Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

10 skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques”

written by Wayne Brown

Hello again, and welcome to our series called Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics – and you’ve already reached topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques.

We now have 2 big topics behind us “Understanding your place in the team and Motivating your future team. But I’m very happy to say that we are still just getting started, and today’s discussion is equally important and challenging…

In this 3 pack – video, podcast, and associated blog, we’re going to break down our delegation process under 3 broad questions – WHY delegate, WHAT to delegate and HOW to delegate.

With the first question, “WHY delegate,” – we’ll identify that there can be multiple reasons but explore 3 which are key;

  • The first is to enable us to address stakeholders’ expectations. As discussed in Topic 1, we have numerous Stakeholders with far too many expectations, which we almost certainly, don’t have the capacity or perhaps even the necessary skills to cope with. 
  • Secondly, we have potentially 4 generations and considerable diversity in our workforce today whom we need to motivate and cultivate. 

We spoke about the need and ways of motivating from a neuro-science perspective in Topic 2. We also realize that many of our team are experts in their field and capable of working under pressure and coming up with practical new ideas, leading to positive outcomes.

  • And finally, we simply need time to give adequate attention to doing our job as a leader. To work on those critical tasks such as strategic planning, growth, managing the business, reporting, and team/s, to name just a few areas.

Suppose you recall the conversation about work-life balance from Topic 1. In that case, you will remember that we need to find a long-term solution to managing our workload rather than coping with everything as this isn’t sustainable. 

When adopting the wrong approach, we eventually give inadequate focus, time, and effort to all 3 mentioned areas and thereby fail to reach a successful result more often than not.

So, this covers our question on “WHY delegate.” Next, we turn our attention to the question of “WHAT to delegate.”

This second question starts with the realization that we can’t and shouldn’t delegate everything just for the sake of it. 

Hence, before delegating we need to make a conscious decision about:

  • the skill and willingness of the employee to take on the task,
  • the complexity and urgency of the task,
  • the amount of support we will need or be willing to provide,
  • there’s even the need to avoid delegating some tasks,

So, the leader really must be aware of and consider these questions fully from the outset.

And to assist us with this we introduce two models which come with simple tools as support.

And to assist us with this, we introduce two models which come with simple tools as support. 

The first is from the 34th American president. A gift to business called the Eisenhower matrix, and the second is the skill/will matrix from Blanchard and Hersey.

Before moving onto these areas or tools, we need to first explore a little on the reasons behind some managers’ reluctance to delegate. 

A number of these reasons may sound trivial, or perhaps a few will even sound familiar, but most are common among managers.

Here are 10 limiting statements which we have heard and even seen being played out by various managers – you notice we don’t use the term Leader in this discussion. 

Aside from the fact that we should already be clear that you don’t have sufficient time to do everything – and even in the situation where you work long hours, we know that it’s not sustainable. 

And in all instances, there are actions you can take to alleviate your concerns. 

As usual, you will find links throughout our blog to additional material, which will help deepen your learnings where needed. 

However, if you still need more convincing, please refer back to the beginning of this topic and review 3 key reasons WHY we delegate.

  • With that clarity, let’s examine the Eisenhower matrix – we use it to help us group our tasks before selecting which ones to delegate. 

Typically, we agree that Quadrant 1 tasks are for the leader or manager to handle due to the urgency and importance. 

These pressing tasks often preclude you from having an employee do it UNLESS the employee is already an expert in this area. 

However, it may be a good idea with non-confidential or sensitive tasks to have a team member work on the job with you as a means of developing their skills for the longer term.

  • From the Eisenhower matrix and your groupings, the best area to select tasks for delegation comes out of Quadrant 3. Besides, it will also be useful to choose from Quadrant 2 for specific items.

If you’re unsure how to use this tool, check out the link provided here to a great site, which steps you through the process. 

And we’ll outline under the final category in this topic, “How to delegate” – what to do with this list and how to distribute the chosen tasks among your team. 

Please be aware that there are sometimes where we agree that it’s not appropriate to delegate. The following tasks are examples where we would normally not delegate and are typically leadership and management tasks: 

• Employee evaluation meetings  

•  Strategic planning

•  Team development

•  Final decisions

•  Personnel selection

•  Tasks that have been delegated to you explicitly 

Not surprisingly, you will find most of these tasks in Quadrant 1 or perhaps Quadrant 2. And of course, as mentioned before, it does not mean that you can’t include some of your employees here to assist you and learn from you in the process for future support.

A manager needs to consider one further critical question: the level of support, focus, or control that the task and a team member would require. 

For the task, we should consider the;

  • complexity, urgency, and consequences if it is delayed or not completed correctly. 
  • And for the employee, we need to consider their qualification for the task and motivation to accept the assignment. 

We’ll now introduce our second model to help us address some of these concerns.

Starting with the model called the Skill / Will matrix.

The matrix can be used to assess your employee’s skill and willingness to perform a specific task or project. 

Based on that assessment, you can choose how to best manage the employee towards success. Note that an employee is seldom in one quadrant all the time but is likely to fall into one or more quadrants depending on the task.

Some of the supporting questions you might ask in parallel with your assessment are;

  • Does the employee have the necessary time and resources available? 
  • Does the employee have the essential professional qualifications to be able to successfully accomplish the task? 
  • Does the employee have the required overarching competencies? 
  • Would this task entail an increase in the capability and personal development of the employee? 
  • Does the job to be delegated accord with the employee’s motivation? 
  • How will the team / other departments react if the employee takes on the task? 
  • Will it be seen as fair if the employee is awarded this task? 

We’ve reached the final category, “HOW to delegate,” and until now, we have given you a lot of material, but not really anything new or creative. So that’s about to change!

Let’s first do a pulse check to ensure you’re clear about the tasks you have selected for delegation – if not, these should be sitting in the Eisenhower matrix you prepared. 

Also, you have considered the level of support, focus, and control needed for each task, plus determined with the aid of the skill/will matrix and your earlier work using the SCARF model which employees to delegate to which task.

If you are good with all of these, we’re now ready to go back to your Eisenhower model. Next to the quadrants, if you have not already done so, make a list of all your employees. Beside each of their names and at the top of any delegated tasks, write the words “Activity of Choice  TBC.” 

For the next step – send your team a group communication and invite them to join a meeting – at a date and time of your choosing, provided it’s not too far off. 

As part of the communication, you explain that this meeting will become a regular weekly or bi-weekly event. For the first meeting, each person should prepare at least one work-related activity they would be really passionate about and love to work on – they have the freedom to decide what it is. Still, they need to introduce the topic at the meeting, and it will be voted on and agreed upon by the group.

To open the meeting, you introduce the concept and purpose of this and future meetings. You advise that each team member will be allowed to develop their skills through various tasks or projects that you will be assigned to them. Also, they have their “Activity of Choice” – provided it makes the cut.

Moving forward at these future meetings, each team member will discuss the projects they are working on, the current status, and the next actions. 

By doing this, everyone in the team becomes aware of each-others work and will be required to discuss or contribute ideas to those projects.

Once each new “Activity of choice” is agreed on by the group, the project leader will have the time and resources allocated (after final approval with you, of course).

During that first meeting, you will ask each person to write their desired activity on the whiteboard and briefly introduce it to the group. 

As a group, you discuss the idea, the likely resources, and the time allocation needed? What value might it bring to the group and the business overall? If any other group member has a similar interest and would prefer to forgo their project to work on one of the others, they can do so. 

By the end of this first meeting, there should be a decision about who is working on what activity or project.  

Following this meeting, you meet with each person to detail the activities/projects / or tasks, and we’ll cover that process in our next topic – “SMART rules and reward goals.” 

For all future meetings, one final step – at the beginning of each meeting and before moving into the activity reviews, you have a compulsory “check-in” session where all team members share stories about what they did during the last weekend? 

This takes the degree of team connectedness to the next level and softens the relationships from being “all business, all the time.”

