Category Archives for "Other"

Jun 02

Pushing Through Your Limits

By Tim Winstone

I’ve always thought that if I had lived in a different time, I would’ve been an explorer that constantly sought new adventures and opportunities. I have such a passion for adventure sports which involves pushing yourself to your absolute limits and beyond what you think is possible. 

Human beings are an amazing species, and our ability to push beyond what we think and believe is possible is one of the many attributes that have allowed us to survive and evolve.  Part of the reason I love adventure is that it takes you to new places, allows you to engage in new experiences and tests your physical and mental limits, all while in the company of other like-minded adventure seekers.

I have often reflected on parallels between taking part in high intensity adventure sport and leadership development. In particular there are similarities to the field Vertical Leadership Development, which is ultimately about expanding a person’s capacity to lead. Nick Petrie, the world leading researcher in Vertical Leadership Development describes three core elements to create an environment for vertical development to thrive; 

  1. Entering the ‘Heat Zone’
  2. Obtaining ‘Colliding Perspectives’ and 
  3. Practicing ‘Reflection’. 

The combination of these three conditions enable leaders to grow their capacity to lead and take on new experiences (adventures).

What can we then learn from endurance sports and activities that can be applied to leadership?

A book that captivated me recently was ‘Endure’ by Alex Hutchinson. It explores the world of endurance sports and the different elements that enable humans to reach limits no-one thought possible. The book considers whether an individual’s physical limits are set by their body or their brain, or a combination of both. What controls our ability to endure through elements such as: heat, thirst, oxygen deprivation or pain? Is it our physical limitations as humans, or does our brain play a key role in protecting us from harm? 

Through his research, Hutchinson finds that in many cases our brain will set ‘alerts’ before we can cause physical harm. However it is possible to push through our limits to achieve what we think is unachievable. Endurance athletes constantly balance the risks of pushing on in their sport even when the brain is signalling to stop. These athletes have the ability to reset what their limits are – but can be very costly if pushed too far.

So, can we push beyond perceived limits in our leadership? Can we extend beyond what our brain says we are comfortable with and reset the limits of what’s possible? Those who climb Mt Everest, don’t attempt to push past their physical limits (oxygen deprivation) and head straight to the top – They acclimatise and set new limits as to what their body can sustain.   

As you work towards a new goal, break it down into achievable stretches that enter the ‘heat zone’, but ensure that you come back to within your limits. Reflect, gain perspective and then you can push further.   Building such a mindset as habit will allow you to challenge and extend your leadership capacity. Just like physical endurance, you need to be mindful of what physical limits exist – these are the ones that you don’t want to exceed.

If you want to find out more on this topic, I recommend reading ‘Endure’ by Alex Hutchinson, ISBN: 9780062499981

Apr 24

How ‘Good Parenting’ and Small Talk Can Make You a Better Leader

By James Burroughes

The concept of trust might feel like a funny thing to be talking about at this time, however, as the last few weeks have shown, it’s one of the key issues affecting business performance according to research by both Gartner and Gallup.

The dictionary defines trust as, ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something’. To me, the key part of this are the words FIRM BELIEF.

As a child, we mostly all hold a firm belief that our parents have our back. They will protect, provide and help us whenever and wherever possible. And yes there are exceptions to this rule, however, I’m working on the basis of good parenting. It is interesting to me that most leaders never liken their role as a leader as having many similarities to parenting. And the situation now is something like when your kids are under immense exam pressure — x1000.

In business, your employees want to firmly believe that you aren’t virtually peering over their shoulder (micromanaging them); or that you are so “hands-off”, you have no idea what they are up to.

Employees want support, encouragement, to be allowed to try things and know that you will be there to catch them when they fall. Or at least pick them up and dust them off if they do! Remember they are currently having to try a LOT of new things! They also want you to care about them, ask how they are and show your compassionate side.

This cultivation of trust is key to employees delivering at their best. David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University and the author of The Truth About Trust states that trust is “essential to boosting employee engagement, motivation, and candor.”

This begs the question, how does one build trust?

