you to elevate your team out of the blame game and keep standards high:

  1. Breathe!
  2. Accept the situation for what it is (it’s happened and you are all where you are)
  3. Focus on the best outcome possible in the circumstances
  4. Make your intentions clear
  5. Agree with the parties involved, the steps that need to be taken to get there from where you are now
  6. Assign ownership and timescales to the plan
  7. Review the process, revising where necessary to avoid a future recurrence
  8. Gain commitment from all parties concerned
  9. Thank all for their cooperation towards a successful outcome
  10. Address knowledge/performance gaps with the individuals involved, privately one to one. Support them as they learn and agree a plan

Remember, things will go wrong from time to time. They provide an opportunity to improve. Address the situation early on, make the changes necessary and set expectations for the future.

To find out more about how we can help your business, and to arrange a conversation with a consultant, click here, or call us on +44 1932 888885.

How To Turn A Difficult Conversation Into An Important One

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“Difficult conversations tend to be those where one anticipates some form of disagreement or resistance…”

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One of the biggest fears many people have is how to approach a difficult conversation. And yet, in business, difficult conversations are inevitable from time to time.

Why do so many people find certain conversations difficult? Here are some typical answers:

  • I think they will resist what I have to say
  • I worry that I might upset or offend them
  • What if they get angry?
  • I don’t like to let people down
  • I hate confrontation
  • I feel for their situation
  • I don’t like them and would rather not have to speak to them at all
  • They might dislike me

Difficult conversations tend to be those where one anticipates some form of disagreement or resistance.

Any internal struggle you are having about how the other party may or may not respond is going to cloud your ability to be open and honest. So much so in fact, you may well be setting yourself up for a very uncomfortable meeting because your anxiety will leak out through your verbal and non-verbal language.

How might you prepare for success? VOICE might help in some situations:

Vision – Remember. If it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t need to have the conversation at all. You must be really clear about what you are going to achieve from this conversation and why the outcome is important. Share your vision with the other party in a way that makes sense to them. Make sure the vision is objective and future orientated.

Options – Use your preparation time, and your time together in the meeting to uncover any viable options. What options do you have that will deliver on the vision? What is the likely impact of those options? What is the potential impact of doing nothing?

Immovables – There may be some elements that are just not negotiable. Know what they are and make them clear to the other party (eg: Service Level Agreements must be met). Stand by your non-negotiables. Stick to the facts, be open and clear. The other party may well try to talk you around, argue with you, justify their point of view, try to convince you otherwise. Be strong, be calm, and stay resolute.

Clarity – Make sure you have clear boundaries. Know your responsibility and live up to it. At the same time, expect the other party to own their responsibility, ensuring they are adequately equipped with the training, knowledge and resources they need.

Empathy – You are responsible for your behaviour and it is important to remain calm and clear headed. If the other party becomes worried, angry, or upset, it is important to understand and address any specific concerns they have.

Turn a potentially uncomfortable and difficult conversation into an important and purposeful one using VOICE.

To find out how the EPIC approach to Leadership will help your business, click here.

Putting An End To Constant Interruptions

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“This was impacting his own ability to deliver on his work. So much so that he was having to take work home and work throughout the evenings and weekends to catch up…”

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A client of mine, a Managing Director dealing with high-end customers, came to me with an important issue. One of her senior leaders was complaining because people weren’t respecting him and they were going ‘above his head’ on important matters.

This was happening over and over again in different situations. He was becoming resentful and felt he was being taken advantage of.

The Managing Director introduced us, we had an initial meeting, and got to know each other a little. I found out that he restores classic cars as a hobby. We defined his coaching goals and he asked me to help.

As we delved deeper, it transpired that he was being ‘dragged into issues’ that he felt others should be able to deal with. This was impacting his own ability to deliver on his work. So much so that he was having to take work home and work throughout the evenings and weekends to catch up. He wanted the team to recognise just how much he was taking on and for them to take him seriously, rather than escalating things to the Managing Director.

Interruptions

My client was used to being the ‘fixer’. He described to me how he fixed problems at home and he fixed problems at work. He told me ‘That’s just who I am’. However, tired and crabby, he wanted an alternative.

Boundaries

The frustration from the ‘fixer’, I’ll call him James, was the constant feeling of spoon feeding others around him. The answer lay in creating healthy boundaries. By always being on stand-by to pick up the pieces, he wasn’t empowering his team to learn and grow, instead, they were dependent on him and were losing motivation.

This is not an untypical situation. It is easy to become the ‘go to’ person. Especially if that’s how you’ve always operated. It can feel really good to be the person people rely on. Yet, when it impacts on one’s own ability to deliver and limits the teams efficiency, it is unsustainable.

Here’s a story that helped my client to see the true impact he was having on the business by continuing to be the ‘fixer’:

Imagine a dual carriageway with a light but steady stream of traffic. Then notice a high performance car towing another car and driving at 30mph in the fast lane, even though the slow lane is quite clear. The traffic is all backed up around it. Not only the vehicle’s performance is compromised, the free flow of the traffic is affected, impacting the performance of all the other vehicles in the vicinity.

Sometimes, it just takes a change of perspective to create the motivation that leads to change. This story helped James to realise how he was creating a bottle-neck by taking on so much of the work. And I know too that the same story might not achieve the same result with another client, or even with James on another day. As coaches, we get to know what matters to our clients. That way, we can communicate in a way that works for them.

Now back to James, with this fresh awareness, he committed to developing his team and I was able to share some simple strategies that helped him make the shift he wanted.

Our mission is to create happy, productive work environments that make the platform for success. If you enjoyed this Insight, please follow us and tell your friends and colleagues. You can receive EPiC Insights, like this one in your inbox every Monday. Go to the Home Page and sign up. It’s just a click or two away!

If you would like to talk about communication in your business, please call us on +44 (0)1932 888 885.

Kind regards

The Insight Team