Do you recall our 3 whys for delegating – sharing the workload to satisfy your stakeholders, providing opportunities for team development and growth, plus freeing you up to focus on the tasks you need to do as a leader! 

In addition to achieving these goals, can you envisage the power of what you have unlocked through this final step in the process?

By allowing each generation to work on something they are passionate about, rather than only working on those activities delegated to them, you empower your people and create a sense of contribution, perhaps even unlocking untapped potential. 

By keeping the activities visible to the whole group, you ensure transparency, accountability, and engagement, even a sharing of learnings. This, in turn, should minimize conflict or, at worst, bring issues to the surface quickly so they can be openly discussed and resolved. 

So, who would have thought that this simple act of delegation could bring so many real team benefits?

Well, were making great progress. Hopefully, as we conclude each topic, you find an opportunity to practice what has been discussed. 

You should already start to see some fairly dramatic changes in your teams’ engagement and performance if you have been.

Our next video introduces us to the Virtual Gaming world as we tap into the secrets behind its popularity and apply this to our more traditional approach of managing by objectives. 

The title is “SMART rules and reward goals” – as always, we are looking forward to having you join us. Bye for now.

Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

Ten skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 7 – Problem Solving Situations”

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Congratulations on turning back into this next topic which deals with problem-solving around your stakeholders and projects. Wayne here again, and I will host you through this episode.

Until this point, we have focused on building the team dynamics and disrupting the traditional ideas or approaches in areas such as motivation, delegation, and feedback.

The 1st portion of this episode will deal specifically with creating self-awareness around your leadership style in managing conflict and how to respond to team challenges or difficult conversations. We shall broaden this perspective for the remainder of the video to look at how to engage the stakeholder in Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Creative Thinking constructs. 

It`s a fascinating and incredibly insightful leg of the journey, as it’s one of the “basics” areas practiced least often by leaders. Therefore we can’t wait to share these ideas with you, as we know the learning and subsequent outcome for you and your team is enormous. 

So please get comfortable, take a notebook in hand & focus your energy as we step through this topic called Problem Solving Situations.

If you have followed the steps introduced in our previous six episodes, you will have greatly reduced the likelihood of dealing with argumentative stakeholders, particularly those in your team. And if you recall, during topic 5 Feedback Strategies, we introduced a few models for successfully delivering feedback – using FAST, BOOST, and SBI, which are among the more popular methods today. 

So, it’s probably no real surprise that when you are the leader introducing change, the recipients may not always be on the same page as you. Nor will they always agree with your opinion or actions. Whether the change relates to a new process, systems, or tools, offering constructive feedback, or any number of other diverse situations. 

The learning here is that this is a natural part of leadership, as everyone is an individual. While they may, for the most part, be loyal team players, cooperative colleagues, understanding bosses, or considerate clients, they will still hold unique personal values, beliefs, and perspectives. These may not always align with the working environment, situation, or discussion.

Therefore, as a starting point in this episode, we want you to reflect on your conflict handling style. This self-awareness of your style preference will greatly enhance your ability to handle different scenarios (if you choose to utilize it) with various stakeholders more effectively and avoiding unintentional escalation of the matter. 

For this, we introduce a very popular tool called the Thomas-Kilmann model of Conflict Management. This model compares our chosen level of assertiveness against our willingness to cooperate in a conflict situation and defines five different conflict styles which we can and do adopt as a result. 

Ranging between a win-win outcome through collaboration on the one hand and total avoidance of the issue at the other end. In between these two extremes, we also have three different styles; 

  • Competing, where you are highly assertive with little willingness to cooperate, tends to create a win-lose outcome. 
  • Accommodating, where you are highly cooperative, however normally at your own expense. Of course, this might be intentional, for example, where you wish to preserve the relationship. 
  • And lastly, through Compromise, such as in a sales negotiation process where there is typically give & take, it can also be considered a lose-lose situation as neither party achieves what they desire. 

Depending on the stakeholder and the situation in conflict, you may elect to use any of the five styles. Even selecting a combination of more than one of these options. 

We’ll go deeper into conflict management in the Advanced series. Still, we will include several links to videos and articles to help with your self-awareness and understanding of how you can utilize this knowledge during future conflict situations. 

We would encourage you to complete the questionnaire included in the episode blog on our site amentorscouch.com and practice using the five styles.

And back to our reality that all leaders should expect this conflict scenario to present itself at some stage. It’s important, therefore, to prepare ourselves (by knowing our default styles) and learn to allow the stakeholders to air their grievances, voice their concerns, and state their thoughts without you reacting inappropriately. 

It’s pleasing to know that we can predict with a degree of accuracy (based on numerous studies in this field) when conflict arises during team feedback sessions, the types of pushback to expect. Knowing this enables us to be somewhat prepared ahead of the communication. 

Typically, the recipient will express one or more of these four responses if confronted about an issue. 

  1. They deny that the situation exists, so you need to support the claim with facts and examples.
  2. They may trivialize the scale of the situation, stating that it’s not a big issue – in this situation, you support your claim with an outline of the impact and why it matters.
  3. They may try shifting the blame onto others. Here it would help if you allowed the recipient to detail the situation as they see it and explain the causes. Dig into the problem to find the root cause.
  4. Shifting blame onto a lack of personal knowledge or skill – here, you would explore together which capability is missing and agree if this is truly the cause. If so, decide on a solution together.

In the end, it’s important to reach an agreement on a way forward with concrete actions, the nomination of the responsible persons, and clear timeline milestones.

The more you expose yourself to this challenge, the better you will handle the situation and manage your style. Of course, you utilize the tools provided and practice the communication methods already highlighted. 

Remember to be factual and base the feedback on your observations, not hear-say, park your emotions, allow time for input from the recipient and work towards solutions, don’t get bogged down in the issue or problem. Keep moving the discussion towards the solution.

But what if we encounter a more complex problem with a larger group? The issue will require a somewhat different approach. 

Let’s consider that your company is working on a large project and have encountered a significant problem that could jeopardize the completion date and financial outcome. 

People start becoming emotional, the atmosphere is heated, and the blame game is rampant. How can we calm down the situation and move things towards a solution? The obvious step would be to call the team meeting, paint the picture, and demand cohesion and joint effort.

We see this approach repeatedly and with a similar outcome – most often with little change in project performance or success.

Thankfully, it’s possible and relatively easy to disrupt this mentality by introducing a little logic and process to the equation – we kick start this with our Problem Solving mindset and later elaborate on the process with Critical and Creative Thinking techniques. 

We were referring to earlier these steps when we said that most managers fail to utilize the group’s collective genius to identify and solve complex problems fearing that the process takes too much time or, more often, that they don’t know how or what to do. 

So let’s unpack this approach in greater detail, understand more about each component, and examine some supporting tools. And we start with the traditional Problem Solving methodology.

Starting with an understanding of this term Problem Solving and the realization that many companies have developed their practices to incorporate one or more problem-solving methods as standards in their daily work activities. You can see the definition and a small sampling (10) of common problem-solving techniques/tools on the screen. It is not an exhaustive list as there are many approaches, but most share a common theme.

This problem-solving approach became very popular in the automotive industry around quality topics in the 1980s and utilized many of these assessment tools. It has since spread to all business areas and usually with a simplified methodology such as Constructive or Inductive Reasoning techniques and perhaps PDCA – plan do check act – to name a few. Links to these and other methods will be in the blog. 

To help you understand better, we would like to introduce a simple but effective method, which relates to the concept and how our problem-solving theory applies in your business practices with stakeholders and major projects.

The approach covers the principles adopted in the majority of methods while utilizing a simple 6 step model. Hence the reason I prefer this, particularly when working with groups that are not familiar with traditional problem-solving techniques. 

Each of the six steps has multiple characteristics, which we adhere to or question during that stage, plus at the same time, we’ll incorporate various tools or techniques for drilling deeper into the problem. 

The process starts with step 1, “Defining the problem.” In this step, we look to diagnose the situation to focus on the problem, not just its symptoms. For this stage, we introduce the end-to-end process review in the form of a flow diagram to ensure we are clear about what happened across the entire activity.