  1. There needs to be a simple alignment of expectations and obligations between managers and employees on what is going to happen and who will do it. A virtual one to one can create enormous alignment, and therefore build trust using the four simple questions above. Employees are more likely to follow through on goals set by a manager they trust and to be more forthcoming about the challenges they see on their level.
  2. Formally known as incidental socialisation, these are the water cooler conversations, the just passing by your desk questions, the lunchroom chats. Meetings tend to start and end with business and not trust-building small talk. We are relational animals and therefore need this interaction to feel a connection and trust.
  3. Try moving to a 45-minute meeting format which starts with small talk. It’s never been more important to maintain social connection with your team. On the other hand, scheduling a shorter meeting time will also force those in the call to get down to business and clear up actions quickly.

The intent for this is to remind you to take the time to build and maintain trust with your teams, as they really need it right now.


Here we go! We’re really excited to be delving into the world of online delivery with the start of a FREE mini series on Navigating Your New Normal. Each Tuesday at 10:00am NZT we’ll be hosting a 30 minute #morningteawithMark workshop which will focus on key leadership development challenges (and successes) that leaders are experiencing RIGHT NOW. 

Adrenaline keeps us alive and focused during times where survival is paramount. It comes with a cost though. A slump. And it’s OK. The novelty of working from home is starting to wear off for many of us. It’s not so much worry and anxiety but more exhaustion. This workshop will focus on feeding on some fresh inspiration and ideas. Less breathless, and more gearing into the new normal we are in.

Next up: Reactive to Creative – Moving Past the Adrenal Slump with guest Carl Sanders-Edwards. Tuesday 28th April 2020, 10:00am NZT.


Apr 09

It’s a Meeting Not a Date

By Carl Sanders-Edwards

How changing the way you show up to virtual meetings can leave you feeling fresher

Many of us have been working remotely for years. Conducting the bulk of our interactions via virtual meetings, either on Skype, Google Meet or Zoom. It’s an incredible way to connect. On a number of occasions I have met people in-person for the first time and couldn’t believe that we hadn’t actually physically met, so deep was our relationship. This is now a reality for much of the world!

However, as good as virtual meetings are, they can sometimes be taxing. At times I’ve found myself regularly spending five, six or even eight hours in virtual meetings in a day. I’d stagger away from the computer completely zapped!

Over time I have adapted. I’ve made micro tweaks and changes that make a big difference energy wise. Last week was very heavy on virtual meetings but I finished pretty fresh. I reflected on why. One thing I noticed was that I now spend a lot of time ‘looking away’ during a meeting – staring outside or at the ceiling – especially as I talked. I still glanced at the other people, but no longer held their gaze. Why is this?

I then read an article based on this. Boom! It turns out in physical meetings we only spend a fraction of our time actually looking at other people. We take notes, we look at the wall, we create space. Non-verbal queues are extremely important but they are also cognitively demanding for our brains. We get so much data from faces and try to ‘read’ the other person’s mind and emotions (it’s called Theory of Mind). In a virtual meeting we are trapped – staring at the person(s) and getting a flood of data. No wonder we feel exhausted!

So here’s my hack. Try to manage your direct face to face time during virtual meetings. This doesn’t mean turning off the camera or doing another task. Stay attentive – but take notes, ponder while looking away, mange your space (digitally). Actually just do the stuff you would in a physical interaction.  

Or just remember this, it’s a meeting not a date!

Take Care,

Mar 27

Navigating Your New Normal

By Margaret

Tools and Tips from the JumpShift Team

Kia Ora,

We hope that you, your family and your people are well and staying safe during these unprecedented and uncertain times. Remote work is now a new reality for many of us and is sure to come with it’s own challenges but hopefully many successes too!

To help in easing this transition, we thought we could do our bit by sharing the top things we do to stay productive and aligned together as a team that has been remote working from day one. 

We’re sparsely spread across the world from New Zealand to Pune to a number of States in the US, and yet we have a tight productive culture. There’s been an awesome spirit of sharing and connecting over the last couple of weeks and as such we want to share with you some of what we have learnt in our journey and are still learning now – hopefully it’ll stimulate you in sharing what you are also learning to create an explosion of positive innovation during a challenging time.

Kia Kaha,
The JumpShift Team

Don McVeigh says:
1. In times of unprecedented uncertainty I firstly make sure that I am grounded and present at all times. For me that means making sure I have connected with my immediate family, knowing they are OK and set for the day. This helps me to ensure the risk to them is minimised or I can mitigate any concerns I may have.
I then set my plan for the day, what can I influence, how can I support my team the best.This helps me prioritise immediately and focus on things that are within my control.

