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Poor leadership = poor adaption to changes

Changes conjure up many feelings and emotions - excitement, anticipation and happiness, but change can often herald reservation, concern, even fear.

While many leaders extol the benefits of change, not everyone shares that enthusiasm.

A client outlined the challenge he saw in taking on his new role as CEO. This challenge revolved around the level of fear he sensed throughout his new organisation. Phrases like "I can see the fear in their eyes" and "deep reservations about the future ahead" were quoted. There will be many reasons for these behaviours a nd this leader faced them as his prime challenge. Without commitment to the journey of necessary change throughout the organisation, he was "on a hiding to nothing".

Poor leadership can give rise to fear. Leaders define, affect and influence the culture of an organisation way beyond their own imagination. Some have no idea of the level of influence their behaviour has on others, not only on their direct reports, but through them on the whole organisation.

Resistance to change can also be due to;

  • Vested interests and personal fiefdoms which work hard to prevent change.
  • Potential organisational blindness to how the outside world really works.
  • Or, team spirit lost in transition.

Every organisation must evolve, adapt and remain sensitive to changes in its industry and others which can undermine what was once a stable and sustainable market. Often leaders read the situation correctly, but then act to bring about change in a way that destroys the very foundations that brought success to the organisation and would have served it well into the future, if only channelled correctly.
So, back to my client. What could he have done? In this instance it was a case of acknowledgement. Acknowledgement of what has passed, how his predecessor in attempting to do the right thing – did wrong. Not wrong in realising that change was necessary, but rather in misunderstanding how to deliver change.

History plays a part in defining the behaviours of an organisation "the way we do things around here", and some recognised capability for change. The very success built into the DNA of the organisation that brought it to the current position, that same DNA would if handled correctly, deliver future success in the 'brave new world'. Listening to those who have seen the journey to this point and asking them the right questions such as "What have you learnt when facing this or that challenge in the past"? and "Which solutions worked, which didn't and why was this the case"? Getting under the skin of the what, why and how the organisation responds to the new, what constitutes the resilience amongst the teams and capability to adapt, change and renew - this is key.

Having listened, questioned and understood, it is as vital to acknowledge that history - the strength that has helped so far - and open the dialogue about what the future holds, what part each person thinks they can play and what do they see as the evolution necessary to meet the future.

None of this should detract from the crucial role any leader plays in doing his or her own strategic thinking, market analysis and all the other critical 'outward looking' actions.  The real talent comes in performing the merger of listening and acknowledging within, with diagnosing and refining the challenges and opportunities without. This results in change for good, lessening the fear.

Fundamental to overcoming resistance to change is the building of trust. We can help with this. Contact – peter.buckley@buckley-partnership.co.uk

Maths v English

I wonder if you remember the choices you had to make during school which almost felt like having to choose between Maths and English. The “Now is it going to be science subjects or arts Peter?” question, directly or implied.  Back in the 70’s I chose sciences and that set a path for me over the coming decade. Wow, what a long time when my decision was not founded on any substantive knowledge, enough information or, in truth wise counsel.
As the decades passed by, and what is now described as “multiple-careers” with a lot of tough, enjoyable and sometimes confusing outcomes I realised as time went on how much I love the arts; Literature, music, the spoken word, beauty and aesthetics.  
As a coach now for over two decades, I have had numerous discussions with clients around what did they want out of life back then, what was your passion and are you living and breathing it now (even if it’s different from before).  Sadly many, far too many are not fulfilled, are not pursuing their passion and know there is something missing in their lives.
Having the right person to talk to, with the right conversations, can and does enable all of us to gain far greater insight into who we really are and what we really want out of life – no matter what age we are. Yes, you can change, even with all the responsibilities, commitments and ties that seem to prevent us thinking (i.e. outside the boxes we find hold us to the today, the mundane, the unfulfilled).
While working with a wonderful team recently, I was reflecting while facilitating the discussion and solutions around how to meet, exceed and grow EBITDA, and cope, survive and thrive in times of tougher financial targets and tangible cuts that were being explored, and most importantly the themes of trust and how motivation and morale are ‘hurting’ within their business.
It dawned on me that the vast majority of discussions that are going on in many organisations revolve around the former; How to cut and how to increase productivity and profitability and deliver the calculated and actionable tasks to achieve this, yet fail totally to really find similar solutions to the latter i.e. How to address and re-build trust, motivation and morale.
In my heart, then head, it felt to me like the difference between Maths and English.
Maths versus EnglishMaths – as I saw it then, was anodyne, formulaic and followed clear heuristics to reach logical and finite decisions for action, while English on the other hand was discursive, emotional, motivational, inspirational and, critically, created pictures of a future, a brighter future that when written and spoken well can raise the human soul, individuals and teams alike to achieve wonderful, and at times, unbelievable successes.
That was it – turning to the group I mentioned “Maths v English”, explained what I meant, and from that moment on we complimented the hard Maths work with robust, tangible and achievable English. Together the outcome of both delivered more, far more than anyone expected and critically created a legacy that to this day sustains and allows for on-going dialogue, continuing iteration and innovative solutions which in turn maintain morale and motivation, in both good and tough times.
Do you consider your ‘English’, or is it ‘Maths’ that is the sole medium used in your organisation? Why not explore ‘English’ further and who knows, the short-termism of many ‘Maths’ initiatives can be complemented with enduring trust, motivation and tangible positive morale.