Next, in step 2, we “Determine the root causes or causes.” Meaning, what is it that is causing us to wind up with this problem or situation? We use tools such as the cause and effect diagram and the 5 Why questioning technique to explore the linkage further.

In step 3, we need to “Define alternative solutions” – typically using lateral thinking exercises such as brainstorming; we try to identify all possible answers. We are considering everything which may be helpful.

Then in Step 4, we “Select a solution or solutions” after grouping, prioritizing, and considering the possibilities before choosing the one/s which you believe will resolve the matter.

Implement the change” is the next step. Implementation can be a simple or complex process and may involve multiple sub-steps depending on the scale of the problem. 

And finally, in Step 6, we continue to monitor and evaluate the results after the implementation.

We could, of course, stop here as this Problem Solving approach alone will result in a high degree of success over most problems and resolve most disagreements. But, we want to make sure you have a fully endowed knowledge base along with an arsenal of tools. Therefore we’re going to incorporate the applications of creative and critical thinking. 

These two separate elements are highly powerful as stand-alone topics and could have had an episode devoted to each. Still, in our case, we want to highlight merely their value add & show how to couple them together for greater problem-solving effectiveness.

Let’s start by introducing creative thinking to expand the range of our solutions, particularly during step 3 of our Problem Solving exercise. 

The concept of creative thinking and using outside of the box, innovative thoughts helps move from convergent to divergent ideas. 

You are looking for alternative solutions rather than only one correct outcome. To create the right stimulation for this creative thinking process to occur, you need to establish the right environment and combine the right ingredients – such as a diverse group of people with different roles, different backgrounds, different cultures, age, gender, expertise, and so on, as and where appropriate. Plus, be sure to define the game rules for the creativity exercise clearly.

With this in place, we can call on different creative thinking tools and techniques. There are many tools to select from –Brainstorming, Mind mapping from Tony Buzan, Six Hats from Edward Debono, plus some less known approaches such as SCAMPER. 

These tools can be supported by following more abstract and remotely practiced suggestions from people like Balder Onarheim and the use of pre-practiced activities such as “continuous practice.” You train your mind to think creatively, use dream sleep to solve a stated problem or use randomness to trigger abstract connections to the problem. Whichever you select, the aim is to enhance the solution ideation. 

And then, of course, once we have these new, untested thoughts, how can we assess them? And that’s our bridge to the use of Critical Thinking in our problem-solving process. 

So what is critical thinking – it can be defined as a developed skill acquired through practice, enabling us to think clearly and rationally and understand the logical connection between ideas. 

It refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment. Critical thinking involves evaluating sources such as data, facts, observable phenomenon, and research findings. 

Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a given set of information and discriminate between useful and less useful details to solve a problem or make a decision. 

Critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value. 

So, if we reflect on our 6-step problem-solving process, we have already utilized Creative Thinking during step 3 to enhance and broaden our possible solution pool. 

In step 4, while selecting the most effective solution, we can apply our critical thinking to challenge our rationale, based on the data provided in steps 2 & 3. The outcome will be concise, well thought through reasoning, which sits behind the solution selection process.

And there we have the complete approach – we started with the simple feedback situations and encountering individual disagreement or resistance. Learning about our conflict management style and then broadened our perspective to more complex issues affecting larger projects and groups. 

For these, we introduced a simple 6 step Problem-Solving methodology that encapsulates both Creative and Critical Thinking practices.

And I want to share a highly effective example of addressing a problem that combines all three elements. Problem-solving combines creative and critical thinking through a systems thinking model referred to as a “collaborative visualization” approach. 

Addressing the problem through this systems model and using drawings of images on sticky notes or pads, arranging them in the correct sequence expands on the end-to-end process flow through group collaboration. It produces a visual frame of reference offering both clarity and alignment. 

Tom Wujec demonstrates the approach on his website called DrawToast and his Wicked Problem Solving™ toolkit. 

Having facilitated workshops where groups used the approach, I can vouch for its effectiveness. We will include a link to this website and TEDTalk to gauge the method’s effectiveness for yourself.

And so to conclude and introduce the next topic. We have now provided you a 3 part mini-series related to feedback, celebrating success, managing conflict, and solving problems with this topic closing. Applying the learnings from these three videos alone will stand you apart from most leaders. 

Therefore, please do yourself a favor and review them again if there is anything you are unclear about and remember to visit our site called amentorscouch.com to access each transcript which contains all of the topic-related links.   

With only three videos remaining in this Basics series, you have reached the business end of proceedings. Up next, topic eight dealing with the Necessity for Change. I have a little surprise lined up for you in this episode, but you’ll need to wait until we release it to see more. 

The final two topics cover “Pitching value-based strategies” and “Running with your game plan.”

In these three episodes, we bring into scope “Self-Awareness.” An MIT Sloan Management Review article cites self-awareness as the most important capability for any leader. While self-awareness, similar to communication, has always been a foundational part of this program, it will become a more visible component in our discussions as our attention turns towards you more so than the team or other stakeholders. 

I can’t wait to bring the Change story to you, but until then, stay safe and be careful driving—cheers for now.

*** difficult conversations

difficult conversations  – it’s ok to include

difficult conv. Mistakes

**** great starting video – opens the reason why people disagree

——————-

https://www.insperity.com/blog/difficult-conversations-with-employees/

blog about difficult situations – 9 rules

https://www.clearreview.com/difficult-conversations-employee-examples/

additional blog and perspectives

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/holding-difficult-conversation-employees-1918468

3rd blog on difficult conversations 

Problem Solving

  *** (problem-solving intro)

(too long and heavily focused on quality)

 **** (a great video that can support the concept)

  • Group models work much better than individual

https://www.drawtoast.com/

IDEA model – looks at multiple tools for each four steps

—————-

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_00.htm

Problem-solving skills – Mind Tools

https://asq.org/quality-resources/problem-solving

using a 4 step problem-solving method

https://www.managers.org.uk/knowledge-bank/problem-solving

3rd article on problem-solving

Critical Thinking

 *** (short intro to critical thinking)

(tedTalk on three questions to encourage critical questions)

 *** critical thinking five tips

————–

https://www.skillsyouneed.com/learn/critical-thinking.html

critical thinking blog

https://osu.uloop.com/news/view.php/275371/Critical-Thinking-Skills-You-Need-to-Master-Now

critical thinking blog # 2

Creative Thinking

 *** creative thinking – good video

brainstorming video

mind mapping – Tony Buzan

original thinkers – not bad

————-

https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/creative-thinking.html

creative thinking blog # 1

https://inkbotdesign.com/creative-thinking/

creative thinking blog #2 – add the characteristics

https://www.mindtools.com/brainstm.html

Brainstorming blog by Mind Tools

https://www.mindjet.com/mind-mapping-techniques/

mind mapping blog

 “Topic 7 – Problem Solving Situations

Video content framework:

Part 1:   Difficult conversations:

– continuation from feedback

  • Why is it needed, and why are some employees more difficult than others?
  • Simple process – can include BOOST and other models
  • Offer likely employee response and your reaction

Part 2:   Problem Solving for difficult situations

  • Define it and when would we introduce it – build on team development to date.
  • Introduce various models but focus on simple ones

Part 3:   Critical Thinking – an acquired skills

  • Define it and when / how to introduce it – build on the past two parts
  • Consider this a new skill that could be useful for leaders and teams to learn.
  • Introduce the process and specific characteristics of a critical thinker 

Part 4:   Creative Thinking – icing on the cake

  • Define it and when/how to use
  • Introduce the practice of brainstorming and mind mapping
  • Value of creative people in the team (original thinkers- procrastination vs. procrastination) 
  • procrastination is a vice when it comes to productivity but can be a virtue for creativity.

Summarize and intro next topic – create the link from this topic and the methods we introduced to the practice of being successful with change. 

“Leaders need to excel in the basics_EiB_104.1”

couchTALK: Coaching our elevator-escalator global tribe

“Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics”

10 skills at the heart of every leaders arsenal.