2. As a leader working remotely you have to develop and identify ways that you can connect in with your team regularly and be able to read the unsaid (or seen) need of the team. This is important as you don’t get the normal queues from meeting a person ie: looked stressed, flustered, angry, frustrated, tired, sad etc.

3. To keep positive and motivated I set small goals throughout the day – mainly around who I can influence / support, and how I can add the most value. I’m always thinking of how we can innovate and accelerate our ability to deal with unknown situations. This requires us to think of potential implications or outcomes and how we could plan contingencies – being prepared for likely outcomes helps us see them earlier and make informed and calm decisions when they happen.
Mark Watkins says:
1. Clarify your work space and time. It will be difficult at first to merge both together when working from home. Set boundaries with a dedicated routine and workspace which will help make this transition easier. It’s also a great opportunity to up-skill, re-skill, write that book you’ve been meaning to get to or learn about social media! Re-purpose yourself. 

2. Swap out the work commute for exercise. Calculate on average how much time you save in travel time each day and allocate it to something you love doing or is a recharge time for you – a walk in nature, exercise, meditation, reading, family time are all great ways to boost your mental health. Check out this tool, manage your energy not your time. 
Jimmy Burroughes says:
1. Over-communicate! Use texts, group chats, shared docs, whatever it takes. At JumpShift we use a shared Whatsapp group to check in daily and let each other know how we are feeling on a 1-10 scale. It helps us all see who needs support and who is quiet each day.

2. Agree on a “ways of working from home charter” with your team. This can include things like: core working hours, when people are expected to be online or available, how you need to be dressed for internal / external meetings or how you should communicate vacation or sick days. Holding a weekly “virtual social” from wherever people might be based, allows you all to socialise and stay connected. A virtual equivalent of sharing lunch or Friday drinks! 

3. Build in breaks around your work. Your brain needs recovery time too. Think about the time you would spend moving between meetings or commuting – you can repurpose this time into making your life run more efficiently by building “recovery time” around your tasks. I use a 50+5+5 method – 50 mins work, 5 mins of movement/refilling water bottle and then 5 minutes to plan my next task. 
Wanda Baldock says:
1. Play with what’s in front of you. It’s too easy to obsess over the future and try to plan for every eventuality. I’ve had to check myself into staying in the present, focusing on what matters most right now and what can I control. From this I’ve been rewarded with noticing beautiful moments that I’m grateful for with my family, co-workers and dogs. This really helps with resilience and a healthy mindset.

2. Love human connection. This week I experienced the highest turnout we’ve seen in a while on our weekly call with the team. I was reminded again of the value in maintaining our team connection and that social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. It was less about work and more about how we are doing as people. We shared our ideas and thought about how we can help the world during this hard time. We even managed some humour. I really felt connected to people who were at home all around NZ. Take this time to learn more about your team and what they value most. 
Mark says:
Help ensure your family understands and has perspective on COVID-19 as the numbers and social media noise can be scary. I kept it simple with my kids in helping them understand that yes, there is a huge loss of life happening around the world, however, more lives are lost yearly from people contracting the flu and fatal car accidents than Covid-19. 

I shared an Adeption tool with my son Jole (11) to help him think a bit more positively. It’s called Getting Above The Line: 
Don says:
1. In mitigating the impact of Covid-19 on my family I ensure we have regular chats about what is happening and focus on what we can do to make a difference for ourselves and others. Focus on whats in your control ie: don’t touch surfaces in public places, wash hands regularly, keep a safe distance from others, stay away from large groups.

2. With kids now schooling from home I have tried to maintain structure as well as promote social connection. We start with school work in the morning and then have a break. I’ve introduced my son to Zoom where he connects in with three friends to talk through school work and then they can muck around and have some fun. They love it and now have about six class mates on the call (even inviting their teacher along!).
Anna Wilson says: 
1. Have a basic daily schedule to follow. Put an approximate time on activities with the kids and ask them what they’d like to do. Make the most of the opportunity to have quality family time. Make it fun. Without being morbid I like to pretend these are the last weeks I have with my family – it’s amazing how much you appreciate them and how much love you can feel.

2. Keep each other in check. We found it was easy to have a short temper with kids after a few days so we have a code word we use when we hear our partner over reacting or being unreasonable. It’s a great way to remind us to be calm and kind and that we’re all in this together. Also give each other a break. Take turns to get out and walk around the block, clear your head. 