How would you define your ‘middle space’? As a space where personal and interpersonal issues collide with business realities? But, does this interface work? How can we make our organisations tessellate with employees and clients alike? It’s in the DNA.

Cloud, H (nd) The Four Strands: Greeting Companies Aligned With Human DNA.

Do you ever challenge your own leadership style? When was the last time you assessed an issue from a fresh perspective? This simple A-Z from Roffey Park aims to get you thinking about your personal approach, how can you improve?

Roffey Park (n.d) A guide to developing an enlightened leadership- 26 lessons from A to Z.

Attempting to develop your ‘strategic muscle’? This McKinsey article offers three top tips for any leader who wants to be familiarised with strategic thinking. As strategy becomes a ‘real-time journey’ will you be running up to speed?

Birshan, M and Kar, J (2012) Strategy Practice, Becoming more strategic: three tips for any executive. McKinsey Quarterly

Reputation can be built and maintained in many ways, but how do you manage what people are saying about you? And is it helping or hindering the public image of your business?

Barker, S, K. (nd) How to encourage positive word of mouth for your medical practice.

You hope that people speak well of the care and service your practice provides. When that happens, patients choose you because what they've heard is all they need to know to believe that you are the right physician for them. When patients select you on the basis of word of mouth referrals, they are more likely to be satisfied because they know what to expect.
There are four layers of word of mouth sources: Patients themselves, your staff, people who are trusted community members, including those who work in health care settings, and the community at large. ,br /> Patients - According to Michael Cafferky, author of Patients Build Your Practice: Word of Mouth Marketing for Healthcare Practitioners, a patient is most likely to tell other people about you in the first fourteen days after a visit with you. Communicating with your patient during that time increases the odds that they will tell others about you.
Your Staff Members - "My doctor's very good, his secretary said so," a woman replied when asked about her physician. The most effective word of mouth commentary is what your staff has to say about your practice. After all, staff members know the inside story. Do your staff members understand how important they are in creating positive impressions about the practice? You have less to fear from your competitors than from indifference or negativity on the part of members of your own practice. Listen and respond to employee shop talk. In addition to creating a discouraging atmosphere, it's very upsetting to patients who hear or overhear negative comments.

What are the stories that you and your staff tell others about your practice? Stories help people make connections because people remember stories much more easily than a list of facts. When you are hosting a holiday, retirement or other party, listen carefully to the stories that are told and re-told. If the majority speak to mistakes, incompetence or conflict, it's time for you to tell a few stories of your own about positive differences staff members have made in the lives of your patients. Begin every staff meeting by mentioning a positive patient comment. Some practices encourage such feedback by keeping an album of patient letters in their reception area.
It takes some maturity and experience in several different work settings before some employees realize that every organization has some faults. So, if a few younger employees are not referring new patients to you, they probably haven't thought much about it or don't know what to say. However, if the majority of your employees are not recommending new patients, something is wrong. There is most likely a quality issue that you haven't faced up to and/or remedied. Employees want to be proud of their organization and if they have concerns, they will be reluctant to invite their friends and associates to become patients.

Trusted Community Members - Each community has informal referral sources, such as local clergy, realtors, newcomers groups, lawyers, community leaders, fire and police officers and people who supply medical products or services. These individuals often have larger spheres of influence than other people. Nurses and pharmacists are highly trusted sources of information, but almost anyone working in a health care setting has frequent opportunities to make word of mouth comments. Advise your staff that you expect them to be particularly gracious with central schedulers at your hospital, for those folks will judge your practice by the behaviors and attitudes of every one on your team.

Establish relationships with staff members of physicians who refer patients to you. Acknowledge them by name when you call and thank them for any referrals that are made. Consider this scenario: A prospective patient asks the receptionist at his primary care office, "Dr. Jones gave me the names of two specialists. Do you know either of them?" The receptionist responds, "Well, I don't know Dr. Johnson, but Dr. Lowe over on Maple Street is very nice." Which physician is the patient likely to choose? The community at large - The more information patients have about you, the more likely they are to be satisfied with their experience. Dr. Joseph Wassersug, a retired internist living in Boca Raton, Florida, refers to this concept as the "recognition factor." When a new patient says "I know you, you're the doctor who..." the patient is more receptive to you. If they've heard of you, they think you're good. An Agency for Health Care Policy and Research study found that three out of four respondents would prefer a surgeon they were acquainted with to an unfamiliar one, even if the unfamiliar physician had a higher rating of some kind. Wassersug advises working with your hospital marketing department, writing a book, article or letter to the editor and being involved with the community as strategies to increase awareness about you and your practice.

Copied with permission of the author, Susan Keane Baker. Source: www.susanbaker.com.

An insight into what distraction is and the problems we are facing in an attention crisis. Terminal distraction is increasing, what steps are you taking to combat mental obesity?  How do we keep motivated when distractions are everywhere?

Over the last several years, the problem of attention has migrated right into the center of our cultural attention. We hunt it in neurology labs, lament its decline on op-ed pages, fetishize it in grassroots quality-of-life movements, diagnose its absence in more and more of our children every year, cultivate it in yoga class twice a week, harness it as the engine of self-help empires, and pump it up to superhuman levels with drugs originally intended to treat Alzheimer’s and narcolepsy. Everyone still pays some form of attention all the time, of course—it’s basically impossible for humans not to—but the currency in which we pay it, and the goods we get in exchange, have changed dramatically. Read More [external link]

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