  • Video 1  –  Understanding your place in the team
  • Video 2  –  Motivating your future team
  • Video 3  –  Creative delegation
  • Video 4  –  SMART rules and rewarding goals
  • Video 5  –  Feedback strategies
  • Video 6  –  Achievement reviews
  • Video 7  –   Problem & solution solving
  • Video 8  –   The necessity for Change
  • Video 9  –   Pitching value-based strategies
  • Video 10 –  Running with your game plan

Hello and welcome to couchTalk episode – 104. This time we are helping to launch a new 10 video program on our YouTube channel called Mentors Rant.

The progam focuses on the coming changes through technology and the need to get centered with the basic skills surrounding Leadership in our elevator-escalator global tribe.

In my article titled “10 Essential Leadership Skills for ’2019-20 – Our final opportunity to get the basics locked-in”, I state;

The age of Industry 4.0 is upon us and with it comes Big data, IoT, quantum computing, AI, Internet 3.0, 5G, Augmented reality and much more.

Individually each of these breakthroughs will, are changing our lives. With the convergence of these technologies however they will completely re-design the way we live and work in the near future.

For leaders to maintain their edge and to stay abreast of these immense changes to the way our people think, behave and perform, we must have at the very least, a set of basic leadership skills firmly embedded in our DNA. And without trying to over dramatize the situation …  

“There isn’t a lot of time remaining for each of us to prepare for this gravitational shift – a digital quantum leap as such!”

Experts are predicting that in less than 5 years from now we will be living and working entirely different from our norms of today. With this in mind let’s move on to review the 10 basics covered by our videos.

You can also find this podcast on Stitcher and iTunes;

Right click here and “Save As” to download a copy of this episode to your computer

What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Highly effective presentations for every leader”

  • Video 1.01 – Preparing to present like a Pro
  • Video 1.02 – What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in
  • Video 1.03 – Leaders that chunk, link, recall and review, win
  • Video 1.04 – Leaders need to learn how to close

Welcome back to “Highly effective presentations for every leader” – have you already complete episode # 1.01 – Preparing to present like a pro? 

As this is a series of 4 episodes, it will make it much easier to watch them in sequence. However, don’t despair; if time is short (and isn’t for everyone), we will start here with a summary of episode 1.01. 

So, it seems you’re about to get started with episode 1.02. 

Here we identify what leaders need to do during the crucial opening moments. 

In the final two episodes, 1.03 & 1.04, titled “Leaders that chunk, link, recall, and review, win” and “Leaders need to learn how to close,” respectively, we’ll investigate how to structure great presentations and then the methods for closing on a high.

5 key considerations from the previous episode – “Preparing to present like a Pro.”           

  • # 1: Know your audience
  • # 2: Structure your presentation
  • # 3: Create great visuals
  • # 4: Powerful questions & engaging activities
  • # 5: Prepare through practice

From episode 1.01 – Preparing to present like a Pro, we covered these 5 key considerations.

– and said to remember that preparation helps you to stay Participant Centred throughout the presentation. 

Let’s quickly recap on what we have covered so far.

#1 Know your audience 

  • meaning know who will be participating and how experienced they are on the subject 

#2 Structure your presentation 

  • by this, we mean actively chunk topics and create links or bridges between these topics, using the rule of 3 and incorporate stories.

#3 Create great visuals 

  • – remember simple is best, so they are easy to read and understand. 65% of adults have a visual learning preference. 

#4 Prepare powerful questions and engaging activities 

  • do some research on questioning techniques such as “funneling and develop simple activities.

#5 Prepare through practice 

  • experts say there are typically 3 presentation versions for every eventual delivery – Each individual needs to develop their own method which works best for them.

7 concepts of memory (listed in order of importance)

Primacy, Recency, chunking, linking, record & recall, review & revisit and outstandingness. 

# 1 in order of importance is Primacy – covered in this episode

# 2 in order of importance is Recency – covered in episode 1.04

# 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 – covered in episodes 1.03 & 1.04.

Before jumping into episode 1.02, we would like to give you a short intro to the 7 concepts of memory (listed here in order of importance) – Primacy, Recency, Chunking, Linking, Record & Recall, Review & Revisit, and Outstandingness.

As stated, # 1 is Primacy – i.e., the thing our participants remember the most from your presentation is the opening (particularly if it stinks).

The second most important is how you close – i.e., Recency

– the last things we hear, do, or say before completing the presentation 

– we address this item in episode 4 of this series.

Whilst #’s 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 (the remaining 5 concepts) we’ll cover in episodes 3 & 4.

So, it’s clearly important if we want people to retain the experience and learnings from our presentation that we turn our focus to these 7 concepts in the remaining 3 episodes.

Let’s now begin with episode 1.02.

Episode 1.02: What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in.”

Starting now with the 3 vital considerations specific to our second episode – “What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in.”

– 1st captivate “From the very beginning.” 

– 2nd nailing those “opening comments.” 

– 3rd “Engage through Story.” 

Consideration # 1:            From the very beginning 

  • Dress to impress 
  • Communicate through body language 
  • Standstill – don’t rock or prowl

Consideration # 1:            First impressions are critical, so fromthe very moment you appear, the clock is running, and your audience is making their judgment about you and the likely presentation.

Therefore, make your actions and expressions purposeful 

  • approach the podium confidently, 
  • pause in silence, 
  • scan the room, 
  • raise your eyebrow 
  • and smile. 

People connect more with the top half of your face than the bottom, hence the eyebrow movement but smiling is infectious, so don’t miss it.  

Dress to impress – meaning neatly, regardless of dress code 

– if it’s stated that the dress code is smart casual on the smart side. If more formal, make sure you are clear on the requirements – NEVER underdress.

Use of body language for successful engagement 

> 50% of your communication occurs through your body language. 

  • Standstill – don’t prowl excessively – in the beginning, move more from the hips and plant your feet. 
  • Avoid rocking backward or forward or swaying. 
  • Keep hands visible in front of you. Use them to emphasize a point but don’t become the flag bearer waving wildly.

Consideration # 2:            Opening comments 

  • Remember the “WHY”   
  • Remember the “HOW” 
  • Voice control 
  • Graphic visual image

Consideration # 2:            Opening comments 

– use a powerful intro to give the subject substance & connect to the audience 

When we say “Remember the WHY,” – consider that we are all presenters at some stage in our career. 

The audience is there because they are wanting to hear and learn something new. Ensure your opening confirms their trust in you and reason for listening. 

“Remember the HOW” – by demonstrating through words your Honesty, Authenticity, Integrity, Love – or HAIL, as Julian Treasure refers to it in his 2013 TED Talk on “How to speak so that people want to listen.” 

Julian further defines HAIL “as to greet or acclaim enthusiastically.”

Additionally, lock the audience into you with your voice control 

  • don’t speak too fast or too speedily, 
  • ensure the right tone, 
  • volume and pitch. 

If you have a voice like me, use aids to assist you.

Introduce the subject using words that paint a graphic, visual image. 

  • Explore and express the subject in a way that the audience will connect with. 

Consideration # 3:            Engage through Story 

  • Use stories to link yourself
  • Be relatable
  • And have fun!

Consideration # 3:            Engage through Story 

  • and understand the difference between telling me and showing me a story. 

Learning to become a storyteller is one of your most powerful aids as a presenter. 

Discover how to unpack a story by taking the time to detail and explore details and living each moment.     

Where possible, link yourself into the subject through this story as a means of self-introduction and introducing your background.

Be careful to stay relatable – authentic by being yourself, relaxed, engaging, enthusiastic. If the story is too unbelievable, then more likely that it won’t be.

And finally, remember to have fun 

  • enjoy the moment regardless of whether the topic is serious and dry or humorous and comical.

Consolidation of the 3 key considerations

  • # 1 From the very beginning 
  • # 2 Opening comments
  • # 3 Engage through Story

So that covers the 3 key considerations in this episode # 2.  What leaders need to  achieve initial buy-in.”