3. We haven’t done this yet but intend to organise a virtual games night with friends. Find ways to connect socially and still have a laugh. 
Tim Winstone says:
In August 2018, we were luck to have Melissa Crawford as a guest speaker at the Leadership Action Network. Her message to us all was about the power of Kindness, especially in times of uncertainty. Kindness is something that we can give to others for free, and it benefits them, and us (the giver).

It has huge power to lift people’s spirits and build a strong culture and community. Doing random acts of kindness can have a signifiant impact on your personal mental health. So take action and “Give some Kindness”. You can do this each day or each week to help others and yourself.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working feverishly behind the scenes on how we can best support you and your people during these unprecedented times. We’re excited to share with you a series of online Snackables workouts that we have designed specifically to navigate the impact of Covid-19 on your work and in your personal life.

These workouts will be released over the next couple of weeks completely free for you to access! Interested? You can email us at and we’ll send a link out to you when they go live. 

Mar 12

Creating and Leading a High Performance Sales Culture

By Mark Watkins

Assuming you have your sales strategy right – the right customers who are identified from the right industry with the right approach to engage them who are all aligned to your sweet spot… then you’re all set to go! 

You’ll also have recruited salespeople that are ‘fit for purpose’ and if you are a larger sales organisation you’ll have aligned the sales approach to the customers buying approach and where appropriate, allowed salespeople to specialise e.g. hunter / farmer models & aligned sales and marketing functions. Woah! Let’s take a deep breath.

These are some massive assumptions right here.  If these elements are in place, then the following will help you to lead and create a culture that will empower your sales professionals.

Silver Bullet 1) Everyone is a customer. Your people are your brand. What gets modelled gets done and what interests my boss interests me.

If you want your ‘love mark’ or brand to come to life, your customers need ‘magic’ moments of truth with all of your people. If you want your people to ‘go the extra mile’, they need to be engaged. This is harder than it sounds and a whole industry focuses in on this with organisations like Gallup & their Q12, IBM Kenexa assessing engagement and providing approaches to shift and lift it.

A new take on the Balanced scorecard – The Z model

Look after your people and they will look after your customers. But how?

Boiling it down to the essentials, people want to have clarity about what’s expected of them, the capability to deliver, know how they are tracking and have the motivation to make it happen. This is supported by a lot of research, my favourite research and related insights coming from:

  • David Marquet – Greatness & Dr Cohan Brown both advocate for the importance of people being clear, capable and motivated. Find it here
  • Dan Pink – Talks about the same three factors using different language ‘Purpose, mastery and autonomy’. Find it here
  • Avoid the three signs of a miserable job. David Lencioni talks about related concepts of ‘Anonymity, irrelevance & immeasurement’ – check out his podcast here.

Set your salespeople up to do the best work of their lives! Model with your salespeople what you want them to do with customers i.e. coach them through sales – see article “Do great salespeople make great coaches?”.

Ensure you provide tools that enable your team that don’t distract them. Design these tools with them to meet their needs and the needs of the customers, whether its product information, marketing insights or tools like CRM.

Silver Bullet 2) What gets measured gets done – lead and lag indicators that directly lead to the right outcomes and allow time for shift.

Clarify the key leading behavioural measures your team need to get the job done. Allow enough time for new behaviours to embed and trigger results. This is typically nine or so months for sales behaviours and 18 months for results.

What are the lead behavioural indicators? Find out what these are from the top performers in your organisation by modelling what you observe them doing ‘in the field’ with their customers. Then train others in the team to do the same. Huthwaite has conducted research on this to understand what the top 1-2% of sales performers do consistently to generate results, boiling it down to these competencies:

Silver Bullet 3) Coaching, the right coaching, regularly.

All sales leaders know coaching is important, but many don’t know what it actually is. And for those that do coach, it tends to be after the sales meeting to review how the sales person think they did. This is a good start, but the real value comes from…Coaching the PLAN, DO & REVIEW:

PLAN: Coach your salesperson on their plan for the meeting, its purpose and what skill they want to focus on developing.

DO: Observe what this person actually does in the sales meeting. Look at the lead behaviours demonstrated e.g. Number of questions asked? Were they open questions? Did they then ask problem and impact questions to find out the ‘need under the need’?

REVIEW: Get the salesperson to review how they did both in hard measures of meeting outcomes, but also soft measures of skills developed. Then provide evidence based feedback from your actual observation. This is impossible to do if you didn’t observe the meeting!