Remember that the opening seconds/minutes set the scene for the success of your presentation. In this episode, the 3 key considerations we spoke about were.  

# 1 From the very beginning – we need to approach the podium confidently, pause in silence, scanning the room, raise our eyebrows, pause again, and then smile.

# 2 Opening comments – use a powerful intro to give the subject substance & connect to the audience. Paint a graphic picture through your words.

# 3 Engage through story – and understand the difference between a “telling me & showing me” story.

Thank you for listening to this 2nd episode called “What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in,” from our series “Highly effective presentations for every leader.” 

We look forward to you joining us as we continue our journey with episode #3 called Leaders that chunk, link, recall, and review, win”!

Preparing to present like a pro

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Highly effective presentations for every leader”

  • Video 1 – Preparing to present like a Pro
  • Video 2 – What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in
  • Video 3 – Leaders that chunk, link, recall and review, win
  • Video 4 – Leaders need to learn how to close

Hello, I’m Professor Wayne, and I’ll be your Mentor for this video, podcast, and blog series called “Highly effective presentations for every leader.” Welcome to this the first of 4 short modules

The title of this episode is – Preparing to present like a Pro, where we will deep dive into the necessary preparation steps that ensure your presentation runs smoothly

In the following three episodes, we turn our attention to the presentation delivery focusing first in episode 2 on the opening. In episode 3, we explore the content, structure, and maximization of retention with chunking and linking. Finally, we round out the series in episode 4 by identifying how to close your presentation on a high.

First, now to defining the difference between facilitating and presenting.   

       Facilitation     VS     Presentation

       Facilitation + Presentation = Training

A couple of items to clarify before commencing with the video of the preparation. Let’s first clearly define the difference between presenting and facilitating as the two are often confused.  

Facilitation in the purest sense and as defined in the Cambridge dictionary, “is the act of helping other people to deal with a process or reach an agreement or solution without getting directly involved in the process, discussion, etc. yourself.” 

– a typical example might be if we are chairing a meeting or workshop.

Presentation at its most basic level “is a platform for communicating information and ideas.” 

– there are many examples where we present, but in our case, we’ll be stick with meetings, conferences, public speaking events, or workshops.

While the difference between the two roles is quite clear, it’s also possible to combine Facilitation & Presentation. 

– there are occasions when we need to overlap the two activities, and this is most often seen with people that deliver training as they need to play both roles simultaneously.

Presentation framework and context

Presentation duration – 60 minutes

Target audience – executives 

Presentation subject – focus on Leadership.

One further distinction is to provide some context to this video series and place a framework around the type of presentations we will be discussing;

Any single presentation has a given duration – it can be extremely short, perhaps just a few minutes, or the other extreme can last several hours.

And, of course, anywhere in between. 

In our instance, we’ll suppose a typical 60-minute presentation.

As this series is developed for executives and leaders of our ELEVATOR-ESCALATOR TRIBE, we will target a similar audience group for these 60 min presentations.

The presentation subject is not as important, but again for the sake of this series and for any Use cases introduced in the episodes, we’ll focus on the subject of “Leadership.”

So, let’s look at the 5 specific areas of consideration related to our first video – “Preparing to present like a pro.” They are:

# 1 – Know your audience

# 2 – Structure your presentation

# 3 – Create great visuals

# 4 – Powerful questions & engaging activities

# 5 – Prepare through practice

Consideration #1:       “Know your audience.” 

adjust your presentation,  preparing the timing and flow,   where is the “power” is sitting

Consideration #1:             Know your audience – meaning know who will be participating and how experienced they are on the subject. This helps you stay “Participant Centred” by; 

  • Being able to tailor or adjust your presentation – with both content and your questions. 
    • It also enables you to gauge the timing and flow of the presentation so that you can maintain interest and engagement. 
    • Plus, and very importantly, particularly in meetings, to understand where the “power” is sitting in the room.

Consideration #2:       “Structure your presentation” 

  • clear objectives & include only the key points,
  • focus on participant needs – “think, feel & do.”
  • utilizing the “Rule of 3” and include a story 

Consideration #3:       Create great visuals

; remember simple is best, so they are easy to read and understand.

– this lets the participant digest the message quickly and then return their focus to you. 

For slides – minimize the text (preferably one or two items per slide) together with a grabbing image. Keep the text in the top half of the slide for ease of reading.

For handouts – keep them short, simple, and well-formatted. Use graphics to help illustrate so that the information can be skimmed rather than studied.

For flipcharts, wall charts, or other supporting graphics, they should bring to life the points rather than just restate what you’re saying.

Remember that approximately 65% of all adults have a visual learning dominance or preference. Don’t risk eliminating 2/3 of your audience from the start as a result of poor visuals…

Consideration #4:              “Powerful questions & engaging activities”        

  • Use funnelling technique, 
  • Closed questions for confirmation & closure,
  • Incorporate engaging activities

Consideration #4:             Prepare powerful questions and engaging activities.

– this is such a critical component and yet the area least practiced.       

To assist you here, do some research on questioning techniques such as “funneling.” The method helps you to extract greater involvement through open-ended questions before confirming the situation and then closing the discussion. 

In addition, as adults, we learn best through experience; therefore, if you can incorporate simple, quick activities to re-affirm to key messages you want the participants to grasp, then this is highly effective.

Consideration #5:             Prepare through practice 

– prepare the presentation script, convert the script into key points, practice the presentation,

Consideration #5:       Prepare through practice 

– experts say there are typically 3 presentation versions for every eventual delivery 

  • the presentation you prepare, the presentation you practice, and the final presentation you deliver. 

Each individual needs to develop their own method, which works best for them, but here’s how I do it depending on the level of importance and complexity.

  • Start by preparing the presentation script in detail and edit this until you’re happy when reading it out aloud. 
  • After reciting the script multiple times, convert this detailed script into clustered topics, utilizing techniques such as mind mapping to outline the structure and key points.
  • Finally, find a quiet location or location (somewhere preferably with a mirror) and practice the presentation repeatedly, including the stories. Try to anticipate questions and practice your response. Even better if you can record your delivery, then listen and watch for areas to improve. 

Consolidation of the 5 key considerations

#1 Know your audience

#2 Structure your presentation

#3 Create great visuals

#4 Powerful questions & engaging activities

#5 Prepare through practice

Episode 1 summary            

And that wraps up our 5 key considerations for this topic of “preparing to present like a pro.” 

– remember this preparation helps you to stay Participant Centred throughout the presentation

Let’s quickly recap on what we have covered so far.

#1 Know your audience

  • meaning know who will be participating and how experienced they are on the subject.

#2 Structure your presentation

  • by this, we mean actively chunk topics and create links or bridges between these topics, using the rule of 3 and incorporate stories.

#3 Create great visuals 

  • – remember simple is best, so they are easy to read and understand. 65% of adults have a visual learning preference. 

#4 Prepare powerful questions and engaging activities 

  • do some research on questioning techniques such as “funneling and develop simple activities.

#5 Prepare through practice 

  • experts say there are typically 3 presentation versions for every eventual delivery 
  • each individual needs to develop their own method which works best for them.

Thank you for listening to this first episode, “Preparing to present like a Pro.” from our series “Highly effective presentations for every leader.” 

If you enjoyed it, please hit the LIKE button below and be sure to join us for episode #2 called What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in.” 

We’d love to receive your comments, and if you want to be notified of future material, please subscribe below.

Until next time, stay safe and prepare well. Bye for now.

Leaders need to learn how to close

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Highly effective presentations for every leader”

  • Video 1 – Preparing to present like a Pro
  • Video 2 – What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in
  • Video 3 – Leaders that chunk, link, recall and review, win
  • Video 4 – Leaders need to learn how to close

Welcome back to “Highly effective presentations for every leader” – you have reached the final episode of this series. And before moving onto our new material from episode #1.04, it’s important to recap what we’ve covered so far.

In episode # 1.01 – Preparing to present like a pro, we started by looking at the necessary preparations to enable professional presentations. 

Episode # 1.02 – What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in, we reviewed the critical considerations for that opening stanza of the presentation. 

And the previous episode #1.03, called “Leaders that chunk, link, recall, and review, win,” we looked closely at the essentials for presenters during the body of the delivery – and we’ll now summarize this in more detail.

OK, so lets at the consolidation of the 5 key considerations from episode #1.03.

If you recall, this episode is related to the “body of the presentation,” We touch on the 4 of the 7 concepts for memory retention.  

# 1 The art of chunking & linking – adults digest information best when it is broken into small parcels

# 2 Using body language to enhance the message – focusing on your facial expression, hand gestures, and body movement

# 3 Using voice to enhance the message – just as body language conveys a visual message, your voice conveys the verbal & vocal message 

# 4 Recall through activities – active learning is a powerful mechanism for assisting adults in locking in the message

# 5 Revisit and review – will deepen learning retention and create the potential for behavior change

As we have covered all 7 concepts of memory, let’s review them again here first and in order of importance 

  • Primacy, 
  • Recency
  • Chunking, 
  • Linking, 
  • Record & recall, 
  • review & revisit 
  • and outstandingness.               

Do you recall this topic from episode 2, where we said Primacy was the most important concept for memory? 

Well, now we look at the second most important “Recency,”meaning the last things we do before finishing our presentation – our close.

This is your final opportunity to ensure that all of the key points the audience has received and discussed are taken away with them in their minds and perhaps their hands. 

Let us now move into today’s topic.

During the next few minutes, we will explore the final 3 considerations in this 4th and final episode of the series – “Leaders need to learn how to close.”

  • Starting with “Summarizing topics & key take-aways.”
  • Followed by “Concluding the presentation.”

And finishing off with a Call to action     

Are you ready, then let’s start!

Consideration # 1:            Summarizing the topics and key take-aways 

  • this is where you bring it all together that one last time. 

Do you remember we spoke about the importance of reviewing a minimum of 6 times in the previous episode?                       

  • State the topics you have covered and those key points from each – recall something specific that was discussed with these points, so participants can recall.
  • Make the points visual so that there is a final chance to digest and retain – show graphically the link between all the topics which lead to the conclusion.
  • Take final questions and try to seek the audience’s involvement to review if your forum allows.

Consideration #2:              Concluding the presentation 

this is your chance to finish on a high!      

It is a great opportunity to practice your outstandingness – put on your dancing shoes (figuratively speaking) and make it special.

Leave the audience with something to remember the subject by – such as a closing statement quoted by someone famous or a dire prediction if no change follows.

During your preparations, you would have identified this, and now it’s time to live it and illustrate the lasting image you want the group to leave with – make it big and bold on and off the screen.

Consideration # 3:            Calling to action 

  • all great presentations have a follow-up request or requirement     

Try using the “challenge” or “call back” close – pose something which will require the audience to act immediately or commit to a post-workshop event.

Providing handouts, notes, or information on future events for the audience to take if interested is a good idea – but again create a reason why people would want to open it after they leave. 

I’ve been to way too many events where I have been given material that sits on my desk for a while when I get back to the office but eventually ends up on my shelf or in the bin.  

Don’t drag the ending on too long – bring the presentation to a close. 

If possible, stay for the remainder of proceeding to field questions outside of the event. 

To summarize episode # 1.04 and consolidate the 3 key considerations –  we’ve just learned how to effectively close a presentation.            

Start by Summarizing the topics and key take-aways – this is where you bring it all together.

Then conclude the presentation – your chance to finish on a high – Leave the audience with something to remember the subject by – such as a closing statement quoted by someone famous.

And finally, and very importantly, create a Call to action – all great presentations have a follow-up request for some form of immediate action or commit to a post-workshop event.

So that’s it for this episode. Thank you for listening to this series, “Highly effective presentations for every leader.” 

We’ve enjoyed making this short series 12 months back and are happy now that we have them available as a podcast series. We hope you can get value from the discussion and strengthen your presentation ability. 

It’s truly a key skill for all executives. During the series, we have covered  4 topics; 

– Preparing to present like a Pro

– What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in

– Leaders that chunk, link, recall, and review, win

– Leaders need to learn how to close

Please visit our site @ A Mentors Couch.com and subscribe to this channel called couchTALK, on Stitcher and Apple. Plus, if you haven’t already done so, you can watch this series as a video through our YouTube channel Mentors Rant.

We’re presently working on a series of meditation tracks for use during my coaching sessions. After that, we’ll be ready to start moving onto the Leaders Advance series available through our 3 pack approach – video, podcast, and blog.

So until the next release, bye for now, and enjoy presenting!

50 year LEGEND of the industry: Dr Rory Smith

50 year LEGEND of the industry Dr Rory Smith sharing adventures, insights and learnings from his career.

transcript written by Wayne Brown

50 year LEGEND Dr Rory Smith

Welcome to the first in our “Legend” episodes. We start with a pioneer in technology and a real gentleman: our 50 year LEGEND of the industry Dr Rory Smith. His career spans many countries, cultures and he remains fully engaged in our industry today.

Introducing Dr Rory Smith

Hello, I’m really excited to bring this episode to you, where I speak with Dr Smith. We first met back around 2005-2006 on a major project in Shanghai. I’ve had the pleasure of working on numerous projects with him since. As I my own career enters it’s 42nd year, I can honestly say that I have never met or worked with a more genuine person.

Please join me as we explore his diverse career, spanning multiple companies, countries, cultures and topics.

One issue becomes clear to me after concluding this interview: We are loosing far too many great people from our industry. And with them goes knowledge, skills and experience which can not be replaced through books and study alone.

This is a re-affirmation for me to push even harder with my aim and purpose from this site and through these podcasts, blogs and videos, where we are looking to capture and share insights from great legends such as Dr Rory Smith.

Right click here to “Save As” and download a copy to your computer

Your podcast host Wayne

Excel in the basics: Running with Your Game Plan

Topic 10 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series – Running with your game plan

transcript written by Wayne Brown

We’ve reached the end…

Welcome to this very special, final edition of our “Leadership Basics series”. It’s been a labor of love during these past months where we achieved (more or less) our goal of releasing a new episode every 2 weeks.

As an outcome, this program has now been running for the past 5-6 months with this the eleventh video, podcast and blog.

Please download your free Game Plan blueprint …

A mere drop in the ocean when compared with my own career spans more than 40 years, with more than half of it in a managerial or leadership capacity with multi-national, fortune 500 companies.

In parallel, I’ve started a number of businesses, the first, an electrical contracting business, registered way back in 1983 and then in 1999 I founded my first limited liability company.

And throughout this entire period I’m pleased to say that I’ve never stopped learning, developing my skills and honing my knowledge into tactics.

And a new beginning… (my own Game Plan)

Those that are following this channel or our podcast and blog, will possibly now that in the last 12 month I’ve intensified my studies, with the aim of modernizing my knowledge and skills sets in preparation for our latest venture, the registering of a new company and venture in July this year called “Skills 4 Executives”.

Our purpose is to directly address the needs for elite talent development with-in the elevator-escalator tribe but by ensuring we target specific requirements of the industry not purely generic leadership.

We plan to do this through the aid of our vast global network and an array of acclaimed experts.

Let’s have a quick look at our Skills 4 Executives (S4E) company structure;

Communications via “A Mentors Couch”…

Staring with the communications arm called amentorscouch.com which we launched approx. 9 months ago around the end of Dec 2018.

  • With-in this arm, we will continue to host our Coaches Blog, the podcast show called couchTALK and this video channel called Mentors Rant. And additionally, in the coming months we’ll be commencing a bi-monthly webinar show together with quarterly newsletters.
  • And the big news, we’re targeting by middle of 2020 to release our first eBook. More on that in the period ahead.

Aside from this communications arm, Skills 4 Executives has three core areas of focus.