In the world of sport, players practice 90% of the time and play for 10% of it. In the world of business, players play the game 99% of the time and yet we expect high performance all the time?? In sales I would advocate for 3 types of coaching that lead to increased performance:

  1. Situational coaching: Coaching the whole person to enable their career and life. A perfect approach for ongoing development. Here are a couple of tools to help you do this well:
  2. Observational coaching: Observe and coach the client account plan and related sales meeting plans. Observe customer meetings that take place, reviewing the meeting and providing observational feedback to your salesperson – particularly in the skills that person is focussing on developing.
  3. Huthwaite recommends observational coaching best practice to be two days per salesperson, per quarter. two days allows the salesperson to ‘revert’ back to their normal behaviours rather than putting on a ‘show’ for the boss. This is the most important coaching to do…and requires discipline, saying no to others management activities and upskilling your leaders to do it.
  4. Skills drills: Each quarter you will have a good indicator of the ‘themes’ i.e. common skills salespeople are finding difficult. This is a perfect opportunity to provide skills drills for the team. Get them to share what works, demo the skill for them or get one of the team (or a salesperson from another team) for whom this skill is a strength, to demo it to the team. Then get the team to practise it.

That’s it for part one. Part two explores additional focus areas for sales leaders, with part three exploring the role of DATA, qualification & the key to embedding.

Why not find out what current sales leaders and capability coaches are doing to unlock their salespeople performance in Air New Zealand, Fisher & Paykel, Fonterra, JDE, OfficeMax, Spark & Tandem Travel this April. Coming together for a Sales Leadership breakfast on Friday 3rd April these leaders will be sharing their own learns and tips in the world of sales. Find out more below.

Thanks for reading!

Feb 27

R.I.P Competency Frameworks

By Carl Sanders-Edwards

Competency frameworks have dominated Leadership Development for the last 30 years.

They do a great job at summarising the capabilities that make great leadership. They provide a backbone to development…

1) Get assessed against a set of competencies (360 degree eval or similar)
2) Pick strengths to build, weaknesses to fix or a combination depending on the doctrine you follow,
3) Do the work.

It’s good, but is it enough?  Nick Petrie first raised this question in his paper, Future trends in Leadership Development. Here, he proposed that competencies are a form of ‘horizontal’ development. Horizontal development is fine, but in a modern highly complex working environment we need more vertical development. That is building capacities as well as capabilities. Competencies look back at what used to work and may not be a good predictor for what is coming next. Capacities build your ability to deal with increasingly complex and unpredictable environments.

Enter experiences. At the heart of vertical development or capacity building, are experiences. We grow and develop when we need to, when faced by something our current ways of operating can’t deal with, not when we simply choose to develop. Therefore facing novel and challenging experiences deliberately is a powerful way to develop. Given this lens why not make experiences the central part of a leadership development framework? Experience development frameworks. Could we identify core experiences that we expect people to have at different stages in their career? We could then ensure people have the opportunity to have these experiences in a deliberate thoughtful way, getting feedback and reflecting on the results they got. Wow, we could even make certain experiences a prerequisite for certain jobs. We could create a standard for certain jobs regardless of company. Your experience inventory follows you around!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this


Feb 13

5 Tips for Leading Millennials More Effectively

By James Burroughes

It’s estimated that by 2025 Millennials will make up as much as 75% of the workforce.

Leaders across organisations have realised that they need to adapt and embrace the changes occurring because of this.
Let’s dispel the myths about Millennials. Whilst they are often termed “entitled,” “lazy,” “narcissistic,” and “disloyal job-hoppers” research from Gallup indicates that millennials are not so different from previous generations of young people.
So what is important to millennials in a job and how can you lead and inspire them more effectively?

1. Career Development is their number one priority

The careers of millennials will be more like webs than ladders so offering diverse and broadening experiences will give them new perspectives and keep them engaged. Aim to offer them experiences across your business so they can expand their networks based on their interests and contribute to the wider cause.

On-the-job experiences are most the effective (and cost effective) method of development. When there’s real challenge involved, if you think a team member is ready to try something new, let them try their hand. Let them know you have confidence in them and are willing to step in to help if they need you to.

The opportunity to shadow you and others around them in action can be as effective as formal training, and also helps team members gain additional skills to step in and help when pressure ramps up.