Coaching via “Coaching 4 Companies” …

At the heart of everything is Coaching. In the future you will find that we launch various services through “coaching4companies.com”, where we work with corporate executives and executive teams primarily from with-in our elevator-escalator global tribe.

  • This is available via face to face or with virtually interactions and offer those being coached exposure to industry and non-industry legends as well as being supported by a huge range of quality techniques, tools and templates.

One executive group to receive special attention are those nominated by their company as “Elite Talents”. These talents are our tribe’s future leaders and require grooming to thrive in this dynamic, converging world.

As such, we are building a unique, industry specific, two Level “Elite Talents Program”. At the programs core is a fully automated, multi layered, computer-based Leadership simulation.

This will test participants ability to steer their way through real life day on day scenarios with the challenge of not only running the business but being successful in growing it in a sustainable and profitable manner.

Facilitation via “Facilitation 4 Companies” …

Supporting this will be a 2-year part time, 12 module blended program which shall be offered through 3 day bi-monthly face to face workshops via “facilitation4companies.com”.

  • Whilst these workshops offer participants the most comprehensive and fully experiential journey through hands on practice, discussions and networking opportunities, we realize that not everyone has the luxury of attending such a demanding program.

Online Self-study via “Education 4 Companies” …

Therefore, we are also preparing a modified version of the program via our online self-education platform called “education4companies.com”.

As mentioned already, scaling globally face to face will be possible through a large and diversified network of experts – all with corporate leadership backgrounds and many coming with a strong emphasis in education and development.

Overall I’m sure you can sense that I’m hugely excited about the venture as it’s one which brings with it the potential to re-shape our industry’s approach to Leadership development.

And now it’s your turn …

running with your game plan

So, there you have my GAME PLAN in a nutshell – Skills 4 Executives Limited. It continues to be a work-in-progress and pleasingly is evolving at pace.

My first goal is simple – “to move one step closer every single day to realizing the release of this industry specific Elite Talents development program”. And the great thing is that once this is goal is achieved, we will be able to fully focus on preparations for our first industry Mastermind in late 2020.

It’s now time to bring together all of the elements to help finalize your arsenal of basic skills, which we’ve covered in the past 10 episodes. And in the process, to create clarity for you so that it’s simple to understand and to apply.

If you can recall all the way back in the very first of those episodes, we outlined our reasoning for putting this series together.

We wanted to ensure that our tribal executives had the basics locked in place as a standard part of their daily practice so that they are able to free their minds and focus on the bigger picture; those changes coming around the corner in the not too distant future.

Our belief is that with-in the next 3-5 years, as a result of the unprecedented technology convergence, our industry along with most other industries will be turned on it’s head.

This will then require flexibility, agility and new skills. But that doesn’t mean total disbandment of our core principles and work ethics, nor do we stop engaging with and satisfying stakeholders, or building strong teams that can address even more complex challenges.

It simply means that these must be locked in as a solid part of your leadership package. And therefore, that you are ready and able to accommodate whatever the new world throws at you.

For the remainder of this episode we will give you a blueprint, to simplify those key learnings which need to be adopted and implemented. So here we go….

Running with Your Game Plan

Our stakeholders …

If you visit our site www.amentorscouch.com and the blog called “Running with your game plan” you will find near the top the Game Plan Blueprint, we’ve compiled for you.

Our suggestion is that you download and print it so that you can follow through and take notes as we help build your game plan together.

Do you recall our 9 stakeholder groups? And how we dissected these between internal and external, as well as those we placed in our inner and outer circle of influence and finally deciding whether they were deemed a supporter or detractor?

Step 1: You will find this as the first activity in the downloaded document. Having this stakeholder information sorted enables you to look at how you want to engage in the future with each major stakeholder – be they an “Influencer” or otherwise.

Please note here that even if you did this exercise some 5-6 months back, we would suggest now is a great time to review and update the results where necessary. It s a dynamic group and requires regular review and reflection.

Broadly speaking we would start with the Inner/Outer Circle as step 1. List all the stakeholders you can identify and then plot them into their respective quadrant – noting your relationship with them and their interest in your operations. 

From here you can ask yourself the question – “Are all Influencers sitting in your inner circle and do you have any real detractors?”

One critical stakeholder – “OUR TEAM” …

Step 2. Based on your assessment, utilise our template and plan out your engagement strategy for all those you consider critical to your success.

Running with Your Game Plan

One of the largest stakeholder groups will be your team and we discussed in video 2 how essential this group are for you and your company’s success.

Therefore, we start now to look at what concrete actions are possible to build and develop your team.

To help you communicate effectively, to show empathy and humility whilst establishing a connection of trust, which becomes empowering.

You’ll see the in the Topic 2 checklist that we outline the broad headings which represent those 7 sub-topics which we detailed during that episode, starting with;

  • the 5 leadership traits which you require and must consistently demonstrate.
  • the workplace environment, talking here about the physical surroundings, rather than anything relational
  • the healthy mind platters 7 areas of focus – working with and enabling your team to embody these in their life & work style.
  • Acknowledging that our workforce, which today spans 4 different generations – from baby boomers, through to Gen Z require interaction and communication with correctly
  • Then understanding the large range of motivational theories which might helpful for you in identifying and to maintain team engagement and empowerment.
  • working with rational & emotional strategies and identifying how to motivate by addressing inner needs through extrinsic and intrinsic means
  • And then finally to the SCARF model, looking at the 5 domains of social experience and ensuring we trigger the positive, reward response, not the negative, threat reaction.

Next, Delegation and Feedback…

Running with Your Game Plan

We now move to the beginning of a major subject which will spans multiple episodes – Delegation and Feedback. Starting with the basics behind the delegation process and establishing of the “WHY, WHAT and HOW”.

In our checklist you will find these questions under Topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques. Each is list as a broad headings and under that, the key items which you as the leader need to know and practice.

You may recall we kicked off with the 3 reasons behind the“WHY” question – and we said that;

  • we delegate to ensure we meet stakeholder expectations,
  • to help with team development and growth,
  • as well as to simply allow us enough time to lead.

We then introduced a couple of tools and a series of questions under the “WHAT” portion, which gave us a way of determining the tasks to delegate based on identified priorities and to which members of your team were most suitable in handling the challenge.

Then finally under the “HOW” we bought to the table a series of newer concepts. Ideas centered around what we have learnt from theoretical and practical research, which indicate people want some freedom to work on activities of their own choosing.

Additionally, they also want the see that they are making progress, hence we introduced to Activities of Choice and the weekly team meetings where individuals were able to showcase their project, discuss issues and report progress.  

Then, to establish the rules and objectives…

Running with Your Game Plan

Still under the heading of “How” and related to delegation, we introduced Topic 4 – SMART rules and reward goals.

Here traditional goal setting meets online gaming, where we took our old favorite the SMART goal setting tool and looked at how we could make the process more engaging during the task delegation.

First, we used the tool to set the expectations on both sides, ensuring clarity, together with a few do’s and don’ts to observe.

And we applied these requirements in our weekly progress reporting. But until that point there wasn’t really that much new, and we weren’t so confident that with these few steps would engage with all 4 generations.

So, we wanted to shake it up a little and see whether we could learn something from the online gaming world.

We discovered that game designers essentially work on three core elements when building their products

  • games must be goal driven,
  • challenge intense and
  • offer immediate feedback

All whilst providing a rich experience through-out their time online.

Gamers are motivated to achieve their goals by being rewarded or penalized along the way, based on their own skill and performance – the potential carrot and stick is there in the background, but it’s much more intrinsic, driven by a personal desire to do well and to receive instant gratification and feedback.

Hence, we reviewed our SMART process to ensure we captured the traditional 5 elements for clarity, but modernized our approach with our weekly meetings, ensuring transparent progress reviews, team collaboration and immediate gratification or feedback.

It was a win-win formula which bodes well with all in our workforce.

Running with Your Game Plan

The learnings didn’t stop there however, and although any leader that has applied the lessons from topics 1 – 4 will be far ahead of the pack, we wanted to ensure that these wins became the norm and were locked into our workplace practices.