Change your mindset from one of time-served to equipping them with experiences. The average tenure of millennials in roles is 15-18 months before they look for a new challenge or diversification. A mindset of 3-5 tenure years won’t work. Providing stretch experiences based on their potential can offer business value for you and retain them longer.

2. Help them connect to the purpose of your organisation through their work

Millennials don’t just work for their salary. They want to be a part of an organisation that they feel is making a difference in the world. They value social responsibility and are loyal to organisations that are providing specific solutions to social issues. 

Position work linked to the values and purpose of your organisation. More than 50% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values, according to a Fast Company article. In this study by PWC millennials who have a strong connection to the purpose of their organisation are 5.3 times more likely to stay.

3. Be transparent with them

There are still plenty of leaders out there who believe that information is power. Millennials seek information and context. Not communicating with them erodes their trust and makes them more likely to look elsewhere for transparency.

Involve them in discussions about their future in the organisation. If they are able to openly discuss their desired career path and feel you are working to enable that they are much more likely to stay.

Be clear on expectations and be prepared to offer help. Share with millennials what outcome you are looking for and ask them how they believe they can achieve that. Then ask what help you can offer and what they need from you to be successful.

4. Be prepared to let them know how they’re doing – regularly

The Millennial generation is defined by heavy debt and uncertainty. Never has a generation entered the workforce with such debt already incurred from university education, only to find out that the average house costs nearly 10x the average family salary where they will be, on average, 36 before they can afford their first home.

They also endured the Global Financial Crisis and many will have experienced the stress of parents being made redundant and things being tight at home. This adds to stress levels about performance but also steels them to be more determined to succeed.

Use strengths focused micro-coaching and mentoring (not the same as constructive feedback). According to Gallup workgroups that receive strengths-based development see 14% to 29% increase in profit.

Millennials are constantly “beta testing” behaviours and actions whilst assessing whether they get the positive response they hope for. They grew up in a world of social media likes and comments. They were educated using frequent assessment and provided with regular course corrections. Validate the areas where they are on the right track quickly and often, and discuss their ideas for how they might adapt their approach where they aren’t.

5. Embrace technology

Flexible work is no longer a unique selling proposition or a fad in the recruitment process, it is an expectation. If you have a remote team, your management style will need to change from facetime management to performance driven management. Learn to manage without being able to see them in person. 77% of millennials say flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive and enjoyable.

10% of millennials would rather permanently give up a body part than their smartphone according to research carried out by mobile app developer Tappable. Growing up with so much technology has made millennials the pros at mastering new tech quickly, and they love to work through issues and improve efficiency with the use of tech.

Leverage their skills to upskill yourself. Millennials love to share what they know. One successful company initiative involved inviting new graduates to tour the company for a week showing workers how to setup and use Instagram, WhatsApp and other apps; quickly upskilling executives and senior leaders who had previously avoided technology through fear and ignorance. It also allowed the millennials to meet a lot of the staff and form relationships as part of their new network.

If you are interested in hearing more about this topic, why not join us for our next exciting Leadership Action Network breakfast which will focus on millennials expand on these top tips to lead them. You can register here

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, 

Jan 22

Write It Down

By Carl Sanders-Edwards

This is a true story from 18 months ago.

I was looking down. Focusing on my feet. Trying to ignore the mounting hurt in my lungs. Damn this hill is steep. Slowly, after the longest 10 minutes, I pushed over the top, aghhhhh. I was awash with relief from exertion…everything relaxed. Then it hit me. That’s it! A breakthrough idea for work! This will solve everything. Relaxing into the rest of my weekly run I stopped thinking about work, I enjoyed the moment, and I promptly forgot what was without doubt my best idea ever! 

Now I’m sure the idea wasn’t as good as it seemed but who knows? Now, during a run, I assign each idea I have to a finger and write them down as soon as I get home. Once you write it down you don’t forget it (but you can decide it’s actually a terrible idea). This is the focus of my insight this week and something I’m doubling down on for 2020 as a practice.

Write It Down

Fishermen can often exaggerate their catch – so theres a rule – if you don’t measure it, don’t say it. We’re all busy people and can often forget things with everything going on around us, so I think our rule should be – if you don’t write it, it doesn’t happen. The point is that we discuss a lot in meetings, good ideas and plans. But, unless we write key things down we run the risk of forgetting them and then spending 1/2 our time re-discussing next time.  Here are six reasons I think we should all work on writing more stuff down.

1) The Ziegarnik effect. Unfinished work or thoughts stay active in our brain. This is the stuff that keeps us awake at night. Writing down your last thoughts and next steps settles this process and satisfies your brain – welcome to a better sleep.

2) Writing clears your thinking.  Nine times out of ten my brilliant ideas look terrible when I write them down. It forces you to think, clarify and improve.  

3) Work is complex. Theres so much information for us to keep in working memory.  Writing it down free’s our capacity.

4) Working in an agile manner.  Short sprints of focused effort requires more not less discipline to stay on track.  Without writing down decisions and agreements things turn into a mess faster than in a traditional work arrangement.

5) Cultures and world views.  Each person in an organisation brings different frameworks and perceptions.  Our communication benefits from slowing down and carefully articulating where we are coming from – and we learn more.

6) It reduces rework and avoidable complexity.  How often do we spend 3/4 of our time in a meeting agreeing and aligning on what we are talking about?  This can be dramatically reduced if one person writes and shares the context first to get the conversation on the same plane.  You can still disagree and propose something else but everyone is standing in the same place to have that debate from.

I’d love to hear your reasons, practices and improvements on this.

Dec 12

Quantum Leadership

By Carl Sanders-Edwards

Welcome to the Quantum Age

Geek alert. In the next few lines I’ll be talking about Newtonian and Quantum physics. My challenge, is to make it fascinating…

Over 400 years ago, thanks to long bouts of ‘deep work’, a bad-tempered Isaac Newton changed the world.  He defined principles explaining how much of the world behaved. He even invented the mathematics to support it. Magic was real. We could now calculate, predict, and create how the physical world interacts. The benefit (short term anyway) to humanity was vast, machines, industry and invention flourished. Culturally we had a new narrative. The universe could be 100% understood, predicted and controlled. It is like a machine. Welcome the deterministic world.

It was good times until just over 100 years ago when scientists started finding obscure cases where Newtonian physics didn’t work. We found our universe consisted of a whole new realm that didn’t behave as we thought it should.  At the quantum level things had their own set of rules.  Bizarre kinds of not really rules, rules.  My favourite is the ‘uncertainty’ principle.  You can measure the speed or location of a quantum particle but not both.  Measuring something changes it.  In this world everything is a complex system, nothing totally as it seems.  

What has this all got to do with leadership?  Lot’s… you see many people and the organisations they create, operate with a Newtonian deterministic narrative.  One that says we can control and predict exactly. 

It’s time to catch up with over 100 years of physics and upgrade this idea.  Leadership, people, societies and our environment are complex adaptive systems. More a forest, less a machine. Let’s celebrate this, stimulate the systems, sense the patterns and respond to them while recognising we can’t fully predict or even less, fully control them. This gives us all freedom to be more human, more part of something rather than make us central to it.  Maybe even, it’s our final circle of belonging?

Thanks for reading and catch you in the new year


Nov 28

What Drives Engagement?

By Carl Sanders-Edwards

We tend to engage in the anticipation of success more than anything else.

It’s safe to say that I’m engaged in my work.  I put in discretionary effort, I enjoy it and in many ways it doesn’t feel like work. I’m working now on a plane, not watching TV and although I would have rather been with my family, I made a choice to fly last weekend on a red-eye to run a workshop at a conference on a Sunday.

For reasons like these, staff engagement is one of the most revered prizes for organisations. The link between engaged people and business performance is clear. Billions is spent measuring and trying to improve it. It’s also important to us as engagement is one of the key success measures for leadership development. But here’s where this insight gets interesting. The CEO of one of the worlds biggest engagement measurement platforms (Perceptyx) admitted that despite all the effort, engagement wasn’t getting any better. No change. It seems there is a chicken and egg problem;

– Success leads to engagement
– Engagement leads to performance
– Performance leads to success

So ahh – what comes first?  After a little digging (actually a lot) he shared what ‘triggers’ the cycle.  Anticipation of success.We engage in the anticipation of success.  Tricky and also kind of doh.  It’s even trickier as the definition of success is personal.  It may be related to; achievement, affiliation, autonomy, etc.  I’ve summarised the essence of the insight in a diagram below. 

So my question is – how can we use this insight to improve how we develop leaders?  How can we help improve millions of peoples working lives through improved engagement?

I’d love to hear your thoughts


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