You will notice how we enable you to work through & capture this practice via the checklist.

Therefore, during Topics 5 & 6, we turned our focus to different Feedback Strategies, commencing with an understanding of what happens in people’s heads when they are given feedback – be it from colleagues, their boss or even friends and family.

The amygdala hijacking triggers that threat or reward response as studied in Topic 2.

In an effort to help us manage the whole feedback topic more effectively, we provided a 4-step strategy as a guide for Leaders. This strategy commenced with;

  • the need to educate everyone involved on the value in seeking feedback and learning how to effectively receive feedback. And we explored multiple ways that we might do so.
  • Then we moved into the considerations and actions required during the preparation and planning of your feedback sessions

With both of these steps in place, it was time to dive into two types of feedback, which we again supported with some simple tools to make your life a little easier.

Our first feedback approach was the informal version. The type of thing you might expect walking down the corridor or when you see your boss whilst getting a coffee.

Remembering always, that offering guidance on improvement is critical; without it, the person will be uncertain as to how to avoid the same or similar issues in the future.

To assist we intro’d a tool called FAST which stands for Frequent, Actionable, Specific and Timely.

And finally, to the more formal feedback – the F2F sessions, where we ensure we have privacy and a number of other pre-requisites in place from the outset.

During this portion of the episode we reviewed briefly (3) three different feedback tools and suggested the two most common today are which are called BOOST and SBI.

Running with Your Game Plan

One area which has become quite controversial and somewhat dated was the annual performance review.

So, we decided to bring the entire process into the 21 century with the use of technology and a continuation of our earlier journey with regular weekly or bi-weekly reviews and feedback.

Adopting Achievement Reviews as a replacement to those dreaded Performance improvement discussions.

We looked at what current technology offered and how leading companies where starting to utilize these tools.

But we also wanted to ensure that there was some research supporting the switch and that this was not purely a gut feeling we had but that it was right direction.

And we found ample evidence that supported our direction.

Starting with our motivational theories and David McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory and his Iceberg Model, then further through Intrinsic Motivators and with the SCARF theory.

All supported us on our quest.

And further, when we were able to couple these theories with many research papers from leading University professors and noticed that fortune 500 companies were beginning to shift in a similar direction, our confidence and belief that we were heading in the right direction skyrocketed.

To ensure we left no one behind in our transition however, we decided to offer an interim step in shifting from performance to achievement reviews – this was the humble 360 degree report which offers a buffer between the sole opinion of the immediate boss, by including feedback from colleagues, customers, suppliers, your team as well as your boss.

A nice deflection indeed and made even more attractive today due to the price decrease possible as a result of technology advances.

At the end of the day, this is a great extension along our journey – if you had applied the earlier strategies we spoke of, then the results of each employee’s successful projects will be known already to the other team members.

Therefore, these results can be made visible to the entire team, thus creating a form of competition, but also offering the opportunity for continued immediate gratitude and feedback from all.

Running with Your Game Plan

Now onto Topic 7, where it’s time to shift gear slightly, and start by assuming that “Utopia” in business seldom exists and that from time to time we are bound to find ourselves challenged with problems, be they related to people or to systems and processes.

We as managers and leaders need to be effective in working towards and identifying solutions. Enter this topic and the bundle of new skills it introduces for us.

We commenced by analysing our conflict management awareness and determining which of the 5 default styles we adopt when confronted with conflict.

You will see in the checklist the 5 styles and a link to the questionnaire which will help you make your own and or a team members assessment.

We also explored the typical reaction we can expect from our team when they are questioned about an issue or situation. Both are very useful for your preparations as well as deepening your leadership self-awareness.

But then, we move broader and deeper and ask “but what if the problem is larger and involving more than one person – what then”?

This is where we introduced you to various problem-solving techniques and tools.

Again, you will see these under Topic 7 of your Game Plan checklist.

And finally, we said that whilst few leaders today are well equipped with these skills and knowledge, we want you to have even more options in your tool kit and therefore introduced the concepts of incorporating Creative and Critical Thinking into the Problem-solving mix.

The outcome is a truly dynamic process which will help you nail 99% of the issues you encounter in your career.

Then the icing on the cake – looking at how to take some of those creative juices and apply with the problem solving equation by including group dynamics, diversity and visualization to map out the end to end process and identify gaps which enable you to strengthen the overall process design – a magic, modern day twist to the solution formula.

Running with Your Game Plan

By reaching Topic 8, we know that the skills shared so far will have placed you in great shape as a Leader among leaders, and someone that your team will follow, whilst other stakeholders are happy to collaborate with.

The final 2 topics are to further consolidate those abilities and prepare you for the advanced series which will follow soon after the conclusion of this basic series.

So, in this topic 8 we begin speaking about Change and why as a Leader you need to first understand yourself, that change is an essential component of everything in our lives – since birth through to now and beyond until you pass to the other side. And this reality is no different with-in your career and for your company.

As Steven Covey was famous for stating “The only Constant is Change”.

So in our Game Plan checklist, we help to visualize this reality and offer guidance on the typical psychological impact we all have as a consequence of any change.

Understanding this provides you the opportunity to see when a member of your team is stuck and needs support as they transition along the curve from denial and anger to acceptance and adoption.

But again this knowledge is not sufficient, we also wanted to provide you the tools, which you can utilise and make your own, when your career requires that you do so – if you haven’t already been involved in a change initiative, then it’s probably only a matter of time before this is thrust upon you. – remember “the only constant in life…”.

Armed with this knowledge and tools you have your starter kit in place and ready to test the waters.

One foundational skill set which you must possess for success with Change is the ability to communicate. We offered you an insight on how to structure your communications here, but unless you are already a natural story-teller, then this is one area where you are going to require further information and coaching.

Running with Your Game Plan

Finding the balance between values and performance…

In Topic 2 we began by providing 5 leadership traits which you must process – Trust, Listen, Accept, Share and Enable. Whilst these are 5 essentials, they are not the only hallmarks of a strong leader.

We mentioned your ability to communication just a moment ago, so I won’t list it again here, but in addition, a leader that functions with and consistently demonstrates humility, empathy, self-awareness and operates from a values base of ethics, integrity and compassion, will thrive with all generations of the workforce today.

And so, it was a logical inclusion as the final basic skill that we speak about the Values-based leader. This is someone that understands the benefits of having a diverse team and seeks opportunities for inclusion of that diversity in decision making.

But it’s also a leader that understands that a pure, values–based approach, may not foster the company culture it desires. That a pure, values-based leader may lack the drive to perform and grow.

In this regard the Leader needs to seek the perfect blend between values and performance as one with-out the other is seldom sustainable.

Finding that right balance tends to result in a company whose culture is based on fairness and compassion but also shares the desire to be successful and drives together towards profitable outcomes.

The final review topic in our checklist therefore incorporates those key considerations and sets the target for finding that harmonious blend.

Running with Your Game Plan

And so, to this last Topic 10 – Running with your Game Plan…

Until now we have summarized this Basics series with you, where we hope that you have made additional notes and highlighted lessons which you and your team might still benefit further from.

It’s now your turn to outline your blueprint for taking your team and your own performance from “Good to Great” and beyond – to borrow from Jim Collins and his best selling book.

What are the core changes which you will make next week, to drive improvements, be it with any of the 9 stakeholder groups, but most importantly with the team and yourself?

Our journey led us from Stakeholder engagement to Team Motivation and Delegation, Feedback, through Problem Solving and Change Management to leading with Values.

  • It’s a truly powerful set of core basic skills, which can only help to serve and better your career as a Leader.

As we have mentioned through-out this Basics series our plan is to now dive deeper into more advanced discussions – many of which are dear to my heart and which our brand-new company Skills 4 Executives, will be focused on providing for this industry.

I hope that you have enjoyed this series and if so, please subscribe below if you haven’t already. We really look forward to you joining us as we launch into the Leaders Advance series. 

Stay safe, perform strongly and grow daily. Bye for now.

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